Sorry this thing's so damn late! But here it is, after a three month delay (which means you had to wait 6 months to see this in print!). Addresses for the masses to send us free stuff is as follows:

Vibrations of Doom Magazine
c/o Steven Cannon
P.O. Box 1258
Suwanee, GA 3024-0963 USA

Not to get into the political arena, if you are looking for a candidate that will end the mess George Bush got us into, PLEASE check out what Ron Paul has to offer. I know at this point him getting elected is an extremely long shot, but he seems to be the guy that will take us BACK to the principles that this country was founded on. EVERYTHING he says I agree with, and our country would be in much better hands. Just my two cents worth.

"If we think we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don't come over here to attack us because we're rich and we're free, they attack us because we're over THERE." - Ron Paul on the 9/11 attacks.


ANNUNAKI "Throne Of The Annunaki" (Militia) SCORE: 87/100

Like a sledgehammer to the face, Annunaki's brand of blackened death metal hits you almost instantly. Over the course of 13 tracks, you'll hear some vicious and a bit unique blackened styled vocals, and a very low toned growling set of death metal vocals as well. The lead guitar work is all over the place, a bit Slayer like in many spots but even faster than you usually hear from the Hanneman/King duo Slayer incoporates. Long winded screams are the order of the day! A bit much does this seem at times too, with a total running time of 50 minutes and 13 songs, made to seem a bit lengthy especially considering many songs are right under the 3 and 4 minute range. 'March Of The Militia Of The Dead' is a highlight, it's neat to hear Tony fit all those words in the choruses! The lead guitar work is very often outstanding, as I mentioned before, even going so far as to add a touch of Middle Eastern flair with 'Incarcerate In Rapture' (complete with a lengthy 5 minutes of varied tempos and structures). The disc seemingly struggles around the midway point, especially given the penchant for mixing death and blackened styled vocals for the majority of the track 'Ruler Of None.' A weak ending and guitar work that strays didn't help, as is the case with 'Beyond The Realms Of Human Comprehension,' a tune which is probably a bit too long for it's 5 minute plus length. The insanely fast vocal/instrumentation mix on this song sounded a bit sloppy. Though the death metal fare is in full force, it's the higher ended lead work that opens up many tracks (like the beginning of 'Incarcerate In Rapture' again, as well as 'Blunt Scalpel Extraction.') The majority of the songs are of the fast paced variety, and I do mean FAST, but they manage to pull out some curshing thrashy riffs and slower passages are not unheard of, in fact they are the main highlights of 'Incarcerate In Rapture.' The title track is easily the best song on the disc, especially with the catchy choruses and of course the story of the pre-Sumerian gods that quite possibly started the human race. Though seemingly a bit long winded, it's got viciousness in spades and is well worth your time and effort to get this.
Contact: Militia Records.

BOKOR "Anomia1" (Scarlet) SCORE: 49/100

This is plain wierd. It's got metal IN it, but it's so laced with alternative singing and arrangements that you'd be hard pressed to find MUCH that you like. I gotta give points for at least trying to be original, and indeed some of the alternative styled instrumentation isn't terrible, but it most certainly does NOT qualify as "metal." They even go so far as to add heavy guitar riffs and "gasp!" Death metal styled vocals (which have a hardcore screamed slant to them) in order to cater to a metal crowd, but make no mistake folks: This is something you'd hear more of on your alternative radio station. Or not, as it's so eclectic and strange that even the alternative kids would have a hard time with it. Let's start our dissection with opener 'Crawl.' (And NO, I'm not going to print the whole song name). Musically, it starts off heavy. Most songs here do. The sung vocals tend to have a Middle Eastern slant to them, especially when our lead singer is on a long winded note or two. So we'll give him points for depth and range (also for the death metal vox thing). Odd high ended leads are commonplace. As in here, too. Heavy instrumentation at the end, very nice, but I'm not convinced (nor am I saying this totally sucks). I've given my penchant for hating alternative styled music and my total fixation on vocals a rest for the time being. 'Best Trip' is next. Wierd high ended leads are bothering me. Nice organ sounds though, is that a hammond? The vocals REALLY ruin this for me, though to be fair there's nice acoustical passages. Heavier end. I'm digging SEVERAL parts of 'The Island Of St:Menee.' The sung vocals aren't bothering me as much, but still alternative styled. The death vocals, for once, are sounding rather out of place. Heavy riffing in place, with this time a cool chorus that is catchy (though it's ruined by the song's end. The culprit? Yep, you might have guessed, odd high ended leads). 'Convert Into?' I think you see this "pattern-not pattern" here. Nice instrumental passages though, but hell it better be for the 7 minutes. And then the ULTIMATE travesty: The 14 minute 'Migrating!' And this thing doesn't NEED to be this long. If the ultimate in shoot yourself in the foot comes to mind, it's with THIS track. Original? Yes. Time, structure and tempo changes? OUT THE ASS. And when very little is catching my ear (death vocals? Check. Melodic multivocal chanted like parts pleasing to me? Check), this is a PAINFUL exercise in patience. An A.D.D. child like me has a VERY hard time with this one. Oh, did I mention there's only 6 tracks? You're probably long gone by this last tune, but the sick instrumentation and death metal styled vocals are sticking out like a sore thumb compared to what is, essentially, an alternative rock band. I'm on my way out, confused and still annoyed. A bit...
Contact: Scarlet Records.

DECAYED "Hexagram" (Folter) SCORE: 85/100

Black metal in an old school feeling is what we have here from Portugal's own Decayed. After your opening 'Prologue,' which almost sounds like a regular song the way it's laid out (complete with vicious scream), we get down to business. Bass guitar rumblings are clearly heard on the opening of 'Moonrise,' and it's quite obvious that fast paced black metal is the order of the day. There are indeed a few synth parts on the CD, though they are used VERY sparingly, and I had to listen to the disc quite a few times before I could pick out WHERE. The songs themselves don't rely on synths, but they are used to a slight degree to add a darker feel than the guitars themselves usually do. The vocal work is quite noteworthy as well, including the production, as the lyrics are very easy to pick out despite being of the harsh variety! Either that or I have gotten very used to black metal vocals. They're not quite the screeching variety either, somewhat on the death metal side (which would betray their earliest roots, where they utilized death metal as well as speed and thrash influences on the earliest of albums). Speaking of the thrash and speed touches, there's two "bonus" tracks not listed on the CD itself, namely 'Destroyer' and 'Spikes, Leather And Bullets' (which should probably tell you all you need to know right there), which are very oldschool thrash/black metal sounding, but I don't understand why they didn't feel the need to list these two song titles. Promo stuff I guess... The fast paced atmosphere gets a tad repetitive at times, in fact tracks like 'Into Realms Unseen' and 'Feast Of The Accursed' had instrumentation that sounded like variations on earlier tracks. 'Demoniac Gathering' is clearly one of my favorite tunes, as it's got a catchy chorus and is a bit slower in many parts. The songs themselves aren't total speed fests, either, the band knowing when to slow things down a bit and inject some dark melody. 'Burnt Offerings' was a synth based track starting out, proving that Decayed can create some dark and evil atmosphere, but soon degenerated into a rather bland "intro" like track. The guitar work is quite noteworthy on this disc, as the lead riffs are well done and create a dark atmosphere, though totally within the black metal realm. A good disc, one that goes "back to basics" without sacrificing production quality; it's a nice album for headbanging black metal fanatics.
Contact: Folter Records.

DEPRESSED MODE "Ghosts Of Devotion" (Firebox) SCORE: 99/100

An amazing masterpiece of funereal doom/death metal. The sound of this album, however, is definitely NOT in one "dimension." Female vocals accompany the harsh death metal styled vocals, and the female vocals come directly from Ms. Natalie Koskinen herself, who you might remember being the female voice of Shape Of Despair. But right there the similarity ENDS, especially starting off the opening track 'Alone.' The piano notes often set the backdrop for the mood of whatever song they're utilized in, from gloomy and dark ('Alone,' 'Ghosts Of Devotion') to beautiful, sad and melancholy ('Cold,' 'Words Of Silence') but true to their credit, the mood and atmospheres vary to a degree within the framework of each song. I definitely did dig the etherial vibe on the album, in fact a tune like 'The Sun Is Dead' is noteworthy in how they process the vocals, as even the death metal styled vocals (deep, harsh growls) and sung male vocals have this eerie echo to them, at times making them sound like distant ghosts long forgotten. The aforementioned track is a good example of how they mix atmospheres and emotions without everything caving in on each other, like the melodic piano notes suddenly giving way to crushingly heavy guitars, and of course CD ender 'Cold' supplying sorrowful violin like sounds and melodic piano notations, only to bring about the heavier instrumentation and death styled vocals a few minutes later, all the while still keeping in line with the sorrowful backdrop created at the song's beginning. Keeping things interesting even further, they have one song with a rather electronic feel (somewhat industrialized) using female vocals ONLY ('Fallen Angel'), while still keeping the darkness present. It would be a difficult task to say what the heaviest song is here, or the lightest, but 'Cold' is a fantastic CD ending song. The Burzum cover of 'Dunkelheit' is my only complaint, and usually I'll start this off by saying most doom/death albums barely get to 6 songs, let alone 9, but this song did seem to drag a bit too long for it's 6 minutes in length (especially considering the fact that there aren't very many lyrics in the song to speak of, let alone the OTHER fact that there's very little variety to the instrumentation). It's still done well, especially utilizing louder and heavier piano notes (I assume Varg would be pleased) and sung male vocals. Many of these tracks start out with piano notations and very little else before giving way to heavier sounds, and it's the insistence on making the piano notes an integral, yet vital, part of the framework that gives them the nods of extreme approval. A masterpiece in a genre that sees very few releases in a year, proving that Firebox has signed yet another extremely high quality act to their already impressive roster.
Contact: Firebox Records.

DIAMOND HEAD "What's In Your Head?" (Livewire) SCORE: 81/100

How refreshing it was to see what has to be one of the longest running NWOBHM bands EVER come back with a new singer, especially with all the trouble over Sean Harris' departure (and events leading up to his final jump from the ship, read the interview this issue for more details). Doing vocal duties is none other than Nick Tart, who seems to have more of a punk background than the metal repertoire he is asked to perform, but does SUCH an admirable job that one has to wonder why he never had any success as a metal singer! He has a rather uncanny resemblance to Sean Harris at times, but manages to stand out on his own, and has quite the range while able to deliver a sometimes dark, moody and slightly aggressive heaviness that hasn't been seen in Diamond Head before. And on to the album, there's no doubt that this is indeed one of the heaviest and darkest records the band has come up with, leaving Brian Tatler as the sole remaining member of Diamond Head from the earliest of days. The CD starts off with 'Skin On Skin,' which is one of the heaviest cuts on the record, and it's amazing how the instrumentation portrays a rockin' sound while utilizing a dark style and sound! This is NWOBHM reinvented for the Y2K generation baby!! You gotta love the thrashier riffs, which are sprinkled throughout the album. (Once again, the interview this issue expands upon this). Followup 'I Feel No Pain' is aggressive but still a bit melodic; the catchy riffs and choruses tell you what you need to know. 'This Planet And Me' is a bit more melodic, well, at first anyway. I did find the choruses to be more energetic than the mainlines of the song, and from then on things slide a little. 'Reign Supreme' has to be one of the worst cuts on the album, this slow haunting tune seems to be going in favor of adarker direction, leaving the actual song structure itself suffering. The last half of the song does pick up quite a bit, surprisingly giving off more melodic instrumentation. 'Killing Me' is the longest cut on the record at over 6 minutes, and personally the first few minutes (some odd noisy ambience and very odd, offkey sounding guitar riffs) could have been scrapped. However, once the heavier instrumentation kicks in (and it's a bit faster too) it's a good tune, complete with catchy choruses. Lots of solos instrumentation here folks, so see if it's to your liking. Ballad? Yep, there's two of them, though not a traditional sort of ballad. 'Tonight' is a "dark" ballad that has some heaviness in spots, but not sitting well with me, it's all so odd and eerie! There are, however, some great vocal melodies presented. The other "ballad" comes along about track 10, and the acoustic guitars mixed with some sort of tribal percussion was too off base for my tastes. I'll pass on this one. The title track gets back to rockin' though, with some down and dirty riffing which I like. HEAVY bass lines found within as well. These are dark melodies folks, and Diamond Head proves their diversity. The CD ends with one of the other best cuts on the record, in 'Victim,' and the riffs are damn heavy. The songs on this record that aren't the greatest are also not the worst either, and I dare say that if the songwriting is tightened up a bit, the next release is going to be a kick ass record that will most likely blow away everything they've ever recorded to date, especially with Brian's penchant for the heavier sides of metal. All in all, competent songs that will keep you interested even through some of the songs' weaker points.
Contact: The official Diamond Head website.

ELECTRIC EARTH "Vol. II: Words Unspoken" (Mausoleum) SCORE: 88/100

I am a bit surprised to hear a band like this on Mausoleum. I don't have to tell you much about the 20 years plus history of this Belgian record label, if you want to know more about the label and the metal bands they signed, check out the classic albums archive of this magazine! Electric Earth are known by many as "genre mixers," which may or may not be an accurate description. You'll hear a LOT of bottom heavy stoner rock riffs, some metal ones too, but the vocals are what keeps this from being a heavy metal band. Some have noted a 70's style influence, which may be true, some have even cited Soundgarden like grunge influences, which I can understand. The metal influences are not to be denied, however, especially on CD opener 'Drowning,' which unsurprisingly is going to be converted into a video. The headbanging riffs were a nice touch, though don't expect them to pop up all over the place. 'Words Unspoken' is a nice title track, and definitely has a stoner rock vibe in the guitar parts. And the lead singer can SING, his melodic vocals offering the biggest counterpoint to the simplistic but BIG heavy riffage. 'Again & Again' goes for the slow heavy thing too, and there's an eerie lead solo found within. Might I also mention the choruses are VERY catchy from track to track, even when some songs aren't as good as others, you can usually depend on a decent to strong chorus. 'Concubine' had a very interesting formula working: Stoner rock like guitars, a rockin' melody but nothing overpowering, only to give way to some heavy guitar work on the choruses before settling back into more melodic territory. See where these guys are? All over the place pretty much. One of the best tracks here has got to be 'Wheels Of Confession,' which I HAVE to admit would be a GREAT track on a soundtrack to a car racing video game. This is, not surprisingly, one of the faster tunes on the record, and some HEAVY riffing. 'Antichrist' not only has great lyrics, but some slow doomy riffs as well. The CD, sadly, starts to slide a bit on track 8, 'Magnetic Soul,' as it utilizes some very odd riffing starting the song and going all the way through it. It mars some of the good points of the tune, and then 'Little Song' was the token ballad I could have done without. The trippy wavey effects on the acoustic guitars were nice here, but it's just sung vocals and acoustics (the sung vocals, by the way, sounded a little too forced and high, nearly bringing on a throat strain!) 'Amplified' is the longest track here at over 5 minutes, and it is a full minute and 24 seconds before you hear vocals. This tune is more laid back and is kinda just there. The last two tracks aren't as promising, though they do have their moments: 'Heroes' continues the good catchy choruses while utilizing odd lead riffs and a wierd structure change halfway through the song (though points have to be given for the heavy rumbling bass guitars, which are unfortunately not backed up throughout), and CD ender 'Leaving The Darklands' is a bit more commercialized than the rest of the songs here. For all this, though, it's a CD that you should definitely be able to get into, and it IS different from other things out there. Mausoleum picking up a stoner rock styled band? That IS good news...
Contact: Mausoleum Records.

ELECTRIC WIZARD "Witchcult Today" (Candlelight) SCORE: 93/100

Electric Wizard had a LOT of problems the past few years, but it IS good to see not only a new album, but a new U.S. deal with Candlelight Records! The fact that they're still with Lee Dorrian's Rise Above Records in the U.K. shows that it was always known an Electric Wizard album would deliver the goods, and this particular record is no exception. This album is drenched in fuzzy distortion, and the heavy stoner drugged out effect is not lost on this listener! The title track starts the CD off nicely, and the CD utilizes a rather hypnotic effect, especially in the overt repetition of the choruses to many songs. The title track does have this tendency to creep along your subconscious like an evil grey mist, slowly seeping it's way into your brain. On followup 'Dunwich Horror,' the vocals at times sound rather evil, almost inhuman, like the Lovecraft creatures of old. Loudly sung vocals add to the heaviness as well. 'Satanic Rites Of Drugula' could write a horror movie of it's own just on the lyrical content! (It's about a vampire who is heavily into drinking the blood of victims who have, what else, drug filled veins!) Some of the darkest and most eerie of riffs are found on this song. Also some of the best leads on the album as well (some done up by newer member Liz Buckingham, formerly of Sourvein and of course the legendary 13). Next off is a short instrumental in 'Raptus,' which is rather strange but barely clocking in at over 2 minutes. The organ like sounds depicted a rather eerie horror movie feel. The guitar riffs sounds like they get wilder and crazier up until the last notes of the album, and the psychedelic effects of the looped and echoed riffs is not to be missed, DEFINITELY a throwback to the late 60's and acid tinged feedback of some of the more psychotic garage bands of the early 70's. 'The Chosen Few' was very cool as well, with the sung vocals settling into a more melodic (yet still dark) phase, and it sounded like there were a few synth pieces buried in the chaos. 'Torquemada 71' was one of my faves here, especially with the back and forth guitar riffs reminding me of steady cracks of the whip (the song's about torture, get it?) The ritualistic sounds of the opening of 'Black Magic Rituals And Perversions' was quite cool, the first half of this 11 minute piece was mostly instrumental with movie samples (once again, I'm assuming from the French movie "Frisson Des Vampires") and very dark and slow, but the latter half of this "song" was very minimal instrumentation; basically just slow drums and looped feedback coupled with barely audible movie samples (which annoyed me further by being in what I assume is either French or Italian, neither a language I speak). The CD closes out with 'Saturnine,' which is somewhat different for The Wizard in a way, in fact it somewhat harkens back to their earliest of days (the earliest of Electric Wizard days, mind you). It DEFINITELY sounded VERY 60's/70's, and a definite stoner pace, the lyrics are ALMOST on par with something that could have been written in the 60's (but there IS that "metal" slant to it of course). Finally, the 11 minutes in length might seem a bit too long for some, though the rather lengthy solo instrumentation at the song's end reminded me a bit of a jam session, somewhat like what bands like Phish and The Greatful Dead would do, just done in a much better way. Spacey sounds too generated in this track show Electric Wizard possibly exploring a more space rock sound (a la Hawkwind, Darxtar or bands of that ilk) and showcase a possible future influence for their next record. The Wizard is BACK folks, and causing plenty of drug induced, bad acid vibes, so get on board and pick this up!!
Contact: Candlelight Records.

ENTHRONED "Tetra Karcist" (Napalm) SCORE: 92/100

Many people are upset at the lineup change after the "XES Haereticum" album, as longtime frontman Sabathan is no longer doing vocal duties. That being said, I think this is one of the strongest Enthroned releases in quite some time, as new throatman Nornagest is indeed quite versatile and quite capable of belting out long winded screams that prove he is more than capable of filling the spiked boots of Sabathan (studio vocal trickeries aside). The CD is definitely a 10 track atmosphere of darkness, but what I HAVEN'T seen mentioned in reviews is just how emotionally crafted many of these songs are. There are lead solos presented in many tracks, of the ultra high ended variety, and they are quite simply amazing. They're utilized to add an extra dimension of melody, something that is inherent from CD opener 'Ingressus Regnum Spiritus,' which not only features hints of melody, but also Gregorian styled monk like chants to open the album up! This was rather a shock at first, though they're utilized to great effect (so are they real of sampled is my next question). 'Pray' starts our first blackened attack in vicious form, and it's blazing speed from the get go, proving that the war machine is on the march and ready to blaze a trail. The percussion is quite thunderous and full of precision, it seems the hands never stop flailing! There's no sacrifice of speed and a thunderous atmosphere here, and the opening of 'Tellum Scorpionis' is no exception. One major point has to be given at how these songs build up, as the instrumental 'Deviant Nerve Angelus' shows, it's got great acoustic riffs building up to the heavier ones, and some GREAT high ended leads (a definite highlight on this album) before suddenly giving way to the blazing speed of the next tune 'The Burning Dawn.' It's all about anticipation and diversity folks, and Enthroned has them in spades. There's even quite a few headbanging riffs to be found within (though not utilized at every turn, most notable on 'Nox,' and again on 'Vermin.') The album, unfortunately, seems to lose a bit of steam around the time 'Nox' comes in, and here the monk like chants arrive again, later on giving way to a few odd vocal passages and instrumentation that seems a bit more "by the numbers" though still vicious. 'Vermin' suffers a similar fate towards it's conclusion, leading me to believe that this 6 minute track is maybe a few minutes too long. The solo instrumentation on this particular cut seems lacking, especially noteworthy when you're listening to such skilled and superb guitar work. Everyone talks about "guitar heroes" noodling away at 100 miles per hour without bothering to craft each and every note with precision and feeling; you WON'T find that here. Dare we declare Nguaroth the Yngwie Malmsteen of black metal? CD ender 'Antares' was a rather odd choice for an ending tune; it's dark and highly ambient somewhat like Vinterriket but in a darker vein. All in all, the loss of Sabathan may have been a bit much for most to take, regardless of that fact bands have been scrapping vocalists with ferocity as of late (take Mayhem and Marduk for instance), but that hasn't hindered the blackened war machine from creating what is arguably their strongest and most intense work of art to date.
Contact: Napalm Records.

FALL OF THE LEAFE "Aerolithe" (Firebox) SCORE: 60/100

It was a bit sad to see this band call it a day. Even sadder to see them garner a score such as they get this issue. Obviously the band's statement over the reason for F.O.T.L.'s departure has as much to do with the overwhelmingly diverse sounds and styles of each band member as anything else, and this record ultimately proves it. Granted, when F.O.T.L. is in proper form, then they create catchy and enjoyable songs like 'All The Good Faith' and 'Sink Teeth Here.' The most obvious problem is how many songs have so many structure and even tempo changes that you can't really lock into anything. And I've listened to this CD more than 10 times or so, only to realize I not only can't place the style and sound of this band, but I also can't get some songs to "lock into place" for me. What they did try and do was call up some of the heaviest moments going all the way back to their black metal days ("Evanescent, Everfading," still one of their best records to date.) and mix that with the "gothic," or shall I say, more atmospheric and emotional parts. Their biggest blunder? 'Drawing Worry,' which has the speed annoyingly fast, while the vocals have this wierd megaphone like effect on them, not helping matters in the least. The structure changes force you to find a few passages within the song that you'll tolerate, at best appreciate, but songs like 'Lithe,' 'Graceful Retreat,' and 'Especially By Stealth' are all over the place and the heaviness isn't always effective. However, their heaviest track in quite awhile, 'Look Into Me,' seems to sum up what they were trying to bridge with the heavier side of themselves, and actually doing it correctly. This track has a rather sinister bottom end, and the almost death metal vocals are the most vicious they've done SINCE their first full length over 10 years ago. It's also quite interesting to hear the heavier, almost choppy thrash like riffs mix with the higher ended guitar work that takes on a more emotional tone. If the album had been done more like this, it might have been more enjoyable; however I have to think that they would have had to call themselves another name. The majority of tracks here, to sum up, aren't terrible, but there's much left to be desired, and many tunes are devoid of the catchiness and dynamics that made "Vantage," their last album for Firebox, such a success. SO sad to see them go, sadder still to see them having lost their way.
Contact: Firebox Records.

GLORIOR BELLI "Manifesting The Raging Beast" (Southern Lord) SCORE: 96/100

And here I thought all Southern Lord dealt with was doom metal and stoner rock like stuff!! Of course, after listening to the French black metal three piece, the choice of label makes more and more sense. Quite simply put, folks, the clear production underlies the dirty and haunting, evil overtones permeating this entire disc. The guitar riffs rarely ever dip into the high toned range, leaving the whole album dripping with sick, dark and downright creepy guitar work. The majority of the tracks are a bit slower in tempo as well, as if almost going for a haunting doom metal pace. The blackened vocals are quite sick, and long winded at times too. Tracks like 'Said Lucifer In Twilight,' 'Severed From The Self' and the title track start off at blazing speed; the rest, however, prefer to creep up from the darkness to later strike a quick blow. Each song will vary the tempo and speed quite a bit, so even the longest of songs have much variety to them (and on the slight downside, a track like 'Said Lucifer...' seems a bit TOO long at almost 6 minutes, especially given how many structure changes are presented). You won't find any guitar solos, and as mentioned before the guitars RARELY ever dip into a higher range, so you won't find the high toned icy riffs presented in some of the more common black metal bands. The title track, which ends the CD, is the lone exception, as the last minute or so of the song FINALLY sees Glorior Belli do a rather skilled lead solo that runs through to the end of the track. The CD pretty much stays the course from start to finish, and it's vicious, raw, and extremely sick yet skilled black metal, proving that the French underground black metal scene has been CRIMINALLY overlooked by all save your long running internet based music magazine Vibrations Of Doom (remember Elhaz and Mortifera?)
Contact: Southern Lord Recordings.

IMPIOUS "Holy Murder Masquerade" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 92/100

A very interesting concept storyline (I hate to use the word concept album) about a man ending a bloodline "tainted with evil" gives the backdrop for this latest release in a long string of mostly good albums by Sweden's Impious. The packaging is nicely done as well, utilizing the comic book format to deliver a few lyrics from each song: something to add to the overall theme behind the album. Also added are a few spoken word samples from the killer, and an interesting news report all add spice to what is essentially a sick and brutal album full of surprising melodies and emotional lead solos. It reminds me a bit of a mix of modern era Gothenberg death metal with the classic sounds of early Entombed and Dismember, though the vocals are pretty sick and quite up front. 'The Confession' starts the album off in fine fashion, and what you'll notice is that the majority of songs here are at an almost dizzying pace, with thrashy and choppy downtuned guitars adding to the brutalized element. 'Bound To Bleed' was a bit confusing, though, even if it retains the punishing speed. There's a few oddly sung passages, and the slower instrumentation got a bit confusing. The title track too utilizes a somewhat slower pace, and suffers a bit for it, even if the choruses pick up quite a bit. CD ender 'Dark Closure' makes the best use of a slower tempo, going almost for a CD ending epic feeling. As I stated earlier, it's amazine how melodic some of these guitar passages are in spots considering the subject matter (a fact most evident on the CD ender). 'Three Of One' bludgeons you right over the head immediately right after the track named 'Slaughtertown Report' (which is the news report on the day of murder in the town), and is no less brutal than anything else on record. Other standout tracks are 'Bloodcraft,' 'T.P.S.,' and 'Everlasting Punishment,' the latter most noteworthy for having a good variety of thrashy passages (and probably the best variety on the entire CD). A rather fast paced affair, at times sounding like a very competent mix of the oldschool Swedish death metal and the newer Gothenberg style akin to Soilwork or In Flames (the better end of that deal). Having been around for quite a long time, it's obvious that Impious knows how to craft some brutal material while adding a dash of melody to make it all work.
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

KAUAN "Lumikuuro" (Bad Mood Man) SCORE: 100/100

I WANT MORE RECORDS LIKE THIS!!! Labels, if you're listening, and you sign bands this diverse, epic and emotional in scope, PLEASE get in touch with me! Easily one of the most AMAZING releases I've heard for 2007, this Russian band obviously takes GREAT inspiration from Finnish band Tenhi (they even utilize their font for their logo, and their band name is quite obviously taken from Tenhi's first full length release entitled "Kauan," which was reviewed by us in issue #23). Folk/black/doom is a good way to describe what they do, but it goes SO far beyond that. 'Alku' starts the CD off quite simply, with wind sounds and solo piano notes, leading up into dual piano notes (is it two pianos or one playing on the upper half?) 'Aamu Ja Kaste' kicks things off in fine fashion, utilizing heavier metal styled guitars in a somewhat doom metal fashion, and then the sick black metal styled vocals kick in! And what a ride this will be for the duration of the disc's 43 minutes. Violins, flutes, bell notes, even the occasional saxophone (not heard until track 7, 'Villiruusu,' and then again on CD ender 'Syleilyn Sumu' (the acoustic version, more on that later!)). There is obviously TONS of variation to the tempos and structures on every track, making 5 minute tracks like 'Villiruusu' and 'Syleilyn Sumu' seem longer than they are. So much is packed into them, you don't get much of a chance to get bored, and they keep things interesting by adding clean sung vocals to the mix as well. The best track on the CD is quite obviously a song that spawned an acoustic version at the end of the CD (main difference is very little in the way of vocals, all clean sung, no black metal vocals, and no heavy guitars), 'Syleilyn Sumu,' with some of the most tear inducing and beautiful instrumentation to be found on the entire CD. What's doing this is the violins and the pianos coupled with the bell notes. Minimal instrumentation seems to work for Kauan due to very interesting layering effects. The heavier guitars are at their darkest and most vicious on 'Savu,' and check out those flutes, man! The saxophone was an interesting addition, though they didn't utilize it very often; maybe they felt it wouldn't fit the majority of the format of this album. The drummer obviously has skills in heavier styled of metal, as you can hear him do speedier double bass drumming albeit for a few seconds (like on 'Koivun Elama,' obviously the faster drumming wouldn't have worked well overall). There's been comparisons to Tenhi, Empyrium, and Agalloch, though you'd have to throw ALL those bands in there to come close to TRYING to describe what Kauan does so well. One of the most amazing, diverse and emotionally charged albums of 2007, and I eagerly await the followup to what is easily one of the BEST albums of 2007, hands down.
Contact: Bad Mood Man Music. (Through Solitude Productions)

NORDICWINTER "Threnody" (None More Black) SCORE: 83/100

So what, you think the Scandinavians have the monopoly on dark, frozen tundras? Lest we forget, many parts of Canada are encased in frozen sheets of ice for the majority of winter, where Nordicwinter calls home. Borrowing heavily from the Scandinavian's penchant for freezing cold atmosphere and landscapes transmuted through vocals and guitars, this first CD release is enjoyable, if one looks past the few flaws. Drawing from a mixture of icy black metal and doom, with a bit of Celtic Frost obeisance thrown in, makes for a good backdrop from which the Canadians paint their canvas. 'Crimson Moon' starts the CD off nicely, and I must say the lead guitar work does a very nice job of performing the brush strokes. This song in particular carries a bit of majestic overtones as well as some doomy and freezing stringwork, complete with black metal styled vocals that not only sound as if they were recorded in a deep icy cavern, but the long winded screams sometimes sound like fast moving icy winds! 'Enshrined In Ice' starts off the Celtic Frost worship, though the tune starts out fast and vicious, portraying the black metal elements instrumentation wise. The songs do vary in tempo and speed quite a bit for the majority of the disc. I sensed that there was useage of a drum machine on the album, which might bring to mind Kraftwerk like coldness (remember the influence Kratfwerk had on the earliest members of Mayhem). 'Unto Dark Winds' had some rather odd lead guitar work to start, and detracted from the song a bit, especially on some of the solos. The sorrowful guitars were nice. There's a good headbanging pace to be found on 'Ancient Prophecies,' and of course the icy guitar tones are an added bonus, however we're starting to, at this point, hear a bit of repetition in the guitar riffs; even if there are slight variations, like on tracks 7 and 8, which were one of the weak points of the CD, as these two songs ('Legions' and 'Of Mist And Shadows,' respectively) delve more into Celtic Frost territory and don't really leave that strong of a mark on the album. Gone from these are the high ended icy leads, as I said seemingly more of a slower tribute to Celtic Frost and lacking a bit. 'A Winter's Veil' was a rather kick ass track, and CD ender 'A Blissful Twilight Death' was the longest track on the album at nearly 7 minutes, but had some nice melancholic guitar work and the trademark icy leads, along with some rather haunting passages. All in all, a good representation of a true "nordic winter," complete with everything you'd expect from a good mixture of scandinavian like black and doom metal (though to be honest, you'll see more being written about this being black metal than anything to do with doom metal. Listen for yourself and see).
Contact: None More Black Records.

ONSLAUGHT "Killing Peace" (Candlelight) SCORE: 82/100

When I first heard Onslaught was not only back together AND with a new album, but with Sy Keeler BACK on the frontlines no less, I HAD to hear this! The problem with doing this review is the CD's been out for almost a year, but we had been trying to get Candlelight BACK onto our distribution lists for almost a year and a half now (ALL HAIL DAVE BRENNER!!!) So when the first batch of Candlelight stuff came to me last year, this wasn't in it... Took us awhile to track this down, and there's things that NEED to be said that WEREN'T. First off, I gotta ask: WHAT THE FUCK happened to Sy Keeler? Did aliens clone him? The vocals on this record sound MORE like Exodus than Exodus does now! Of course, Sy STILL has the high notes, but remember my favorite Onslaught record "The Force" is over 21 years old!! Sy's vocals have changed so much he's almost unrecognizable. He DOES have an almost death metal/slight hardcore delivery as well, which means when he DOES hit high notes it's amazing that they're still clear. Choruses to songs like 'Burn' and 'Shock 'N' Awe' have a somewhat modern extreme metal approach (I dare not say hardcore, metalcore, or even death metal because I'm not sure what fits where). The band, however, is pissed off and angry as hell, which means this album is probably going to be seen as one of their heaviest. But "The Force" had thrashy riffs and a certain eerie tone about it that this record doesn't have. Take 6 minute track 'Twisted Jesus,' which is 6 minutes long (like many songs from "The Force," a record I mention A LOT, so get used to it). The slower guitar parts sound EXACTLY like Slayer's 'South Of Heaven' and unfortunately the band forgot how slow builds are supposed to build a creeping sense of awe and excitement leading to the buildup of the faster and dynamic material (For example, see 'Flame Of The Antichrist,' 'Demoniac,' and 'Metal Forces,' all from, of course, "The Force.") And faster the band does get, along with thunderous percussion and faster vocal delivery. Yes, this is thrash, and the guitars are TIGHT, but sometimes the lead solos get a tad sloppy (witness 'Prayer For The Dead' and 'Tested To Destruction,' from the new album I'm reviewing of course!) It's obvious the band hasn't gelled together completely, but hey, their last studio offering was in 1989, so for a record that's over 18 years past due, cut the band a TAD bit of slack... The title track was cool too, and some of those slower breakdowns definitely come from more modern eras of metal, but still vicious and thrashy. Yeah, to me this record definitely sounds like 80's thrash purposefully brought up to modern ideas and standards, complete with killer production (though to be honest, I didn't see anything wrong with the original production of "The Force.") and good songwriting ideas, but it's NOT on par with "The Force." To be fair, the band has sounded different on EVERY album (Even "In Search Of Sanity" had good moments, and a good singer in Steve Grimmet, even if that really wasn't the band's true face), so it's no surprise that maybe album number 4 should be different as well. You'll still get a stiff neck from several songs here, so let's see what album number 5 brings! (Incidentally, check out their live DVD from Poland to see how the old songs sound with Sy's "New Voice!").
Contact: Candlelight Records.

PALE DIVINE "Cemetery Earth" (I Hate) SCORE: 80/100

Yep, people are gonna notice it... It's a low score, compared to what I usually give, especially to bands in the doom genre (people have a habit of saying, "If it's doom metal, it'll score HIGH in Steven's mag.") Well people, I'm here to tell you that something seemed off about this band this time around. I have listened to this CD several, and I mean SEVERAL times, and I still can't put my finger on exactly WHAT drops the score down for this band. Ultra slow riffs? Check. Ultra slow riffs starting nearly EVERY song? Hmmm... Not as much of a distraction as you might think, but check. Low toned vocals? Check. They're all clean sung, and I think I might have hit the nail on the head. I'll explain of course. The CD starts off with 'The Eyes Of Destiny,' having a sort of headbanging approach to the doomy stoner vibe, and seems a bit straightforward. Some faster instrumentation is to be found, though when the guitars go solo they definitely get noticed. 'Fire And Ice' seems to be a straightforward metal tune as well, even with the slight headbanging tendencies shown us by the riff master. And herein lies the problem, as the vocals and instrumentation aren't grabbing me by the throat, even for a metal anthem. True to form, when the solo instrumentation takes off (and speeds up a bit, especially with the ultra skilled and fast lead solos) you're left awestruck, but when your solo skills seem out of place on such a laid back approach, something seems to be wrong. And don't get me wrong, these are NOT bad tunes, just not filled with energetic catchiness and epic dynamics. Straight, by the numbers doomy metal. By the time 'Broken Wings,' track three rolled around, I figured I was in for more of the same (seeing as how I actually like the opening track). The vocals and opening instrumentation were cool, but the choruses just sounded like basic extensions of the mainline vocals and instrumentation! Weak choruses hampered this one a bit. They slow it down, they speed it up, and the instrumentation itself saves the rest of the song. Then your 8 minute piece '(I Alone) The Traveller' has amazing solo instrumentation and still leaves me saying the track is WAY too long. What's going on here? Well, by the time the 10 minute title track rolls around, things take off downhill in a BIG and pleasant way! The title track is hands down one of the best written tracks on the album, and emotionally soaring, from the vocals to the song structures. THIS is a great Pale Divine tune! Worth EVERY SECOND of the almost 11 minutes in length. Amazing solos and harmonies, man. A short instrumental follows, 1:47 in length with some pianos and synths. Slower instrumentation starts off the last 4 tracks, and those are indeed better than the rest. CD closer 'The Conqueror Worm' has very dark passages, and interesting acoustic like effects that reminded me a LOT of the Orange Goblin platter "Frequencies From Planet Ten." Sinister vocals on this track give the heavy vibes a rather dark psychedelic touch, and quite unique. All I have to say is, thank god the vocalist is also a guitar player, because skilled though the solo instrumentation is, there's a TON of it on every song, meaning live this guy would get bored outta his mind singing maybe three or four lines in a 5 or 6 minute piece! Okay, I'm exaggerating just a bit, but even though this CD is good, I see where it could have been SO much better. The laid back passages work much better later on in the disc, saving the remaining 5 tracks and keeping this from becoming a disaster.
Contact: I Hate Records.

RAVENDUSK "Astroblack Advent" (Mondongo Canibale) SCORE: 93/100

From a Spanish label with one of the wierdest names in history comes the second full length release from Ravendusk, a band hailing from Poland (a country that spawned Behemoth, Vader and Decapitated). At first glance one might be willing to write this band off as a Dimmu Borgir clone, which would be a sad mistake, even if 'Profound Effect' starts off with bombastic symphonics you'd swear you heard on "Death Cult Armageddon," however the symphonics and guitars mesh quite well, even creating some stunning atmospherics (check out the amazing piano notations on 'Will As Heresy,' EASILY the best cut on the album.) The vocals are a somewhat interesting mix of both black AND death metal, however on a few tracks a rather odd sung voice is utilized... Sometimes to decent effect (such as on 'Forever Obscure' and 'Lucifer Worlds), sometimes making one cringe (most noted on 'Enigma Neo Blessed'). The instrumentation is the top notch in the belt here, creating amazing atmosphere while the guitars thrash away. Many songs here are right around the 4 minute mark and are quite varied both in structure AND in tempo, meaning songs aren't always blazing away at top speed. The vocals do an adequate job throughout, but like I stated earlier, it's the instrumentation that will catch you. I'm most impressed with the rather majestic atmosphere the synths take, especially on the title track and 'Profound Effect.' The percussion I thought should have been more up front; the double bass kickdrums are rather audible but the toms and snares are rather weak in comparison. That being said it's a minor point, however everything ELSE seems to be mixed VERY well; even the vocals don't overpower everything else. A really nice job of songwriting and creating songs that are catchy and full of diversity from the tempos and atmospheres down to the structures themselves, and full of variety (which makes mere 4 minute tracks seem a lot more complex than they really are). I definitely look forward to hearing another full length from these guys, and I have a feeling even Dimmu haters will find a lot to enjoy as well.
Contact: Mondongo Canibale Records.

SEAR BLISS "The Arcane Odyssey" (Candlelight) SCORE: 96/100

WOW! Where the fuck has THIS band been all my life? "The Arcane Odyssey" is the Hungarian blackened horde's SIXTH full length album and the first one I've ever heard. Let me start out by saying this: If you think that there's nothing new to be done with a genre that's over 15 years old, then Sear Bliss will have you rethinking that statement. Black metal utilizing slow and faster passages, it makes for diversity on every track. Most noteworthy of this is 'Lost And Not Found,' where you have some slow, heavy and DARK instrumentation, only to add a nice acoustic guitar break nearly midway, adding some amazingly melodic lead solo guitars. There's lots of structure and tempo changes here too, and this is one of the few tracks not featuring their secret weapon. What might that be you ask? This band employs a permanent full time trombone player! Yeah, at first glance you might think how wierd, but the horn section actually gives a rather majestic and almost medieval feel to the framework! The CD starts off with 'Blood On The Milky Way' being an 8 minute piece you won't get tired of, and be rest assured there's plenty of heavy and fast blackened mayhem. The vocals are black metal styled as well, and are very vicious. The trombones are quite ominous themselves when they want to be. Points off? Well, track 5 'The Venomous Grace' had quite a bit of guitar work that didn't sit well with me. The latter part of the track picks up quite a bit though, especially when the tempo changes to blast speed and the horns are added. The best track here? 'Somewhere,' which is 9 minutes in length (although the last 2 minutes are dead silence, is that a deliberate thing or a processing error?). The track starts off immediately at a fast and furious pace, but breaks down to a rather beautiful and mellow set of acoustic guitars, piano notes and a rather sad and melancholic trombone piece that will bring tears to the eye. Even the guitars get in on this one for an amazing solos leading slowly back up to a bit of heaviness. This has to be heard to believed!! (That's what the soundfiles are for). CD ender 'Path To The Motherland' takes nods to Finntroll and Moonsorrow with the folkish violins and tribal percussion, before going into headbanging mode. The other tunes are all amazing in their own right, and when you listen to this CD, the atmosphere just throws you right in. There's even synthesized passages too, all creating an otherworldly ambience that has to be experienced to be believed. One of the best black metal releases of 2007, coming practically out of nowhere.
Contact: Candlelight Records.

SLOUGH FEG "Hardworlder" (Cruz Del Sur) SCORE: 99/100

Hardly a surprise, right? Not much comes out of Cruz Del Sur that I don't like, actually I don't think I've heard ANYTHING that wasn't good. This band hits it right on the head, there's epic 70's rock riffs, a gallon and a half of well crafted lead solos, fuck, this is a GUITAR record! And the vocals go along well with everything else, though it could be made mention that members of Hammers Of Misfortune and Slough Feg seem to be interchangeable (in case you are going "I swear I've heard those vocals before). 13 tracks here, and no duds (though an annoying point of contention, which I'll get to later). The keyword to this disc is CATCHY!! Choruses are the "stick in your head" variety, and the songs all vary in length, tempos and structures. A short instrumental starts the CD off (one of about three), before launching into 'Tiger! Tiger!' which is one of the first songs you notice with such great guitar work. 'The Sea Wolf' adds the epic, folkish feel and will have you swinging your mug 'o mead in time to the music. Acoustic guitars are entwined in the song as well and definitely DO NOT seem out of place. There's LOTS of short songs on here, many barely hitting the 3 minute mark, which makes the 13 tracks go by a bit quicker and keep one from getting bored. It's as if they discussed and planned out EVERYTHING, from the song lengths to the whole album concept and instrumentation! One of the heaviest, more headbanging metal tunes is 'Frankfurt-Hahn Airport Blues,' despite having the word 'blues' in it. It's filled with killer wild lead solos, aggressive vocals and monstrous riffing! 'Insomnia' will definitely be another favorite of true metalheads, especially with those galloping opening riffs. There's an epic feeling especially towards the end, somewhat like the multivocal chants Legend did waaay back in '79 with 'The Golden Bell,' though done up in a much heavier context. Varying tempos make this track stand out that much more. 'Karma-Kazee' is one of the longest tracks on the album, at a mere 5:22 (which is short by doom metal standards, by the way), and also makes use of varying tempos and structures. My biggest gripe? A small one, on the song 'Karma-Kazee,' there's a few solo leads that (NOT like a lead solo, understand?) sound a bit off, and they pop up more than a few times on this track. They don't totally kill the song, as usually there's nothing else going on (especially vocal wise), and they don't distract from the folkish feel, but they should go. And the 'Whirling Vortex' track is a mere 1:19 instrumental that not only seems average by the band's standards, but WHY did they have to fade out the ending? They probably should have cut this one. CD ender 'Street Jammer' is indeed the Manilla Road cover from 1980, and lemme tell ya, it's MUCH heavier and better than the original version, with vocalist Michael Scalzi even going so far as to emulate Mark Shelton's rougher edged singing vocals! This disc SCREAMS class, power and diverse songwriting and instrumentation skills, and is a testament to a metalhead's creative streak of brilliance. Easily one of the most innovative, diverse and kick ass records of 2007.
Contact: Cruz Del Sur Music.

TERHEN "Eyes Unfolded" (Firebox) SCORE: 90/100

Another in the stable of doom/death bands signed to Firebox, Terhen is a somewhat new band formed out of the ashes of Thamuz, which was a more black and death metal oriented band. very few of the black metal elements remain, though the band has added female vocals and synthesizers. This is a 5 track, 53 minute affair, so you know pretty much what you're getting. This is indeed good quality music, in fact this band on nearly every song utilizes a mixture of instrumental moods ranging from light and melodic to dark and heavy. The CD starts off with 'Influences' clocking in at 13+ minutes, adding some blackened vocal workand an almost industrial like sound effects backdrop (though regular percussion is utilized). The funereal synths sound almost like a church organ, and are one of the strongest aspects of the CD. 'Six Months' follows with some haunting synth lines and rather intricate drum work, going a bit above what you would normally hear in doom/death metal of this speed. The vocal work, it has to be mentioned, is quite sick and harsh, adding a nice backdrop, and the contrast between lighter instrumentation (msotly on the part of the synths) and harsh vocals is amazingly well done, especially on the CD closer 'Wandering.' The biggest gripes for me almost all reside within track 3 'Last Moments.' The instrumentation here is not bad but seems a bit by the numbers, though the synth like vocal chants opening the track were nice. The few female vocals that pop up here I thought were rather weak, especially when they work so much better on the CD's closing track (a situation that becomes more painfully obvious when you realize that the female vocals are rarely utilized over the course of 53 minutes, and really only on two songs). There's some odd soundscapes that stop the song midpoint (as sometimes is the case) before the heaviness resumes. The spoken vocals on 'What Truly Is Real' reminded me for a second of Shape Of Despair (via their "Shades Of..." CD) and was a nice addition without being overused. The instrumentation is at it's height on the CD's closing track, seemingly very rich and varied, and shows the most variation on instrumentation moods. A nice CD, but considering how few songs there are, one track with flaws kinda brings the score down a bit overall, though one cannot deny the amazing consistency Firebox has had over the years.
Contact: Firebox Records.

THE AUSTRASIAN GOAT "The Austrasian Goat" (I Hate) SCORE: 95/100

This CD is damn interesting, especially with the nods to funereal doom metal that fits right at home with I Hate's roster. This project adds sick and harsh black metal styled vocals to everything, which further adds a diverse influence due to the fact there's lots of melancholic and, dare I say, melodic landscapes masterfully created by the synths. Opening track 'Pyre Without Flames' is a good example, starting off with dark ambient synths, only to plunge into dirty, bleak and distorted guitar work. The contrast of synths and guitars give many compositions an almost otherworldly, cosmic feel to them. There is minimal involvement with percussion, but when it is present, it takes on a rather explosive, deep and thunderous tone, as if the shockwaves of the world being blasted apart. Three tracks on this record are seen as short "breaks," if you will, beautiful at times and dark and haunting at others, and they are instrumental passages. 'Embrace A Green Distress' utilizes piano notations amongst a minimal yet dark landscape, while one of my favorite short pieces 'The Fall Of EVerything' is a nice, echoey ambient landscape, utilizing one note acoustic guitars filled with that wavey effect for a striking piece. Track 3, 'The Banks Of The Shadow's River,' I heard a few odd guitar riffs that didn't sit well with me, thankfully they're minimal, as this is mainly a guitar oriented track. 'I Hate The Human Race' is a Grief cover, and very masterfully done, especially with the sick and oppressive multivocal tracks. It's very slow and VERY heavy. 'Black Is Not A Colour' is probably the heaviest and sickest of the bunch, and it contains such an oppressive and eerie atmosphere. The guitar work here is extremely distorted and very high end, casting a somewhat grey shadow over a blackened landscape. There's a certain beauty in all this, especially considering the skill of the crafter. The CD ending tune 'Unchained' runs a tad long at almost 12 minutes, but does an excellent job of continuing the harsh and oppressive atmosphere, with dark yet melancholic guitar work. I really enjoyed this, and it's obvious that the dismal and bleak landscapes occasionally give way to moments of solitude and beauty, making for a diverse canvas on which these paints are thrown. I look forward to the next full length!
Contact: I Hate Records.

THE FUCKING WRATH "Season Of Evil" (Goodfellow) SCORE: 94/100

All hail Dave Brenner!!! This man singlehandedly, besides putting us BACK on the Candlelight roster, has introduced us to no less than 7 or 8 brand spankin' NEW record labels! This is the first band for us from Goodfellow Records, and how do I categorize them? Is it metal, heavy rock with stoner rock AND doom metal influences, maybe some hardcore shouted vocal work thrown in? Yes, yes, and FUCKING yes!! You gotta love that band name! The main point with this record is speed, which they have in abundance (sometimes a bit TOO much), and yes these songs rock with intensity and fury. The majority of songs on this 11 song affair BARELY touch the 2 minute mark, and the record clocks in at a mere 26 minutes!! Get in, slay and get out, these former and current record store owners have obviously spent a great deal of time listening to and learning from the multitude of albums they carry in their respective shelves. The CD starts off with 'Ride The Lighter,' and that coupled with the track 'To The Eels,' (which has in it's chorus 'Run To The Eels,' an obvious play on British pronunciation and Iron Maiden to boot) proves that this band is having a damn good time and not taking themselves too seriously. This band grew out of extensive jam sessions for the eel's sake! The heavy stoner rock presence has not been mentioned much in the press, though the higher ended guitar riffs on tracks like 'The Womb,' 'Gaze Of The Cyclops' and "hit single" 'Past Your Grave' remind me STRONGLY of Water Dragon Records' stoner brutalizers Rite, especially since the vocal work (often of a dual nature) is nearly all shouted, with a tinge of black metal, probably more akin to hardcore than death metal. Rite, for being a stoner rock band associated with the "Water Dragon sound" (along with heavier moments of bands like Sparzanza and Honcho), definitely proved that stoner rock can brutalize you on another level, kinda like what bands like At The Gates did to death metal with the melodic and harmonious lead guitar work. It's this kinda stuff, coupled with the high energy of punk rock (not to mention the fact that SO many songs don't even hit the 2 and a half mark), that makes The Fucking Wrath so fucking unique. A couple of sore spots for me, though, were the downtuned and slower guitar riffs on 'Hell Flies Tonight,' definitely one of the weakest cuts here. That song and 'The Defeater' right before it shows that, though the lead solo work is very good at times, it needs to be tightened up just a tad. The vocal work on the slower instrumentation on 'Hell Flies...' definitely lost me. And the wierd riffs as well set me back, fortunately they carry the speed and more high ended stoner riffing to the end and made a definite grab for the goal. The riffs are catchy, the "heavier than thou" stoner rock attitude and the high energy and catchiness of punk rock make this band damn near unclassifiable and a record that is well worth owning. Though the fast pace is in abundance, I am definitely stoked about hearing this stuff live.
Contact: Goodfellow Records.

THE HIDDEN HAND "The Resurrection Of Whiskey Foote" (Southern Lord) SCORE: 42/100

Wino apparently is no more with this band... This record may tell why. Now granted, I am NO expert on all things Wino but I do have several records from The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, St. Vitus, and yes, a few from The Hidden Hand. And I hate to say it, but this is one of the worst records Scott's ever put his name to. First up, I don't believe Wino does all the vocal work on this album, though as I've said before, he has an uncanny ability for working with people who sound close to his style of singing. Whether it's Bruce or Wino doing the poor Blackie Lawless vocal style, the fact remains that two songs are almost completely ruined by them: the title track, hands down the worst song on the album, and 'Lightning Hill,' which surprisingly is one of the most varied cuts on the album (and truth be told, the "Lawless" vocal style works a bit better on some passages here, quite simply because the music is faster and a bit heavier, like a heavier southern rock. More on that later). The CD starts off innocently enough with a short track 'Purple Neon Dream,' that utilizes some cool vocal effects and a melodic side The Hidden Hand isn't usually known for. From track 2 'Someday Soon' it's all downhill... This track does have some dark and heavy yet slow guitar work, but something's not quite right about this tune, and I can't 100% put my finger on WHY. The vocals may be trying too hard to BE dark and mysterious, and the guitars have an odd ending to their pattern of riffs. It's not a horrible track, but... Anyway, The vocals work better on the followup track 'Dark Horizons,' but once again something's off. The guitars, once again, are slightly suspect. Even the lead solos here sounded a bit off! Damnit Wino!!! Okay, finally we come to one of the first (and sadly, few) great cuts on the record. 'Spiritually Bereft' is FINALLY doing something right. The choruses are catchy, the guitars are heavily downtuned and have the PROPER dark atmosphere, and even adding some slightly melodic vocal slash instrumentation passages worked in their favor. Then it's time for the downhill tumble again with 'The Lesson.' Once again, either it's the vocals, the guitars or a combination of both. Here it's both. The vocals are doing this yelling thing, once again seemingly forcing the heaviness when it's not there, and though there's some nice Sabbath styled riffs, it's NOT THERE. The melodic singing was off as well, and it happens AGAIN on CD ender 'Slow Rain' (which is WAY too long at over 7 minutes). 'Majestic Presence' is a better tune as well, a heavy tune with the vocals done right, and a track sounding like it came right out of the Obsessed/Spirit Caravan catalog. Interesting still was the previously mentioned 'Lightning Hill,' with the harmonica and catchy southern rock styled guitars, an ass kicking track but still nothing great. So maybe 3 or 4 "keepers" on a CD of 10, and a track or two that's "okay" but nothing great, and Wino's legacy seems a bit tarnished... Either that or I'm overtly picky about vocals, but when the singer can't hold my interest, neither can anything else. Sadly it's not just the VOCALS that drown this but the mediocre songwriting and the "all over the place" influences. Sounds like Bruce and Wino clashed QUITE A BIT over each and every song, being lucky to "hit" on a song for it's entirety...
Contact: Southern Lord Records.

THE VISION BLEAK "The Wolves Go Hunt Their Prey" (Napalm) SCORE: 94/100

There sure are a lot of bands with "the" in their name. This is the German horror masters' third full length and first for Napalm Records. Right off the bat, the first thing people will notice is how similar the darkly sung vocals are to Brooklyn's own Type O Negative; hopefully that hasn't scared you off yet. This is a HEAVY record, and makes full use of atmospheric synths and the occasional blackened vocals to create a eerie, dark and heavy vibe running throughout the entire album. 'Amala & Kamala,' not sure what the title refers to, starts the album off as a short but very interesting instrumental that is VERY cinematic and movie soundtrack like. 'She-Wolf' then kicks in and the first noticeable thing is the dark and heavy, almost thrash like riffs. The blackened vocals, unfortunately, are not utilized as often as I would have liked, but some more melodic clean sung vocals ARE on this track, and that will definitely have people thinking Type O for sure. The choruses could have been a bit more creative lyric wise, but a very minor point for such a dark and heavy atmosphere. 'The Demon Of The Mire' continues things on as possibly one of the best tracks on the album, and it's amazing how crushing the dark atmosphere is from the heavy guitars and the horror laced synths combining with the utterly dark and mysterious vocals. A very unique presence here! The CD continues of with the "Black Pharaoh" trilogy, starting off with 'The Introduction' which does a fantastic job of portraying an Egyptian landscape. This comes complete with tribal percussion and middle eastern styled music. The multivocal chants add something special, and then comes 'The Shining Trapezohedron,' which is a nod to Lovecraft (and I'm not quite sure how the Lovecraft thematic fits in with the Egyptian landscape) and a truly dark and horrific tune. Catchy choruses abound on the entire disc and here is no exception. The followup 'The Vault Of Nephren-Ka' continues the ultra heavy and deadly thrash work, but something was a bit off in the song's framework. It's a decent tune, but not quite on par with the rest, and the same can be said to the followup 'The Eldritch Beguilement.' The dark synths and heavy leads were nice, though the guitar work sounded awfully similar to passages from before. 'Evil Is Of Old Date' is definitely a headbanging piece, as much as a track like this could be, and I must note that the bass guitars are just as vicious as everything else going on! Once again, middle eastern sounds are contained, and the choruses have this ritualistic feel to them. The CD closes out with 'By Our Brotherhood With Seth,' and just as dark and eerie a tune as the rest of them. A nightmare of dark instrumentation and horror filled themes, this band is a bit unique in it's approach and definitely utilizes the heaviest of metal instrumentation well.
Contact: Napalm Records.

THE WANDERING MIDGET "I Am The Gate" (Eyes Like Snow) SCORE: 91/100

I REALLY dig this CD, despite it's few flaws. The cover features a Cthulhu head on a female body standing arms outstretched in front of a pentagram. Simple one color design underlies the theme of this slow, doomy band with an actual SINGER, not a death metal or black metal styled vocalist (though the very few rare times when he DOES a few sinister growls, like on 'Urk The Conqueror' or 'The Wandering Midget', they're really heavy!) The production is indeed a bit low fi, and the band as a whole is a three piece, just vocals, ONE guitar, one bass and (of course) one drummer. At times the minimalistic approach to instrumentation definitely adds an atmospheric vibe, especially on the long winded CD ender 'Wasteland Shrine' and the surreal dark and moody instrumental passage on 'I Am The Gate.' The vocalist is a thing of beauty, however, and he DEFINITELY is unique, I don't really know how to describe him. I think he's akin to an evil bard, or maybe he would have been a great travelling salesman from back in the day (peddling snake oil?) He has a dark delivery but can very easily SING. One thing that throws this CD off is the opening instrumentation of 'The Wandering Midget,' it's mostly acoustic based and rather folk like for the first 3 minutes, which I thought could have been left off the song, however the last part definitely cranks up the heaviness and rocks. Similarly, on CD ender 'Wasteland Shrine,' the first five minutes sums up what the song is about but the entire track is 17:46!! Now, I don't normally have a problem with long songs, but this is a bit much... Still, all the instrumentation found is enjoyable, but this one song is practically the ENTIRE length of my morning commute to my job!! The guitar work, by the way, is outstanding, and tracks like 'Wolfslayer' are truly massive epics. Get this if you're into old school occult/Lovecraft oriented doom metal with a SINGER... Gotta figure out what a Wandering Midget is tho....
Contact: Eyes Like Snow/Northern Silence Productions.

VOODOOSHOCK "Marie's Sister's Garden" (Exile On Mainstream) SCORE: 92/100

Happy I was to see this, after an almost 5 year wait between this and their last self titled full length on Psychedoomelic... No idea what happened to THAT label. People are already calling this a doom masterpiece, and it's a damn good one I would say. Doom rock is what the bio is saying, which is a good thing since this isn't your standard doom "metal" fare... From the opening track 'Please Let All Truth In Your Heart' that is made abundantly clear, as this group owes just as much to stoner rock as anything else. Catchy choruses, clean energetic vocals and a tempo that is definitely not slow and plodding, but nowhere near the speedier end of things (as of this one song anyway). And there are lead solos to be found as well. Oh joy! Onto the title track, well, it rocks of course, with some nice leads. 'Funeral Farewell' is next and gives me my first negative things to say about this disc. This song and the CD ender 'You Don't Need To Fear Death' (which, incidentally, is WAAY too long at over 10 minutes, especially for the plodding pace and vocal interaction, which I'll discuss in a minute) are a bit too slow for what Voodooshock is doing. Granted, there's some killer doomy guitar work, but the vocals, especially on the CD ender, sound quite out of place. And 'You Don't Need To Fear Death' had very little instrumentation going on when the vocals were on the mainlines, I think it was just a rumbling bass guitar for the most part! Voodooshock just doesn't seem to do the ultra slow doom metal thing extremely well (at least on the vocal front). One of my favorite tracks 'Diamond Queen,' though, is a perfect example of what Voodooshock does well: ROCK! 'Truth' dares to break the mold with heavy percussion riffing leading up to one of the fastest paced songs on the record (proving their diversity); one that truly rocks and has soaring vocal work in the extremely simplistic yet effective choruses. It definitely sounds close to the heavier styled stoner rock bands more commonly associated with the Water Dragon record label. Lyrically, especially on CD ender 'You Don't Need To Fear Death,' shades of writing via the channeling of Bobby Liebling from Pentagram were impressive, as was the ability to utilize the vocal chords to sound different on some songs (another trick Mr. Liebling has always been a master at). 'I Need A Rest' showed frontman Uwe pulling off an amazing power metal like yell! Some dark riffs were impressively inlaid over some high ended leads and a riff fest you gotta hear! 'Miserable Mercy' I found didn't quite stack up to the rest of the tracks, though it's not a terrible tune, and the vocals fit a bit better on this somewhat slower number. All in all, the wait was well worth it, even if it's not a picture perfect CD. The high marks obviously prove there's a lot to enjoy on this release.
Contact: Exile On Mainstream Records.

WIDOW "Nightlife" (Cruz Del Sur) SCORE: 88/100

This band, hailing from North Carolina of all places, definitely understands exactly WHAT the greatest metal bands of the 80's all had in common. 70's "arena" rock, too, while we're at it. A band like Widow is hard to pin down to one specific style, especially utilizing what seems to me to be a unique mixture of death and black metal styled vocals in spots. This doesn't always have the greatest effect, but we'll talk a bit about that minor point later. Let's start off with the CD's opener 'First Born,' which is obviously one of their strongest cuts, and could have been written during the heyday of the NWOBHM movement (the U.K. thing). Catchiness abounds, especially on the choruses. "We Will Meet Again' adds a speedier element, definitely utilizing the harsh vocals, though the percussion seemed a bit too upfront on this one. 'Beware The Night' is your "arena" rock sound, definitely utilizing the 80's metal feeling, and of course catchy choruses are in place. This band's defining sound is most definitely with the track 'Beauty Queen,' which of course is one of the highlights of the disc. THIS particular track is hard to pin down to one specific style, though "arena rock" ala Van Halen meets NWOBHM meets (do you call it glam, sleaze, or just hair metal?) Motley Crue or something like that may have a better and more specific ring to it... They know how to vary things up too, as this track does slightly disappoint me when they go into an acoustic break midway through (WHY would you want one of the best tracks on the record to stop rockin' even if for a minute?). That being said, though, the acoustic break is done skillfully and with class, especially with the amazingly emotional high ended guitar work. Speaking of, one of the highlights of this ENTIRE album IS INDEED the astonishingly skilled guitar work. At NO time on this disc should one EVER complain about below average guitar writing skills, as even the solos are well done. 'Nightlife,' the obvious title track, should be a bit better than it is, but still a decent tune, even if the harsh vocals tend to sound a tad out of place. There's two covers here as well, and the Van Halen 'Ain't Talkin' Bout Love' is an obvious, and good, choice. The harsh vocals on the choruses even fit VERY well, especially lyrically. The Kiss cover sounds bland and lifeless, though, even the harsh vocals done up at a fast pace should not have been attempted, in my opinion. High ended guitar work and amazing emotionally multivocal sung choruses prove that the energy of good 80's styled metal can be adapted to fit the Y2K era we live in.
Contact: Cruz Del Sur Music.


ABDULLAH. Phone interview with Jeff Shirilla.

As many of you know, Abdullah is a band that has fascinating lyrics, and a very unique approach to the doom metal or stoner rock genre (depending on who you ask). After the split CD with Dragonauta on a small label and their subsequent split from Meteor City, the band seemed to disappear. SO, it was high time to see what the guys were up to, and a somewhat disillusioned Jeff had me a bit worried... Read on...

  • The last thing I got from you guys was the split CD with Dragonauta, and I know there's been a lot of changes at Meteor City Records lately, I know the business apparently changed hands. Are you still signed to them or are you just doing your own thing now?

    No, we're TOTALLY done with Meteor City, actually fuck those guys man. That dude Jadd is, I dunno, kind of a piece of shit in my opinion. He was one of those dudes that said he was really into the music we were playing, and really into a scene that really wasn't there, that there was no support for. There was no label support for it either. In the end he just came off like a major label guy. For instance our last record, which he claims the original pressing was sold out...

  • You're talking about "Graveyard Poetry?"

    Yeah, that album. We couldn't get hooked up with any copies to sell, as we were told it was sold out. Which would be written off of our statements and all that. We weren't getting any money off of that, we were still in the red on that album.

  • It seemed like he got burned out on the music or something, because the last thing I heard was that the guys bought the label.

    Right, well, I don't know that they have any desire to repress our stuff. I don't really care, because that whole stoner rock/doom metal scene is, I dunno, what's the word I'm looking for... Most people that are into that, you can't deviate from a certain formula without people calling you... Well, I guess they just don't support it anymore. For me, it's physically impossible to write music that's always gonna sound the same. We've always gotten shit for that, like "These guys aren't stoner, they're this," or "Oh, they sound like Alice In Chains," this and that. With the newer stuff, it got faster and our punk influences started to show up...

  • Black metal a little bit on the end track... (laughing). That was awesome.

    Right, well, I'm glad some... some people like it. I dunno, I mean I've grown up listening to independent and underground music and it seems that audience is almost more retarded than mainstream audiences! They EXPECT to be delivered the same package time in and time out. I've always been into artists that experimented. I mean, I understand a band like Pantera who is making cash off of it, and you don't want to alienate your audience, you know? I mean, I'm not trying to paint myself to being pretentious, like I don't think I'm that talented, but still, I wanna try new things and do new things. The whole Meteor City thing was really bad and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  • Well, it seemed like Meteor City was doing good things for you guys, I mean you were even written up in Metal Maniacs' playlists for having best album of the year ("Graveyard Poetry" again), it seems like you guys had a lot going on. Even going back to the earliest demos Abdullah was always about doing something different.

    The Metal Maniacs thing, I gotta give TOTAL credit to Sue Nols, she totally was into us, and that was really awesome to have a voice that was into us. She doesn't like what we're doing anymore though, and it's kinda wierd. This is still just a hobby for us. I've been very disillusioned, I don't like music as much as I used to.

  • I did an interview with Agalloch awhile back, and they had two records out, and then they started doing all these 7 inches and limited EP's. I asked them about that, and it seems like you guys started doing that kind of thing. So between "Ashes Against The Grain" and "The Mantle," they said they were experimenting with different textures and styles and sounds. Those recordings were cool because it gave them a chance to experiment with different things without having to put out a full length and say "This is the new Agalloch sound." The split CD you did with Dragonauta was VERY experimental; I don't want to say there was no consistency, and even the newest demo sounded like you were experimenting even further, so I am wondering if this is the transition phase before the next album.

    The funny thing is... Well, I guess it's not funny it's more pathetic. It's years, "Graveyard Poetry" was 2002 and this is 2007. It's mainly me, I have major issues with drugs and alcohol and stuff like that. It's like I can't ever seem to stay on the same page. But going back to what you were saying, I don't know about that other band, but fuck, even if you look at the first full length we did, which was kinda grunge-eske, stoner-eske, I dunno, kinda like an orgy between Black Sabbath and Alice In Chains. It was very clean sounding and didn't fit in with a lot of that stoner rock shit that was coming out around that time. We didn't really want the album to come out like that, but we didn't know any better. Me and Alan, we didn't know how to produce certain guitar tones. We had this thing in our 4 track that sounded pretty awesome, it was the tape saturation for a quarter inch cassette tape. But when you go into a real studio, reality sets in and it's all clean sounding... I hate that first record man!!

  • WOW... Because I LOVED that first album, man, it's amazing.

    I like the SONGS man, but the execution... That was not how ANY of those songs were meant to be. I am pretty sure you have the demos that came before that. (The "Snake Lore" demos - Ed.) I always liked uglier music, but we didn't understand, we didn't know how to get gnarlier tones. And then with "Graveyard Poetry," I think for what it was I think it was okay. At that time I was enraptured with like Diamond Head and Tank... (FUCK yeah! - Ed.) I'm happy with that, I think it came out good. After that though, we never could keep a stable lineup, and I was constantly going "Ah, I wanna go in this direction, or that direction." That split with Dragonauta was just shit that we recorded at the house. We really haven't had anything that was an official release since "Graveyard Poetry."

  • It's a shame I didn't get to interview you when the "Graveyard Poetry" came out, because there were several NWOBHM overtones in that record. Also, lyrically I loved the themes on that record. I really loved the lyrics especially on a track like 'Salamander.' That was an eerie, dark and heavy doom metal element there and kick ass. Lyric wise it seemed like you continued some of these themes from the first record, so I'm wondering what you were philosophising about on "Graveyard Poetry."

    I would never EVER in a million years say I'm philosophizing because I'm a fucking dumb ass (I WOULD NEVER let ANYONE say this about Jeff. READ HIS LYRICS!!! - Ed.) As far as lyrical themes go, I dunno I'm kinda embarassed by some of the earlier stuff, like 'Lucifer In Starlight.'

  • Well, I thought it was a cool concept (see issue #28 for the full details about the song.) There was some deep stuff going on lyrically, and of course 'The Black Ones' gives nods to Lovecraft, but there's 'Earth's Answer,' and 'Visions Of The Daughters Of Time.' It's pretty profound stuff!

    Thanks, man, I appreciate that. I dunno, I guess everyone's their own worst critic. I guess it seems too disconnected, forced or whatever. I dunno. I don't know where the fuck I get this from, but as far as literature goes I'm more into realist stuff like Hemmingway, etc. I love trying to transverse the mundane into something more supernatural and that's always my aim with my lyrics. There are mundane things in everyday life... Not even mundane, but just realistic things, like falling in love, dealing with people... I like to TRY to tie that in with science fiction and wierd shit. Just NOT to be typical, to come up with something quirky and wierd that you can trace back to "Oh, he's ripping this off, and that off." I've read online that people talk about us like our newer stuff is "gay, emo doom!" (I'm laughing hilariously here). And I kinda like that!! (laughing more here) I'm not hiding behind some veil...

  • A lot of the lyrics seem kinda positive, let's see what's a good example.. Like 'Visions Of The Daughters Of Time,' kinda spiritual. You know, the ONE song I kept screaming at you to play live in New Jersey! (laughing). But even that there's themes of death and passing of time ('trace your steps back to your birth.') There's still a lot of positivity going on but it's done in a very kick ass way. Not like some fruity christian metal band trying to be all hard and heavy and is preaching about Christ... You know what I'm saying, right? (At this point in the interview, I notice a considerable difference in Jeff's demeanor, as if he's somehow a bit more "focused" shall I say?)

    ABSOLUTELY, THANK YOU. I am NEVER going to be like these doom and gloom people, like everything fucking sucks, because everything DOES NOT suck in life. But yeah, you gotta temper the bad stuff in life with the good stuff in life. My lyrics, it's like... (long pause). Jane's Addiction, well, he's kinda stupid with it, to a certain extent. For me, I wanna focus on something that ANY person that listens to it is going to get something different out of it. And granted, on the first album, that was cut and paste, black and white. But with anything, man, you get better with it as you go. And as I go along, I wanna hone lyrics that the listener can glean what they want out of it. And that to me is pretty awesome. And dude, don't me wrong man, but I'm a nobody, I work at a fucking place or whatever. But every now and then, I get somebody that says to me, "Hey man, this song, it got me through this and this is what I thought of it." And I'm going, wow, because I never thought of that when I wrote it, but that's fucking incredible to me that that's what someone got out of that.

  • Well, I would love to hear another Abdullah full length. I know you guys have a demo out, which unfortunately I don't know much about. But it would be a damn shame if Abdullah called it a day, because there's not one Abdullah record that I've heard that I didn't like, or I just went "well, it's okay." Whatever problems are cropping up (for you guys) they can be solved, I'm a firm believer in that. I know certain bands have reasons for not continuing on, like when band members are constantly fighting, or record labels are ripping them off left and right, or maybe you can't come up with anything new. I understand the reasons.

    No, there has never ever been any infighting. We've never had a stable lineup, but THE same lineup has always been me and Alan and Ed. We've always had problems with drummers, but all bands do. I'm just... I'm not schizophrenic or anything, but I'm into so much shit. I wanna do really technical stuff, and once I get it recorded, I'm like, "Oh, fuck that man, it's too much," I wanna do really simple, psychedelic/melodic stuff. Then once that's done, I'm like, "Oh, no, wait..." It's mainly me, I'm (laughing)... I guess I have a lot of mental problems. It's fucked up, I swear to god, Steve, I think I'm back to where I was in the beginning. When I first started Abdullah, it was solely about the music. It didn't matter, man, if we got signed to a label or anything like that. It was ONLY me and ALan, even when we got signed to Meteor City, him and I recorded the record only. Then when we started playing out, it became this wierd ass thing. We started doing well, and it's wierd, like when you win awards and getting best metal band and shit like that....

  • Yeah, I remember that, like when you were awarded Cleveland's best metal band and stuff, that was really cool.

    It IS cool but it changes things. For me at least. Then it's like "Okay, what do people expect?" You know, I would go to and search to see what people are saying they DON'T like about you... Then you try to appease them. It was just awful, and it didn't become about CREATING at that point. So I went off on this tangent at that point, going "Fuck them, man! I'm gonna FUCK with them and write shit that sounds nothing like ANYTHING I've ever done before." (I'm kinda laughing here - Ed.) And THAT seems cool, but I dunno. And that's what I'm saying, I bring it all back to ME. I'm kinda like a loose cannon, retard fucking moron. (NOOO!!! - Ed.) I dunno, man, the future of Abdullah is probably done because Alan is gonna have a baby in a month or two and he's not going to be able to do anything after that. BUT, we've recorded basically TWO albums worth of stuff. It's not new shit, it's older stuff that is either on "Snake Lore" or that split. But even that stuff was done with a different lineup.

  • Speaking of lineups, I don't remember if I ever discussed this with you in the last interview, but I really enjoyed seeing you in New Jersey! It seemed like things worked out to your advantage too, because an earlier band cancelled and you got extra time to play. What did you walk away from that experience with, did you get good feedback, how did you feel about that whole Metalfest thing?

    No, we didn't get really ANY feedback off of that, and I thought the performance SUCKED. You know, one o'clock in the day, it's wierd. It was a low point I think.

  • Do you enjoy playing out live, or....

    No, dude, I hate it. If I was able to play guitar and sing, I would be fine with it. I just suck as a frontman... What the fuck. I don't really know ANY frontman that I admire; there's those that either try too hard or they're like "heeey!" and this and that. But there's gotta be an art in the way to dodge that where you can be a frontman JUST with your microphone and I haven't perfected that. Normally I'm really intoxicated or on some type of opiate, and at the time it seems good but later it's a terrible performance.

  • Well, it's a rock and roll lifestyle, baby! (laughs)

    (laughing) Yeah... I've never perfected the drunken, heroin thing...

  • Like Alice In Chains?


  • So what's the deal with your new demo material? I was hoping you could send us a copy, I don't know if you're sending that out to press or anything?

    What demo are you talking about, because seriously, since "Graveyard Poetry" there's been all KINDS of demos.

  • Well, what came out after the split with Dragonauta?

    Well, there's stuff that came out before the split that's not ON the split. And then there's the newer, like, math metal stuff. I don't know how anybody would hear of any of this because I haven't been broadcasting it or whatever.

  • I think there was a track from one of the demos at one time or another.

    Oh so you mean the stuff that IS on myspace? Okay, well, the shit that's on myspace right now is... The "newest stuff," the sad fact is that stuff is like two years old! (laughs)

  • Well, music is timeless to me, man. Especially if I haven't heard it yet.

    It's just all fucked up. I gotta tell ya, Steve, I've been more into drugs and shit like that in the past couple of years than I have been music. I got a space and we recorded some stuff, which I am hoping is gonna pull me back over. It's like anything, you go through different phases at different points in your life. I don't necessarily feel like anything I've ever done in my life is worth shit. I dunno... I just kinda stopped performing music years ago. I don't have any confidence in myself I guess, I mean look at the guys I'm into! I can't touch that.

  • Well, you've got people out there who admire what you've done, and people that are INTO what you are doing now. I don't know what the label situation would be like, I mean it seems like the last haven for stoner rock bands these days is Small Stone Records, I mean bands like Acid King, Sons Of Otis, even Dozer...

    But I HATE that shit! I never EVER wanted to be a stoner rock band, because I HATE bands like that! I mean, I like Kyuss, but I ALWAYS hated Monster Magnet. And that was another thing that was tough for me to deal with, because we were on Meteor City so we got lumped in with all that shit. You can't recreate that! Some bands can, but I always hated being lumped in with that. That term in and of itself is so derogative and so fucking retarded!

  • Orange Goblin felt that way too, and they changed their whole style and sound in response to that! But you have to admit, the Abdullah stuff, I'd have to call that more like doom metal with some 70's influences. It's just too... I don't wanna say it's too METAL to be called stoner rock? Obviously there's slight hints at it. Like the tune 'Visions Of The Daughters Of Time...' I know I keep going back to that damn song (laughing).

    No, dude, you're RIGHT. It IS, it's WAY too metal to be considered 70's rock. And when we recorded that, we used Jamie from Boulder to play bass, and he said that song reminded him of a Metallica song! So yeah, that whole first album, it's a METAL album. It's definitely got alternative influences, but we NEVER fit into that stoner rock shit. And we're maligned on now because of it. You know, Kyuss was good, but at the time nobody was doing that shit. Fu Manchu, same thing. Fucking Monster Magnet, that's a personal choice, I always thought they were a shittier Soundgarden.

  • I just didn't think they had the SONGS...

    Yeah, exactly. EXACTLY dude, it comes down to songwriting. Nowadays, in this day and age, EVERYBODY is too fucking concerned with what LABEL a band is on, what SOUND they're going for, how they fit into their, you know, message boards!? (I'm laughing here - Ed.) It's such bullshit man, and I ENJOY the fact that we are not celebrated on that, you know? I enjoy the fact that it's guys like you that run your independent website 'zines, and we have a small fanbase, and I LIKE that. It's cool, it's honest, and it is what it IS...

  • Well, to play devil's advocate, I know how you talked about how hard it was when your fans started expecting this or that, think about how things would be if you were on, like Sony or Warner Brothers with a worldwide distribution! (laughing here).

    Yeah, you have an A&R guy that would be telling you "no, no, no, you gotta fucking recreate 'The Black Ones!'

  • As we wrap this up, I gotta say it's really a sad thing that now you have the RIAA blaming piracy for poor music sales, when the fucking bare bottom line is, it's shitty music that's causing shitty music sales! People go on line because they want to hear the stuff that's NOT being pushed on them 24/7 by these crappy Clear Channel media controlled radio stations and crappy alterna-pussy venues! That's what this stuff is for!

    Well, I mean, look at like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, their stuff is up there on Itunes!

  • Yeah, but how many times do you want to listen to that stuff over and over and OVER! I mean, those songs are over 30 years old!!!

    And it is! Everything's going to cater to a different generation. I don't know what the fuck they're catering to now...

  • I don't know what my 6 year old is going to be listening to in like 15 years. I shudder at the thought! Hopefully it ain't rap!

    I don't give a fuck, but I DO look at what my peers are into. And that High On Fire, Mastodon shit is tired man, it's like a one trick pony.

  • Yeah, I liked High On Fire when it first came out...

    YEAH, I liked that first record...

  • Yeah, that first record on Man's Ruin! (HUGE laughter from me here, since we've been talking about THE biggest stoner rock label ever at one time!)

    Yeah. (I don't think he picked up on that - Ed.) Matt Pike doesn't know how to write a metal riff! Those riffs go NOWHERE, it's fucking crazy! And Mastodon... It's cool for what it is I guess...

  • I've NEVER listened to Mastodon, and they're supposed to be one of the biggest things Atlanta's put out besides um... Dath...

    Kinetic Dissent....

  • I remember those guys!

    You should remember those guys, they're hometown heroes!

    BAL SAGOTH. Interview with Byron via email...

    Obviously, an interview we've waited for for a long, long time is finally here for you... After their "Chthonic Chronicles," I was informed they were no longer on Nuclear Blast, so it was time to see what the band was up to, especially since I missed their legendary Heathen Crusade Festival appearance in 2007....

  • I recently read a few reviews of the very first demo you guys ever released. I'm curious to hear it of course, despite what is said to be a more raw production and a somewhat difference in style and sound from what you are doing now (even as far back as your first album!) What would you say was the turning point from that demo to the release of your first album "A Black Moon..."

    Well, the demo basically sounded so rough and raw because we only had a single afternoon in which to record it. Once we were given a decent budget and access to a good studio, we were able to fully realize our ideas, and they then crystallized and took the form of the first album. The difference in sound between the demo and the debut album is very noticable, particularly regarding the quality of the keyboards. There was no change stylistically or conceptually as such, it's just that this grand musical vision needs adequate time and equipment in order to be crafted. The same directives and intent that fuelled the demo has fuelled all six albums subsequently.

  • Even though the topic of Atlantis seems to have been touched on as far back as your first album, I cannot help but wonder what your thoughts on the lost city actually are? Did it exist, maybe as a race of extremely advanced humans, or is there something more "alien" about the inhabitants?

    I believe Atlantis existed, and that it was the center of a great antediluvian civilization. I also tend to agree with theories that there was an element of extraterrestrial influence in Atlantean culture and technology. My own version of Atlantis as it appears in the lyrics is very much a fantasy/sci-fi interpretation, loosely based upon the actual myth, but containing many unique and fantastical elements. The Atlantis legend is pretty central to my whole lyrical mythos... which is why it's mentioned on every album to a greater or lesser degree. The forthcoming Bal-Sagoth "Glossary Mk. II" really explains my version of Atlantis and its origins in great detail.

  • Just curious if you have ever watched the television show Stargate (both Atlantis and SG1). It's amazing to me the explanations of the gods and goddesses of our various cultures, from Sumerian, Egyptian and Nordic, all the way to the Aztec and Chinese civilizations.

    I have indeed watched those two shows. I thought the original Stargate movie was cool, and I was always hoping for a sequel in which they could have fully developed and continued their ideas with a big motion picture series budget. When the TV show debuted, I thought it took a while to hit its stride, but eventually it became a good sci-fi show. They introduced some good concepts in there (and some pretty silly ones too, but whatever)... but it never truly fulfilled the epic promise which the basic concept of the movie set up. Still, SG1 was a good series, and from what I've seen of SG: Atlantis, it's got potential, too. The Stargate shows' origins of Earth's ancient polytheistic religions as being aliens was interesting, and is a view actually shared by many "researchers" and occult enthusiasts. There could well be any amount of truth in that whole theory... who knows? There is actually a strong element of that sort of thing in my lyrical mythos, too. Whatever the case, anything which deals with ancient civilizations and their links to nonterrestrial intelligences in a "Chariots Of The Gods" and "Fingerprints Of The Gods" style is worth certainly watching, especially when it throws in a lot of epic space battles and stuff too!

  • Before "The Power Cosmic" came out, you had been on Cacophonous Records for three albums before signing with Nuclear Blast, what was the reason for leaving (I'm assuming part of the reason was the rather poor distribution and limited press and promotion). It seems like Cacophonous was back in business for awhile, at least as of 2005, but they are seemingly gone again...

    Yeah, Cacophonous reappeared for a while, but it's now seemingly dormant again. I always liked the fact that Cacophonous was a very "underground" and "cult" kind of label, because that very much fit with my idea as to the intended essence and mystique of Bal-Sagoth. But basically we fulfilled our three album contract with Cacophonous, and then decided to sign to N.B. after that simply because N.B. offered us more money. In truth, there's not much more to add.

  • Speaking of Nuclear Blast, they obviously have done great things for you, as they have offices on two continents and do a great job of press and promoting (well, except where my magazine is concerned). What is your contract with them like, and how many albums are left in the deal? Anything you can tell us about the way you deal with each other, and what other provisions are in the contract for you guys?

    Our contract with N.B. was fulfilled upon the completion of our latest album "The Chthonic Chronicles." Originally they wanted to sign us for five albums, but I got them to agree to just three, because I only work in trilogies! All in all, we were pretty satisfied with the job N.B. did for us, and there weren't too many problems during the years we were with them. However, they certainly could have done more to promote the newest album, particularly in the USA, where the promotion was essentially zero. We got some really great reviews across the world, so it was very much a missed opportunity. Nevertheless, one good thing about N.B. is that they respected my wishes and didn't interfere with our work in any way. Before I signed it, I really amended the original N.B. record contract and pushed the whole deal really in favour of the band, and they were OK with that.

  • I wanted to talk a little bit about your first time performing in the the Heathen Crusade Festival (okay, maybe it was your second, though I don't remember any other U.S. appearances). How did this all go down? Unfortunately I was unable to be there, especially since we went the year before and they added another day. I was told that you weren't able to recreate fully the entire production? Hopefully the performance was well received, what was your set list like? Any funny stories or cool memories from this festival? I know personally it was fun partying and hanging out with Moonsorrow, Thyrfing and Primordial in the hotel (as Nemtheaga and I shared a bottle of bourbon and of course the viking chants going on to Bathory's "Blood On The Ice" were hilarious!)

    Playing the Heathen Crusade festival was really cool, and the response we got from the crowd was great. There were a lot of Bal-Sagoth fans there that night, and it was good to be able to meet so many of them. I'd been wanting to play a show in North America for a long time, but unfortunately all previous planned attempts were thwarted for various reasons. We didn't get the chance to rehearse too much before the show, which was a shame because we really could have played much better, but the assembled supporters seemed to enjoy it nevertheless. Unfortunately we never really manage to translate the splendour of the albums into the live environment, and I don't think we ever will. The bottom line is that this music isn't really designed to be played live. Also, it would be great to be able to have a grand stage show involving all kinds of special effects and theatrical bombast, but unfortunately the funds just aren't at our disposal. So at gigs people will just have to be satisfied with five guys up there just trying to stay in time and remember the songs. But yeah, the hotel bar was certainly a place we saw a lot of that weekend! The only real funny incident about the whole trip occured when we were coming back to the UK and immigration wouldn't let me back in to the country because I travel under a Canadian passport. I live in the UK and everything, but they just wouldn't believe me. Well, that's red tape for you, I guess.

  • While on the subject of touring, are there any plans to come back to the U.S.? It must be difficult trying to pick a setlist of songs from 6 albums, is there anything specific you do when trying to gather a list of songs together?

    I'd very much like to get back over there for some more shows. Unfortunately however, funds, or the lack thereof, are the everpresent obstacle. We'll have to see what opportunities present themselves. As for the setlist, it's always important to me at shows to play something from every album, even though the other guys in the band don't really like playing the early stuff, so our setlist always contains a selection of material from every opus. It can be difficult choosing which songs to play, as some just simply work better than others in the live environment.

  • While it's rather interesting that you have been around for more than 13 years now, seemingly releasing an album every two years or so, the last record seemed to take about 5 years, and people were starting to get worried when they hadn't heard anything. So what happened? I know this was a painstaking release for you, and I heard much work went into it but of course that's not all...

    One of the primary reasons why the sixth album seemed to take so long was that we wanted to record it 100% digitally, and we waited a while until the available software was versatile (and affordable) enough to handle the job. In the past when we recorded mainly on analog media and equipment, we were tending to be running out of recording tracks, and it was always very difficult to be able to get everything totally how we wanted it to sound in the given timespan. Now with the advent of digital recording, we don't have to worry about limitations and everything can pretty much accomodate our multilayered and multifaceted compositions. But also, part of the delay was that our keyboard player handled the majority of the sound engineering himself on the new album, and he found it very difficult to adhere to the deadlines which were being set, partially because it was taking a while to get to grips with the software and hardware. (Also, recording on your own studio equipment without the clock ticking constantly can often remove a great deal of the urgency and impetus to complete the work!) Anyway, we were mixing the tracks right until the last possible second. In the end, I basically had to take the album away because the courier was arriving to pick it up and any further delays would mean we'd miss our launch window, and N.B. were starting to get a little anxious. But, we made it in the end, and better late than never, I guess!

  • Now that "The Cthonic Chronicles" seems to wrap up a 6 part storyline, where do you guys go next? Is there an alternate branch to the storyline, or will the next record feature a completely new storyline or theme? While we're on the subject, have any new songs been written or anything recorded (song or album titles? Anything you can tell us!)

    Well, there is certainly enough material remaining to cover a further six albums and beyond. The story vault is very deep indeed! However, whether or not we ever get round to recording those albums remains to be seen. After fourteen years and six albums, it may be time to leave the world with a grand legacy in the form of the existing hexalogy. I think what people will ultimately see happen is that the members of the band will go off and do different projects of varying kinds, and then perhaps reunite and make further Bal-Sagoth albums at some unspecified time in the future, if we all mutually agree to do so. The musicians in the band would certainly find a willing audience for any additional bands, side projects or solo endeavours. Our keyboard player has often spoken about a possible side project. And of course fans of the stories/lyrics will be able to read additional adventures soon in both prose short-story and graphic novel format, as I'm currently working on these projects with the artist who painted our last three album covers. So there should hopefully be plenty of opportunity for fans to revisit the Bal-Sagoth universe in the future.

  • I am a huge H.P. Lovecraft fan, so it was thrilling for me to see the Cthulhu mythos somewhat worked into the storyline. And as I don't have the full packaging version with lyrics and all, (stupid record label cardboard promo sleeves) maybe you can relate how the world of Lovecraft fits into the storyline?

    I've been a fan of Lovecraft for many, many years. In fact, I wrote my third year university thesis on the Cthulhu Mythos. The influence of Lovecraft, as well as other writers such as Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Edgar Rice Burroughs, etc., is certainly apparent in my lyrics. I don't fit Lovectaft's works into the lyrics as such, they're just a strong inspiration and at various times throughout the six albums I've paid tribute to his great literary canon in various ways. Certainly one of the main themes in the lyrics is that of denied primacy and a very distopic view of the future, and that certainly is an inspiration I drew from H.P. Lovecraft. Similarly, the various forbidden books and occult texts which I created for the lyrical world are all very much in the vein of Lovecraft's apocryphal Necronmicon, as is the idea of a pantheon of horrific otherworldly deities which I invented for the albums. The "Lovecraftian" style stories on the albums are very much a heady mix of H.P.L., ancient mythology, Marvel comics, and Raiders of the Lost Ark style tomb raiding. All the cool stuff that I love, basically. Anyone interested in the influence of H.P.L.'s work on the world of music should check out the book "The Strange Sound of Cthulhu," which of course mentions Bal-Sagoth!

  • Tell us about some of your favorite Lovecraft stories? I have seen a few good adaptations of his works, like the silent film "Call Of Chthulu," which is filmed in black and white and made to look like a silent 1930's era film, and the newest of course was "The Dreams In The Witch House," which was an episode of the first season of Masters Of Horror...

    Yeah, I've seen pretty much all of the various film and TV adaptations of Lovecraft's works to date, and while some of them have their merits, there hasn't yet been one which has truly done justice to the subject matter. Perhaps one day, the definitive Lovecraft adaptation will be seen on a movie screen... I hope so. On a related note, I used to play the Call Of Cthulhu RPG a lot too, many years ago, which had a lot of cool supplements and peripheral items published for it. My favourite H.P.L. stories are "The Call Of Cthulhu," "The Colour Out Of Space," "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," "At The Mountains Of Madness," "The Dunwich Horror," et al. I also have an audio version of "The Call Of Cthulhu" on tape read by the actor Garrick Hagon (who was in Star Wars), which is a cool collectible. I got him to sign it at a SW convention a few years ago.

  • One striking thing about some of the lyrics and topics I've read in your works, I've been studying about the origins of mankind, especially where the Annunaki are concerned, and how the biblical story of creation might not be the correct and true origin of our species. How do you view humankind's beginnings, maybe these gods that various cultures worshipped were truly beings from another world? According to Sumerian record, human kind was supposedly a genetic manipulation experiment... Not sure how much of this you believe, if any of it...

    A variation on that whole theory is in fact central to the lyrical mythos. Essentially, the monotheistic religions which are prevalent today have no place in the lyrics, and are exposed as the shams and theological lies which they are. The cosmology and theology of the lyrics is populated by an assortment of pangalactic grotesqueries; some indifferent to humanity, some outright malefic. Mankind's origins are a tapestry of genetic experimentation by alien entities, occult manipulation, and denied primacy. Big inspiration from Sumerian myth and H.P.L.. And yet, one of the primary tenets of the lyrics is that mankind has some glorious destiny to fulfill beyond the stars, some grand evolutionary template to adhere to, so a sombre note of optimism does come into play amidst all the grim galactic gothic horror.

  • Looking on the Encyclopedia Metallium, it's interesting to note that ALL 6 of your albums have combined review scores of AT LEAST 83 or above. Even though this style of music will never be massively popular, it must be extremely satisfying to know that there is a large body of metalheads that find your works (ALL of them) to be very satisfying.

    That is indeed a pleasing fact. Bal-Sagoth has always very much been a "love or hate" band. There are some people out there who think we are the best thing ever, and there are also those who absolutely detest not just what we do, but the very notion that we should be allowed to do it at all! When I first started the band, I never wanted it to become overly popular. In fact, I've strived to maintain our obscurity and "underground" mystique over the years. This often created conflict within the band, as there are those members who foolishly want to become as big as bands like, say, Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir. Well as I always say, if that's what they want, then Bal-Sagoth clearly isn't the band for them, and the exit door is always open for them. This band was never designed to be embraced by the mainstream, and it never will. It should always exist in the shadows, waiting to be discovered by those brave or foolish enough to venture in search of it. We have a relatively small but fanatically dedicated elite following throughout the world, and that's exactly how it should be.

  • Obviously things have changed in the music industry especially with the advent of the internet and file sharing. Do you see it as more harmful to artists with people wanting free music, or a great tool to help promote bands from all over the world who might otherwise never get easier exposure?

    As far as the availability of music on the internet and file sharing is concerned, it's all very much a double edged sword. On the one hand it gets the name and profile of a band more widely known, and if someone likes the material they've downloaded, hopefully they'll go out and buy the albums. On the other hand, the free exchange of music in this way is nothing less than piracy, and robs artists of their returns for creating the music. Record companies are going to have to come to terms with the existence of these methods of music trading, and come up with a way to exploit it fully to both their own and the bands' advantages. It's a sad fact that there are many fans out there who have all our songs on their hard drives but who don't own a single Bal-Sagoth CD. We don't earn much money at all from the band, we certainly can't live off it, and piracy just makes our returns all the more paltry and meagre.

  • One thing about Bal-Sagoth is the artwork, especially on the later releases, which has always been very detailed and colorful, especially on "Atlantis Ascendant" and "The Power Cosmic." (Even "Battle Magic!") I'm rather curious as to why "The Chthonic Chronicles" didn't feature more extravagant artwork, instead going for what looks like it could be a copy of the dreaded Necronomicon! Not that the cover isn't interesting, just not as detailed as ones in the past.

    The idea of having an album cover which was in fact a direct representation of the cover of an ancient grimoire was a notion I'd had in mind for many years. Thus, the cover of the sixth album is intended to convey the actual apocryphal ancient book I invented known as "The Chthonic Chronicles" itself. In the context of the story, there were many different translations of the original manuscript throughout the ages, and the one which people will hold in their hands when they have the album is the most dangerous one of all. The idea is that the eye on the cover of the book opens and looks directly into you, to sense whether the potential reader is ready to uncover the dark secrets contained within the book. The book is only one of many ancient grimoires and occult tomes within the Bal-Sagoth universe, but it is the one which hides the most terrifying and malefic lore of all. It's an idea very much inspired by Lovecraft's Necronomicon. I just wanted to have a booklet cover which was literally a book cover, and with the sixth album the time to finally realize that long held concept had come.

  • And as we wrap this up, I'm curious to get your thoughts on the book itself "The Necronomicon." I once interviewed Mezzadurus from Blood Storm and he mentioned having an original Arabic translation of the book, as we all know more modern versions have many parts left out. Of course, it's mentioned in H.P. Lovecraft's work, but one has to wonder just how much Lovecraft knew about ancient gods and deities....

    The Necronomicon to which H.P.L. refers in several of his stories is a literary invention. It doesn't actually exist. All works which have appeared over the years purporting to be translations of the Necronomicon are also works of fiction, some of them containing elements of Sumerian myth and various adulterated occult rites of varying degrees of authenticity and veracity. However, Lovecraft certainly drew his inspiration from real sources which go back many thousands of years, so the notion itself, the actual concept, of an ancient record of horrifying occult rites and terrifying truths once existing is certainly not beyond the realms of conjecture.

    DECAYED. Interview with JA through Email.

  • The "Hexagram" album is quite good, though I'm curious about the many labels you've been on! Even in 2007 you've got no less than 3 different releases out on at least 3 different labels. Why is this, and are you now permanently on Folter Records despite also issuing a split CD on your former label Drakkar?

    We work with different labels because different labels accept my ideas. We are currently dealing with Drakkar and Folter about the next contract. We're talking the terms and in January we'll decide on which label the next album will be released.

  • Good mix of black metal with some thrash influences on the new record! I know you played around with death metal and speed/thrash very early on in your career, am I to assume that you're now firmly entrenched in the old school style of black metal from here on out?

    I have no idea. I don't like to repeat myself, so I always try out different stuff on each release. We already have 5 of the 7 songs for the next album, and I guess that they could be a mix of "Hexagram" and "Resurectionem Mortuorum".

  • I was quite unaware until I went to your website and metal-archives that you had SO many releases out! For those hearing "Hexagram" for the first time and liking it, what other of your releases would you recommend to people?

    All of them... Like I've said, to me, they all sound different, each one has a different concept behind (it). But I guess that if you check the 6 albums, you'll get a good idea of what we're all about.

  • Speaking of the many years you've been recording and playing, how have you managed to keep the band going for so many years, as I know you have many other side projects that haven't recorded or released nearly as much as Decayed.

    I've managed to keep the band going cause I never gave up. Simple as that. Every piece of shit that came my way, I just got over it.

  • Looking at the page for Alastor, I see that the band is currently on hold. Any particular reason for this, is Alastor to continue on in the future? It seems quite possibly that maybe it's because there was so much recorded music from Decayed in 2007!

    Actually, I just got together a new line up and we're rehearsing for the first gig ever (19 years after the first rehearsals) on the 1st of December with Necrodeath and Witchburner among others. It will be cool to play those songs live.

  • Apparently the live show must have been quite impressive, as many of the recorded releases (especially on cassette) you have out are live shows. Were those officially authorized by yourselves and why so many live albums?

    Actually, we don't have that many live releases, but they were all done with us and the labels. (Okay, there's at least 4 that I counted in the discography on the metal archives. That's a LOT for one band - Ed.) I like doing them cause I believe that this sort of Metal is to be played live, and those that never saw us, can at least hear it.

  • I have seen several cover songs you've recorded, especially Italian Gods Bulldozer, Whiplash, Venom, and Motorhead of all things! (and others). First off, what was your favorite Bulldozer album (as mine was and will ALWAYS be "Day Of Wrath," their first and best, plus the first one I ever heard). And secondly, as you may know we do a soundfiles tribute page to 80's metal, what are some of your favorite bands that are somewhat rare and obsure that people might not have heard about?

    I agree with your choice on the Bulldozer issue. The song 'Insurrection Of The Living Dead' is one of my fave Metal songs. Taurus from Brazil comes to mind... so many others...

  • I'm curious as to your lyrical inspiration for your albums, it's quite obvious from lyrics on "Hexagram" alone that you have much hatred for Christianity (as I do), plus there seems to be some occultish type themes as well. Do you observe the Norse gods and their religions, or are other deities important to you? I'm heavily into Norse culture and mythology myself.

    I'm into all sorts of Ancient Gods, not just one. The lyrical inspiration for "Hexagram" came from several years of practicing what you can read about in the booklet.

  • One thing I was impressed with on "Hexagram" was the way the vocals are clearly understandable, while still being vicious and aggressive; many of the lyrics were easy to understand without a lyric sheet (which I don't have since the cardboard sleeve has no lyrics). Was this done on purpose, or do you think I have grown too accustomed to black metal vocal styles?

    I don't know, I just know that we weren't looking for your typical run of the mill Black Metal voice. I don't like the typical BM voice, I find it too feeble. So, we tried to do things our own way and something that would fit the music. I think that we succeeded.

  • How do you view the Norwegian black metal scene, especially in it's early days? Have you ever read the book "Lords Of Chaos" about the Norwegian black metal scene, and have you ever been in touch with any members of Mayhem, Satyricon, Marduk, Darkthrone and the like?

    I don't give a fuck about the Norwegian scene. I have some albums recorded there, but not that many. It's not my mug of beer. I have never read that book 'cause I don't find anything interesting about it. I was in contact with Burzum in the begining of the 90's, but it was just insults from part to part, so I'm not sure that counts...

  • Besides Alastor and the side projects you have, I don't really know about too many bands in the Portugese metal scene, save for a few power metal type bands (and Moonspell). Any cool bands to watch for, and what sort of metal scene exists in Portugal? (IE, any cool clubs to play in, shows that pop up, festivals, black metal scene, etc.)

    I have no idea of what's going on the scene... I gave up on that years ago... Too much crap! There is almost no scene. No places to play, no people at the few gigs that happen... It's not a pretty sight.

  • Finally, any chance you're working on another full length at this time? Anything you could reveal, like song titles, album titles, theme or anything else would be cool.

    The next album (The Black Metal Flame) will be recorded in March 2008. It will contain 7 songs (of which, 5 are already composed) and lots of extra material. Song titles: "Blood Of The Altar", "Slaughter Of The Righteous"... Thanx for the support. Anyone interested in some merchandising, just contact me.

    DIAMOND HEAD. Interview with Brian Tatler...

  • There are so many different compilations and versions of the albums, that it's rather confusing for the fan to know which is the definitive versions of such albums like "Lightning To The Nations" (once again, originally issued on vinyl without an album title), and "Borrowed Time." Personally, the first Diamond Head "compilation" album I ever heard was the Metal Blade release "Behold The Beginning." What would you recommend to Diamond Head fans, as even the Metal Blade compilation was said to be remixed and remastered, and the track 'Heat Of The Night' from the "Am I Evil" sounds a bit odd to ears that heard it first on another album.

    I would recommend the Anthology, it has most of the good stuff on and if not then the original albums if possible. I don't like the "Am I Evil" CD or "To Heaven From Hell," most of these were done by our ex-manager to cash in with no input from any members of the band.

  • Obviously many longtime fans are upset that Sean decided not to continue on as vocalist. What exactly transpired that he didn't wish to continue, I know there was an album that Sean didn't want to release, what eventually happened to those songs?

    Because of Sean's refusal to release the album we recorded in 2002 under the name of Diamond Head and to perform at gigs that had been offered, the 3 remaining memebers were left with no choice but to continue without him. Not an easy decision but unfortunately a necessary one. The album in question remains unreleased.

  • I listened to a few of the new songs from the "What's In Your Head" album and the job done by Nick on vocals was very commendable! It sounds like the new stuff is VERY heavy, somewhat of a heavier progression from "Death And Progress," which is a very good album.

    Thank you. Nick has done a great job on the vocals and lyrics, I guess having toured with Megadeth and being surrounded by new metal bands all the time some of the heaviness rubs off on my writing style: I have always liked heavy riffs that's the 1st thing I did when I formed the band and so my quest for (the) greatest heavy riffs continues to this day. I am still looking to improve on 'Am I Evil?'

  • While we're on the subject of vocals, how did you decide on Nick doing the singing? I know you utilized Jess Cox from Tygers Of Pan Tang, why didn't you keep him on permanently?

    Jess cannot sing the Diamond Head songs the way I like to hear them. Jess helped out on one gig that he had booked and Sean didn't want to do so we honored our commitment. Karl spotted Nick in a rehearsal room and got his phone number; once I heard him and then met him I knew he would be perfect. The only question remaining was could we write songs together and that has been a real blessing.

  • "Death And Progress," as I stated earlier, is one of my favorite "modern era" Diamond Head albums, with the best tracks being 'Damnation Street' (easily one of the heaviest Diamond Head songs to date) and of course 'Wild On The Streets.' How do you feel about this album, and I'm curious to know how you were able to work with Dave Mustaine on this one, I believe he did guitars and helped produce the song 'Truckin.'

    I like "Death & Progress" it's a great album although it was very dificult and expensive to make and towards the end of it Sean wanted to shelve it so do you see a pattern forming? My favourite songs are 'Home,' 'Truckin' and 'Run.' We spoke to Dave Mustaine and he kindly offered to help out; we sent him the tapes of 2 songs and he decided to put some extra guitars and mix 'Truckin' with Megadeth producer Max Norman, he sent the tapes back and we all went "wow." He did an excellent job.

  • I was actually in attendance at the 2002 New Jersey MetalFest, which was my first time ever seeing Diamond Head live (and the event was even captured on videotape, unfortunately seeing a leak to the internet). How did you feel about finally being able to play the States after over 20 years in existence, and are there any plans to return? I know there was an autographing session scheduled for the 'fest but unfortunately it seems to have been scrapped, any reason why?

    It was crazy that it had taken so long for Diamond Head to get over to the States. We should have come over in 1982 but I don't make the rules!. It was a great experience, we all enjoyed it, and Rob Grohl did all the work. We did a signing session on the afternoon before the gig in a big hall there were about 200 people there, you must have missed it. We also had a chance to go into New York and look around the city for a few hours. We saw where the WTC had been. I had been up (in) the WTC (World Trade Center) in 1995 with Karl and it was an amazing thing to see.

  • Also, any special memories or funny stories of playing the New Jersey Metalfest? One of the most amazing things to me was just how different the songs I knew for years sounded live, it was an amazing experience, one I'll never forget. Did you check out any of the other bands on the bill, as there were quite a lot of NWOBHM bands onstage those two nights.

    I remeber we went on after Saxon at about midnight and people were starting to drift off by then. I didnt see any other NWOBHM bands but saw a few really heavy noisy bands in the big cavernous hall next to the theatre, and we had a party after in Sean's hotel room. I wish we could get out to the States more, we need to hook up with (a) promoter who will give Diamond Head a chance.

  • I'm curious to go back to your earliest memories of Diamond Head. How did everything come about, in a somewhat condensed form, and did you have any idea you'd STILL be doing this over 25 years later?

    I formed the band with Duncan Scott check out for a full history. I had no idea I would still be doing it 25 years later. When you start out, each little step is a milestone; I coud not see beyond our 1st gig.

  • Tell us about some of your favorite NWOBHM bands of the era. I know everyone knows about Iron Maiden, Saxon, etc. but some of my favorite bands were Triarchy, with that amazing single "Save The Khan," and of course Geddes Axe had some impressive songs. I also like the China Doll tune "Oysters And Wine."

    My favourite band from the period were Def Leppard. I bought their 1st EP and really liked it. I also saw Witchfinder General, Samson, Girl, Chinatown, Silverwing, Vardis, amongst others, but mainly we took our infuences from the previous generation of bands and a lot of the NWOBHM bands didn't inspire us in the same way. But, it was geat to be part of a new rock movement. I was grateful for the press coverage that we recieved.

  • You are one of very few bands that survived the NWOBHM era to still play today! Most bands released a single or two, maybe one album or EP, and then were never heard from again. What do you think kept Diamond Head from being relegated to total obscurity? Well, besides Metallica covering half of your back catalog!

    I think Metallica covering 4 Diamond Head songs and continually citing us as their main influence, without this recognition and financial help Diamond Head would probably have faded away. There were over 400 bands from the NWOBHM and only a couple made a good living.

  • Speaking of, what do you think about Metallica and the music they are making today? They've changed their style and sound quite a bit, are you still in touch with any of them? I wonder how they reacted when they found out Sean is no longer handling vocal duties...

    I am still in touch with Lars Ulrich and I saw them recently at Wembley Stadium, they were fantastic. I usually get a few minutes to chat to Lars, James and Kirk. I always make sure they get a copy of the latest Diamond Head album, but I tink Lars is still a fan of "Lightning To The Nations," primarily. He has not commented on anthing since "Canterbury." Lars has helped Diamond Head's career immeasurably.

  • As easy as you seem to be to reach, I'm surprised you haven't been interviewed for SnakePit Magazine! Have you ever read this thing? It's probably one of the most in depth 80's metal magazines I've ever read!

    I have not been interviewed for Snakepit magazine, if you want to put me in touch I will speak to them.

  • During your history, there were far more 7 inches and EP's released than actual albums... Was this a result of being cheaper to do, I would think it's a bit easier to focus on two or three good songs than the strain of doing an entire album's worth of material. Some bands from the NWOBHM era seemed to be more capable of putting tons of quality into a few songs than a full length.

    Yes it's quicker and cheaper, and you kid yourself that it may get in the charts but it doesnt. There is so much work involved in writing a whole album that an EP or single is a good way of keeping your profile up without all the hard work and expense.

  • Since you've been around for over 20 years, where would you find your most rabid fanbase is? I know there's fans all over the world, are there any places you've played that were more special than others?

    I would say most of the Diamond Head fans are in the UK; Scotland is usually great, we had a brilliant gig in Athens in 2006. The whole Megadeth tour was amazing, that is one of the best experiences of my life.

  • I noticed some of the artwork on albums like "Borrowed Time" was rather striking! How did you go about commissioning the art for some of these albums?

    Sean wanted Rodney Mathews to do the sleeve and MCA sorted it out but it didn't go smoothly, it never does. Artwork always seems to be a pain. Rodney Mathews vowed to "never work with Diamond Head again."

  • "Canterbury" seems to be many fans' least favorite album; I'd like to get your personal thoughts on this one. Personally I thought there were some good songs, but some did seem a bit more commercially accessible.

    What can I say it was an unbelievably hard album to make and nearly finished us off, and of course we lost 2 members during its recording so that's about as bad as it gets. It took a few years until I could listen to the album wthout feeling the pain we went through just to get it onto tape. I wish it was available now on CD, it still sounds good.

  • As good as those earliest of songs were, I'm curious as to why many of your releases never got a U.S. licensing deal, until Metal Blade stepped in many years later with the "Behold The Beginning" release?

    I don't know! We never toured so that didn't help. I think with better management and a better push in the U.S. from MCA we may have got a foothold but without touring you have no chance, that's how AC/DC and Metallica did it.

  • As we wrap this up, what's in the future for Diamond Head? And how would you describe this new record to people who haven't heard it yet, especially for the older fans?

    We intend to keep Diamond Head going for as long as possible. We have dates coming up to the end of 2007, and hopefully into the new year. The new album has to be one of Diamond Head's strongest releases so far. It has some very strong songs that are already going down a storm live. We are waiting for reviews of "What's In Your Head," as it has only been out in Europe since 30th of July.

    ISOLE. Interview with Henka.

  • Well, it is indeed exciting news that you are signed with Napalm Records now! Why the sudden label change? And do you feel Napalm will be able to give you the attention and support you deserve, after all there are several bands on their roster and very few doom metal bands, as opposed to I Hate.

    We didn't actually try to change label, but at the beginning of this year some larger than "I HATE" labels contacted us and wanted to sign Isole and we thought maybe we should try a bigger label, what do we have to lose? We didn't want any regrets and thoughts (of) what it would have been if we had signed with a bigger label. I spoke a lot with Ola (I Hate) before we signed (and asked) what he thought about it and if it didn't work out he said we were always welcome back to I Hate. It will be a really interesting time for us with the new record, we don't really know what to expect.

  • I have noticed that your debut full length "Forevermore" was reissued by I Hate, why did you feel the need to re-release it? Did it go out of print the first time?

    Yes it got out of print and I Hate wanted to spice up the second pressing. We took the opportunity to record an old Forlorn song which we thought should fit in with the rest of these "old" songs on the debut.

  • How would you compare "Forevermore" to your latest release "Throne Of Void?" Personally, it seems like the debut album is a bit more raw, some of the songs are heavier.

    I think "Forevermore" is more of a shattered album; the songs were written in a very long period of time, and that reflects on the material. Still there are some old songs on "Throne of Void" as well but the material is newer on this one. "Forevermore" is a more dynamic album and on the other hand "Throne of Void" is more compact, heavier and more metal in my opinion.

  • While on the topic of "Forevermore," I noticed one song had a few almost death metal styled vocals on it! Why wasn't this pursued further; do you ever have plans to use harsh vocals?

    We thought that the death screams fitted a lot better than clean vocals on that particular riff. We will continue to use growls if we think it will fit. On "Throne" we didn't think it was necessary with any harsh vocals but there will be some screams on the next album.

  • Just would like to get your thoughts on a few doom metal styled bands, like what do you think of Candlemass' newest release with Rob Lowe on vocals? Personally, I think Rob brings a heavier style and sound, making Candlemass seem much darker and heavier these days!

    At first I was skeptical about the two largest bands in an extremely slim genre sharing the same lead vocalist but I don't know what to think now when the album has melted in. I really like the new Candlemass and it doesn't sound that much like (Solitude Aeternus), it's a couple of really great songs on the new Candlemass and I think it's a lot better than the previous one. Rob's vocals suits Leif's compositions like a glove and as you said it's heavier and (more) raw than ever.

  • With the latest release "Throne Of Void," it seems like everything is so finely balanced between the instrumentation and the vocal work. How do you think the shape and structure of the band would change were you to obtain a different singer, as his vocals seem to shape much of the sound and overall feel of this band?

    The shape and the structure would change a lot I think since Daniel is a big part of Isole, we write music that would fit his voice I guess. It's really hard to say how Isole would sound with a different singer.

  • I'm curious to know what sources of inspiration you drew from for the lyric writing of both albums. With "Forevermore," there seems to be a lot drawing from the failing destiny of mankind, and of course the bleak future of mankind is touched on in "Throne Of Void," but with that record there seems to be more personalized lyrics.

    I haven't reflected on that I think, but maybe you're right. It could depend on which one of us who writes the lyrics. Daniel wrote about 60% of the lyrics on "Forevermore" and I wrote about 60% of the lyrics on "Throne of Void" so this could have something to do with it. I often write lyrics about myself and my thoughts but sometimes it's just fiction. The largest inspiration source is life itself, at least for me. And on the new album "Bliss of Solitude" Henrik has written most of the lyrics so it should be different this time as well.

  • So even though the new record isn't out yet, what can you tell us about song titles, themes, or how the new record will compare to the older ones.

    The song titles of the new album "Bliss of Solitude" are: 'By Blood,' 'From Clouded Sky,' 'Imprisoned In Sorrow,' 'Bliss Of Solitude,' 'Aska,' 'Dying,' and 'Shadowstone.' The music on the new album has a darker approach and the material is more varied, we have been working more with dynamics like on "Forevermore" this time but with a heavier and darker sound.

  • I have heard from lots of Scandinavian bands that the government helps support musicians and especially financially, unlike in this country, and that is why there are so many great bands coming out of this region. Maybe you could tell us a bit about this; have you received help from your governing body? What exactly do they cover for you?

    We have rehearsal rooms with instruments and stuff at the youth centers, we rehearsed for free when we were kids, but that's about it. When you are an adult you don't get any help at all, at least we haven't got any help.

  • Any plans for shows or tours, maybe a visit to the U.S.? The Heathen Crusade festival in January would be a good showcase for you guys...

    I've heard The Heathen Crusade Festival is cancelled 2008. (Actually, it is "Postponed" until later on in the year - Ed.) We would love to go to the U.S. but we have no such plans at the moment. The only gig we have planned is at a festival in Dortmund/Germany called Days of Doom. We will play with Mirror of Deception, Doomshine and Tortured Spirit. I really hope we will have an opportunity to do a tour soon, because the last two tours we were supposed to do got cancelled in the last minute. It seems like we have some kind of curse cast upon us.

  • Just out of curiosity, why did you change your band name from Forlorn? It seems like the two bands had the same members and even some songs from some demos were reworked.

    Forlorn and Isole are the same band, we changed the name because a lot of "Forlorns" popped up everywhere and we didn't want to get mixed up with any of those. And we thought it was a good idea to get a fresh start after a couple of years in hibernation.

  • Speaking of the Forlorn demo material, is any of that ever to be reissued or reworked into other songs?

    We have released old demo material on every album so far and we will have one old Forlorn song ('Imprisoned In Sorrow') on the next album as well. And we will continue to do so as long as it takes to get every song that deserves a proper release out.

  • I very much liked Ereb Altor, is that band to continue on? I was very appreciative of being able to download the demo, as those are good songs. I would definitely love to hear a full length release some time. Who all is involved in Ereb Altor, and what does the band name mean?

    Ereb Altor is a two piece band, and the name is after a fantasy world in a role playing game here in Sweden called Drakar & Demoner. The members of Ereb Altor are Mats & Ragnar. Ereb Altor has recently recorded their first full length album which will be released some time next year I believe.

  • Members of Isole seem to be involved in many different projects, like Sorcery, Withered Beauty and Windwalker, several of which I have yet to hear. Anything going on with any of these projects?

    The only project that is up and running is Undivine, Jonas' death metal band. They will release their first full length album soon.

  • Many of your songs do have a rather long running time... When doing shows, how do you compensate for this live? Do you shorten some of the songs, or maybe just play fewer songs? I know this was a problem for bands like Opeth in the beginning when they weren't doing headlining slots.

    We have chosen to shorten some songs in a couple of shows, but most of the time we just play fewer songs. But I don't think this is a problem, we often get enough stage time wherever we play.

  • What is a live Isole show like, and do you have any funny tour stories or interesting happenings? What bands have you played out with so far?

    You'll have to ask the audiences that have seen us, it's difficult for me to say what an Isole show is like because I've never seen one. But we have got really good responses from the audience so far and we are quite experienced musicians so I guess and hope we are a good live act. This is a couple of bands we have shared the stage with: Grand Magus, Reverend Bizarre, Gates of Slumber, Officium Triste and In Age And Sadness. Well, funny tour stories... I don't know, we always have a lot of fun when we are out playing, and we always drink too much after the gigs and all the stuff we do after the gigs are classified.

  • Anything else you want to talk about that we didn't mention, please feel free to use this space here... Thanks! Looking forward to the new record.

    Rock 'N' Roll GOD DAMN IT!!!

    THE FUCKING WRATH. Interview with Craig via telephono...

  • It's funny, because I remember reading in the bio that you all own record stores...

    No, we don't own them but all three of us work... We all used to work at the same record store, but I work at a different one now and I order all the music, while the other two dudes work at another record store on the other side of town.

  • Wow, that's funny... So how long have you all been working at these stores?

    I worked at the same place with them for about 7 years. John's been working there for, probably close to 15, and Nick's been working there for about 5 years.

  • So what kind of store is it, do they carry underground metal and what not?

    Well, the place that they both work at is kinda like a mini Amoeba, they have a fair range of everything; punk, metal, rock, everything. They even have all the top 40 shit! (laughs).

  • The reason I ask, I mean, I have been doing a music magazine for over 15 years, and I get a lot of stuff, but you guys probably hear a lot more music than the average person...

    I guess so, I never really thought about it, but we have a lot of contacts as it is. We get to see a lot of the bands that are coming up. Most of them suck but there's always the few that are standing out...

  • I figured you guys have heard so much stuff, that you probably know how to mix different styles and genres of music to make something that's kind of original, in a way...

    Yeah, well, we all have different backgrounds in music and stuff, so that helps a lot. Like I grew up listening to a lot of metal, and then got into punk and hardcore later in life. Metal is amazing, but I feel like I identify more with the punk/hardcore ethics and morals. Whereas John grew up in the total hardcore scene, that late 80's early 90's Nardcore scene with Dr. Know, Ill Repute and stuff. Our bass player has about the same tastes as both of us. We've always just enjoyed music, and a lot of it... I try to write stuff that gets me psyched, I think about when I was 13 years old doing headbanging contests in my room, you know? Then I try to translate that kind of shit into song.

  • To me, it's more about the emotional content. When I listen to a piece of music, whether it's doom metal, black metal, stoner rock or whatever, I want to feel the shit! I wanna FEEL what these people are trying to convey.

    Yeah, exactly man. I don't know if we necessarily do it, but we definitely try to, and it's definitely all about feeling. There's just so many bands though these days. But our main goal is to play and have fun and just be loud as fuck.

  • I noticed that fun attitude, it kinda translates in the song titles especially. I mean we all know where 'Ride The Lighter' comes from (laughter here from Craig), but what amazed me was 'To The Eels,' and I'm thinking British Iron Maiden, if they sung with the accent... Is that how you guys kinda wanted to portray that tune?

    Well, not really, 'To The Eels' was actually the first song we ever wrote. When we first started jamming together, I had a few riffs kinda, and we all have pretty short attention spans anyway (laughs). We were going to start just as a joke band, we were going to be called Lars Ulrich. Our sole purpose was we were going to get sued by Lars Ulrich. We had ideas for 7 inches and all kinds of shit. But we started jamming and ended up liking the stuff more than a joke, so we decided to start writing stuff and seeing where we could go with it. Within the first year we did our first U.S. tour and put out a record.

  • So how did you hook up with Goodfellow Records? Because if it wasn't for Dave Brenner, I wouldn't have even known about the label! You know, the man that works 14 different fucking record labels!??

    Yeah, he's fucking amazing man! Through Goodfellow, he's done a lot of really cool stuff for us already. How we hooked up with Goodfellow, we're really good friends with a band called Intronaut, who are on Goodfellow. And they had nothing but pleasant things to say about them, so we sent them our demo. We recorded our album about a year before it came out so we had plenty of time to shop it and give it to some labels. We talked to a few people but Goodfellow were the only people to offer us what we really wanted, which was essentially a licensing deal. Se we just licensed that album to them, and they put it out once: there's no contract or anything else, it's all simple which is what I like. I didn't want to deal with any album deals or any of that bullshit.

  • Yeah, because you never know what you're getting into these days, especially when you're under contract.

    Yeah, and Goodfellow's been really cool; we've seen the album everywhere, and they do a lot more for us than we could do for ourselves. And it's great; it's nice to say about a label because most of the time they're trying to make their quick buck back.

  • I wanted to ask you about that cover album artwork: it looks like a cross between a comic book cover and a 1950's horror theme. It's great!

    The cover is done by a guy named Nat Damn, he's the drummer for the band Akimbo. We've played with Akimbo a handful of times, and we are decent friends. He does a lot of artwork for Akimbo, and we all see eye to eye on ridiculous shit, like knights and dragons and wizards and bongs. It was only natural to ask him to do it. We didn't really give him any specifics, we just said, "here's the record, we want it to be totally out of control!" (laughs). I saw it and totally fell in love with it!

  • It's got a nice dark feel to it. It's like one part Electric Wizard, one part, I dunno... Hammerfall/Manowar! (slight pause)

    Ha ha!! Honestly, I'm all about the mystics. Growing up I was all about stuff like Greek Mythology, Viking mythology (FUCK yeah - Ed.) That stuff gets me way more excited than Christianity. One god sucks, I'll take 12!!

  • I'm glad to hear you say that, we're big haters of Christianity over here. One thing that really gets me, I'm always glad to see that bands are able to admit they partake of the THC. And a lot of times, when I'm smoking out a bit, I tend to listen to more mellow music. So it's good to see you guys take that influence and run heavy with it. They mention in the bio Black Sabbath, Tragedy and Metallica, but nobody mentions the Stoner Rock sound, and there's a LOT of stoner rock influences in your music, even as heavy as it is. You ever listen to the stoner rock stuff, like Rite, Sparzanza, Dozer and stuff?

    I mean, I listen to stoner rock bands but I haven't heard of any of those bands. We all listen to a wide range of music, and every genre of music is overflowing with bands at this point. To keep up with it is fucking outta control. We listen to bands like Nebula, Fu Manchu...

  • Ah, some of the Man's Ruin bands!!!

    Yeah, you know, any of that stuff. I love stoner rock, all that riff-rock stuff.

  • Well, it fits really well with what you do, I mean there's the punk rock stuff, the brutal heavy metal assault, and then the stoner rock riffs. It's like "these guys have everything in the cooking pot!"

    Honestly, what we do is we will go jam, and the fast stuff will be when we're not so stoned and the slow stuff is when we're super, SUPER stoned! We've only played like two shows when we were not stoned I think.

  • Well, Voivod does that all the time, I mean the first time I saw them live, a cloud of smoke followed them onstage! (laughs). (laughing). That's awesome! I would love to see Voivod live.

  • I've heard you have done a fuckload of touring, so how do you balance touring with having to work in a record store? I'm sure you don't fall under the corporate infrastructure.

    No, the record store is pretty cool about us getting time off. The drummer John is one of the people in charge of making sure that record store runs properly. They've been pretty cool about it, and I work at a place downtown now, and they are TOTALLY cool about me leaving. But we all work, we work our asses off and some of us work two jobs. It's just all about timing and planning. We play a lot of shows around here, but we've done two U.S. tours at this point, and luckily when we've gone out we've gone out with our friends. Obviously this helps out on gas and we'll all share a van as well. We'll share a van and gear and it will be two bands together in one van.

  • Now that's the way to do it! All these bands that sit here and bitch saying "Oh, we all work day jobs and we can't afford to go out on tour," I'm like you guys played over 70 shows in 2005 alone! If you guys can do it...

    It has a lot to do with our history too though, because all of us in the band have been playing music for years. John was in a band called Mission 23rd, a pretty well known band on the West Coast and they played for upwards of ten years touring everywhere. He's had a lot of touring experience and I've had a little, Nick had some experience as well. When we started we put out some set goals on what we want to do. We KNOW we want to tour, we want to put out records, we want to play as many shows as possible.

  • Well, I'm curious as to what other bands you have been involved in. I know you mentioned what Nick was doing.

    Me and Nick are in a band currently called Ox Vs. Thunderbird. The Fucking Wrath, on our last tour we did a tour with Ox Vs. Thunderbird because it's only a difference of one member. We're still in Ox Vs. Thunderbird, and have been doing this for about 4 years.

  • So what does Ox Vs. Thunderbird sound like?

    Well, it's a lot heavier...

  • Damn, HEAVIER? (laughing)

    Yeah, well, there's 4 of us, and we use a lot of gear. Kinda like, well, maybe some Neurosis, Old Man Gloom, and maybe some Mastodon a little bit?

  • Yeah, they're from my hometown. I'm in metro Atlanta. Corbin King and Kate French, the band Vainglory is around here. Kate French used to sing for David T. Chastain's band. And Corbin King, his music store is like RIGHT down the street from my apartment! (laughing). So I just walked down there and picked up his new CD!

    I think I've heard of the band, but I've never heard them though. We've been through Atlanta once or twice; we went through Savannah too, and we had a REALLY good time the last time we were in Savannah!

  • There's a BIG punk and hardcore scene in Savannah. Not many people realize that, and I've been trying to wake people up to that fact. It's small and struggling, but it's there.

    Yeah, I think last time we went through there we met up with that band Tooth. They're kinda like that Baroness metal kind of thing. We played a show with them in Durham and then again in Savannah, and those dudes are pure southern gentlemen. If you haven't heard them you should definitely check them out, they're fucking awesome.

  • Have you heard of Damad? Victoria used to be a good friend of mine.

    Oh really? That's awesome. I haven't dug their last couple of records as much, as far as Kylesa goes, but the last couple of Damad records is so close to my heart man. Absolutely amazing stuff.

  • I found out she also does artwork too, she did the artwork for a Phobia record. Her vocals are sick, man, she puts most guys to shame!

    Yeah, it's fucking gnarly man. When you heard Damad, you were like "Oh my god, that's a fucking girl man!" And it's not that they can't do it, but it's incredible that one is doing it.

  • You guys mostly play with punk bands I've noticed, have you ever played with any metal bands?

    I mean, I guess we've done a healthy share of both, but we do get a lot of punk shows, at least around here it seems punk is the main genre of music. It's the whole Nardcore thing, everyone wants to keep the tradition alive. We're up for anything really, we just don't like asshole promoters; anything that is going to make the show NOT fun, we don't wanna deal with. We play a lot of punk shows because they're like D.I.Y., 5 bucks at the door, throw beer around everywhere and it's no big deal (laughs). We're not opposed to playing with anyone, and we book all of our own stuff, so it's really about who we can get in contact with.

  • Have you started working on new songs yet? Because I know this album has been out for awhile.

    Yeah, we have a handful of tunes already. The next goal is to put out a split LP or 7 inch in the near future. We have no idea with who yet. We've talked to a couple of people but we have nothing to offer them yet and they have nothing to offer us yet... As far as songs goes or anything.

  • This album seems to be built around a lot of meaty riffs.

    Like I said I have a pretty short attention span so I write a stack of fucking riffs and we somehow try to loop them all together. That's what we do.

  • So would you guys be opposed to playing like a New Jersery Metal Meltdown or New England Hardcore and Metalfest?

    No, definitely not, IF we can get out there and not lose our ass on money. That's what it comes down to, well, as far as us getting anywhere... We don't make that much money and we're always barely struggling. Our town is so expensive to live in. We're paying out the ass for rent because we live at the beach.

  • Well, move to Atlanta!! (laughing)

    Yeah. But you guys have the hottest climate EVER, man. That humidity kills me.

  • I know, well, it's worse in Savannah if you think it's bad up here.

    Yeah I know, Savannah was one of the hottest places, that and Pensacola, Florida. It was unbearable. We did our tour in July and August, it was fucking gnarly, our van has no A.C. and it was definitely a test of stamina for sure!

  • Well, what you do after a show is you drive to Tybee and you jump off the coast of the U.S. into the Atlantic Ocean. That's how you do it! (laughing).

    Yeah, we pretty much drove straight into the ocean when we got home! Our rent is fairly expensive, but the weather is amazing, it's like 70 degrees all year 'round. So I don't really WANT to leave. But yeah, we'll play just about anywhere. But you know, touring the East Coast side of the country is honestly more fun than doing the West Coast. Because there's so many shows you can play. On the West Coast, you can do maybe 9 shows, all the way up to Seattle. You know what I mean? And that's going to be with 10 to 15 hour drives in between! And that just makes it unbearable almost. So The Fucking Wrath hasn't even TOURED the West Coast yet.

  • Damn, that's kinda funny considering you guys live out there! Now, as we wrap this up, you're talking about a new album, are you going to release it on Goodfellow Records, or are you going to shop it out to other labels?

    I think we'll probably be sticking to putting out records ourselves and licensing it to other labels. We'll probably pay for it ourselves, record it ourselves and shop it out to other labels. Once people start owning your music that's when you really start losing control of your own band.

    WIDOW. Interview with Chris via telephono...

  • I got the new CD "Nightlife" through Cruz Del Sur, and I'm just curious how your deal is structured?

    We had a 2 album deal with them, and I'm sure our next album will be with them as well. We did "On Fire" and "Nightlife" with Cruz Del Sur, and I'm totally happy with them.

  • A lot of people that I've talked to on that label, like Crescent Shield, are really happy with the label.

    Yeah, we played with them recently and they're a really good band. I saw the band live with Angra, it was awesome.

  • Wow, where did you see that at?

    Where I live in North Carolina, and at Atlantic Beach. I saw Angra at Prog Power down in Atlanta along with Blind Guardian and Gamma Ray.

  • How come you guys never played Prog Power yet?

    I dunno, I mean we would but I guess we're not what you would consider traditional power metal, or whatever. We're a bit more like traditional metal.

  • You mean like New Wave Of British Heavy Metal? (NWOBHM). I'm noticing that because the CD seems rooted in it, the opening track especially 'First Born' is one of the best cuts on the album! It jumps right out at you.

    Thanks man. We have a mix of a lot of different influences, from heavier stuff to like Motley Crue and Whitesnake, shit like that. That's how we created the Widow sound, by mixing it all up.

  • It's kinda funny to see a song like 'Teacher's Pet,' now I know Venom did a song called that, but it kinda has that Van Halen, maybe "arena rock" sound I guess you could say.

    Dude, Van Halen is my favorite band. Eddie is a hero of mine. See, we like different stuff like Skynyrd and Van Halen, some 70's stuff like Thin Lizzy, and then I also like stuff like Kreator, Bathory and more aggressive stuff too. That's where our death metal vocals come from. It took us a LONG time, because we had a death metal band before Widow called Sorrows Bequest...

  • Yeah, I was about to ask you about that...

    That was kind of like melodic death metal, but we were always into the more traditional metal. We thought it would be a good idea to mix that all up. But our hearts weren't really into that, and then we started Widow, and from that point we haven't been afraid to put in whatever we wanted to in the music.

  • Now I never heard Sorrows Bequest, but I assume the band broke up because you wanted to do something different.

    Yeah, pretty much. It was musical differences, we all had different ideas on what we were going to do. The drummer that was with us, he went on to play in this band called Dreamscapes Of The Perverse, black metal like Dimmu Borgir. I mean, I like that stuff too, don't get me wrong, and they are a cool band. We play with them sometimes. And this other dude that was with us went on to a band called Soulpreacher.

  • I've heard them, those guys are great.

    Yeah, they played up here recently with Paradise Lost here in Fayetteville.

  • Now I know Sorrows Bequest did like 2 demos, are those tracks ever going to be released in any official form?

    There IS a good chance, we considered using them as Japanese bonus tracks (on a Widow release) to show where Widow came from. We've had a LOT of success in Japan, those people really dig the style of melodic metal.

  • It's funny you mention Japan, because if you play a traditional style of 80's metal, you won't sell records here in the States, but you'll be able to play festivals over in Europe. On the other hand, if you play that metalcore, or hardcore/metal shit, you'll sell a lot of records here in the States, but there isn't much of an interest for you overseas...

    I know! The fans in Europe, and Japan too, they're just dedicated and diehard, man. They don't give a shit about trends, they just like what they like and they like it forever (laughs). That's how we ended up with Cruz Del Sur, because Enrico is really like a fan of the band and we wanted to be on a label with someone that really believes in it instead of just a tax write off.

  • And they do a lot of unusual things for the genre, because you won't find as many labels that will just sign you to one album or two. Most labels want to lock you down into a long contract, they don't want you to release things on other labels, etc.

    When we started Widow, we had label interest because myself and Johnny have always been real active in the underground scene. So we talked to a lot of people. We had talked to other labels but they wanted us to change things about the band, and we wouldn't do it. Then we ended up with Tribunal, who released our first album, and we basically got a one album deal with them. It's a label around here in North Carolina. But man, they do really good, we couldn't believe it! They have great distribution and all that. It's for the states ONLY though, and that's the thing. But then our album made it over to Europe, and then people started finding out about it in Japan. So "Midnight Strikes" got out in Japan, but it didn't have an official release there. And that's how Cruz Del Sur found out about us, and we wanted to reach the European market. We're used to doing all the work ourselves, so when we got with Cruz Del Surf and they were able to get more stuff for us, we were like "This is great!" (laughs).

  • Something I wanted to ask, you have history that goes back even further than Sorrows Bequest, there's a pagan metal project called Uller, but I'm not sure who was in it.

    Oh my god! Wow, dude, damn, that's kick ass that you knew that, that's from WAY back! That was one of the guys I used to jam with, David Wills. He started the band, but he's a real... What's the word... He's kind of an avantgarde kind of artist. He didn't want to be somebody that was out playing gigs, he was into more obscure stuff, I guess like a black metal mentality like Ulver. Him and I started doing Sorrow Bequest and that's when we met Josh who's still in Widow. With Sorrow Bequest we got to a point when Johnny joined that we wanted to play gigs and do that kind of thing, and that's kinda when the split with David came about. Uller recorded a couple of things, but I played drums for that even. I actually played drums on a couple of the Widow albums...

  • Ah, so you're a multi purpose kinda guy.

    When we did "On Fire," we were kinda between drummers. Tim Haisman had left and we had promised the label that we were gonna do an album. Time was ticking on us, so I just went ahead and did it. And the same thing happened again with "Nightlife!" Because Marc Anthony split, and we were gonna get Peter Lemieux, who is still with us, but we were so in the middle of it that Peter didn't have time to learn the songs. But Peter will play on our next album. And we do a lot of albums in a hurry... Well, it's not that it's in a hurry, we spend time to work on it, but... I liked it when bands were releasing albums, like Ozzy, he'd always be putting out an album. I HATE it when people go like 5 or 6 years between albums. We kinda have the Kiss or Ozzy Osbourne mentality where we're constantly writing songs and coming up with stuff. I'm inspired ya know!!

  • After "Nightlife" came out, I don't have any of the earlier releases, so if people are into the new album, how do you think they'll like the earlier stuff? What would the comparisons be for those two earlier albums?

    We didn't want to be a band that stagnated and released the same album again and again. I mean, people said that Eddie Van Halen only did Van Halen II, why didn't that sound like the first Van Halen? Well, it's a different album (laughs). That's always been the mentality that we've had too. With "Midnight Strikes" we were happy with what we were doing; it's kind of a fast, traditional metal mixed in with death and black metal influences. We wanted to take that out into left field with "On Fire," and we brought in a female singer in Lili. The idea was, we always had songs that were like horror stories, like on "Midnight Strikes." They were always from a guy's point of view so we wanted to bring in a girl to somewhat counteract that. Kind of like Meatloaf but a more heavy metal version of that. And it worked really great, and you got a female perspective on things; all the stuff we were talking about. But we had some musical differences with her. Over the course of the first two albums, we were out playing more concerts, doing things we'd never done. I guess we just wanted to write an album that talked about our own experiences and things that we do when we're out... partying pretty much!! We wanted to talk more about the crazy things that actually happened and not the fantasy stuff that happened before.

  • (laughing here). So the song 'Teacher's Pet,' who did that happen to?

    Ha ha!! No, that didn't happen to any of us, unfortunately. We wanted it to when we were in school. That song is about Debra LaFave, that's the teacher in Florida that had sex with the 14 year old male student. I started thinking about her and I was like "I gotta write a song about her." That's actually her that's talking in the beginning of 'Teacher's Pet.' You know who I'm talking about, that blond girl? That hot looking chick. (laughs). There's another song called 'Beauty Queen,' which is about that porn star chick Savannah.

  • Oh, that's funny, because I'm originally from Savannah (Georgia)

    Are you familiar with her, the blond haired girl that committed suicide?

  • I know who she is, I mean Megan Leigh did the same thing. I'm a huge porn star freak man. (laughing). I know a lot about porn, I mean there's an Italian porn star called Ciciolina, who's real name is Ilona. She has ties to the band Bulldozer from Italy, they wrote a song about her I think it was on the "IX" album.

    Oh, dude, I am too man. I like porn, and most guys do so... I'm a big fan (laughs). I just thought that story of Savannah was so interesting, I mean she was a really pretty girl who got into a car accident and she ended up all fucked up. Then she went back to her house and immediately shot herself. It's a pretty crazy story. I'm really proud of that song, because musically it brings across the idea behind the lyrics, and I love it when something can do that. Like the music and the lyrics create that vision to you of what's going on, because there's this sad, slow and melodic part in the middle of 'Beauty Queen,' and the lyrics also carry her life through to that moment of suicide. We try to get a little more personal with some songs, I guess, where other songs are more like Satan coming down to Earth and hooking up with girls (laughing).

  • Hell, if I was Satan that's what I would do! (more silly laughter).

    Exactly, me too! Like 'American Werewolf In Raleigh,' I'm a huge fan of that American Werewolf In London movie, and basically we just made the wolf come to Raleigh and come after us. (laughs).

  • Yeah, now that I think about it, 'First Born' kinda sounds like it carries over from the horror themes from the earlier days.

    The concept of that one, I'm an enormous fan of that movie The Omen. And I wanted to do something like that, or Rosemary's Baby. Originally we had planned to use the sample from Rosemary's Baby to start 'First Born,' but we decided against it because we had already done something exactly like that on both the other two albums. And we liked the impact of how that song started, with no intro or anything.

  • So how is the vocal work done, are the clean vocals and harsh vocals split up or does one person do everything?

    No, Johnny does the clean vocals and I do the screaming. Johnny has progressed his vocals a lot. When we started out he really didn't know how to sing, but he learned it as we went. He's not out there trying to shatter glass or be in the national opera or anything (laughs), but to me that's what creates a unique style in your vocals. I don't want him to sing like Pavarotti or anything. I like people like Ozzy or Vince Neil, they just go out there and do it. Even like Alice Cooper, you know, the minute you hear them you know exactly who it is.

  • (So we got to talking about Hallows Eve, the Broken Trinity stuff which still isn't happening, and then we talk about the clubs in North Carolina that have shows). I tell you what, there's a LOT of shows up in North Carolina that AREN'T playing down here in Atlanta, and I'm wondering what the fuck's going on! I mean, we have WREKage, and I'm doing my online radio show every week... We have ProgPower!?? What, we can't draw the same shows you guys are getting? Like for instance, Chthonic was on Ozzfest, but they didn't come down here!

    Oh yeah, that's that band from Taiwan. I went to Ozzfest to see Lordi, I LOVE Lordi. I tell ya, they just about blew the place up, it's hard to imagine a band like Lordi in a club. They have pyrotechnics, explosions, it was amazing. Raleigh used to be the mecca for metal but they kinda turned away. We got a club called Ziggy's that gets some good stuff... There's a guy in Raleigh that is trying to get things going again.

  • It's funny, but a lot of people say if you go to a Gwar show, you go to see the stage show; you don't go for the music, because the music isn't that great. But with Lordi, you get a stage show AND you get some kick ass tunes!

    That's exactly right. I mean, I LIKE Gwar, I'm not even trying to pick sides on the Gwar/Lordi thing, but if I HAVE to pick a side, I'm gonna have to go with Lordi. Lordi is bringing it back kinda the way that Kiss was in the 70's. Like, they have their gimmick but they put a real catchy song behind it. And Lordi's songs are really fucking catchy. Honestly, dude, "The Arocalypse" is my favorite album of the year (as of 2007 - Ed.) I don't see why Lordi is a Gwar ripoff, though. I just like catchy, good songs that I can sing to.

  • So have you guys played a lot of shows and festivals in Europe... You know, your home? (laughing).

    No, unfortunately. We had a tour worked out that we were going to do but were unable to do it. We did do a show in Canada with Cauldron, who used to be called Goat Horn, and they're amazing. Our two bands fit together well, those dudes are cool as shit. Nobody told them it's not the 80's, they got the high tops and the mullets going! (laughs).

  • Well, I guess we'll wrap this up, but I just wanted to mention the covers. Now, I hope you don't take offense at this, but I always HATED these 80's metal bands that get up there and kick ass, and then you hear this song, the ballad, it's like "let's write a song for the chicks." And whenever I see a song with the word 'Love' in it, I always go oh god, here comes the wimpy song. And you go and put TWO songs like that up there!

    (Surprisingly, he's laughing his ass off). Yeah man! Fucking (growling) "I stole your love!!!" We tried to do our own version of it.

  • Well, at least they're heavy, I said I'll give them that!

    (still laughing his ass off). That's awesome man. Kiss and Van Halen are two of my favorites. We talked about all kinds of different shit, we talked about doing 'Hello' by Lionel Richie. (Now I'M laughing my ass off - Ed.) Just because we've got such a diverse taste in music, we listen to like Michael Jackson and Wham! Those are all catchy songs and we just jam 'em. The Van Halen and Kiss songs, they turned out REALLY well, I was pleased with it. And originally I didn't think they were going to be on the album, and Enrico from the label heard them and he INSISTED they be on the album. We were like "cool."

  • 'Ain't Talkin' Bout Love' turned out really good, I just ain't there with 'I Stole Your Love.' Sorry...

    Give it another chance, man. Don't give up on us! (laughing).

  • Well, if I gave up on ya I wouldn't be doing this interview!


    Sorry to see this issue take three months plus to come out... I had actually gotten frustrated at one point and almost called it quits... Obviously the creation of Vibrations of Doom almost 16 years ago has taken on a life of it's own. And of course it's been documented that I went through a rough time having to move so the State could take over the land I was living on (and it being an apartment owned by someone else, I was not even compensated, PLUS I only had 30 days to find a new place). That coupled with the fact I moved my ENTIRE abode BY MYSELF using only a 4 door car instead of a truck or van, made things that much more difficult. Couple that with the fact that I wanted to play lots and lots of video and computer games, and well, you see how things get out of hand.

    The radio show has been a tremendous boost to things however. If the magazine doesn't continue on, the radio show most certainly WILL. Record labels are a bit more receptive now that they see a weekly guarantee that we're pushing their products. It makes even the overseas labels happy, which means that entities like I Hate, Bad Mood Man/Solitude Productions and the like are more than happy to place their trust in me. And so I want to return the favor. We're gonna try and have this thing out more regularly.

    One thing that's REALLY been eating away at me is the way labels are handling their promos. Voice over bleeps, incomplete track listings and the lack of cover art and/or lyrics upsets me greatly. The new Alestorm record from Napalm has maybe two playable tracks. Now, granted, I don't mind the splitting up of songs into 10 or 20 individual "tracks," but HOW are radio stations supposed to play songs off these fucked up promos? I had been looking forward to the newest Draconian record for some time now, and when I get it? Not only is it in a cardboard sleeve, but ALL the tracks, save for TWO, have voice overs! This means at random intervals on each track (and this occurs multiple times each song) the music is lowered in volume, and you hear the same message: This is Anders from Draconian, you're listening to the new album "Turning Season Within." FURIOUS! And it seems there's nowhere to turn to get a decent copy! What are radio stations especially supposed to do? I have refused to review or even play albums from labels like Earache who have been fucking up their records for quite some time now, and it seems Napalm has started this trend. Granted I appreciate the albums being sent to me earlier than the release date, but I'm not spreading these things on the internet! I have a solution though: We only publish every three months. I WILL WAIT until the actual release date to get a proper working copy. Send them in the cardboard if you have to, but don't cripple the very people you depend on to give reviews and airplay! This is NUTS. I know there has to be a solution, and I would MUCH rather see songs split up into 5 or 10 tracks than this mess....

    Sad was I to see the third annual Heathen Crusade Festival postponed for 2008. We missed 2007's, but on a good bit of news, a pagan music festival is actually coming to ATLANTA!!! Monday, May 19th will see Ensiferum, Turisas, Eluveitie, and the main reason I'm going, Tyr!! As you all know, we have Doom Radio promo spots and reviewed and interviewed Tyr, so I am very excited about this! Also coming to the Atlanta area are Ministry (in their so called Farewell tour), Napalm Death, Behemoth (along with Keep Of Kalessin and Dimmu Borgir, what a show THAT'S going to be!) and even Nile!

    On a final note, I was working with a friend of mine from Savannah, who runs the Savannah City Directory (and does great html work besides). He mentioned in his newsletter than the site ranked the city directory at 376,693. What does this mean? Well, the most popular website of course is google, which is ranked at number 1 and the numbers keep going up from there. The lower the number, the more popular the website! SO, I was curious to see how Vibrations Of Doom fared in the "ranking" statistics, after all, we have been at this for over 16 years now! Our ranking was 198,776. Not too shabby, but then things get interesting... Under, there's an audio search results, which seem to have a page of links to the classic albums section and various other audio files. THERE we have a ranking of, get this, 1,493!!! So I'm wondering of course for many many months just WHERE all our hits and rankings come from, well, quite obviously it's the classic albums section. 1,493, that's one hell of a ranking for us to be associated with. It also raises many, MANY questions, since that's a separate ranking under the same website name.

    We carry on, through 2008. It's gonna be a good year, and hopefully we'll start getting issues out more on time... I CAN tell you already confirmed for issue #47 is an interview with Electric Wizard... Thanks to the usual supporters, like April Smith, Jodi Davis, and those countless publicists, bands, and labels who keep me supplied with fresh goods....

    Until the next issue, CLICK HERE to return to the main menu!