"You know you are a funeral doomster when you find yourself saying, 'Black Sabbath just play too fast.' -- From the 196 rules of Doom Metal website...

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AHAB "The Divinity Of Oceans" (Napalm) SCORE: 99/100

Folks, there ain't a lot to complain about here. I thoroughly enjoyed "Call Of The Wretched Sea," and lemme tell ya, there's a lot more melody on this record than the last one. The Nautic themes are presented once again, but this time the "story," if you will, of the record is important to understand the musical themes this time around. The concept of the record is based on the TRUE story of the whale ship Essex, which was being attacked by a sperm whale. The ship then sunk, and the men on board resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. Unbeknownst to many people, this story was the inspiration for Hermann Melville and the world famous book Moby Dick. So the lyrical and musical thematics are obviously going to be different this time around, and musically the interpretation is spot on. Various passages in the album tend to give a certain type of calmness and serenity that makes me think the members of Ahab are sifting around the very thoughts of the men on board this makeshift raft. These are LONG songs though folks, but the variety and structure changes presented make each and every song worth listening to for the duration. Nearly EVERY song does a nice mixture of clean sung vocals and vicious death metal styled audio, and the clean sung vocals tend to sound VERY sorrowful. Opening cut 'Yet Another Raft Of The Medusa' even ends up with some shouted/yelled vocals (like maybe a captain yelling orders to his crew on a rather noisy stormy day). The heaviness and darkness are still presented; the title track starts off very dark and ominous, though on this track comes my one complaint and that is that a few of the heavier leads sound a bit odd, as if the heaviness on this particular piece was either forced or not arranged properly. The soaring emotional vocals towards the end was a nice touch. What's really cool about the sound here is the phase shifter like effects on the guitar parts in some moments (ESPECIALLY done on the acoustic guitar riffs in their solo moment on the cut 'Gnawing Bones.' Add some clean sung vocals to this and their impact is even clearer, like maybe the disconnected and varied thoughts of the dark deed they are about to do, showing conflicting emotions of right vs. wrong vs. their very survival!) The last track is probably their most serene and one of the most melodic cuts they've ever done, which is fitting with the theme and an obvious "whew, now the nightmare is all over" kinda theme. The standout track for me is track 5, 'Tombstone Carousal,' where it starts off with the sickest and heaviest/darkest instrumentation on the record, adding some ripping double bass drumming to the slowness, only to gradually shift into mellow acoustics and very soft & minimal percussion. And there's LOTS of solo acoustic passages. This is such an amazing and diverse track from start to finish; what's even more amazing is that this is the second SHORTEST song on the disc, proving that Ahab can masterfully craft a LOT of structure within a smaller framework. It's obvious to me that I really "get" what's going on with this entire album, and it's a testament to this band's ability that I can hear the theme all throughout the disc in many of the notes and structures. VERY close to total perfection and a masterpiece of the genre. Where on the world's ocean map will Ahab take us next?
Contact: Napalm Records.

ALVHEIM "I Et Fjort Fortid" (Gardarika) SCORE: 87/100

This 5 track EP was one of the first releases I got from Russian label Gardarika Musikk, a label that is dedicated to "keep(ing) the flame of folk pagan viking traditions in music." Which I wholeheartedly support. However, upon first listens, I think anyone would be hard pressed to tell there were folkish or even pagan elements to Alvheim's music, save for the ocean and boat rowing sounds you hear throughout the disc. And the track 'Stormens Sang' starts the disc off with rain and odd horn blowing sounds, followed by some nice dark acoustics. Once the heavier and raw guitar work kicks in, we're in for some vicious old school black metal akin to Darkthrone or older Enslaved (the Darkthrone reference is important... Stay with me). There's lots of structure and tempo changes found within the framework of the songs, though for a 5 track EP, it's over all too quickly. 'Til Valhallen' follows, and starts off with rather primitive blackened instrumentation. The production here sounds raw, especially on the guitar work, but everything is up front, in your face, and somewhat clear. The title track was merely an acoustic instrumental, with some nice acoustical melodies and some dark acoustics as well, and the last tune is a Darkthrone cover, so really you only get 3 songs of original Alvheim material. The Darkthrone cover had interesting riffs within, but this wasn't (in my opinion) the best song from them to cover. Not afraid to utilize tempo and structure changes within each song, and playing off some ocean like atmospheres while bringing in the occasional acoustic passage, Alvheim is pure, raw and vicious black metal, just the way I dig it. Fenriz would be pleased, and I for one want to hear a full length packed with eerie and icy guitar work and raw and sick blackened vocals!
Contact: Gardarika Musikk.

ASPHYX "Death... The Brutal Way" (Ibex Moon) SCORE: 96/100

I STILL can't believe I'm scoring a death metal record this high. Many know of my disdain for death metal in particular, mainly because I still carry over my disgust from the early days when bands tried so hard to be unintelligible in the vocal department. Asphyx, however, is one band that has ALWAYS been a pretty brutal entity, and the one thing that stands out most in my eyes is the fact that taking away the speed and raging fury of this band, and you'd have a true doom/death band on your hands! The CD starts off with what is easily the best cut on the album in 'Scorbutics.' It's a ripping shredder of a track, complete with catchy and energetic riffing with some thrashy riffs and of course Martin Van Drunen's sickest and most torturous vocal work yet. The doom touches are present here but they don't really reach their doomiest yet. 'The Herald' follows in similar vicious fashion, and it's cool to see how the band varies their approach and then varies it yet again, by utiliing speedy instrumentation, only to slow things down once the vocals come into play. Then once the solo comes in, they REVERSE things, keeping it all interesting. Asphyx utilizes lots of neat little tricks to keep things interesting (like the dark and doomy one note piano structure at the opening of 'Black Hole Storm,' and the ultra emotional high ended leads on 'Cape Horn.') The title track was an EXCELLENT choice when it comes to the music, and it's a raging speedfest as well, right up until the slow doom metal passage. There are some ultra sick thrash riffs here too. 'Asphyx II' hits you in the face as one of their slowest tracks on the record, which makes you understand the almost 7 minutes in length this cut possesses. This is some sick stuff, ultra torturous vocals over extremely slow doomy and sick riffing. It starts out like a death march (fitting given the lyrics), and ends with some sorrowful and epic high ended guitar leads. One other interesting note, the lead solos here are usually played at just as slow a pace as the slowest doom metal structures they have, and you can tell they were going for emotion and effect, not just brutality. My few complaints were that on 'Black Hole Storm,' there were some odd guitar parts on some of the vocals, and on the followup 'Riflegun Redeemer,' we had some solo instrumentation that didn't hold up well. The CD ends with a slow instrumental (short though at 3 minutes) 'The Saw, The Torture, The Pain,' which was interesting because it was kick ass even at a slow pace, when the song before it 'Cape Horn' would have been very effective to end the disc. The band is talented folks, and even on their fastest and most face shredding tune like 'Eisenbahnmorser' (one of my favorites), they aren't afraid to craft melody and utilize varying structures to hone and perfect their craft. One of the most interesting and unusual death metal bands that adds touches and strokes of doom to create a masterpiece people will be talking about for years to come.
Contact: Ibex Moon Records.

AUGRIMMER "From The Lone Winters Cold" (Northern Silence) SCORE: 93/100

Another anomaly of the music world; that being a German black metal band playing a folkish and somewhat epic style of cold Norwegian black metal, mixing some Swedish melodies into the mix, and of course being signed to a German record label! The German four piece definitely understands the Norwegian approach to cold black metal (as if the album's title didn't give away what the influence of the instrumentation's shape would be), but also knows how to write some epic, folkish and very nice guitar passages. Right off the bat, the CD starts off with a 7 minute piece, and also gets right down to business by blasting away. With so many of the tracks starting off at such a fast pace, one might think there's too much of an emphasis on speed, but a tune like 'Deadlights,' especially being the shortest tune on the album (3:30), has so much going on with varying structure and tempo changes, that you'll definitely need to listen to each song multiple times to catch all that is going on. The use of melodic acoustic passages was also a nice touch (they start off the tune 'Bearer Of Sorrow' and also are featured several times within the 7:43 length of the CD ender 'A Thrall Of The Night.'), and they are definitely NOT used sparingly. The blackened vocal work is quite sick, and I have no complaints here where that is concerned. The guitar riffs are very well written, and I definitely love when they slow the tempo down (mostly on strictly instrumental passages) on cuts like the title track, and the folk like passages on 'Deadlights.' I DID have a problem with the opening track being quickly faded out at the end; a 7 minute track SHOULD be able to be finalized in some fashion or another. One of my favorite tunes is 'The Orcus Storms,' and this cut gives you a great idea of how diverse the instrumentation is within the framework of one song. You'll hear some of the coolest almost thrashy riffing in here, you will have the acoustic passages, almost beautiful and icy high end leads, multiple structure AND tempo changes (complete with mug-of-mead swinging passages), and some headbanging riffs to boot! One might be overwhelmed at first with the excessive speed and double bass pounding, but look within for a very diverse and rich instrumentation experience. Another winner from the great folks at Northern Silence Productions.
Contact: Northern Silence Productions.

BELENOS "Errances Oniriques" (Northern Silence) SCORE: 96/100

I SO look forward to ANY package that comes to me from Northern Silence Productions, as they have unusually good sense about the bands that they sign. Belenos is no stranger to this publication, as we've received their "Chemins De Souffrance" album some time ago (though sadly we didn't get to review it). This time around we have some sick and furiously fast paced black metal, complete with some dark acoustic passages, clean sung multivocal work, and more tempos and structure changes within each song than I've heard in quite some time! These songs jump around more than House Of Pain with a 2 million dollar video budget! The CD starts off with 'Le Domaine Des Songes,' and right off the bat you'll hear some dark and rather eerie acoustic like guitar work, before the long winded sick blackened screams come in. And even the slower passages are quite dark! Back and forth, differing structures and tempo changes for each and EVERY song. The blackened instrumentation doesn't always hit the ultra high ended leads, however, so you get to hear riffs that are down and dirty. The title track and followup 'Suppot Du Neant' did have a tendency to throw out a few odd leads, but nothing overtly annoying. 'Voyage Subliminal' starts off with some beautiful acoustic passages, proving it's not all about the sickness and heaviness. This band is much more sick and brutal than their lyrical content, themes and other influences would suggest, but they add just enough to keep things interesting. Lots of clean sung male vocals add a contrasting image, and CD ender 'Serment De Vengeance' being an Aeternus cover (not sure which one, from Poland or Norway) definitely fools you to it's origin, as it contains LOTS of nice folkish slower instrumentation. 'Morfondu' is probably one of the best examples of how many times you get slower and high speed instrumentation in one song, throwing out nice melodic leads and solo acoustic passages on one track. Of high quality is Belenos, and I definitely enjoy each and every track, even if the disc gets a little exhausting by the 6th and 7th songs due to the insane speed and the furiously controlled viciousness that Belenos displays. The interview we did with them this issue was definitely a source of pride, so go read that as well.
Contact: Northern Silence Productions.

BLACK PYRAMID "Black Pyramid" (Meteor City) SCORE: 95/100

Meteor City is the label that gave their start to Abdullah here in the States. For that they should be commended... The fact that bought out Meteor City was a slight cause for concern, but like the groundbreaking Abdullah (who are in a class all by themselves, even to this day), Meteor City apparently STILL knows how to find new and innovative talent. Take Massachusetts based Black Pyramid, for example. This interesting creation fuses the best of the stoner rock and doom metal genres, somewhat along the lines of what Sleep pioneered with the trippy, warbly guitar effects bands like Orange Goblin and Abdullah utilized to great effect, and throw in a rather rough style of singing/shouting not unlike what The Gates Of Slumber are doing; spice in a dash of vicious and rather heavy metal attitude like lyrics, and all this comes together like a sweet and tasty dish that you'll find unusual at first, but wanting more and more as time goes on. The CD starts off with an almost Middle Eastern vibe to the guitar work (yes, it's an "intro," and a good one at that), before the traditional and familiar fuzzy guitar work kicks in on 'Visions Of Gehenna' (see what we mean about the "metal" aspect of this record?) This tune in particular reminds me a LOT of early Sleep. The riffs are catchy, though, and on nearly every track, it seems almost like the vocals are very minimal compared to the extensive kick ass jamming going on from start to finish. Followup track 'Mirror Messiah' is a GREAT example of a song that seriously blurs the lines between stoner rock and doom metal. The band employs both damn near flawlessly. And then to throw in acoustic passages near the end; it's obvious this band both embraces and destroys the elements, and dare I say the cliches, of both doom metal and stoner rock! By the time 'No Life King' rolls around, we're doing some serious headbanging here. And not unsurprisingly, it's the shortest song on the disc! The odd instrumental track 'Celephais' was melodic but I still wasn't able to get into it. While on that note, the CD ender 'Wintermute' kinda lost me for the first minute or so; the ultra high tone of the singer sounded quite strained and against the mellow acoustic guitar work, his slight shortcomings as a vocalist were painfully obvious. The rougher edge singing works very well, and against the backdrop of fuzzy, heavy riffs works beautifully, even when at a higher tone, but against the minimal instrumentation it's a severe contrast that detracts from this song GREATLY. Which is a shame, because the latter half of this particular piece really JAMS. This sounds like a band that jams and rocks out FIRST, and adds lyrics and vocals almost as if an afterthought (many of the 7 minute tracks are probably containing only a minute or two solid of vocal work). Don't get me wrong, the vocals are PERFECT for this particular setting, but I would have liked to hear more of the rough singing. I'm wondering if this particular singer ALSO fronts the black/funeral doom band BlackFuckingDoom, since members are apparently in both bands (this would explain the vocal delivery A LOT). Great stuff; is it stoner rock, doom metal, with traditional heavy metal backings? Listen to the soundfiles and decide for yourselves: I think Meteor City has another big winner on it's hands!!
Contact: Meteor City Records.

BULLDOZER "Unexpected Fate" (Scarlet) SCORE: 93/100

What a vicious record! We've waited for over 20 years since Bulldozer delivered us "Neurodeliri," and it was my honest thought that Bulldozer would be no more forever! How wrong we were, and as the interview this issue will contest, this is reason to celebrate! When "Day Of Wrath" came out many many years ago, it blew me away by how heavy it was. And this record starts off in deceptive fashion. The first thing you hear is some dark church organs going off, and some high end leads (which are a highlight on the entire record), then suddenly the speed crashes in and you're in the zone! A.C.'s vocals are some of the sickest you'll EVER hear on ANY Bulldozer record, and it's as if they've been caged for 20 years and suddenly let loose. EVERY track on here (well, every track containing vocals anyway) is a ripping speed fest. However, this would probably be a boring record if all you got was speed, speed, speed; the Italian wrecking crew were nice enough to throw in some thrashy guitar riffs. And don't even get me started on the lead solos! They're crazy, they're psychotic, and they are amazingly skilled. They ought to be, as Andy Panigada has had over 20 years to perfect his craft, and he's even faster than I remembered! The first lead solo you hear on the opening cut (the title track) reminded me STRONGLY of the one off of the song 'Mad Man' I think it was from their very first album! 'Salvation For Sale' shows A.C. doing some rapid fire vocal delivery, and at times I think the vocals suffer just a tad on a few fronts from such speedy delivery. I didn't care much for the chanting thing going on in 'Aces Of Blasphemy,' and 'The Counter Crusade' wasn't one of their best tunes, especially with the odd prechorus vocals. There's a short instrumental which had cool synths but the guitars were just one note whammies, and this track didn't seem to serve much purpose for me. But there's so much to rave about! Though this album is 95% speed, there's lots of highlights, like the "mainstream" lead guitars on 'Micro V.I.P.,' where A.C. seems to be picking fun at the rock star attitude of myspace users, and still the track kicks ass. CD ender 'In The Name' was noteworthy because it starts off very slow, and even adds some dark acoustic riffing, making you think "Ah, Bulldozer finally wrote a slow song!" Just before the 4 minute mark, the speed slams home and you finally get the "joke." This is a vicious record and A.C. Wild and the boys should be proud. A fast raging thrasher speed metal album is just what was needed to prove to the world that Bulldozer is back and ready to kick your ass!
Contact: Scarlet Records.

COUNT RAVEN "Mammons War" (I Hate) SCORE: 89/100

Welcome back from the void, O mighty Raven! It's been 13 years since "Messiah Of Confusion" was unleashed on the world: it would also be the last album Count Raven would release through the now out of business Hellhound Records (which could have a LOT to do with why they broke up in the first place). Most noted for having a vocalist in Dan Fondelius who is a DEAD RINGER for Ozzy Osbourne, Count Raven has had a rather signature sound for the majority of their existence. Fondelius sounds SO much like Ozzy that you could tell people this is Ozzy's unknown doom metal project and they'd believe you. Whether he's singing in a higher range or rather low toned and ominous, there's no way you could tell these two apart. The CD starts off with the cut 'The Poltergeist,' and right off the bat there's some heavy rockin' guitar work, albeit at a midtempo pace. There's lots of higher toned singing as well, I think more than what Ozzy usually did on his albums. This is a headbanging cut, and also is rather unique that while having a slight doomy touch, also has a more, shall I say "accessible" sound in some parts. 'Scream' starts out MUCH slower and is a haunting piece, complete with bell like synth notes creating an eerie horror vibe. Followup 'Nashira' wasn't a bad tune, but the "choruses" didn't strike me all that well. 'The Entity' is a pure doom track, slowed down and pretty eerie. It clocks in at 7 minutes. Actually, LOTS of songs are rather lengthy, and the disc clocks in at over an hour with 11 tracks. The title track was an almost 6 minute piece that features nothing but ambient like techno synths and Dan's voice. Nothing else. This track didn't sit well with me, and it's almost synthpop direction seemed not only wrong, it made this track seem longer than it's actual disc length. 'A Lifetime' picks the disc back up, and the thing that really starts to stand out is the lead solos, which are crafted with searing emotion. Another long track that thankfully had a nice break with acoustic guitar and tribal percussion. I didn't care much for the "ballad" like piece 'To Love, Wherever You Are,' as it was only acoustic guitar and vocals. 'Magic Is...' failed to grab me as well, however 'To Kill A Child' featured some very sad and intense emotions, mainly in the vocals, but also in the lead solos and the overall feel of the song. The CD ends with yet another synth and vocals only track; however the instrumental structures are well done and retain a more epic feeling with the symphonics matching the vocals well. Only a few tracks I felt should have either been reworked or left off, however there's still PLENTY of enjoyable pure doom and for Count Raven fans, this disc was surely well worth the wait, and worthy of the already impressive roster of bands over at I Hate Records.
Contact: I Hate Records.

DESTRUKTOR "Nailed" (Hell's Headbangers) SCORE: 88/100

Hailing from Australia, anyone familiar with bands from down under will know that there are some great heavy and sick bands to be found within. Destroyer 666, the mighty Hobbs' Angel Of Death, and after plugging away since 1997 and only releasing demos and EP's, Destruktor finally unleashes their first full length. And those in the mood for some violent death metal will not be disappointed. There's touches of black metal too (though to these ears it's mainly vocal wise in sporadic places), and you'll hear some crunchy riffs, though for the most part the band is flailing away at top speed. 'Embrace The Fire' starts the disc off with a few minutes of slow and dark guitar work, almost like an intro. And as much as I usually complain about the useless intros, this time it's embedded into the song! So you can't really skip it, but here the lead in to the vicious speed is kind of a nice buildup. The vocals, as stated earlier, are mostly death metal styled, but the riffs absolutely kill. 'The Epitome' follows things up nicely, especially noteworthy because on many tracks you'll hear a few different riff patterns, even some tempo variations from start to finish. Make no mistake, though, this band kills you with speed and power. There were two tracks I didn't care much for, 'Inspiration Suicide' and it's followup 'Violence Unseen,' and both have opening guitar work that I couldn't really get into. Their penchant for repetitive riffs notwithstanding, I felt that although 'Violence Unseen' was the better of the two, the odd riffing dragged things down for me a bit. The slower riffs on the latter mentioned song gave this a leg up on the previous effort. Finally, back to some vicious speed, and also, the first time lead solos are crafted (the title track). The CD continues on with good guitar work, though once the CD ender 'Spawning The Immortal' kicks in, you start to realize that you've heard some of these riff patterns previously. It's not ALL copycat, but they do tend to rely on repetitive riff patterns to drive the point home. For the most part, it works well, and the CD is indeed a sick one. A mixture of death and black metal with some old school sickness thrown in, the wait was well worth it for those who have followed these diehards for several years.
Contact: Hells Headbangers Records.

DOOMRAISER "Erasing The Remembrance" (Blood Rock) SCORE: 91/100

This band of dark Italian wizards have been around since 2003, perfecting their particular brand of doom quite well. The CD is full of dirty and heavy doom riffs, though not every passage is played below the pace of a snail's walk. The CD starts off with the 'Pachidermic Ritual,' a short "intro" which should probably have been left off the CD. 'Another Black Day Under The Dead Sun' is up, and right away you'll hear the slow, doomy guitar work. One thing needs to be said, there is no lack of sick, dirty and heavy doom riffing on this entire album! The flute rears it's head on this track as well, though the violin passage was hard to take. There's a lot of what some people would term "gang chant" vocals in spots, mainly towards the end of the track, and at times the band has a tendency to drag some parts a little long. 'Another Black Day' is 10 minutes long! 'The Raven' is a bit more midtempo starting out, and it's here the vocalist starts to show his diversity. Rough edged but of a higher tone, the down and dirty vocals fit the instrumentation so well. It was here I heard some cool Hammond organ like parts, adding a rather psychedelic vibe. 'C.O.V.' follows, and there's lots of instrumental variety on this track. Towards the end of the song you can definitely hear a Cathedral like influence in both the instrumentation and the vocals! 'Vanitas' was the longest cut on the record, clocking in at over 15 minutes, and surprising still was the more uptempo instrumentation starting this off! (Not to mention the minute or so of solo flutes, reminding me once again of Cathedral via their debut release "Forest Of Equilibrium.") There's a bit of oddness on this one; the guitar work at one point (around 7:10 I believe) is very strange, and the song goes for somewhat of a hardcore vibe, especially with the vocals, and throws the whole thing off. That being said, surprisingly this track ends quite beautifully for a few minutes with mellow instrumentation and vocals. Another instrumental follows ('Head Of The River') which is mainly an introduction to 'Rotten River,' an 11 minute track apparently in three parts. The riffing is dirty, heavy and dark, but in a bit more of a headbanging pace, while the middle passage reminds me GREATLY of Hawkwind with the spacey and psychedelic synth passages over some heavy slow doom riffing. This whole disc is VERY heavy and I am willing to bet that lots of substance partaking helped craft this monster doom record. A very heavy and crushing affair, with some surprising twists and turns.
Contact: Blood Rock Records.

DRUDKH "Microcosmos" (Season Of Mist) SCORE: 95/100

Glad am I that Season Of Mist has a U.S. office!! And they were nice enough, in this sad age of digital promos, to give me a physical copy of this disc, which was reason enough to review this gem. Drudkh is a Ukranian band who has been around for roughly 8 years, and have released almost as many albums. What I DO know of many bands hailing from parts in and around Russia, is that most are of extremely high quality, which is why you see several reviews in this magazine from bands signed to labels like Gardarika Music and Solitude Productions. The CD consists of 6 tracks clocking in at around 41 minutes. Unfortunately, the first and last "songs" are barely 1 minute intros, and as such you mainly get 4 tracks. This is the biggest complaint I have about the CD, is that there should have been more music!! What IS presented here is atmospheric black metal, and I dare say that many of the instrumental passages are rather doom metal oriented in nature. The opening cut 'Days That Passed' has a nice middle eastern styled sitar sound to it, and was a rather interesting cut. 'Distant Cries Of Cranes' follows, along with it's 9 and a half miute length. The furious pace of black metal styled instrumentation will give the impression of old school black metal, but around the 3 minute mark Drudkh shows where it's strengths lie. There's lots of solo instrumentation to be found, and the emotional guitar work will hit you instantly. This is the framework in my mind where doom metal should be said to be a component of Drudkh's sound. They don't mind utilizing acoustical passages either to complement and diversify the long tracks, though it was rather abrupt to interrupt the folkish pace on the track 'Ars Poetica' (more on that tune in a moment). 'Distant Cries Of Cranes' is one of my favorite tracks on this disc, as it starts out with slower melodic and slightly melancholic atmospheric guitar work. This is a GREAT example of utilizing traditional instruments to build landscapes (and, I dare say, a rather stunning definition of the term post-rock), and continues on for quite awhile. The vocal work is quite vicious, but doesn't appear until about 5:47, which is okay since this tune is the longest track here clocking in at 10 and a half minutes in length! Just to keep things interesting, at the 8 minute mark the faster paced black metal instrumentation kicks in. 'Ars Poetica' has some nice folkish guitar work at times reminding me of Forefather, and you'll hear the structure bounce back and forth quite a bit. There's some acoustic/bass guitar interludes found within as well, to keep things from becoming too repetitive. 'Everything Unsaid Before' follows as the last "song" on the CD, and right off the bat you get midtempo paced black metal complete with not one but TWO blazing lead solos, something you don't hear in black metal everyday! All this and some solo guitar work and slower paced atmospherics, before the vocals charge in at the 3:33 mark. The ending short instrumental I didn't care much for, though there were a few nice... what sounded like violin pieces. Overall, this is indeed an unusual release and a very good one; this is a band that paints somewhat melancholy landscapes with a rather melodic and beautiful approach, but they haven't lost the meaning of black metal. One highly creative piece of work, though depending on how much you pay for this, I believe there should have been a LOT more music presented...
Contact: Season Of Mist Records.

EA "II" (Solitude) SCORE: 98/100

WOW... What a fantastic piece of funereal doom/death we have here from the Russian label Solitude Productions. Although I hesitate to say funeral or even funereal since the atmosphere is so unusually light and more melodic than most within this genre. There are only 2 tracks here, and they are both untitled, and BOTH clock in at over 20 minutes a piece. Each track bounces around a LOT though, so it's not over 20 minutes of the same old thing, but man the beauty and sheer awesomeness that emanate from this disc are a thing to behold. Wind sounds start the CD off, and you have some dark solitary piano notes. The heavy guitar work comes in at about 2 minutes, and the slow but doomy leads follow. The vocals finally make their deathly appearance at around 4 minutes, and is probably the darkest thing (for the most part, more on that in a minute) on the disc. I definitely loved the synthesizers, they convey such an amazing atmosphere, and are often quite otherworldly in their appearance. You get more solo piano notes, then finally the music seems to stop and you hear some water dripping and a faint heartbeat. This kinda took some getting used to, as at first it seems to interrupt the flow the track was going for, but soon the synths kick in... Towards the end of this piece, however, some dark guitar parts threaten to ruin it all for me. This tune ends a little oddly, however we delve right into the second piece. You're hearing some interesting sounds, kinda like a tomb door opening and several whispered passages, and once again we get a tad annoyed around the 8 minute mark with some dark and haunting guitar passages; the first dark and ominous piece of music to grace the disc. Even the pianos pick up a rather dark pace as well, though it was odd to hear piano notes bounce back and forth between light and dark passages. I must say that the synths create such an amazing atmosphere that you almost don't notice; there's always a few things going on at once (like the acoustic styled one note guitars over the heavy drawn out riffs and the synths backing it all up). I thorougly enjoyed this album, even the church styled organs and multivocal chants that end the CD in fine fashion. Probably one of the most unusual releases in the doom/death category with an unusually light and beautiful vibe running all the way through the disc. A stunning piece of work and I look forward to their next full length (already out by the time you read this!)
Contact: Solitude Productions.

FOREST STREAM "The Crown Of Winter" (Candlelight) SCORE: 83/100

It's been a loooong wait to hear from the Russian masters of emotional music. I found their first effort "Tears Of Mortal Solitude" to be a roller coaster ride of emotional content, mostly on the heavier side. This album shows Forest Stream taking their music to extremes at BOTH ends of the musical spectrum: The heavier tracks are definitely among the sickest and heaviest of their career, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, their more melodic moments are also among the most melodic of their career, and that is where the main problem will lie with me. The CD starts off with an intro, with beautiful synth work and a definite winter like ambience. Once the first "proper" track kicks in, we're treated to some nice piano notes and some of their lightest instrumentation yet. There's a TON of clean sung vocals in here which lighten things further; in fact it's not until around the 4 minute mark that we get any extreme vocal work! As I said, there's lots of beautiful synth work and killer high ended guitar work, but the abundance of clean sung vocals and lighter instrumentation almost makes this overkill. And this particular track clocks in at well over 11 minutes (it's the title track). The followup 'Wired' starts off acoustically which is nice, and the melodic instrumentation is rather catchy, but once again, it's the most melodic side of Forest Stream. Lots of amazing instrumentation (varied too) keeps things interesting for 9 minutes. If you only listened to the first three tracks, you'd think there wasn't much heaviness of the extreme variety, but that's where track 4, 'Bless You To Die,' explosively caves in your face! It's speedier black metal along the lines of Emperor (sounding like 'Curse You All Men,' in fact), and the vocals are among their sickest and most intense yet! The evil in finally unleashed folks, and it's vicious! The odd electronic passage at about 5 minutes threatens to ruin this mood, however short it may be. Those crunchy riffs add an extra touch of heaviness. Next comes 'Autumn Dancers,' and we're still enjoying some extra touches of vicious vocal work. Kudos to the band for utilizing many different voices to the mix; hey in 8 and 9 minute songs, you gotta keep things interesting! More sickness follows with 'The Seventh Symphony Of,' reminding me of a twisted mix of the more symphonic elements of, say, Dragonlord with the furious riffing and evil keyboards of Emperor. You'll hear some touches of doom here and some clean sung vocals, alongside some beautiful synths. The next to last cut 'The Beautiful Nature' is probably one of my least favorites, due to the odd talking alarm clock sounds and the overrepetitive use of spoken word vocals both in the beginning and dragging along down the end. Regardless, there's still a LOT to enjoy here, and the ending instrumental (short though it is) adds more melodic synths. Not nearly as good as their debut, but still a fine effort, especially when you consider their synth passages (I think they used dual layers of synths) are quite melodic and convey all the beauty and melancholy of a bleak winter landscape. Though I thought the ultra melodic stuff was a bit overdone, Forest Stream is one of very few bands that can pull it off and make a conviction out of it, for which you have to admire. Oh yeah, and before I forget, it's kinda sad that there's only 8 tracks on the album, especially when you consider TWO of them are short instrumentals lasting no more than 2 minutes a piece. Still a damn fine album, even if I am wishing more for the ultra sick blackened shred fest...
Contact: Candlelight Records.

KAUAN "Aava Tuulen Maa" (Bad Mood Man/Firebox) SCORE: 99/100

I ALWAYS enjoy a good Kauan record. This particular release marks the first time black metal style vocals are completely disregarded (see the interview for more details), but also this has to be the most melodic release so far. Heavy parts are limited to a few choppy guitar riffs (found mainly on the final track 'Neulana Hetkessa,' 'Sokea Sisar' and 'Fohn.') and that's pretty much it. The combination of acoustic guitars, ambient synth passages and violins makes for a very relaxing and epic set of tracks. Opener 'Ommeltu Polku' clocks in at just under 5 minutes, making it the shortest track here and peculiarly, the only song completely devoid of vocals. You'll hear rain and wind sounds throughout the disc, cementing in your mind the rather beautiful but melancholic feeling of a rain/wind storm. The opening instrumentation definitely reminded me of the works of Agalloch or even Tenhi, though the atmosphere evoked is quite stunning. The vocals are almost nonexistent on this entire album; they pop up in about two or three places on nearly every track, and are gone as quick as they start. You'll be hard pressed to notice at first, though, since many tracks are at least 10 minutes long (one is 12 minutes). The songs, with one exception (the tune 'Fohn'), mainly jump around A LOT, varying not just in structure but in the actual construction of layers utilizing violins, piano notes, clean sung vocals, and almost tribal percussion. Many times this jumping around makes it hard to lock into a certain feeling or emotion, but Kauan are indeed MASTERS of instrumentation layering, where other bands would fail miserably with this concept. The long song lengths of many tracks makes this even MORE astonishing, holding your interest for the entire length of the track, and you'll be hearing things you missed the first few listens. My only problem with this CD is the ending cut 'Neulana Hetkessa,' where the violins created a rather eerie and haunting set of notes that didn't really seem to sit well with the mood of the disc. (You'll recall a similar problem with the tribal digeridoo like instrumentation on their last release "Tietajan Laulu.") Thankfully this only occurs near the end of the last track. Incidentally, one of the most beautiful passages on the disc occurs around the 7:15 mark of 'Sokea Sisar,' where the high end synth notes completely change the structure of the song and carry the piano and violin notes to it's end. Similarly, our last song on the disc contains some beautiful piano notes, coupled with acoustics and violins, making for a very epic feeling (probably the most powerful on the disc). Kauan has been amazingly consistent for three releases now, and though the blackened vocal work is completely gone, this is an amazing work of art, and I can't wait for disc number 4! In the meantime, along with the pick hit of this issue (while I'm eagerly awaiting disc 4), go read the lengthy feature interview with this creative and highly talented band.
Contact: Solitude Productions (Bad Mood Man Music).

MAR DE GRISES "Draining The Waterheart" (Firebox) SCORE: 94/100

Is it quite obvious I cannot get enough of good doom metal? This 5 piece from Chile are definitely turning some heads with their slightly differing approach to the doom/death metal genre. One thing that seriously grates my nerves about this CD is the use of scraping, white noises and other electronic feedback sounds: they open up the CD (opening track 'Sleep Just One Dawn,'), they kinda ruin the beautiful but short piano notes on the short instrumental 'Fantasia,' and they also mar the last minute or two of the CD ender 'Liturgia.' (with it's apparent three parts). This, however, is somewhat of a minor complaint; although to be fair (and to get all the negative stuff out the way), there are times when the instrumentation (which, incidentally at times is all over the place) gets a little odd on the guitar parts (most notably on a few riffs from the song 'Kilometros De Nada' and the opening of 'Liturgia.'). There are a few moments too when I hear some very minimal instrumentation laid over the top of some very fast and intense double bass drumming, which I attribute to the post rock influences (and I don't know what to think of those parts, yet). However, that being said, EVERY song on here has amazingly redeemable qualities, even the short 3 minute instrumental has beautiful piano notes (though I'll probably skip it anyway because the noise genre influences are a bit too overwhelming). Hands down, the best track on the CD is 'One Possessed,' and though it is probably the ONLY track completely devoid of death metal vocals (besides the short, aforementioned instrumental), it has a beauty and emotional content that will hit you down to the very core of your soul, and this comes in the last part of the song with some beautiful piano notes and amazing soaring clean sung chant like vocals... (the "aaaaah's" have it here!). Now, this track is going to be seen by some as having a bit of a, dare I say, "gothic" touch to it, but in all fairness, the emotions running through this track are quite simply overwhelming... The opener, however, contains such a heavy and weighty atmosphere that you'll soon forgive the band for delving into such territory. CD closer 'Liturgia' is in three parts apparently, but it's the middle to near the end piece that impressed me most: a very heavy take on an almost funeral doom delivery, complete with some SICK death metal vocals atypical for this genre. That being said, they do add some nice synth passages as well, and it's cool to hear heavy bass guitar rumbling over 1 guitar note laid over in a drone pattern. The guitar work is so varied throughout the course of this disc, that it's scary from a band only on their second release. This band gets extremely heavy with the best of them, but the amazing quality of this band to play such beautiful and heart melting emotional passages makes Mar De Grises a band to keep keen eyes on; even more amazing that they're situated in Chile, which doesn't have a consistent mass number of bands or album releases. A doom/death lover's dream and one that is a cut above many in their field.
Contact: Firebox Records.

PESTILENCE "Resurrection Macabre" (Mascot) SCORE: 19/100

God, this is a HORRIBLE CD. It's bands like this that remind me WHY I hated death metal so much. First off, the vocals are laughable at worst, and just below average at best. When he tries to add a little higher delivery to his death grunts, they're so godawful, check out the opening noises to start out 'Fiend,' and of course the CD starts off with him going "Uuuugh" about 3 times. And he sounds practically the DAMN same throughout EVERY song; hell at one point on 'Hangman' it sounds like he's deliberately trying to be unintelligible, because you think he's saying "rape me" instead of Hangman. Yeah, I know, but LISTEN TO IT!! You can tell within the first 5 seconds of just about any song on here what the song title is, because the first thing he does is repeat it about 3 or 4 times. The lead guitar riffs are like listening to nails on a chalkboard; I can't believe this band thought they were brutal! Towards the bare end of the CD is where any good moments are: 'Y2H' is probably the best song on the disc, which ain't saying much considering there's still lead guitar work on here that annoys me. The coolest riffs are found in the last track (depending on which version you get) 'In Sickness And Death,' it's like they got lucky and actually found the one set of riffs that DON'T annoy. It's got this kinda drugged out tone but sounds like a sick Morbid Angel or slower Nile lead. The leads are horrible, the vocalist sucks, and really the only positive points I can give (besides those mentioned above) are the facts that the drummer and guitar/bass players are very tight and that drummer is pretty intense. I never got to hear any Pestilence in my day, so I have no reference as to how they sound: be that as it may, I AM aware that this disc is missing Martin van Drunen's sick vocal work (I've been thoroughly FLOORED by Martin's work with Asphyx, so some day I will probably go check out the Pestilence albums he sang on), but what were the guitar writers smoking that day? A horrid release, and one that'll probably be hitting a trash can near you...
Contact: Mascot Records.

PLUTONIUM ORANGE "Volume" (Firebox) SCORE: 95/100

I'll keep it short and sweet. It's heavy driving stoner rock from the guys who brought you the amazing doom/death band Swallow The Sun. The singing vocals are VERY melodic, probably a LOT more than what most metalheads reading this 'zine are used to. Regardless, it's kinda the OPPOSITE of our beloved heavy music (especially the Gothenberg based sound). What do we mean by opposite? Well, what makes most death and black metal bands so appealing is the ultra melodic guitar work and high ended notes contrasted by the harsh vocal work. THIS band does it the other way around, 'cause these tunes have some heavy guitar work and sometimes a rumbling bottom end. Take opener 'One Of Us,' to start (Okay, this may not end up a short and sweet review). Energetic and catchy choruses start this off, and you'll be surprised to hear some melodic singing coming from this group (yes, there are at least two members of Swallow The Sun involved in this, but NOT S.T.S.'s lead singer. As far as I can tell, their lead vocalist isn't in any other metal bands that are known to the metal realm). It's heavy stoner rock, but more of a catchy, dare I say, "accessible" sound. 'Killer By The Road' has some of the heaviest and rockin' gits on the record, reminding me a lot of heavy stoner weights Rite or even the speedier tunes of Honcho. By the way, most of the guitar work is cranking up the speed, so it's not your atypical stoner rock thing. 'Killer By The Road' is the kinda tune that you'd crank up if you were driving down the highway at a high rate of speed. You got some acoustic guitar work popping up too, like the opening of 'Bend,' and 'Wet Trails.' Once you get to 'The Glow,' Plutonium Orange rears back a little bit and you can DEFINITELY hear the Swallow The Sun influence poke it's head out just for a minute. This tune, incidentally, is the slowest one on the album, and is probably more like doom metal than any other offering. Those opening guitars DEFINITELY sound like they came from "The Morning Never Came," albeit briefly. My major complaint comes with the hilariously titled cut 'Bring Out Your Dead,' as the choruses were much better than the mainline vocals; it's as if they concentrated so hard on the choruses that the rest of the song took a backseat. Funny thing is, there's very little else to complain about, well, except that the ending cut 'Unstable/Unreal' starts to sound like earlier ideas reworked a tad to make them sound different (IE: They were running out of ideas). It may sound a bit more rock oriented to some ears, but EVERY song has catchy choruses and some rockin' instrumentation. The sung vocals sound good to these ears (except for ONE faux pas on the aforementioned cut 'Bring Out Your Dead,' ONE time on the chorus), and it's a complete reversal of what you usually hear in extreme music. Stoner rock may be a template, but the sound is convincing and Plutonium Orange prove that they can write some catchy, riff driven ROCKING music, outside of the doom metal that they've been making for years. Great job, guys!
Contact: Firebox Records.

RAVENTALE "Long Passed Days" (Bad Mood Man) SCORE: 98/100

I most definitely love the mixture of doom and black metal. Bad Mood Man Music is the label responsible for this masterpiece from the Ukraine, though B.M.M. is really the side label of Solitude Productions out of Russia, who already has a LONG list of great doom artists under their belts. This 6 track affair hits all the right notes, utilizing very emotional and moving synth landscapes and oftentimes very minimal one note riffs, but it all works to great effect. The CD starts off with what is arguably the best track on the disc, in 'By Gritting Of Pain.' The rain and storm sounds become a staple of the beginning and ending of this disc. The vocals, however, seem to be a bit buried in the mix, and oftentimes you'll hear a LOT more instrumentation than vocals (which leads me to believe that this one man project prefers to let the music do most of the talking). There's some beautiful guitar work to be found within, and sometimes (like on 'Sunset Of The Age') you'll hear some acoustic guitar work factor into the mix. On the vocal front, it's not your typical blackened shrieks, but at times I think there's a bit of distortion added to the vocals. Many times you will hear spoken word passages as well. There's a nice 3 minute instrumental on this short disc, entitled 'Up And Beyond The Horizon,' which makes good use of organ like notations alongside some nice ambient synth passages. It was nice to hear some lead solos grace the disc, and they are utilized to great effect to end the song 'Sunset Of The Age' lasting at well over 2 minutes in length. They are crafted rather simplistically, however, but convey such emotion in every note. The heavy guitar work is quite slow and doomy, but on this record there's a lot more variety than you normally hear from most doom bands of this type, which makes them definitely stand out. CD ending track 'My Silhouette Leaving Far Away' opens with some nice piano notes before launching into the guitars, though my main complaint comes with the harsh, grating electronic noises that carry this disc through the end, though it's a short aggravation, finally giving way to the familiar rain and storm sounds opening the disc. 'From The Black Wells Of Time' features the most vocal interaction of any song on the disc, but for the shortness of the album you get some emotionally crafted doom/death of the highest caliber, and highly enjoyable from start to finish! Their new album should be out by the time you read this, and we hope to hear MUCH more from this amazing Ukranian outfit!
Contact: Bad Mood Man Music.

RUINS "Front The Final Foes" (Debemur Morti) SCORE: 78/100

This is somewhat of a frustrating record for me to score. On the one hand, I agree with a few reviewers that said this is NOT strictly a black metal record. There's lots of slower passages here that will instantly bring to mind Celtic Frost, and the vocalist is a somewhat interesting mix of the old Usurper vocalist mixed with a slightly hardcore approach. Which I definitely dig. The music, however, jumps around SO much that much of what I like loses focus through the length of some tracks. Especially the CD ender 'With These Winged Words,' a 7 minute piece (which is the longest track on the record). This is a prime example of what frustrates me with this band. Crushing speed and dark guitar work starts this song off, and soon some slower and darker riffs bring things forward. So far, so good, though once the solo instrumentation kicks in, things start going downhill. A few notes sounded twangy in here, and those odd bended riffs (are they pulling this off with a slight tug on the whammy bar?) pop up in quite a few places besides the CD ending track. Anyway, so I'm waiting for things to pick up, but that slower instrumentation seems to drag on. Even on a shorter track (well, the shortest one on this disc anyway) like the title track, the first half of the song is damn near unlistenable, with those really odd riffs. The tune soon settles in, however, and brings out the speed and heaviness. Don't get me wrong, though, the approach these guys make is rather unique and for the most part I find the earliest half of the disc to be the most enjoyable. 'Cult Rapture' loses it's focus towards the end, but those opening guitar riffs are so catchy to start out with, and the overall structure remains intact. Some of my most favorite riffs on the record are found within the cut 'Hallways Of The Always,' and even the slower passages are drenched with sickness. 'The Sum Of Your Loss' is down and dirty with sick slow riffing, and such a haunting atmosphere is found within 'Annihilate.' Like I said, it's not a bad record, but it is frustrating how much they jump around and threaten to ruin the mood they masterfully created. Equal parts dreary and morbid like Celtic Frost, and the speed and blast beat mania of black and death metal, I will definitely be watching their next effort (while still enjoying a bit off their current release).
Contact: Debemur Morti Productions.

SPIRITUS MORTIS "The God Behind The God" (Firebox) SCORE: 91/100

I remember this band from waaaay back in the day, when they sent their demo "Forward To The Battle" to me around 2001-2002. Fast forward to today, and they are definitely utilizing a different vocalist; it's the ungodly chameleon Sami Hynninnen from the band Reverend Bizarre! And the vocals here are a definite highlight; fortunately they are not the only thing hogging the spotlight. Right off the bat the track 'Man Of Steel' roars and rages through your speakers, making you go "This is doom metal?!" This is one ungodly raging beast and will hammer you to the floor with Sami's unique low toned sung vocals. By the track's end, they're utilizing multivocal shouts and then Sami hits a set of high notes that end this tune with a severe explosion! The followup 'Death Bride' starts the album off in slow, doomy fashion, and this is an epic track. After the mayhem and rough edged vocals presented in track one, you'd be surprised that this is the SAME singer, as he utilizes mournful and, dare I say, beautiful melancholic tones of sadness and anguish. This is great atmospheric doom that gives way to more angry riffing and faster guitar thrashing towards the end. The ending vocals are almost black metal style as we can feel the pain and anger in his voice at losing his bride. What a masterful performance! Track 3, 'The Rotting Trophy,' is no slouch either, with the dirty and mean guitar work weighing heavily on your earlobes, before the amazing vocal work works it's magic. Next up is an 8 minute piece entitled 'Curved Horizon,' and this adds a bit of My Dying Bride atmosphere into the eerily crafted riffs and melodic sung yet low toned vocals. Lyrically, this sounds like something out of Lovecraft, and the lead solos are nice too! My first complaint with this CD comes with 'When The Wind Howled With A Human Voice,' as some of the sung vocals didn't sit well with me, but it still retains some heavy and dark riffing. Some heavy instrumentation keeps this from becoming a track I didn't like. 'Heavy Drinker' is a piece that's more midtempo than their doomy fare, and has really ROCKING guitar work, and of course that awesome vocal style kicking in makes this an ass kicking tune. The 11 minute title track to me seems longer than it is, and isn't an ultra favorite, but the vocal work here sounds like it's being chanted in a ritual rather than sung. An interesting effect on the vocals I must say. The spoken word passages near the end of the track were performed a bit too upfront and too fast for the slower pace of the instrumentation, but once the echo effects and far off delivery were in place, it seemed to fit better. CD ender 'Perpetual Motion' had nothing to offer me; the guitar work failed to hit me after multiple listens, and the vocals sounded like maybe they could have been structured better. The tune slows way down near the end, but I'm already stopping the CD before it gets that far. This is a band that creates and crafts A+ quality material, and it's amazing to me how WELL they handle the varying speeds and tempos that are all over the place on this record. One thinks that there might have been a tad too much variety, but overall a VERY WORTHY addition to your collection, and I am most eager about checking out their followup release. Meanwhile, this ain't leaving the CD player for quite some time!
Contact: Firebox Records.

THE GATES OF SLUMBER "Hymns Of Blood And Thunder" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 94/100

Ya know, I was certainly glad when Metal Blade Records picked up the Rise Above catalog for distribution here in the States. I loves me some doom metal! Even though The Gates Of Slumber is NOT a prototypical doom metal band. Kinda like the way November's Doom and Spiritus Mortis don't play all their songs at half a mile an hour. The CD starts off with some heavy riffing via the track 'Chaos Calling,' and it's a headbanging cut folks! Right away, I do believe that Karl Simon is singing in a higher tone than he did on the last record. 'Death Dealer' continues things in fine fashion, and we're still not at the ultra slow pace of doom yet. Which is good, because upon my examination of their last album, I was under the impression that their faster songs were better. And unfortunately, the first real doom tempo 'Beneath The Eyes Of Mars' didn't do much to change my mind. The choruses I thought were kinda weak, and it could have been how the vocals were done on the choruses. It does get heavier towards the end but I was thinking the slower tracks here might not sit so well. Onto 'The Doom Of Aceldama,' which is an epic fucking track even with the 8 minutes in length! It's got some cool doomy instrumentation and some amazing soaring vocal work; I dare say it's some of the most epic on the whole album! And the amazingly emotional lead solo work! Fuck! VERY epic track and one of the best on the album, but wait 'cause there's a lot more greatness to come. 'Age Of Sorrow' had a few odd sounding leads in a few spots, but the acoustic guitar work was quite interesting. It's a short track folks (an instrumental). 'The Bringer Of War' was quite punishing, and you hear Karl YELLING like a battle crazed Viking! THIS is a punishing slow tune, even if the instrumentation seems to lose focus a bit midway. The riffs are definitelty down and dirty, and restored my faith in the slower material. 'Descent Into Madness' had an odd space rock quality to it ala Hawkwind, and once again another dark and doomy tune that works WELL. And some beautiful lead solo work doesn't hurt either. Hell, it's the longest track on the record at over 10 minutes! 'The Mist In The Mourning...' yet ANOTHER great slow tune, and I'm like WOW. The solo instrumentation is some of their slowest, heaviest and sickest! 'Iron Hammer' I didn't like much; it's like a medieval minstrel ballad kinda thing with acoustic guitars, and dual male and female vocals... I just didn't care for it. CD ender 'Blood And Thunder' is a raging beast as well, with some SICK thrashy choppy guitar work going solo. The accentuating acoustic guitars and multivocal "whoooah" chants end this CD on an epic note... Damn you can tell I still love good music. The Gates Of Slumber makes GOOD music. This is one of their best albums, even if the first listen or two it took a minute to get used to Karl's higher toned singing voice. I mean you can tell it's him sorta from "Conqueror" but he just sounds a bit different. Regardless of that, he still knows how to craft good quality music, and his band kicks ass fast or slow (or should I say midtempo or slow).
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

THE SIGN OF THE SOUTHERN CROSS "Of Mountains And Moonshine" (Season Of Mist) SCORE: 86/100

Hailing from North Carolina, this little gem of a record is going to remind MANY of the classic Southern sludgy, stoner rock/doom metal in the vein of Eyehategod, Crowbar and MOST DEFINITELY Down. In fact, it's the vocal stylings of one Phil Anselmo that will hit your familiarity buttons rather quickly, as lead singer Seth tends to wear his Down/Pantera influences on his sleeves. He ALSO doesn't have a problem with doing LOTS of melodic singing, which works really well in that lowest region of a man's vocal chords. This guy's also got some of the sickest and long winded screeches and growls I've ever heard, and I can just picture him live getting VERY red in the face and throwing his weight behind every torturous chord. Right off the bat they definitely portray a love of their Southern heritage, and do it so much more intelligently than many other bands that brandish the confederate bars. In fact, now that I think about it, why is Norway the only country that is allowed to sing ad nauseum about their forests and mountains? The choruses here are quite catchy, and the riffs are so damn dirty and thrashy, that you'd be hard pressed not to find lots of sick, mosh-tastic riffage. They do tend to vary the song structures around A LOT, which sometimes works to their detriment when you're enjoying a particularly brutal passage, but sometimes makes the few songs that go well over the 6 minute mark seem varied and interesting. 'Hog Callin' was rather odd hearing the "Su-weeet!" phrases uttered, but it's here that we hear Seth at his utter sickest. There's a few tracks that utilize acoustic sounding guitars and what I almost would swear was a banjo type instrument; these would be 'Weeping Willow' and the beginning of 'Eating The Sun.' Those passages are well done, but as I said it will take some getting used to. Though molded in the vein of the aforementioned bands, there's enough diversity in each track going on to really get the feel of where they're going, though for my money it's all about the sick, dirty and thrashy guitar work and sick long winded vocals (some of the deepest and low throated death growls you'll hear in extreme music), of which The Sign Of The Southern Cross has no lack of.
Contact: Season Of Mist Records.

THE WOUNDED KINGS "The Shadow Over Atlantis" (I Hate) SCORE: 98/100

I've always been fascinated by stories and legends of Atlantis. Several bands have put Atlantean ideas to music, such as Bal-Sagoth, and I think Therion had a song about Atlantis once... Okay, so it's not the most overworked theme in metal (like Lovecraft, war, death, blood, etc.), but I always wondered what happened to the lost city. The band Alghazanth mentions the evil sorceror Thevetat, who was said to have corrupted the psychics of Atlantis, turning them into evil sorcerors. Whatever the reason, The Wounded Kings summon up those ancient spirits long lost to the annals of time with some rather dark and haunting doom metal. Drenched in echoed feedback, vocals that are very low toned and sound as if emanating from a dark robed figure from another era, this band has succeded in capturing the very essence of crumbling ruins laid to waste for centuries, only to echo sinister ghosts of a long forgotten race. The structures presented by rather simplistic guitar patterns are downright vicious and eerie, and it doesn't take long before the weight of this massive project brings up mental images of the lost city in years of decay. 'The Swirling Mist' starts things off in fine fashion, and some of the guitar riffs are quite wild. The tracks here mainly carry through with the same structures, though a few cuts will add something different midway through (like 'The Sons Of Belial' will stop halfway to give rise to some whispered vocals over feedback and nice piano notes before dropping back into the main structure again). You have two 10 minute tracks, two 8 minute tracks and two 2 minute tracks. The inclusion of TWO instrumentals I questioned at first, though the latter instrumental 'Deathless Echo' is probably the most melodic track on the record, and was a nice touch before getting the CD through to the end. It contains some nice organ like synth notes, and I do wish this instrumental had been longer! The CD ends with 'Invocation Of The Ancients,' and at first the 2 minutes or so of echoed sound effects coupled with chanted and distant vocals seemed a bit dragged out, but on further listens you'll notice an almost ghost like chant piece that the singer does, which is great for conveying the atmosphere and eerie vibe of ancient spirits of Atlantis still wandering it's halls. The psychedelic guitar effects on the lead notes towards this track's end were a very nice touch. If you dig the evil, sinister, and monstrously inhuman vibe that Tyranny brought out (with Chthulhu as the main inspiration), then you will LOVE how The Wounded Kings have created such an alien, eerie and haunting yet ancient landscape relating to the grand lost city of Atlantis. HIGHLY recommended, as bands who craft such atmosphere on EVERY track are few and far between.
Contact: I Hate Records.

THORNIUM "Mushroom Clouds And Dust" (Soulseller) SCORE: 88/100

I must admit, a lot of what I know about black metal comes from the icy shores and ancient forests of Norway. Sweden, however, has produced quite a lot of sick and oppressive black metal outfits in years past; in fact one of the sickest and most brutal that I can remember offhand is the mighty Marduk. So when I popped this baby into the CD player, the blasting percussion piqued my interest greatly. Once the vocal work came in, I knew this was a different kind of beast playing nods to the oldschool of Norwegian black metal. The vocal work is quite sick, inhuman and quite twisted! The CD starts off with 'Doden,' which surprised me with a very nice lead guitar solo, amongst the often slower passages which still retain and dark and evil feeling. Dark and icy leads and a slower pace start off the next tune 'In The Service Of Hell,' and you then notice some haunting keyboard riffs (though they're not a major force in the song structures, they do add such a haunting and diabolical atmosphere). You'll also hear some very low toned spoken words pieces here, sounding almost chanted in effect. The title track keeps up the relentless onslaught (damn, do those drums ever QUIT? This guy is insane on percussion!), and the semi high end notations are quite nice. The slower passages on 'Black Goddess' manage to be ultra eerie, complete with stop/start riffing and an utterly inhuman atmosphere. If you think black metal has lost it's edge, Thornium is here to remind you what utterly inhuman, evil and misanthropic feelings SOUND like. 'Horns And Hoofs' started a somewhat downward spiral for me, as the choruses sounded kinda silly (it's hooves for one, and for two maybe it's just that his pronunciation is a bit odd). It wasn't just the odd choruses that found me tuning out, though, it was the odd solos midway. There were, however, some rather interesting, dare I say, "power metal" like leads thrown in which was a very interesting touch. Followup track 'Elt Hjarta Av Sten' didn't sit well with me either, especially the slow and eerie start that didn't seem to be well thought out. Some interesting guitar work was found within, but overall it didn't seem to have the strength of other tracks. 'Melankoli Och Dod' and the almost 7 minute CD ender 'Beyond Cosmic Borders' did manage to pick up the pace, especially the latter's insistence on utilizing such an oppressive atmosphere relying heavily on creepy, dark and haunting riff patterns. This piece of work is drenched in sickness and a very eerie and evil feeling, which some black metal bands seem to have forgotten in this day and age. There's a TON of insane blasting, but just enough different structure/tempo changes and a few tricks up the evil magician's sleeves to keep this very interesting, and a good band to watch out for.
Contact: Soulseller Records.

TYR "By The Light Of The Northern Star" (Napalm) SCORE: 96/100

I must admit, I wasn't very happy with the Faroese Viking metal band Tyr's last recorded album "Land." This album, however, is VERY well put together, and has many catchy numbers that you'll find yourself singing at odd times. 'Hold The Heathen Hammer High' starts the album off in great fashion, even if the choruses might take some getting used to (as they are sung in a rather fast fashion, containing lots of words packed into each verse). It's quite the anthemic tune! 'Trondur I Gotu' shows the four piece proudly portraying lyrics in their native language (going back to the years before 999 AD when Christianity reared it's ugly head over the proud and noble Vikings), and doing a great job with nice multivocal layers on the choruses and rather heavy percussion. Speaking of the drum work, it's interesting to note how much faster some of these songs sound when the guitar work is merely keeping a midtempo pace alongside such intense and furious double bass work! That leads us to 'Into The Storm, ' though a nice trick was slowing the instrumentation down once the vocals kick in. You have the multivocal Viking chants starting off 'Northern Gate,' and followup 'Turid Torkilsdottir' showcases the last track on the disc to feature lyrics in their native tongue. (The rest are all in English). 'Turid...' has GREAT multivocal harmonies, and all you will hear to start the track off is the vocals. It's almost epic in scope the way the pounding drums lead up to the last set of vocals to end the track. One of my favorite tracks on the disc is 'By The Sword In My Hand,' and this time Tyr has penned up some of the most brutal lyrics I've heard yet! The choruses are especially catchy and the vocal work is quite powerful! Heri does a masterful job of portraying strength through vocals, and oftentimes his soaring singing causes the tune to reach heights it might not otherwise hit. The weakest link on the album was the track 'Ride,' I thought the vocals were a little bit too "happy" sounding, for lack of a better word. Maybe too much on the higher end? Regardless, 'Hear The Heathen Call' and CD ender 'By The Light Of The Northern Star' finish off the disc very well, in fact the title track was a perfect song to end the disc, especially with the epic, though fast, choruses and soaring vocals. Viking anthems for all, this is a great disc, and one I thoroughly enjoyed from start to damn near finish.
Contact: Napalm Records.

WITCHMASTER "Trucizna" (Ibex Moon) SCORE: 84/100

This band, originally hailing from Poland (now apparently relocated to the U.K.), plays some of the sickest and most vile death/thrash/black metal around. The vocal work here is a bit different from your usual generic death grunts, instead utilizing a more blackened approach to the game; still you'll hear a death metal influence in the voice. Down and dirty speed laden sick riffage, and mostly you notice a more speed oriented death metal attack in the songs. The band is DEFINITELY about some speed. Barely clocking in at 32 minutes for 9 tracks, the band gets in, slays and gets right out. The first few tracks are definitely all about the speed (the title track and 'Self Inflicted Divinity'), and that drummer seems to never stop! Some of the double bass patterns, especially on a track like 'Back To The Bunker,' go so fast that it almost sounds like a blur! The lead solos on the first few beginning cuts did sound a little odd; I know they're trying to play with extreme speed but those few solos could have been crafted better. 'Total Annihilation' takes a bit of a different approach, going for minimal guitar and drum work proceeding to build up to the blazing speed technique. The rockin' guitar riffs were almost unexpected, but that gives it a more dirty rock and roll vibe. 'Road To Treblinka' shows off their crazy, psychotic vibe (a bit sloppy in a way), before settling in with some killer thrashy slower parts. You'll hear the thrash riffing throughout the rest of the disc, balancing the speed with some additional slower heaviness; and it reaches it's peak on the track 'Two Point Suicide,' utilizing slower riffs in parts that makes the vocals even more powerful. 'Black Scum' I definitely could have done without the minute of solo instrumentation that didn't really seem to go anywhere; once the speed kicked in though it was back to business with brutal riffs of the slow and fast variety. I'm still undecided which version of the title track was better (my copy has the title track in demo version and album form), but overall this is one brutal band that portrays a psychotic, barbaric and skullcrushing approach to metal. Some of the sickest vocals you'll hear in quite some time as well!
Contact: Ibex Moon Records.


BELENOS. Interview with Loic via email...

  • It seems like the band started in 1995, but for some strange reason it wasn't until 2001 that your first album was released after three demos. What do you think was the reasoning behind this; were all three demos shopped to record labels or did you wait until the third demo to procure a record label deal?

    There was no way to find a serious deal; most of the labels to which I wrote were not interested or had not the time nor the money. At the time I was quite furious whereas shitty bands found a deal just after a short tape (most of these trendy bands do not exist anymore now or some of them have just followed the trend: from vampiric black metal they play now modern death-thrash-core...) I think I have had no chance and perhaps I'm not a good band manager.

  • Speaking of your demos, are there any other demo songs that haven't been reworked or made their way to your full length releases? I have seen a few songs from demos pop up on other recordings.

    No I think all the demo stuffs have been included in the recent albums (both remastered in "L'Ancien Temps" and third one completely re-recorded and improved in "Chemins De Souffrance")

  • Your earliest releases "Errances Oniriques" and "Spicilege" were on the Sacral Productions label; how did you get in touch with them and how was your record deal with them structured? I have heard that both albums are extremely difficult to find in their original versions, and the record label is no longer around!

    Sacral was a new label in 2000 and we signed with them for the first version of "Errances Oniriques," our work with them lasted until they stopped in 2005. This album and also "Spicilege" are impossible to get or just as expensive second hand. It was a small label but I think it was enough for us during this period: you can mention also "L'Ancien Temps" and "Chants De Bataille" which are sold out and the label (Adipocere Records) does no longer exist.

  • Now that the remastered and re-recorded version of "Errances Oniriques" is now out and available, have you started work on another full length? Any song titles, themes, or lyrical concepts you can give us would be greatly appreciated.

    I'm finishing the recording of a new album called "Yen Sonn Gardis" (cold, hard, severe); it will be out in spring 2010 still on Northern Silence Productions. All this album will be exclusively sung in (the) Breton language instead of usual french; in the past I used sometimes song titles in Breton but I had this idea and today it's possible so I just do it. The themes are focused on Celtic culture: the celtic spirit with its traditions through paganism (the druids, Cernunnos), some songs talk about the country (Brittany is the western and celtic part of France) and two other songs talk about Iceland (which has some historical connections with Brittany. I've visited this cold desert several times and it's obvious it has inspired me).

  • During the mid 90's when you were just getting started, how influenced were you by all that was happening with the Norwegian black metal scene? Did you ever contact any of the members of Mayhem, Immortal, Emperor and the like? Maybe you have some opinions about the murder of Eronymous and the church burnings and what not.

    Indeed all my influences start fom this period and with this scene. I discovered black metal in 1993 with Enslaved, Emperor, Satyricon, Mayhem and Burzum. I've never contacted any of them, maybe I was too shy or too young even so I was as young as them. Everyone talked about this murder and the devastating churches; according to me it was just a squalid news item but it turns into a commercial trend whereas there has always been sometimes priest murders, profanations and burning chapels in France and no one cared about it outside of the country.

  • One of the coolest things about Belenos is the black metal passages being sick and extremely dark and vicious, while showing a very epic and majestic sound not unlike English heathen metal masters Forefather, utilizing some very nice effects like clean vocals and folk melodies and what not.

    Yes this is my style since the very beginning, mixing fast dark black metal parts with slow epic passages. I don't think a lot of bands sound like Belenos, at least this style has never become a trend like the actual shit folk $ metal spreading all over the world. The bad thing is that Belenos has never become a well-known band; due to this musical isolation, I've never overtaken this underground border. I mean after 15 years of work and several albums, I would have imagined more success: maybe it's due to the fact that Belenos comes from France, there are a lot of bands here but nobody can say there are some great bands. (I of course beg to differ - Ed.)

  • Northern Silence Productions is a label that has been seen as one that puts out very high quality releases, so it must be a great honor for you to be on a label that only signs great bands. What other acts on Northern Silence do you enjoy listening to; are you in contact with other bands on this label?

    Yes, I'm happy to work with this label; they provided great work for me so far. I like Angantyr, Koldbrann but I have not listened to all the bands. In last January we played in Paris with Angantyr and it was cool.

  • How is your record deal with Northern Silence structured; how many albums are you doing for them, and do they provide merchandise or tour support? I assume that the other Sacral Productions album "Spicilege" will get reissued soon through Northern Silence and will probably count towards your total number of albums.

    There is no real long-lasting deal, we decide what we can do together after each release. They provide good merchandising: vinyl stuff and of course all the TS, LS. (Shirts - Ed.) No tour support but for me it's not a problem anymore. Next release could be indeed a reprinting of "Spicilge." I still own the original tapes of the recording, so it's possible for me to try a different and better mix or mastering but, maybe with one or two bonus tracks. Anyway I don't want to re-record it like "Errances..."

  • The French underground seems to have been largely ignored until recently; in fact bands like yourselves, Anorexia Nervosa and now Glorior Belli have come to major attention of the record labels. Why do you think it's taken labels so long to recognize this? And what other bands do you recommend from France? I know there's a good bit of black/doom bands like Elhaz and Mortifera.

    It rejoins what I've said before, the French scene is only underground. It's a real problem here 'cause no one managed to be recognized with the music. In black metal, the main bands come from Paris: Antaeus, Arkhon infaustus, Merrimack, Temple Of Baal, Balrog, Glorior Belli, Otargos. Belenos is probably the most popular band in pagan/celtic/black metal and followed by Nydvind, Bran Barr... there is no real folk metal scene here. In death metal you can find just one great band: Gojira, then Benighted, Destinity, Yyrkoon, Kronos, (and) Bloody Sign.

  • While on the subject of French metal, do you recall the scene in France in the early to mid 80's? I have heard quite a few bands from France during this time, like Steel Angel, Ace, Fisc, Jinx, etc... And of course many chose to sing in their native language, such as Satan Jokers, H-Bomb, ADX, and High Power. Were you actively playing in any bands around this time?

    Hum you know I'm not in this old heavy scene; I've heard about all these names but that's all... It's not my cup of tea.

  • Being from France, and singing in your native language, I was a little surprised that your lyrics deal with a lot of Celtic themes. Why the fascination with the Celtic themes; were there a lot of Celtic people in France in the earliest of days? Maybe you could relate some of your favorite Celtic myths and stories from the olden days...

    In France there are 22 different provinces, some of them on top of French have their own language and traditions. I'm living in Brittany which is the western province and the one which is totally soaked in Celtic culture. The local language I've used in the upcoming album comes from the antiquity and was born in the west part of the British lands: Wales, Isle of Man, Ireland and Cornwall. During the 6th century barbarians coming from the continent invaded these lands; some people escaped by travelling the channel and arrived in this part of France with their language, but before they arrived there was, several centuries ago, Celtic tribes fighting against the Romans and before them in the age of bronze there was the first Celtic people which erected the thousand of standing stones we can still observe. Brittany seems like Ireland or Scotland with the landscapes and traditional music. So there are a lot of things I can use for Belenos in this place like Celtic legends about death: called here the Ankou, the dead souls called Anaons...

  • So now I am seeing that Belenos today is mainly yourself; are you planning on adding other musicians? I'm sure people are asking to see Belenos live, so maybe someday you will be able to indulge them?

    Belenos is above all my solo project but at times it has been a real band performing gigs (from late 1998 to late 2004) but we just played in France. Since summer 2009 I have session live members; we played in Paris last month and we will play 3 more gigs within May 2010 but then it will be finished once more again. It demands too much work and there are too many problems so it's for me a big waste of time and it decreases my motivation I need to go on. I've thought we could play at cool festivals in Europe or on interesting tours... but I was wrong, this lack of opportunity is the main problem when you say you come from France whereas all is possible for bands coming from Scandinavia, Germany, Italy or even eastern countries like Poland, Romania...

  • I was reading up on some of your beliefs about Paganism: I myself am heavily against Christianity even though I take up more of the Nordic beliefs myself. I believe that our ancestors held the answers to life's difficult questions, and nowadays Christianity has blinded many people to a life of slavery through fear (whether that fear be eternal death or burning in hell). I unfortunately have to accept that people are free to choose whatever religion they wish, but many choose it simply because they either don't know any better or are afraid to go against what many of their kind have done for hundreds of years. Maybe you can shed some light on this...

    Yes, the freedom of belief is important, but does humanity absolutely need to believe in just surviving? I'm not sure about that; just ask all the animals if you can, animals don't need god but also TV, job, bank actions, car, mobile phones and all the shitty modern things. Christianity is based upon fear, that's right; the fear of the devil, hell and denies scientific facts like darwin's writings, or the birth of universe... Here in France, christianity is more seen as a cultural tradition, with beaufiful churches, cathedrals... but the faith among the people is very low, just a few of them go to church and believe in god. But in France I note a big problem with islam and with most of the immigrated people that imported it; all would be so great without these archaic and ridiculous beliefs and traditions...

  • It was nice to read an interview with Mortem Zine from the Czech Republic. What other magazines have featured Belenos, both print and online? Have you seen much press for the latest release "Errances Oniriques?" I'm curious what you remembered about the good and bad press given to your latest album. Most people I know who have heard this record have nothing but positive things to say about it!

    Most of the interviews I give come from France, more seldom from abroad; yes I remember Mortem zine because this was the one I did for Czech Republic, and even for America: right now I don't remember names. On the whole I've read positive reviews only except one or two drunk guys writing "Belenos sounds like boring doom metal"?!? or with Arabic tunes?!? so I think 1% of the reviewers must buy a new pair of ears, or brain...

  • If there's anything else you wish to say that we didn't talk about, please feel free to do so here. I wish more that we could have done a phone interview, as we could have talked in depth more about the Celtic way of life and things like that. Thanks for your time, and I look forward to hearing your next full length release!

    Yes, sorry but a real interview by phone would have been impossible for me; I'm too bad talking english. Well I hope the new album will be finished soon in good conditions, it's hard to finish! And I hope it will get positive reviews like its CD ancestors. Thanks for your support.

    BULLDOZER. Interview with the legend, A.C. Wild, via email...

    One of the most highly anticipated releases, for me, of the decade is the "Unexpected Fate" album, which we all waited over 20 years to hear. What's even more astonishing is the amount of years I tried, unsuccessfully, to obtain a Bulldozer interview within the very pages of this magazine. And the wait was well worth it by all accounts; this is our feature interview, not just of this issue or this year, but of the entire fucking decade! I remember when I was at a record store browsing tapes that were on Attic/Roadrunner, and just seeing this cover and reading the song titles made me buy it IMMEDIATELY without even knowing a damn thing about the band! (Tank's "Honour And Blood" was also bought that same day many, many years ago). We span the length of Bulldozer's entire career, a read that will be well worth it for fans of a band who have mostly (with the exception of that unmentionable EP which I still haven't heard yet) stayed true to their roots for over 20 years...

  • It IS indeed good to see Bulldozer back after so many years!! What made you decide to reform the band; was it all the attention from fans, myspace and what not?

    Mainly 2 things. Once I watched (in 2007) an artwork made by a famous terrorist organization and I saw it was the same concept of our cover "IX," then I watched the IX cover and I realized that there was a prediction in it. I meditated a lot about that, so I decided to propose new messages creating a new album. The second reason is the request of several fans.

  • There was some talk awhile ago about Bulldozer playing the Keep It True Festival, and much was said about it, but I'd like to hear your side of the story. Why did Bulldozer decide not to play this show?

    We did not play at the "Thrash Assault" but we played at MFF for Unicef. Yesterday we made another important concert for Unicef in Milano. Probably there had been a big misunderstanding with the promoter. "Unexpected Fate" contains important messages and and we wanted to promote that "image" but the promoter just wanted to include Buldozer in the bill... Our aim was different from his aim.

  • The last show Bulldozer ever played was in Milan in 1990, and I have that particular show on videotape. I am curious about the setlist, however, as there is not one song from your debut album "The Day Of Wrath." Any reason you left those songs out of the set list?

    In these two Unicef shows we played 'Cut Throat,' (With 'The Exorcism'), 'Whiskey Time,' 'The Great Deceiver,' however we played only 'Don Andras,' with him, from "The Final Separation." On My Space Bulldozerit (made by fans; we have no official website, our choice) you can find the picture of the latest setlist. I don't remember the reasons of our choice at that time.

  • How do you feel about your very first album "The Day Of Wrath" in this day and age? I feel this record is very unique for it's time and still holds well today. Which of your four releases do you consider Bulldozer's best work (NOT counting your latest release).

    Honestly I like all Bulldozer albums, except the production of "Final Separation." All songs talk about our real experiences and ideas. Everything is personal, belonging to us. Like sons. It's hard to say...

  • When you went to work on "Unexpected Fate," did you have a goal or an idea in mind about the new direction of Bulldozer? (IE, were you trying to create an album that sounds similar to past works, or did you want to make a more modern sounding record that still reminds people what thrash is supposed to sound like?)

    I asked Andy Leonardi, the producer, to record and produce real Bulldozer, with no tricks and fake sounds. I don't like at all any kind of rock, metal, etc. made with computer and the drums into the damned "grid." We wanted to be 100% Bulldozer and 100% real, keeping mistakes and imperfections.

  • I'm curious if you know about Norwegian black metal's history, and are you fond of any bands in that scene? I think black metal is a natural progression from death metal, but apparently thrash metal has made a serious comeback in this day and age!

    I don't like to talk about other bands; I respect them anyway, regardless the fact that I could like them or not. Regarding the genres I think that they are created by the record business... black metal, death metal, thrash metal, hard core, classic metal, hard rock... and then... techno rock, hyper techno, house, trance, eurobeat, garage, jungle, etc, etc... honestly I hate all these classifications. They are like "kinds of shampoos," or "kinds of cosmetic products!"

  • Are there any plans to try and do other shows in other countries, and what sort of things will Bulldozer do live?

    We played at the MFF. We had been invited at the Hard Rock festival in Germany and the It Gods of Metal. What we do live? We are 6. I sing only, we have 2 guitars, bass player and keyboards. There are few videos on Youtube made with cellphones... Both shows we made already for unicef, were very positive.

  • The new album is very good, and I thought it funny the song 'Micro VIP,' since it seems you're poking fun at myspace users collecting friends... What got me about this song is the guitar riffs sound like a more rock oriented sound than metal; almost stoner rock like! I assume this was intentional to mimic the rock star attitudes of myspace users, but still the riffs sound damn good and it still sounds like Bulldozer.

    Correct!!! Your description is exactly what we wanted to do. Congratulations! Many fans said that this song is a kind of new 'Minkions.' Minkions in Italian means "big dick heads" and it is dedicated to a very famous metal band. I think 'Micro VIP' is maybe more funny.

  • Just out of curiosity, whatever happened to Ilona, who you wrote a song about years ago on the "IX" album ('Ilona The Very Best.') I remember she was going into politics at the time. I have seen a few of her movies...

    I don't know what is she doing now. She had a son with a U.S. man, she divorced and probably she lives in Rome.

  • So far the reviews for "Unexpected Fate" are quite good, and I must say that I really enjoy the album. The vocals are some of the sickest I've heard from you (which is a great thing), and the riffs are thrashy and razor sharp! Have you seen a lot of press for this album; just curious if you know what people are saying about it.

    Many friends and fans really liked it because it's 100% Bulldozer. We gave our best; 100% of our potential. We played exactly what we like, regardless the possible reactions by press. I have the same feelings of 25 years ago. When we play live we feel exactly the same. I heard that many reviewers appreciated our return, because we did not follow the trends and the modern sound. We just played original Bulldozer music, with our original instruments, without using fake sounds or tricks. Probably with "Unexpected Fate" we gave even more than before in the 80's.

  • When Bulldozer first came out, I know there was a small but dedicated scene in Italy. A lot of bands didn't seem to get as much attention as you guys did; do you think it's because a lot of bands gave up too easily too soon, or just that there weren't enough quality labels signing Italian bands at that time?

    Hard to say. In the 80's all Italian bands had been treated in Europe like 3rd world bands. We had been treated like Venom clones. The deal with Roadrunner was a miracle for a band from Italy, and beside that we had never been successful. We had some great fans around the world but we never had success. Probably we have more fans now than 20 years ago.

  • Tell us about how your record deal with Roadrunner was set up? At the time, they were supporting and releasing a LOT of overseas bands... What were some of the terms of the contract; did they allow for tour support and/or merchandising? Roadrunner was responsible for signing a LOT of bands; what were some of your favorites from this time period?

    We produced a 7" in 1984, recorded in 1983, which had been reviewed by Kerrang in the same mag with HellHammer's debut 12". Both had been reviewed as the worst records ever. Roadrunner read the review and asked us a demo. They liked the demo and proposed us a deal. The contract was standard term... 5 consecutive contract years. They could take the option year by year or leave, and we recorded only 2 albums. At that time I could not tour abroad because I refused to serve the army. Favourite bands at that time? SLAYER!!!

  • I'm not sure but I don't think Bulldozer ever played live here in the U.S. Are there any plans to do so? Tell us about some of your legendary shows from the 80's; what bands did you play with and are there any "wild" stories on tour from those days?

    Correct! We never played in the U.S., and Americas, in UK, in Scandinavia, etc. etc. I don't know about the future... Our Fate is Unexpected and Unpredictable. In the past we had a very amazing experience in Poland, before the fall of comunism: We recorded there our live album in 1989, 20 years ago. We had a lot of fans in Poland and we played in front of 5500. We could see the "comunist world" just before the fall of the wall in Berlin... They were so frustrated in their everyday life and they got really wild during the show. I'm glad we could record the crowd very clearly.

  • I'm curious about the song 'Endless FUneral' that closes out the "Day Of Wrath" album: There's quite a bit of spoken word on this track, which is difficult to make out but it sounds like it's in Italian. The woman speaking this somewhat sounds like the same person who does spoken word on the "Morbid Tales" release by Celtic Frost. Any idea what this dialogue is, or who the woman on this track was?

    No woman! It was me with a harmonizer imitating a slimy priest reading the funeral prayers in LATIN, the official language of Vatican. Andy wanted to imagine his future funeral, and I wanted to insert a boring and slimy priest praying like a boring job.

  • As we wrap this up, some say that Bulldozer represented very early examples of black metal that didn't really exist at that time. Plus, with songs like 'Welcome Death' and 'Endless Funeral,' there was also somewhat of a doom metal element in your music.

    Bulldozer had many different ideas and did not follow a specific trend or fashion. Probably that's the reason why we did not sell much in those days. But I'm glad we did something personal and original and not a "milestone" of a trend/genre/fashion. Only recently some people are understanding that point. In Italy we say: it's better late than never.

  • If there's anything else we didn't speak of that you'd like to talk about, here's the chance to do it! The new album is great, and I look forward to hopefully seeing you on tour or hearing another new album!

    Thank you for your questions, I liked them. I don't know if we'll have a chance to play in the U.S. and Americas. Let's see... I started supporting Unicef with Bulldozer, according to the message contained in "Unexpected Fate." I hope to do it again in many different occasions. Today I received a message from Italian Unicef officer, taking care of the great donations by Italian VIP's, who came to our show. She said she participated in a lot of events with these VIPs, but she had her best experience yesterday on 12.19.09 during our comeback show in Milano, after 19 years.

    EREB ALTOR. Interview by phone with Matt.

    And I thought their first official release "By Honour" was awesome! The latest release from Ereb Altor is now on Napalm Records, and entitled "The End." So far I have to say it IS one of the best doom metal albums of 2010. And the fact that members of Ereb Altor are part of another amazing doom metal band known as Isole isn't really surprising. What IS surprising is the fact that you're reading about one of the very few mixtures of doom and viking metal in all of our beloved genre's history. Even more surprising is to find out what "The End" was SUPPOSED to end up becoming. Read on...

  • Your demo goes all the way back to 2003, and at the time I was heavily into Isole when I found out about Ereb Altor.

    The demo was not that spread all over the world; I think we released only 100 copies or something.

  • That demo was several years ago of course, but when did you decide to make Ereb Altor more of a priority? I know that Isole is your main focus, or it seems to be that way.

    It's really hard to say; it's kinda grown on me! In 2003 we decided to record some songs that we had made a long time ago and see if anyone wanted to at least hear them. Then we just fell into oblivion, and then I contacted I Hate Records and asked them if they'd be interested in doing something with this project of mine. After that we had the chance to release a debut album, and I already had another album in my hand after the debut. But I didn't really have the time to record it until at least a year or two. Because of my limited time, I had to record one hour here and one hour there; sometimes in the middle of the night or early in the morning before going to work.

  • Do you find it hectic having to deal with two bands. Now I know that lots of Scandinavian members have three and four bands to deal with.

    For me it's okay, two bands I can manage. I also have two small children and I have a full time regular work. And that takes time. If I didn't have a family I probably would have lots of time. You have to spend time with the kids you know and it's hard to spend time in the studio working.

  • Now I think when we did our interview with Isole, you guys had JUST jumped over to Napalm Records from I Hate, and it seems that Ereb Altor has followed along the same path, which is kinda strange. Was it just not working out for Ereb Altor as well, or is this something you decided to do later on, or what?

    Actually, we are signed to Napalm Records according to our contract, for Isole, and we have to present everything we do to Napalm before we go to another label. We're tied to them and we had to send them our new Ereb Altor album. I did the same with Ereb Altor's debut but they didn't release "By Honour." But when I presented "The End" to them they wanted to release it. I enjoy working with Napalm Records, they're really professional.

  • Well, you have a definite advantage with Napalm, because they serve at least two different continents. They have a pretty strong presence in Europe, and of course here in the States is where you're desperately needing the attention; not just for Ereb Altor but also for Isole as well.

    Yeah, we're hoping to find new fans in the States, because it's a really big market. But it's hard to find a suitable tour, however we actually have started a corporation with Artists Worldwide for gigs in the United States for Isole. We're really trying to get over here.

  • Wow, that would be great, any talk of tour packages or bands to play here with? I'm assuming Napalm would be willing to help out.

    I'm not sure yet; I talked with a girl at Artists Worldwide and she mentioned a LOT of bands, like maybe something with Katatonia or Amorphis, something like that.

  • Of course, unless you're a headliner, you've got songs with some pretty long running times... I'm curious how you would handle an opening slot here in the States; would you have to cut lengths of songs, maybe pick shorter songs? How would you pick the setlist for you got maybe half an hour to 45 minutes?

    It's hard, that's a really big problem actually, as many festivals you get 40 minutes and it's difficult. Sometimes we edit songs that we really want to play that are 10 or 11 minutes.

  • I want to talk about your first release "By Honour." I LOVE that record, and a lot of people are saying it's like "Hammerheart" era Bathory in doom metal format. I can hear the folk elements and the doom metal vibe in there. And the new album is considered like viking-folk-doom metal, and there's not a lot of bands out there doing this kind of thing.

    I don't think there is a band out there at all that's sounding like Bathory, at least to my ears. Since we're having a doom metal foundation in our lives, the music has a doomy touch to it. It comes natural in a way for us. But I wanted to do a faster album with less doom this time but it's hard to get away from that! (laughs). I hope we can get further away from that in the future, because I want Ereb Altor to be less doomy than it is now.

  • Do you think that it parallels too much to what you do with Isole, or is it just you're getting tired... Well, hopefully you're not getting tired of doom metal, it's one of my favorite genres of music!

    It's hard to say... The point with Ereb Altor is I wanted to make a tribute to Bathory. And I wanted to sound MORE like Bathory I guess. You can definitely hear that in the debut. I wanted it to sound MORE like Bathory than it did. I think that the record "The End" sounds less like Bathory, but I wanted Ereb Altor to have it's own presence as well. You can't make Bathory tribute albums over and over again.

  • The first thing that really struck me about your debut record "By Honour," it really seemed to be more like a tribute to Scandinavian winter and the forests and things like that. But when you get to the new record "The End," it's very, VERY Viking oriented; you know the whole story about Baldur, how he was shot with a mistletoe arrow by Loki, and of course Ragnarok, their end of the world, the battle between the Frost Giants and the Gods. And I am heavily into Nordic lore; I have several books about Vikings and the Norse gods and mythology. I wear the Mjolner around my neck too. Lyrically, this band has a lot in common with bands like Amon Amarth, Einherjer and what not, and this album is DEFINITELY where the viking/doom metal tag comes in...

    Yeah, it was the intention to do a Viking theme over the title track and the cover of course. It's a medallion of mine. Maybe you know of this medallion?

  • Would that be Sleipnir?

    No, it's Fenris bound, and the ring around it is the chains. It's a good luck charm; as long as Fenris is bound you're safe. That's what the cover art is about, I wear this medallion.

  • Because once he gets free, he bites your hand off!

    Yeah (laughing). I wanted Ereb Altor to be connected to our inheritance. I want to leave this Viking thing as well, because it's so much to write about when it comes to myths and legends. But we're focused on other kinds of myths as well. I have to deal with Nordic mythology because it's a huge part of our heritage. But "The End" deals with other kinds of myths, like 'Myrding' is about an old Scandinavian myth; it has nothing to do with the Vikings.

  • What's that about?

    It's a story several hundred years ago, when a girl gets pregnant and wasn't married... often times the family didn't want to have the kid, and it was common that they would hide the pregnant girl and kill the baby. These kids became ghosts and those ghosts are called Myrdings. I've read some stories about these kinds of kids. I'm reading books about other kinds of stories and legends. I think this is what we'll keep on doing in the future. We had some Viking themes on the first album as well. I don't want to do only Viking things though.

  • I've noticed that even in our modern day society, we have kinda gotten away from who we are as a people. MY heritage may be more Irish than Nordic, but I just feel a really strong pull on that side. It probably doesn't hurt that most of my favorite bands usually end up coming out of either Norway for the black metal, Sweden... they seem to have a lot of Viking oriented metal bands, and of course Finland has an amazing funeral doom/death scene. The point is though, our ancestors had a LOT of ancient knowledge that would benefit mankind, especially in this day and age. Men and women that don't know how to behave or realize their true potential as true men and women. Honour is lost; people think nothing of lying, cheating or backstabbing people these days. There REALLY was a lot riding on people's honor. MOST people generally acted with honor at all times. You can say what you want about the bloodthirsty vicious Vikings, but they did live by a code of honor. Unlike Christianity where they say Jesus is peace and love and stuff like that, then they stab you in the back. But when you face the Vikings in combat, at least you know what you're going to be dealing with. They were very up front and forward about who and what they were.

    You can learn a lot from history. History and inheritance are so important.

  • I know it's probably too soon (the record hadn't quite come out here in the States when this interview was done), but have you already started conceptualizing new songs, themes or concepts for your next record? Or have you even thought that far ahead?

    Eh, actually I have some ideas already (laughs). It's like after our debut album I had the next album made up. I'm not that far ahead this time but I have an idea of what I want to do musically AND lyrically. I think I'm going to increase the pace even more, and vary the vocals even more on the next album; they will be more harsh. I want to find ghost stories from where I come from. Maybe there will be some other myths and legends.

  • So are you a big fan of black metal? I know you're kinda surrounded by it where you're at.

    Black metal. I'm not the biggest fan of it but I listen to it. I like the old Darkthrone albums, and Bathory albums.

  • To me, black metal was the natural evolution from death metal. Death metal kinda got to me where I couldn't even really listen to it anymore, especially the way they were trying so hard to be unintelligible with the vocal style. It just got to the point where it was ridiculous! And then black metal came along and it took me awhile to get into it. But the vocal style was just so much more extreme, and it seemed like they had so much more to say. I like bands like Marduk, Emperor, Satyricon, and of course Immortal to me is like...

    There's lots of more feelings in black metal.

  • I'm a huge doom metal fan too, though. Now I am a huge fan of Isole too, and I remember when we did the Isole interview we talked a bit about the extreme vocal work. I think it was on "Throne Of Void" where those few instances popped up. Now isn't Ereb Altor you and Daniel? I'm curious about who does the majority of the vocal work?

    Well, the new album Daniel is doing all the vocals, and I am doing all the instruments.

  • It seems like Isole is kinda set up the same way. Of course, the difference there is that you're mainly on guitar, but you've got a bassist and a drummer, and the bassist is credited with doing some vocals.

    He's doing the harsh vocals in Isole. We're sharing the clean sung vocals, but Daniel is singing more of the clean vocals. When it comes to live though we have a lot of dual sung vocals. I think it's really good live; we've always put the bassist in the middle. We are doing a lot of dual vocals live, when we're singing at the same time, and we stand at the edges of the stage, so you get this kind of "stereo" effect.

  • Now, I was reading on the website that the name Ereb Altor is actually a supplement to the fantasy roleplaying game Drachar Och Demoner. Now I was wondering, is that like Dungeons & Dragons or something? The name sounds like it is!

    Yeah, it's kinda like Dungeons & Dragons; it's a Swedish game that was made in the early 80's or something. We played it in our youth. The first intention when we started out with this project was to have fantasy lyrics. But during the time between 2003 and 2008 I changed my mind; I wanted to have Scandinavian lyrics. But we kept the name because it had meaning for us, embracing our childhood. We spent many years with this game; it's a dice rolling, RPG type of game.

  • Can you still get the game today?

    Yes, but you can't buy it in stores today; you have to purchase it second hand, and it costs a lot of money. IF it's in mint condition. You can probably find it on sites like ebay or something like that.

  • Now is it all in Swedish, or do they have English translation versions?

    No, it's all in Swedish. It's actually the name of the world where the game takes place, like Mydgard or something (the name Ereb Altor, in case you're confused like I was - Ed).

  • Now, I know when I do interviews with black metal bands, especially from Norway, we usually always somehow end up on the topic of christianity. I know some doom metal bands have a... I don't want to say respect for it but almost a reverence for it? Because they're not blinded by hatred for it. I am NOT a fan of christianity by ANY means; I think christianity just breeds contempt for the weak and is more of an enslavement tool than anything enlightening. That's why I've turned more towards the Nordic ancestry and concepts. Now in Norway I hear that people don't really attend churches on a regular basis; it's more political and ceremonial to a degree. I wanted to hear your thoughts on this because you're in Sweden, so it is probably a different thing over there.

    There aren't many people in my generation that visits the church. Christianity I think is dying in Sweden. I do understand though; I like the buildings and I have nothing against the churches, because it is a part of our history. But I don't think christianity will last, and I don't believe in it anyway. But I agree with you totally. Some people need something to believe in, and maybe it's good for them I don't know. But I don't have the urge to believe in God or anything like that. I don't really understand it that well. Obviously religion is often the cause of wars and strife and maybe it's not really very good for mankind.

  • Well, I can definitely understand why christianity is hated so much by the Norwegians, because in some of their eyes, the christians kinda forced them to submit to this alien religion...

    Mainly in Sweden, we weren't forced to be christians. But yes, it's kinda harsh but it's part of our history as well. It's dying out again, like I said.

  • But christianity isn't really a TRUE part of the Scandinavian heritage. Christianity had only come around around the year 1000 A.D. So you're talking about hundreds and hundreds of years of TRUE Viking history, and christianity is really more like an afterthought. I was reading about the Faeroe Islands, the place where the band Tyr comes from, and they were like one of the last lands to be untouched by christianity. I understand why the churches were burned and things like that. I'm against it because I see the ignorance and general lack of respect for life that this religion has; it's almost like it places a stranglehold on it's people. It practices control and rule through fear.

    We have some extreme christian societies in Sweden as well, where people get brainwashed. Those societies are often really small, like cults. They aren't very far from where I'm living, and they're doing murders and stuff like that. There's a lot of sick people who think they need something to believe in. And I understand the hatred. But still I wouldn't burn a church down over something that happened years ago. You have to let things go and live peacefully in my opinion.

  • As we wrap this up, I was curious if you ever hung out with any of the other bands in or around your area. I don't know how close knit the metal community is in Sweden. Here in the States, we go out to shows, we hang out, and for some of us this isn't something we do once or twice a week; for some people it's a total lifestyle!

    You know, there's really long distances between some of us here. There's about 10 million people here in Sweden, it's a big country. You have to go to the capital to meet with other bands. There's just a couple of metal bands where we are living, and of course I know those bands. We do know each other and we hang out, but I don't meet with say the Dismember or Candlemass members. You have to travel long distances if you want to meet the other bands. There's a death metal band here named Undivine, and the band Scar Symmetry is here as well. We have a grindcore band from here called Gadget.

  • Well, it's kinda funny you mentioned Undivine, I don't really consider them as a death metal band, aren't they the ones that are signed to Northern Silence Productions? I think they have a lot of black metal in their sound; maybe like a mixture of death and black metal.

    Yeah, that's them. They're friends of mine, and Isole's drummer is playing in Undivine as well. I hear some Hypocrisy in their sound. But there's black metal in there too.

    KAUAN. Interview with Anton Belov via email...

    Kauan. The name might not sound familiar, but if you are a fan of the Finnish band Tenhi then you will DEFINITELY recognize the band name. Kauan was the name of Tenhi's very first full length release, and stylistically, Kauan is not that far removed from Tenhi... With a few exceptions... Kauan utilized black metal styled vocals on a few of their releases, other than that Kauan play some beautiful folkish inspired doom mixed with post rock leanings. Enjoy the review and then go listen to sound files of this amazing album.

  • As I'm sure you're aware, there's a band from Finland that goes by Tenhi, and their first album was called "Kauan." Is that where you took the name for your band? It is a little suspect since both of you play a similar style of music.

    Heh, it's a long story and I talk about it in every interview! We had the same name before in Russian language (Dolgo), but later we got an idea: "We sing in Finnish, and the name of our album ("Lumikuuro") is in Finnish - let's translate the band name into Finnish!." When we got the name Kauan we realized that Tenhi, who have similar style in music, have the same name on one of their albums. After all, we are all artists, we make similar music, so why not?

  • I've noticed with the evolution of the band, that there was quite a bit of black metal styled vocals on the first release, very little on the second release, and now the latest album "Aava Tuulen Maa" contains no blackened vocals whatsoever? Are the black metal vocals ever to return?

    I never make plans. I don't know which way I will follow after this album. There are a lot of plans in my head, but like practice shows, only 1% of them will be on the actual product. I'm always making experiments.

  • I like all the albums very much, however on the album "Tietajan Laulu" I didn't care for the odd sounds between tracks; I believe the instruments used were the Buben and Duda for these? How did those rather eerie and harsh sounds fit with the rest of the music? I do realize that the cover of that album does seem to have a rather alien aura about it.

    Yes, we used folk instruments there. Actually this "alien" is a vision of a shaman, made by our previous painter. Buben and Duda (Ukrainian bagpipe) was a way of showing borders between the three worlds that the album contains. After "Tietajan Laulu" I decided not to use Russian language anymore, because of too many comments and much attention on the lyrics (by the Russian listeners of course). I make accents on music; language is just a way to use the vocals. It would be stupid if instead of words you would hear "lalala," so you have to use words. I didn't care about texts until this third album "Aava Tuulen Maa." The lyrics of this new album are full of sense, but still, I hope that people will listen to the music first.

  • You hail from Russia but write songs in both Russian and Finnish. I'm curious about this, because your city is not very close to the Scandinavian territories. It seems that Russian lyrics and concepts were limited to your last release however ("Tietajan Laulu.")

    One day I just heard Finnish and on the same day I fell in love with this language. I like every sound of it, every word. Even some Finns don't really like their own language. All the time I'm travelling between Russia and Finland, someday I hope to move there permanently. Maybe it's the country where I should have been born in, after all

  • I remember reading that your city Chelyabinsk was a rather small town before Stalin moved a large part of Soviet factory production to there, keeping the factories out of the way of the advancing German armies in late 1941. Is it still a big factory and industry town? I was also amused that sometimes the city was nicknamed Tankograd (Tank City) due to the enormous facilities for making T-34 tanks and rocket launchers!

    Yeah, in (the) whole country the Russians have a joke that Chelyabinsk is the industry Florence of Russia and here are a lot of strong men who work on factories. Chelyabinsk is a big city of about 1.5 million people. It's almost 1/3 of Finland's population btw. After the war Chelyabinsk followed the economical and political changes along with other big cities in Russia. Now Chelyabinsk is a big and rising city. About (the) ecological situation I'll be polite...

  • I also read that there was a very serious nuclear accident in 1957 about 150km north west of the city. I'm curious about that and how that has affected life today; I just got done playing Fallout 3 which is set during the destruction of America's major cities from Nuclear War, and I can only image how bad it must have been up there. I know they closed the province up there but your city was apparently unaffected.

    Heh, just like my last sentence in the previous answer, it's our inner problem. We (the Russians) are living another life. Almost all the things that happen here are strange and crazy for foreigners.

  • I have read much into the history of rock music in the Soviet Union; basically how your government was of course against rock music and then later on, in the mid 80's, set up one of the first "rock clubs," which of course was met with mixed reaction. Also fascinating was the stories of homemade albums by bands like Aquarius and Time Machine, and of course the ultimate realization that countries like France and the U.S. were interested in what was coming out of Russia at the time. Do you have any memories of early rock music and the rock scene from the area; did you ever travel to any big festivals or concerts?

    No, I didn't. Once I was at a concert of Time Machine, but that's all. I was too young when all this cold inner war between rockers and government was happening. Now I'm 20 years old, so I was born in the years when this war was coming to an end. A lot of my friends who were older then me tell a lot of stories of these times. Yes, it was hard.. I'm very glad that these people are full of good hopes about rock music; for example two of them have their own musical instrument stores "Do Major" and "Jambo" who endorsed me. About that I'm really proud of.

  • The black metal scene in Russia definitely seems to correspond with the early waves in Scandinavia; of course similar parallels are seen with Russia having some EXTREMELY cold winters, and snow, frost, trees and mountains exist in BOTH places. Bands like Nokturnal Mortum, Khold, Forest, and Blackdeath are considered forerunners of the black metal movement in your country as well. How do you see all this; are you in touch with any members of black metal groups in Russia?

    Yes, I have been even mixing some of them in my home studio. In Chelyabinsk we have the band Pogost who released their album (it's a revolution in the Uralian black metal scene), and released it on a big russian black metal label Assault Productions.

  • Russia ALSO has a very strong doom metal scene, especially of the funeral and doom/death variety, which again is not surprising since from a geographical standpoint the landscapes are similar in some regards. Solitude Productions, which you are a part of, is now looked upon by the rest of the world (at least here in the States) as a premier up and coming doom metal label, signing some GREAT bands.

    Yeah, my Russian label Solitude Productions is making a lot for doom metal bands. They work especially with Russian bands; it's logical because they want to raise the Russian metal scene, and they're doing it very well!

  • I know that you have been with Solitude Productions nearly since the beginning of your existence. What is your record deal with them like; do they provide amenities like tour support, merchandise deals and the like? I know Solitude Productions has been VERY supportive of my radio show and publication for a few years.

    Well, it's not a story about my labels, it's a story about indie labels in general. They support as much as they can. Every country has their own particularities in distribution, in organizing gigs; it's great that I also signed to Firebox, now I have good distribution in both sides.

  • I don't know how well you are affiliated with the labels Firebox and Solitude, but I would love to hear your opinion on some of the bands signed through the labels, like Astral Sleep, Worship, and Ea through Solitude; and Withering, Doom:VS, Swallow The Sun and Spritus Mortis?

    Sometimes we talk with Johan, he is a great man with millions of ideas inside. I know he'll present to this world more and more music in his unique style. About all others, I haven't been listening to metal for several years, so I'm not interested in the bands who are my brothers by label. Sure I respect them all! But this story about Swallow The Sun, when they moved to Spinefarm without any talk with Firebox was very crude and unrespectable... Sure officially all was fine, but... We are all people! They didn't say a word to the label who gave them the first breath and made so much for their popularity. Sure I know, they are good musicians, their music has good perspectives and is raising a big interest in metal fans' side, but it doesn't give them the right to leave their previous label without any talk with the owners. It's unsocial.

  • Are there any plans to tour or play shows? Tell us about some concerts or shows you've done; I'm assuming a show would need additional members to pull off some of the various sounds and instruments used.

    Yes, it's big work and sacrifice of time. Kauan has had no gigs, at all. I need a lot of musicians, a lot of time to rehearse and time to take a tour! It's in plans; we need to see feedback to predict the necessity of a tour.

  • I recently heard the track 'Long Lost To Where No Pathway Goes' on the Summoning tribute album. I thought the female vocals were exceptionally well done, and definitely put a unique twist on a song that's mainly guitar based. I have to say out of all the tracks I heard on the tribute CD, yours was one of the most original, unique and the best...

    Thank you! I can't say that I'm satisfied with this release... No distribution, no comfortable stores to buy it from and the fellow bands on it play different kinds of music. But I have to say, the guy who made this release concentrated a lot on the cover and the design of the digipak, it looks just perfect.

  • So what's next for the band Kauan? I know the record (as of this writing) is not relased yet, but are you planning on touring out, or maybe have something in the works for another album?

    Hah, I have a lot of fresh melodies for Kauan but I want to finally focus on my other projects Strecosa and Helengard. Albums for both of these projects are already in my mind, just have to take some time and instruments to record them!

  • Tell me a bit about Helengard, as I just found out about this project. I heard a few sound samples and it sounds good! Will the new album contain demo material or all new songs?

    The new album will include modified songs from the demo and a lot of new stuff with choirs, female vocals; it will be a great big work, but can't say anything more yet.

  • I noticed that you're mainly a one man band, and it seems a LOT of black metal projects work in this fashion, all the way back to Bathory. Is this to maintain integrity and keep the focus of your music intact, or just that you found it hard to find dedicated musicians willing to work with you to perfect your craft?

    Well... It's more comfortable for me to work (at least write music) alone. Maybe on arrangement parts I'm open for some comments and changes but when I'm writing something, I'll concentrate on my inner side. I'm sure, if I'll take a live line-up, they'll give a different breath to Kauan's music, and maybe it will be interesting!

  • Thanks for the interview, and I definitely look forward to hearing more from you. Maybe a visit to the U.S. is in order someday?

    Yes, Kauan got a lot of fans there last year! We'll be glad to play on gigs there! I'm sure, someday it will happen! All good for your zine and thanks for the interview!

    MAR DE GRISES. Interview with Alejandro via email.

  • There's a guy from New York who is currently selling your 2001 demo on ebay for around $30 bucks; it's the same songs as the 2002 demo but what looks like homemade demo packaging. I'm personally glad you reissued the demo officially! What's different from the demo and the full length release that two of these songs appear on? Also, have the other two songs ('Mar De Grises' and 'Just For Eternity') been reissued or reworked into other songs on later albums?

    Yes, Firebox reissued our demo with a digipack format and some extra live footage of a show we played in Goppingen, Germany, on the 2005 Doom Shall Rise Festival. Regarding the differences between the two songs, they came naturally and gradually with time; they "matured" with time as we played them over and over. Also some differences in tempo and just a few big, intentional changes in riffs or general drum patterns. To tell you the truth I feel the songs are the same as always, but it is true that when you actually listen to both versions, differences appear. And, of course, sound quality is better on the "Tatterdemalion" album. As for 'Mar De Grises' and 'For Just An Eternity' songs; no, they haven't been officially reissued, but we will probably do it on future albums, it could be interesting. An anecdote: we actually recorded 'For Just An Eternity' on the "Tatterdemalion" album recording sessions, but we whimsically did not approve the final result of the song in terms of sound, execution, etc., etc. so we decided not to include it. So, as you see, we are in debt with that song, so it is highly probable that we'll include it in some other recording, but certainly not in the upcoming album; that has already been recorded.

  • I read that the demo reissue includes live footage from the Doom Shall Rise festival; tell us about how that was and what songs you did live, some of your reactions to the other bands that played there and how everything went overall. Is the live footage included as a DVD portion on another disc or playable in the computer?

    It was a great experience. It was during our first tour through Europe and even the first time playing outside our country. In that condition, having the opportunity to play in such important festival was an honor. It was definitely a milestone in the career of the band, as it was one of the moments on which we noticed that what we were doing could be maybe more than we expected at the beginning, when we played together for the first time. As for the live footage, no, it is not another disc in this opportunity; it's included on one.

  • Just out of curiosity, are there other good bands from Chile we all need to be on the lookout for? I don't know of too many, though I do know of good bands from Argentina like Natas and Dragonauta, and of course lots of good sick bands came out of Brazil like Sepultura, Psychic Possessor, Exterminator, and La Ira De Dios is from Peru... Is there a good doom metal scene in Chile, and how do most metalheads from there regard doom metal?

    Doom is not the main tendency regarding Metal here in Chile. Death Metal is more popular, and there's even a new trend to listen to old school thrash and "revive" all that social movement of the eighties. You see, here in Chile it was more than even a social movement; it was also a way of answering to dictatorship that ruled the country in those days. I like almost every kind of Metal, but I just don't like that old school anti-everything that's not eighties thrash attitude. Besides, times have changed and that social phenomenon is no more. Some people, even 15 year old kids, seem to act according to that pattern, ridiculously in my opinion so in some aspect the development of a different and varied metal scene is a bit stagnant. Human nature I guess. Anyway, there is still a portion of metalheads that enjoy and value Doom and other genres that have emerged naturally with time. Yes, Brazil is indeed a great reserve of quality metal bands; Sepultura is one of my all time, all life favorite bands, and Krisiun, Sarcofago, Ratos De Porao or Mystifier are also top class in their respective musical contexts. On the contrary, Argentina is not precisely an Extreme Metal source; few bands that I've heard are not very good, but in terms of Hard Rock or more Heavy Metal styles, they have many good bands, such as Natas, indeed, Riff or Rata Blanca, which I don't like but they are quite good on their context... Also very popular here in Chile. Peru is well known here for its extreme underground War/Black/Death Metal bands, such as Goat Semen, Anal Vomit, Mortem, etc. As for Chilean bands, there are tons... The number of bands is so big that, in terms of proportion, top quality bands are just a few I would say but at the same time, due to that huge total amount of bands, good bands are many. To start: Poema Arcanus. If you haven't heard them and you like Doom with progressive and experimental touches, you must check them out. They are older than we are, so they are one important influence to us. Perpetuum is another excellent band, sort of Immolation meets Death. Coprofago is definitely also one of the best Chilean bands, something like Meshuggah or Textures with properly arranged fusion jazz elements. Wildes Heer, the best Chilean Black Metal act in my opinion. Inanna, Animus Mortis, Torturer, Uaral, Bauda, Psicosis, Godless, Melektaus, Procession, Capilla Ardiente are also very good and bands from different metal styles worth checking out. And also Target, my other band. Nuclear, Six Magics, Son in Course, Darkemist, Timecode, and Desire Of Pain are also quite good.

  • I've heard that your influences come from other sources like electronica and post rock. Tell us a bit about what makes Mar De Grises unique amongst other bands in this genre.

    Thank you for the "unique" adjective. We all listen to a wide range of bands and musical genres. For me it would be impossible to stick to just one kind of music; I think emotion/moods/feelings/thoughts are too varied to just satisfy or channel them in a limited amount or type of vessel. Electronica and Post Rock are indeed some musical genres that most of us quite like, in addition to some Pop, some Folk, some Classical, some Progressive or whatever. Also Doom and many other kinds of Metal, of course. The following bands/authors summarize briefly some of the music we all, just in general, like: Neurosis, Ulver, In The Woods, Pink Floyd, Anathema, Tiamat, Katatonia, King Crimson, Alice In Chains, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Gorguts, Bjork, Mogwai, A-Ha, The Get Up Kids, Cranberries, Morbid Angel, Sepultura, Ved Buens Ende, Penderecki, Stravinsky, etc, etc. In my case, Metal is what I most like yes but in the end I just listen to what I like, irrespective of the genre. Due to a general anti establishment vision of life and the natural need of belonging to a group or finding people with similar ideas, as a 13 year old kid I felt identified with the kind of emotions behind Metal and being a Metalhead, something very common I think behind the reason to start to listen to Metal in most people that do. With time, while that conception has had natural modifications within me, it has not dissipated at all, but has extended I think. Metal is still what I mostly like, but the base of that premise has more relation just with emotion than with social aspects nowadays. So in that regard I have complemented what Metal provides me with many many other musics because of the aspects I described before. And as for everyone else in the band, I would say that they have a similar vision in relation to the different musical genres they indeed like. But to stick to your question, the result is simple; we listen to many musics because we just feel to do it, and that unconsciously reflects in the music we make. Anyway, I don't like classifications, I think limits between one and another elements are just too gradual to objectively establish when one thing starts and the other finishes. And even more when referring to music or art in general. But I understand that conventions are necessary to communicate. Still, I try to use them just to the level that is strictly necessary.

  • What does the title of your new album "Draining The Waterheart" refer to? Anything you want to tell us about the lyrics on this record, maybe what you were influenced by when writing the music/lyrics?

    I think emotion is the main common language of man with everything around. It is the most real manifestation of the self as part of a whole. Man seeks to feel, whatever the kind of feeling or emotion may be. Thinking is a channel that always ends in emotion and not vice versa, although emotion indeed is what also gives birth at the same time to thought, but always "ending" on another emotion, so I think emotion is what always determines thought, irrespective of the direction and the step of the process; it is just as real as rationality is, the overrated rationality. Maybe emotion is overrated too lol, but equilibrium is always imperfect in order to let vibration (life, conscience) exist. But irrespective of that, "truth" lies inside emotion I think.
    The idea is to understand emotion as something concrete, as something real and "true", just as real as empiric experience is. A common misunderstanding is to relate this conception with religion. This has nothing to do with religion. Maybe the fact of entrusting at this level to what you feel and not what you know is what determines such misunderstanding. In my case, I'm not part of any religion; I don't believe in God, but I do believe strongly that what I feel is the truth, not what I think, and I feel that my "self" is real to the extent that it is part of a whole and not vice versa. That is my God. So, to drain the waterheart is a way to refer to this, understanding liquid (being water the primary liquid) as a metaphoric way to refer to chaos due to their similarity in that they are infinitely moving in infinite directions, and understanding, also metaphorically, emotion as something similar to chaos due to its opposition (in this context) to rationality... the moment you interpret an emotion through thought, you give birth to a feeling, you drain your waterheart in an attempt to "understand" (in this case with support of music) and clarify what you feel in another attempt, for useless it may be, to comprehend your place in existence.

  • One thing that captivates me about the album is the beautiful and melancholic riffs, yet there's some really brutal instrumentation and vocal work on the album! Does the lyrics or theme of the song dictate how the music will go?

    Well, I think emotions have different textures in many ways, and many times they are all entwined in strange and opposite ways. One of the main reasons to play music is to satisfy the natural need of communicating them, to communicate your vision of life through emotion in form of music. This provides also the possibility of channeling the inner world that gets crammed from time to time. Having this in mind I think the level of achievement of that is related to how pure you extract them from inside and well if you do it that way the outcome will be varied and sometimes even opposed. Mellancholy and anger are common feelings so in that regard I think that is not strange that they coexist closely inside certain music. As for the other subject, in general music is done before the lyrics. The way we generally approach lyrics is more or less the same as with music itself. A similar process but through different vessels so obviously the specific features of each vessel provide a different color to the message itself; words being the vessel to lyrics must pass through the modeling of rationality, but they are also an attempt to communicate and state whatever it may be, so we don't have any particular subject to refer to with the lyrics. I think that makes them interesting, as they have the possibility to tie in the most varied subjects.

  • How is your deal with Firebox Records structured? (IE, do they offer tour support, how many albums are you contracted for, etc.) Are you happy with the way they've promoted and worked your releases?

    The contract with Firebox consisted of two albums. Now we just signed with Season of Mist. We are very happy with this new deal. But anyway the time we were part of Firebox was very nice; they treated us very well, their promotion and distribution was very good and they were very nice to us both in personal and commercial relations. They were always patient and open to listen to our ideas and requests, and so were we. It was our home for more or less 7 years. But well, you know the idea is to constantly look for the best opportunity you can afford to and this new one was presented to us in a great moment. (I) hope everything works well.

  • I really like Firebox as a label, some of my favorite bands from there are Withering, Kauan, Spiritus Mortis, Tyranny, Doom:VS, and Swallow The Sun (when they were signed to Firebox/Firedoom). What are some of your favorite bands from the label? Do you keep up with other doom bands from around the globe?

    Yes, Doom:VS is a great band. I also like Forest Of Shadows, Ablaze In Hatred and Saturnus a lot. My Shameful and Colosseum are also very good. We actually played with My Shameful in 2005 and got to share some drinks with the guys. Part of our last European tour, the Finnish leg, was with Ablaze In Hatred. Excellent band live and in studio and vey nice guys. Quite an intense atmosphere they provide on their shows. And well, almost the whole tour was with Saturnus, with whom we maintain contact to the present and lived some interesting adventures and shared many beers, words and laughs during the tour. Also a great band live by the way, we all listened to Saturnus since a few years before that tour, so we were also honored to share stage with them. In general we keep up or have maintained contact in some way with guys from the bands I mentioned, in addition to Mourning Beloveth, Pantheist, Swallow the Sun, Officium Triste, While Heaven Wept, Aarni, Ataraxie and many more, but the truth is that Rodrigo G is in charge of International Relations Department, so I don't have an accurate count of this subject; I'm in charge of the Interviews Department, lol.

  • I'm curious about your other bands; it seems like you apparently can't get enough, because there's other doom bands like Lapsus Dei, Mourner's Lament and Aura Hiemis that various members are a part of: are these side projects or full time bands? And how would you describe these other bands to people who are already familiar with Mar De Grises? Are there forthcoming plans for these other outfits and possibly any label interest? I must say I did like the symphonics on the tracks on Lapsus Dei's "Beyond The Truth" record which I heard briefly.

    Actually none of us are part of any of those bands. But I might know what could have caused a little confusion. Juan, our vocalist/keyboardist played in Lapsus Dei, some years before entering the band in 2007. He played the keys for a while in Lapsus Dei around 5 or 6 years ago. In 2005, when Marcelo, our former vocalist/keyboardist left the band we decided to look for a separate keyboardist and vocalist due to the limited possibilities of finding another guy that did both tasks. We spent around 2-3 years on that process. That is when Aura Hiemis vocalist entered to the band for a few months, but we finally found Juan, who was interested in performing both tasks. As for Mourners Lament, Rodrigo G. and Sergio used to form part of them, a couple of years ago. Currently that band is not active to what I know because Felipe, the head of the band, is working with his other act Procession for now. Unfortunately I don't know much about Lapsus Dei or Aura Hiemis for now, and I haven't heard "Beyond the Truth," but I will surely do now.

  • Finally, as we wrap this up, tell us about the live front: Due to some long song lengths, what tracks do you perform live, and do you cut the lengths of any of the tracks down to fit say an opener slot or of course I'm sure you play longer sets as a headliner. Where all have you played live outside your country? What bands have you played with and do you have any funny tour stories to share with us?

    Yes, the length of the songs can be a problem at the time of deciding certain playlists. Yet some songs are considered to be a must on the playlist always. For example, 'Recklessness' is a catchy and short song (against most of the others) that we have noticed to be popular amongst fans. It has optimum balance between being a "hit" and an acceptable length. So we always play it live. In fact I think we have never not played it. 'To See Saturn Fall,' although not being one of the longest, it is quite long, but it is also quite popular amongst fans so we always play it too. 'Deep-Seeded Hope Avant-Garde' has similar relation to 'To See...' in that regard. 'One Possessed' is another easy-to-arrange in a setlist song; short, direct and catchy. Those four songs are the ones that almost always are included in the shows. In second place, I would say 'El Otro,' 'Storm,' 'For Just An Eternity' and 'Kilómetros De Nada' represent a similar function within a setlist because of their similar lengths and intensity progression. But they are quite long so we often choose two or sometimes three of them. 'Sleep Just One Dawn' is often placed somewhere after a slow and long song and a small pause in the show, in order to boost it up. 'Onírica,' and 'Liturgia' are occasionally included; not because we don't like them, but because for some reason we don't tend to include them on the rehearsals. They seem to require some sort of different kind of disposition behind interpretation, so it's maybe harder for us to play them the way they should be. 'Fantasia,' an instrumental track, is sometimes used to open a show, or used as a transition tool to a slower or darker section in a show. That is more or less a very general "breakdown" behind the setlists we use, according to the time we are given or we want to play depending on the kind/magnitude of concert. Of course, it's just a general idea.
    As for cutting lengths, we have done it a few times with a couple of songs but the truth is we don't like to. We like to stick to the song as it is, not necessarily sticking to every detail in interpretation, but respecting the flow in terms of intensity, change and progression. But what matters most, irrespective of which songs to play is to build, create and provide an intense and consistent atmosphere where every step in terms of flow is reached gradually and naturally, from as inside our hearts as possible. And well we have been to Europe twice, where we shared stage with Brujeria, Saturnus, Dark Tranquillity, Ghost Brigade, Mourning Beloveth, Officium Triste, Enslaved, Impaled Nazarene, Thurisaz, Autumnal, Ablaze In Hatred, Ataraxie, My Shameful, Place of Skulls, Isole, Warning, Thee Plague Of Gentlemen, and many more. We have also played in almost every big city in our country but mostly in Santiago, the capital. Believe it or not we have never been to any other South American country. Although it's nearer, many factors are involved; the economical situation of the general continent being the biggest. Things are changing though; not only some countries are gradually growing economically speaking but also things are changing very hastily in terms of the music industry as you know. Globalization in these days is sometimes unpredictable so you never know what sort of things can happen in the next years. For example, say 12 or 15 years ago big Metal bands occasionally came to Chile, 1998 being the big year, where we had many bands (Death, Anthrax, Slayer, Kreator, Napalm Death, etc). Before that, the average was one per year or so. Nowadays the situation is extremely different; we have many and different kinds of bands coming monthly.

    NEW KEEPERS OF THE WATER TOWERS. Yet another email interview with Rasmus!!

    Since the demise of Man's Ruin, labels like Meteor City and Small Stone have helped to fill the void by dedicating themselves to signing great bands from all over the world. The mighty Abdullah got their start on Meteor City, and now it's time to shed light on another great Scandinavian stoner rock band known as New Keepers Of The Water Towers. Long name, but great tunes, and even though they may be signed to a label very well versed in the stoner rock genre, the band has a few surprising twists and tricks up their sleeve. Read on!!

  • I'm just curious why you decided to change your name from New Keepers to adding "of the water towers" after the release of the two demos? Is there a certain meaning to the band name New Keepers Of The Water Towers?

    We came to a point in our career at which we felt that New Keepers just wasn't enough.. It's not enough with just becoming the biggest band in the whole world; we also have to have the biggest band name. We basically just pulled words out of a hat and went with it.

  • The band name is pretty long; I imagine people at your concerts would have a hard time screaming your band name for an encore!!

    Yeah, we had a hard time touring with "The Mahavishnu Orchestra" and Bloody Anal Yeast Infection..."

  • The sound on the two EP's is definitely NOT your atypical stoner rock sound; there's some hardcore vocal approaches and even some heavy, dare I say almost thrashy riffs! (Like on the tune 'Flight Of The Reptilian.') Where do you see your sound as far as describing what the band sounds like to someone?

    We just try to combine our amazing taste in music in a moshpit of progressive rock and metal. I'm actually kind of allergic to the term "stoner rock." (Damn, as is seemingly every other band who plays in this style of music - Ed.) We have never seen ourselves as a stoner rock band and the only reason I think we are connected to the term is that we happened to sign with one of the biggest stoner labels out there. The guys from Meteor City are great and they release a lot of great music, and I think that because they dare to part a bit from the classical stoner sound.
    This (is) not meaning that we aren't very grateful for all the attention we have gotten from stoner rock doodes and the doom audience. You guys rock!

  • What other stoner rock bands are you into? Did you ever check out the bands that were on Man's Ruin like Dozer, Natas, Sons Of Otis and the like? I'm also curious because the track 'Pursuit Of Yeti' has riffs that sound like the band Operator:Generator at times.

    Ok, well the only band in that list that I've heard is Dozer. Their album "Through The Eyes Of Heathens" is probably my all-time favorite "stoner" classed album. And we have had a great time playing live with them a couple of times. If you want a little peek in our ipods you would find more 70's rock acts like: Neil Young, Pink Floyd and King Crimson. But also Iron Maiden and High on Fire...

  • So let's talk about the Chronicles CD. Are there storylines involved in the "Chronicles Of Iceman" and "Chronicles Of The Massive Boar" EP's? I know the Iceman was a comic book character, so utilizing titles like 'Rise Of The Lizard King' and 'Reptilians' might have some comic book overtones.

    Hehe, its basically two EP's with one concept. It's about an island in the middle of the world ocean where a lot of strange shit happens. There are some references to the modern society and religion and stuff like that but also some things you would expect to find in comic books. However... we actually found out about the iceman character after writing the EP. Our ice man character is more appropriate to compare with the abominable Snowman or the Yeti.

  • And on to the other EP, "Chronicles Of The Massive Boar," I'm hearing things in the songs like Kangaroo, Massive Boar, and Cows, and I'm thinking of some American T.V. gameshow like $100,000 Pyramid or Jeopardy... "The answer is, what are animals found in the Australian wilderness?" Okay, silly I know but maybe you can elaborate.

    Well, I like to think that Australian wildlife is totally bad-ass. But hey... what kind of question is that anyway?

  • So tell us about Toraz Records, because I've never heard of the label. Are they still around? And why did you feel the need to try and sign with another label?

    Well. All kudos to Toraz records. They are the most uber-duper underground label in the world. It's basically a stolen CDR burner based in the middle of Gastriklands' amazing forest. Their methods might be coarse. But man do they get the job done. If you would be lucky enough to come in contact to them, just sign. Don't even think!

  • What kind of deal did Meteor City give you (how many albums, is there any tour support or merchandising deals, etc).

    Nah... It's a pretty boring deal. A bunch of cd's are getting printed and we are getting our share.

  • There's a lot of mentioning of scientists in the lyrics to some of these songs; in fact on both EP's it seems to be the only constant! (Keep in mind I don't have lyrics to any of the songs; so I've had to try and pick out some of the lyrical content myself). What's all these crazy scientists doing!

    The scientists are all the Religious freaks, ignorant and intolerant fucktards and politicians that we are unfortunate enough to share our world with. Just look at what they did to that poor massive boar.

  • Oh yeah, and before I forget, what's with the three headed cow??? The last time I saw a genetic monstrosity like that, I was playing the PC game Fallout 3 although they only had two headed cows!!!

    Yeah. That game rocks... way too short main storyline tho. It's like... Just when you start getting the hang of things and like, join the awesome warrior guys, and girls (I found it's a very gender natural game, lots of strong lady personalities), you build a huge ass robot that kills all the bad guys and then it's over... you can't even continue playing after beating the storyline because you fucking die in a gas chamber in the end! (I didn't because I sent in my Girlfriend instead... but you still can't go on playing for some reason...) And it all started off so good... (Editor's note: Bethesda Software has since fixed this problem with the release of the Broken Steel expansion, where you pick up right after the storyline mentioned above, by waking up in a hospital bed).
    What was the question again?

  • Any chance you might be working on new material? I'm curious why you didn't record all new material for your first full length; though obviously these songs can stand up on their own. Is newer material going to be in the same vein or are there differences with the next full length we should note? Also, if you can talk about album names, themes or song titles for the next record that would be cool.

    Well of course we are working on new stuff. We have an oral agreement with Meteor City to release it sometime soon. It's a new EP which has been recorded and ready since before we even released "Chronicles." To describe the material compared to the old is a bit tricky... it's the same band playing so it's not all that different. We aimed straight between our two prior ep's, but it's still not like either "Iceman" or "The Massive Boar." It's more riffing and a bit straighter forward than "Iceman" and a bit more weirdness and technicality than "The Massive Boar."
    The title of the fiend is "The Calydonian Hunt," it has been made public on both our myspace page and on We have also uploaded a demo of a new track onto our myspace player.

  • You guys hail from Sweden, a place more noted for power and black metal than stoner rock. Although, I must admit, there's some REALLY good stoner rock bands from Scandinavia, like Satellite Circle, Honcho, and even Dozer. It seems like no matter what genre of music, the Scandinavians have mastered them!

    It's because we have the most beautiful women.

  • With Scandinavia being mostly a metal country, where do you guys play shows? Are there big concerts or gatherings for stoner rock afficionados?

    Neh... Everyone here is totally lame, no one ever goes to concerts and the only few rock bars we have are filled with glam and sleeze douche-bags or guys with tribal tattoos. People are so lame...

  • I know two of the members of New Keepers are in a band Divider, what's going on with that band? Any label activity or a new album in the works?

    That's not correct. Our guitarist Vic used to run that band but they aren't playing anymore. You should look in to a band called Grass-Eating Man however.

  • Well, I guess that about wraps it up! If there's anything else you wanna talk about or mention, feel free to use this space here! Thanks.

    Thanks to all the people who actually took the time and read this interview! Check us out on or download our shit from piratebay or something I don't give a shit.

    ROTTING CHRIST. Interview with Sakis via email...

    Rotting Christ is celebrating over 20 years in the music business, and through Season Of Mist Records they have put out some interesting releases. I recently saw them issue TWO DVD sets, one as a bonus for the double disc edition of their latest album "AEALO," and the other is a MASSIVE 4 disc set entitled "Non Serviam." Though this was a short interview, it was necessary to celebrate a band that has endured for longer than 20 years....

  • It's amazing that you have been around for over 20 years, through various sound and style changes and watching metal die out around the late 80's and watching the rise of black metal, to seeing thrash and death metal make a comeback. What's the secret for your long standing success? Does the actual "work" part of being in a band ever get to you (like the writing of songs or lyrics, etc?)

    The secret? Yes there is one and is called DEDICATION and WILL. Nothing else. Everyone plays good music but only the dedicated ones survive. I view Metal as a big battle field and I am always here to fight for it!

  • When you first started out, you were playing mostly a style of grindcore through your first demos. What prompted the change to more of a black metal oriented direction? And when and why did you decide to go in a more gothic style of music?

    I do not think that we have ever became a gothic influenced band. The truth is that because of the fact that I am the only composer of the band and being (of an) anxious personality, I am always seeking untrodden paths of my soul. So every album is a personal soul dedication of the specific time period that was composed and even if there is a variety they all are faithful to our roots. To our Dark metal roots.

  • How did you come to choose the band name Rotting Christ, and did you ever at one time consider changing the name due to the different styles/sounds you were going with? I'm sure you probably have received a lot of problems from people due to the band name alone.

    We wanted to express our opposition to society and religion back in 80's. That was the wave of the ear. Everything was too extreme back then. I remember many shows were cancelled, we often were receiving death threats from christianic oragnisations around and generally we have found many doors closed because of our name. A name that was and still is offensive to the base of the conservative society. A name that we are proud that graces our band because we consider ourselves as Metal warriors and our goal is not to be Metallica or whatever. Our goal is to fulfill our souls with the piece of art we are doing and to be a punch as I told you before to any conservative idea. We keep this name and we keep on struggling with this name proudly. We just think that all religions worldwide are rotting.

  • Your latest work "AEALO" has that old school vibe to it, but there's a lot of differences this time around: the use of female choir vocals, 3 guest appearances and lots of Greek folk influences... This must have been an expensive album to produce; how did you come to realize the vision that is "Aealo?"

    Yes it was expensive. Not only financially but also annaly. It took me more than a year to compose and almost 4 months to record it. It is common knowledge that a very good album can hardly be surpassed... so that filled me with stress and, I do not hide from you, with a little touch of insecurity! As an artist I had to surpass my abilities. So I took really seriously the composing process and I isolated for more than a year in order to find out a way for the unexplored paths of my soul. I worked differently this time. I was based more on the thoughts and less on playing guitar. I philosophized a lot, I slept a little and I finally came up with "AEALO." An album that I want to believe that will bring the band a step up. "AEALO" has became our most Hellenic outcome ever and the use of those choirs that have their musical roots back in ancient Greece make the album our most unique outcome ever.

  • There's always been a host of great bands from Greece even if the scene has always seemed small and struggling. We all know about other bands like Varathron, Thou Art Lord (which I know you are also a part of), Septic Flesh and the like, though your band seems to be one of the oldest. Did you ever get into any of the metal bands from the 80's from Greece, like Northwind, Vice Human, Thanatos Inc, Vavel or Flames?

    Yes Greece has created some really good bands that you mentioned above, but I am surprised that you do know those 80's acts! That means that you are doing a remarkable job my friend and yes of course and I do know those bands and I have attended many shows back in 80's when I was a teenager. Hey outthere... pay attention and to the new comers. (The) Greek scene is currently very active and soon will reveal some great bands. Keep an eye open.

  • It was nice to see your 20th anniversary show (the 4 disc set "Non Serviam"), it was definitely an energetic set and had lots of bonus audio and video footage! Any special memories of this show; did anything crazy happen?

    It was maybe our most stressed show because we had to play almost two and half hours that everything will be filmed. No crazy things happened. Just stress that in the end became happiness because everything worked fine and the reaction we had was more than great. I am also glad with the release of this DVD that I do believe it includes a great majority of our history as a band and the most important it is a fair to our fans release.

  • Any chance Rotting Christ might make it over to the U.S. I realize we have a lot of crazy christians running this country right now, but I DO remember a time when Nebula Promotions I think it was planned on bringing you over here with the band In Aeternam; of course that never happened and I still wonder why...

    Our worldwide tour starts up right after the release of our new album. We hit the road right now and when we are talking about a worldwide tour we can not exclude of course the USA. So soon we will visit your land my friend. Concerning Nebula Promotions the whole tour was cancelled twice because of visa problems as well as some lack of professionalism from some local promoters.

  • I remember reading that you, in the beginning, drove many miles across Europe handing out demo tapes to every label you could, and it was Osmose Productions that eventually handed you your first contract for your first release. It seems like you didn't stay with Osmose for very long, so I'm curious what happened? (I've heard horror stories from Marduk and Immortal about Osmose). You spent a long time with Century Media, why then did you feel the need to sign with Season Of Mist?

    Yes our label chronicle is quite weird and we have faced some problems with our past labels. Of course this is not something new 'cause I do think that bands and labels are two different worlds that their destiny is to be crushed. So we had also some crushes with our labels but nothing special 'cause in the end I do also think that our labels have helped us to lift our band's name. Now we are currently enjoying a label's piece with Season Of Mist.

  • Out of all your releases, which ones do you feel are your best? Do you ever play anything from your earliest releases, especially the demos? When picking out live songs, what albums do you tend to focus on the most?

    Every album as I told you in a previous answer is a soul dedication of the specific time period I composed it. Every album express a part of myself, a part of my history and even if I think that some things should be different I do not regret from my past because if you regret of your past you do not respect your presence. So preparing our set lists nowadays I can say that it is a nightmare 'cause we have to choose songs from 11 albums! So we do choose songs from all of our history and we try to disappoint the less we can the people that pay for their ticket to watch us play live.

  • As we wrap this up, I'm curious to know if you have seen any press for the new album. Many people I've talked to so far are definitely getting into it, and the U.S. branch of Season Of Mist seems very keen on promoting you guys further...

    Yes I have realized that. The first feedback of "AEALO" is more than great and the album has become album of the month in many magazines around. I am not that much aware of the U.S. response but if you say that to me then you made my day. You made my day because my only goal besides that I am still playing music is to talk to people's soul and it seems that I have manged with our last album "AEALO."

    SPIRITUS MORTIS. Interview with Sami, Jussi, AND Teemu!

    This was a rather quickly put together interview. When I received "The God Behind The God" on Firebox of all labels, I remembered how much I enjoyed their "Forward To The Battle" demo SO many years ago. This record is a scorcher for me, and easily a top contender for album of the year for 2009. You are indeed reading an interview from the very first Finnish doom metal band, and it is one of the most unique in the magazine's history in that we feature the thoughts from THREE different band members. A high quality band that answered what we hope were high quality questions.

  • It's amazing to me to think that the band goes ALL the way back to 1987, and is considered the first Finnish Doom band! How do you feel about this; have other Finnish doom bands cited you as an inspiration? It seems like nowadays when people think of the funereal doom/death genre, Finland is the first place they think of with bands like Thergothon, Shape Of Despair, and even Colosseum.

    Sami: Maybe it is like this, but I would rather see Finland remembered for bands like Hurriganes, Terveet Kädet, Beherit, Kalevala, Kaaos, Circle, Radiopuhelimet, Op:l Bastards, Minotauri, Spiritus Mortis and Reverend Bizarre, and when it goes to this "funeral scene", early Unburied and Unholy, and why not also Skepticism. Thergothon most certainly influenced several, in most cases much weaker and lamer bands, but I have never been into their music. It is true that these early extremely slow Finnish bands created something quite new, at least if we forget about Winter and Hellhammer, and I respect their originality and "experimentalism."

    Jussi: Do not follow the leaders. I do not care to have any input. Everybody should just do their own job, think with their own brains and do not check what the others will do. The new Garden Of Worm album is excellent! Teemu: Hi! When we started the whole thing, we didn't know anything about Doom Metal. In some review, the reviewer called us "the first doom metal band from Finland" so I suppose we were the first. No inspiration to any bands; at least nobody has told us so, yet.

  • What are your thoughts on the whole doom/death scene? I know your latest release is more traditional doom than anything else, so how do you feel about the use of extreme vocals in doom?

    Sami: All SM releases have been traditional heavy metal in vein of Venom and Sabbath, so this new one is nothing exceptional, even if it goes a bit deeper into these ultra doomy vibrations. I am not personally so interested in this death/doom stuff. I do like Rippikoulu, Necro Schizma, Autopsy and few others and obviously I worship Morbid Angel's slow moments, but otherwise it has not been a big thing for me. When it comes to extreme vocals, I have done myself hardcore, noise, death metal, black metal and all kinds of fucked up things, and nowadays I do more of these distorted and disturbed vocals than clean vocals, but as far as I can see Doom Metal is all about clean vocals. I do not even consider all these slow death metal bands, or what ever gothic or funeral metal they call themselves, Doom Metal in the first place. Or at all. I do, however, like other kinds of slow music with extreme vocals. I have been an EyeHateGod fan since the early 90's and I enjoy Loinen, Corrupted, Wreck of The Hesperus, Moss and so on quite much. But that is a different thing.

    Jussi: I do not like funeral doom: too slow for me. Some melodies please. They sound like eternal nuclear blasts, sounds cool but not so funny to listen. Some growls in right places are a fine thing. Check out our split with FOTI and the ultra slow version of old classic Rise from Hell; in the end you will find some proper screaming. And in the right tune, which is not so easy a thing to do.

    Teemu: My music can be slow and heavy or fast and heavy, but I prefer "real vocals." After all, I like melodies so I don't care much about growling etc, if you mean that by extreme vocals. Growling, screaming is really good for effect except for listening to whole songs sung by that way.

  • I remember your earliest demo "Forward To The Battle," which you were nice enough to send me on CD; was that actually pressed and released on CD? Tell us about the pressing of this demo, because most demos I know aren't usually sent out this way! The songs were pretty unique as well; do you still perform any of these songs live? Does your new singer Sami like to do any of these tracks? I think you should one day record maybe a few of those older tracks with the new singer! Personally, I always enjoyed the tracks 'Beware Of The Quiet One' and 'Sleeping Beneath The Lawn' (which is a GREAT song title!)

    Sami: I have not sang any of those "Forward To The Battle" songs live. I have been following the actions of Spiritus Mortis since 1999 or so and I also have their recordings before that, and I do enjoy most of it, so there would not be any trouble to pick up some really early songs to the setlist. And of course some of those appeared on the first two albums as well, so some of them I have sang, but not the ones you mentioned.

    Teemu: Heh, no pressing, just some DIY stuff by me. I got some spare time and inspiration so I printed the cover at my job with color laser. And BTW, I had to check what songs were on "FTTB," I couldn't remember. We haven't been playing any of these with Sammy but there are plans for both 'Beware...' and Sleeping,' we played them with Vesa and Tomi. And BTW, there is a great version of 'Sleeping' on "Fallen," some great Dario Argento mood.

  • I was very curious upon hearing that Sami from Reverend Bizarre would be singing for you guys; it seems like fate since you had him doing guest appearances on your self titled 2004 release. How did it come about that he became a permanent member? I know he quit Reverend Bizarre some time ago, so I'm wondering if he plans on doing anything else with the other albums that Reverend Bizarre had planned...

    Sami: I have already done several records since Reverend Bizarre ceased to exist. Some of that could-have-been-RB-material has already appeared on The Puritan and Opium Warlords records. I can not wait to be done with all of that. I have been carrying some of those songs for sixteen years.
    After Vesa left I was asked if I would be interested to sing on the third SM album, and I had actually kind of hinted to the guys that I might be into this project, even before we talked about it seriously, so it was a rather natural thing to happen. I wanted to hear some rehearsal recordings of the songs for the third album before I made my decision. After listening to them I was sure that this could become the best SM album so far, but I also knew that with some wrong guy in the vocals it could become destroyed. At first I was not going to do any gigs. Then I agreed to do one or two. Finally we even did a tour. I do not like performing live, but these gigs have at their best been so strong that even I have to say that they are worth doing.

    Teemu: After the fall of Black Lotus, Vesa lost his interest in music business, so his departure was in the air for sometime. And during gigs with Reverend Bizarre we had some drunken blabber with Sami that "you're gonna sing on the next SM album." So when the time came, at first we tried some local dudes, mainly because we thought that the long distance, 300km, between us and Sami would be a problem, but they didn't work out, so we contacted Sami and he was interested. I suppose the rest is history...

    Jussi: The best for the best. We decided "He is The Man" after Sami has sung Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe" in tour bus in "20 years of SM tour."

  • I know a LOT of albums have passed since the "Forward To The Battle" demo and your latest full length; how would you describe the sound and style of later albums (ones I missed out on unfortunately) like "Fallen," the self titled release and even the earliest of demos... Was there anything different about those very first demos?

    Teemu: Like I have always said, I see the things too close; I have lost my perspective to the whole thing, so I cannot see the differences so clearly. Having said this, the latest one "The God Behind the God" is at least the heaviest so far.

    Jussi: you can always recognize SM, even in the earliest demos. The first album was more like heavy metal (re-release will be published next June; it has better sounds, covers, lyrics and four previously un-released songs). "Fallen" was more "rocking." In this new album SM is as it always should have been. Not just heavier or doomier but just better. Now we sound like I have always dreamed SM should always sound like!

  • Is there any chance those earliest of demos will be repressed or made available again?

    Teemu: Jussi has been planning some "Invasion of Rarities"- collection. And some songs are available on 2LP version of (the) self-titled (record).

    Jussi: Yeah, there is some plans to put all those rarieties to same CD; B-sides, stuff from splits etc.

  • Let's talk about the new record "The God Behind The God." I'm curious as to the meaning behind the album's title, especially since it seems to deal with christianity in some respects. I always felt that the bible was maybe a misrepresentation of the true creator, since it was a book written by man and seems to give god these human like qualities when surely a wise and powerful being would be above and beyond all these petty human emotions like jealousy, rage, anger, etc...

    Sami: True. And when keeping in mind that Bible is actually a library of very different kind of books, put together with patriarchal political interests, the web of lies becomes even more obvious. The greatest blasphemy is of course the fact that there are together the Old Testament, which is the book of demiurge, and the New Testament, which is a garbled version of the visions and deeds of Jesus of Nazarene, who of course talked about "The God Behind The God." Or Lucifer as some call it. The mystery of "God," or what ever you want to call it, can be found also in the Bible but closer to the truth you come when you read, along with the Bible, those books which they did NOT include to it. Nowadays these are called Gnostic writings, because in them the main driving force is to reach the knowledge and understanding, Gnosis, and to share it with those who have not yet seen it.
    What is known as Christianity, and I am talking about all the main traditions and especially those which have political Church and State profiles, are basically using the teachings of prophets for their own needs. Obviously often these so called Christian are not even aware of this, as their ideal prefers religious experience better than scholastic study. And most Christians are not even actively religious or philosophical. They do not question why they are Christians. You may call me psyched out or blinded by esotericism and conspiracy theories, but at least I have studied these things I am talking about, also on an academic level, in the form of comparative religions and folklore studies in university. Most people simply do not have any clue, but it is these persons who are the most willing to comment on things and spread their opinions. They only know what is told to them by conventional authorities, which of course wish to keep these wheels turning as this whole "religious" machine works on the benefit of the system itself; society and those who have ostensible power, who in truth are empty and soulless, living already in their own hell.
    What happened to the original "Christians," and their "Christ," or what happened for example in Montsegur, all of that is happening nowadays too. If the truth would be known the whole system would collapse. The real, literal idea of concept of God is that it is everything else than we human beings are, also on the level that our minds can not reach this mystery, or at least not be able to bear it without getting mixed up. If you go there you can not return. I know because I am there myself close to the edge of getting "mixed up," but in my thinking all the traditions lead to the same Mystery of the Mysteries. Cataclysm, the Ancient advanced civilisations and Rex Mundi.

  • I was especially pleased to see a song like 'Man Of Steel' open up the album; I take it some of the band members are fans of the Superman comic books and possibly the movies?

    Teemu: Musically a very old song, from 1987. Same arrangement, only played the way it always should have been played. We wanted to put this one as the opening track because it is the probably fastest song of SM. Also a great track for opening or encore track at gigs. Sami would tell more about lyrics.

    Sami: If I write about murder or rape does it mean I am fan of these things? It is true that "man of steel" is taken from Superman, but it is rather a sarcastic reference. I see something ultra fascist in that whole character. It namely is Super Man. An american dream. Pure illusion of all that is "good" and "right." I have to say that his Fortress of Solitude does excite me, and actually the first ever comic book that I had, back in 1979 or so, was Superman, and for some time I guess I was a fan; but when I got bit older, about 8 years old I got into The Hulk and Conan and so on. Nowadays I do not ready any comic books, with exception of Ken Parker.

    Jussi: I personally like the attitude of this one; today when everybody is whining and crying, it is fresh like northern wind to hear lyrics like;
    "Ultimate in body and soul, Every cell hard as diamond, Every thought crystal clear... Unbending... Unbreakable... Forever going, Never stopping, Never surrendering, Extreme in brilliance and courage" Attitude!

  • 'Death Bride' was a VERY interesting song; one of my favorites on the record. I see the lyrics were inspired by the poem "The Mysteries," and the Chilean author died last year. Tell us a bit more about this track and the lyrics...

    Teemu: Musically this was the one of the "newest" songs, If I can remember it was from around 2006. Also great live song, great athmosphere and fast ending. And again Sami can tell more about lyrics.

    Sami: It is a bit hard to tell anything more about it. The lyrics tell it all already. I have been interested in necrophilia since I was very young. I can not explain it. Miquel Serrano was a very strange person, and I can not agree with most of his ideas, but I do agree about certain thoughts concerning subterranean things, and the idea of the axis of the world, and the axis inside of us. Search for the subterranean world also, in the physical and metaphysical level.
    When I learnt, about six years ago, about his first work "The Mysteries," from 1960, in which a man is married to a dead woman I got obsessed with it and started to seek for it. It is a very rare book, and not much information is available. Finally my Chilean friend was able to find me a new edition of the book, but it was in Spanish so she had to translate it to me. The song is loosely based on the poem, but it has also my own fantasies in it. It is a love song, but of a bit of a different kind. The rather brutal ending is there to destroy some of the atmosphere. I like to have some little twist in most things I do. I do not like things that are just beautiful or ugly. There has to be contrast. So, because of this there is that masturbation. I would not myself masturbate on the grave of a dead lover. Or maybe I would, but this is not why I wrote about it.

    Jussi: this one is always a pleasure to play. It has it all; heavy start, gentle and beautiful, a bit deranged but lovely, singing melodies, weird middle parts which turns to mayhem in the end.

  • 'Heavy Drinker' was yet another cool tune; it reminds me of a few nights I've had after drinking for far too long!! Anyway, what sort of Finnish beers would you recommend to people? I know Ville Freeman from Insomnia thinks that Carver beer is "the best fucking beer in Finland..."

    Teemu: Based on a real story by Sammy. Musically, of course it's a great track because I was listening to Kyuss and wanted to do something like them. But this is the way it ended. Finnish beer, I'm not the real expert but I prefer Karhu or Sandels. The "usual" beer Finns drink is Koff or Karjala, I don't care much for either of them.

    Sami: I would not recommend any alcohol to anyone. I see so much grief caused by alcohol around me, and in me, that I can not but hate the whole thing. Here in Finland most of the violence is caused by alcohol and other intoxicants. I wish the day would come that I could quit for good, but I am weak and I can not avoid getting intoxicated. Not at least if I have to see other people.
    That song is about an extremely dark trip of seven days. I have had these kind of trips a few times in my life. I am away for days, sleeping on the streets and parks, or what ever place I am taken to; dirty, bloody, fucked up in my mind. I have ended in police station jails, and even in court. No fun, as Iggy said. Maybe Ville of Insomnia lives a bit more "regular" and balanced life than I do and he is able to enjoy a few beers and then go back home, but when I start drinking I do not know where I end up to, and in what condition.

    Jussi: No. "In vino veritas" but more like "alcohol is (not) for the wise man but for the fools." There is no problem which can not be turned worse with alcohol. All right, in right time and right company drinking is great. But do not drink local vodka, it tastes like shit. Carver sounds like Karjala beer, it is OK. Koff Porter and local sahti are drinks worth of trying.

  • The new album is NOT an a typical doom metal album from start to finish... I thought it very interesting that the album starts off with a fast tune, and has a few more of those before the record ends. In fact, those faster tunes are some of the best on the disc! What are your favorite tracks on this release? Least favorite? Anything you'd do differently as far as the recording or writing of the album goes?

    Sami: Doom Metal is not just about tempo. Just check out The Obsessed or Iron Man! When it comes to those "least favourite tracks" they do not appear on this album. They never existed. On an album like this each song has to be total dynamite. I can understand, even when I do not accept, the commercial idea of not having too many killer tracks on an album as it is waste of good material, when common people buy albums because of few hit singles, or nowadays download them for free, but on a real heavy metal album each song has to stand for itself. And I would not appear on a bullshit album with fillers.

    Jussi: Damn, this is always a difficult question "which one of your children do you love most." They are all good songs, different but excellent pieces of doom.

    Teemu: I like my music variable, fast & heavy and slow & heavy. So I like to play what I myself like to listen to. And it is more interesting to us play live and for fans to listen, when there is more variation in songs, like fast songs, a couple of slow songs, then again fast etc. I don't have a single favorite, IMHO the best versions of songs are 'The Man Of Steel,' 'Death Bride,' 'Curved Horizon' and the title song. All of the songs are great but I have always felt that there is something missing from 'When The Wind Howled.' It's like short of one more riff or something.

  • What's a typical set list for Spiritus Mortis like? I'm curious as to how far back you go in the band's history when picking songs for a live setting. Have you played out live much outside of Finland, and tell us about some funny tour stories and bands you've enjoyed touring with.

    Teemu: I like to play and listen when there is more variation in the set. We usually start with something faster like 'Man Of Steel' or 'Divine Wind' and then some mid-tempo songs and then slow ones. If there are other bands with us, we'll check the kinda shit they're playing and try to do something different. We have done a lot of gigs in Finland and we had our first European tour last autumn. The tour was excellent, all gigs were great; there was very few fans at some gigs but we gave them all. We try to be as pro as possible, you know if someone pays to see you or have traveled 100 miles to see you, you gotta respect that and make a great show.
    Funny stories? Some of them are censored like our drummer almost got some "company," problem was that it was male. One of the things along with great gigs I remember is that there was freezing cold at the tour bus. We called it U-96, you know, after the submarine, because it was such a cold, dark and tight place. At one point I thought I got clap or something VD on my nose, because it felt rather funny. Then I understand that it must have been some kind of frostbite, you know: my nose was the only thing outside of the sleeping bag.

    Jussi: 9 countries, 16 gigs, 19 days and 9000 km. People like SM fans in the Austrian Mountains make the tour worth of all the trouble when he said that he have driven two hours just see SM. And we think that nobody knows us in that place called Abtenau! Shortly, there was 16 gigs all over Europe in our tour. All went fine, I get my cheap birthday booze, no gigs were cancelled, we see a lot of nice people, bus was cold as a U-boat, we see interesting sex toys in local toilets (we do not buy any), Torture Museum in Amsterdam was sad and interesting, Belgium food was tasty, German, French and Hungarian women were beautiful, playing in the Hammer of Doom was one of the highlights in my career, Hennessy tastes good (thank you Stuttgart). "Craziest" audience was in Budapest (I was scared Sami will get killed in the show with his actions with local lady.), it was nice to play gigs, see fans (first time I heard somebody knows SM-lyrics), you smell and feel funny when you do not shower in four days. Well, check out our tour diary!

  • You were signed to Rage Of Achilles for awhile and then Black Lotus. We all know about Black Lotus going out of business; was it the same with Rage Of Achilles? I really enjoyed a few of the bands on that label, but it seems like Rage Of Achilles wasn't a very well known label.

    Teemu: Too many bands, so little money.

    Jussi: It was a shame that ROA did not work. BLR shows how to NOT operate in the music business.

  • How is your deal with Firebox Records structured? Are they offering tour support and/or merchandising deals? I know Firebox is considered a quality Finnish label, what other acts on the label do you enjoy? I was glad to finally see the Swallow The Sun side project Plutonium Orange finally getting an album released! And of course, bands like Withering, Tyranny, Colosseum, Ablaze In Hatred and Rememberance are simply amazing...

    Jussi: Well well well. All this started when I make some business with the owner of Firebox (Rami Hippi, great man!) like "I would like to buy some Fallen CDs from Rami and he liked to buy some splits which we make with Gates of Slumber." The split was released by a Chilean record company and we have some talks that they would have released our next album. Surprise surprise, the Chileans have some serious problems too and I told Rami that we have some problems with them and we do not have any record company for the next album. Then Rami has a splendid idea; how about a SM and Firebox deal? This took me by surprise, because Firebox is (not) so far away from us, like almost 30 miles! So after deals with British, Greek and Chilean companies now we have a deal with a company which lives in town next to us!
    Firebox has done their job professionally. We have gained as much support as possible like tour t-shirts. In the Firebox roster we stand alone. I do not usually check out what the others are doing.

  • I know recently we are seeing Swallow The Sun in the States alongside Finntroll and Moonsorrow. What do you think it takes nowadays to get good Finnish bands here in the U.S.? Moonsorrow I saw at the first ever Heathen Crusade festival, and Swallow The Sun I saw as well, but more Finnish metal bands need to play here! I want to see Colosseum, Tyranny, and more play here!

    Teemu: Money and planning. Making money while playing music would be great but I suppose most of the bands would come to U.S just for "expenses paid" deal. For me, playing live is the most important thing so if someone arranges something, we'll be there.

    Jussi: A U.S. tour with bands like The Gates of Slumber or Orodruin sounds like a dream come true.

  • If there's anything else you want to talk about or mention that we didn't cover, feel free to do so here. Thanks again, I enjoy the record and I hope someday Spiritus Mortis will make it over to the U.S.!

    Teemu: Doom on! Buy SM-stuff! Zdenka!

    Jussi: Thanks man and stay doomed! Check out coming SM-stuff like a split 7" with a U.S. band!


    This is yet another late issue. I had the hardest time with interviews, getting agreed bands to be able to help me was difficult while they were on tour. And yet, it seems like the phone interviews are nearly a thing of the past. There were only two phone interviews done, and one, Satans Host, was nearly lost due to a hard drive failure. Thanks go out to my cousin Charles Hinely for his help in restoring what was almost a lost interview. This Satans Host interview is very unique, in that it is the last interview ever done with LCF Elixir before he was replaced by original singer Harry Conklin. Unfortunately, this interview won't make it into this particular issue, but we will try and have it for the next one.

    We have witnessed many deaths over the last 5 months, first Peter Steel passed away (from Type O Negative), then Ronnie James Dio, and most recently Juhani Palomaki from Colosseum and Yearning. Juhani's death hit me particularly hard, as he was of great help to me with interviews, radio promo spots, and also he probably paid for the earlier Yearning albums out of his own pocket, which he sent to me for my radio show. These musicians are a busy lot many times, and I am greatful when they take time out of their busy schedules to assist me with interviews, reviews, promo spots and the like. Hopefully we've seen enough deaths in the metal world for quite some time.

    On another note, many of you have probably noticed this issue a large number of CD reviews from certain record labels. These days it seems many labels are going to the digital promo route, which I for one am not happy about. For all the hard work us journalists do, at the end of the day we have very little to show for it in terms of monetary conpensation, especially those of us who are doing a music magazine online. Even more insulting to me is when the one thing we have to look forward to is taken away from us. It is still, after over 18 years of doing this, a thrill to go to the mailbox and have packages with the latest CD's from some of my favorite bands. And labels like Solitude Productions, Firebox Records, Gardarika Music, Steinklang Records, Black Widow Records, and the like realize that journalists deserve SOMETHING, ANYTHING for all their hard work. It is labels like these that will command my attention before all the others. While I couldn't get to EVERY labels' releases, be rest assured that no matter what format the albums come in, the radio show is the place where labels can see immediately how their bands are being promoted. Just know that labels sending actual CD's will ALWAYS get priority over those throwing us into the ipool. They are actually compensating us for our hard work and it shows. One special mention however is to labels like Season Of Mist, Napalm Records and Moribund Records, who actually send out physical CD's for interviews granted. THIS is a good idea folks. If you cannot afford to send out many CD's, when we ask for a specific CD for our collection, we will be more than happy to do a followup interview or promotional giveaway. Remember that I also from time to time guest DJ at an actual college radio station (WREK) here in the Atlanta area, which has a potential audience of 4 million people, so I am more than happy to spread the word beyond the pages of the music magazine. I realize that times are hard and the economy has taken a toll even on our beloved music, but THERE ARE ANSWERS. Let's work together to find them, and keep underground music alive for 20 more years.

    On a rather unrelated music note, I have recently been studying the works of Bob Proctor and Mary Morrisey. They have a CD series entitled Working With The Law, which is very eye opening and insightful. If you want to know how to enrich your life, and make possible everything you want in your life, these are wonderful self help aids to enable you to do that. You will start to see your little corner of the universe MUCH differently than you ever did. I know I've seen some wondrous things in the past few months. One should always strive to improve themselves, for without growth and change we stagnate and die as a species. I'll get off the soapbox now... Thanks to one and all for your continued support and help throughout these 18 or so years. Let's hope there will be 18 or so more, as I strive to continue to be the world's oldest and longest running internet based music magazine in existence.