Welcome back! Hopefully you all are enjoying Doom Radio, as we've put a lot of hard work into each and every weekly show! More and more bands are doing promo spots for us, and we're going to keep giving you new interviews and CD reviews as often as we can. The delays, unfortunately, will still be a problem, but we are working to correct that as well... Well, I say "we," but as many of you already know, it's been more like "me" for over 15 years.

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AIRGED L'AMH "Ode To Salvation" (Eat Metal) SCORE: 90/100

As blown away as I was by their full length debut "The Silver Arm" (and that all depends on how you treat the album "One Eyed God" which had songs lifted for the "Silver Arm" debut and was limited to 500 copies with it yet to see a repress), I realized that they had a tough act to follow. New things this time around: we see keyboards being more prominently featured on the record, making for some piano intros, an atmospheric and soundtrack like opening track entitled 'Midlothian,' and an amazine set of Celtic heaviness utilizing flutes entitled 'Glide On The Wings.' 'The Hunter's Path' starts things off nicely, with the epic midtempo guitar work that defined their structures on the last album, and the first thing you notice is a bit slower tempo. Many songs here are run through a slower framework, which shows Airged L'amh branching out just a bit from their comfort zone. The title track shows further innovation in the instrumentation department, bringing about a somewhat medieval feel while still reminding everyone what "The Silver Arm" was all about; in fact, I daresay the entire album is half "Silver Arm" influences, half experimentation, with some extreme vocal work and a rather angrier singing style that some won't get into right away. Many of the songs here retain a long length, in fact you'll find quite a few 6 and 7 minute pieces. The guitar work is quite amazing, and truly one of the highlights here, there's a LOT of higher ended lead guitar work. 'Dine In Hades' is an almost 8 minute piece that starts out with some piano notes, and the pianos go on by themselves for about a minute and a half. Lots of solo instrumentation is presented, and it makes me wonder if some of these songs could have been trimmed down by a minute or two. The instrumentation is still varied and diverse, in fact a tune like 'The Ritual Lair' has some of the best solos and emotional variation on the instrumental passages I've yet to hear from the L'amhs. My biggest gripe was with the almost doom metal pace of 'Pages Of Essence,' I do have to agree that this is probably Airged L'amh's darkest and most haunting track I've heard them write, though the vocal work wasn't quite up to par here. He's more of a singer, and a good one at that, than one who can add a snarling and menacing tone to his throat work. HOWEVER, that being said, there's several places where extreme vocal work akin to death or black metal was tried, granted they were limited to one or two words here and there, but I would love to hear more of that in the future. The ballad like piece 'Mo Cuishle' too suffered, mainly on the vocals, as it was seemingly done with a more harsh vocal style in mind, and the instrumentation, as decent as it was, doesn't hold a candle to 'Mourning Grief' from the previous album. Still, CD ender 'Glide On The Wings' ended the 9 song affair in movie soundtrack fashion, complete with militaristic percussion and synth atmopshere, and it's still worth picking up regardless of the few faults.
Contact: Eat Metal Records.

ALGHAZANTH "Wreath Of Thevetat" (Woodcut) SCORE: 100/100

Absolutely astounding is this masterpiece of symphonic black metal, with what seems to me to utilize some astral and occult concepts, making the synth pieces create an otherworldly atmosphere. No ballads or syrupy pieces to be found, this band mainly goes for the jugular with some vicious paced black metal! You will hear MANY tempo and structure changes, and every song is either 5 or 6 minutes in length. HOW they got their songs down to between 5 and 6 minutes a piece is obviously a testament to just how well crafted these songs are. And they go for atmosphere, folks, no long winded and over repetitive passages to be found anywhere. They have no problems throwing acoustic guitars, some piano notes, and LOTS of melodic and slower passages into the mix. I guarantee that not only will you NEVER get bored with ANY song on the disc, but I've listened to this disc 8 or 9 times already and I STILL hear stuff I missed! The spoken word intro starting the disc off gives a bit of insight into what the lyrical content might be about, which makes the more symphonic leanings make more sense. The slower pace starting the tune 'The Kings To Come' reminded me immediately of Immortal via the "Sons Of Northern Darkness" album, though the track doesn't slow down for long. The guitar work on this disc is absolutely astounding as well: lots of high ended leads and invoking lots of atmosphere through the guitar work alone! The drummer is quite simply either a madman or possessed; witness how he just flows effortlessly on the many structure and tempo changes of 'The Phosphorescent,' for example. There were a few death metal styled vocals in a few spots, which at first I wasn't sure if I was okay with, but soon that became a non issue. Check out the track 'Twice Born,' when he goes from a low death growl RIGHT into the blackened shriek, and you know from there vocals are ALL handled by the same person! 'Future Made Flesh' was interesting with the solo instrumentation starting off at a slower pace than what's usually starting tracks off, and the vocals don't kick in until about 1:33. By that point, you're entranced by the synths emulating multivocal chants which once again lend themselves to a wonderful and otherworldly atmosphere. CD ender 'As Nothing Consumes Everything' is the highlight of the disc and a grand way to close the album, starting off with ripping guitar work and a killer headbanging pace, only to bring Nordic like instrumentation near the end along with LOTS of acoustical interplay. Never forget this band is a VICIOUS black metal assault that also blends some of the most amazing, epic and atmospheric instrumentation (blown away I was by the almost melancholic and slightly sorrowful landscapes including a piano on 'Future Made Flesh') you'll EVER hear in black metal. Amazing vocals, amazing synths, guitars, jaw dropping drumming and EVERYTHING else makes this one of the most surprising and creative black metal bands I've EVER heard. THE black metal highlight for 2008!
Contact: Woodcut Records.

DARKFLIGHT "Perfectly Calm" (Ars Magna) SCORE: 98/100

What an amazing album! This, the followup to their 2002 release "Under The Shadow Of Fear" album was well worth the wait. The production, obviously, is much better this time around (though I didn't have a problem with the production on their last release), and it makes for some striking differences. First of all, the percussion is thunderous and gives a rather cavernous impression, while the guitars are mixed with the synths rather well. Lots of high ended guitar work, and some of the darkest instrumentation Ivo has recorded in his career. The pace is consistently doomy, and one slight comment is that the tracks rarely vary in tempo from start to finish. However, the mood and atmosphere DOES change, quite frequently, from song to song (and often within the framework of every song), so while on a tune like 'L'Ether Astral' you're hearing dark synths accompanied by light, almost etherial piano notes, you'll ALSO hear some dark and heavy guitar work, and believe me the high ended leads are a definite highlight of the album. There are no female vocals on this album AT ALL, so what you get vocal wise is very harsh and echoey black metal vocals, almost whispered like quality like from Agalloch, but much more resonant and booming. 'Dissolving Into Nothingness' is one of the highlights of the album, with some killer atmosphere, and rather rich synths that portray horn sounds and gives this tune that epic touch. 'Distant Pain' is most noteworthy for adding an ultra heavy and doomy atmosphere, yet to add melodic acoustical guitars and a change of emotions all in one song. 'Perfectly Calm,' the title track, obviously sounds rather contradictory from first listen, especially with the haunting instrumentation giving way to some melodic acoustical guitar work, guitar work that stays right with the synths all the way to the end. Epic, dark and sorrowful with a melodic and melancholic touch, Darkflight has made a masterpiece of doomy and atmospheric black metal. CD ender 'L'Ether Astral' is a 10 minute piece that has only instrumentation for the first almost 4 minutes, setting up a mood before the harsh vocals kick in, only to end the track with solo synth passages. Every note, every emotion on this disc will make you FEEL something, and it's all done to a rather slow, doom metal pace. HIGHLY recommended if you think harsh music can't invoke any emotional or melodic feelings. I sincerely hope this band gets much more attention than it's getting now. A highlight for 2008.
Contact: Ars Magna Recordings.

DEMIGOD "Let Chaos Prevail" (Open Game) SCORE: 52/100

I was amazed to hear a followup record was released recently, as "Shadow Mechanics" was a somewhat sleeper record released by Spinefarm and given almost no attention save for the review in my magazine. I should have taken it as a sign that this record wasn't released by Spinefarm, as it's quite disappointing. Let's start off by being perfectly honest and clear here: I'm not a huge fan of death metal, but there are still some bands in the genre that still do it for me, like Bolt Thrower, Amon Amarth, Arghoslent, etc. but these bands all have something that stands out from the rest, while this band just seems to do it "by the numbers," in a way. "Shadow Mechanics" had a somewhat haunting and eerie sound, which is still retained to a slight degree here, but their vocalist that was used on their majority of songs is gone. Of the trio of vocalists used on their last release, Ali Leinio is gone, and there is no longer a keyboard player, so all we're left with is Tuomas, who has drastically altered his vocal style. He now utuilizes a somewhat hardcore/death metal approach, which kills a lot of this band's style right in the water. The instrumentation, however, still retains some of that sinister aura, but frankly it's hard to get past the somewhat lackluster vocal performance, especially on the slower material. 'Not Dead Enough' starts the disc off in a rather dark fashion, and for some reason is one of very few tracks where the vocals don't actually interfere or bring about a different vibe. There's lots of killer thrashy guitar work, but PLENTY of times when the guitar riffs are doing some odd things (like on the midway point of 'The Uncrowned,' and the very beginning of CD ender 'Baptized In Enmity.') They tried out some interesting ideas, like the almost acoustic like guitar work opening up 'God Said Suffer,' but the vocal approach ruined this. The faster paced instrumentation is kinda just there, not really doing much, and it's on the slower passages that the Demigod trademark shines through, albeit briefly. I cannot say these songs are terrible, but damnit if I just can't seem to get into it no matter how many times I've listened to this CD. Varying tempos and structures on just about every track were a nice effort, but it all falls flat and the disc becomes boring very quickly. Sorry guys, but I'll still always dig "Shadow Mechanics."
Contact: Open Game Productions.

EARTH "Hibernaculum" (Southern Lord) SCORE: 86/100

This 4 track affair is my introduction to the band, which is sad, especially when you consider that Earth has not only been making music for over 16 years (and they started right around the same time my own music magazine started), but they were ALSO on Sub Pop Records AND saw a few of their releases feature none other than Kurt Cobain from Nirvana! So when I listened to this release, I realized that there indeed was something unique going on here. There's 4 songs, with a total running time of 36 minutes. The first three tracks are 8, 6 and 5 minutes respectively, the last song is over 16 minutes which I think some might find to be a bit much. Every song starts off with minimal instrumentation, though to be honest there are slight variations along the way to the end, but for the most part the one note guitar passages seem to rarely ever change. These songs are REALLY hypnotic though in their simplicity, and I find them to even be a bit relaxing, especially 'Coda Maestoso In F Minor' and 'Miami Morning Coming Down.' Hell, all of them really! The guitar passages are almost acoustical sounding, and you'll even hear a hammond organ on occasion. The spacey landscapes on the opener 'Ourboros Is Broken' were a nice touch, and in spots the instrumentation takes on a heavier vibe. 'Ouroboros...' is probably the darkest of the four, though they all are decent tunes. CD ender 'A Plague Of Angels' I found somewhat too long, though if I was in the right frame of mind I don't think it would be an issue. The synths here work to more of an atmospheric ambience, conveying to me the emptiness and denseness of outer space, a mood conveyed perfectly throughout the spacey synths that seem to be feeding off their repetitive soundscapes. The percussion takes awhile to come in, though it never overpowers anything else, and it seems like a sense of balance was painstakingly created so as not to interfere with the mood. This might seem minimal and overtly simplistic, but one can tell this music was crafted, shaped and balanced rather than just "created." Perfect for meditative sessions or just for inducing a trance like state.
Contact: Southern Lord Records.

EREB ALTOR "By Honour" (I Hate) SCORE: 99/100

What an amazing album!! After being a bit disappointed by the latest full length from Isole, it's nice to see their side project come onto the scene and blow the doors off of the majority of doom metal releases put out this year. It's QUITE reminiscent of Nordland era Bathory, complete with the Viking styled chants (the "whoah-oh's" and what not) though in a much slower pace than what Quorthon usually had in mind. It's a 7 track affair running about 53 minutes, which means you have 7 and 8 minute tracks, with one ('Wizard') kicking in at over 10 minutes. Yes, it's doom metal oriented, but despite the fact that there's often very little variation from start to finish for each song, the atmospheres and emotions crafted on each track are well worth their weight in gold. I almost questioned WHY out of a 7 song affair they decided to put TWO instrumentals on the CD, especially given that the CD ender 'Ereb Altor' was 7 minutes in length. Further still, the opening of this track is a solitary acoustic guitar playing one note progressions for about 2 minutes, and the heavier guitar work doesn't even show up until a minute later. CD opener 'Perennial,' on the other hand, is only about 4 minutes, and mostly piano notes at that (though beautifully done, like the CD ender). Although, I coulda sworn I heard some violins backing this up. Acoustic guitars open up quite a few tracks, however, and don't think it's all melodic beauty and serenity. On 'Winter Wonderland,' the Northern darkness of the winter is not lost in the atmospheric stylings, in fact the opening riffs are dark, slow and crushingly heavy! Track 3, 'By Honour,' is one of the most amazing cuts on the CD, due mostly in part to some soaring vocal work and amazing multivocal chanted pieces. THIS particular tune sounds more like an Isole tune than any other, and it's no surprise that WERE this to be on an Isole record, it would probably stand out as the best track ON an Isole album. 'Dark Nymph' continues the crushing heaviness, but with a VERY unique and UN-Ereb Altor like twist: it contains a Middle Eastern influence on both the instrumentation AND the vocal melodies; the chants here are strikingly different from the rest of the album. Lots of heavy, dark melodies, but utilized with passion and flair, this is the direction Isole SHOULD have contemplated more with their "Bliss Of Solitude" record (also reviewed this issue). But Ereb Altor stands enough on it's own merits with a catchy and strong mix of Bathory era folk/viking metal and heavy doom metal. A SUPERB highlight for 2008. Buy it... What more do you need to know?
Contact: I Hate Records.

EVILE "Enter The Grave" (Earache) SCORE: 94/100

Two things make this "revival thrash" band most noteworthy in my eyes: First off, the SICK and aggressive vocal work! This is brutal thrash throat work ALL the way through; no wimpy sung ballad parts or melodic vocals. If you're going to be a punishing thrash outfit, THIS is the way you need to "sing." That being said, the SECOND most noteworthy thing about this is the fucking GUITARS man! Invocator had my vote for hands down best approach to machine gun styled rapid fire riffs, but Evile has come crashing in with some of the most vicious guitar on an album! And it's not just one or two songs either! So your 80's styled thrash is donein a more brutal style than most 80's thrashers managed to do themselves! Obvious Slayer and Metallica comparisons aside (though much more brutal, in my opinion, than ANYTHING the latter band's ever done), I do hear a certain Forced Entry sound creeping in, especially comparing some songs to the brutal crunch of F.E.'s 'Octoclops' or 'Unrest They Find' from their amazing but inconsistent "Uncertain Future." And then the Exodus riffs start creeping in. Right off the bat, the CD opens up with three brutal thrashers in the title track, the anthemic 'Thrasher,' and then 'First Blood,' the first instance where it's noted that song structures are not ALL in one tempo or style! 'Man Against Machine' shows my first beef: that odd acoustic start shoulda been scrapped, which would have made this a minute or so shorter (at a 6 minutes plus length, isn't that a tad too long for thrash?) The heavier, lurching riffs shows that heavy material can be written at a slower pace. Once again, thank the brutal, in your face and up front production from Flemming (Artillery? Anyone remember them?) The lead solos are blazing fast, but have a LOT of intricacy as well: it's obvious these axe handlers can PLAY! 'Burned Alive' is an interesting tune, and the first one where you see some ideas being rehashed: you could insert lyrics from the opening tune into some of these riffs. The Exodus like riffs REALLY rear their heads on this one. And probably one of the coolest tunes here, 'Killer From The Deep,' will have one's blood pounding in the veins! Lyrically, this is Exodus' 'Piranha,' with just as much fury and aggression, complete with tons of diverse structures and passages (from slow to fast and then back again). 'We Who Are About To Die' is probably one of the slowest tunes on record (and at over 7 minutes in length, is not totally surprising), and showcases Evile at their most diverse songwriting wise. The dark acoustics here are cool, but once again I wonder how necessary. The multivocal shouts on some passages REALLY give weight to the subject matter, and proves once and for all Evile is not a one trick pony. You're raging through the followup 'Schizophrenia' before saying you've heard a few riffs somewhere before, and 'Bathe In Blood' sounds familiar, before the LAST track of the album sees the band get psychotically crazy ('Armoured Assault,') as if they're trying to burn themselves out by CD's end into a fiery supernova. This is DEFINITELY the fastest cut on the record, and instead of fading into nothingness, becomes one of the most brutal assaults on record (think a thrashier Panzer Division Marduk). Though you wonder if a 53 minute running time isn't too long for such brutal material, the fact remains that Evile is one of the most vicious and promising of the New Wave Of Thrash Metal bands, and it seems like Earache is the label concentrated on this new movement. Great headbanging CD!!
Contact: Earache Records.

FALCONER "Among Beggars And Thieves" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 92/100

I ALWAYS look forward to another Falconer record, especially now that Mathias is back behind the microphone WHERE HE BELONGS!!! Suffice it to say that if you're a Falconer fan, this record won't disappoint. 11 tracks, and the cool thing is that three songs are sung completely in their native Swedish, which sounds awesome under Mathias' bard-like tongue. Flute and keyboard sounds bring the opener 'Field Of Sorrow' into play, purely for epic and folkish effect before the blazing SPEED kicks in! And lemme tell ya folks, these are some of the fastest songs I think Falconer has ever written. It's amazing to me how such melodic and calm vocals actually work over such blazing instrumentation! And the percussion, don't even get me started about the phenomenal drum work. You have some headbanging riffs on followup 'Man Of The Hour,' and then 'A Beggar Hero' follows up, and it's strictly a ballad like piece and a very short one at that: barely 2 minutes long with some female vocals accompanying the bard's. No percussion and flute like notes along with acoustic like guitar work? Yep, it's Falconer once again taking to the medieval realm. I did have a problem with the track 'Mountain Men,' however, as some of the folkish parts sounded a bit silly, and the vocals were sung WAY too fast on these parts only to suddenly drop out again, making me wonder why they were even there. And there were a few odd lead solo moments on 'Carnival Of Disgust,' and then again on 'Boiling Led.' The WORST track hands down has to be the CD ender 'Dreams And Pyres.' It starts off nice, with some light hearted piano notes (this reviewer says maybe TOO much fluff in the instrumentation?) followed by female vocals once again and the standard medieval styled acoustical guitars (mandolins?) and flute like sounds. Mathias and the guest lady vocalist (Evelyn is her name) take turns trading vocals to this, then the "soundtrack" like piece kicks in, with synths, flutes and tribal or militaristic like percussion. Once the heavier instrumentation kicks in it's pretty much downhill, with poorly constructed choruses, odd solo guitar work that's actually cringeworthy, LOTS of focus lost, and a 7 minute plus length. Yep, WAAAY too experimental for Falconer, and the vocal work done by others (not sure who) is waaay off. Better to leave this off the record I think! Regardless, there's still lots of heavy riffing and fantastic singing, in fact I'd say this is an unusual twist for Falconer but one that works. The Swedish songs are even fun to sing along to, and that's saying something. Falconer are here to stay, and I daresay the metal world is better off for it.
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

FEN "Ancient Sorrow" (Northern Silence) SCORE: 89/100

This CD reminds me a bit of Agalloch, but with a bit more black metal "bite" to it. The score of this CD really doesn't speak volumes about just how good this band IS, but since there's only three tracks on the disc, you'll start to see the need for a bit lower score than what this should normally get. ANYWAY: The disc starts off with 'Desolation Embraced,' which has some interesting "rock" guitars, almost acoustic in a way, and an almost folkish feel. The black metal styled vocals are quite intense, and seem to have a bit of echo to them. This opening track alone boasts quite a few structure changes, which of course is important for an almost 9 minute track! The guitars and synths have a somewhat ambient quality to them, and the synths really are hard to pick out, as they blend so well with the guitars you think that's all they have! Track 2, 'The Gales Scream Of Loss,' is truly the epic masterpiece of the disc and unarguably the best song on the record. Atmospheric guitar work starts things off, and you get the sense that these aren't QUITE the icy leads most Norwegian black metal is known for. There's even some clean sung chant like vocals. The guitar and synth interaction is truly amazing, giving this track an almost ritualistic and ambient feeling, definitely in tune with the ancient feelings of nature! Quite the opposite of track 1, however, this song rarely ever deviates from the structure patterns, intending instead to build up slowly and gradually. Track 3, 'Under The Endless Sky' is the track I take points off for. The guitar work starts off rather oddly, and for some reason the drumming annoys me a bit, as this tune they sound really overpowering and a bit TOO fast for my tastes. There seems to be a LOT of bass added to the drums in the final mix, which isn't normally a problem (though after the first minute, things settle down). Once about a minute and a half is gone, the track actually gets even more enjoyable, with the more atmospheric feeling we're loving. Killer blackened vocals give way once in awhile to whispered, almost ghostlike tones, not unlike what Agalloch has done for many years. This track is good, though they brought back the faster drumming near the end of the song, which is still not sitting well with me. A minor point, but for the fact this is only a 3 song affair. I like this disc, and can't wait to hear more from Fen. Many thanks to our friends at Northern Silence Productions for their support!
Contact: Northern Silence Productions.

FOREFATHER "Steadfast" (Seven Kingdoms) SCORE: 98/100

We kinda missed out on their last release "Ours Is The Kingdom," but the first thing the English Heathen Metal Masters brought back is the blackened vocal delivery! The sung vocals are still there, though mostly on the choruses and a few other places here and there (which was a stark contrast to the "Engla Tocyme" disk reviewed long ago). The instrumentation still retains that distinct Forefather sound, meaning a rather infectious and interesting mix of black metal high ended guitar work mixed with a rather medieval, or old English, feeling that Forefather has perfected to an artform. Yes, you definitely know a Forefather song when you hear one! For the first three tracks you're hearing fast paced instrumentation right off the bat, and tunes like 'Bruanburh,' 'Cween Of The Mark' and 'Theodish Beliefs' are filled with amazing and catchy instrumentation that sets this band SO far apart from the other bands utilizing blackened instrumentation and vocals. Then my favorite track comes along 'Hallowed Halls,' complete with soaring sung vocals on the choruses. The lead solos throughout are wonderful, never attaining the blazing speed the majority of mainline riffs take to, and instead focus on mood and atmosphere. Six tracks in, you get a 3 and a half minute instrumental in 'Eostre,' though the first few guitar riffs sound a bit odd, and my only other complaint is I thought the sung vocals on the choruses of 'Three Great Ships' should have been a bit higher toned, but all in all this is a fantastic disc and the 11 song affair comes about 4.5 minutes of a full hour. This is their first release for Seven Kingdoms Records, and it has affected the band's creativity and passion for their craft none at all! Varied riffs and song structures keep this interesting from start to finish. HIGHLY recommended, especially if you're looking for bands that have the modern sound while still retaining a folkish or old world feeling.
Contact: Seven Kingdoms Records.

FROSTMOON ECLIPSE "Another Face Of Hell" (ISO666) SCORE: 95/100

As you may have noticed, many of the bands in this issue have been interviewed and had past discs reviewed in these very pages. Frostmoon Eclipse should be no stranger to anyone who's read this 'zine for many years. This being their latest full length release, my smallest complaint is that, though well done this release is, I am hearing a lot of things that I've heard on discs past. That being the case, this disc shows a LOT of blazing fast speed here, and the band switches gears flawlessly and effortly, like they've been doing this since they were born. The acoustical interludes are well written and convey emotion and also serve to vary the fuck out of the tempos AND structures of each and every song. Some tracks (like 'Elusion Of Sorcery,' 'Disinterest,' and 'Fury Of The Elements') come storming right out the gate with insane speed (how they manage to pull this off live I am dying to see, thankfully they come to Atlanta in November), others (like 'Drowning Within The Eclipse,' 'Purveyors Of Chaos,' and CD opener 'I Hate The Future') manage to start off slow but build up to the speed (sometimes just stopping suddenly and going full steam). One thing to be said for sure: it seems like the placement of songs and structures keeps this disc interesting and varied. For the ten tracks, there's two very short, acoustic only instrumentals, and they seem strategically placed: tracks four and eight. ('Cold' and 'Black Rain,' since you must know). The acoustic instrumentals are quite beautiful and serene, which is something that the most vicious of black metal bands would NEVER even attempt. The percussion work is absolutely INSANE. To pull off sudden changes in tempo and structure, you better be damn good, and tight. Thankfully, this band is BOTH. Acoustic guitar work frequents just about every track on the disc, and oftentimes is quite dark and haunting (ESPECIALLY on 'I Hate The Future' and 'Purveyors Of Chaos.') Though a lot of the blazing speed parts tend to sound a little similar after awhile, there's great mood, atmosphere and emotion, not to mention the sick and forceful vocals of Lorenzo. Once again, another kick ass release (and like with many other great discs, over a year too late in the reviewing...) Oh, and before I forget, in the song 'Elusion Of Sorcery,' Frostmoon Eclipse asks the coolest question I've ever heard: "Have you ever seen the night, when the sun is high in the sky?"
Contact: ISO666 Releases.

ISOLE "Bliss Of Solitude" (Napalm) SCORE: 80/100

This is a more surprising score than you might realize. First off, many people questioned the jump to Napalm Records, "I" was NOT one of them. Isole makes doom metal, what else is there to know? Epic, majestic, MOVING Doom Metal (although, to be quite honest, Napalm doesn't have a lot of experience with doom metal, having only Ahab and Syrach to their rosters, although you MIGHT count Draconian in that field. Then again, Moribund doesn't have very many doom bands either, most notable because Moribund and Napalm share publicists, and even mailing addresses!) This is NOT in the vein of "Throne Of Void," however, and it seems my biggest complaint is that maybe they're trying too hard to contain a heavier sound within the framework of what they do best. And the telltale signs of what they do best are all over the CD, though I have to admit on at least 5 of the 7 songs I found things I was annoyed at. 'By Blood' starts the disc off in a definite heavy fashion. The drumming is a rather fiendish showcase, pulling off vicious double bass percussion, proving that the drummer is definitely doing his best to create a diverse set of patterns. I was rather thrilled to hear the death metal vocals, though they only roar for a minute or so on this track and CD ender 'Shadowstone;' the main problem being the guitarwork BEHIND the death metal vocals isn't very well thought out, and rather annoying. Another annoyance on 'By Blood' is the low toned male sung vocals mixed with the minimal guitar work. There's several instances on the CD where the low toned vocals threaten to ruin the framework of songs. And the guitars are not always on track either, 'From Clouded Sky' has a few cringeworthy parts, and the beautiful, dreamy atmosphere created on 'Imprisoned In Sorrow' is almost completely shattered by rather grating vocal and instrumental interaction at the song's conclusion. Even the female vocals on this track were off. Okay, so I could go on about the things that drive me nuts (can you tell they're not 100 percent consistent from track to track?), let's talk about what this band DOES: They have the basic structures down pat. Most noteworthy is one of the few times the thunderous heaviness WORKS, like track 5 'Aska,' where the opening instrumentation reminds you STRONGLY of Novembers Doom. The dark acoustics are a nice touch, and when you hear the dual male soaring vocal work come into play, it's a true mastery of combining heavy and light passages in the space of one song. This is amazingly evident on what I have to say is Isole's most amazing song they've ever written; a fitting thing this is the title track. Yes, the song 'Bliss Of Solitude' goes from soaring epic one minute to such amazing heaviness that if the rest of the album locked in like this one track, they would have definitely BEATEN "Throne Of Void" hands down. Darkness and melancholy they have, but their added aggression factor wasn't perfected in my honest opinion. STILL, the overall fact remains that even though you're cringing for a minute or so on 5 songs, there's much to enjoy on each and every song. Such is the power Isole has over the doom metal realm. Not an unlistenable album by any means, just be warned that the songs WILL take some getting used to, as I was VERY VERY disappointed the first few times I played this album. The songs are not as emotionally soaring, though the vocal work more often than not IS, and is the TRUE highlight of the album.
Contact: Napalm Records.

JEX THOTH "Jex Thoth" (I Hate) SCORE: 93/100

From the band formerly known as Totem, and now known by the lady who fronts this band, comes a very interesting mixture of 60's acid tinged psychedelia, stoner rock and slight fuzzed out doom metal touches, on what many have called a throwback to the 70's era of music. The atmosphere is certainly magickal, a touch gloomy at times but with some rather mellow moments. Adding a church style organ and some mandolin like acoustical passages makes for a rather interesting sound. 'Nothing Left To Die' starts the disc off, and some of the echoed and warped guitar notes sounded a bit odd. The female vocals are quite mellow too, but be warned: Jex Thoth isn't a prototypical "sweet" female singer, and can also get a haunting note to her vocals, especially on the CD ender 'Stone Evil.' More on THAT track in a moment. 'The Banishment' could have been a better tune, though the slower instrumentation didn't carry all the way through; so suddenly, at about 4:19, you have a faster set of instrumentation, proving the band isn't locked into one speed. 'Obsidian Night' didn't sit well with me either, as the vocals are a bit too melodic for the killer fuzzed and heavy guitar work (though towards the end of the song Jex gets a clue and throws a heavier vocal punch that this song needed from the start). One of the best tunes here of course is the catchy 'Separated At Birth,' and the use of multi layered vocals works to add an extra atmosphere. The doomy riffs proves this has doom metal touches. Xylophone notes? Coulda sworn I heard some on the cut 'Warrior Woman!' The soft sung female vocals soon give way to a heavier delivery and finish the song that way. 'The Poison Pit' was VERY interesting, becoming an almost medieval type of ballad, with a very folkish feel to it, and the fuzzy guitar work served more as an atmospheric landscape rather than a set of riffs. The organ solo was very nice as well, giving another instrument time in the spotlight. 'Thawing Magus' was a definite throwback to the jam bands of the 60's and 70's, especially with the bongo like percussion, and a seemingly improvised feeling (though the ending seemed to waver a little bit, like the direction wasn't set in stone). This was, of course, an instrumental, and it followed with another instrumental in 'Invocation Part 1,' though this seemed more like a crystalline ambient piece not lasting even 2 minutes. I didn't care for the disjointed 'When The Raven Calls,' as it had a rather "carnival" approach to the song structure and had some odd guitar passages. 'Stone Evil' has to be mentioned as one of the heaviest and darkest passages on the album, though it doesn't start out that way; in fact, it almost sounds like a ritualistic Middle Eastern passage, complete with bongos and the almost mandolin like "acoustic" riffs, before the heavy distorted guitars bring about a dark, occultish feel. They do like to jam a bit on the instrumental passages, and those complaining about long song lengths will find only two songs that clock in at 6 minutes, so they do a lot with the small time frames they work in. Another great release for I Hate, one that almost doesn't sound like a CD this label would put out.
Contact: I Hate Records.

NECRONOCLAST "The Plague" (Moribund) SCORE: 94/100

As far as I know, only the second doom metal like release on this label (the first being the debut full length from Catacombs), and if this is any indication, then Moribund should definitely try and sign other doom styled acts to the label! To be fair, this falls more in the realm of nightmarish funereal doom/death/black, as the vocal work is especially twisted, and more black metal oriented than many other acts. The CD starts off a bit misleading however, especially when opening song 'Degenration' kicks in. After a dark acoustical intro, the sudden fast instrumentation reminds one of some early black metal, before settling in to some slower instrumentation. Once this is done, there's very little of the fast paced structuring to be found anywhere else on the CD! Be that as it may, there's some major points to consider about this disc: First off, for a preprogrammed drum machine, the percussion is some of the most varied and diverse I've heard in the realm of doom; in fact, it's not unheard of on this album to hear some surprisingly fast double bass work. The vocals themselves, while staying most of the time within the almost vampyric and tortured black metal range, sometimes dip into an almost guttural death metal vibe, though very deep and inhuman. When the faster paced instrumentation kicks in, this can make the blackened shrieks sound rather odd, like on 'Vultures' (track 4). The guitars are quite eerie and dark, and there's a very horrific atmosphere going on with this disc. The lead riffs are quite enjoyable and create a simple, but effective, dead and horror filled landscape. On 'From Below,' the torturous landscapes are not without some sorrowful passages, and there's a tad bit of melody presented, though in a dark and twisted way. This CD encompasses perfectly a dead and nightmarish world, and I would think you had better be of sound mind to keep from losing your sanity! All around, a twisted and masterful dark and horror filled piece, with the guitars dripping darkness and a bleak and alien landscape.
Contact: Moribund Records.

PRIMORDIAL "To The Nameless Dead" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 95/100

Another masterpiece of folkish and heavy blackened metal from Ireland's Primordial, and the vocals are just as potent as ever! That being said, though, Nemtheaga is seemingly doing less and less of the blackened styled vocals than ever before, though they still roar up in many songs. 'Empire Falls' starts the CD off in fantastic fashion, complete with singalong choruses, and the useage of blackened vocals on the last lines of every chorus. So energetic and bursting with passion and emotion! Followup track 'Gallows Hymn' is my biggest complaint on the album, as you followup the amazing soaring emotions of the CD opener with a track that's a bit more downtempo and melancholic; this track should definitely NOT have been placed here! Either towards the end or somewhere further down the CD track listing. Still, being one of the weaker cuts here, the vocal work STILL is one of the highlights of the track. The absence of any blackened vocal work is puzzling still. Next comes 'As Rome Burns,' a 7 minute plus track (let's face it, if you're not used to the long song running times Primordial's been doing for 4 plus albums now, then you should probably stop reading here) that is definitely a highlight and picks the energy back up. The bass guitars are easily audible and rumbling quite heavily! The dramatic passages are in full force, including the nice multivocal chanting done for great effect. 'Failures Burden' takes the tempo down a notch, and I was thinking at first this would be another slower piece with great emotional vocal work, before the instrumentation picked up at a faster pace AND threw in the blackened vocals I love so much. The structure is varied too, as the vocal tones and the instrumentation vary quite a bit for the song's relatively short (by Primordial's standards anyway) 6:38 length. There's LOTS of acoustical interplay on followup 'Heathen Tribes,' and it was nice to hear the heavier instrumentation back up the acoustic passages. There's definitely an epic folkish feeling throughout. The most blackened styled vocals you will hear is on CD ender 'No Nation On This Earth,' though they're limited to the first half of the song, but definitely make for one of the heaviest tracks on record. Primordial have definitely done it again, and I for one wish MORE people would pick up on this band. One of the best bands currently on the Metal Blade roster besides Amon Amarth and Falconer.
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

SAVAGE MESSIAH "Spitting Venom" (SMR Productions) SCORE: 92/100

People keep talking about the thrash revival going on, check out a band that STRONGLY reminds me of the heaviest parts of Metallica, the non stop thrash riffage of a Forced Entry or even Exodus (on their faster parts), and just gritty, "savage" headbanging power. If THIS band had made this kind of noise back in the 80's, they probably would have been contenders to the "big 4" at the time (Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, Testament). The title track starts the CD off in ripping fashion, and lemme tell ya, that guitar player can crank out some LEAD SOLOS!! The vocal work is quite heavy too, mostly low toned though the guy can SING (more on that later). From the crushing heaviness of the opener to the following track 'Frontline,' you're probably not used to hearing such a barrage of killer thrashy riffs in two songs! By track 3 'Servant To Your Death,' you swear the opening riffs you've heard already, or is it just deva-vu? (Or a similar set of riffs I've heard another 80's band craft)? The band, incidentally, is tight as all hell, and the percussion is a non stop wall of sound constantly in your face. By the time 'Heaven's Gate' rolls around, the momentum they built up starts coasting a bit, as the more melodic structures take things down a bit. Still there are punishing riffs to be found within, but if you're needing a break by this time, you're well obliged. This song has a sort of Metallica era 'Sanitarium' feeling to it, especially with the whispered vocals and the dark acoustics you swear you've heard in the aforementioned song before! Let's get back to the heavy thrashin' so followup this with 'W.D.U.' and the relentless thrashy guitar work. There's some "Master Of Puppets" lead work on here, but man did I mention the amazingly skilled lead solos? I'll be damned if 'Conspiracy In Silence' didn't nearly kill the thrash mood; it's mostly a ballad type, and probably shoulda been left off the disc in my opinion. Still, it ain't a love ballad or anything, some slow melodic instrumentation with some melodic singing; okay so maybe you call it a power ballad! Nevermind. 'In For The Kill' picks up the pace though once again, and this time it's a fast tune in the vein of some of Exodus' later headbanging material (think more like "Pleasures Of The Flesh" or "Fabulous Disaster"). CD ender 'In Cold Blood' finalizes the CD VERY well, and the killer choppy thrash riffs will rip your face off in no time! Whether fast or slow, the thrash riffs are quite masterful, and though some of this sounds familiar, to these 80's styled ears it reminds me more of the thrash bands I enjoyed that DIDN'T make it than the obvious influences they wear on their sleeves. Good enough to be noticed, and even taken seriously! Contact: Savage Messiah Myspace page.

SERPENTCULT "Trident Nor Fire" (I Hate) SCORE: 56/100

Now signed to Rise Above, I'm more interested in seeing what they do with a full length than what they accomplished here. 4 tracks, 18 minutes running time and the only thing that really saves this disc is the Uriah Heep cover of 'Rainbow Demon.' Geez, where to start... Okay, first of all, the majority of riffage on this disc is downtuned and doomy heavy, although sometimes (more often than not) the riffs get a little odd and to me, several parts of songs weren't well thought out. Still, to have such heavy riffage keeps my ears perked. The MAJOR complaint I have is with the female vocalist, she sings in a higher range that clearly is at odds with some of the heavier and almost nu-metal like downtuning (ESPECIALLY on CD opener 'The Harvest,' but more so on the followup 'Red Dawn.' The sung vocals work better on track 3 'Screams From The Deep,' mainly due to the instrumentation not being tuned so low when the vocals are going on. Incidentally, what REALLY unnerved me was hearing TWO single instances that would have made this CD a bit better as a whole: tracks 1 and 3 when you hear a single death growl before Michelle starts to sing. Yes, this CD is one that was BADLY in need of extreme vocal work. And to be honest, the songs aren't that strong themselves, in fact 'Screams From The Deep' and CD ender 'Raimbow Demon' are the LEAST annoying and a bit stronger songwise. The Uriah Heep cover was interesting, especially since you're hearing a female vocalist who is going a bit lower ranged than most of her work throughout the CD, and the bass rumblings and low toned guitars replace the keyboard riffs that make up the majority of the song. Not sure what else to say, though I was awed at the sheer heaviness of riffs when they weren't annoying. I think they needed to write better guitar parts to actually match the female vocals (which are a little unique to begin with). Try again, guys and gal...
Contact: I Hate Records.

SHINING "V - Halmstad" (Osmose) SCORE: 71/100

Keeping in mind that scores of 75 and up are keepers, this disc frustrated the ever loving SHIT out of me... It's somewhat of a suicidal blackened doom project, but to the man's credit this is a very limiting description, as the band utilizes some dual acoustic guitar work and some stringed orchestration (I'm thinking mostly violins) and the occasional saxophone. We start the CD off with the track 'Yttligare Ett Steg Narmare Total Javla Utfrysning,' and it's becoming slightly annoying with just the song titles alone. The band is coming across as rather arrogant, for some reason, which pisses me off even further. So we go along and get some blackened vocals and the most annoying approach to extreme vocals, something akin to warbly angry yelling, as one reviewer put it. There's some faster blackened instrumentation too, so it's not all slow and doomy. But those damn vocals grate the nerves when they're not blackened style! Next track 'Langtar Bort Fran Mitt Hjarta' (here we go again), and we have some nice dark acoustic riffs to open things up. The higher ended leads backing the acoustic guitars are great, in fact the instrumentation is probably one of the strongest suits of the record. The vocals are MUCH better on this track; I would dare say it's the best cut on the record (and by best I mean the one that annoys me the LEAST!) The "angry shouting" is even more under control, and the female vocal sample is decent, though one sentence. Followup 'Lat Oss Ta Allt Fran Varandra' starts off innocently enough, almost proceeding at a headbanging pace (think more midtempo). Sick and heavy atmosphere, and the vocals aren't bad. What ruins it first off is the sudden drop to soft pianos and this girl crying and being kinda "depressed goth." Then there's a cowbell for the transition back to the heavier parts? (Yet more arrogant). The clean sung vocals didn't sit well with me either, though they're even WORSE on CD ender 'Neka Morgondagen,' making MUCH of that track uncomfortable to sit through, despite the amazingly rockin' instrumentation and very well thought out atmosphere. Acoustically, this stuff is amazing. Then we have the ULTIMATE insult, with a CD only 6 tracks to do a 2 minute piece, ALL piano, which is a supposed darker take on the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. Like I need to hear some jerk redoing this, though competently done. What ruins it even more is the wierd humming this guy INSISTS on doing throughout the "song." DUDE! Take a clue! This song DIDN'T have any vocal interaction on it!!! A few violin sounds were kinda nifty too though, like on 'Besvikelsens Dystra Monotoni,' though a wierd out of tune saxophone was grating away at what little is left of my patience at this point. Granted, there's a lot of interesting song structures here, though the 10 minute piece 'Besvikelsens...' was a bit TOO long, but the arrogance of it all makes it difficult to get through. I can appreciate the good stuff, but not quite a "shelf keeper" for me. Vocals have GOT to be reworked for this one.
Contact: Osmose Productions.

SIG:AR:TYR "Sailing The Seas Of Fate" (Morbid Winter) SCORE: 99/100

As I am constantly looking for new bands in the most unlikeliest of places, I am constantly reminded that the next amazing band could be a total unknown in the world music scene. So it is with Sig:Ar:Tyr, which has to be one of my picks for top album of this issue! The band, hailing from Canada, is a one man project, which is perfect as far as I'm concerned. Nordic themes are just the tip of the iceberg, though this is predominantly an instrumental album. DON'T, however, look upon this as a Satriani, Steve Vai, or (god forbid) Yngwie solo project, because there ARE some vocals, though mostly narrative, spoken word type. Which remains one of my smallest points of contention, especially when you hear the Nordland-era Bathory styled heaviness at the CD's end (especially considering the heavier, almost thrash like guitars blend VERY well with the high ended acoustical leads) on the track 'Skuld,' which is easily one of the best tracks on the disc! The blackened style vocals are well done, but not utilized NEARLY enough (some sung vocals would have been cool too!). You hear them on CD ender 'Skuld,' as well as on 'Urd.' That's it! The instrumental passages on this thing are sweeping and epic, whether they're multivox like chants that I assume are synth oriented, or high ended acoustics, which you hear ALL over the album. From the melancholic, nature inspired sounds of the acoustic guitars on 'The Dead Giant's Tale,' to the dark guitar work and overall atmosphere on 'Urd,' there was obviously a LOT of thought that went into each and every song, because with every song you FEEL something, rather than just hearing a collection of riffs and soundscapes. The lead solos, even, will have you awestruck, as Daemonskald chooses to use single note progressions rather than blazing away at 100 miles per hour every second (although, when he does, it's with the skill and grace of someone trained in classical guitar, which is most evident on 'Under The Dragon Star,' and 'Dead Giant's Tale,' just to name a few). The use of layering works especially well, particularly when the acoustic riffs are complemented by either a dual set of acoustics or throwing the heavier riffs in the background. Bathory era Nordland is prevalent here, especially on the aforementioned CD ender and 'Dead Giant's Tale,' which makes me even hungrier for the follow up CD which is said to be more in a metal vein. Amazing atmospheres and Nordic inspired landscapes make this one of the highlights of this issue!
Contact: Morbid Winter Records.

SVARTAHRID "Sadness And Wrath" (Soulseller) SCORE: 91/100

Straightforward, no nonsense black metal of a VARIED kind is what we have on offering here. The vocal work is intense and sick, sometimes utilizing dual vocals (some of a higher range), though non mistakably black metal! After a few years on Napalm, the crazed trio now find themselves on Soulseller, and it's a shame Napalm dropped them (see interview this issue). After a darkened synth intro, 'Svartahrid' kicks right into view with a blast, though at a surprisingly midtempo pace! Lots of room for the vocal work to breathe and interact with the heavy guitars, then some blasting blackened guitar work to complement things. 'Dod' has a more melodic start, and the sick vocal work goes well with slower passages. These songs find the instrumentation VERY varied, keeping things quite interesting for the 4 and 6 minute tracks on display. Slow to fast, to blazing speed, back to slow again and maybe changing things up a few more times, this is a very diverse record from start to finish. A few times the slower guitar work threw me, like the opening solos guitars on 'Awake Or Vanish.' And yes, if you couldn't guess, some lyrics are in English and some in their native Norwegian (I assume). 'Iron Minded' I probably liked the least, especially on the slower material, but the track overall is still decent. CD ender 'Framsyn' was a great way to finish the CD, complete with epic passages and even small layers of synth (which, incidentally, you'll find peppered throughout the disc, but usually only noticeable once in awhile, and mostly on the slower pieces). Much variety to be found and a crushing set of headbanging riffs alongside cool icy northern guitars, Svartahrid is a band I've always been intrigued by (especially since I ALSO own their "Forthcoming Storm" CD), and I was appreciative of the band actually sending me the CD themselves, doing promo spots for the radio show, interview, and just being kick ass black metal musicians.... What else is there to say?
Contact: Soulseller Records.

SVARTSOT "Ravnenes Saga" (Napalm) SCORE: 91/100

Folkish inspired metal isn't a new thing, folks. And no surprise to anyone else that knows Napalm's history that THIS label would sign another Scandinavian band to it's roster. What makes this band different from the Finntrolls, the Moonsorrows, the Thyrfings and the Ensiferums of the world are twofold: One is location. Yes, Scandinavia but in DENMARK rather than the usual Norway, Sweden or Finland. Secondly, it's folkish DEATH METAL... That's right, though that in itself isn't really unusual, especially if you look at Amon Amarth's rather brutal viking approach. But it's normally black metal vocal styles that are all the rage in this. To be honest, overall this is a fun little CD. Gets a bit samey by the time the disc ends but there's no doubt that this is a fun, headbanging and mug-of-mead swinging good time. The mandolins and heavy, almost thrashy riffs are backed up by some rather catchy flutes (whistles?) and the whole affair has a rather energetic atmosphere to it. The songs here run around the 4 minute mark, for the most part, and there is very little variation from start to finish on most tracks, but the guitars are done well (though very seldom off the higher three strings that are usually reserved for "icy black metal"). Headbanging tunes abound, and tracks like 'Jotunheimsfaerden,' and especially 'Festen,' prove that first and foremost, Svartsot seems to be mainly a METAL band. ('Festen,' incidentally, is one of very few tracks that you'll find devoid of the flutes, as if they wanted to prove they can write metal dominated songs). The majority of the tempos range from slighty fast, in reminiscent of Finnish "humppa" (their version of a folkish polka), to slower with some dark atmosphere (like on 'Spillemandens Dase'). The tribal percussion is presented as well, especially heard on CD ender 'Havets Plage' (incidentally, one of my least favorite songs, due to the overt folkish nature not being done well, in my opinion). This isn't meant to be innovative, in fact some might be a little put off by the lyrics which I assume are in Danish or Scandinavian, and the almost guttural tone of the death metal vocals, because these songs are so fun that some would want to sing these lines out! It's definitely a good disc, one that is strangely uplifting and makes for a good drinking disc if you don't mind not being able to sing along (unless you speak the language or have a lyric sheet). The perfect label for a good folk oriented death metal band! "Hey, ho!!!"
Contact: Napalm Records.

VALKYRJA "Invocation Of Demise" (Northern Silence) SCORE: 92/100

There's a reason why I have recently added Northern Silence Productions to my list of favorite labels rather quickly: the onslaught of quality releases. This band is no exception, and though they have similarities to many of black metal's elite, they've managed to carve a rather interesting niche for themselves in what seems to be an ever crowding genre. I liked the militaristic percussion opening the CD up ('Origin Reversed,') and it's quite good for a CD opening intro. It does not betray how quickly the onslaught begins. 'As Everything Rupture,' besides showing disrespect for the plural ending in the letter 's,' starts the show off with a bang, and the drumming is an absolute highlight of the disc. It seems like this guy never stops! Blast beats abound, and the drumming is not all one dimensional either. The vocals are blackened styles but more in a harsh range that does NOT include any sort of high range. Almost a death metal styled slant to them I'd say. For the most part, 'As Everything Rupture' stays on a fast track, and mostly straightforward with little variation, though the dark leads help keep things going. Sick thrashy guitar work lends an eerie presence to followup 'Plague Death,' complete with a nice dark acoustic solo passage midway to keep the 6 minute piece from becoming a speed riff obsession. And I must say that this acoustic passage manages to keep the dark atmosphere; it's done right! 'The Vigil' proves that Valkyrja can craft a dark tune without keeping the foot down on 100 miles per hour guitar work; you'll definitely find this to be one of the slowest tracks on the album! It was nice to hear a well crafted lead solo rear it's head too, something that seems to be amiss in black metal, and they do it AGAIN on the cut 'Sinister Obsession.' A very short piece this time in 'Twilight Revelation,' definitely the odd man out as a track with vocals that never even touches the 2 minute mark. Shame the followup 'On Stillborn Wings' couldn't impress with it's less than 2 minute vibe: this track had some odd acoustic riffs and just seemed out of place to me. Followup 'Sinister Obsession' had a VERY interesting landscape like set of riffs, almost post rock like, and made for a very unusual take with the melancholic and melodic atmosphere presented. Though this track is 9 minutes long, there's definitely times when the track seems to drift aimlessly for a few minutes, but it still retains the dark feeling while ending on a melancholic note. If anything else, it proves that multiple moods and diverse instrumentation are not lost to these Swedes. 'Purification And Demise,' while flooring you with the insane percussion, also tends to lose a bit of focus at times, though the majestic instrumentation does rear it's head. Finally, CD closer 'Frostland,' while containing some catchy echoed choruses, definitely carries the frosty vibes through the Nordic like landscape of the high ended riffs all the way to the close of the CD. Northern Silence signs quality bands, and though a few flaws are present, it's a label I have very keen eyes on for the future of our collaboration.
Contact: Northern Silence Productions.

VIRGIN BLACK "Requiem: Fortissimo" (The End) SCORE: 98/100

I ALMOST didn't pick up on this. For some reason I remembered not liking the Virgin Black CD "Sombre Romantic" and kinda dismissed this band's next few releases, including, yes, "Requiem: Mezzo Forte." (Hint - I went back and listened to "Mezzo Forte" and rather liked most of it. NOW I need to find "Sombre Romantic" and listen again). So one day I read in a review on the Encyclopedia Metallum (I dunno WHY I glanced through this band's discography) that this album was a Doom metal piece in the vein of My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, I was like "Damnit!" Upon hearing this near perfect masterpiece, I can truly say this is a forerunner for most innovative and epic doom metal release of 2008! There are amazing male and female chanted vocals ALL throughout the disc, and of course most of the vocals are in a rather deep and vicious death metal style (doom/death fans already know of what I speak). 'The Fragile Breath' starts the disc off rather misleadingly, as it's fast paced for it's opening before suddenly going into doom mode. The female vocals on this track are quite haunting, and further down the road she gives off an almost otherworldly quality. Much of the lead work is doomy, dark and tends to fly smoothly in and out of melancholic, dark, eerie and beautiful passages, all within the breadth of one song at times! Think Chanting Monks on the multivocal male passages. 'In Winter's Ash' carries the dark strings, showcasing the Virgin Black mastery of stringed instruments (besides a guitar). The vocals get nearly inhuman, and the militaristic percussion to end the track was a nice touch. These songs are long, folks, so if you're looking for the 3 and 4 minute quickies, you need to look elsewhere. The beauty that doom metal can possess is not lost on the third piece 'Silent,' as there are some amazingly beautiful lead riffs interacting with the female vocals, which take on a very melodic tone (only to add a rather eerie and mysterious tone combined with the guitar work on the followup track). 'God In Dust,' at 8 minutes plus in length, is a perfect example of amazing diversity within a long track, doing more than just keeping your interest. And the double bass drumming was a nice touch, something doom metal isn't usually known for. Solo piano notes drop in to add an extra touch, though the darkly sung male vocals got a tad off track. 'Larimosa' was a 2 minute piece, rather nice though the solo death metal vocals could have been fleshed out better (though the instrumentation is nice). The CD ender 'Forever' is a short, barely over 1 minute piano piece, and quite nice, but for these 2 short tracks, I daresay Virgin Black could have added another piece. The crown jewel proudly shining on this disc is the 11 minute epic 'Darkness,' containing just about every emotion known to man, and the most amazing multivocal accompaniment from both male, female, AND harsh death vocals, which needs to be heard to be believed! Obviously the best track, and the reference point for the entire album. Pleased as hell I didn't toss this disc aside, though maybe just one more "song: could have been added? HIGHLY suggestive for top 5 albums of 2008....
Contact: The End Records.

WALL OF SLEEP "And Hell Followed With Him" (I Hate) SCORE: 61/100

I know, I know, what am I thinking you must be saying to yourself!?? This is the first time I ever heard a Wall Of Sleep album, and I must say I wasn't too impressed... Some of the riffs are heavy, the guitar work has a nice bottom end on heavier passages, and the vocals are even adequate and rather unique in a way. So what happened? Well, let's take it from the top. 'Buried 1000 Times' starts things off, and right from the get go, I'm not saying these tracks are bad, but they just don't catch me. Midpaced, and weak choruses are to blame to open the disc. Track 2, 'Nails For Crucifixion,' has a slow and doomy opening, though once again I just can't get excited about it (even with the nice solo instrumentation and lead solos, which are quite skilled). I dig the following song 'Crusade,' especially since the choruses really catch me and the bottom heavy sound is done well. However, I don't really hear much that catches me until track 7, 'Signs,' which is not only a FUCKING amazing song, but if the rest of the album had been as catchy as this one track, this would have been one HELL of an album! This song has amazing lead guitar work even opening the track up, and the multivocal effects on the sung parts work very well. The choruses are catchy as all hell, and I catch myself singing this track quite a bit when no one's around. CD ender 'Stabat Mater' is easily the WORST track on the CD, as it goes for a dark sound but the riffs aren't catching me at all, and for some reason the vocals sound a bit off kilter. The other songs here are not terrible, but like I said they just don't really move me much, they're kinda "just there." It's a kinda doomy and downtuned stoner rock sound, a bit more on the rock side of things but still with a metal edge. I hope seriously that this group can improve by the next record, because there seems to be plenty of potential (the lead solos on 'Unchanged' convinced me that even a mediocre song has merits, while the slow riffing of 'Cain' should have been a bit more menacing). Maybe next time around guys? Heck, I think I should at least check out their back catalog.
Contact: I Hate Records.

WORSHIP "Dooom" (Endzeit Elegies) SCORE: 95/100

What a beautiful packaging first of all. I've only seen one other release packaged like this (Mayhem's "Chimera" album), with a 4 panel foldout digipack! This release was several years in the making, primarily due to uncertainity as to whether the band would continue on after the suicide of Fucked Up Mad Max. But soldier on they did, complete with some eerie spoken word parts from Max himself, and a piano piece ending the album (which, incidentally, would be the very last time Max and The Doommonger would ever collaborate on a track). This is funereal doom/death of the highest order, and the overwhelmingly oppressive atmosphere permeates every single track, though simplistic some of the arrangements and riffs seem. Dark acoustics are found on many tracks, often accompanying spoken vocal parts (which also seem to appear on nearly every track). My main problem lies in the way some of the spoken word pieces are constructed: they're not nearly audible enough, especially when even the most minimal of instrumentation appears. There is an overwhelming feeling of sadness and despair, and you almost feel the intense pain and suffering the other band members must have felt from the loss of the Mad Man himself. It's most evident in the lead guitar riffs (like on 'Devived,' and the stellar 'Graveyard Horizon,' which very easily houses some of the best leads on the disc). Don't think it's all melancholic and sad though, because a track like 'Zorn A Rust Red Scythe' has some downright eerie and evil lead riffing... Lead riffing may be a misnomer however, considering the length of these songs often exceeds the 8 minute mark, and this has to be one of the SLOWEST and most funereal doom/death bands of all time! The Solitude Aeturnus cover 'Mirror Of Sorrow' is almost unrecognizable from the original, but still well done. Churchbell notes pop up here and there, as do multivocal chant style singing. What's most interesting is a track like 'Graveyard Horizon,' where you will hear low toned male sung vocals AND death styled vocals of the sick and oppressive kind mixed together in one track (though not always appearing at the same time). There's usually a break somewhere midway on many songs (like the water noises on 'The Altar And The Choir Of The Moonkult' before the spoken word pieces come in). As I said, the spoken vocals could have been brought out better, maybe it was all the echo effects, and I thought the bass guitar rumblings (while neat to hear that particular instrument shine solo on a doom metal styled release) and death vocals could have been done a bit better here; in fact they could have scrapped the entire first minute of 'The Altar...' Not a hell of a lot to complain about though, and it's the most interesting guitar sound where the leads can sound not only eerie and dark but sad and melancholic at the same time (the whammied riffs on CD ender 'I Am The End' reminded me of tortured ghost shrieks). A great release from the German doomsters, let's hope the band will curse us with another unholy release soon!
Contact: Endzeit Elegies.


ELECTRIC WIZARD. Interview with Justin Oborn over the phone.

  • I just wanted to say I really dig the new record "Witchcult Today," and I've read a lot of good reviews for the album. How many interviews have you done today?

    I've done 8 today. I guess it's a tribute, the album has been quite successful and popular, it's been received really well. There's a lot of demand at the moment.

  • Now when you were set up early on, The Music Cartel here in the States released your stuff, and now you're on Candlelight. It seems like distribution has always been a problem for you here in the States.

    Distribution has ALWAYS been a problem here in the States. We've just had bad luck. It always seems to happen when one of our records is just released. When "Come My Fanatics" came out, in Europe the company that pressed it went bankrupt like a week later. These things happen though. I hope things work out; things are working out so far...

  • It seems like there was a long period of inactivity, and then you guys changed members. And then there was the news that a new album was coming out. So what happened in there?

    It took a long time to get the lineup together. The first lineup ended right around the "Let Us Prey" album. Then we did the "We Live" album which was basically just a lot of songs I wrote and recorded with my friends. But it wasn't truly a band at that point; it didn't feel like a band until we started touring and things settled down from the changes in the lineup. I'd rather wait for that point that rush into the studio, so I think it was worth waiting until I felt we were a killer band again. It's a special thing that takes a long time to find.

  • So how did you come to work with Liz? I never heard any of the band 13, but I did hear some Sourvein through Man's Ruin Records. Her guitars are awesome on this record!

    Yeah, it's awesome, really awesome. We were friends before, and I think her playing style is very similar. I saw Liz play live a few times with Sourvein, and I was a fan of 13. I thought her style was just spot on. I thought it would work and it did (laughing).

  • The sound of your new record; it's still heavy of course but it seems to go back to that earliest of styles. I remember the last interview we did you talked about wanting to take the sound of the band and the direction a lot heavier. But here it seems like you're going back with some nods to the 60's and 70's... I'm curious as to your mindset when doing this album.

    I like the sound of those old records. And we're still playing as heavy as we can. It's just something I wanted to achieve for myself. It's a labor of love, we were recording in an old studio. It's a different heavy sound. The next record is going to be over the top!

  • It was definitely great to see you guys in Metal Maniacs, especially considering you made the front cover!

    Yeah that was cool! I was kinda surprised, but pleased as well. I didn't know what our profile was in America, we've barely had any releases over there at all. It just came out of nowhere!

  • Metal Maniacs has been covering... I don't know if you hate the term, I know Orange Goblin does... They've been covering a lot of stoner rock stuff lately. I've been into it ever since. I know it pretty much originated (considered to be originated) with Kyuss, but the Man's Ruin Record label to me was phenomenal, and it was a shame when the label went belly up.

    Yeah, there were good bands there! I look back on it fondly! (laughs). We grew out of it in some respects though. We were one of the few bands that kept things going, constantly redefining our style. We'll never be a band that plays just one style, but we're going to always play heavy, heavy metal. Some form of it, some way.

  • I don't know if you know about this, but a lot of those bands that were on Man's Ruin went over to Small Stone Records; enjoyable bands like Sons Of Otis, Dozer from Scandinavia, Natas from Argentina... So Small Stone kinda picked up where Man's Ruin left off, and I still enjoy those bands today; in fact I still play lots of them on the radio show!

    That's cool. I think there's a resurgence, a renewed interest. People like heavy, good music you know? Good songs, good shit. Not pussy music, but HEAVY! (laughs). You don't have to be all screaming your nuts off and shit! Some stuff is just too mainstream, you know? A few years ago you had rap metal and shit. It was getting too commercial. Metal is supposed to be scary, you know?

  • I was reading through the lyrics, and of course I read the interview where you talked about the song 'Satanic Rites Of Drugula,' and I'm thinking that would be a really cool, B-movie horror vampire flick. If what you were talking about in the song would actually happen.

    That's actually pending, we hope to make it. There's definitely plans to do it. It would make a very good horror movie.

  • Maybe like a cross between Dracula and Cheech And Chong's "Up In Smoke?"

    Yeah, something like that. (The vampire) is going to be sucking the blood of chicks that have been dropping acid and stuff, then he's gonna get hooked on acid. Girls that have been doing heroin. It's gonna be a good movie (laughs).

  • Yeah, it seems like your lyrics in the past have dealt with some black magic and witchcraft, occult and vampire themes. It was cool to see songs like that, but it was ALSO cool to see a song like 'Dunwich,' because I am a HUGE Lovecraft fan!

    Oh wow. I'm always into Lovecraft. For writing lyrics, he's VERY inspirational, just on loads of levels. His writing style is amazing; he's able to fit such description into few words, and that's what we try to do in the lyrics: to paint pictures, give visions of what the songs are about. 'Dunwich' is my updated version of it, I mean 'Dunwich' is a town and he describes it quite vividly. There's probably kids that are into metal now (that read Lovecraft).

  • Have you seen any of the movie adaptations, like the "Call Of Cthulhu," which was filmed like a 1930's style silent film.

    I haven't seen that one, I've seen it around but I have yet to check it out. I read a review of it, but I'm always worried about whether it'll be cool or not. I like some of the older adaptations, even the not so good ones. I like "Dunwich Horror." But I always thought the first Alien movie had a rather Lovecraft feel to it. I could imagine him writing it. You know, there's something that is bigger and badder than humanity.

  • It's amazing to me just what he was writing back in the 1920's and 30's. I mean to think of a guy that long ago with such a twisted mind; most people can't even today match what he did so long ago!

    It was a crazy time though, Crowley was an influence still and people had an interest in the occult definitely around the turn of the century. People wanted to hear about that kind of stuff.

  • The way Lovecraft describes things in these books, like these creatures and places. He describes them so matter of factly... A lot of people complain that Lovecraft's writing is so dry, so matter-of-factly, basic and to the point; but I get the feeling that maybe he was able to astral travel, and maybe he actually saw this nightmarish realm in some form or another and it just became kind of second nature you know?

    It's more like he's describing this rather than trying to engage on their level. You know he's like "This IS what I can see." It really gets under your skin, you know? I used to have nightmares when I read his stuff!

  • The "Witchcult Today" CD ends with the song 'Saturnine,' which was interesting. It seems like it's an astral journey, like we were talking about. And it's got sort of a, well, I don't want to say a positive set of lyrics, but maybe you're saying there's something out there that we're striving to get to, something that's a lot larger than us here on Earth.

    There's definitely a feeling of that, The lyrics ended up being a celebration of sorts. You've got it there, but I know it's strange for an Electric Wizard album to end on a little bit of hope! (laughing).

  • Well, the way this world is going today, I dunno; all the crap that's going on. I don't know if you're familiar with David Icke...

    Oh yeah, definitely.

  • I've got a DVD of his, and it's amazing to me the way he ties in christianity with the whole 9/11 myth, governmental control and things like that. I'm curious as to your thoughts about him, because he's from England I believe.

    He's a very intelligent guy; he's making... he's forcing people to question stuff, you know? He's going "Look, just check shit out, there is stuff happening and anyone can see, anyone can prove it." You just have to look. He's on TV a lot here in England, and he is VERY convincing; he just wants people to think.

  • It's funny, too, but when you think about heavy metal... I don't want to stereotype further, but lyrically metal has always been about rebellion against christianity. So it's funny to see David Icke talking about the Illuminati and "the horns" coming from Satanism. But Satanism is one aspect of life that forced us to question christianity, and of course he carries it a step further by saying "question EVERYTHING," so I think more music and more people need to come out and question. That's what here in America democracy was supposed to be based on.

    Yeah, otherwise things stagnate, people exploit people and what not. You have to question things on ALL levels.

  • So how is your deal with Candlelight Records structured; are you just doing this as a distribution deal, or are they doing more press and publicity for you? Because Rise Above Records is kind of a small label.

    Yeah, well, they are a small label. They got hooked up with Candlelight awhile ago. It's cool, it's definitely working out that they took an interest in the band. I just hope people are into us.

  • You guys have been on Rise Above for pretty much your whole career. And I assume Lee Dorrian is still running the day to day activities of the label, in addition to duties with his band Cathedral?

    Oh yeah, definitely. He's in the office! (laughs). I've known Lee for a long, long time. I have no need to change labels because I'm working with a friend I've known for 20 years. Anyone else, if I do anything different now, how am I going to build that trust again, it's impossible!! (laughing).

  • Now I remember seeing you guys here in the States, I think it was Warhorse opening up.

    Oh yeah, that was killer. Those were good times.

  • And THEN I saw you guys here again with Sons Of Otis, which was killer for me because I'm a HUGE fan of Sons Of Otis.

    We had some bad shows with that! We were in Europe for over a month, and THEN we came to America. And you know, all the drugs, partying, and stuff... I almost died halfway through the tour. I was in the hospital by the end of it, I had kidney stones and exhaustion...

  • You sure it wasn't from eating greasy, American fast food? (of course we're both laughing here).

    Well, yeah I guess. I mean I wasn't eating well; we were eating like burgers every day. Here it's just like a big salt crystal! I could have eaten better if I tried, but when you are eating at truck stops you have no choice sometimes. That's the same all over though, but yeah, it's not good for your health.

  • Well, I heard you almost got arrested on that leg of the tour, like you almost got arrested for drug possession?

    Yeah, like three times! (laughing).

  • Well, that's the way to do it ya know?

    Yeah. We managed to get out of it. Sometimes you gotta think fast. The cops kinda get freaked out when they see that you're English; I dunno why. You just tell them that it's legal in England and you're... sorry... (laughing).

  • Yeah, I wish it WAS legal here!

    Well, it's NOT legal in England, but they don't know that...

  • Well, is there anything else you wanna add before we wrap this up?

    Thanks to everyone for buying the record. Electric Wizard is here to slay! We want to play some gigs soon, and fuck the world!!

  • I was wondering if you guys were planning on coming back to the States anytime soon.

    Nothing's planned right now, we're trying to keep our heads low. There's ideas, and it might happen. Sooner or later we'll be over there. There's been some talks, but I can't say right now....

    EVILE. Email interview with Matt Drake.

    If you haven't heard yet folks, or have been living under a rock through the 90's and Y2k era, then you must know by now: thrash is back! Sorta... Well, despite Onslaught reforming and of course my small but pivotal role in bringing Hallows Eve back, plus all the other reformations from the 80's, some new bands are picking up the torch. Municipal Waste, Hellmachine and of course THIS band Evile, which is making Earache Records seem like the leader in the trash revival. From the U.K., home also to the mighty Onslaught, is a band who not only rips it up on their latest album "Enter The Grave," but is ALSO a newcomer to the rather interesting world of video games. Matt will fill you all in...

  • It seems like Earache is doing a killer job of promotion and press for you guys, esepcially considering how you got on the essential albums list for 2007 (too bad it wasn't closer to the number one spot though!) So how has the other aspects of signing to Earache been, and how many more albums are you contracted for?

    They've been doing a great job with us so far, I've always thought that we'd found the right label when we got together with them, it's not a massive corporate thing where other bigger bands are given more attention, it's just a few blokes in an office so we are pretty lucky in that they are always accessible. There are no disputes, they believe in what we're doing and want to help us make something out of it. Even considering all the bad stuff that gets said about them, we've always got on and agreed with everything that happens and hopefully it continues that way as they've really helped put us out there for people to judge/like/despise. Only contract items I can really talk about are the clauses that say we have to appear naked on national television 576 times a year, and the 3rd album has to be a pop goth concept gayorama.

  • One of the coolest news items I heard about the band was the fact that you had a track on the Rock Band game! How did this all come about, and have any of you played the game yet? (They say the track 'Thrasher' is one of the hardest to perform in the game!)

    That's all thanks to the game developer Harmonix, Earache emailed them to ask if they fancied putting a few of their bands on the game, and they agreed, it was quite straightforward I think! It's incredible though that they would put us, an unknown band on there. Maybe they thought they could give the punters a run for their money once they heard the track because it is a pretty fast song, and yeah apparently no one has 5 starred it yet! Have some of THAT!! I think it's pretty good for a game to have that notion of something that in theory you can beat, but it's bloody hard to actually physically do so. It reminds me of having Batman on my Amstrad 464 when I was younger and for the life in me I couldn't bloody finish it, and to this day that has haunted me haha. So hopefully in 20 years' time people will be saying "yeah I've had a good life, got a lovely wife and some wonderful kids, life is great, but I still COULDN'T FUCKING FIVE STAR THRASHER ON ROCK BAND"!!!! We haven't been able to play it yet, but I know straight away what's going to happen; we're going to be shit at it and be unable to play our own song. Probably even on beginner.

  • I know I was thrilled to see Onslaught return to bring us another new album (I noticed one of your band mates wearing a newer design Onslaught shirt). Do you think this helped out the U.K. thrash scene for newer bands, as I see you have a few other releases out before the signing to Earache.

    I think in terms of Onslaught coming back and loads of new thrash bands starting up, I would say they've helped each other out. I think this whole revival spurned Onslaught into reforming and bringing out another cd, it was perfect timing because they've been introduced to a whole new audience who are getting into thrash for the first time and won't have heard of Onslaught, and in return Onslaught coming back will have turned their followers onto the whole revival if they weren't aware of it and help them discover all these new bands that are eager to mosh!

  • What do you think of the newest Onslaught album? At first I thought they had a brand new singer, since Sy Keeler sounds more like Steve Souza from Exodus on the new record, but then again I saw live footage. How Sy's voice has changed!

    Sy's voice is unbelievable, he's bloody powerful!! I like the new album, it's definitely got the old school Onslaught "The Force" song style, but with a modern production, and live they still blow you away. But I still feel, and I've been quite outspoken about this, and I mean no offence to Andy Sneap as he's an awesome guy but I'm not in agreement with modern productions, everything sounds too mechanical and repetitive and most bands nowadays all sound exactly the same because of all this technical wizardry that goes into the productions. Look at the difference betweens Lars Ulrich's drum sound and Dave Lombardo's drum sound, not styles, sound. You can identify them instantly, the problem with trying to achieve perfection in recording is that you leave little room for mistakes or abnormalities in sound so it takes away the life that different instruments have, which to me robs songs of identity and character. That's just my personal opinion though, I'm not saying what's right or wrong. Back to Onslaught though, they've done a good job to say they've been away from the music for such a long time, it's like they never left! Brilliant guys.

  • So as you may know, Vibrations Of Doom Magazine has this large archive of rare, out of print and classic 80's metal albums you can listen to online, so I'm curious what some of your favorite 80's metal bands are? I of course loved the second Onslaught album "The Force," as well as stuff from Deathwish, Excalibur, Xyster, and of course the hundreds of NWOBHM bands from that region, like Diamond Head, China Doll, Triarchy and more...

    Wow I haven't studied it THAT deeply to be honest haha because the weird thing I found is that the more I looked into all the underground metal bands from the 80's the more I realised that there's a reason why bands like Metallica, Sepultura, Exodus and Testament were more successful. They wrote the best songs. So I stopped digging into all the obscure ones. I've never had time to spend on listening to all the albums in the world, especially recently as I like listening to more than just metal. But bands that do please me are the obvious ones like Metallica, Anthrax, Sepultura, plus bands like Sacred Reich ("Ignorance" was brilliant), Kreator, Destruction, Sacrifice, Xentrix, Faith No More haha there's way too many to list actually. Next!!

  • I'm curious about who you use as an artist for your album covers, as I was particularly pleased with the artwork on the "Hell" demo, are you still using the same artist?

    On our first 2 cd's we made we had an artist called Lee Gaskins from New Jersey USA do the artwork for us, he's a great artist and a really nice guy. He did a great job on the "All Hallows Eve" EP and an ever better job for the "Hell" demo but when it came to doing "Enter The Grave" we ended up getting an artist called Vitaly S Alexius, he's damn good and understood what we were looking for in an album cover, I hope to use him for the next album actually, I have a few ideas floating around in my head for it!

  • Speaking of the demos, I noticed there were some songs that appeared on the newest full length but also some songs that didn't make the jump, like 'Russian Roulette,' 'Death Sentence' (from the "Hell" demo), 'All Hallows Eve,' "Dawn Of Destruction' and 'The Living Dead' (from the "All Hallows Eve" demo). Will those ever be reissued or reworked, and what was the deciding factor over what songs would be featured on the newest full length?

    They will never be reissued. I'm not into the idea of it as I like them being as they were; the art was sent off to a printer and sent back to me, I folded all the inlays, I burned all the cd's, I put them all together and sent them out. I like the idea that people out there have something I made, it makes them special. If they were mass produced and marketed then the people who have been with us from the beginning who own the "Hell" demo and "All Hallows Eve" would suddenly find that what they have wouldn't have the same meaning anymore. And I don't want to rob our loyal fans of that. Plus we aren't as proud of the songs on "All Hallows Eve" as we are of the album tracks, although saying that we might be planning on reworking one of those tracks for the next album! For deciding on the album tracks, we already knew long before what tracks were good enough for an album and which weren't and we knew that 'Killer From The Deep,' 'Enter The Grave,' 'Thrasher' and 'We Who Are About To Die' were good enough to be on there and that we would write 6 new tracks to add to them. We ended up writing about 13 new tracks, some we were really happy with and some we weren't; we chose them in a pretty basic way. The four of us sat around a table at the pub, and each said what we thought should be on the album; the ones we all agreed on would definitely be on there and we all agreed on 8 tracks so it was pretty easy to argue the last 2 tracks onto the album! So we'll probably end up re-writing some of the ones that weren't good enough for album number 2!

  • Any plans Earache plans to bring the band over to North America for some shows? I'm curious about who you have already played out live with, and how those shows have went down.

    We're hopefully going to get to come to the states very very soon, plans are being made!! By the time people read this we might even be already there haha! So far we've played with mostly smaller UK metal bands, around the same level as us but we've been lucky enough to do a full European tour with Megadeth, a U.K. tour with Onslaught and Susperia, a UK tour with Sanctity, we opened for Machine Head in Ireland, we also opened for Xentrix and Onslaught 2 years ago. Every show we've done has been brilliant, even if people don't like what we do and don't pay any attention to us we're still playing live and that's what we're in a band for!! The most surprising reaction we've had was opening for Machine Head; it was insane, there were huge circle pits going for nearly the entire set, I've never seen a support band get a reaction like it, it made us very proud!!

  • I noticed you guys started life as a Metallica tribute band, what sort of songs from them did you enjoy playing live, and when did you decide to turn things around and do something different? How do you feel about Metallica nowadays, as I can't really even stomach the idea of playing anything they've ever done anymore after turning their back on their fans and releasing disc after disc of crap music and "no longer metal" offerings.

    Yeah we did but we generally skip over that part as it's not that interesting haha, we just got fed up with playing someone else's songs. People cheer and enjoy it but I always felt like we were cheating people because we were just living off someone else's hard work so we gave it up and got into doing our own thing because we wanted some new thrash!!!

    I'll have to disagree with you, I wouldn't say they turned their backs on their fans, they're musicians and it's completely up to them what they write and when they write it. It's not like they followed any hip trends or anything, I've never heard an album that sounds like "Load" or "Reload" before!! I thought they were good albums, I enjoyed them; I'm not interested in what other people think as it doesn't change the fact that I like them! People want another "Master Of Puppets," which is ridiculous, we've already bloody got one and it's one of the best metal albums of all time. They've done that and they wanted to do something else; if you do the same thing for over and over again it gets boring after a while. Which was fine with me, they don't owe me anything as they've given their lives to doing Metallica!! The black album was fucking brilliant, it's maybe the best produced album of all time. "Load" and "Reload" were enjoyable, different Metallica experience but still enjoyable, "Garage Inc.," was really good as well, "S&M" was fantastic and then it all ended with "St. Anger" which was incredibly shit. I would never dare defend that, it is terrible. So let's see what happens with the new one!!

  • A lot of people are talking about this big thrash resurgence, where do you see yourselves in all this? The media of course have hyped things up to a big degree, saying that thrash is huge again, but of course this might make more sense for you guys if you were American, maybe even from the Bay Area or something.

    Well Evile started years before this whole thrash resurgence happened, we didn't know of any bands doing it, we thought we were alone, but we heard of some other bands that had started up around the same time, they had the exact same idea that we had. So we all got together and started doing some gigs; we weren't aware of any big resurgence happening at all, but I guess that's what happens when enough people take notice and join in. We definitely weren't aware of anything happening in America at the time, now we hear its kicked off big time and its fantastic, we can't wait to get out there and see what it's like compared to the UK scene!! The only problem I can see is if people do things EXACTLY like they were done in the eighties/early nineties and we've thought about this quite a lot, we want to try and make something of this resurgence and take it somewhere different. Our debut album is VERY 80's, it's slightly modern in places but essentially it is an 80's thrash album. For the next album we're hoping to take what we do to a different place, in a way we're trying to jump out of the 80's, still keeping the vibe and character and love for the genre but trying to put our Evile spin on it; we'll either be successful or we won't!

  • So which bands would you say helped reshape and influence the Evile sound? I'm assuming Onslaught is in that list, but the guitar riffs are razor sharp and quite complex. I bet newer fans would have a difficult time learning to play riffs found on songs like 'Thrasher' and the title track!

    Yeah Onslaught definitely, Sepultura are a huge influence on our riffing; likewise Metallica and Exodus. I think our speed is generated from a joint love of Slayer, which is probably why so many comparisons are made with us and Slayer... oh and my vocals can be a bit Araya'esque but I'm training myself to step away from that and find my proper voice, I've only just started singing properly and we're a young band who have only released a debut album; give it a chance to grow, give us time to find ourselves!!! It's weird that people say we sound like Slayer because if you listen to our album and then listen to a Slayer album they sound completely different; sometimes I wonder if people actually have listened to Slayer when they say that because we actually don't sound like them. It's probably just someone making lazy comparisons because Slayer are the only fast band they can name and we play fast as well. Like someone saying Thrasher sounded like 'Angel Of Death,' had they actually heard 'Angel Of Death' (a Slayer song, obviously - Ed.) when saying that??

  • I was reading the lyrics to some of your songs (since I don't have the full packaging, I have to turn to the Encyclopedia Metallum), and one set of lyrics in particular stood out: 'Man Against Machine.' Do you envision the end of the world turning out this way? The funniest thing about this song is this is the way things seem to be slowly developing, with governments getting more and more corrupt, and the people slowly losing their natural and born freedoms (like here in the States, the freedoms guaranteed to people by the constitution are being eroded in the name of "terrorism," when to me the real terror is the very small number of people that REALLY control the country who probably set up 9/11 in the first place).

    Yeah that's how we see it, and I think you're actually the first person I've spoken to who has understood that song; most people go "oh man that song about the terminator is brilliant," to which all we can say is "eh?" so well done! Yeah that's how we see what's happening, especially here in the U.K., it all seems to be going tits up, government seems to be unable to govern itself let alone a country full of people. There's loads of gun crime happening, gangs, some of the stuff that happens is crazy. Some of the sentences that get handed out for crimes are stupid as well, they're almost trying to keep people out of prisons to stop overcrowding and it spills into the streets, nothing is being done and you have to wonder how this is all going to end up.

    It's good song material, and full credit has to be given to Ben for writing that song; the lyrics are his. But I always maintain the song is about his own superhuman ability to be in debt haha.

  • While on the subject of lyrics, what fuels the lyric writing process? It was nice to see some original themes (well, as "original" as most lyrics can be as I'm sure most lyrical topics have been done to some degree by one band or another), like the gladiator combats in the days of Rome, and of course 'First Blood' which sounds like a tribute to the Rambo movies...

    Yeah true I think everything's been covered in one way or another, i'm not sure anything original can be done anymore, unless we go into the future and steal stuff to write about! We share lyric responsibilities, depends on who has what written. Mike might have a song written completely, lyrics and music, so we just all get together and pick it apaart, use what we like and destroy what we don't. We're heavily into films, me especially so that's where 'First Blood' and 'We Who Are About To Die' come from; I just thought it would be great to put the Rambo story into lyrics, luckily it works... it's one of my favourite songs to play.

  • Flemming Rasmussen did an excellent job of giving you guys a powerful and in your face sound for "Enter The Grave," how did you come to be able to work with him? Did you feel you needed this sort of producer to hone and perfect the best elements of your sound? And what, if anything, did Flemming change about your songs or sound?

    We knew he was the right man for the job; he's completely out of touch with modern metal and it works to our benefit as we're not really fans of modern over processed productions, they suck the life out of songs. So we figured we would need a producer who isn't tainted by all that... He still works the way he used (to), updated slightly, but essentially it was much the way he worked with Metallica; all about mic placement and double tracking! He even still uses the same desk he used to record "Master Of Puppets" which was brilliant; such an honour to be using that desk. We made the right choice, as we came away with an album that sounds like Evile should sound; the songs have character, they don't all seem like one big 50 minute song, and you can tell them apart which we're really happy about. Flemming didn't change much about what we'd written apart from taking out a whole section of 'Bathe In Blood,' suggesting tempos, adding another verse for 'First Blood' and trying to make me sing better as I had no idea what I was doing! He's the right choice for us, hopefully we will be doing more albums with him.

  • SO: my final question to you is this: How long do you think this thrash revival will last? It seems to me like there isn't a whole lot of innovation left in music, I mean there's really only so much bands can do with guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Even with black metal, the newest thing now is to combine elements from folklore of hundreds of years ago (Viking metal, pagan black metal, etc), utilizing folkish instruments like flutes, violins, etc. Any ideas what the next innovation in music will be?

    I have no idea how long it's going to last, but enjoy it while you can, if there's a thrash gig happening by you, go to it and thrash like a maniac, for those who weren't around the first time around now is the time to experience it. I would like for this band to move beyond just being an 80's thrash band and do something more with what we have and build on our first album; this thrash revival has really helped us get out there but to make sure we can stay out there we need to do something more, put our own stamp on it. I'm just glad we aren't a bloody pirate metal band! The next innovation will be cookery metal. I have seen the future!!

    FEN. Interview with The Watcher via email.

    A rather new band for these eyes and ears, it's a very unique and innovative mixture of cold, harsh Norwegian styled black metal and post rock, a very small but growing genre that only one other band in black metal history (that I know of) is utilizing: The mighty Agalloch. If that tagline alone is enough to pique your curiosity, then the fact that this band resides in the U.K. (England to those not in the know) ought to tell you a bit more. Listen to the soundfiles from their "Ancient Sorrow" EP and then read this rather enlightening interview!

  • Though I usually loathe doing band interviews this way, please tell us about the history of the band, who is in there and how you came to be. Have any of the members played in other bands prior to this one?

    Fen currently consists of Grungyn on bass and backing vocals, Draugluin on synth/keys and backing vocals, Theutus on drums and myself The Watcher playing guitar and performing lead vocals. The band was formed in early 2006 by myself, Grungyn and Theutus as a development of material we had been playing previously in other bands prior to this point. We have known each other and played together for a long while in more traditional black metal environments - Fen more or less evolved from the directions we found ourselves heading in. We had no grand ambitions when we started, it was simply a way for three old friends to play something personal and passionate.

  • Your music is described as a mixture of atmospheric black metal and post rock, and I would daresay the closest comparison would be to a band like Agalloch; however your music is more akin to the earliest incarnations of Norwegian black metal than, say Agalloch, how do you describe the band and do you think the Agalloch comparisons are way off or somewhat close?

    I would say that we play atmospheric, progressive black metal with post-rock elements. Unlike many musicians, I have no problem with defining our sound with regards to genre stereotypes – we all do it after all when listening to music and it comes across as pretentious to say things along the line of 'we really couldn't describe it, you'll have to listen to it.' Everyone is influenced by something and sounds like someone, especially to begin with – it is the journey and evolution of the band that brings individuality.

    Agalloch comparisons are of course very flattering. I've been aware of the band for about 10 years but only really sat down and started giving them serious attention maybe 1 and a half - 2 years ago. I can see the comparisons, certainly – their sense of melody and space, their aesthetics and their use of textures are definitely comparable to ours. If I were asked to differentiate, I would say there is more traditional black metal in our sound and perhaps more aggression but ultimately, it's an honour to be spoken of in such company.

  • I have very little experience with the post rock genre, save for some of the type that Agalloch performs, though I slightly understand it to be a bit more like guitars that are utilized more as atmospheric landscapes than actual riffs and notes, also I've heard from Agalloch's guitarist that some of Voivod's earlier spacey guitar patterns are a small example of post rock at work. What would you say to people who want to know what post rock sounds like, and are there any bands you would recommend give a good picture or idea of this genre?

    Post-rock is a somewhat hazy term but then again, it tends to describe somewhat hazy music so perhaps that's appropriate! Not being immersed in the post-rock "scene" myself, I can only give you my personal perspective on what it sounds like – it is essentially about layers, about ebb and flow. Predominantly instrumental, riffs/themes are repeated with increasing levels of intensity building to sometimes quite breathtaking climaxes. Guitars are often clean or semi-clean and are swamped with various effects to add space. It's not generally about technicality or "prog" styled structures with weird time signatures – indeed, it is usually deceptively simple in terms of structure, the key is in getting the feel and the atmosphere right.

    Acts I would recommend would be Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, Red Sparowes, This Will Destroy You, Explosions in the Sky and also post-metal acts like Isis. A special mention must go to Voivod – progenitors of so much we take for granted today. Piggy's guitar playing I don't doubt is an influence on some post-metal musicians in terms of redefining the limits of what the guitar can achieve within a metal framework.

  • . I recently heard that you are now in negotiations with Code666 for the release of your soon to be album. What happened with Northern Silence Productions, it seems like they have some great bands on their roster?

    Let me clarify for the record that nothing went wrong with Northern Silence – I think they are an excellent label, have done very well for "Ancient Sorrow" and we will hopefully be able to work with them in the future with regards to releasing vinyls and such forth. Nevertheless, Code666 made us a great offer and expressed a real enthusiasm/appreciation for what we are doing - not only that, by having full distribution, it would enable us to spread the message even further afield, particularly here in the UK where their releases are readily available.

  • Speaking of the new album, the song titles are listed but there's no cover artwork presented yet, also I heard the album is going to be delayed for quite awhile, what's going on with the late release of the album?

    Fear not, the artwork has been completed and will be released in due course as the promotional wheels begin to turn. The delay is unfortunate – it is something to do with the European distributor being reluctant to process "underground" releases so close to Christmas (the album was originally penciled in for a November release) although the precise technicalities of this elude me somewhat – nevertheless, I can confirm that "The Malediction Fields" will be unleashed on the 9th January 2009 so it’s not a massive hold up.

  • Just out of curiosity, why did you decide to make your first release an EP rather than a full length? Was there material recorded or released prior to the EP? And how did the original deal with Northern Silence come about, as I'm assuming you had to send them some recorded material for them to consider signing you?

    Well, and at the risk of sounding a little blase, "Ancient Sorrow" was never really intended for release. It was recorded after we had been playing together for a few months and was recorded purely as a demo for us to be able to analyse where we were at. If I recall correctly, our bass player had only rehearsed with us maybe 3-4 times before the recording was made. Northern Silence heard the material via Myspace and more or less offered to release the EP there and then! It was of course very flattering to us – a number of reviews have criticized the production/playing, however it has to be taken into account that a lot of it was very much "one take," live in the studio. I think that given the circumstances surrounding the release, it has a unique atmosphere and works well as a stand alone piece.

  • You recently played some shows with Agalloch, how did that go over? Have you ever played live before, and if so, where, when and tell us about some funny stories from the tours...

    Yeah, we played with Agalloch back in March in Belgium. It was a relatively last-minute arrangement, we got the call with maybe 3 weeks notice as Mourning Beloveth had had to cancel the show. If I'm honest, it went excellently; the crowd were fantastic, the venue excellent and Agalloch themselves were incredibly supportive (as well as incredible). Memories of our actual set are a little hazy as a fair quantity of strong Belgian ale had been consumed before stepping onstage... nonetheless, from looking at footage, I think we performed reasonably well.

    We haven't played a huge amount of shows and so funny stories are limited to sitting around in service stations trying not to be sick with hangovers. We did play a gig upstairs in a ghastly, grotty pub in London once and when we had finished, went downstairs to find the bar cordoned off by police and blood all over the floor. Apparently someone had been glassed while we were playing – not funny, but certainly noteworthy. We left very quickly.

  • You currently hail from the United Kingdom, are you fans of any other bands or styles of music there? I know Cradle Of Filth is probably one of the most popular black metal bands from there, though a bit more, shall we say, commercially acceptable than most. I really dig the stoner rock and doom metal bands from there, and it's cool how Lee Dorrian started Rise Above Records. I am heavily into Electric Wizard, Iron Monkey (RIP), Orange Goblin and the like.

    UK black metal has been a joke for about 15 years (with Cradle being one of the biggest offenders), however in the last couple we have seen some really good bands emerging from the underground. Wodensthrone are a band from the Northeast who play epic, intense heathen metal very much like a blend of Hate Forest and Drudkh and are heavily recommended. Lyrinx are another band who I would mention; bleak, suicidal material in the vein of Shining. Other great bands are Winterfylleth, Niroth and Ghast.

    Other than the black metal underground, I'm a big fan of the early 90s doom bands like My Dying Bride and Anathema as well as the classic metal bands of yore – Priest, Maiden and their NWOBHM peers. The "new school" Rise Above doom is not really my thing if I'm honest but I can certainly see the appeal – and the first few Cathedral albums are great!

  • How do you feel about the early 90's style of Norwegian black metal? I know there was lots of mayhem and destruction created as a result of the murder of Eronymous and the church burnings of course.

    The early 90's Norwegian scene, whilst the "second wave" of black metal in the eyes of purists, is very much where the template of what is generally considered the traditionally-perceived sound of black metal was developed I feel. Those early records by Darkthrone, Mayhem, Emperor and Burzum defined the sound for thousands to follow and their importance cannot be underestimated. The atmosphere on those early recordings is something truly unique, genuinely captivating and getting into that stuff for the first time as a 15-16 year old was truly exciting. I think I speak for many when I say that I doubt I'll ever fully recapture the thrill of listening to "De Mysteris..." or "Nightside Eclipse" for the first time again.

  • Many in the know speculate that once Varg Vikernes is released from prison, someone will probably attempt to kill him for the murder of Eronymous. Some still say that maybe he will join Mayhem once again, while still others say he may have nothing more ever to do with music and maybe even disappear totally. What do you think?

    Who knows? I have to be honest, I don't really care. Awesome though the early Burzum works are, Vikernes to me exemplifies a worrying development in black metal – i.e. the rise of the Black Metal Celebrity. People obsessing about individuals rather than art that they create. Not interested. Playing along just for the fun of it though, I reckon he'll probably release a "back to the old style" feeble pastiche of his early work that everyone will lap up because it sounds a little bit like "Det Som Engang Var," then hopefully disappear somewhere to count his cash.

  • When writing for the EP, how did the music get written; did you piece together riffs and pieces, or were the tracks fleshed out in advance? I'm just curious how you decide which landscapes go where, and when the tracks get more of a harsh vibe than a more melodic one.

    The music on the EP came together as a result of jamming through some ideas that I'd been working on over the winter of 2005. It was with this material that Fen was started – I guess a combination of pre-determined writing and rehearsal room elaboration is the best way to describe it. Much of the detail and texture of the sound evolves in the rehearsal room – whilst I will arrive with riffs/structures prepared in advance, the other three members will very much work on their parts around this and it's only then that the song truly takes shape. Some songs are more organized than others; some come together as we jam stuff out and try new ideas in the studio, others are more meticulously pre-planned. A couple of the album tracks exemplify this perfectly – 'A Witness To The Passing Of Aeons' was pretty much a jam track, something that evolved from studio improvisation while 'Exile's Journey' was more pre-prepared with the details fleshed out in advance.

  • While on the subject of the EP, I noticed there were no lyrics presented, are there any topical references for the lyrics on there? It almost seems like a somewhat bleak and cold, dark atmosphere; not unlike desolate and cold Norwegian winters. I know parts of England can get pretty cold as well, and I am sure that there are plenty of amazing old world landscapes not unlike the ancient forests and mountains of Norway.

    Conjuring up a bleak, cold and desolate atmosphere in the mind of the listener is one of our key goals. The lyrics are generally reflections of English landscapes, often used as a metaphor to describe more personal experiences – in that way, they work on two levels which I believe is important. Still, to me, there is nothing more evocative than an awe-inspiring landscape and it is this feeling first and foremost that we are attempting to portray.

    In terms of the actual landscapes presented, both myself and Grungyn were raised in an area of eastern England known as The Fens – a flat, bleak and very unique landscape. Many of the lyrics describe these areas and the sensations that they can inspire – hence the band name. I think this makes sense – while it's appropriate for the Norwegians to speak of freezing mountains and glacial fjords, it would not be for us. I think it is reflected in the soundscapes as well – Nordic black metal tends to be majestic and cold while ours is more melancholy, bleaker and isolated sounding, very much like the lands in which we spent much of our upbringing.

  • Finally, while we're all eagerly awaiting the release of the full length, how would you say the upcoming full length differs from the EP? What elements of the "Ancient Sorrow" EP will still be retained on songs from the full length followup?

    The album is a distinct development from the EP, being as it was recorded over two years after the material for "Ancient Sorrow" was committed to tape. While we have recorded it the same way – i.e. all ourselves and as live as possible - we have taken great care to ensure a balanced mix that is atmospheric, powerful and evocative whilst retaining clarity. The material itself is varied yet consistent – the aggressive sections are more biting, the reflective passages more ambient and the album as a whole is much more defined. We have tried to create a sonic "journey" if you will, a soundscape reminiscent of walking through the Fens at dusk. The misty, twilit ambience of "Ancient Sorrow" has been retained, yet with even more textures and dynamics – acoustic guitars, clean vocals, synthesizers and ebows have all been added to the mix to create a dense sonic tapestry. To me, while "Ancient Sorrow" is a worthy introduction to the band, "The Malediction Fields" is the definitive representation of Fen right now.

  • Anything else you want to talk about that we didn't mention? I am eagerly awaiting the full length release, as I thought the EP showed much potential!

    There's not much else to say really Steven, I think you've covered everything here. Thanks for the interview and we hope that people will enjoy the album as much as the EP.

    NECRONOCLAST. Interview via email with Greg.

    Moribund records has just recently started to sign doom metal styled acts, of course with a more underground aesthetic (and almost in line with traditional one man projects, especially in the black metal realm). Necronoclast exemplifies everything that is dark, torturous and bleak, with a black metal slant on the doom genre, something that is just starting to become more and more common these days. Though Moribund's "experience" in the doom genre is limited to the full length album by Catacombs and "The Plague" by Necronoclast, they are certainly making up for lost time in a strong way.

  • I really liked the way you utilized acoustical type guitar parts as well as the ultra distorted ones. How do you know when a song calls for the distorted riffs and the acoustical type ones, besides the tempo of the structure in question?

    It's usually about mood - as I put the song together, I know where I want to take it, and sometimes going into a clean guitar part shifts the atmosphere to where I want to be. It can also maximise the impact of the following section.

  • What's cool about the album is upon the first track 'Degeneration,' you're thinking this is pretty much a black metal album, and then by the second track, 'Faceless,' we start hearing a predominantly funereal doom/death/black sound! Of course, I find that there's not a whole lot of faster paced black metal instrumentation on the album...

    I think some variation is necessary if you are (musically) exploring different ideas and thoughts. Moods shift, and musically, styles shift with them.

  • So how do you go about creating the music for the songs? Is there a lyrical theme you craft an atmosphere around, or do you just write riffs and structure first and then add lyrics later?

    The lyrics always come last, although I will have some theme or inspiration in mind as I write the music. Usually songs will all stem from a single starting riff. I don't often find myself piecing together songs using various riffs written at different times. It keeps a focus and keeps the song on track, otherwise the emotion and feeling can be lost.

  • The drum work is amazing, and I had a difficult time seeing those as pre-programmed drums! Had you ever envisioned obtaining a drummer's services, or do you find the drum programming gives the percussion a rather cold, machinelike and alien like quality?

    I'd consider using a session drummer if I felt it would take the sound forward. When I was recording the new album "Haven", I made sure that I was happier with the drum sound than I am with the "The Plague's" sound - if I can't take another step forward with programmed drums next time around, then I would have to look at other options. There are pros and cons to using either option.
  • It seems like Moribund hadn't signed any doom metal like bands until they inked a deal with Catacombs, and then you guys came along. How do you feel about Catacombs, it's rather a shame that they only did one album!

    The Catacombs album is excellent, and as you say, more doom than most Moribund releases. Again though, it's a solo project - focused, depressive - he has a similar ethos and motivation to many other Moribund projects.

  • While we're talking about Moribund, how did you end up on their label, and did you at first find it strange that a predominantly black and death metal label would choose to sign you? How many more albums are you contracted for, and are you satisfied with the work they've done for you?

    I was self-promoting the original (Infernal Kaos) release of "Monument" when I first got in touch with Moribund, who liked the material and offered me the contract. We've done 2 albums (including the Monument reissue), but "Haven" is the first release I've written specifically for Moribund. There will be another one after Haven, and we'll see what happens from there. I think Moribund is an ideal home for Necronoclast because of their pedigree in the one-man black metal scene. They are the keepers of the style and although Necronoclast has some leanings towards other styles of metal, I think it fits well in the Moribund ethos. They've certainly been able to put Necronoclast in places where I wouldn't have anticipated it going - they've worked hard.

  • One of the most constant complaints I hear about the doom/funeral doom, doom/death genres is the length of the songs, and the repetition of many basic ideas on an entire album, but you manage to avoid both. Had there been any consideration from you to create longer songs? Most clock in at 5 and 6 minutes which is rather unheard of in this genre of music.

    The tracks on "The Plague" aren't too long, but that's just the way that album turned out. There are longer songs on "Monument," and there are longer songs on "Haven." Repetition for repetition's sake is obviously a poor songwriting technique, but if it's the the right riff, repetition maximises impact. Each song has its own character, its own aura. They must be considered as individual entities rather than being stuck to a rigid pattern.

  • Just out of curiosity, how exactly do you see the band Necronoclast? Do you consider it more doom/death, or maybe even doom/death/black? Funereal doom? One thing I found interesting, was especially on the track 'From Below,' where the haunting, eerie and torturous landscapes give way to a somewhat sorrowful and melancholic sound/atmosphere. Of course, that's not the overall mood of the disc, but it was an interesting find that popped up a few times.

    My own classification would be within the spheres of black/doom, but I leave definitive categorisation to music writers.

  • I would love to get your take on some of the lyrical themes, besides the obvious album title. I only have a cardboard sleeve promo so I have no idea if lyrics were even presented (and if not, I'm curious as to why).

    The lyrics aren't in the booklet of "The Plague" - I may add them to the website at some stage. "The Plague" is based around the concept of humanity's impact on itself and on our surroundings - it deals with several metaphorical 'plagues' which represent different elements of human ignorance and/or malevolence. "The Plague" itself is, of course, the human race. The lyrics for "Haven" are in the booklet, but on the whole, I don't see lyrics as a particularly important part of Necronoclast and so I don't place much emphasis on them. I have always set out to let Necronoclast speak musically rather than literally.

  • I have yet to hear the album preceeding this one "Monument," though I know it has been recently repressed. How would you compare the two, and did you find anything that has been improved from Monument to the latest release?

    I am proud of Monument, but it is an entirely different album. Monument was written over a long period of time, approx 3 years. It marks the beginning of the project, and as a foundation, it does its job. However I feel that "The Plague" took what I am trying to create to the next stage. It benefits from being more focused, more cohesive.

  • Are there any plans for Necronoclast to ever play live? I'm assuming that were this to happen you'd have to find live session members.

    I have absolutely no interest in playing live. I see live music as a totally different entity to the creativity that is writing music. It serves a different purpose.

  • As I write this, I note that you're currently working on a new album, entitled "Haven." Tell us a bit more about it if you would; song titles, theme, artwork especially, as it seems there's a bit of a Lovecraft flair to the front cover.

    Haven is an album about isolation and bleakness, about desperation and fear. It is based around the idea of a house, secluded from the world in the middle of nowhere - a haven from reality. What it alludes to is the destructive nature of the human mind, and the thin boundaries between seclusion and insanity. I am very pleased with the artwork, a painting done by Gabriel Byrne ( How much Lovecraftian inspiration he has taken on board is a question for him, but the creepy, chaotic image is exactly in keeping with the style of the album. Song titles include 'Nyctophobia,' 'Deathless,' and 'Slashed by Shards of Existence.'

  • Are you a fan of any other bands in the genre, maybe Thergothon, Tyranny with their monstrous Lovecraft inspired album "Tides Of Awakening?" Maybe you are into some of the Firebox bands like Colosseum, Doom:Vs, Terhen, Funeral, or Depressed Mode? When not listening to or creating funereal doom styled metal, what other genres of music or styles do you enjoy?

    I don't listen to very much music these days, but mainly other metal - death and doom being particular interests. Firebox have some interesting bands on their label.

  • Finally, I haven't seen any bad press for any of your releases; of course I could see if someone couldn't get into the vocal work or isn't into slow, torturous styled funereal doom/death (black?) metal. Have you received any bad press, was there any funny reviews that cross your mind at the moment?

    I've read some good press, I've read some bad press... ultimately, everyone who listens to Necronoclast is going to have an opinion, but some of those listeners happen to write about their opinions online or in print. I don't pay a great deal of attention because I create firstly for myself. If anyone else gets anything from it, that is a bonus.

    SIG:AR:TYR. Interview through email with Daemonskald.

    From Canada, this band is a rather unique entity (which explains it's priority in our publication). Though Nordic based, the majority of these classically influenced pieces are instrumental, though DEFINITELY Bathory influenced (especially when it comes to the Nordic legends and lore). Though this issue is going to be extremely late, we also have their newest release "Beyond The North Winds" which will be reviewed next issue.

  • I had many questions available to you, many of which were answered on your website in a forum (Screams From The Dungeon). So one of the things I wanted to comment on was the band name itself (I'm assuming you're aware there is a band from the Faroe Islands known as Tyr). So essentially, chaos, balance and order seem to make up the bulk of the band name. Of course to look a tad further; I see the year of the sun represented as a god, Which essentially rules over everything; and we know ancient peoples deified the sun as they knew it would end the cold, bring warmth and make crops grow.

    Sometimes we give our ancestors a lot less credit than we should, and although the sun itself might have received the respect, honour, and worship as a god would, I doubt it was ever thought to be a god in and of itself. The sun (and the earth's revolving around it) is our way of timekeeping, and depending on where you were (higher or lower in the hemispheres), marked the changing of the seasons on the solstices and equinoxes. These are the natural powers that give ordering to our life: when we wake, sleep, plant, harvest, and so on, and the sun was honoured as such. I believe in Egypt where we most often hear of "sun worship," the sun was thought of as an emanation of Ra, (or later Aten), not as the god itself.

    In the Northern runes, the rune Ar is called "year." Not just any year though, but a "good year," meaning one in which the harvest was particularly fruitful. So here we have another idea centering around the concept of the natural, cyclical year. The sun rune "Sowilho" or "Sigel," and also the many manifestations of the sun-wheel are more focused about the actual sun and its powers that are both creative and destructive. Tyr is the name of a god, and in many ways presents the future of a man who has gone through the many cycles of rebirth to become as a god.

    But yes, the band name SIG:AR:TYR was based around the concepts of chaos (destructive energy), balance (our natural state in Midgard), and order (creative energy). This signifies that in the Northern tradition, "here" is the place to be, not in some heavenly abode, or netherworld hell. The gods interacted with man, and themselves fought, loved, died, because they knew this was the only place where true spiritual evolution took place in your journey through the material world, and why the cycle of birth, arising, and rebirth is the basis for true growth.

  • I am rather curious about your next album release, "Beyond The North Winds," as of course we got "Sailing The Seas Of Fate" rather late in it's life. Tell us about the sounds, song titles and some basic meanings, and how it will differ from your previous work.

    "Sailing The Seas Of Fate" was a full concept album about a mystical journey to learn of our origins, and most of the songs had motifs of snow, ice, and water around them as part of the voyage and journey on a ship backwards in time to the far north. "Beyond The North Winds" is not a concept album, but I decided to base its motifs around earth, wind, and stone. If there is a running theme, it is about the power of being in the "Now": building upon your past and forging your future. There are songs about myths of the underworld, such as 'King Of The World' which is about the mythical king who lives in a subterranean abode that comes to us from Tibet. But this also has many parallels in northern mythology such as the "Hall Of The Mountain King" and similar legends about a king who sleeps under the mountain until the time is right to return for a final battle. This is echoed in the song 'Under The Mountain.' The title track 'Beyond The North Winds' is a simple song about a warrior who dies on the battlefield and is taken to Valhalla by a valkyrie. 'Etched In Stone' is a song about the runes, and how they were carved into the stone monuments that still speak to us today as if a message from our past. I could go on, but I'll let people hear the album once its released (in May) and let them have their own interpretations of the songs and their meanings.

    As for the sound, "Beyond The North Winds" is a more cohesive and metal- oriented album than "Sailing The Seas Of Fate" but still retains that overall acoustic/ambient sound that is the hallmark of SIG:AR:TYR. In fact, even though it is a very metal song driven album, there is not one track that doesn't feature an acoustic guitar! I also do a lot more things vocally, with less spoken word and more actual singing. I feel I've also improved in the songwriting department, and I think this album will have a wider appeal because of that.

  • It seems like you handle all aspects of Sig:Ar:Tyr by yourself, does this mean that you would prefer not to ever play live? I always assumed that "one man band" projects were started and maintained because the said individual could not find people who could share or help craft the artist's vision.

    Unfortunately, I've always felt that starting and maintaining a band would be too much work, and it is always very hard to convey a lot of what is extremely personal to other people in a band situation. It's not out of the question entirely, but I'd prefer to keep SIG:AR:TYR as it is. I think if I did something as part of a band, it would be another entirely different project where I didn't have to be responsible for everything as I am now. When you are expressing intensely spiritual and personal feelings in your music, you have to have complete control.

  • It is indeed a shame that "The Stranger" is out of print and "Sailing The Seas Of Fate" only has a handful of copies remaining. Is this a situation that will soon be corrected, as I would love the opportunity to hear "The Stranger" someday.

    Yes, there is plans to get them reprinted as soon as we can. However, the new CD "Beyond The North Winds" takes precedence, as it is important I get the new material out there before getting the older stuff back in circulation. Such is life in the independent scene! I think the new CD will appeal to a wider range of metal fans, and that should end up in lots of interest for the older material, so it will be a priority to make it available as soon as possible.

  • Some of your personal philosophies I can really relate to, especially in this day and age when the paths our forefathers launched have all but been forgotten, and in our pursuit for material wealth, possessions and being a slave to the 40 hour workweek, we have sacrificed more and more of who we are as a people. Also, in this "politically correct" age we live in, it seems like the rituals our forefathers practiced to help young boys and girls become real men and women have been tossed aside, so many adults are running around in turmoil, not knowing how they should behave or even how they should interact or deal with other people.

    Yes, it seems all modern society wants to do is beat down all that is healthy, proper, creative, traditional, and beautiful; and celebrate all that is ugly, destructive, and self-defeating. This is the result of what happens to a people when they become separated from their roots, their traditions, and their family. One of the important concepts that pervades "Sailing The Seas Of Fate" is that there is a 'bond of blood' between a people and their gods. These things can be forgotten in the memory of the mind, but never by the memory in our blood. We have genetic ties that kick in to remind us what is most important and critical to the health and survival of a people. In many ways I hope my music helps "kick in" those forgotten memories for others, as have many things in my life: whether it be music, literature, art and so on, helped me to "remember." These are trying times, and we must look deep within ourselves, our families, and to our kin to keep us on the right path.

    It has only been a short time that ideologies such as globalism, unrestricted capitalism, multiculturalism, political correctness, secular humanism, and so on, have wreaked havoc in western civilization, but I think a correction is due as people quickly find such things empty and unfulfilling and are returning to their roots. Ultimately, the relative strength of ethnic nationalism, where nations are defined by a shared heritage, faith, and values, will win out over these false ideologies.

  • I was quite impressed by the mostly acoustical work of the songs, though a bit surprised that there was very little in the way of vocal work (save for mostly narration). Do you shun the singing process, or is there some other reason for making these mostly instrumental songs? When listening to such tracks like 'Under The Dragon Star' or 'Snowborne,' some of the more "metal" guitar parts especially leave a very stunning effect, and the solos are quite moving and seem VERY specific, as if each piece is crafted according to emotion and the song's overall background, rather than just cranking out as many notes as possible in the span of a few seconds.

    For vocals, I've greatly expanded on what I have done in the past on the new CD "Beyond The North Winds," and there is quite a variety of black metal type vocals, spoken word, whispers, and clean singing. I never did much of it before because I wasn't really confident enough in my ability to express myself that way, and would rather do so via the guitar and instrumentals. Originally I wanted to keep my music as all instrumentals, but I found that doing that got stale very fast, and is really too self-limiting. I've learned to incorporate different types of arrangements and better vocal parts into my songs, while retaining the acoustical ambience that I believe is the hallmark of SIG:AR:TYR.

    I do take a lot of care crafting guitar solos, as in many ways that is how I sing! I don't like solos that are there just for the hell of it, and especially on the "Sailing The Seas Of Fate" album, there are some songs that do not have a solo at all, simply because it did not need one and had nothing to do with the overall mood of the song. I think guitar solos should be an integral part of the song, and carry the same themes and melodies, to retain a constant flow. The best guitar solos are the ones you can sing along to and remember all the notes, and feel that is an extension of the song, not just a moment to try to show off some technical wizardry. To give an example, one of my favourite guitar solos is (in) 'Mr. Crowley' by Randy Rhoads. The song wouldn't be the same without it.

  • I know you are from Canada, do you have any Nordic heritage or bloodlines? I have fully embraced Nordic culture, mythology and lore, as I find the characteristics of the Nordic peoples to fully complement those qualities in my life that I have been lacking for a long time (I am mostly Irish, so the Nordic ways are not "Along the bloodlines" as far as I have discovered). How do you feel about those who are into fully these Nordic ideas but not necessarily having "Nordic blood?" As I mentioned earlier, my belief is that by getting back to peoples with proud heritage and a good background, we can enrich our lives and become personalities with honour and character, those that "stand out" from the normal, mundane everyday human clone.

    Well, my parents are from England, and therefore have that Angle-Saxon Germanic heritage. Although after doing some genealogy on my mother's side, she is connected to the Andersons which is Danish/Norwegian origin, probably via Orkney/Scotland. You have to remember that "Nordic" is a bit of a loaded word, and often comprises a lot of different ethnicities and language groups, since all it really means is "Northern Peoples," and is not necessarily limited to Scandinavia. We all speak a common language whose root is what we call Indo-European. Irish/Celtic is just one of many subgroups, so as you can see, we all share very similar language root words, share similar myths, so I think you are wrong when you say that Irish isn't "along the bloodlines" or Nordic. All the northern peoples have a very intertwined root history, language, and genetics. Many myths from Celtic, to Greek and Roman, to Scandinavia, have common themes and stories among them, and many gods correspond to the same archetypes.

    The Scandinavian myths, mostly compiled in Iceland, that have come down to us are very powerful stories, and are themselves drawn from an older common Germanic tradition, which again is based on primal Indo-European myths. It is often from these stories that most people become interested in their pre-christian past. And I would say the J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, based on so much North European lore, is even a more popular catalyst for people to turn back to the original writings and myths. So I wouldn't put too much stress in having a common "blood"; it is more about having a common history, values, and experience, and the sharing of these common traits (such as honour and character as you mentioned) that is the cornerstone of all Northern European peoples. It is most natural for people to follow the traditions of their own folk rather than another. For example, I would think it would be difficult for someone from Northern Europe to suddenly take up Japanese Shinto etc... and feel comfortable or fulfilling. Likewise, I would not expect a Japanese Shinto or Native American adherent to take up worshipping Odin and feeling very comfortable with it!! Every person on this earth has some sort of common ancestry and tradition, and their civilizations are at their most stable and fulfilling when they stick to them.

  • As for christianity, I have recently learned that much of what is taught in the bible and even the life of Jesus Christ, may in fact be untrue. Certain movies (like "Zeitgeist" and documentary like films) hint to the fact that Christianity may indeed be a "made up religion," in fact many aspects and exact dates of Christ's life borrow so heavily from other religions that christianity in it's truest form may be nothing more than a re-writing of older religions. If in fact the diadem of control for our "government" here in the U.S. is by deceiving the people with outlandish stories (like the 9/11 "conspiracy"), then by comparison, Christianity seems to resemble remarkably a story to keep people in the dark and controlled through fear (does anyone REALLY believe we lost our immortality because some woman ate an apple?)

    This is a huge topic! Christianity as we know it today has evolved over two thousand years and is a mixture of different types of beliefs, and there are so many "brands" of Christianity, that who can say for sure what is the one closest to the earliest expression of it. I have a read a lot (of) what is in the Bible, and also texts that never made it into the Bible, or were considered Gnostic and heretical. I used to beat up on Christianity a lot (just read some of the lyrics in "Sailing The Seas Of Fate"!), but not so much anymore. We have to consider why christianity succeeded in overcoming all of our old pagan beliefs. And I believe over time it developed as a common spiritual base that represented the basic values of European peoples, even though christianity is often rebuked as a "middle eastern" religion. It was grafted over time with the existing European pagan beliefs, and so what we know of European-based christianity now probably would be unrecognizable to someone who lived in Palestine in 60 AD.

    What results in a "control" phenomena is when people take a linear view of their world, and expect certain things to happen in a perfect timeline to the "end times." So there are many self-fulfilling prophecies, and you can see how so many people (especially in the Bible-belt of the US) would completely support continued wars against various countries in the Middle East because they feel they are living out a prophecy, and as long as their president is "christian," they know they are being led in the right direction. This linear view is a like a tight corridor with only one way in and one way out.

    As I mentioned earlier, traditional civilizations had a cyclic world-view, which is much different than the linear and apocalyptic modern christianity worldview we have today. When people understand this, then all these control mechanisms have no power over you, for they are based in "linear" time, not spiritual cyclical time. And when you start living your life in this cyclical time, living in what we call the eternal present, or eternal NOW, then you realize that it is a moment frozen in time of absolute freedom. As an analogy, you can think of the movie "The Matrix," and how people were controlled by being in the matrix and not being able to see or feel outside of it. And it is definitely not easy getting out of the matrix. However, I think any person can spend a little time meditating each day and taking themselves, even for a brief time, out of linear time to see what lies beyond.

  • I was very impressed by your insight, especially into the entire Star Wars trilogy. I think the biggest insight I gained into the movies was the Jedi and their almost "superior" attitude of non intervention to keep order. It seems like the side of "good" almost always has this smug, superior attitude as if their ways are the only ones worth adopting. I don't know if you've ever watched Stargate: SG1 but the people who had ascended to a higher form took this same attitude (even going so far as to "punish" those ascended beings who tried to save millions of lives). I see a lot of churches or religions that way, especially when the attitude of "only the elite shall rule the earth, ascend to heaven, etc." seems to be the only path available. Not much room in there for individual needs!

    Well, everyone thinks they have it right. Even me! But think about what happens when those with the "smug" and "superior" attitude suddenly get political power. They "punish" those who do not believe in the same things they do. It was true in the dark ages with the Roman Catholic Church, the Soviet Union in the 20th century, and now the issue of liberal/Marxist/atheist ideologies where Western civilization has succumbed to a liberal tyranny where those with traditional conservative values are forced to endure an imposition of attacks on freedom of expression, attacks on traditional family values and gender roles, attacks on democracy and individual liberty, basically an attack on anything that is generally part of every healthy society of the past. Ultimately, it is personal freedom that I think most people find to be the initial basic human right where all other human rights flow from. It is this concept of freedom and democracy that is a hallmark of Northern European civilization. It is not an accident that the oldest parliament in the world is traced back to Iceland. I've always been a huge fan of the American Old West, and it is in this environment of discovery, pioneering ambition, courage, and personal freedom, that I think a movie like Star Wars was emulating, only transplanted into space.

  • In Nordic mythology, "Ragnarok" signalled the end of the world, the Viking equivalent of christianity's "Armageddon." What do you see happening to the human race? Is there really an "ending times" (the mayan calendar inexplicably STOPS at the year 2012 I think), or is it the ending of an "age" where humans evolve to a higher form? (Once again, the movie Zeitgeist refers to an "age," which lasts so many years and refers to each sign of the zodiac passing through so that we will be in the age of Aquarius in 2012).

    Even in the story of Ragnarok, the world was reborn again, and the sons of the gods continued on with a new mankind. The Northern Myths are all based upon a cyclical universe, the eternal return. There are "end times," but they are more like an end of an age, and the beginning of a new one. There are so many tales of civilizations that have risen and fallen. When looking back at ancient Rome, it was one of the most successful and largest empires of all recorded history, yet it too does not exist anymore. It would be naive of us to think that our current modern world could not be undone just like Rome or ancient Egypt. I'm proud of my British heritage, and for a few hundred years, we ran the world. After World War II, there was no British Empire left and it was then time for the ascendancy of the United States and the Soviet Union. Who is next? There is also the issue of climate change, where severe conditions, ice ages etc..., can easily wipe a civilization off of the earth. But mankind is resilient, and even if our civilization falls, another will grow in its place.

  • How much of those myths and legends of the Nordic age do you think bear any truths? I'm convinced that those gods and goddesses weren't just made up by bored storytellers, though many of the origins of those legends would of course be hard to pinpoint.

    There becomes a mixup at some point where I think real people, mythic heroes and their tales eventually become "gods" or "demi-gods." You also have to do some comparative mythology, as there are so many tales that are common across different cultures. For example, you will find "evidence" of Noah's biblical flood in different parts of the world in their own ancient myths. Or that the god in one culture has very similar traits to a god in another culture. So in many cases, I would say yes that our myths are often depicting real-world events or people, and in other cases, they are just tales. The Norse tales and sagas are often intertwined with real-life events, specific kings, known wars, etc... But as in most Indo-European mythology (Greek, Roman, German, Norse, and so on), many of the gods are based on common archetypes and traits of the Indo-European peoples.

  • Have you ever seen the movies "The Secret" or "What The Bleep Do We Know?" I found those movies fascinating as it goes beyond just "the power of positive thinking" and instead explains how man can control his own reality on a day to day basis, creating instead powerful tools that the mind can use to shape the very reality he sees in front of him, and frees us from the limitations placed upon us by society, religions, governments and even the biggest skeptics.

    I have never seen these movies/documentaries, but yes, most people don't realize they have the "power" to make whatever realities they want in their life possible. This is often called in the occult world "magick," i.e. change in accordance with your will, but people call it all sorts of things, and rarely do any of it. The hardest part about making a reality, is to what end are you doing it for? Most often it is something that we "want," not necessarily what we "need." I think that making the change isn't so often the hard part, it is ensuring you are making the "right" change for you and your true goals, finding your true "path." But for most of us, the "path" is a journey, and it is something we unravel over a long period of time.

  • As we wrap this up, I am constantly reminded that it's truly a small group of people that try to control and rule the overall population of the planet. It seems like people are waking up, especially from the tyrannical rule of the christian organization, but what do you think it will truly take for mankind to really be free? CAN these small groups be opposed, and do we have the power to see change within our lifetime?

    I used to have very conspiratorial views, but not so much anymore. In fact, I don't think there is any real central control going on. Anything that goes wrong in the world is typically up to human incompetence, not some nefarious plan. And if there are several power-groups out there, they are all at loggerheads anyway. That is how world balance is maintained. The scariest thing to think about is that there really is no one in control. We are masters of our own destinies. And it has been said that most civilizations do not crumble from external threats, they typically commit suicide. When you think about the people that run our governments, or our economy, they really don't know what they are doing.

    I think what has to happen is a decentralization of power, where people look more to the local communities, in a loose structure of autonomous ethno-states, and less overall federal structure. It is when centralization happens that things get disorganized and incompetent, and create lack of freedom. I think anyone who has worked at a company where many of their jobs were "centralized" at some other location that had no idea of the local requirements, knows that it always ends in disaster. Look at what happened to the Soviet Union, they tried the centralized, socialist, no freedom approach; trying to erase ethnicity, spirituality, and personal liberty, and it crumbled like a house of cards in the late 20th century. Even in the die-hard days of Communism, even those on the inside knew it was one big bloated lie that could only maintain power via fear and terror. Now think about how "fear and terror" affect those living in Western civilization today?

    As was proved with the Katrina disaster, you cannot count on your own government to take care of you. When people create self-sustaining, close-knit communities, they are able to weather such storms by working together, not waiting for someone to come save them. So if I had any thoughts to the future, I would say brush up on those survival skills! And be prepared to ride out any future calamity on a local level in order that you may preserve yourselves to grow again in a changed world, and create a support structure that helps those around you in your own community.

  • Thanks again for your help and support, if there's anything we didn't talk about you want to mention, use this space here!! Looking forward to the next release.

    Thanks for the great interview and support of SIG:AR:TYR, and I'm hopeful that the new CD "Beyond The North Winds" will be released sometime in May. Some of the things we talked about in the interview may come off as negative, in the sense of creating fear about the future, but knowledge is (the) way of removing fear, and there is nothing to fear from change if you are prepared for it; to make it a change for the better. For when you live in the NOW, the future is well in your hands.

    SVARTAHRID. Interview with Forn via, once again, email.

    Svartahrid is a rather interesting black metal styled band. Their first release "Forthcoming Storm" and subsequent release "As The Sunrise Flickers," in 1999 and 2000 respectively, were released on Napalm Records. It seems that with the 2000 release "As The Sunrise Flickers," they were promptly dropped from Napalm (apparently due to the lack of interest on the label's part since the band decided not to continue in a more synth oriented direction) and seemingly disappeared for 7 years. Fast forward to last year, and their "Sadness And Wrath" album finally sees the light of day, with another record "Malicious Pride" (as of this writing) already in the works and completed probably by the time this issue hits. With lyrics and vocals done in both English and their native Norwegian, the old school black metal pride beams forth... But with a twist....

  • After two albums on Napalm Records, I see that you are no longer on the label. What prompted you to leave Napalm for another label? I know Napalm has a lot of bands, maybe you felt you were getting lost in the shuffle?

    We had a deal for 5 albums on Napalm records but because of disagreement about the musical development they didn't want to release a third album and cancelled the contract. They were very satisfied with the very symphonic debut album but when we started to play more grim black metal and dropped the keyboard, they were very disappointed... If we weren't lost in the shuffle already we had been it then if we insisted to release another album there when they are not interested at all. There's no point in being on a label that doesn't want you there so we accepted that.

  • Also, there seems to be a 7 year gap between "As The Sunrise Flickers," and the last release I heard "Sadness And Wrath." What was the reason for the long delay, did it have anything to do with the grave desecrations of Ilvastar?

    Probably it had nothing to do with the incident with Ilvastarr. He left the band two years before that. But of course it can be one reason to the bad response from labels. I don't know. We recorded the "Sadness And Wrath" album in 2003 and tried to find a label to release it. When I look back on it know I see that maybe we tried to be signed on to big labels and forgot to seek more in the underground where we anyway belong. It was a great relief to finally get the album out in 2007 because we felt it deserved to be released.

  • While we're on the subject, tell us about the head of one of the bodies that Ilvastar brought back with him! Was it one of his enemies, some christian fuck, or just some random guy? How did the court proceedings go, and what eventually happened?

    It was just an old man that was at the wrong place at the wrong time... No; with all respect... actually nothing to joke about. It was really a sick and respectless act he did and we take distance from such an act. Actually it had nothing to do with our band at all but the media of course focused on the fact that he had a link to black metal for all it was worth. I didn't follow the court proceedings, I just know that he spent a year or something in jail for it and moved from the town...

  • It's interesting to look at the cover of your very first record, which I have, and it looks almost to be a folkish/Viking metal project, when it probably surprised many people to hear vicious black metal. How do you feel about that earliest of records, and how do you think Svartahrid has progressed and evolved today?

    I still like the album and also the layout looks great. Make up and antichristian symbols have never been our style. You can say that our lyrics and image are more Folkish/Viking inspired but the music is grim and cold black metal. But we also like good production on our albums. No lo-fi production for us... About the music on the debut album I feel that we got 100% out of the material and the skills we had on that time. But of course the band has progressed and evolved a lot since that. Better on the instruments and better to compose music. But without missing the good essence from the 90's.

  • I don't have the newest record "Malicious Pride," how does it differ from the "Sadness And Wrath" album?

    There are no big surprises but just a natural progress from "Sadness And Wrath." A little bit harder and faster, maybe with some more thrash influences, but we also use more keyboards. I think the material is overall better and we were better prepared this time. Most of the songs are from 94-95 and this is the first time we have recorded a pre-production first. That is really helpful. It is recorded in the same studio as last time (Akkerhaugen Lydstudio) but I like the sound and the production on the new (album) better.

  • How did you come to be on Soulseller Records, and do you plan on sticking with them after you release your third and final album for them? Have they done lots of press or offered any tour support? It seems like with Napalm there would have been a larger presence worldwide, as I don't get anything from Soulseller Records.

    It was Jorn Rap from Soulseller records that contacted us in 2006.The plan before that was to record a new demo and send to different labels. But we sent him the already recorded "Sadness And Wrath" album and asked if he want to release it. He liked the album a lot and we agreed on a record deal for that one and another two albums. We went back to studio in fall 2006 and completed the "S&W" album. We had to do a new mix and I played some keyboard before we mastered it. We have just agreed on another 3 record deal with SSR so we will be there for another four albums after "Malicious Pride." So it will come (more) albums continuously in the future. Jorn has done a great job for us, and the label and his distribution grows all the time so it's a perfect place for us to be. Finally we get priority!

  • How do you feel about the Norwegian black metal scene today, are you in touch with any of the members of any bands like Mayhem, Emperor (RIP), Immortal, etc.?

    I think we still have a lot of good bands, new and old, here in Norway. And many I never have heard about for sure. But many of the great bands from the 90's are disappointing me nowadays. We don't have much contact with people from other famous BM bands. I have contact with Nocturno Culto (Darkthrone), Limbonic Art and some contact with Samoth (Emperor, Zyklon).

  • I don't know if you've read the book "Lords Of Chaos," about the Norwegian black metal scene. There's a lot of speculation in the book that Varg Vikernes was a liar, untrustworthy, and that much of what he said was untrue, while actual members of Mayhem and Carpathian Forest actually backed up what Varg said (especially in regards to the murder and the actual goings on of the members in regards to Helvete, the shop Euronymous ran). Anything you might care to add about this?

    I haven't read the book and I can't say I'm very interested either. I don't know any of the members from Mayhem, Carpathian Forest or Varg Vikernes. I just followed the case true media and you never know what is true and not. The case got a really huge attention but of course it was a great promotion for Norwegian black metal.

  • It's cool that for all the viciousness of the music and vocals, there's still a bit of Nordic pride, and some Viking themes in the music. Are you into any of the Viking themed bands, like Einherjer, Tyr, Ensiferum, Turisas, or even overlanders like English heathen metal masters Forefather, maybe even Irish bands like Primordial? I remember reading in an older interview (I don't remember who it was with) one of the members stated he didn't like much black metal but instead cited influences like Nick Cave and Pink Floyd!

    No I'm not very into Viking themed bands. Never heard any music from the bands you mentioned. As I told earlier it's our lyrics and image and use of symbols that are inspired from Norse mythology and our great ancestors. It wasn't me that did that interview, that's for sure because I have always listened a lot to BM through the years and also find a lot of inspiration from it. But I also like Pink Floyd and other kinds of music but that don't give me any inspiration to create black metal. But vast nature does...

  • In that same interview it was mentioned that Svartahrid wanted to come over to the States to play some shows. Is that still a possibility, or did that ever happen?

    We have never played in the States. Actually we had our first gig outside Norway in May on Festung open air in Germany. But if someone paying the trip for us to get over there of course we play. But I consider that the chance is minimal, at least at the moment. But you never know...

  • Tell us about the album title "Sadness And Wrath," what's the title mean, or is there a theme behind the album? (Some of the lyrics seem to be in Norwegian, so I'm not sure what they all mean...) I tend to think that the album's title refers to the sadness over Christian scumbags destroying precious artifacts of Nordic/Viking culture and history, while the wrath means that the spirit of the Nordic ancestors is still alive, and is out to destroy the filth that spoiled such a proud and noble heritage! (Maybe I'm wrong about that. I am heavily into Nordic culture, themes and mythology myself).

    You have some points there. It's about how Odin looks upon the world and the lack of respect for his kingdom. He sees a lot of weaklings with no pride and the glorious days are gone. But there are some few left... Istar writes the lyrics and there's no theme other than that most of the lyrics are about battle, our great ancestors, nature and Norse mythology. We have always used some Norwegian lyrics but usually most of it is in English except on "Sadness And Wrath" where it's 50/50...

  • So just out of curiosity, how do most Nordic metal musicians view the United States these days? I know that most Europeans think we all share the same views as the current president, though thankfully he will be out of office soon! I'm obviously curious to know if the Norwegian people are upset with the way the government of this country handles it's affairs...

    A difficult questions for me to answer. Also metal heads have many different meanings about it. But Bush is not very popular in most of Europe I think. But most people understand that not all the Americans stand behind Bush and the way he fights his war on terror. I was very surprised when he was elected for a second period. Looking forward to getting a new man in the office soon... Will be good for America.

  • Norway is an amazing country with such beautiful landscapes; it's a place I hope to visit someday. Even on the cover of "Sadness And Wrath" you can see some remnant of the majestic forests that are quite obviously untouched by corporate greed and inner city over development. What are your thought on the Norwegian landscape, and what memories do you have of ancient Norway?

    In Norway it's so much untouched nature that it's easy to imagine how it was in ancient times. I spend a lot of time in the nature and to discover different parts of our country. I'm especially fond of the Norwegian fjords. If you travel to Norway one day it's a must to take a trip to the Western fjords... it's just great. In Norway we actually just have just one "really big" city and there it is just living 500,000 people. A lot of space here to breathe.

  • I'm curious about the battle scene on the cover of your very first album "Forthcoming Storm." Was that a famous painting or an artist's rendition of a wartime scenario? I only have the cardoard promo sleeve of this album so I don't have any of the details!

    It's a famous painting by the Norwegian painter Peter Nicolai Arbo and it illustrates the battle on Stamford Bridge between a English king and the Norwegian king Harald Hardraade when he fell in 1066. Some means that this was the ending of the proud Viking era. It's a really great painting.

  • Finally, as we wrap this up, I'm sure some people are asking: whatever happened to Mactatus? I know a few members of Svartahrid were in the band, are there ever plans for them to do anything? Many websites say that the actual status of the band is unknown; I guess no one's heard anything from them in quite some time.

    After the recording of the "Suicide" album we decided to quit. There was no inspiration left. Istar played bass on the "Provenance Of Cruelty" album but I continued in the band until the end in 2002. Actually we are going to rehearse again and then we see if we have the inspiration from the old times. But if we are recording a new album it will not be on Napalm records... We will have to find a new label first. I was very surprised when the guys asked me if I was interested in continuing because I was sure that the band was dead. But it's quite uncertain if it will be a comeback or not...

  • Thanks for your time. I hope to be able to hear your latest full length "Malicious Pride" very soon, and if there's anything you want to talk about that we left out feel free to do so... Thanks again, and blackest of hails!

    Thanks for the interview... The album is on the way to you. For all you who are interested check out or We already have most of the material ready for another album so you don't have to wait long for more Svartahrid music. Next spring we start the recording. Looking forward to getting back to studio again. Hail to all metal fans out there...

    WORSHIP...Email interview with the Doommonger...

    An underground cult doom metal band from Germany with a sad and tragic history. After the demise of their vocalist, Worship was seemingly put on hold for quite some time, with only a handful of limited edition demo and split album releases to their name. Now, with the mighty Solitude Productions in their corner, the Russian label dedicated to quality Doom Metal felt the time was right to introduce this powerhouse to the rest of the world. And we feel the same.

  • I'm curious to know,in your earliest of days the majority of your releases were basically split releases with other bands and a demo tape. Wasn't there any label interest to release a full length, or did you just not have enough material around?

    I think we really didn't care about no label. We just wanted to record cool stuff. There was no commercial interest at all, maybe to shock as many people as we can. It took a while for me to notice that many people care for Worship, which is nice, but not intended.

  • How did the songwriting process go in the early days, as opposed to now? Did Max write any of the lyrics or have any input into song structures or percussion arrangements?

    Lyrics were written by Max and me, and the songs were my business. It was less clear cut in the EP sessions, because the songs were not fully detailed when we started to record, (but) we experimented a lot together.

  • From what I've seen in the liner notes, these tracks were actually recorded in 2000 but only recently completed. Did the tracks get reworked or rewritten, or did you just fill in the missing pieces? I know you were actually able to use some of Max's vocals in a few songs, so I'm assuming all the vocals weren't completed...

    Not much was completed, the closest to the old days is "The Altar", then "All I Ever...". Some of the songs were written after Max's death even. All were modified and improved. There was some shit I liked back then, which in 2007 I thought too cheap for "Dooom". I had to write new lyrics because the old lyrics were lost with Max, and I cannot understand everything he growls in french, *lol*. Furthermore, I wanted to create this play thing, so I needed one consistent lyrical concept.

  • It was cool to see a Solitude Aeturnus cover, and the lyrics seem to fit the concept behind the songs... Was John Perez a fan, or did you just write him to see if he would let you record that song? Do you still correspond with John at all?

    I am a Solitude Aeturnus fan, and my label Paniac knew him personally, so we asked, and Perez gave the go ahead. The original can never be reached so I tried something totally different. And I was amused that the lyrics fell perfectly into my story; I had to change 2 lines to make it the perfect climax of a totally different story.

  • We may have touched on lyrics for this album already, but if the lyrics to some songs were written in 2000, then it would seem a rather ominous foreshadowing to what would happen after Max's suicide... It seems like the story portray's a witness to mankind's end and eventual rebirth of the planet Earth, at least from what I see...

    Most lyrics were written in 2007. I worked a long time on the story, first writing it as a short story, then transforming it into lyrics. I read different interpretations in every interview, and that is good. I made sure not to push the complete unfolded story into the listener's face. I want you to think and feel it. (Editor's note: Read further on, a few more lyrical revelations slowly unfold...)

  • Tell us a bit about Endzeit Elegies, as I'm not familiar with the label at all. I know there's another band on the label Beyond The Void, maybe you could tell us about that, as there's a member or two from B.T.V. who's also in Worship.

    It's my own label; both bands are my bands. Worship on stage consists 100% of Beyond The Void members, as these are brilliant musicians and close friends. Yes, I do not know anyone outside my band. And in Munich, you cannot really find anyone to play this kind of music.

  • It must be a good feeling, I know you worked very long and hard on this release, but for the majority of your releases, I've seen nothing but good reviews! "Dooom" is definitely a masterpiece, and it's good to see it in such a luxurious digipack edition; and not one of those cheap ones either, but ones with special photos on every piece of it! Was that the label's idea or yours? (Keep in mind I have the version you sent me, released through Solitude Productions).

    I am the label. So yes, and yes. I thought, people are waiting for this a while, let's make it beautful. We came upon the cross idea when I discussed this with my artist Gustavo Sazes from Brazil, a very talented guy. "Dooom" is one big paradox mirroring the life of Jesus, hence the cross, and there are those stations of the cross in Church, marked with roman numbers, and that we did borrow, too. All falls into place; from A to Z everything is styled to fit, with a lot of layers and little things hidden in the lyrics and the artwork. I like this one very much. Yeah leeching assholes, you cannot leech this!!

  • Have you had any contact from any other record labels? (Especially American ones?) I'm curious how you got this CD released through them, and are you going to do another record for Solitude? I know it must seem a bit odd to some for a German band to be signed to a Russian label? (Albeit a very good one, especially where doom metal is concerned).

    Never have we been welcomed as much as in Moscow; that gig blew our minds and spoilt us for the rest of our lives maybe. And they are just distributing it; thanks for that, as also Hellride is in USA or The End Records in USA for my other releases. I see nothing odd there; the whole first half of Worship we had our own French label, a Belgian label and a Japanese label. It's a global scene and I love it.

  • This would be a good time, if you can, to talk about about Fucked Up Mad Max. What was he like as a person? Tell us some good stories about him, maybe some of his best memories...

    A wild, captivating, shocking, strong and soft, gentle and angry guy. Hard to grasp in one lousy paragraph, but we really clicked and argued a lot; it was a nice time with him. I miss him in this, and in general.

  • Any chance you might give us some news of another full length being worked on? Maybe some song titles or themes, album name perhaps?

    Yea, yea, yea. I am writing on some songs and I have a clear vision of the theme, the structure, the formats and most of the parts already of the next album. I am not fixed on the title, but I know what I want to change. You see, I will not be a lamed-down copy of last year, I cannot be. I can also not be totally new. I want to offer new things, that do not dwell in the shadows of "Dooom," but I also don't want to alienate fans more than I usually do. But, as I have not recorded one bit, I will not release these details now. It is too early, but talk to me in half a year and I will say more, alright?

  • There's quite a few bands of note playing a style of doom/death or funeral doom, but what's most interesting to me is the mixture of black metal and doom, which kinda seems a natural progression, especially since both doom metal and black metal play on the cold, frosty and icy guitar tones (in black metal's case, it stems mostly from Norwegian winters and what not). Just curious about your thoughts on this more recent development of doom metal.

    I agree; we share atmospheres. And we have more in common than one might guess from afar. But, I am very open-minded anyway; people shall mix what they want.

  • I'm going to throw out a few band names, and I'd love to know what you think of them. First off, Forgotten Tomb: (Note: This set of questions didn't seem to go over too well, but The Doommonger did try and sit through this line of questioning. SO, the bands that didn't get a favorable response were edited out of this interview).

    Oh dear; if you must. I am very quick to say that I have no idea at all what happens in the scene; I try not to look left or right in my music, I want to remain myself. Songs are appearing in my head out of thin air, and I don't want them to be other people's songs I recently heard. Yea, Forgotten Tomb; I am in contact with them, trying to play in Italy, but it hasn't worked out yet.

  • Thergothon:

    Yea, I heard them once, and was astonished how fast they were. They are well-known for early Funeral Doom stuff, and Max and I had this session where we listened to Funeral Doom stuff worth mentioning. Max introduced me to Thergothon back then. I heard them once, so they really don't play a role in my writing, but respect to them for innovation.

  • Candlemass... Some say they somewhat invented the doom genre.

    I have a couple of their CDs, and listened to them in the early 90's a lot. Today, they are too riffy for me. But they have some big songs I still have in my head, and a great epic atmosphere I think.

  • Trouble... The U.S. doom band, who later seemed to gravitate more towards stoner rock, or a heavier rock sound than the true doom elements they started out with.

    I saw them live; not really my thing, sorry.

  • Tyranny. Surely one of the most inhuman and monstrously heavy crushing doom/death release I've heard in awhile! Total Cthulhu worship!!

    Yea, I respect them. I played with them live and liked them a lot. I think I will play with them somewhere this year, we'll see. They are much too close to me to listen to their stuff; I don't want to steal from them subconsciously or so.

  • So as we wrap this up, I'm curious if you ever saw the movie "I Am Legend," with Will Smith. It was an interesting theme, where he was the last man (seemingly) on Earth after a plague wiped out over 90 percent of the population. I started thinking how interesting it would be to not have to work for a living; just raid people's abandoned homes for what you need, not needing money or anything like that. Not having to deal with rude or inconsiderate people, traffic, etc. How do you see the end of the world taking place? You think mankind will last another 50 or so years on this planet?

    Yes, I saw this one on the plane on the way to Japan. I liked the setting and the feel but it's not a good movie in general, I fear. I really can't tell you if we make it 50 years; I would be surprised. I fear tomorrow, and growing old, and change, so I am not whistling into a bright future. But, we can always say, we told you so! When the day comes, Apocalyptic Doom sales will skyrocket, so we all will be rich for a few minutes at least.

  • There's quite a few record labels for doom metal the world over that are pretty consistent from album to album, what are some of your favorites? Me, I dig stuff that's been on I Hate Records, Firebox/Firedoom especially for the ultra brutal stuff (like Tyranny, Remembrance, etc), and of course Solitude Productions!!

    Hehe pfff. Me buyeth one CD per year or so. I have written songs for 30 releases or so; 23 or what of which are out, and I am even more lost in my own stuff as I am writing soundtrack for 3 PC games right now. When I take some time to listen to music (some hours every day lately), I grab some scores for films, which hit the mood I am after at the moment for soundtrack. Which is my career of choice; totally soaked up in music and fuck mankind. I don't crave to listen to new doom metal from any band; if I want doom metal I write on my new stuff. That's the way I am and I know I suck, but at least I am straight about it - Me miserable bastard monk. Worship's next album is about half finished in my head before I played one note of it on my guitar; I arrange the songs quite completely in my head. Most of the stuff on "Dooom" is either very old for my standards (1995-1998) or written in my head. I like that. I feel like a minion of some art goddess preferably bare-breasted and whip-wielding. Again, this is no disrespect to the bands and labels; I watch what they are doing. I just prefer to be uninfluenced in Doom.

  • I've seen reference to The Moonkult, any chance you could explain what that is for readers?

    The Moonkult was Max's idea in the old lyrics. We reused it several times; pointing to some sort of worshipping evil monk cult. I decided to write a full story about and around those vague images with "Dooom". The Moonkult, basically, is a modern day cult of Moon Worshippers, who are so concentratedly christian that they would destroy the earth and turn it into a moon, for all its ungodliness and sinfulness. And I can't blame them, really. Evil religion, that is my thing.

  • Thanks for your time, and great music! If there's anything else you want to add or mention, please feel free... Now is the time...

    Yea, check out Worship on or grab our stuff here: Furthermore, I read your review; the spoken parts are so low in volume that you have to turn up the volume, and get mindfucked by the sudden loud parts right afterwards. And secondly; if you miss the words, you have to buy the original CD with full lyrics, and can read along! hehe, you booklet-less downloading illegal manbitch (I meant the reader, not you of course Mr. Interviewer Guy.). Seriously, I didn't want the spoken words to plough into your head: I wanted them to be in the background, so that you can block them out to enjoy the music. Or pay attention to them, possibly reading along, if you take it as an audio play.


    I had the hardest time putting this thing together, so apologies for the late arrival. The interviews were rather difficult to come by, I believe it had to do more with the bands I contacted having intense touring schedules. Phoners in this day and age seem to be happening less and less, and email interviews being easier and cheaper to set up. Gas prices on the rise, food costs going up, and several labels resorting to online digital promotional copies of their releases. The times, my friend, they are a' changing, and who knows how us journalists will be affected in the next 5 or 6 years? On that note, I do plan on having the next issue released before 2008 comes to a close, though we will have to see if that actually becomes reality. I deliberately chose to wait until we had enough to do a full issue properly, though as you can see many of the CD reviews are over a year old (some by reasons not fully disclosed here). Evile's disc, for example, will be exactly one year old a month after this issue sees press.

    One of the most interesting things about this particular issue, is it seems to be filled with repeat offenders. And by that I mean bands that we've not only reviewed before, but INTERVIEWED right alongside their previous disc releases. This goes especially for Forefather, Frostmoon Eclipse, Airged L'amh, Falconer, Darkflight, Isole and Primordial. And ALL these above mentioned bands have been interviewed at least once in the magazine, besides also having repeat CD reviews. We usually tracked down most of these bands to inquire about their future releases, meaning some bands we didn't go through the usual label promotional channels. The labels, however, still are quite helpful and probably will be for some time to come.

    I'm sure by now people need to be a bit informed about exactly WHAT the ranking system in this magazine means. If you think of it in fractions or pie graphs, what I seem to be saying is that on a scale of 1 to 4, only the last 1/4th really counts for anything worthy of "keeping." (Once again, a score of 75 or above.) When you consider that I've been doing a music magazine for over 15 years, I have amassed a TON of CD's. So by now, it's quite obvious that the little bit of time I DO spend listening to a CD for leisure, you better believe it's going to be one that's a damn good album. Anything less is really not worth my time, and I'm not trying to be an elitist. But when you get to hear SO many bands and albums, and have done so for over 15 years, you almost HAVE to be discriminatory. Still, people would argue that the majority of reviews in this magazine are 90's and above, and they would be right, beause THOSE albums that I DO consider in the top 10 - 15 percentile are being scrutinized even FURTHER than most would want to go. Folks, these CD's are listened to completely and extensively NO LESS than 4 or 5 times. Rarely do I EVER know a CD's "rank" just from a listen or two, of course exceptions do happen. I would rather focus my time and efforts towards CD's that I KNOW are of high quality, and I expect that the music BUYING public wants ONLY those CD's that will be repeat listens over time. Those CD's that are truly awe inspiring and leaps and bounds above the rest are what people DESERVE in this day and age of instant gratification and easy access to even the most obscure and overseas releases. Quite simply, if I'm raving about it, then you NEED to experience it for yourself, let alone purchasing it for your collection. And people, the soundfiles ARE important, because I don't expect everyone, or anyone, to agree totally with every review I publish. So, do yourself a favor: read the reviews, then LISTEN to the soundfiles and take note of what songs I deemed worse than the others. See if you agree or disagree and that will bring you one step closer to an understanding of exactly HOW to take my reviews. It's your hard earned money after all, and you have the right to be totally and thoroughly informed.

    As a final note, we have recently been interviewed for the very first issue of a magazine called Chromium Dioxide. It's a VERY interesting concept, as it seems to be (from what the author stated) a mix of comic book and metal magazine, and we were extremely honored to be interviewed in their VERY first issue. It has yet to be released (at press time), but when it comes out we will give you more info. Thanks to everyone who helped out and stuck with us through the extremely long deliberation, and we hope you all continue to check out DOOM Radio every Sunday, so that you can hear the newest stuff the same days and weeks that we get it from the labels.

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