VIBRATIONS OF DOOM MAGAZINE
Wow, here it is ladies and gentlemen... 18 years and we FINALLY hit our 50th
issue! Damn if this isn't really a call for celebration... And right before the
end of the year too... Sorry for the lateness of this issue (as I've apologized
countless years before), but this one needed to be special... So I waited until
ALL the band interviews I could cram in there were DONE and RETURNED... Hope
you enjoy what is a very special issue for me...
Address to send stuff to, blah, blah blah:
Vibrations of Doom Magazine/DOOM Radio
c/o Steven Cannon
P.O. Box 1258
Suwanee, GA 3024-0963 USA
ANGANTYR "Svig" (Northern Silence) SCORE: 94/100
So here's my first time hearing Angantyr, besides their appearance on a split
CD with Nasheim which I haven't gotten around to listening to yet. The band
hails from Denmark, and this latest CD continues the storyline of a medieval
Scandinavian warrior sailing from his homeland to seek revenge on the Christian
invaders who murdered his family. This storyline becomes VERY important, for
reasons you shall soon see. The opening track 'En Fjendes Dod' starts things
off with a rather interesting but kinda dark church organ playing in the
background (which sounds a bit too dark to be residing in a christian church).
You then hear footsteps, a sword being drawn, someone being stabbed and then
very clearly you hear the blood spattering on the stone floor! Once this is
done, it's apparent that Angantyr has no love for christianity! The sick vocal
work comes in and the playing is fast Nordic styled black metal. These are long
songs, folks, so one thing right off the bat is that the guitar riffs better be
interesting enough to carry a nine minute piece (and three of the 6 songs hit
the 9 minute mark easily). The opening vocal work is some of the sickest, most
forceful and emotional I've heard in black metal in some time. This storyline
works SO well due mainly to the vocals, which at times sound enraged and
barbaric, but also you can at times hear extreme raging sadness, as if someone
is overwrought with anger and grief at the same time. Main man Ynelborgaz plays
ALL instruments and does all vocals, which is absolutely amazing considering
this sounds like a group effort. For all the fierce and raging instrumentation
though, there are moments when the music turns to melancholic grief, and you
don't have to wait for the near end of the disc to hear it! Ynelborgaz to me
actually sounds like he bellows forth every emotion our character in the
storyline is feeling, and it sounds to me like he's not acting! I must say that
the opening guitar riffs on 'Ni Lange Naetter' sound AWFULLY similar to a
previous track's opening riffs ('Skyggespil'), though played at a bit slower of
a speed. You'll find sometimes very little variety instrumentation wise on many
cuts, though the guitar work is interesting enough that when there's only two
or three variations, you'll still stick around. CD closer 'Arngrims Armod' is a
perfect ending cut, and starts off with melodic acoustic guitar work, adding a
somewhat folkish feel. At 1 second shy of 10 minutes it's the longest cut here,
but closes out the disc so well. The aforementioned cut 'Ni Lange Naetter' did
tend to sound a bit too straightforward, but the ultra melodic and sorrowful
guitar work surprises you and jolts your mind to attention. Though mostly
vicious and dark/icy black metal, the instrumentation is rich with emotion and
the guitar patterns are very well constructed. You might find some of the
tracks a bit long, but Northern Silence yet again knew what it was doing when
they decided to reissue damn near the entire back catalog of this one man
Danish wrecking crew, proving once and for all that black metal can still be
played the brutal and Nordic way while adding diversity and extreme emotion to
carry these tunes past multiple spins.
Contact: Northern Silence Productions.
AT WAR "Infidel" (Heavy Artillery) SCORE: 47/100
Hailing from Virginia, this is one 80's metal band I really never got the
opportunity to listen to "back in the day." Some 11 years after their last full
length on New Renaissance Records, the same three members that recorded two
full length albums are back with their latest speed fest in "Infidel." And I
must say that from the opening of 'Assassins,' something's wrong. The fast
thrashy guitar work is pretty straight forward and varying very little from
start to finish, sounding rather bland. The vocals don't seem to help this much
either for some reason. The chorus is probably the best thing on this song. The
over repetitive "call them in!" lines were weakly delivered as well. Followup
'Semper Fi' shows no signs of slowing down, and once again the mainline guitar
work and vocals suffers a bit. The choruses are decent however. There's some
interesting lead solos here, but nothing that really grabs me. 'Make Your Move'
tries a different tactic, with a bit more higher ended guitar riffs and the
whole thing reminded me greatly of a song Municipal Waste could have written.
The vocals just seem to be lacking something, that ferocity or bite that would
have driven this over the top. By the time the track 'At War' rolls around, I'm
almost ready to tune this out completely. A fast thrashing start is par for the
course, but once again something's missing vocally. The prechoruses are quite
annoying by this time, and the overrepetitive ending did me in. Wow, this is
the thrash legend that released "Retaliatory Strike" and "Ordered To Kill?"
Finally, by the 5th track, I'm sensing something. The intricate drum work at
the opening of 'Want You Dead' caught my ears. And the guitar work is not
blazing away, almost mid tempo. So far so good. The choruses pick up, and here
things seem to magically click. The guitar and vocal interaction is MUCH better
here, making for one of their better tunes. 'R.A.F.' definitely continued on in
a nice way, especially with the bass guitar and percussion opening. Here we
have some fucking rockin' lead riffs, and this tune reminds me a bit of a more
thrashier Motorhead. The vocals mesh very well with the guitar riffs. The
choruses, however, are a tad weak, and hearing "The R.A.F." over and over at
the end was almost overkill. Might I add though the lead solos on this track
are SMOKING!! And the insane percussion work, man it's a shame these tracks
weren't better put together. Followup 'Deceit' plunges downward once again,
due to the odd guitar and vocal combinations. When the tune changes structure
midway, though, things pick up greatly but half the damn song is over by this
time. The blazing lead solos will have your jaw hitting the floor. 'Vengeful
Eyes' has nothing great to write home about either, save for the insane lead
soloing and the killer lead riffs all the way through the ending of the song.
Finally, the best song off the album is the CD's closer 'Rapechase,' which,
incidentally, was also on one of their earlier albums. This tune ROCKS, folks.
Energetic vocals and GREAT thrashy instrumentation prove that if the rest of
"Ordered To Kill" was like this track, then I need to track that album down
immediately. The rest of this album was a disappointment. These guys can play,
though something was definitely off through the majority of this album. I just
don't hear that raging surge of viciousness like I did with Exodus' "Bonded By
Blood," or even the surging energy of a Faith Or Fear or even Forced Entry to a
lesser degree. Here's to hoping there's much improvement by their next full
Contact: Heavy Artillery Records.
BARN BURNER "Bangers" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 31/100
Ugh, god this is TERRIBLE. I was intrigued by the unique combination of stoner
rock, NWOBHM and some uptempo punk stuff thrown into the mix. Unfortunately,
the vocalist flat out RUINS many of these songs. His sung delivery is kinda
whiney in a way, and really detracts from the tunes. 'Holy Smokes' starts off
the disc, and it's evident from minute one that the vocals aren't gonna help
things. There's interesting guitar work to go, and some okay choruses, but this
tune just ain't catching me. It's got a definite NWOBHM feeling to some riffs
and there's some heavy guitar work in spots. I can totally hear the punk vibe
on followup 'Fast Women,' but once again despite the cool riffing, the vocals
are ruining it for me. I think the vocals need to be more energetic or
something. There's interesting guitar ideas on 'The Long Arm Of The Law,' and
yes the punk ideas are flowing, but well, I think I stated it already about the
vocals. And then there's this "whoooah" chant thing going on!! Geez, these guys
AIN'T the Misfits!! 'Beer Today, Bong Tomorrow,' besides having a cool song
title, is one of their slowest, though the overall song construction is kinda
blah. 'Runnin' Reds,' damn do I really need to repeat myself here. And then
something strange happened: 'Medium Rare' turned into one ass kickin' song!
What da fugg? Rockin' guitar riffs right off the bat! For some reason, this
REALLY works, ESPECIALLY vocal wise. And then it hit me after the 5th pr 6th
listen: The vocal work is REALLY aggressive and loud! I LOVE the choppy riffs
and the heavier than thou stoner rock vibe, shit man they got it right on this
one! The riffs are catchy as fuck, so catchy I'm thinking that they overpower
the vocals, but the vocals are heavy as hell, and that's what the problem with
this band is. Followup 'Brohemoth' is waaaay too long at 6:28 and stylistically
is all over the damn place. I did like the Voivod like heavy riffs (from their
"War And Pain" track 'Nuclear War'), but there's a lot of wierdness. The clean
sung vocals and acoustics only passage make PAINFULLY clear just how off kilter
this vocalist is. One more "accident" follows with the cut 'Half Past Haggard'
with catchy opening guitar riffs, and the more aggressive sung vocal work once
again. Odd sung vocals come back though, making this short lived on killer
content. I think by now you see the problem, not to mention the "boogie" rock
a la ZZ Top piece 'Tremors' and the cacophony of noise CD ending instrumental
'Old Habits' has. I tell ya if these guys would ditch the singer and tighten up
on their song structures, they'd have half a chance. As it stands, 1 and a half
songs isn't enough to warrant a listen or two, even for the half dozen or so
scattered NWOBHM and heavy rockin' riffs spread out over 11 tracks. VERY little
I would even WANT to come back to. Sorry guys, it just ain't happenin... Don't
let this turn you off to Metal Blade's stoner rock and doom offerings, after
all they STILL have killer releases from Rise Above!
Contact: Metal Blade Records.
BELENOS "Yen Sonn Gardis" (Northern Silence) SCORE: 98/100
I had been eagerly awaiting this one, since the interview we did with them last
issue gave us a bit of info about what the new record was like. I only hope our
main man Loic will be sending us the full packaging soon, since I helped out
with the English translations on these tunes! Anyway, if you enjoyed their last
release "Errances Oniriques," then there's lots more to love with this record.
As per usual, there's 5 million structure and tempo changes per song, and the
album is heavy, dark (unusually dark for an album dealing with folk/Celtic
themes), and majestic all at the same time. Your first tune is a brief
"instrumental" that has Loic doing a few long winded blackened shrieks.
'Hollved Hirisus' starts things off with the slower and darker instrumentation
and insanely fast double bass; I do feel like Loic (who plays ALL the
instruments on this album) has gotten a lot faster as a drummer lately! The
violins on this track were a great touch, in fact they take on quite a
sorrowful tone and even dish out a bit of speed. I'm sure they're all synth
based however. 'Ene Kelt' follows things up; it seems Loic likes to start these
songs at a slower clip before blindsiding you with the speed. Around the 3:10
mark of this track, the leads got a little strange, though with all the
dizzying structure and tempo changes, there was bound to be one or two parts
that I'd be a tad uneasy about. And that's the beauty about Belenos, that no
matter HOW many structure and tempo changes, it's all done superbly. The low
toned chanted vocals make their return as well, in fact the song 'Mestr Ar
C'hoad features more of the chanted style sung vocals than any other track on
this disc. You'll also hear Loic try his hand at old school death metal vocals
on the cut 'Gorsedd,' and the violins also make a return on this cut as well.
I would have liked to hear more violins, but they were used quite sparingly.
CD ender 'En Argoll' was the longest cut here at 6:41, though I really enjoyed
the lead solos here. Other mentionables are 'Baleerien An Are' with the nice
high ended guitar work, and the long winded blackened shrieks, and of course
Loic breeds the darkest acoustic work I've ever heard; most notably on the cut
'Skorn Ha Tan' (and other places). The riffs are seemingly neverending, and the
atmosphere of this entire disc is very dark, evil and heavy; it's crushingly
sick black metal! It isn't until track 6 that the oppressive atmosphere lets up
just a tad for some more melodic instrumentation, and damn I can understand
that it would be VERY difficult to pull off 10 and 12 structure changes live.
You'll listen to this masterpiece 7 or 8 times and STILL catch stuff you missed
from multiple listens. Grab a beer and prepare to invest some serious time in
this one folks, you won't regret it.
Contact: Northern Silence Productions.
BLODSRIT "Hinterland" (Unexploded) SCORE: 90/100
Yep. This band is the reason I contacted Unexploded Records. Now they're
sending me cool stuff... Including this band who you might remember we reviewed
WAAAAY back in issue #38... Anyway, first off I will say that the latest
release takes the melodic influences of "Ocularis Infernum" to new heights, and
generally good ones at that! The opening intro I could have done without,
though the spoken vocals had an interesting effect to them. One thing you
notice right off the bat is the cool guitar work. The title track being the
first "proper" song, and what a vicious one it is! I love the blackened vocals
too, they're quite intense! Catchy choruses too never hurt anything. There's
quite a few tempo and structure changes in the songs, which never go past the
5 and a half minute mark. 'Revolutionary Warfare' continues things off, though
THIS track starts off with a rather odd industrial like feel. This track also
tends to loose a bit of focus, especially near the end with some rather dreary
guitars (mainly when he's screaming "And I will reign darkness over the world"
which was a cool sentiment in and of itself). 'Sverige' starts to show off more
diversity by utilizing male AND female sung vocals near the choruses, and
utilized to great effect. The track itself is very vicious until the slower
parts come around, adding some pianos and folkish melodies. 'Serving The
Harlot,' wow, nice song title. It starts out slow, but proves to be another
vicious tune. I'm hearing some slightly sorrowful guitar work on this one.
'Rasa' just starts off ripping right into things, and is one of my favorite
tracks. The female sung vocals at the end of this track were a surprise, but
they work well. And 'The Last Moans Of Hope' starts out sounding like the
slowest cut on the record, almost a doom metal pace. The faster drumming
sometimes fools you into thinking this track would be faster than it is. And
adding acoustic guitar work to the heavier layers would never work unless the
production is clear enough to make everything out, which it is. There's still a
somewhat muddy element, mainly heard in the percussion, which I thought was
strange, but it works here. 'Skymningdyster' had some odd instrumentation going
into the track, and once again when they stop things suddenly to throw in some
"bright" guitar notes and pianos, they lose focus a bit. It picks back up, but
it's annoying when they do it AGAIN on followup piece 'Jordisk Dvala Och Andlig
Dod,' where they pull off some really wierd carnival like organ piece with
wierd blackened moaning sounds. And further, while on this last regular track,
the instrumentation, while good, sounds like it's nearly the same guitar
patterns found on the title track. It's still a vicious tune for the most part.
When Blodsrit isn't trying so hard to prove how diverse they can be, it's still
some very vicious and innovative black metal. The melodic passages don't hurt
this record at all (in fact, I really enjoyed the folkish feel on Sverige) and
though I found it slightly inferior to the record before it, it's still a very
worthy addition to the CD collection.
Contact: Unexploded Records.
BORN OF SIN "Imperfect Breed Of Humanity" (Unexploded) SCORE: 91/100
I really enjoyed the package I got from Unexploded Records. I mainly inquired
about the label after hearing that Blodsrit was signed to them (we reviewed
their "Ocularis Infernum" release waaay back in issue #38!) and found this
little gem inside. Now, people say this is a "melodic death metal band," or
"melodic death metal with touches of black metal," but I daresay that's not
correct. Yes, they have melodic guitar parts, but this band is all about the
speed and viciousness, and some downtuned death metal passages and EQUAL parts
where the high ended guitar work displays frenetic blackened thrash. Intrigued
yet? 'Angels Deathrow' starts the disc off, and I daresay the choruses are a
little odd. Followup 'Our Infamous God' and later track 'End Your Life'
definitely have that chaotic and brutal Carnal Forge era "Firedemon" urgency to
them. There's some really thrashy guitar work too; lots of start/stop riffing
and just catchy material. The choruses, for the most part, are unusually
simplistic, which means it's easier for this material to get stuck in your head
(especially tracks like 'Stiches' and my personal favorites 'In Sickness' and
'Shapeshifter'). 'Shapeshifter' showcased a different mode from the rest of the
tracks by utilizing death metal vocals on the choruses. Okay, so I must tell
you that most of the melody you end up hearing is mainly on the choruses; I
think it gives the track some diversity, because these songs are ALL over the
place, utilizing multiple structure AND tempo changes in the same song. The
track 'Deceiver' I thought was a bit too dependent on speed, and didn't stand
out as well as the other tracks (that being said, however, I did LOVE the
thrashy guitar work). I thought CD ender 'Stiches' (spelling?) was a bit TOO
long at 5:48, especially for the speed. Oh yeah and I have to mention that
there are TONS of lead solos on this disc (another point struck down for the
tune 'Our Infamous God' though, I mean the lead solo here sounded at odds going
against the screams of the song's title). And the solos aren't played at 100
miles per hour, which was interesting. It's a vicious disc, folks, and though
there isn't a ton of originality, this disc has that urgency and exhausting
brutality that I haven't heard since Carnal Forge, except there's a bit more
going on especially vocal wise. How easily the singer switches from death to
black metal. A very interesting and unique hybrid of death and black metal in
both music and vocals, I totally enjoyed how this was all put together.
Contact: Unexploded Records.
EREB ALTOR "The End" (Napalm) SCORE: 99/100
One of the best doom metal releases of 2010. Period. Epic Viking doom metal,
from the same ccrew that brought you record of the year type releases from the
band Isole (see the interview with Ereb Altor we did last issue). The CD starts
off with a nice acoustic passage before breaking into multivocal chants, and
guess what folks? These are REAL oooh's and aaaah's, not some synth based
chants! (Not that I'm opposed to those, mind you). This track is good to open
the CD, but I do find myself wishing they had utilized less spoken word passage
here, since that's pretty much all the vocals you hear on this. Once 'Myrding'
kicks in, it's heavy Viking oriented doom metal. The emotion contained in the
vocals is astounding. You feel and soar with every sung word. Despite the very
brutal song topic (if you're stuck, read the interview again where they explain
what 'Myrding' means. If you're a parent, it's a tough read). 'Our Failure'
kicks in with some nice churchbells and light acoustics. I love where they
actually made things dark with the instrumentation and actually brought in
some sick riffs and almost black metal styled vocals. Crushing doom can be
heard in spades on this track. But we're talking about "The End" here, which
obviously refers to Ragnarok, the Nordic armageddon spoken of in the Viking
legends and lore (it's represented in 3 parts, also referring to Balder's
Fall.) Folkish acoustic passages begin 'A New But Past Day,' and then the
"trilogy" begins. And the first part of this 'Balder's Fall' reminds me VERY
strongly of Isole. It's very sorrowful and slow paced instrumentation. As this
album progresses, it's obvious that the spirit of Quorthon is ever present
here, as there are times when you SWEAR it sounds like Bathory's frontman is
alive and singing these lines! A bit of a tease comes in where towards the end
of the track there seems to be some blackened vocals mixed in with the clean
sung ones, and you'll have to listen to this one CLOSELY to pick them out. One
of my favorite tunes follows in 'Vargavinter,' once again the track starts off
with acoustics and a short spoken word piece that explains a little bit about
the concept of the song (so I didn't mind that as much). What REALLY grabbed me
about this song is the way the solo instrumentation utilized feelings of sorrow
and a dark, heavy vibe with each guitar playing one part. Almost like dual
guitar harmonies, but it creates such an interesting atmosphere. And finally
the CD ender 'The Final War' is an EPIC 11 minute passage (and yes, EPIC NEEDS
to be highlighted). The clean sung chanting starting this off is majestic, and
once the instrumentation kicks in, it's almost 3 minutes before any singing is
done. There's not much variety in the instrumentation and vocals for quite some
time, but there's a TON of clean sung passages, and there's lots of lyrics.
Finally, at the song's climax, there it is, VICIOUS black metal styled vocals
mixed with the clean sung passages. They pull out all the stops to make this
track one of the best on the record and a fitting end to the "storyline,"
ending with thunder and stormy wind sounds. This record is a near perfect
masterpiece, and a highlight of the doom genre for 2010. There's a few bands
on Solitude Productions that have created very high quality masterpieces, and I
daresay this album should get extremely high marks on top ten lists at the
Contact: Napalm Records.
FEAR FACTORY "Mechanize" (Candlelight) SCORE: 88/100
I started to pass on doing the review of this CD, for a few reasons: One, I
figured this will probably get enough mainstream press, and Two, I didn't want
to be disappointed by yet another Fear Factory record. We all know of Fear
Factory's place in history with their unique brand of industrialized metal
(taking into consideration however that Canada's Malhavoc had their first album
release quite a few years before "Soul Of A New Machine" would be unleashed to
the world), and this record was a shocking surprise. If you missed how vicious
and in your face "Demanufacture" was, this record will bring all that right
back home for ya! The addition of Gene Hoglan on drums was a no brainer; he
proves once and for all that he IS the human drum machine, and I daresay you
will never hear a more exhausting performance. Track for track, the speed is
incredible and the tempo and structures changes this man pulls off with ease
will have you SWEAR the band is using a drum machine. Having seen a few of
these cuts live, I can tell you Gene's feet are a fucking blur... The title
track starts things off in sick fashion, And the harsh mechanical soundscapes
are indeed back. Welcome Front Line Assembly keyboardist Rhys Fulber back to
the fold, and you can understand how dark and mechanical this album would
sound. There's a viciousness and an urgency that Fear Factory hasn't had in
quite some time, and the first half of this album barely leaves you time to
pick your shattered skull fragments off the floor. Even the sung vocals are
done tastefully and sometimes rather forceful, like the rest of the album.
'Industrial Discipline' threatens to crush itself under it's own massive weight
due to the raging energy present. A blazing speed doesn't make this track sound
sloppy or out of control. One of my favorite tracks, 'Oxidizer,' has Burton at
his most brutal, and the vocal/instrumentation mix is quite simply
overwhelming. He's still got it, folks, and even puts in a surprise nod to Fear
Factory's past with some explosive death metal vocals on the song 'Designing
The Enemy.' The last few songs of the disc lose a LOT of steam, and points, for
the band, and it's my opinion these last three songs should have been dropped
or reworked altogether. 'Designing The Enemy' starts the downward spiral,
utilizing a bit TOO Much melody in the sung vocal department. It's not a
terrible tune, but one I'd rather skip over even if some sung vocals aren't
bad. The followup 'Metallic Division' is about a minute and a half instrumental
with dark mechanical sounds and some guitar riffs, nothing more. And CD closer
'Final Exit' was just waaaay too long at 8 minutes, and the melodic vocals and
instrumentation are a bit excessive, as was the 3 minutes of odd dark synths
going at it by themselves. THIS track in particular suffers from the heavier
passages, as they just don't seem to fit with the somber and melodic mood Fear
Factory is obviously going for. That being said, there's lots to love about
this record, and it's probably one of their most brutal offerings in quite some
time, RIGHT up there with my favorite "Demanufacture," though not quite as top
notch. GLAD to see them back, and looking forward to hearing this crushing
assault once again gracing the stages here in the States.
Contact: Candlelight Records.
FUNGOID STREAM "Oceanus" (Furias) SCORE: 93/100
It's been a good 6 years since Fungoid Stream unleashed "Celaenus Fragments"
upon the world, and I was rather surprised when this record dropped out of
nowhere. Fungoid Stream has a very unusual and unique take on the funeral doom
slash death genre; first of all they utilize more than just heavy and distorted
guitars. There's lots of somber piano notes, male and female choir voices that
sound synthesized, and this interesting cross between a bass guitar and the
lower ended piano notes (they actually start out the track 'Antarktos' and
'Night-Gaunts.') After a short whispered vocal passage, 'Star Winds' starts the
disc off. There's the atypical heavy yet slow guitars and drums (which seem to
sound like electronic drums to me, though I'm no expert). The death metal style
vocals have a very inhuman quality to them, as if one of the elder gods
themselves was reciting some arcane scripture. You really notice the vocals
during their minimal instrumentation periods, which is very frequently. The
minimal instrumentation works very well here, be it dark acoustics, piano
notations or the synth work. There's always something different going on in
every song. The aforementioned 'Antarktos' has rain and bird sounds in the
beginning, which was puzzling to me considering what I know about the region.
'The Garden Of Yin' starts off with LOTS of varied and whispered voices,
something that seems to be utilized a LOT more than the death styled vocals.
The instrumentation on this track sounds quite melancholic and sad, which is
not a landscape I'd associate with Lovecraft's creations. This track in
particular showcases Fungoid Stream's very original approach to song creation.
The atmospheric male synth choirs add a great touch. Then we have the barely 2
and a half minute instrumental 'Interlude - The Pnakotic Manuscripts.' From the
interview I did (see THAT in this issue), Simon mentioned that he took some
whale sounds and added them to the mix, but there's definitely some
otherworldly mutterings of strange beings who sound rather like they're in pain
or quite upset. The synth work is among the richest here, and almost epic and
orchestral. Then there's the title track, which has somewhat of an oriental
flair with the synth notes towards the end of the tune. Oddly enough, the
whispered vocals are the most problematic here, as you seem to have ones that
sound childlike, and ones that sound mixed with the death vocals, but when the
two are layered right on top of each other, it gets confusing. The synths at
the beginning were a bit odd as well. CD ender 'Nemesis' is indeed one of the
darkest tracks on the record (dare I say THE darkest), though you have some
nice high ended guitar work throughout. See the The Sword review for an
interesting coincidence with this CD. Very original and highly innovative, this
CD showcases a very unique take on Lovecraft's stories (Upon doing some
research, I later found that nearly all the songs are taken from a poem called
'Fungi From Yuggoth,' this is also where 90% of the song titles for "Celaenus
Fragments" are taken from), that being a rather melancholic and almost serene
atmosphere. Highly recommended!
Contact: Furias Records.
GRIFTEGARD "Solemn, Sacred, Severe" (Van) SCORE: 94/100
As far as I know, this is the first doom metal signing that Van Records has
done, and if this title is any indication, then they should definitely search
out more doomy bands! This unique Swedish export takes a rather untypical
approach to the genre, fitting considering the lyrical content. They utilize
what sounds like church choirs (of the male and female variety, most noted on
the entire length of 'Noah's Hands,' complete with church organ and very little
else), and the melodic piano notes on CD ender 'Drunk With Wormwood' show a
band definitely tapping into the religious thematics (without being a Christian
band). Don't get me wrong, though, the backing guitar work is PUNISHINGLY
heavy, leaving no doubt WHATSOEVER that this is a doom metal band with tempos
going almost towards the funeral doom genre. The CD starts off with the track
'Charles Taze Russel,' and as far as I know this is the first band I've seen
that utilizes lyrics based around themes the Jehovah's Witnesses touch upon
(a further interesting note: Charles Russel is considered to be the founder of
the Witness' movement). The vocals are almost heavenly in spots, and this is
one of the extreme highlights of the disc. Thomas Eriksson is a master at
crafting extremely emotional highs through the use of his voice, and should be
revered in the same breath as singers like Messiah Marcolin, Robert Lowe, and
even the mighty Sami Hynninen from The Reverend Bizarre. If you think this mere
blasphemy, then listen to the disc and prove me wrong. Crushing tune is the
opener, leading right into 'Punishment & Ordeal,' which is not quite as dark
and punishing as the opener, but makes way for those amazing sung vocals we've
been talking about. There's lots of amazing instrumental passages within this
track, proving that it's not all about the vocals here. Some lone acoustic
guitars get center stage for a few, and the almost ballad like feel of sung
vocals and acoustics showcase a band willing to diversify their style and
sound. 'I Refuse These Ashes' continues things in great fashion, with the
somber and doomy start, and note the use of choir like vocals which gives this
a somewhat, dare I say, "religious" overtone. 'Noah's Hands' we mentioned
already, before leading into 'The Mire,' which struck me with such interesting
use of beautiful high ended lead guitar work, backed by very ominous and
crushing dirty lead doom riffs. It was surprising to hear Thomas sing in a much
lower range by the track's end. And now for the disappointment: CD ender 'Drunk
With Wormwood.' Starting off with beautiful piano notes, the almost spoken word
vocals in low range didn't sit well with me. Quite frustrating, until about 3
minutes in when the doomy instrumentation and well sung vocals launch into
catchy passages all around. The only sour note in an otherwise impressive full
length from Sweden's newest doom metal masters, and I can't wait to hear their
Contact: Van Records.
HONCHO "Battle Of Wits" (Honcho) SCORE: 91/100
It's been quite a looong time since we caught up with the Norwegian stoner rock
band that released "Corporate Rock" some time ago. We've missed an album or two
but the wait has definitely been worth it. The first half of the album is
pretty much what you'd expect from Honcho, with some rockin' riffs and great
sung vocals. It's the LAST half of the disc that not only surprises, but shows
me an amazing direction for Honcho to take and turn the stoner rock world
upside down. Let's start off with CD opener 'Visine,' which is everything you
expect from Honcho: heavy drum work, cool but slow rockin' riffs, and even
catchy choruses where we're asked to show "all the fists and lighters in the
air." It was interesting to hear duelling lead solos here as well. 'Changes'
follows up the catchiness we all know and love, utilizing killer slow riffs
and thunderous percussion. Some of the leads here have this interesting old
west thing going on, which is not a rare moment on this disc. 'Coupe De Ville'
continues the stoner rock genre's fascination with classic cars, though the
faster start here reminds me of instrumentation heard on their "Corporate Rock"
CD. The long winded soaring vocals definitely drive the point home that it's
not just the instrumentation that creates atmosphere. 'Fade To Grey' is the
first real, dare I say, "ballad" type piece, and it's here the Old Western vibe
of the guitars really drive the sound of this track. There's still some heavier
instrumentation, adding the Honcho signature to a rather mellow piece. Finally,
the first tune I have a problem with 'Brought A Gun To The Knife Fight.' The
guitars take on a sort of Johnny B Good type of vibe; the whole damn song is
really just goofy, down to the "kiss her under the naked sun" thing that gets
VERY wierd towards the end of the track, especially when he's doing the high
toned "whooo-hooo" thing. I DID trip out on the low toned, Type O Negative
style vocal patterns tho. 'Knowing The Oak' starts us on the tour of their
extreme diversity, as Honcho on this cut decided to play around with some dark
instrumentation! It's a more metal offering than anything else I've heard from
them, and the sinister sung vocals give this a feel that is brand new in my
experience of Honcho. It's almost sludgy doom, and it's just amazing how
natural this sounds for the band. 'Nihilism' drags things down a bit, though,
as the followup has some odd twangy leads, and odd high toned vocal work. Still
there exists some nice melodic passages, so this isn't a total throwaway tune.
'Powerlock,' now there's a kick ASS tune! Kinda doomy, slow start for the boys
in the forest, and the clean sung vocals mix with this VERY well. There's even
some spacey sounds, but the crushing slow vibe is just awe inspiring to hear.
Then 'Rites Of Passage' proceeds to go into a fun, singalong vibe with soaring
vocal work; this is just a fun, rockin' piece. Cool lyrics abound in this one
too, making it fun to sing. Then comes 'Earth,' which is obviously the crown
jewel in this boxed presentation. Slow and VERY doomy guitar work is forefront,
and there's a VERY dark vibe going on here. True to Honcho nature though, it
does open up at times for some soaring high energy vocal work and rockin' heavy
guitar work to break up the slow and heavy passages. Damn if Honcho hasn't
created a monster with some of these songs that SHOULD be the centerpiece of
their next release and prove that Honcho has created a new sound for not only
the stoner rock genre, but doom and sludgy metal as well. Finally, 9 minute
closer 'Clovers' is VERY deceptive by it's title. It starts out dark but soon
gives way to some of the most beautiful and melodic instrumentation on the
record, almost like a jam band piece. Some soaring vocals come out of the
fraework, and even some of the solitary Old Western styled guitars (trust me,
this doesn't come off sounding like a country and western bit) for something
completely different. Right around the 4:40 mark, though, once again this thing
picks up and kicks ass and starts seriously jamming! A beautiful song that ends
up this disc in the right way, and I sincerely hope Honcho gets more attention
for this disc. It's gonna scare people with just how innovative this disc
really is, and the experimentation that Honcho has done ALL OVER the disc is
about to make the music world come to terms with some SERIOUS diversity. Stoner
rock has found it's kings, and they're from Norway...
INQUISITION "Into The Infernal Regions Of The Ancient Cult" (Hell's Headbanger) SCORE: 94/100
Hailing from Columbia, South America, this two man army released this album WAY
back in 1998, and is now seeing it's FOURTH reissue. Normally we don't cover
reissues, but this is a band I had never heard of before. The most striking
thing you will notice about this release is the vocal work: VERY inhuman,
almost monotone, and very ritualistic. Hard to explain if you haven't heard
these low toned rumblings yourself, but with the occult and luciferian imagery,
it all fits VERY well. What you WON'T expect from this second wave black metal
styled band is a limitation of genre. The guitar work is absolutely KICK ASS,
and damn if these guys don't vary their tempos, structures and riffs in just
about EVERY DAMN SONG. They show and possess a very sophisticated writing style
that makes them hard to pigeonhole, though the general consensus is black metal
you will also hear some folkish instrumentation, and some almost funereal doom
tempos along with blazing speed and sick riffing. This band, after all, started
life as a thrash metal band in the earliest of days, and it shows in some of
the riffing; most notably on the title track which is, SURPRISE, an
instrumental! And even THAT song has vicious time changes and riffing that
would take many band an entire career to come up with! I tell ya right now,
with the diversity this band HAS, I think Eronymous would have been chomping at
the bit to sign these guys IMMEDIATELY to Deathlike Silence. The interesting
guitar ideas pop off right from the starting gate on 'Unholy Magic Attack,' the
first cut on the record. Followup 'Those Of Night' has an almost doomy vibe,
and that slower, more eerie and dark feeling is not just a flash in the pan,
it's EVERYWHERE. There's at least THREE great ideas on this track, including
some folkish guitar riffing that REALLY rears it's head on followup 'The
Initiation' (complete with occult movie samples), where you hear some REALLY
medieval folkish acoustic guitars! They almost sound like Mandolins being
played, and it's VERY European sounding. Then, as if that wasn't enough, the
melodic solo guitar work at the end was even MORE unexpected. And we're only on
track three! As the disc rolled on, I did notice that the drums sounded a
little thin, but the production isn't crystal clear, which worked in their
favor quite nicely, since the production isn't utter crap either. Kinda like
how Dark Angel went for a muddier sound to enhance the album's overall aura.
Same idea, different conception. 'Summoned By Ancient Wizards Under A Black
Moon' is a fucking NINE MINUTE TRACK. It's almost like an epic doomy cut,
except I think it is a bit too long. It's not that there aren't varying
structures, I just think they went on a little long. Unlike the OTHER nine
minute cut 'Solitary Death In Nocturnal Woodlands', where it's a better working
version of sick, dreary funeral doom/death. And those whammied riffs are very
cool. The melodic guitar work REALLY hits you from out of nowhere, though, and
once again you're treated to diversity most black metal bands NEVER hit upon
their entire careers. This track in particular could have closed out the CD,
though that is left up to the 4 minute piece (though it's seen on your CD
player as 8 minutes... Lotta silence between that and the ending vocal sample)
entitled 'Hail The Cult'. The opening guitar work on this track sounds kinda
silly at first, and the monotone vocals going "Aughwaaaaa" sounded a tad goofy,
but this track has guitars and vocals only. Still not a bad track, especially
helped by the guitars. 'Mighty Wargod Of The Templars' has some killer ripping
guitar riffs starting it off, and the speed of this track is sick; keeping in
mind that slower instrumentation follows. You can hear their thrash roots in
some of the riffing, most notably on one of their shorter tunes 'Journey To
Infernukeorreka', though a few odd guitar passages found their way on here, as
well as on the opening cut and on the CD ender... It's amazing that a country
that has little to no history of early black metal had this gem hiding away for
so long, and now it's time to give this band it's due. A new record is out in
2010 and I dare say this is a band I need to track down for next issue's
interview. HIGHLY recommended as one very unique band; to say this band is a
strictly black metal band is to do them a great disservice. (As a side note,
though I never make it part of the band's score, I really do think that the
original artwork was better than this new art they used for the reissue. Just
sayin' that's all)...
Contact: Hell's Headbanger Records.
MY LAMENT "Broken Leaf" (Solitude) SCORE: 94/100
Damn, all I really need to do is just put "Another Solitude Productions review"
at the beginning and you probably already know it's gonna score in the 90's!!
This band unfortunately got skipped last issue, but I couldn't put this one off
anymore. Just give this record a thorough listen to and you can tell already
from debut one that this band is trying to break out of the atypical mold of
doom/death metal. We'll get to that in a bit. Right off, the track 'Broken
Leaf' has a nice slow fade in, with some melodic piano notes (no, this isn't
what makes them different!) and heavy two-note bass guitar riffs to build up to
heavier guitars. This is like a building 5 minute intro, and all the vocals are
near the end of the track. I especially love the wailing ghost like high ended
leads, which definitely craft a melancholic atmosphere. The dark bass guitar
rumblings continue on with 'The Shepherd Of Sorrow,' and you're gonna be
reminded of My Dying Bride's best and most emotional guitar work. The death
metal styled vocals are especially deep and VERY brutal throughout the disc by
the way. They then take the November's Doom approach by adding faster tempos at
a rather blazing speed (in fact, at times their heavy guitar sounds reminds me
STRONGLY of November's Doom). More spoken vocals. Back and forth tempos, and
damn, we haven't even gotten to the halfway point yet! Acoustic like guitars
break open 'Silent Nights,' with some nice high ended guitars once again. This
time there's a nice interaction between the death vocals and the spoken ones,
especially on the choruses. And after the heaviness, beautiful guitar work
closes this out. On to the first real downer of the disc: The almost carbon
copy of November's Doom track 'My Damnation Deep.' Sorry, but those lead
guitars match the vocalist TOO closely, and doesn't really work for me here.
The choruses are heavy and sick however. Moving on to 'The Soilseeker,' the
synth work (which you will notice more as the album goes on) resembles a
carnival organ at times on this cut. The lead solos crafted here are some of
the best on the record too, even if the spoken vocals get a bit too repetitive
at first. There's more intense speed guitar wise on the choruses of 'Her Dark
Smile,' and followup 'The Burden Of Doubts' has some very melancholic moments,
especially at the beginning. And of course there's more blazing fast guitar and
drum work. CD closer 'Vilest Of Men' is probably one of the most brutal cuts on
the disc, though when it starts out it closely resembles funereal doom/death
metal. and the melancholic atmosphere is quite surprising when you know what
you are in for. It's amazing how much crushing doom and brutal death passages
coexist side by side with amazing melancholic and almost beautiful doomy
passages, and the synth work adds another dimension to this group that has
already impressed me with their diversity from track to track. One thing I DO
need to say, though, is maybe they could have cut out the spoken vocal
passages, as they're on damn near every track! Very minor complaint, and
another great effort from the Russian record label that is releasing such a
high volume of great discs, it's scary!
Contact: Solitude Productions.
RAVEN THRONE "Eternal, Dark" (Gardarika) SCORE: 94/100
Twelve songs clocking in right at an hour, and there's plenty of stuff to
digest in this latest release from the hordes from Belarus. This is truly a
unique release in several ways; I daresay they're a very vicious black metal
band that utilizes elements of doom, ambience, and even some harsh mechanical
industrial thrown in for good measure. 'In The Grip Of Winter' starts the disc
off with some rather slow and dirty guitar work, and there's quite a bit of
distortion laid upon nearly EVERYTHING, including the vocals which are of the
sickest and most long winded (not to mention vicious) that I've heard in
awhile. The varying of tempos and even structures within the tracks is
something Raven Throne does VERY well, which is good over the course of 12
songs. 'Poisoning The Light' continues on and you will hear some death metal
influence on the vocals. Folks, the vocal work is just plain sick. There's very
little variation on this track, though, and it's quite straightforward. This
track in particular you can really hear the industrial like influence; it's
obvious that there MAY be a real set of drums involved, but you can definitely
hear the electronic drum sounds in many places. Before you go bitching and
complaining, I have to say that if a black metal band wants to retain the cold
black sickness with a mechanical harshness reminiscent of the most vicious
German industrial bands, THIS is the right way to do it. 'Grief Of A Thousand
Year Old Winter' is your first instrumental, and right away you're smacked in
the face at how such a sick and vicious band can craft such melancholic beauty
and amazing atmosphere. The acoustic guitar work, the amazing ambient landscape
synths, coupled with an almost doom metal like atmosphere? Wow. 'Call It
Snowstorm' continues on like the track before it didn't end, with the slow and
dark guitar riffs. However, if it was building on the slow ambience before it,
the vocal work cuts through the atmosphere like a chilling blast of arctic
wind. Faster guitar work abounds, and those evil riffs give proof to the black
metal art that is the backbone of this outfit. 'Pervosmert Pervobog' (NO idea
what that means) and 'when The Shadows Come' commit to more of the same
sickness, and there's a lot of variety within these two tracks. 'From Eternity
To Eternity' really stands out as a piece Satyricon could have written, and the
doom metal influence makes things even more interesting, while the followup 'By
Force, By Hatred' had the coolest electronic noises here and there, sounding
almost like a steel chain shooting out electrical sparks is being dragged
across concrete! That being said, the CD closes with four instrumentals, all of
them very atmospheric (with 'The Winter Is My Rest' standing out once again due
to it's amazing ambient atmosphere with synths and the few acoustic breaks),
but all of them near the 6 minute mark. Some might think this too long, since a
12 song CD that has 5 instrumentals might bore some, but I dare say the band
makes great use of the guitar as not only a secondary instrument, but also one
that invokes a rather landscape type feeling, not unlike how a guitar might be
utilized in a post rock landscape. CD closer 'Let The Flame Take Us' is
probably AT LEAST a minute too long; that's how long it takes before the single
guitar and dark mechanical ambient sounds give way to kinda slow, but rockin'
guitar work, proving once again that when you think you've heard all there is
to hear from Raven Throne, they pull off one last surprise. VERY innovative
disc, though I doubt seriously that most will see all the great things this
band is doing in the framework of what is a definite must hear album of 2010.
Contact: Gardarika Musikk.
RIMFROST "Veraldar Nagli" (Season Of Mist) SCORE: 92/100
Right off the bat, this Scandinavian horde is going to remind many of the
mighty Immortal. Well, mainly in the riff structures and even some of the
lyrics. O yeah and the vocals as well (let's face it, no one else in all of
metal sounds like Abbath.) What sets apart Rimfrost from the throne dwellers of
Immortal is their insistence on providing a virtual smorgasboard of wave after
wave of sick, blistering thrashy guitar work. The title track starts things off
with a sick blackened scream, and the vocal work is definitely twisted, heavy
and a total highlight. The icy guitar tones complement the Scandinavian themes
quite well (as on tracks like, well, 'Scandinavium,' and the obvious Immortal
like song title 'Mountains Of Mana), and they rip at both fast and slower
speed. At one point on 'The Black Death' (check out the line "I Am Death,
Incarna-teeeeeeed!") the cymbals seem like they're going so fast that they're
quite simply a blur of white noise. The drumming is intense, and the production
is crystal clear, bringing the heaviness right in your face. 'The Raventhrone'
had nice melodic passages (slower ones too), and it's here that we see the
vocalist utilizing some death metal styled throatwork. I did have a small
complaint, though, and it's that some of the songs are quite long, especially
for the intense speed presented. One, 'Legacy Through Blood,' does a good job
of building up through melodic acoustics, militaristic percussion and some
symth like chanting effects, but it's about 3 minutes of this before the real
heavy part comes in. And this is a 9 minute track! Still, for all that, this is
one of the slower tracks on the record, and has a nice set of lyrics (dealing
with a warrior's reflection on his life). We could also gripe about the 8
minute piece 'Scandinavium,' but it's got some of the most intense speed on the
disc. CD ender 'Void Of Time,' however, ends the CD in a most epic fashion;
quite good for it's 7 minutes in length. And Rimfrost pulls out ALL the stops
to bring the CD to a thrilling end, complete with rather loud clean sung vocals
in a few spots, which actually add to the intensity of the track. Don't make
the mistake of labelling Rimfrost mere clones of the mighty Immortal, as they
are able to take it to a much higher level and keep the intensity and
viciousness constant from song to song.
Contact: Season Of Mist Records.
ROTTING CHRIST "AEALO" (Season Of Mist) SCORE: 91/100
I really didn't know what to expect with this latest release from one of the
oldest and longest running Greek bands in the metal scene. They started out
in the late 80's with a grindcore influence, changed to black metal and
gradually started adopting gothic influences in their blackened sound. This
latest incarnation of Rotting Christ sees them utilizing a more militaristic
approach, especially in the percussion area, while also adding a bit of Greek
folkish influences, and some female chanted vocals. The female vocals are the
biggest turnoff for me on the very opening track, however once the faster
instrumentation kicks in, things pick up nicely. The vocal work of Sakis does
take some getting used to, as he is definitely unique, though his higher ended
blackened vocals are nowhere near as screeching and annoying as, say, Dani from
Cradle Of Filth. 'Eon Aenaos' continues the fast pace, and you can tell there's
a bit of effort to add a rather epic vibe to the proceedings. 'Deimonon Vrosis'
(as near as I can tell, since the original text is in the ancient Greek
alphabet) utilizes male and female chanted vocals nicely, adding a rather
warlike chant structure to things. It's here we notice that there are LOTS of
high ended guitar riffs being utilized, and of course here we see Sakis getting
a rather lengthy scream in by the tune's end. 'Dub-Sag-Ta-Ke' was interesting
as well, as it sounds like a war marching tune and barely clocks in at the 3
minute mark. Some vocals do sound a tad strange here, mainly the blackened
folk leanings, however. 'Fire Death And Fear' showcases some thrashy guitar
work, and the rather buried female chantings work well here. However, the
followup 1 minute piece 'Nekron Iahes,' definitely should have been left off
the album. I know they're utilizing female chant like vocals quite possibly in
the style of the ancient Greeks (due to the rather warbly nature of the female
vocals, I'd wager that these were representations of Greek oracles or seers,
many of whom were indeed women who were probably under the influence of some
sort of hallucinogenic drugs, which would explain the vocal oddities), however
they are almost unlistenable, since there is no music to back them up, no
percussion or anything else of the sort. The next three tunes here are indeed
the best on the album; 'Pir Threontai' which is the best of the three and has
great choruses and amazing melodic high ended guitar work, followed by the
almost industrial like spoken vocals of who I assume is Nemtheaga from
Primordial, giving this track an almost militaristic industrial feel. There's
not a ton of lyrics on this one, but the epic feeling is great! 'Santa Muerte'
was quite fast, and features some crazy tortured female screams, though the
more sung lady vocals are quite well mixed into the track. And there's some
nice thrash oriented guitar work midway. Diamanda Galas makes her appearance
on the CD ender 'Orders From The Dead,' and though it's an interesting, almost
poetry like reading with some nice tribal percussion and some interesting
guitar notes, it's really too long at almost 9 minutes (since it's not really a
"song" in the traditional sense). And true to her nature, sometimes Galas has a
tendency to sound a bit strange, especially when she's reading some (what I
assume) Greek language. Overall, this is a little bit more melodic than what
some might expect from Rotting Christ, but it is an awesome album that
definitely invokes a militaristic spirit and definitely some pride in the Greek
history. I most definitely like the direction Rotting Christ seems to be going
Contact: Season Of Mist Records.
SACRILEGIOUS IMPALEMENT "Cultus Nex" (Hammer Of Hate) SCORE: 95/100
All hail to our NEWEST partners, Hammer Of Hate Records out of Finland! And I
must say that this review is being written hours before this issue is to
FINALLY go to press... We just received Hammer Of Hate's stuff not more than a
month ago, but this release blew me away so heavily that I thought I would work
it in here anyway. We'll get to their other releases next issue. Now, onto this
Finnish horde, who I must mention right off the bat contains members of the
bands Evil Angel, the mighty Urn, and Satanic Torment. When I am asked the
difference between black metal and death metal, as the T.V. show "Bones" put
it: "Death metal is all about brutality, while black metal is about emotion."
True to some extent, however Sacrilegious Impalement manage to combine BOTH
genres to create a crushing atmosphere of both evil and cold emotion with the
bone crunching brutality, which is usually unheard of. Behemoth managed it well
with their "Satanica" record, but few have created such a malevolent atmosphere
that incorporates BOTH styles flawlessly. The vocal work is partly to "blame"
for this, as many times the throat work borders on hellishly bottom ended death
metal while still not pandering to the unintelligible aspects of death metal.
However, Kaosbringer and Hellwind flawlessly move from death to black and back
again, oftentimes it's hard to tell just WHO is on lead and who is doing
backing vocals. The CD starts off with a slow and haunting instrumental that
will more than likely serve as a concert piece while you're waiting for the
band to take the stage, and then BAM! Track 2, 'Total Annihilation', starts the
shred fest with sick and dark riffing, utilizing a fast, crushing assault.
'Holy Terror' continues things along, and the guitar work is slow and eerie
before suddenly shifting into high gear and cranking out the speed. I love the
slower passages in this one, adding churchbell notes every so often to really
bring about the eerie atmosphere and utter darkness. One of my favorite tunes
follows in 'March Of Doom', and the cold & dark riffs REALLY stand out here.
This isn't a total speed track, and the riffs are vicious headbanging pieces.
The blazing high end riffs near the end of the track are a sight to behold.
This CD is a full on napalm assault to the senses, and it doesn't let up for a
minute. 'Baptism By Blood' is another great piece, and the sick, cold riffing
gives way to TONS of evil riffs that really get the blood flowing. Black metal
is none more brutal than on a track like this! And the evil blackened shrieks
definitely sound otherworldly. I defy one to find a more malevolent atmosphere
than this! The percussion is thunderous, and man this guy never stops. CD ender
'Utterly Rotten' however, seems to kinda drift along for awhile. The vocals are
a definite highlight, but the guitar riffs seem to get lost in a blur, until
near the end of the track, when they shift into an echoed and high ended frenzy
to end the track. The hidden track was interesting too, as it's definitely a
slower cut than the majority of the disc, and the sick vocal work is really
brought to the forefront with the slower, dark passages. It's damn brutal,
folks, and it seems to me like we have a winner on our hands. It's not the most
original disc around but damn, you haven't heard a sick twisted mixture of
death and black metal come along very often, and this one REALLY stokes the
fires of dark and malevolent souls...
Contact: Hammer Of Hate Records.
SIG:AR:TYR "Godsaga" (Morbid Winter) SCORE: 94/100
I have been eagerly awaiting this CD for a while now. Daemonskald continues on
with what is easily one of his darkest works yet. The opening cut 'Nights All
Nine' might seem like an intro with it's barely 2 and a half minute length, but
some NICE clean sung vocals alongside tribal like percussion and some beautiful
acoustic guitar work makes this one intro you definitely don't want to skip! We
then proceed to the first example of a more blackened style of music on the
record in 'Midwinter Sacrifice,' and I must say I'm a tad disappointed in this
one track. First off, the lead guitar riffs, especially during the vocal lines,
are kinda basic and not really as striking as our one man band can really pull
off. But then again, it's a somewhat back to basics style of black metal. The
choruses do utilize some rather eerie blackened vocals that are drawn out and
almost whispered, as if a long departed ghost is retelling the story. There's
nice lead solo work, and dakr instrumentation, but I get the feeling we're
experiencing the start of Daemonskald's work with the most blackened of arts.
Once the followup kicks in ('Blood Of The North'), we realize that for Mr.
Daeomskald, the pace here is not meant to match that of the Norwegians. Still,
the tune starts off with nice acoustic and "chant" like atmospheres (Read: nice
synth work). Finally some faster paced blackened instrumentation rears it's
head. But don't get used to it, because it quickly fades from this album. Many
of the tracks here raise a dark but still epic feeling. 'Black Sun's Bane' is a
5 minute instrumental that, in the hands of any other band, would probably be a
track skipper, but not here. The use of synths to create ambient landscapes
works SO well on these tracks, and though they're usually in the background,
they are very noticeable when you have minimal instrumentation. You have two
more instrumentals before the CD closes out, 'Sonatorrek' with beautiful
acoustic guitar work and epic crafting of the acoustic like guitars, and the CD
ender 'Distant Northern Shore,' which utilizes the ocean washing against the
shoreline sounds amidst more amazing guitar work. And it is indeed the
classically influenced guitar work that will turn many a listener's ear, for
this man seems to be a master of this style, and makes it so epic and emotional
rather than just cranking out 100 miles per hour notations. 'Sleep Of The
Sword' was a very epic track, utilizing some folkish and almost medieval
acoustic patterns and of course the almost whispered/blackened style vocals.
Don't miss 'Eternal Return' for the 9 minute epic piece featuring a few more
teasers of fast paced black metal alongside almost tribal like percussion. The
title track gets a last mention as it too is a 9 minute piece, going back and
forth between minimal instrumentation and powerful yet still slower blackened
passages, and in fact the opening 2 minutes of this piece definitely portray a
rather militaristic war march due to the percussion and somewhat thrashy guitar
work. Daemonskald has created yet another great work of art, once that wrings
emotion and epic melody out of nearly every note and drum beat. Though it hits
a bit of a rough patch with the cut 'Midwinter Sacrifice,' this is still
another worthy album to your Sig:Ar:Tyr collection.
Contact: Morbid Winter Records.
SLEIPNIR "Bloodbrothers" (Gardarika) SCORE: 96/100
Now this is interesting. A British band singing about Viking gods (mainly Odin
and Thor), signed to a Russian record label. More interesting still is the fact
that this was originally recorded in 2008, presumably as a demo tape, and it
definitely shows in the production (where on a few tracks, most notably on
'Bloodbrothers Part 3, you'll hear varying levels of tape hiss). The tune
'Bloodbrothers' is in three parts, the first part opens up the disc with nice
synths and tribal percussion, and what I assume are synth multivocal chants
(you know, the "whoooah-oooh-ooh" thing). It definitely conveys the warrior
spirit quite nicely. Part 2 of the title track is merely an acoustic guitar
version of the aforementioned track, but this time with sung vocals of the
clean variety. And part 3 is solo tribal percussion to start, before giving way
to bringing about the opening instrumentation for the third time. THIS track,
however, features multivocal clean singing. I don't think it was necessary to
repeat this instrumentation three times, whether different instruments are used
or not. That's just me though, it's not a huge deal. 'Warriors Of Thor' starts
the disc offand I gotta say the high ended guitar work will definitely remind
some of Forefather in spots, though it definitely has a rough edge to it that I
dig (it's different). The blackened style vocals are interesting as well, as
they're not really the ultra brutal type, but they do convey an extreme metal
edge quite nicely. Just about every song has great catchy choruses too, mostly
utilizing clean sung vocals to bring about a different effect. 'Ancestral
Blood' decides to start things off with synths and acoustics before bringing
out the heaviness, but THIS track conveys a rather epic and doom metal feeling.
This is fitting since this track clocks in at 9 minutes in length! These are
quite long songs, folks, so don't expect a quick 3 minute piece. 'Once We Were
Kings' continues on in an epic fashion, and you'll hear some interesting double
bass drumming that's quite fast. In fact, it sounds like maybe too fast, and
I'm pretty sure these guys are using a drum machine. I could be wrong, but no
mention in the booklet of anything remotely drum related, so I have to assume
so since it seems Sleipnir was a two piece at the time of this original
recording. Another lengthy track in 'Wolves Of Odin' shows some downright
sinister guitar work, and another almost 9 minutes in length. I did enjoy the
sung vocals and much slower instrumentation that made this sound like an epic
drinking tune! 'Take Us To Valhalla' has more dark thrashy riffing, and it's
interesting the way it starts off with very light acoustic guitars and clean
multisung vocals, which sets the tone for the catchy choruses found within.
Eighth track 'Sons Of The Northern Land' I found to be not quite as good as the
other tracks, though I can still enjoy it. It too is a 9 minute piece, by far
the longest cut on the album, and it seems to have needed a bit more fleshing
out for it's length. It's almost 2 minutes and 34 seconds before the vocals
kick in, and some of the opening sound effects were hard to make out. Despite
all this, it's got some nice guitar work and an almost march like attitude,
though as I pointed out there's not a whole lot of variety (and the choruses
take quite some time to kick in). All in all, though, it's a damn good release
and warriors of Odin and Thor will find this CD to be a powerful hymn to the
Norse Gods of old. True Viking worship has found it's battle songs!
Contact: Gardarika Musikk.
THE HOWLING VOID "Shadows Over The Cosmos" (Solitude) SCORE: 100/100
Ah yes, the coveted PERFECT score, and it's rather fitting that one of the best
doom/death labels in the entire world carries the prize. What's even more
astounding about this band signed to a Russian record label is THEY HAIL FROM
THE U.S.!! What a win for us! This record is absolutely fucking PERFECT. The
atmosphere is created with beautiful and sometimes melancholic synthesized
ambient landscapes and amidst the slow and heavy percussion and guitar work is
the most amazing piano notations ever put to disc. If you're looking for nice
long songs that carry their weight WELL, this is the disc you NEED. 'The
Primordial Gloom' starts the disc off, weighing in at 12:20. You'll hear the
water and rain sounds throughout the disc, as if there's a theme to these
landscapes. The death vocals are quite vicious but somewhat in the background
so as not to conflict too harshly with the landscapes going on. All the tracks
do have a break in the middle (roughly) of a few minutes to vary things up a
bit; it's not all the same repetitive patterns the whole time (although that
would NOT bother me A BIT). Each song is VERY short on lyrics, which is
somewhat interesting to note when you read the lyrics and get the idea that
these are songs WELL over the 10 minute mark. Obviously the instrumentation
speaks a lot more loudly than the words.. The title track is the
longest cut here at over 14 minutes, and the guitar, drums and piano notes
start this off very well. Some of the darker guitar riffs sound like they're
being picked at a high rate of speed, which gave me the false impression that
maybe some of these guitar parts are sampled. For all the beautiful passages we
are spellbound by, there's some sorrowful work in there as well. 'Wanderer Of
The Wastes' has by far THE most amazingly beautiful framework of
instrumentation on the disc. If you're not moved by these etherial landscapes
then you don't have a pulse, or you don't understand true doom metal. Followup
track 'The Hidden Sun' is the shortest piece here, at 5 minutes, and quite a
beautiful instrumental. All you get here is main lead instrumentation which is
the piano notes, backed by synthesized ambient landscapes. And this track would
be a PERFECT piece to hear over a morning sunrise. (Hence the title I suppose).
Hell, this track COULD have been longer and I'd be even happier. Finally, the
closing cut on the disc 'Lord Of The Black Gulf' is easily the darkest and most
sinister track on the disc, especially considering the bell like notes in spots
and the very funereal like atmosphere the guitars and synths portray. However,
for all it's darkness, this track STILL contains amazingly beautiful passages.
Your 5 minute break contains barely audible acoustics, birds, synths and rain
sounds before suddenly jarring you back into the heaviness. I ALMOST took off a
point for that, but repeated listens prove that it's not a distraction. THIS
particular track is more along the lines of the sort of material they were
writing on their very first full length "Megaliths Of The Abyss," which is
almost unfair for me to note since I heard THAT album well after I had taken in
this disc in repeated listening sessions. What a fucking kick ass album; it's
the deepest essence of emotional doom/death metal, and obviously the greatest
highlight disc of 2010 for me. Interview WILL be forthcoming from this extreme
pick of issue #50...
Contact: Solitude Productions.
THE MORNINGSIDE "Moving Crosscurrent Of Time" (Bad Mood Man/Solitude) SCORE: 98/100
When I first heard their debut "The Wind, The Trees And The Shadows Of The
Past," I thought this Russian doom styled band was interesting, but nothing
prepared me for just how much this CD would totally annihilate their previous
effort! First off, right from the get go you'll notice that much of the guitar
work is oh-so catchy and utilizing some of the highest ended guitar notes that
soar with emotion. Right off the bat I'll say that the opening "intro" (Yea,
it's called an intro; their first CD had one too, but the "Outro" is worth
mentioning. We'll do that later) had to be skipped. It starts out cool enough,
with harsh bird and rough wind sounds, and a rather ambient landscape of
synths, but the synths soon get rather annoying before the track ends. Not a
huge deal, for once 'Fourteen' kicks in as one of the best tracks on the album,
you'll be thrilled at the ride. Oftentimes the guitar work keeps you wondering
if this is REALLY a doom metal oriented band, as the slower passages oftentimes
utilize a somewhat thrash set of guitar riffs (or choppy style riffs, whatever)
to accentuate the higher ended leads. And EVERY song here is chock full of
great solo instrumentation. You'll often hear the vocals disappear for about
two thirds to half of the song, only to close it out by the track's end. And
the brilliant guitar work is all over the place. 'Autumn People' carries things
on, with nice opening lead riffs. 'Insomnia' starts the track off with sick
blackened vocals, and they're quite intense. These lead guitar riffs are
starting to sound familiar; maybe it's because they're played around the same
fret pattern or because they're so high up. This track stops midway to bring
out a semi acoustic set of instrumentation. There's some interesting double
bass drumming to end the track, once again making you wonder if this really is
doom metal! The title trackhas a few odd leads around the 3:15 mark, and again
near the end of the song, but I think it's just two notes that struck me as
odd. There's a really interesting lead solo here that blazes away for a few,
though each note is crafted in a rising crescendo that really carries the
emotion of the song to new heights. The last actual "song" is 'The Outcome,'
and this is one of the most interesting and diverse cuts, mainly because around
the 4 minute mark there's some really vicious and dark thrash riffing going on!
You totally don't expect to hear THAT by this point. And the ending of the
track SHOULD be around the 7:15 mark, except there's this amazingly magical set
of synth ambience going on along with the repeating of the lead guitar parts,
and I though, what a fabulous way to end the CD! It's trippy, almost
psychedelic and totally amazing. However, the last track is the "outro," and it
resembles more a REAL song, since it has actual SUNG vocals (yes, and this is
the ONLY place on the CD you'll find clean sung vocals) and guitar, drums, etc.
It starts out with acoustical guitar work that you SWEAR you've heard before (I
think it's an acoustical version of riffs from a previous song). True to form,
even though it's a 7 minute track, the vocals don't appear until about 2:35.
This CD quite simply blew me away, with me getting hooked on 'Fourteen' and the
other tracks soon getting repeat nods. VERY little complaining to do here
folks, and I must say that you'll be questioning whether this disc is a TRUE
representation of a great mixture of black and doom metal. One of the best doom
styled bands to come from Russia, I daresay we are going to be blown away even
more at their next offering...
Contact: Bad Mood Man Music/Solitude Productions.
THE SWORD "Warp Riders" (Kemado) SCORE: 99/100
This is one kick ass record from start to finish! This band pulls off a sort of
retro 70's rock sound, coupled with NWOBHM leanings, some stoner rock
influences and all around catchy material! There's a few instrumental passages
on here as well that rival the heaviest tunes from Karma To Burn's entire back
catalog. The CD starts off with 'Acheron/Unearthing The Orb,' a nearly 4 minute
piece that opens the CD up with a bang, complete with great lead solos and an
almost Middle Eastern flair on the opening riffs showcasing their diversity
even further. Followup 'Tres Brujas' definitely turned out to be the right
track for their hit single and followup video, though thankfully, unlike most
other bands, the "hit single" is further complemented by many other killer
tracks. The vocal work is especially fitting, and though emotionally charged in
many places, never hits the high notes of some power metal singers (in case
that happens to not be your thing). 'Arrows In The Dark' is another fun sing
along, probably my second favorite on the record. The choppy thrash like riffs
in and around the choruses were a nice touch. 7 minute followup 'The
Chronomancer I: Hubris' starts off with a slower start, and vocals don't kick
in until about the 2 minute mark. Lots of instrumental passages on this one,
folks. 'Lawless Lands' had great guitar effects, and of course the barely
noticeable synths rear their psychedelic heads here (almost like a Hammond
organ style, which I really love). Great lyrics and catchy choruses abound on
this track. It's a slower tune but still very, very cool. 'Astraea's Dream' is
an instrumental, very spacey sounds and quite trippy. There's a doomy touch to
this instrumental, and the heavier passages really remind me of Karma To Burn.
The title track has the best example of soaring vocal work damn near
everywhere, and this track really rocks hard. It's a shorter tune, which proves
that The Sword can pack a lot of intensity and atmosphere into a 4 minute
piece. 'Night City' is DEFINITELY a NWOBHM styled piece, on down to the lyrics
which will remind some of the "scum and villainry" scenarios in Star Wars'
Mos Eisley Cantina. Yep, this album has a storyline to it, but it never
interferes with the progression and flow (and diversity) of the album, making
this probably one of the most successful concept albums I've ever heard. My one
lone complaint was with the CD ending track 'Tears Of Fire,' which is a great
song, but chooses to repeat at it's ending the opening short instrumental
passage. And of course we can't forget to mention the track 'Nemesis,' which is
The Chronomancer II, and it contains some of the darkest instrumentation on the
record (in a bizarre twist of fate, also reviewed here, the newest album from
Fungoid Stream "Oceanus," ALSO has a song called 'Nemesis,' which also contains
some of their darkest instrumentation on the record. More on that in the F.S.
review) Yes folks, this is an album that should be talked about for quite some
time, and though I haven't heard any other albums by The Sword, needless to say
I am now intrigued more than enough to start perusing their back catalog.
Contact: Kemado Records.
THROES OF DAWN "The Great Fleet Of Echoes" (Firebox) SCORE: 98/100
The last album I heard from Throes Of Dawn was "Binding Of The Spirit," and I
REALLY liked it. A lot... Though I didn't get the opportunity to digest
"Quicksilver Clouds" in it's entirety, I wasn't as impressed... Now, many years
later, what a surprise this is! The album is obviously VERY influenced by
Tiamat's "Deeper Kind Of Slumber" and the whole psychedelic, Pink Floyd like
melodic passages within (see the interview for more details). The album starts
off with 'Entropy,' and though it takes a few minutes before vocals kick in,
the minimal guitar work DEFINITELY reminds one of Pink Floyd. The electronic
percussion is utilized quite a bit here, and you'll hear a hint of extreme
vocal work on the disc, though to be honest it's more of a death metal variety
than what we heard on "Binding Of The Spirit." 'Ignition Of The Grey Sky' is
next, and the energetic and amazing melodic sung choruses will stick with you
for quite some time. And amidst the piano notations and melodic acoustic like
guitars, you'll notice LOTS of heavier guitar passages EVERYWHERE. SO, if you
liked "Deeper Kind Of Slumber," the vibe is still present, but it's presented
with MANY shades of extremely heavy guitar work. 'Velvet Chokehold' is another
great track, but some may skip this if you wish to hear only the melodic and
mellow vibe. It's extremely heavy, and has the death vocals all the way through
the track (more than any other cut on the disc). The tune has a somewhat
industrial vibe to it, most evident by the way the electronic synth notes and
the percussion are laid out (it took me awhile to notice this tho). 'Soft
Whispers Of The Chemical Sun' is easily the weakest cut on here, as it's kinda
poppy sounding, though adding some eerie touches and techno flavour. Oddly
enough, though it's not horrible and actually very listenable, as it still has
that kinda dreamy yet still eerie vibe. 'Chloroform' has that dark overtone
while still remaining mellow, especially with the sprinkling of harsh vocals in
the background. 'Slow Motion' was great as well, and continues the atmospherics
while adding the first real black metal styled scream midway through. 'We Have
Ways To Hurt You' adds more of the blackened vocals, though it does a good job
of mixing heavier instrumentation with the melodic singing and instrumentation.
The title track was most interesting, and if not for a followup could have been
the epic track effectively closing the album. There's definitely an eerie vibe
starting things out, and some rather otherworldly like vocals going on, and
yes, there's more death metal styled throat work. There's some HEAVY guitar
riffing, which does not betray the beautiful melodic ending that would have
been a delight on any Pink Floyd CD, complete with soaring vocal work! Think of
the midway point of Ozzy's 'No More Tears' with the piano notes. This track is
an 8 minute piece and DEFINITELY reminds me of a great mixture of earliest
Tiamat (via "The Astral Sleep") and "A Deeper Kind Of Slumber." CD ender 'Blue
Dead Skies' is ultra melodic all the way, kinda dreamy, and contains killer
ambient synthscapes and is a beautiful tune that contains some soaring sung
vocals. This CD took me a few spins before I could figure out what was going
on, but DAMN if the atmosphere isn't amazing. Tapping the essence of Tiamat's
"A Deeper Kind Of Slumber" and being more extreme that Tiamat was able to pull
off is no easy feat, especially when it all flows together almost naturally.
Give huge applause for Throes Of Dawn, as I'm sure this record took a hell of a
lot of thought and planning.
Contact: Firebox Records.
VARG "Blutaar" (Noise Art) SCORE: 95/100
Described as a pagan metal band, this is only their second full length release
since their inception in 2005. The vicious blackened vocals punish their way
through the disc with fury and power, on each and every song. And yes, the
lyrics are all in German, which makes for some odd moments (especially during
the spoken parts of a few songs). The "intro" ('Wolfsmond') starts things off
rather nicely, with orchestrated like synths ending the short piece (and wolf
noises too; after all, Varg means Wolf in both Swedish and Norwegian). The
guitar work is the first thing that catches your ear, and the high ended,
almost folkish and slightly epic riffs are a delight to the ears. 'Viel Feind
Viel Ehr' is a pretty good example of where the disc is at, with the catchy
guitar work and utter relentless percussion. Here and there, the band takes a
break to throw in some nice acoustic guitar work (though not on EVERY track).
'Invictus' is one of my favorite tracks, with some of the catchiest high note
guitar riffs on the record. This track in particular blazes by at a rapid
tempo, though it doesn't sit there all day! This song also features a nice lead
solo, something Varg doesn't indulge in very often. 'Sieg Oder Niedergang' I
didn't care for the opening of, almost a generic death metal set of riffs which
seem not to match with the rest of the instrumentation, which was, like other
tracks, top notch. The brief industrial like percussion starts off 'Blutaar,'
which makes use of a rather slow pace. I didn't care for the way the choruses
sounded, though being in the German tongue it sounded quite strange.
'Nebelleben' is your lone acoustic instrumental, which was quite nice for it's
short 2 minutes in length. And 'Seele,' track 6, starts off with rain and
acoustics, making for a nice halfway diversion from all the brutality.
Incidentally, before I forget, there are some death metal styled vocals rearing
their head at times as well. Sometimes duelling with the vicious blackened
vocals. 'Zeichen Der Zeit' crushes right out of the gate, building up speed and
slightly awkwardly dropping right into a slower pace. This would almost be
unforgiveable if the thrashy riffs weren't catchy as all hell. Swing your mug
of mead seems to be the order of the day around here! 'Wilde Jagd' starts off
with a sudden blast of blackened throat work, with LOTS of rockin' guitar
riffs, and even carrying some acoustic notations! The folkish feeling is there
folks, but this is full of vicious energy and a vibe that seems WAAY too heavy
for the pagan/folk genre that it's entrenched in. HIGHLY recommended,
especially if you love how harsh the German language sounds when under a
Contact: Noise Art Records.
WITCHERY "Witchkrieg" (Century Media) SCORE: 80/100
It's been a LONG time since we heard from the Swedish black/thrash war machine.
This time around, Legion from Marduk is handling vocal duties, a combination I
was extremely excited about when I first heard of it. Though we don't get any
help or support from Century Media anymore, THIS was one of the records I was
anxiously awaiting for 2010. Does it meet expectations? Sort of. First off, let
me say the most encouraging thing about this record is the choruses. Witchery
always knew how to craft sick and catchy choruses, even on some of these songs
I DIDN'T like. As for the rest? Legion's vocals are some of the sickest and
most inhuman I've heard since his Panzer Division days in Marduk, and he is
utterly forceful, to the point where it gives this nightmarish sickness a
sudden urgency and explosive potency. That being said, it's the riffs where
Witchery seems to fall short in. Many songs have such crushing thrashy riffs,
but many times too they go off on a tangent that oftentimes threatens to ruin
the explosive build the songs have going for them. 'Witchkrieg' starts the disc
off right, with sick choruses, vicious riffing and a thunderous percussion base.
They were wise in making this particular song into a video. Followup 'Wearer Of
Wolf's Skin' pummels the listener with vicious speedy riffs, incorporating a
more blackened element to the core sound. And why not? Still, on this tune you
hear some slower riffing that threatens to ruin the vibe this song has going
for it. 'The God Who Fell From Earth' sees Witchery writing in a slower vein,
and though they've been known to dabble in creepy and eerie vibes, it always
worked out well in the past. Not so here, as 'The God...' is one of their
weakest cuts. That being said, the choruses are still catchy, and a few lead
solos are good. Even in the guest solos from Hank Shermann, a few are rather
off kilter, as if he really didn't understand the scope of the song.
'Conqueror's Return' is another vicious tune with some sick choppy riffs, that
once again contain a few slower odd passages. Gary Holt makes a guest
appearance on the cut 'The Reaver,' which is not unfitting considering that the
riffs are a blatant rip off of the Exodus hit 'Strike Of The Beast,' largely
considered to be one of Exodus' most vicious cuts from their entire catalog.
I've always thought this tune lends itself well to vicious blackened vocals,
and here Legion does NOT disappoint. The choruses are, of course, musically and
lyrically different, but don't be surprised if you hear VERY familiar lyrics
that parallel with the 1985 classic. 'From Dead To Worse,' a slower cut that
works VERY WELL. The whole creepy, evil, eerie vibe again. I dig the whole vibe
here, including the choruses. The melodic lead solo out of nowhere? Damn, who's
idea was that? Oh yeah, Andy LaRoque. Someone shoulda sat down with him before
he released that onto a Witchery album. I definitely didn't get into the 'Witch
Hunter' tune, it has very odd leads starting out that carry on, and the odd yet
sudden tempo changes made this a non win for me. Once again, the choruses are
good. 'Hellhound' was the surprise hit, doing a complete 180: the choruses are
slower delivery, while speedy and vicious instrumentation along with Legion's
demonic gravelly screeches, make this another winner. 'One Foot In The Grave'
and 'Devil Rides Out' were both excellent tracks, though the slower
instrumentation pieces on the latter didn't distract totally from the sick
lyrics and kick ass choruses. So you see the problems inherent on this disc.
Yes, it's still a good disc. Yes, this band definitely needs to tighten up on
the instrumentation writing. And yes, this band still kicks your fuckin' ass
up and down the street. Still, it's not as good as Witchery albums are SUPPOSED
Contact: Century Media Records.
WOLFSHADE "When Above..." (Wraith) SCORE: 94/100
Hailing from France, this is a very interesting project. Though I haven't heard
their two previous full lengths, I'm definitely going to have to look back at
their past as this record is very interesting. It's been known to me for awhile
now that France has a very interesting black metal scene, especially with bands
as diverse as Glorior Belli, Mortifera and Elhaz. And like their fellow
countrymen Mortifera and Elhaz, they prefer to vocalize in their own language.
First off, you get a nice intro which contains some very mellow synthscapes; a
good start to what you'll be hearing later on. First cut 'Ex Nihilio' showcases
some nice piano notations and killer guitar work. The blackened vocals on
display are quite torturous, and I do imagine they are what will make or break
this band for some people, as the almost banshee like screeching black metal
will take some getting used to. I am surprised I actually like them, for I am
VERY particular about higher toned black metal vocals, and I suspect that these
vocals wouldn't work anywhere else. The music is ALMOST like doom metal, but
is a bit more on the melodic side than you'd normally hear in doom metal, and
the tempo isn't quite slow enough (though close). It's amazing to me just how
close this comes to being a depressive blackened doom outfit. The overall mood
of many of the tracks is indeed a sort of melancholic sadness and despair, and
the vocals REALLy drive this point home. 'Bene Elohim' starts out kinda slow,
a bit doom oriented, and you'll often hear whispered and low spoken vocals
within the framework of several songs. This particular tune has LOTS of the
high screeching blackened vocals, and is probably one of the ones that people
will dislike the most, as the vocals are extremely dominant here. These songs
are quite long, and you will hear lots of solo instrumentation, so there's lots
to enjoy. The other nice thing I noticed about this CD is even when the guitar
work switches to acoustic type, and you're supposed to be hearing softer
passages, the drums stay dominant and in the foreground, keeping you connected
to the heavier side so as not to suddenly jar you back into the heavier
atmosphere from the "quieter" instrumentation. I thought this was a very cool
feature, one that should probably be utilized a bit more amongst those who feel
the need to vary the songs in mood. And 'Threnodie Pour Un Astre Mourant' has
to open up with scratchy record sounds, which I usually despise, but it does
add a nice old timey feel to the track. This track in particular has some
faster instrumentation which will remind you strongly of their Nordic black
metal roots; in fact it's the only track on the disc where you'll hear this.
Most noteworthy is the haunting piano and guitar notes near the end of track 6
'Le Refugie Des Passions,' and some of the most torturous and long winded
screams on the disc, and CD ender 'Incipit Vita Nova' ends the CD well with
spoken male and female vocals going together, followed by sick vocals that
sounds like this guy totally ripped his vocal chords out! It's obvious that
though some may not be able to tolerate the vocal work, you cannot deny that
the emotions are raging throughout every shriek and painful wail. Such an
oppressive atmosphere to come from some beautiful and melancholic music. A true
master of the emotional craft.
Contact: Wraith Productions.
BORN OF SIN. Email interview with Henning Nielsen...
One thing that kind of puzzles me is how you're being labeled as a
melodic death metal band, when there's not only clear cut evidence of black
metal style vocals and instrumentation, but the material presented within is
really too vicious to have a melodic tag! True, some songs display some melody,
but overall wouldn't you say you've been wrongly "labeled?"
I totally agree with you. But after I've read that we are a melodic death metal
band several times even I have told people that we belong to that genre and
then wondered why the hell I said that. In Flames maybe fits into that
description Born of Sin don't.
It was interesting to see two demos release before signing with
Unexploded Records for your first EP release. Did it take two demos before any
record labels became interested? And were there any other offers from other
labels to sign you guys?
We sent out demos to every label we thought could be interested, only a couple
of them bothered to respond. Unexploded Records was always lurking in the
shadows because our former bassist, Alex, did their website and stuff like
that. So they knew all about us from the start. To keep it short we were tired
of waiting and we signed to them.
Speaking of the demos and EP, I'm curious as to why some songs from
the demos and EP's were released on your first full length and why some were
left off? Are the songs that didn't make the album to be released on some
I don't think any old songs can make it to our next album. For example 'Angel's
Death Row' is totally re-made with updated lyrics and new riffs. Besides, it
would not feel right to re-release any more old songs. The new ones we got are
so much better!
How is Unexploded for you as a label? How many albums are you
signed for; are there any other interesting details about the contract you can
tell us (for example, is there merchandise or tour support?)
Well, to be honest they don't really care about us. They might suggest tours we
can't afford or send us a review once in a while. They care more about their
obscure black metal bands and releasing limited stuff with them. Besides the
EP, we've got a two record contract with them, and fair enough, they helped us
with our first releases, but I feel no real support from them at all.
Being a band that's been around for a bit, I'm curious why it took
almost 7 years to release your first full length? It seems like you had a 3
year period of inactivity between your EP and full length release.
I guess we needed the time to learn to play our instruments properly, haha! And
we can be pretty lazy I guess. It can go weeks between rehersals. And as time
moves on we got jobs, kids and what not. Our singer has two kids and one on the
way. I had a kid about seven months ago. There has been some changes in the
lineup as well. As mentioned earlier, our bass player Alex had to leave. He
just disapeared during a crucial moment when we were working on "Imperfect
Breed..." He was involved in a lot, like artwork, the labels funding etc. I
ended up paying for the mastering. We had to let him go. And earlier this year
Krigge, a founding member that's been with us from the start, left the band.
The "new" guys had to learn all the songs and that takes time. We are a bit
spread out as well. Hjalle lives in Gothenburg and Matte, the new guitar player,
lives in Stromstad.
The album seems to deal with lots of antichristian sentiments,
especially on songs like 'Walk With The Lord' and 'Our Infamous God'. I'm of
the opinion that christianity breeds weakness and reliance on old and outdated
religious texts that no one can even really verify or prove existence of.
I agree. But it's really Jerker who's doing the lyrics. I don't care for
religion at all and that includes satanism. Religion is for the weak who wants
easy answers and who don't want to think for themselves. All the lyrics should
be considered as stories but if you can think for yourself you understand that
all the religious lunatics are mislead, no doubt about that. Hmm getting a bit
aggrevated, let's leave that topic for now...
'Shapeshifter' was an interesting track that goes back to your demo
days. Tell us about the lyrical content for this one. It's one of my favorite
tunes along with 'In Sickness'.
Haha... I actually wrote the lyrics for that one. I was 19 and had just broken
up with my girlfriend. It's a pretty juvenile hatesong dedicated to her. The
title really says it all.
How has the live front been? Tell us about some concerts you've
done, which bands have you played live with and share with us some funny
stories from the road.
We don't do live shows as often as we'd like to. We have shared the stage with
bands like Impious, One Man Army, Dismember, Lord Belial, Dark Fortress, Totalt
Javla Morker, Evergrey and Legion to mention some of them. We did a two week
tour in europe with Lord Belial and Dark Fortress and it was chaos I tell you.
After the first gig we were stuck in a rest area for eight hours because the
bus driver refused to drive another inch unless he got his money. One gig got
cancelled because of some severe flooding. The bassplayers in Lord Belial and
Dark Fortress had a fart contest in the bus and thousands of beers were
consumed. In Holland, I think it was in Rotterdam, the whole band got high just
breathing the air inside the venue. After the gig we were pretty wasted. Dark
Fortress left the tour after four shows due to the singers mental health. It
was misery but we had lot of fun and I remember the tour with a big grin on my
Now I know that one of your members used to play in the band Lord
Belial, but several other bands are said to be active that your band mates are
involved with. Is Born Of Sin more of a side project or a real band? I know
that all other bands are active, though most have only released demos; will
there be full length releases from Enthralled, Conformatory, or Nightspirit?
Tell us a bit about these bands, I know the Born Of Sin singer is also the same
vocalist in the band Nightspirit.
Born Of Sin is definetly not a side project, but especially Robert has a few
other projects. I don't think we will hear anything more from Conformatory,
though. Hjalle loves Enthralled, but it's been sleeping for quite some time
now. Since Mikael left for Impious they haven't had a drummer. And Erik plays
with Impious now as well. Nightspirit is put on ice once again, they don't have
the time needed to do it proper and they don't want to do it half hearted. Born
Of Sin is the only band I've ever been in.
Now that the record "Imperfect Breed Of Humanity" is out (and has
been out for over a year now), are there any plans to release a new record? Any
song titles, themes or lyrical ideas you've been working on?
We have about seven new songs and they are really killer stuff! Hjalle is a
truly brilliant guitar player and songwriter and we work really well together.
It will sound a bit more mature and varied. I hope that we will release the new
record next year, but with little or no support from the label, we have to do
everything ourselves. I guess 2012 is more realistic. We have a few titles,
'7.62', 'Slithering', 'I Have Blinded The Eyes Of God' to mention a few. Since
Jerker writes the lyrics, I can't talk about them. But a title like '7.62'
kinda speaks for itself.
Upon reading through your website, I read that you had a demo
called "The Beheader" that hasn't been released as of yet. I know you cited
lineup problems early on, but is the material good enough in your opinion to be
released someday? Tell us about this demo, as the Encyclopedia Metallum lists
the demo and songs that were on it.
I don´t see any reason to release that one again. It's badly played and rushed.
It was recorded in 2003 with Marko Tervonen from The Crown behind the mixing
table. Parts of "The Beheader" were used in 'Angels Deathrow'.
I'm curious about the album's title "Imperfect Breed Of Humanity".
Tell us about what this album's title means to you. Of course, humanity has
always been imperfect, and sometimes that really fucks a lot of people up!
Again, it's Jerker who came up with that one and we all thought it was a good
title. To me it just seems fitting to describe a species that never learns,
that can't share, who uses religion and differences as an excuse to hate and
kill each other.
Being North of Gothenberg, Sweden, considered by many to be one of
the founding capitals of the whole Gothenberg scene (along with Stockholm for
the birth of modern death metal alongside Tampa Florida here in the States),
how do you see that whole Gothenberg scene nowadays? Are there still a lot of
concerts performed there, I know many of the bands are still active (with the
exception of At The Gates).
I think the whole Gothenburg thing is washed out. But I've never been very
involved or fond of it. Sure, I listened to In Flames for a while and At The
Gates' "Slaughter Of The Soul" is a killer record, but I don't really care a
lot about that scene. And the American take on it is pretty bad. The clean
vocal refrain shit... yuk. I love the Swedish The Haunted though. But the In
Flamish sounding bands...no thanks.
There are definite black metal influences in the newest release.
What do you think of the whole Norwegian scene? Did you correspond with any of
the members of bands like Mayhem, Emperor, Immortal, etc? Have you ever played
shows with any of those black metal bands? How do you feel about all the
church burnings and the murder of Euronymous?
I don't listen to black metal. I'm more into death, thrash, heavy metal. I love
Nevermore! They got a cool thing going. Gojira's new album's got some black
metal in it, though. I absolutely love that one. Jerker listens to black metal
though, and I guess our former guitar player Krigge at least came up with black
metal sounding riffs we simply thought were good enough to include. But we
didn't say "This song needs some black metal in it!". It just happened. We just
play what comes out. There is no thought behind it. We have no contact with any
of the bands you mention. As for the church burnings and murders....It's just
too much. All that shit about being true. What the fuck does it even mean? I
play in a band because it's fun and I love to play, that's true for me.
If there's anything else you want to talk about at length that we
didn't chat about, feel free to do so as we wrap this up...
It was really nice hearing from you, good luck with all the metal related stuff
you're involved in! I just like to thank you and all the people who support us!
Stay tuned for new songs and gigs. Bring us over to the US and we'll give you a
thundering live show! Cheers!
FUNGOID STREAM. Interview with Simon O via email.
I remember when I purchased "Celaenus Fragments" via a recommendation from a
friend. And believe me, I don't have very many music knowledgeable friends that
would know about an Argentinian band playing a very unique style of doom metal.
And that CD was reviewed quite a few years ago. So 6 years had passed and I
kinda forgot about the band... Until I heard "Oceanus". Folks, this record is
really good.. And it's different... Read on to see HOW different, as there
aren't a whole lot of metal bands, doom or otherwise, coming from the depths of
South America. Maybe their isolation from the rest of the world is a good thing
when you realize how unique their sound is.
It's good to see the album "Oceanus" finally getting released by
Furias. Still though, why a wait of 6 years between albums?
The album was ready to be released by 2008. You can blame it on the so called
global crisis, because it was mostly a matter of resources, I think.
Furias Records doesn't seem to have a lot of releases out, and it
seems even harder to order the album from them. Have you ever tried to see if
other record labels would distribute your albums?
Furias Records is a label that has been working on extreme metal genres from
fifteen years ago. They never sell world wide, using distributors along the
world. We are totally and completely satisfied with Furias and they have been
very supporting with us.
"Celaenus Fragments" was a good release, but I do believe that
"Oceanus" is even better, though I still enjoy both albums. How do you feel
"Oceanus" differs from your first effort? When making "Oceanus", did you feel
the need to do anything differently?
Despite (the fact that) we are really happy with "Celaenus Fragments", we can
note a kind of growth from the first album to "Oceanus". The music keeps the
sound and atmosphere, but it's more "complete" (perhaps it's not the right
word). Of course, these differences just appeared in the process of composing;
they weren't an objective to accomplish on purpose.
It seems to me that the theme of this album deals with the
underwater dwellings of Lovecraft's beings. Though I don't have lyrics for this
album, I am curious to know the overall theme or stories by Lovecraft this
album is based on.
Most of Fungoid Stream's tracks are called like the Lovecraft's poem where the
verses for lyrics were taken. Searching these poems in "Fungi From Yuggoth And
Other Fantastic Poems" will lead you to our lyrics. It's a valuable reading.
And you're right, some of them deal with the always terrifying - as Lovecraft
felt - ocean.
While on the subject of "Oceanus", I am curious about the Garden Of
Yin, as that's not a name I recognize from Lovecraft's stories (keep in mind
though that I haven't read EVERYTHING he's written yet).
So you must start reading Lovecraft right now. Perhaps, today it's a common
place to quote Lovecraft. Fortunately, that can't harm his work at all. Just
read it. I suggest you starting with "The Call of Cthulhu" and "The Color Out
One thing that was interesting, was the midway point of "Oceanus",
the track 'Interlude - The Pnakotic Manuscripts'. I'm curious how you came
about doing some of the otherworldly voices, as it sounds like one of the
creatures is a bit sad, or maybe even injured at one point.
We use a mix of whale chanting and other animal sound samples, for keeping the
"oceanic" atmosphere. Joseph thought that it could work with the orchestral
instrumentation, and we were very satisfied with the result.
The CD ending track 'Nemesis' was probably one of the darkest cuts
on the CD. Who or what is the Nemesis in the story? I get the feeling that it
may be man once he discovers the different creatures that may dwell within the
'Nemesis' is a long poem of HPL. The most used verses in this track are: "I
have seen the dark universe yawning, here the black planets roll without aim,
where they roll in their horror unheeded, without knowledge or lustre or name".
The deep of the ocean is just like the outside space. In fact, it can hide
Many artists that cover Lovecraft in their works tend to focus more
on the dark and sinister side of his creations, but it's quite obvious from
your music that you see serenity and a rather melancholic beauty to the
underwater realm. I'm curious about the overall thematic to the "Oceanus" CD;
how did you choose what instrumentation to use for these tracks? Maybe these
creatures are peaceful when not threatened?
In the Lovecraft universe, ocean was always a source of terror and lurking
fears. And in Lovecraft's words "When I think of the extent of all that may be
brooding down there I almost wish to kill myself forthwith". That's the
conflict: the apparently peaceful underwater realms hide "things".
What Lovecraft stories are your favorite? I know several of his
works have yet to be redone in movie format, though I did enjoy the 1930's
silent type film "Call Of Cthulhu", which was excellently done, and of course
the movie adaptation of "Dagon" was quite nice. "Dreams In The Witch House",
which was a short story done for the Showtime series "Masters Of Horror", was
interesting as well.
"At The Moutains Of Madness", "The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward", "The Call Of
Cthlulhu", "The Whisperer In The Darkness", "The Shadow Out Of Time", "The
Hound", "The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath". We haven't watched any movie about
an HPL story yet.
What do you think it was about H.P. Lovecraft's work that has
inspired so many authors and musicians? I know it was a bit unusual for the
time period he wrote in (the 1920's and 30's), but it seems like many musicians
of late have gotten into Lovecraft's stories and adapted them to music (like
Tyranny, The Unquiet Void: Bal Sagoth even touched on Lovecraft briefly).
It's a very interesting question. I cannot imagine the real reason. In some
cases (not the ones you mentioned above), I detected that HPL references were
used as a "good formula". I mean, extreme music + extreme horror = extreme art,
and I've doubted if they were HPL's readers. Also, there was a kind a HPL
"re-discovering" by the 80's and later. Now, I hope, he can rest with the other
great writers of the world literature.
Now that "Oceanus" is out, it seems to be getting a LOT of good
press. Have you read all the reviews of your latest album? What do you remember
that stood out the most? Have you done many interviews?
We've read just two or three reviews, fortunately all favourable. I personally
remember one that said that starting from the cover album, you will find
something different, but without leaving the funeral doom genre. We haven't got
too much interviews, this is the fifth or sixth since Fungoid Stream was born.
Is Fungoid Stream a live band as well? I'm curious how this would
be pulled off, as it seems a lot of the music is more synthesizer based than
guitar, which is good in one way as it allows for more diverse sounds. Have you
been invited to do any doom metal festivals or overseas shows?
Fungoid Stream have not played live so far, and there is no plans in the short
term for doing that.
Have you started working on a new full length release yet for
Fungoid Stream? I know it may be too soon after the release of your latest
album, but maybe you have some lyrics, themes or song titles in mind?
Not yet. I am waiting for the release of the second album of Qhwertt, my own
What other doom metal bands do you enjoy? Personally, I am rather
surprised Solitude Productions (out of Russia) or I Hate Records (out of
Sweden) hasn't inquired about you guys yet, as those labels put out very good
doom metal. Are you into bands like Worship, Tyranny (who also delve into
vicious Lovecraft themes), Ea, or The Howling Void?
We know that our releases are available at Solitude Productions and Stygian
Crypt (both from Russia), and we really like the bands you have mentioned.
Other doom (and not so doom) bands we like are: Esoteric, Forest of Shadows,
Morgion, Evoken, Skepticism, Dolorian, Endura, Void of Silence, Saturnus,
Elend, and Dark Sanctuary.
Finally, what other bands from Argentina would you recommend? I am
familiar with Los Natas, who I have enjoyed for years, and of course
Dragonauta, unfortunately those are the only two artists from your country I am
familiar with. Is there a big doom metal scene down there?
Yes, there is a lot of doom metal listeners here, but we are quite disconnected
from the real scene, due to we are not a live band. Anyway, the bands you
mentioned and most of that you can find at www.metal-archives.com (searching
Argentina and doom metal) are talented bands.
GRIFTEGARD. Interview with Ola via email...
One of the most exciting doom metal records of 2009 was unleashed upon us with
the album "Solemn, Sacred, Severe", though a quandary exists: This didn't come
out in the U.S. until 2010, and I daresay is one of the top doom releases for
this year. Regardless of that fact, Griftegard has achieved a number of
"firsts", if I may be so bold. First off, they are the first doom band to be
signed to Van Records, a label that so far has put out a number of high quality
black metal styled acts. But most importantly (to my knowledge), this is the
first band I have ever come across that has an ex member of the religious group
known as Jehovah's Witnesses. As a former member of such an organization myself
I was highly encouraged to seek out one who had obviously gone through some of
the same frustrations and harrowing events I myself had experienced due to my
forced indoctrination into this small but growing religious "concern". One of
the most unusual interviews, and with a man who obviously has done a LOT of
soul searching. Enjoy this interesting interview, and a rather unusual look
into a religion that not many truly know in depth.
Much has been made about your involvement with the Jehovah's
Witnesses. I too was somewhat "indoctrinated" by them as well when I was
younger; it was rather forced upon me by my parents. That being said, I came to
recognize that they did have some valid points, especially where man's early
religions were concerned; however the sticking point for me was their almost
"elitist" attitude, where they feel that their religion is the only right one
and that only those who follow their path will enter paradise. Do you feel that
was as well? Are you still involved with them and if not, what was the deciding
factor for you?
First of all I must say that it is very interesting to answer an interview from
someone who has, more or less, the same religious experiences as myself; it is
the first time it has happened to me. Just like you the JW faith was imposed
upon me by my parents, I and my sisters were born into the sect. And to say
that the JW's are elitist is not to go too far, I think, since they actually
believe that everyone who isn't a witness will not live in the paradise on
earth that comes after Armageddon has unfolded. When I was involved I shared
their world view; that people who had not seen the light, so to speak, were to
be looked upon as dead.
I am not involved in any way with the JW's anymore; I left when I was thirteen,
a year after my parents. The biggest of the deciding factors for me were, of
course, that my parents decided to quit. Subsequently, since we lived out in
the country side far from the nearest JW congregation, there was no chance for
me to come to their meetings. This was solved by the congregation however; they
sent a man home to me and my younger sister and with him we got to continue our
bible studies. Also our grandmother was still a member and through her we got
"the word" as well. Still, being a JW became more difficult for me from then
on, and at the same time I got my eyes opened by my parents, who showed me how
the other members of the sect, in various ways, were as hypocritical as the
society they shunned. In addition Metal entered, and altered, my life round my
thirteenth year, through my cousin that played such blasphemous things as AC/DC
and Maiden to me. He had tried to get me hooked on Metal years before this as
well, but back then I really didn't dare listen to what the sect deemed as "the
devil's music..." Once the JW's grip on me loosened I got more and more
absorbed by this new forbidden fruit though, and finally I managed to break
free, at least from the immediate influence from other witnesses.
One thing about the Jehovah's Witnesses I felt rather respectful
about was they weren't just 30 minutes in church on Sunday and that was the
extent of their faith: they actually had classes and were actively going door
to door doing the preaching work. I understood them to be emulating the work of
Jesus when he preached to men and women everywhere: do you feel this is a valid
work to be engaged in? I mean if you believe in religion, and it becomes your
focal point in life, surely studying and practicing is important to your faith.
I agree, being a witness is not limited to 30 minutes in church on Sunday but
something you are 24/7, just like it should be with anything you profess to be
a follower of – everything else is hypocrisy. Witnesses sacrifice a big portion
of their spare time from work to spreading the word of God and, knowing the JW
doctrine, it is mandatory to do so for any reasonably healthy JW individual.
This type of dedication is worthy of respect no doubt. This said there were
witnesses, at least in "our" congregation that didn't always practice what they
preached. On the whole I admire, and to some extent also envy, the JW's
dedication and fanatical belief – knowing you have God to lean upon in all that
you do is a source of enormous strength.
Do you still feel any effects from your involvement with the
Witnesses? I know personally the fear and dread that this strictest of
religions has placed upon my soul still haunts me a bit to this day, despite
the spiritual path that I now find myself happy to walk upon. I'm not sure how
different the European branches of the organization are from the American ones,
but I assume it has a lot to do with the popular cultures in both regions.
The effect of the witness's indoctrination upon who I am today I cannot
emphasize enough. Ever since birth I have had this feeling of impending Doom
over me, and even though I now can rationally think that Christ probably won't
come crashing in through the stratosphere and kill me the feeling is still
there, Doom has been a constant in almost everything I have ever done. The
first years after I left the sect I was sure I would not live past the
millennium, for many reasons. This made me neglect studying, trying to get a
career etc, cause what would be the use of this, I was to die soon anyway?
However in the mid nineties this notion started to wane and that's when the
real struggle of healing started. I began searching seriously, reading up on
occultism and other religions, doing a round in the new age swamp, indulged in
the UFO question and dipped a toe into Satanism. I was all confused, to be
frank. At times I was apathetic, at others so filled with anxiety I could
hardly sit still – life was a roller coaster ride between despair and lethargy
and everything in between. Today the search is what remains, basically. I am
far from free from anxiety and depression still threatens to paralyze but all
in all I believe I am on the right track, at least spiritually and as far as
self development goes. Guess one could say I have finally grown up. I've no
idea how the U.S and European branches of the JW's differ, but what I can read
out from your questions they seem to be quite homogenous.
I know in the lyrics you sometimes feel that maybe God and Christ
have turned their backs on you. I personally feel that the true creator of this
universe (whatever format that may be) should be so far and above simple human
emotions: using the arguments in the bible, hasn't the creator been around for
billions of years? Surely our simple mundane day to day tasks and human
failings aren't as hurtful to such a powerful and omnipotent being.
To my defense I must state that I, at least to some extent, use God and Christ
metaphorically in the lyrics, and also that some of them date from far back in
time. These days, when I am able to think straighter than in my youth, I see
just how base parts of the Bible really are, and how much of it is a work of
its time. An omnipotent being would probably be indifferent to our petty human
failures, yes, but then again I believe it is useless attempting to
philosophize around what an omnipotent being thinks because we could never hope
to identify with God anyway.
You mention in the bio that you are somewhat of a spiritual natured
person, which is exactly where my thoughts and influences have turned. I
personally feel the spiritual path is more liberating and powerful, no longer
feeling that an angry and jealous god will either burn me in hell or destroy me
for eternity for the mere 70 or 80 (or so) years that I will live on this
earth. Are there philosophers or spiritual teachers that you have learned from?
I wouldn't want to single out any specific philosophers or spiritual teachers
that I have learned more from than any other. I read a lot, and a lot of
different things: pure fiction, occult teachings, philosophy, the bible,
scientific articles and everything in between and I pick up bits and pieces
from these sources that I try to fit into a cohesive view of reality. What I
have learned though is that as soon as I believe I have created a picture of
how reality works it is shattered by new insights, and that this is as it
should be. No one teacher has the answers to everything and tying oneself too
hard to a particular track means you miss out on all the others. Just look at
science for example – here we have shitloads of the sharpest minds on earth
studying their "own" small portion of reality, blind to everything else around
them and unwilling to take in influences from other fields of science,
philosophy, the so called supernatural. This is not a creative way of gaining
knowledge, nor is it fruitful in the long run. I believe that in order to reach
true wisdom and real knowledge you need to be a renaissance man of sorts,
knowing a little, but preferably a lot, about everything. This is what I am
trying to become (however much hubris it may involve on my part) during the
little time I have left when my day job, family, and my biggest passion
Griftegard, has got its time from me.
In my quest for true insight I have found that having a conversation partner
that can relate and give feedback is invaluable and I am happy to say I have
found one which I meet with regularly.
One of the things I have felt empowered by is the positive mindset
that helps me to attract the good that I am ever seeking. And by good, I don't
mean "Oh, I'm being a good boy now", I mean the good things in life that I
desire, whether it be money, love, etc. Lots of metal bands, especially the
black metal ones, see this life as constant misery and suffering, and that man
is a plague on this planet, etc. But since seeing things differently, I
constantly look for the good in people and situations, and it has helped me to
use my mental powers to create the reality in which I desire to live in. Are
you familiar with movies like The Secret, or positive thinkers/philosophers
like Bob Proctor, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle and the like?
A positive mindset empowers, this is impossible to deny, just as it is safe to
say that focusing on the negative aspects of life and reveling in them
generates misery – the laws of affirmation should be obvious to everyone but
sadly isn't. This said I totally understand people who look darkly upon
existence and who approach life with an ironic sneer; it is one thing to know
the laws of affirmation, it is something completely different to implement
them. Many people don't have the strength or well being to do so, and I was one
of them when I was younger and more hateful in general and, subsequently, more
immature. I still feel really low from time to time, but the difference between
my younger self and who I am today is that I have realized from where the roots
of my negativity stem, and this has helped a lot, since I now am able to direct
my frustration and anger towards the right things.
All this said I can still state that I believe man to be a plague to this
planet, BUT it is not man in general that is to blame but the powers that be
that holds the spirit of man in shackles. The world order "our" herders have
built for them to thrive in furthers greed, materialism and the superficial and
hinders man from realizing his spiritual potential/the potential of being the
best he can be, and it is towards these herders we should direct our hate, not
our fellow slaves.
Regarding "The Secret" – I very rarely watch films of any kind cause most are a
bore and the majority is either consciously or unconsciously supportive of the
agenda of the elite – I am too critical and paranoid to really enjoy at least
any new films. I have not read anything by Bob Proctor, Deepak Chopra or
Eckhart Tolle but maybe I should. On the subject of name dropping in this
context; Bill Hicks (R.I.P.)! He saw through the mire we're in and unveiled
much truth, with an ironic sneer for sure, but with a fantastic sense of humor
and completely open eyed.
I've tended to think that mentally if you decide what you will and
will not allow in your realm, it will or will not happen according to your
will. It's been said that our life is a direct creation of what our minds
constantly focus and fixate on, how much truth do you feel there is in that? Do
you believe that a person can change their life by changing what their minds
focus on? I know quantum physics is utilized by man to explain how we directly
shape and "create" our universe by thought alone, where it is explained that a
particle (I assume a molecule or atom or some other microscopic unit) changes
it's behavior depending on who and by how it is being observed. This leads me
to believe that our thoughts are VERY powerful and can actually manipulate the
very essence of our immediate universe.
I think I partially answered this question in my previous answer but I might
add that I am sure we can affect our environment by visualizing and by focusing
our mental powers towards a desired goal. This is what magic is all about and I
believe that what we now see is how the science of physics catches up with the
age old knowledge of the magicians of the natural world.
Do you feel that man has a chance on this planet, or is he doomed.
A lot of people think that our greatest reward lies beyond this realm, whereas
some of the spiritual teachers are trying to get the point across that we can
have our "slice of heaven" NOW, in this life on this world.
Man, in the state that he is now, spiritually, has no chance, and should not
have one either. This farce cannot go on any longer - come Armageddon! Of
course we have the potential to create paradise on earth, but it takes for
everyone to make a conscious decision to do what is best for us all as a
collective. Our chances to do so however are virtually nonexistent unless we
collectively wake up and realize who we really are – consciousnesses
blindfolded in a shitstorm of lunacy created by earthbound and, possibly,
unearthly, powers of evil. As for a heaven waiting beyond this realm; I doubt
it, at least that what is waiting for us would be anything like the heaven of
the Christians or Muslims – an end station of eternal bliss. I find the
Buddhist teachings of Nirvana more likely, however reasoning in terms of
likelihood in a context of belief and faith is of course unfruitful. What is
important, once again, is to not close the door to any possibility until you
feel truth deep within.
I never got to, unfortunately, hear your first effort "Psalm Bok"
with the one track that didn't make it to the full length ('Paul Gustave
Dore'). Is there any chance that track will make it to a future release?
'Dore' might be re-recorded if we can justify it to ourselves and,
subsequently, to our fans. A re-recording must add something to the idea of the
song – it must enhance it in some way, just a rehash will not do.
I saw where you played the Doom Shall Rise festival in 2007.
I'm obviously curious as to how that went, since at that time your only release
was the EP. What songs did you play live? Did you get to experience any of the
other performing artists at that particular festival? I know Mar De Grises
played the festival in 2005 I believe, and I would have loved to be able to see
Actually we played at DSR for the first and only time (this far) in 2009, but
our demo Psalmbok, that later was came out as a vinyl EP, was released at the
festival in 2007. The songs we played, as far as I can recall at least, were
'Charles Taze Russel', 'Paul Gustave Dore', 'The Mire' and 'Punishment &
Ordeal'. The gig was a great experience for all of us and DSR holds a special
place in my own heart as I have been a regular visitor since the second time it
was organized (missed it only once). The atmosphere is always very relaxed and
friendly, homely even, and what place other than a church could be a better
place for organizing a Doom festival? The bands I watched was Wino (awesome,
and that Clutch drummer is unreal!), Pagan Altar (fantastic to finally seeing
them live for the first time!), Procession (blew everyone away, me included),
Reino Ermitano (the best Doom band from South America ever in my book and a
pleasure watching on stage, good people as well), Black Shape Of Nexus (their
singer had some strange kind of throat microphone and they put on a surreal
show), Lord Vicar (to no surprise to anyone they delivered live as much as they
did on their debut album - check our split 7" out btw) and Lamp Of Thoth
(totally rocked the place). Oh, and I saw Mar De Grises in 2005, good band, not
really my cup of tea but they do their own thing and deserve respect for it.
What other bands and labels are you into? I really dig the stuff
coming out of Solitude Productions out of Russia (if we're talking doom,
doom/death and funeral doom), bands like Ea, The Howling Void, and the like are
great. Also on Firebox, there's acts like Doom:Vs, Swallow The Sun (the earlier
stuff), Depressed Mode, and Tyranny.
As for Solitude Productions I can only recall listening to Ophis (good stuff),
Heavy Lord (reminds me of Thee Plague Of Gentlemen although not as cutting
edge, still good though) and Catacombs (awesome funeral doom) and of course the
re-release of Evoken's "Embrace The Emptiness" (THE best death doom band ever
imo). Firebox's best acts are Spiritus Mortis, Tyranny (the first album),
Pantheist (great live band as well) and Woods Of Belial in my book. When I was
running I Hate together with my college Peter I was in touch with more or less
all Doom labels worldwide and had a good view of what was happening. These days
I don't have the time or the urge to keep up to date with particular labels
within the scene though. Profound Lore, although not a doom label, are always
good though, as is Church Within and Weird Truth. I love doom/death acts such
as Evoken, Mournful Congregation and Asunder. Beneath The Frozen Soil is also a
vastly overlooked band that deserves way more attention than they have
received; cold, dark yet passionate stuff!
While we're speaking of labels, it's interesting that you're on Van
Records, as I believe you must be the first doom metal band on that label. Most
of what I know about Van is their penchant for innovative black metal acts...
Well, Sveinn has a penchant for real Doom Metal as well, not only Black Metal,
but it is true we are the only Doom band on Van to release an album. However
since a month or so our 7" split with Count Raven is out via Van and soon a
split 7" with Lord Vicar will be out so viewing Van as a Black Metal label pure
is not correct anymore... regardless we could not ask for a better label;
Sveinn is as passionate about Griftegard as we are and supportive to our cause
in a way that has made him more of a sixth member of the band than merely our
Any chance you might be working on another record? Any song titles,
themes, or concept ideas we'd love to hear about.
We are indeed working on a new album and we have one song that is finished
instrumentally, one that is almost there and a heap of ideas that are evolving,
although slowly. All of us are mature adults busy with meetings or duties
towards families and day jobs, etc, meaning the time we have left over for our
true passion (music/Griftegard) is quite limited, sadly. One song title only is
set in stone, namely THE LAST SONG OF THE END A FINAL TIME - For The Death Of
Death When Dying Is Done. The rest is, at the point of writing, subject to
Now that the record is out, is there anything about it you don't
like, or would have liked to change? I know sometimes bands are their own worst
I realize it is pointless to think of what might have been, although I wouldn't
have minded a denser, more raw over all sound. I believe we might have given
away some of the natural grittiness of our performance in favor of balance, and
compromises often lead to lukewarm results... Over all it is by no means a bad
production, rather the opposite, but it could have been even more powerful. The
songs themselves came out as good as we could muster at the time and the
artwork for both the CD versions (courtesy of Mortuus/Arioch of Marduk/Funeral
Mist) and the LP versions (courtesy of Vigridr/Nachtgnosis/Nihil Nocturne)
leaves nothing to be desired. The special version of the LP, limited to 100
copies, looks completely unreal! Also Anderzej Masianis' artwork The Chamber
fits us perfectly.
If there's anything else we failed to mention you'd like to talk
about, feel free to use this space here... Thanks again, hope the questions
weren't too boring.
Thank you, Steve for this inspiring interview and for your support. Your
questions showed you are an insightful man and, if given the chance, I would
love to sit back with you and share some more life experiences beer in hand.
Check the Ván web shop for Griftegard merch, and look out for our split 7"
with Lord Vicar due out via Van in a month or so.
ONSLAUGHT. Interview with Nige via email...
If you think the thrash revival is just some new "fad", you might want to ask
yourself why all these new thrash bands are arising from the United Kingdom.
Just look at bands like Evile and Gama Bomb for example. Maybe they were
influenced to play thrash from a band who started the mayhem in the U.K. in the
early 80's and is still making music to this day. That band is Onslaught, who
tore the roof asunder with their punk laced thrash fest "Power From Hell" in
1985, however it was 1986's "The Force" that solidified Onslaught as one
vicious and evil thrash band that influenced countless others. With a vocalist
in Sy Keeler that could belt out ear piercing high notes while still retaining
a gruff roar that would silence the critics, there was no doubt that Onslaught
was on track for great things. So imagine the surprise when, in 1989, Onslaught
would abruptly change vocalists and release "In Search Of Sanity" with none
other than Steve Grimmet from Grim Reaper on vocals. An interview I had been
after for many years, Nige finally 'breaks the ice' if you will about that
album that many would soon forget, and talks a little bit about the earliest of
days, something many Onslaught fans would also rather not speak of.
I think people are aware that Onslaught had a past that delved into
punk, but I don't think many people really bothered to ask about it, or even
try and get any details about your earliest of beginnings. Were there any
recordings of this period besides the demos; I recently read that your earliest
demo material has been reissued, how did that come about?
No, there's nothing that hasn't now been released; we have always been a band
that's recorded every song we've written and all those early tracks were
recently released on the "Shadow Of Death" demos CD... It was not something I
was personally keen on doing, but we had such great demand from fans of the
real old hardcore style Onslaught stuff, that we kinda felt it would be unfair
not to release it for these guys...
Speaking of things that aren't usually mentioned, though some
people regard "In Search Of Sanity" as the worst Onslaught album of your
careers, I actually though it was interesting, as I had been a fan of Steve
Grimmett's work with Grim Reaper. I know it was a coerced decision to drop Sy
Keeler. Tell us all about why that decision was made. I thought it was rather
insulting for the label to drop you after low sales, despite the fact that you
had a huge fan base and a long career touring already under your belt. Do you
like this album at all? I notice there's not one single song FROM that record
played live on the setlists I've seen...
"In Search Of Sanity", yeah interesting point of discussion... Let me set the
record straight here before we go any further... Onslaught were certainly not
dropped from Polygram records due to low album sales... the album was by far
and away Onslaught's biggest selling album to date.. We moved over 80,000 units
in the 1st week of sales alone, hitting national album charts in several
countries... so no disaster by any stretch of the imagination. We lost our deal
simply because our A&R guy got fired; all the bands he had signed to the label
got fired along with with him, victims of corporate circumstance. The whole
"In Search Of..." period was a fuckin' farce, signing to a major was the
biggest mistake we ever made, and was the catalyst of the bands eventually
The whole situation with Sy Keeler/Steve Grimmett was the beginning of the end
and was initiated by the label behind our backs; they didn't feel Sy's voice
was commercial enough and Steve had a good track record in the U.S., for them
it was a no brainer but for the band and our hard-core fans it was a suicidal
move. We weren't really given any say in the matter, it was "do as we say or
you'll be iced and you'll release nothing ever again". Do I like the album?
Difficult question. I like the songs a lot because I know how they should
sound, but I don't like how they appear on the album... The album is over
produced and too clean sounding. If the album was made how it should have been,
everyone would have been happy except Polygram hahahaha.. eg with Sy Keeler's
angry vocals and a raw high energy sound. Who knows maybe we'll re-record some
of the tracks someday and let people hear how it should have sounded.
Sy Keeler's vocals definitely surprised me on the newest release
"Killing Peace". He sounds more like the old singer from Exodus (Steve Souza)
than the guy they have now! When I first heard "Killing Peace", I thought you
had obtained a new singer at first, or maybe that Sy hadn't sang on the disc,
until I saw the live DVD from Poland! Is he deliberately singing different now
or has his voice changed over the years? I noticed live he still hits those
VERY high notes, though in a slightly different way, and he seems to have a
deeper set of extreme vocals.
Sy's voice is getting stronger and stronger all the time, yeah he still hits
all the high notes but now in a huge way and his low range is real vicious...
if you thought he sounded cool on "Killing Peace" wait until you hear his
performance on the new album, its fucking immense..!!!!
Growing up, two vocalists I always thought should have received
more attention in metal than they did were Sy Keeler, and the guy I eventually
replaced in Hallows Eve, Stacy Anderson (Stacy is now back with Hallows Eve).
It definitely had an impact on me growing up, the fact that these guys could
hit lower notes that were almost death metal based, but still belt out these
ear shattering high notes. I always wondered if Stacy could still do that live,
but years later Sy is STILL shattering high notes! Is there anything he does to
keep up this routine? High notes HAVE to be difficult to pull off night after
night, especially with the lower ranges and the length of notes he's holding!
Sy is very disciplined in his routine which he has to be praised for, he really
looks after his voice all the time... he get lots of sleep, rarely drinks
alcohol, eats and drinks all the right things to keep healthy and most
importantly warms his voice up before really letting rip at shows or in the
studio... I've known Sy to sing for 6 hours non stop and still sound great at
the end of the session, he could do shows 7 nights a week every week
continuously, no problem...
Thrash metal seems to be in somewhat a "revival" stage right now,
and I've heard bands like Evile, Bonded By Blood and Gama Bomb ALL talking
about how you guys had something to do with them coming out. A lot of these
thrash bands seem to be coming out of the U.K. too, which might have something
to do with it. How do you see all this revival talk, and what were the defining
moments that brought Onslaught back into the attention of metalheads worldwide?
Thrash metal has never really gone away, it just went back underground for a
while and now that a whole new generation of fans has discovered its importance
and coolness, it's once again becoming a major force in metal music... you only
have to look at the 'original' bands who are still here alive and kicking and
making great music to see that... you got the Big 4 tour pulling tens of
thousands at the shows and bands like Testament, Kreator, Exodus, Onslaught,
Sodom, Destruction and Overkill all still thrashing hard, doing real fantastic
business and making great strides upwards. Right now the future of this
particular genre is very healthy and very exciting...
We've been back for going on 7 years now and time is flying, we've never been
so busy in our entire career, we've played hundreds of shows and festivals and
obviously released the albums "Killing Peace" & "Live Damnation" along the
way... its been a fucking awesome rollercoaster ride and long may it continue...
Despite two albums and a third on a major label, I'm curious if
Onslaught ever made a trip to the U.S. Did you ever play any tours here? Tell
us about some of your best tours from the 80's; what was the best lineup of
bands that Onslaught was ever a part of? Any funny tour stories from years past
you care to share? And are there plans in the works for Onslaught to come to
We actually lived in New York for 3 months while all the re-recording and
remixing of "In Search Of Sanity" was going down; I had a real blast over
there, it was a lot of fun... but we never got to play any shows at the time.
But all that is about to be put right real soon. It's all about timing; we've
turned down many offers to tour the US because the circumstances were simply
not right for us: when we do things we do it right... Yeah we are coming for
The best tour we ever did was in Europe with Motorhead: no question, they were
at a real peak and the shows were awesome every single night with huge fucking
crowds. Both bands kicked some serious ass on that one... There's lots of real
funny and dangerous shit to tell but I think it should where it belongs - on
the road, if ya get my drift...
The live DVD Polish Assault was very kick ass, and I bought it as
soon as I heard it was out. Tell us all about that show, had you ever played
Poland previously? The sound was awesome and the crowd was pretty intense!
Thanks, it was our first ever show in Poland and -15 degrees in Warsaw! It was
stunning, the show was specially arranged for Onslaught and Vader to record the
Live DVD's and I think they did a pretty fine job too... Looking back now
though we look very tame in comparison with Onslaught 2010; the band is a whole
different beast nowadays... so I guess we'll just have to make a new one in a
couple of years time ha ha ha!
Speaking of the early records, I'm curious about how you saw the
direction of lyrics progressing from "Power From Hell" to "The Force". The
lyrics would seem to one unknowingly steeped in Satanism and rebellion against
Christianity (something I don't have a problem with), but upon further
examination of the lyrics, they sometimes seem to be told more from an
observer's point of view rather than "Yeah, we ourselves believe along these
lines". And too, those that usually write lyrics like these also coincide with
your writings in describing great battles that take place where Satan and his
army are involved, not necessarily stating a definite outcome to the battle...
Hope you can see what I am getting at here.
I have always liked to write my lyrics from an observers/third party
perspective: even though my lyrics generally represent my opinions and beliefs,
I think it makes the words feel more personal to the listener as opposed to the
writer... I still write this way on the new album, and yes, it still takes a
very anti religious stance....
Black metal seems to be the most recent incarnation of metal that
has taken hold, though it seems like it took a long time to really develop in
the U.S. How do you see black metal nowadays, as lyrically a lot of bands have
similar themes to those you had on your first records. Are there any black
metal bands you enjoy listening to?
Onslaught are quite an unusual band in the fact that we can still cross the
boundaries of 'Thrash' metal into 'Black & Death' metal territories, it's real
cool that it works for us and I guess that does go back to our early days... I
like a lot of the Black metal bands around right now, but Behemoth are my
particular favourites, (and an) awesome live band...
I was really surprised to see that you only put out one album on
the Candlelight label, why the sudden departure? It seems like they hadn't
really promoted you very well, I believe this was the same thing that upset the
Agent Steel guys about Candlelight. Did they offer any tour support?
We only signed a one album deal with Candlelight, we are not very trusting of
record labels and we didn't want to take any risks this time around and man
were we proved right... As much as we thank them for giving us the opportunity
to release "Killing Peace", we have to say that they did 'the absolute minimum'
promotion for the album, which is really unforgivable... It appears Candlelight
have a strategy of signing name bands with a solid history - releasing their
album without promo(tion) - knowing it will sell because the bands have a good
fanbase and will promote it themselves through their own medias... the label
cannot lose... but the bands big with ambitions do!!! We would never ask any
label for tour support; we like to be self sufficient on the road... as soon as
you are in debt to a label they have you by the fucking balls...
Tell us about your move to AFM. How many albums are you contracted
for, and are there any other details about this move to a new label you can
tell us about?
AFM, they seem like a whole different story compared to Candlelight.. the label
reminds me very much of when we were signed to Music For Nations... very
friendly, excited by the bands they work with and very much in tune with the
modern metal scene... It's a very good vibe and we're real happy to be there
right now.... With AFM being a German label we know things will be done in a
correct and efficient manner, which is exactly the way we love to work too...
We are contracted for 2 albums, which is very cool, because we all know where
we're gonna be and can plan ahead comfortably for the next 4 years or so.
Back in the day, I remember the Metal Forces music magazine, which
I still own some copies of. It seems like you guys were interviewed quite
frequently within it's pages; I guess it helped that you both were located in
the same country. Obviously, the staff liked your band!
Yeah, they were great guys; I don't believe we would be where we are today
without their fantastic support, we even wrote a song dedicated to them as a
thank you.. And now the cool thing is, is that Mike Exley one of the young
journalists at MF back then is now head of our UK PR team for AFM records! It's
fucking awesome because we know he's gonna bust his balls to make the new
record happen for us.
The internet has changed greatly the way bands and record labels do
business. Bands are easier to access these days, with everyone and their mother
online, and music is more easy to obtain than ever before. Were you involved
with tape trading back in the 80's, and how do you see file sharing and what
It sure has... It's a double edge sword though, great for networking and
getting new fans to access your music and then there's the illegal downloading
side of things, which will kill the scene in not so many years to come if it's
not stopped somehow. I was really into the tape trading back then, mainly
trading our own music, but the difference is people would ALWAYS go and buy the
real album after listening to the tapes. I always wanted to have the physical
product with the artwork and lyrics etc etc and I'm still the same today...
I'll stream an album; if I like it I'll go buy it, I'll never download one
illegally it's just plain stealing from the artist... Doing it this way you'll
never buy a dud album again but at least you DO buy the cool ones and support
I hear you're involved in working on a new album. Tell us about
what it will be like sound wise; also if you have any song titles or themes,
lyrical ideas you're tossing around.
Yeah, we sure are... It's all recorded and being mixed as we speak. The album
is entitled "Sounds Of Violence" and it's being produced and mixed by Jacob
Hansen at Hansen Studios in Denmark... the album contains 8 new tracks and will
feature a variety of bonus tracks which includes 2 very special guests.
Musically and lyrically the album is dark and heavy, very violent and
aggressive. Anti religious themes as you can imagine, but the general vibe
throughout the album is that of violence and its many shapes and forms. There's
actually an early demo version from last year of a new track 'Born For War'
streaming on our Myspace right now for anyone who wants a little taste of
things to come..
Anything else you want to mention before we wrap this interview up?
I'm excited about hearing the new record; here's to hoping you can tour the
States one day!
Well, firstly, thanks for a tricky interview buddy haha, there was a few tough
ones in there... :) And thank you for those of you who take the time to read
it. Very much appreciated. Keep an eye out for the new album "Sounds Of
Violence", we'll be announcing it real soon through our media sites. And
finally... We will be coming to the US (100% guaranteed) in support of the new
album and that's a promise, discussions are under way and dates will be
RIMFROST. Interview with Throll and Hravn...
Signed to Season Of Mist, this record from a band I had never heard of before
quite simply kicked my ass... It's total Immortal worship, but more vicious on
the vocal work and adding some thrashy as hell guitars... A powerful record,
one that I enjoy quite a bit, so an interview was obvious. The radio promo
spots were cool as well, so enjoy a rather unique interview done from two
different perspectives (IE, two band members participated!)
It's good to hear such a vicious album mixing black metal with a
sort of 80's styled thrash. Some people cite comparisons to Immortal,
especially in the lyrical content (especially on a track like 'Mountains Of
Mana', or soundwise on 'I Stand My Ground'). What made you decide to add
somewhat thrashy guitars to the mix? Was it a desire to make a somewhat
different sound from the normal style of black metal? Some would say there's a
kind of EARLY Metallica slant to the riffs (especially on the song 'Legacy
Through Blood' with the somewhat acoustical intro).
Throllv: Thank you for your kind words, it´s really great to hear that you like
it. Metallica is a great inspiration for us, that's true especially Lars'
drumming has always inspired my way of drumming. Thrashy guitars has been our
thing since the beginning really even though "Veraldar Nagli" is more guitar
based then our predecessor. Our similarity with Immortal has also been with us
since the beginning. What to say about that is that Immortal is one of the
greatest bands in the world and they are one of our absolutely biggest
influences. They have created a whole new genre that we with our band Rimfrost
has embraced but also developed to something in our own style. It's like
everybody who started to play heavy metal in the early 80's has been very
influenced by bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Ac/DC and
Hravn: Yes, we play our own kind of black metal. We simply put everything we
love together in a blender and mix it with our black metal roots.
Though you guys were said to be born around 1987, did you ever go
back and revisit some of the legendary bands of the 80's? Besides the
aforementioned Metallica, Sweden had some vicious metal bands in the 80's like
Agony, some cool power metal like bands such as Gotham City, Axe Witch and
Hiroshima, and of course Overdrive. Are you into any of these bands, or have
heard them or know members of these bands?
Hravn: I almost never listen to bands formed after the late 80`s! Accept was
the first band I heard when I was a kid... around my 9th year... And they are
still my favorites, all time! When I heard Udo's vocals I was blown away. I
don't listen to Swedish heavy metal... the German and British is better.
Throllv: No I have not heard of them, but I'm very much into classic heavy
metal around 1970-1990 but not from Sweden though. Accept, U.D.O, King Diamond,
Iron Maiden, Judas Priest etc etc. These are my guys.
When people think of Black Metal, Norway is usually the country
thought of, although Sweden has some vicious black metal groups like Marduk,
Dissection and Abruptum... How do you feel about the Norwegian black metal
scene, I know you have cited Immortal as a favorite band in the past. Who would
you consider to be some of the best black metal bands in both Norway and
Throllv: To be honest with you I do not really care for black metal, I think
most of the bands are crap. Immortal is at one level that stands alone on the
top of the iceberg, hehe, (the) rest of the bands are way down. Darkthrone is
cool, Mayhem is really good, or were good in the old days rather, Satyricon is
also good and maybe some more bands is good, but they are far away from
Immortal. The rest of the black metal scene is just crap really.
Hravn: On the Swedish side I must say Bathory and Dissection and that's it. I
write Bathory first and that's the most important act here, I mean Quorthon was
a genius! My favorite track is 'Twilight Of The Gods'. Ohh my, that man could
make REAL music! And Dissection was not a "black" metal band to be correct
(this is so lame, putting everything in special genres, let's just call it good
metal!), the music was more into melodic death metal but his visions were
"black". When both Quorthon and Jon died they left a big void in the extreme
metal world. On the Norwegian side I'd say Darkthrone, Satyricon, Immortal and
old Mayhem. They are all great and they will always be the true Norwegian four
Sweden to my mind is better known for the realm of doom metal; of
course Candlemass is considered the forefathers of the doom metal movement,
besides being originators of the more operatic style of vocals within doom
metal. I love bands like Isole and early Katatonia, and especially the
doom/death stylings of Draconian! Are you guys into doom metal at all? Have you
kept up with any of the doom metal bands and labels coming out of Russia at all
via labels like Solitude Productions?
Throllv: I fall asleep when I listen to doom. It's so boring.
I remember reading on your old website that you were originally
going to sign with Karmageddon Media, though it was soon announced that you
were signing to No Colours. What happened with Karmageddon? And how did No
Colours treat you in the earliest of days? I have a few releases from No
Colours, but it seems they were rather a tiny label and didn't do much press
and publicity, especially in the American market.
Throllv: Karmageddon did go bankrupt I think. No Colours did a good job I think
but it's right what you say they are a tiny label and therefore we did not get
the publicity we wanted.
And of course the next question is how did you end up on Season Of
Mist? What sort of contract did they offer you? It must be good to see
yourselves on the same label that now handles the legendary Mayhem.
Throllv: I dont think like that; I care of what the label can do for us as a
band and not which band is on the same label.
Hravn: We did a gig at Inferno festival in Oslo, Norway in 2006. Gunnar
Sauermann from the German metal magazine Metal Hammer was there and saw us. He
liked us and it was thanks to him we got on Season Of Mist. He works on the
label as well as the magazine. Actually I never met him there... I was talking
to him on the phone a couple of months ago and asked him where he was during
the concert: "I was right in front of you, taking pictures!" he said! And I've
seen him several times in Black Metal documentaries so I did know his looks.
But you can't see everything when you are on stage...
Let's talk a little bit about the new record "Veraldar Nagli". It's
interesting that you use what I assume is a Swedish album title, when the
lyrics and song titles are in English. What exactly does the title of the album
refer to? I understood it was a translation meaning Axis Of The World, meaning
more specifically the North Star, why was that relevant for an album title? I
can gather from the lyrics that you deal with Viking themes and warrior based
Throllv: Veraldar Nagli means the north star, that's right. The Vikings used
the north star for guidance at sea. "Veraldar Nagli's" lyrical content is about
death somehow, like in a symbolic way; the end of life and also as death
personified. Our lyrics often have different ways of interpreting them. It's up
to the reader what the north star means for them, for us when we wrote it we
thought that the north star in a symbolic way could stand for guidance through
life and death and not just as a navigator for the Vikings at sea. You can say
that when you hit play on the CD player with the "Veraldar Nagli" record in it
you will be guided through something massive and epic by it.
Hravn: If you ask a Swede what veraldar nagli means they can probably not
answer you. It's a word in the old Scandinavian language. It's said that Odin
spun the heavens around Veraldar Nagli (the north star).
The song 'Legacy Through Blood' was most interesting. So I assume
from the lyrical stance of this track (and ones previous like 'I Stand My
Ground') that you feel a warrior should face his death bravely and look upon
his accomplishments in life proudly before his last end? I was most impressed
by the poetic nature of the lyrics; many times heavy bands using lyrics of
warrior themes and battles prefer to rely on brutal lyrics and harsh imagery to
convey their messages, so the lyrical stance here was quite interesting and
Hravn: Thank you! I wrote these lyrics when I was in an unusual situation in
life. It was time to stand alone and this is some kind of tribute to life and
death, to friends and family, to everything that has been and will be. It's
personal lyrics and I won't tell what´s "real" and not. But there's a piece of
me in there.
The track 'I Stand My Ground' made me think quite a bit as well,
though it at first spoke to me as a tune about having a sense of pride and
inner strength (this was before I read the lyrics). Upon closer inspection, I
noticed a taking of sides with the dark forces while battling the light.
Despite that, I always felt that heavy metal music was one of the best types of
music to help people develop a sense of individuality and learning to become a
strong and confident person despite the overused cliches and overall attitude
(mostly negative) that people have towards the metal genre.
Hravn: Yeah, I hear you. I don't know if we make anyone out there feel better
with him/herself but if that's the case; good for you and I'm glad our music
has that kind of force. But when I listen to really good heavy metal music I
get this desperate feeling of lifting some weights or breaking something. It's
kind of primitive, but fuck, I am primitive. That's what it is about with us;
we want to create this "I'm a fucking bulldozer and I'm aiming at you" -
feeling. Just like Judas Priest with their heavy metal cliche song "Hard As
Iron", but hey what a song! If you don't feel that when you are listening to
heavy metal, why are you listening? You have to stand your ground and do what
you belive in, no matter what. That's a cliche...fuck it. I love cliches!
Anything you might be working on for your next release? I know your
latest release has been out for a year now, but I was curious if you've come up
with new songs, song titles, lyrical themes or things like that.
Throllv: Yes we have, almost everything is done. The music is written and this
is our best material so far, it's fucking blasting. The lyrics are not yet done
although we have begun with it. The theme is done and its classical Rimfrost.
It has to do with what the band stands for and our name. Rimfrost means Rime
frost and the next album is gonna be "cold". Im only gonna say "freezing
inferno". The music is more like a frozen world album even though we have our
sound on "Veraldar Nagli" left. The only thing we wait on now is the record
company to give us a green light to enter the studio.
What's funny to me is I saw another band from Denmark named
Rimfrost, though I don't think they're active anymore, as all they have done is
release a 2 song demo back in 2000. Are you aware of this, and have you ever
contacted those guys?
Throllv: Yes I saw it a couple of years ago that it was a band named like us,
but we were not aware of them when we named the band back in 2002. We have not
contacted them and we have no intention to.
How do you see the internet these days? I know personally I did the
demo tape trading back in the 80's, and it's much easier to contact bands in
this day and age, though it's also MUCH easier to get band's albums for free in
great quality. Some black metal bands seem to refuse to embrace the new
technology, some even prefer to record albums using the old ways.
Hravn: I was wearing diapers when you traded demos. Haha! So I don't know a
nything about that time. I don't use the internet too much. I can open my
e-mail and write you these answers but that's about it. I don't buy new records
anymore. All new music is shit... most of it anyway. If I run into an old
record with Accept or something I will buy it. I own around 160 CD's with bands
I think is worth supporting.
You guys are NOT a new band, contrary to what some seem to believe.
Tell us about cool bands you've toured with, what a typical Rimfrost show is
like, and where you've played out beyond Scandinavia. Any funny and kick ass
tour stories would be entertaining to hear as well...
Hravn: Sorry to disappoint you man. We have never been on tour. But when we did
the Inferno gig Throllv fell off his drums during soundcheck. And I met
Nocturno Culto from Darkthrone, it was an honor talking to him. Really great
guy! And the fact he liked what he heard is something I live on 'til this day.
Every time I turn around, there's some brand new band coming out of
either Norway, Sweden or (in less cases) Finland. What is is about Scandinavia
that turns out so many great bands? I know guitar is taught in schools from a
young age, and also that the governments of those countries support musicians
and the bands that are created...
Throllv: Well I don't know how it is in other countries with music schools and
such, but in Sweden we learn the basics of the most common instruments in music
classes in elementary school and also we have really good music schools that
teaches a specific instrument for those who join them.
Hravn: Yes, that's true. It helps developing great musicians but at the same
time it gets harder and harder to succeed here in the metal scene. You have to
do something special to make yourself heard. Luckily we do, I think. Because
there are no bands I've heard who sounds like us (except Immortal).
SLEIPNIR. Interview with Darklord via email.
Welcome our newest partners in Gardarika Musikk! Of course, we reviewed a CD of
theirs last issue... Once again, the global thing... THIS global instance is
rather unusual. A British band signed to a Russian record label might raise a
few eyebrows, but a British band swearing homage and allegiance to Odin and
Thor? So, it's not just the Norweigans that craft the Viking song. And it's a
Norweigan folkish black metal complete with Viking chant choruses, the whole
nine yards! The band crafts great Odin worshipping tunes that will have you
raising the goat's horn full of ale in no time... It's time they get their due.
It's good to see your demo get reissued, but I'm curious as to why
it took almost two years to see an official release. Did you have a difficult
time shopping the demo to interested record labels?
We only sent the self released version to about 10 labels. With work
commitments, and the birth of my daughter among other things time ran away with
us really. We sold a few copies through the internet and it soon got uploaded
to those free download sites. This worked in our favour however, since it was
downloaded by Alexander and Ilya of Gardarika Musikk. They obviously enjoyed
what they heard and contacted us through email. The email came into my junk box
and I very nearly deleted it without looking at it. They loved the CD and were
interested in working with us to release it officially. I suppose looking back
we should have sent it to more labels but at the end of the day we wrote the
songs to please ourselves and we were just happy with it in our collection. Of
course looking at the release now and the work that Gardarika have put into it
we are glad it worked out the way it did and the delay was worth it.
It's interesting that different cover art was used for the
Gardarika Music version, a cover which fits more the band name than the actual
theme of the album. Was this a label choice or a band choice?
We gave Gardarika control over the design of the album and it was them that
came up with the idea of the booklet representing this old torn, burnt and
bloodstained manuscript containing sagas of warriors of an age passed. The
cover of Odin flying through the clouds on Sleipnir with his magic spear and
Hugin and Munin flying by his side fitted perfectly well with the feel of the
music and lyrics on the album. After all Odin gets quite a few mentions in the
lyrics. Having seen the album listed for sale on various distros on the
internet it really stands out amongst the other albums.
I do know quite a bit of bands from the U.K., but very few are
singing about Viking themes, or paying homage to Odin or Thor. Tell us a bit
about your background into Viking lore and legend. I know the Vikings did
conquer and settle in many places in England, though it's probably stranger
still for an American like myself to have a fascination with the gods of the
Viking era (I also wear the Mjollner symbol in a necklace).
Odin and Thor have a big history here in England. From the Woden of pagan
Anglo-Saxons who formed the nation of England through to the Viking invasions
and subsequent settlements of England and the worship of Odin. Even the Normans
were of Viking descent. My first real interest in Odin and the Vikings go way
back to the 80's. Mainly through listening to the epic tracks of Manowar and
then with the three Viking Bathory albums, Hammerheart in particular. This
album had a massive impact on me and the way I perceived extreme music could
sound written by someone with vision. In the 90's I became friends with a bloke
called Jason, who was just joining The Odinic Rite. We both played in a shit
punk band together and decided to form a band more to our tastes. This was Cult
Of Frey. I then joined the O.R. myself and with a few more Odinists formed a
local hearth (a group that would meet with likeminded people) called Sleipnir
I read on your myspace page that you had become disillusioned with
Odinism at one point, why was that? I haven't seen many groups here in the
States that practice Odinism, but I assume that there are some organizations
that still recognize the Viking way of life in England (I'd like to know about
some of their activities and how they go about this).
We used to hold monthly rituals and other events throughout the year. One of
these was a Midsummer festival, which was held in some woodland owned by
Odinists. It would always involve a big camp fire, a lot of drinking and the
ritual burning of a sunwheel. I used to construct an eight foot one and one
year we even attempted a sixteen footer although this had to be burned on the
ground. We came in for some criticism from the O.R. over these unsanctioned
events and after an act of betrayal during one midsummer event we split from
them. A group called the Ormswald Cultural Sanctuary was born and events
continued over the next few years. I myself however became steadily
disillusioned with the whole thing and eventually severed all ties with it. It
seemed too controlled for my liking and to be honest the music was always the
most important thing anyway.
Personally, I think that man has lost his way, and by getting back
to our roots we can learn to become respectable people once again. Science and
technology has made our lives easier, but also I think a bit of our humanity
has been lost. How do you see this, and do you think we've lost the warrior
I agree with you. A lot of what made us humans has been lost. Everybody now is
too wrapped up in their insular little lives. I'm as guilty as anyone else and
use technology to make my life easier, although it's all to do with stuff that
I don't really need. You know I first got into metal in the early eighties and
come from a time of tape trading and vinyl and discovering new bands through
word of mouth or taking a chance on a find in a record shop without hearing it
(discovered many gems that way). (So did I - Ed.) These days its just a click
on the mouse and you hear what a band sounds like, their complete discography,
everything really; it just seems too easy. I'm sure metallers these days are
missing out on a lot of that joy of discovery that we had in the early days.
But going back to your question, take meat for example. People just go to a
supermarket and purchase a piece of meat that looks no different from the other
pieces on the shelf. They have no idea of the animal it came from. Years ago
though that animal would have been tended and looked after. Food from the table
would have been given to it. When it came to the slaughter there would have
been an understanding of sacrifices made by yourself and this is lost today.
Although all this said and contradicting what I've just said, I'm 41 and a
thousand years ago I would have been an old man and probably not have long to
live. These days with medical advances I've a good chance of living a long
healthy life. It's all about balance: yes there is this romantic view of times
past living as a warrior, but in reality it was probably as unpleasant as you
I personally loathe christianity; I see it as a controlling
religion that keeps people enslaved to fear for their souls and keeps them in
the dark. So it was interesting to see lyrics about fighting the christian
hordes and also to see a few instances where the warriors burned christian
churches. Of course, this went on to a great extent in Norway during the early
1990's rise of black metal; how do you see that whole series of events, up to
Euronymous' murder and the church burnings?
Like I said earlier I come from a time, it was an exciting time indeed in the
early eighties when extreme metal was truly beginning. I remember in my last
years at school discovering Iron Maiden, then being lent "At War With Satan."
What a fucking album. Completely blew me away. This was followed by such
classics as "Kill 'em All," "Bonded By Blood," and "Don't Break The Oath." A
time of discovery that continued for the next few years. Bands like Bathory,
Artillery, Kreator, Destruction, Candlemass, Possessed, I could go on! All
these new bands, each one fucking killer. From this I drifted inevitably into
death metal with Massacre, Deicide, Entombed, Morbid Angel and the like. By
1990 though I began to become disillusioned with it all. Too many bands
sounding the fucking same, no real risks and I lost that feeling of joy, that
feeling of discovering a new band and being "blown away."
It was around this time I read a small piece in, I think it was Metal Forces,
about a Norwegian act called Darkthrone who having already released a death
metal album were changing paths. It was something called Black Metal. To me
this was an excellent album by Venom but the band mentioned early Bathory as an
influence and the band photo had one of the members in a forest covered in
corpse paint. I was hooked. An article in the false magazine Kerrapp intrigued
me even more. I found "A Blaze In The Northern Sky" in a record shop and well
there was that feeling of joy again. What an album! I began to hoover up as
much black metal as I could afford. Burzum (both "Burzum" and "Aske" I have on
original Deathlike Silence), Emperor, Enslaved, Sigh, In The Woods, Ved Buens
Ende, again I could go on. I only read a few things in magazines about what was
occurring in Norway and what I read in "Lords Of Chaos" later on.
Looking back as an older man and a father it seems fucking insane with the
murders and church burnings. You know, those old churches they burned were part
of their heritage, something their ancestors toiled over. Plenty of modern
churches to burn!!! I fucking hate christianity but I can appreciate some of
the old churches we have over here in England. Ancient stone buildings over a
thousand years old, they're just used for something abhorrent. We should change
them all into mead halls!!! Going back to Norway though, at the time I fucking
loved it. I thought these cunts are living it for real. It's not just about the
music. The metal world owes a lot to Norway and the black metal movement in
general. I think it was the kick up the arse that metal needed at the time and
it came out of the mid 90's stronger than before and hasn't looked back. Which
side were you on though? Vargs' or Euronymous'? Did it all matter in the end?
In the grand scheme of my life, not really...
I've read quite a bit about the Norse gods, and of course Thor and
Odin are mentioned quite a bit in your lyrics, but of the other gods I only see
Heimdall touched upon. Were the other Norse gods not relevant in your opinion?
Just didn't seem to fit them in that's all. Like you I've read quite a lot
about the mythology and the gods and goddesses and they are as relevant as Thor
and Odin in our works. We just like themes that is all, you may notice certain
phrases being repeated or twisted throughout the album and some of that is the
hailing of Odin and Thor. Looking at the lyrics for the new album it continues
in this frame I'm afraid. Although there is a mention of Frey in the last line
of 'Sons Of The Northern Land' so it's not all bad, so you must have missed
that one Steve??
I know you've touched on briefly that you're in the planning stages
of your next album. Any song titles, album titles or themes you care to tell us
The new album is called "Oaths Sworn In Blood And Mead". I've just been
finishing up the last track (that's why this interview took so long to get back
to you) and it's just over an hour long with six songs. Track listing is 'Hail
The Heathen Hordes Of Midgard (Sworn To The Hammer Of Thor)', 'Blood On The
Sword', 'Farewell (To A Fallen Brother )', 'An Oath Sworn In Blood And Mead',
'The Blood And The Bones (Once We Were Kings Part 2)', and "What The Runes
Fortold'. Lyric wise it's much the same as the last album. 'Blood On The Sword'
tells of a fabled sword forged for the gods by dwarves and then given to a
warrior as a gift and passed down through the generations. 'Farewell' tells of
a warrior's deeds and his final journey into Valhalla. 'What The Runes Fortold'
tells of a journey into a sacred grove where a god casts the runes and tells of
the victories to come. Pretty much a continuation of what we did on
"Bloodbrothers". Musically we have pushed ourselves a bit more. Some of the
songs are quite long and a bit more involved. Rest assured though there are
plenty of big choruses and choirs. If you liked "Bloodbrothers" you will like
"Oaths Sworn In Blood And Mead".
Have you played any live shows with Sleipnir since your inception?
What would the live show be like, and what songs would you focus on?
No. Playing live is not an option at the moment. In the band I play all the
instruments and do the choirs. I also do the warrior chorus with Tossell and
then he does the lead vocals. To even think about playing live gives me a
headache. It would need a lot of time and practice with session musicians. I
would also want a choir present to do the choir parts and sing on the choruses.
Anything less than that would not be acceptable to me and I would rather never
play live with Sleipnir than present some watered down version. I've seen a
couple of bands who shall remain nameless who on CD are fucking superb. When I
saw them though they played with just the bare bones and to be honest were a
bit of a disappointment, especially after I had waited so long to see them. I
can't even begin to imagine what a gig by Sleipnir would be like. Fucking chaos
probably. You never know though Steve, perhaps a headlining slot at Wacken
could be just around the corner (Ha Ha!!!!!)
I'm curious about the band Cult Of Frey that one of the members is
a part of. I'd actually like to hear the demo, and of course I know that there
was a best of compilation release, however there seems to be little information
about the compilation, so can you tell us about this, as it seems to be
material from 1996. What label is this on, and are there plans for new Cult Of
I'm the one that was in Cult Of Frey. We were an Odinic viking doom band and we
recorded an early two track demo, followed by the "Sons Of Ing" demo album and
then a few tracks of ideas for the next release. "Sons Of Ing" was released on
cassette and received a good response from the people and zines that got a copy.
Surprising really considering it was unmixed and and needed loads more work.
I've sent you a copy Steve to see what you think of it. The other release I've
read about on metal archives, "Sons Of Odin", I haven't a fucking clue about.
If anyone reading this can enlighten me please contact with details and a copy
of it. I should imagine it doesn't exist or if it does its not Cult Of Frey. We
shall wait and see on that one. Cult Of Frey at the moment exists as just me. I
did have plans to rerecord "Sons Of Ing" although me and Tossell have talked of
doing it as a Sleipnir release, revamped with added material in the future.
Anyway Steve enjoy "Sons Of Ing" for what its worth...
I'm curious if you're into the band Forefather, who seems to be
releasing music with a heathen English slant. I have been fans of theirs for
quite some time, and reviewed several of their albums and even interviewed
Fucking love them!! I've followed them since I bought "Deep Into Time" from a
distro in about 2000 or so. I thought it was excellent and then purchased the
following albums as they were released. The only one I haven't got is "Legends
Untold", I saw it at a gig in London and just missed my chance to buy it. Been
kicking myself since then. Favourite song - possibly 'The Shield Wall',
although it could be one of many. Like I said fucking love them. One of the
best English metal bands ever.
Are you into any other forms of music besides metal? What bands on
Gardarika Musikk are you into? Personally, I did enjoy the Alvheim release.
Got the Fearlight cd. Enjoyed that. The Munruthel album as well I have although
that is on the original label and not the Gardarika version. What other music?
I suppose I enjoy a bit of folk. A label in England released a compilation of
folk called John Barleycorn Reborn. That gets played a fair bit. I also get
Kings Of Leon rammed down my throat by my wife so I've got quite used to that.
She thinks our 10 month old daughter likes it. I think she prefers Belphegor.
Apart from that it's metal all the way. Thrash, black, death, doom, power,
pagan whatever. You can stick Nu metal, metal core and that new breed of young
death metal up your arse though. Talented good players but write a fucking song
for fucks sake.
If there's anything else you'd like to talk about we didn't
mention, feel free to do so. I enjoyed the latest release and definitely look
forward to your next album!
No I think we got it covered for now. I just want to thank Ilya and Alexander
of Gardarika Musikk for their belief in Sleipnir, and for their work and
efforts into getting the booklet done and getting the album released. I would
like to thank everyone that has a copy of "Bloodbrothers", whether you paid for
it or downloaded it for free (can't really complain about that as that was how
Gardarika discovered us). It's been getting some good reviews and even made
album of the month on one website. Also thanks to you Steve for an interesting
interview, just sorry it took so long to get back to you. Thanks for your
support and glad you enjoyed "Bloodbrothers". I will keep you updated with the
new one as we go on with it. Cheers mate!
THE WOUNDED KINGS. Interview with Steve via email.
A new band to these ears, but coming from the mighty I Hate Records I expected
good things right off the bat. I Hate doesn't release a slew of records like
Solitude Productions does (since Solitude now has about 4 or 5 different sub
labels they deal with), but what they DO is pure quality. From the U.K., home
to sludge masters like Electric Wizard and of course Cathedral and Lee
Dorrian's Rise Above records (responsible for, again British, Orange Goblin,
Acrimony, Ghost, and Japan's Church Of Misery), I think it's safe to say that
this band, who touches on a subject I'm VERY interested in (especially
showcased in their album title "The Shadow Over Atlantis"), would be an
absolute NATURAL for an interview in this issue... So here it goes...
After just one full length release, we see "The Shadow Over
Atlantis" released through I Hate Records. How did this come about, and why did
you decide to end things with Eichenwald Industries? It seems like they haven't
released anything since 2008.
We didn't actually end our relationship with Eichenwald, i got a call from
Duncan a few months after the release of "Embrace Of The Narrow House" saying
that he was going to go no further with the label, he was going to concentrate
on his other label Paradigms. I think he released about 3 bands all within a
few months of each other and all completely different; you had us, a black
metal band and a shoegaze type ambient duo... too much, too different, too
soon! Saying all that, Duncan's a fuckin legend for giving us a shot when
everyone else couldn't give a fuck about us because we had no demo or 7 inch or
basically anything at all except side 1 recorded of what would become "Embrace
Of The Narrow House". He loved it and didn't just talk the talk but got right
behind us, his promotion for us was off the charts, from fuckin' nowhere we
were in all the major music mags; Terrorizer, Kerrang, Metal Hammer. The guy
put us on the map!
I Hate came about after I remembered sending them that same side one of
"Embrace..." in the early days of trying to get a deal; Ola who was there at the
time hated us, so that was the end of that! Anyways, after the demise of
Eichenwald I thought I'd give them another go considering we'd started having
some success with "Embrace..." maybe this would change Ola's mind. As it
happened he'd left and this dude Markus had taken his place and got back to us
saying we were one of his favourite doom bands of the year, he'd talk to Peter
the owner of I Hate and, well, you know, the rest just fell into place.
I was quite sad to see the upcoming loss of two of your members,
especially the vocalist, as he has a very unique voice and such a fitting one
for what you are doing. Have you found replacements yet for Nick and George?
Yeh it was pretty gutting about the guys, we've worked really hard and having
been on the road together quite a bit this year they become part of your
family, but people have lives to lead and new directions to explore; nothing
lasts forever. We've got some new musicians together and are already rehearsing
for album 3, in fact our new drummer is one of Nick's best mates; they used to
run a drum shop together. He's a great bloke and a fuckin' awesome drummer, the
vocalist though, is proving to be a little more tricky but we'll get there.
I finally got to listen to "Embrace Of The Narrow House", and it
seems to follow along similar lines to your latest release. Tell us about the
title of the album; I read online an old article by Marc Alexander about
premature burials with the title of your album in the top of the headline. I am
also under the impression that there's maybe some Lovecraft references in the
album as well?
I got the title from Poe's "The Premature Burial", I'd found this old Readers
digest book of Poe tales in the basement and re-acquainted myself. Originallly
the album was going to be tracks based around different Poe tales, but it kinda
morphed into Milton's "Paradise Lost", Dante's "Inferno" and Alvarez’ "A Study
In Suicide". No Lovecraft influence in this one to be honest though!
What sort of equipment do you use to get your guitar tones and
sound? I know a lot of bands utilize either the Orange/Green amplification,
while some like the Sunn amps...
For both the albums we used a beaten up old Laney which eventually died and a
Sound City which also died! Orange and Sunn are great amps but I find the Laney
and Sound City really suit the British sound we have, especially with using the
Fender Tele. Tone wise we use no pedals just natural amp overdrive, keep it
simple: what's the point in buying a classic amp and hiding it behind a wall of
So when exactly did you realize you wanted to play doom metal? I
guess for me my earliest exposure would have been Black Sabbath's "Master Of
Reality", it was one of the first metal albums I ever heard. Then Candlemass
came along and I was blown away...
It would have to have been in my early teens. I started up a Death metal band
with Jus Oborn when we were 15 which later became The Lords of Putrefaction. I
was a drummer back then; I liked playing the Chris Reifert speed but I really
felt at home when we'd slow right down into some doom/death riffs in the vein
of "Frozen illusion" era Paradise Lost. It was Candlemass' "Nightfall" that
really sealed the deal though!
One of the coolest things about your vocalist George is how eerie
he sounds on the earlier tracks on "Embrace...", but on "Shadow Over Atlantis",
especially on the cut 'Invocation Of The Ancients', he has this very cool ghost
like wail that is almost scary... I think that characteristic is going to be
hard to replace.
Fuckin' tell me about it Steve! George is unique in the field of doom, operatic
without being indulgent, and emotional without being overly theatrical - one of
a kind. So I'm not going to try to replace him, I'm aiming for something a
little different this time... You'll have to wait and see mate!
Have you heard of the band Alghazanth? Their latest album "Wreath
Of Thevetat" was interesting to me, as he mentioned the sorceror Thevetat who
was supposedly a Dragon King who corrupted the psychics of Atlantis, turning
them into evil sorcerors. Unfortunately, there isn't much information on this,
save for the writings of Helena Blavatsky, leaving room for one more
interpretation of the downfall of Atlantis.
Sorry dude, never heard of the band. But I have heard of Blavatsky but not read
any of her writings.
I have been told that there will be numerous live appearances of
the band before the year's end. What will a live show be like? Any chance that
The Wounded Kings will make a U.S. appearance?
We've done quite a few gigs this year, we played Roadburn, Hells Pleasure, a
small UK tour and gigs with the likes of Pombagira, Grave Miasma, Lamp Of
Thoth, Lord Vicar, The Gates Of Slumber... Our live show is a no frills event,
it's a bit like a live at the BBC session where we let the music do the
talking: no fancy light show, just us and the muthafuckin riff! Some dude came
up to me after a show and said we were like an early Hawkwind if they played
doom! Well chuffed with that, and it kinda sums us up really. 4 guys on the
stage working with each other, improvising and creating an impenetrable wall of
sound with absolutely no stops between tracks and no fuckin encores!
Now that you've had time to reflect on both albums, which one do
you prefer? (I'll take a guess and say that many artists are usually more
enamored with their latest work). Anything about the two albums you dislike, or
would do differently had you the chance?
I like them both for different reasons; "Embrace..." because it took me 10
years to realise my dream of getting an album out, those riffs had been
churning around in my head for years... it was liberating finally releasing
them! And "Atlantis" because I really wanted to make the heaviest concept album
I could, for me personally I feel I have achieved that; it's an album you've
got to commit to when listening and they are my favourite kind!
It's somewhat rare in this day and age to see doom metal bands that
still prefer utilizing clean vocals, especially when the music touches on the
funeral doom genre. Is there any chance you may have considered using extreme
vocals (either of the death or black metal variety), or may in the future make
use of them?
No I don't think so; I couldn't do it right Steve, the melodies and voice I
have in my head when writing riffs are of a classic vocal nature. I don't think
we could pull it off right anyway. Dude, best leave it to the likes of Hooded
Menace, Pombagira and Cough; them guys know what they're doing with extreme
I'm curious as to how your album deal with I Hate is structured?
(IE, how many albums, do they provide tour support, etc). Any bands on the
label you're a fan of? Personally, I enjoyed the Jex Thoth record, different
though it was, and of course the Isole albums were ungodly!
It's pretty relaxed with the guys; we've done this one album and the doors are
open to us to continue our working relationship for as long I suppose as the
albums we produce are any good – haha! I can say they are extremely supportive
and right behind everything we are doing, you can't ask for more than that.
Yeah they've released some awesome bands, Count Raven, Great Coven, and Jex
Thoth to name a few!
Do you keep up with any other labels dedicated to doom metal?
Russian label Solitude Productions has a rather impressive roster of bands,
like My Lament, Ea, Ophis, The Howling Void, and a ton of others. I also really
love the stuff coming out on Firebox Records from Finland; bands like Doom:Vs,
Withering, Swallow The Sun's early discs, and of course the monstrous Tyranny.
To be perfectly honest no I don't, I just don't have the time Steve! Between
looking after my family, playing with the band and doing these interviews, I
just like to sit down put my feet up with a nice glass of Red and listen to
King Crimson or something!
Finally, is there anything you might tell us about your next
record? I don't know if you've even got that far, what with searching for new
members and all, but maybe some song titles, themes or ideas have manifested?
What can I say dude, the next record is actually out now! It's the split with
Cough called "An Introduction To The Black Arts" with Cough and The Wounded
Kings, (we're) well psyched about it! As for the new band, we've started
rehearsal for album 3 and it's genuinely the strongest material to date, we've
just finished the first song 'The Veil Of Negative Existence' and it's a
crushing 12 minutes of the heaviest shit we've ever done!
THROES OF DAWN. Interview with Henri via email.
It's the Pink Floyd worship again folks! We haven't heard from Throes Of Dawn
since their "Binding Of The Spirit" album from 2000, that was their Wounded
Love Records days (which was a division of Avantgarde Music) when they were
more black metal oriented. Shit, that was 10 years ago, and if you were paying
attention you can, on that earliest of records, hear the slight morph into what
they're doing 10 years later with their newest masterpiece "The Great Fleet Of
Echoes". To say that Tiamat's experimentation with "Deeper Kind Of Slumber" had
a profound effect on Throes Of Dawn's newest album would be like saying Black
Sabbath had a profound effect on the rest of metal's history: understated like
a motherfucker!! Regardless of that fact, it's amazing that the dark overtones
still creep into the foreground, making Throes Of Dawn's interpretation of Pink
Floyd material more metal than even Tiamat could possibly envision. We've been
after these guys for an interview for about, oh, ten years or so, and it's
fitting that our grand 50th issue is the place to read about the entire history
of this rather unique band...
I know most people are surprised to see the band active once again,
as it has been quite awhile since your last full length "Quicksilver Clouds".
What happened in those last 6 years? Had you still been active as a band?
After "Quicksilver Clouds" was released, we played some shows and started to
write new material for the upcoming album. It soon turned out that the new
songs were a bit different and we wanted to try out new things and approaches
with these tunes. So, we decided to get some studio and recording hardware and
started to make test recordings. Some of the songs were really good, but some
required a totally new way of thinking. We instantly knew that the upcoming
album is going to stretch limits and so we wanted to take it slowly. Not rush
things, but do everything very carefully, taking all small details into
consideration. We didn't want to record this album like we had done in the
past; book a studio and spend there two weeks and come out with an album. No,
we wanted to be more in control of everything that was going on. And so we
hired a studio engineer to do the recordings on our equipment in our rehearsal
place. We also rented a small studio to record the vocals in. This seemed the
optimal solution, but it turned out that it took a lot of time and patience
before everything was done. We even had six months of breaks in the recordings
just to have a small break to digest things. In the end, it was a great relief
to get this album released.
I didn't digest much of "Quicksilver Clouds", though it seemed to
be a bit disoriented as far as your direction and sound. How do you feel about
that album now?
"Quicksilver Clouds" definitely has it's moments, but it's not one of my
favourite records. I'm not so happy with the production. The sounds are quite
cold for my taste. And in a way it was a bit rushed album. But once again it
was a very important release. With "Quicksilver Clouds" we brought in the new
line-up: New guitarist, bass player and drummer. So, thinking that these guys
had just joined the band and we could still pull this album through was an
amazing thing. Some people rank this abum very high, although it's very
different from the previous albums.
Previous to "Quicksilver Clouds", the only album I had heard from
you was "Binding Of The Spirit", which is still one of my favorite albums of
yours (though I must admit the new record is very, VERY close to being my
alltime favorite). Looking back on "Binding...", how do you see that album in
this day and age? Are you still proud of it, and are you ever willing to play
anything off of it live?
Oh yes, I'm very proud of it. We still play songs from that album in every
show. Mostly 'The Hermit', 'Master's Garden' and 'On Broken Wings Of Despair'.
I really love this album. There's a certain depth in the sounds and the
atmosphere in general is very dense. It was a very difficult album to make, and
in a way it was an end of an era, as the band broke up for a while after the
album was released. Those were tough times indeed, but I think we succeeded
almost perfectly to capture the gloom and despair of those times.
One of the most striking things about the new record is the
direction the vocals have taken. Besides doing mostly clean vocals, the harsh
blackened style vocals now seem to be replaced by the occasional death metal
vocals. What prompted such a change in vocal styles (besides the obvious
melodic influences that are now more prevalent); do you ever plan on utilizing
the blackened vocals on future releases?
Well, I have almost always used both growls and screams in our music, since the
very beginning. It's a matter of how they go along with the music, sometimes
the screams are a better option and sometimes not. I know there has been some
fans who have been very disappointed at the lack of screams on the new album. I
just feel that the screams didn't belong there, the growls are much better for
these songs. Anyway, I have more and more started to use the clean vocals and
we'll see how the new songs turn out, it's a possibility that we are going to
reduce the harsh vocals even more.
While we're on the subject of vocals, many bands I know (like
Kauan, for example) who started out with black metal styled vocals and
instrumentation have progressively moved away from that to the point where
there is very little that reminds one of the Norwegian style
(instrumentation and vocal wise). Are the black metal influences gone, or just
I think these influences are never completely gone. But the thing is that we
have grown out from those times. When we started in 1994, we were mostly
listening to Dissection and other bands from the same genre, now we are more
keen on bands like Pink Floyd etc. It goes with our musical taste which is
expanding all the time. Of course we know we have some limits of what we can
and what we can't do with this band. I know that we will always remain as a
dark, negative band. We will not make happy music. Heh heh! But seriously, we
could easily make even a country song and bend it into a Throes Of Dawn song.
It's the atmosphere that's the most important thing in music. Not the genre.
"The Great Fleet Of Echoes" reminds me STRONGLY of the move Tiamat
made when they released "Deeper Kind Of Slumber". Have you heard that record?
Is this newest release a sort of experimental record or is this the direction
that Throes Of Dawn is moving towards?
We have been huge fans of Tiamat ever since the release of the "Clouds" album.
"Wildhoney" was great, but "Deeper Kind Of Slumber" is a truly brilliant album.
Sadly we can't see that kind of innovation and depth in today's Tiamat, but
yes, the old ones are still my favourite albums. I think Tiamat has always been
an influence to us in some way, they have very good atmospheric tracks and very
good lyrics too.
It was not our intention to make an experimental album, we just wanted to make
music without any limitations. Just do it the way that sounds best to our ears.
We can use electronics, loops etc, without thinking that, "hey this is not
metal, we are not supposed to do this"! I know it might irritate some purists,
but hey, who cares what they think.
"Pakkasherra", your first album, is very difficult to find
nowadays, as is the followup "Dreams Of The Black Earth". Is there any chance
those two albums will be reissued someday, as they are quite hard to find and
even command very steep prices when they turn up on Ebay. What ever happened to
your deal with Woodcut Records? I know they are still around putting out
There has been some plans and discussions with Woodcut Records about these two
records. We have the master tapes from both albums and we just converted them
into digital, so now it would be very easy to re-release them. With
"Pakkasherra" we would really like to do the mixing again as the production is
so poor on the original release. "Dreams Of The Black Earth" has very good
sounds and production, so it would propably be released in the original format.
Time will tell if this is really going to happen though. Times are tough for
the small labels and we can only hope that Woodcut finds enough resources for
I read somewhere that your first two albums have songs that were
recorded but have yet to be released, any reason why? Did you feel that these
didn't fit the themes of the albums? Will they ever be released?
Well, we have some extra songs from every album that have not been released.
There's always a good reason why we didn't include these songs. Normally we
just pick the best ones or the ones that will fit better into the context of
the album. Some songs have not been finished at all, like there was one song
which we recorded during "Quicksilver Clouds" sessions, which turned out to be
not so great, so we just skipped it in the process. I didn't even do any vocals
on that track to save time for the other songs. There's always a chance that we
might do something with these songs. Maybe put them out as bonus tracks if we
ever make re-releases of our albums.
I'm curious if you've played live recently, and what songs from a
setlist would you include? Obviously, with such a wide variety of styles and
songs, a Throes Of Dawn concert that included songs from all albums would be a
rather unique experience, allowing you to perform live with just about anyone!
We just had a live show last saturday in Kouvola. We were mostly playing songs
from our two latest albums, and also 'Master's Garden' from "Binding Of The
Spirit" and 'Spring Blooms With Flowers Dead' from "Dreams Of The Black Earth".
There are always old fans in the audience and they really appreciate when we
present some of the older material. As you said, it's a very versatile show; we
can basically perform with any kind of band. We have been trying to put more
effort into the visual side of the live show. So, we have bought some lights
and smoke machines to get the atmosphere right for the music.
Back to the latest album. It seems like there's a lot of unique
song titles, especially like 'Soft Whispers Of The Chemical Sun' and 'Blue Dead
Skies'. I'm curious about the themes to some of these songs, as the lyrics seem
to convey some harsh images while the music seems to be more atmospheric. Some
of the songs seem to me to deal with life after death, maybe the peaceful
existence of an afterlife?
Themes vary a lot between the songs. They mostly deal with things happening
around my life, feelings, memories etc. These eccentric and long titles are
very typical for Throes Of Dawn. I have always written all of our lyrics and
during all these years I have developed some sort of method or an approach for
the writing. It's a way of saying and expressing things in a different, more
complicated way. These texts usually just spring into my mind when I hear the
song. I start from somewhere and the text will sort of lead me until it's
finished. It's a very difficult matter to describe in detail, I guess it
requires some sort of sensitivity to be able to notice the small subtle things
around you and transform them into song lyrics.
And one more track to examine, 'Lethe'. I remember reading about
this mystical fountain, called the Lethe, and when people drank from it it
caused them to forget their past life.
You are correct, Lethe is a fountain in the underworld of the Greek mythology,
from which the dead drink to forget their past lives. So, yes the song is about
oblivion, attempts to let go of the past.
Have you recorded any new tracks, or started working on a new
record yet? Just curious if you have any ideas floating around, I know it's
been some considerable time since the new record has been released.
Yes, we have some new tracks in the making. It's really exciting stuff. Of
course it's very early to say anything definitive, it surely sounds like Throes
Of Dawn. We are trying to get the sound even more organic. Something like the
"Binding Of The Spirit" era: Warm, and yet dark. The new songs are quite
hypnotic and I'm really looking forward for the next recording sessions,
although it might take some time before we get so far.
How is your deal with Firebox structured (IE, how many albums are
you doing with them, is there tour and merchandise support, etc?) I know this
is your first release on the label, are you happy with them? What other bands
are you into on Firebox? Personally, I dig bands like Doom:VS, Withering, and
early Swallow The Sun releases.
We signed a two album contract with Firebox. The deal is very flexible, and it
gives us a lot of rights. That was one of the main reasons why we accepted this
deal: It's very fair. We know that Firebox is a small label, but we know that
these guys have been working very hard for their bands in these hard times of
low record sales. They are doing their work more out of passion for the music
than for the money. And that is something very admirable. We know their
limitations and we know our limits as well. We would never sign a deal to a
company that would interfere with our way of working. So, this is a perfect
solution for us. About the other bands in Firebox roster, I am only familiar
with Colosseum, which was a truly remarkable band. Not the ordinary "let's play
something like My Dying Bride - Doom band" you see here every now and then.
Have you seen any press for this latest release yet? I wonder what
people are saying, especially those who heard the last album you did "Binding
Of The Spirit"! Personally, I can see touches of the new stuff on "Binding..."
The response from the press has been very good. Although there are some
exceptions of course. There has been a few very bad ones as well. Normally from
magazines and people who are more into trashy headbanging stuff. But it's no
surprise really. We know that our music divides people. There are many who
think our music is too mellow and soft etc. We can't please everyone and that's
not the intention either. People like to compare the new album with bands like
Anathema, Tiamat, Pink Floyd etc. Some magazine even compared us to Dead Can
Dance, which is quite nice.
How would you describe your first two releases for those who aren't
familiar with them (like myself!) Anything about those earliest releases you
really like and dislike? Anything you would change about them if you had the
chance to go back and do so?
They are very different. The debut album "Pakkasherra" is really a raw,
technical death/black metal album. There is progressive and acoustic stuff here
and there and you can see some hints of the coming sound, but it's stil quite
far from today's material. As I said earlier, the production is quite horrible,
the covers look ridiculous, but I'm still quite proud of that album. We were
very young when we made it, and didn't really understand much about recording
and studio work. We learned a lesson, and on "Dreams Of The Black Earth" you
can hear a much more mature band. The production is very nice, even in today's
standards. The synths are taking over on this album, and the soft and warm
"Throes Of Dawn sound" is born. This is almost a perfect album. I think I
wouldn't make any changes to it. Sadly it's very hard to get, but hopefully we
will see some re-issue coming soon.
Finally, the artwork for "Great Fleet Of Echoes" is really
interesting, it looks like maybe the underside of a large bridge! Tell us about
the concept for the artwork, as I've always found your album covers to be quite
unique (even the "Binding Of The Spirit" album with the huge dragonfly on it!)
The artwork was made by our longtime fan T. Honkanen from
death-illustrated.net. I think he made a marvellous job with the covers and the
booklet. I think the covers for this album are one of the best we have done so
far. Like with everything in music, the covers are really important for us. We
want to be part of the process and influence as much as possible. With these
covers there were some pictures included which were originally shot by me and
Jani. The front cover picture was made by T. Honkanen and we picked it, because
it had a very similar atmosphere as in the music. The picture has some vector
distortion and a dawn that rises from the right corner.
THUNDER RIDER. Email interview with John.
This is a very interesting interview. This band, who released "Tales Of
Darkness And Light" many eons ago (actually, 1989), are somewhat of a cult act,
and the record was extremely hard to find. Fast forward over 13 years later and
their second album was released "Tales Of Darkness And Light Chapter II". And
it was written, that Thunder Rider became active again. I'm not sure how many
interviews were conducted with the band, but their appearance at the annual
Keep It True festival in Germany raised some eyebrows. Chapter III is indeed in
the works folks; let's just hope it isn't another 13 years before it's
released! Yet another 80's metal band active and busy in this day and age...
Your first album came out in 1989, with the follow up delivered
almost 14 years later in 2002. Since the websites don't seem to be updated as
much as the MySpace page, one wonders if it will be another 10 or so years
before the next full length! Why did so many years go by between the first and
second albums, and are there plans for another third full length? One wonders
if the band was put on hold because there seemingly might have been no
interest, only to resurface years later (like many 80's metal bands have)
because of the sudden interest in the band.
Thunder Rider has gone through a lot over the years. We have had a few line-up
changes. I think the simplest phrase one should use to excuse the time lapse
between the first and second album would be "life gets in the way". The fact
that Thunder Rider is an auto-financed independent band also weighs on the how
long it takes to complete a project. It was by no means a lack of material; we
had enough songs to do two or even three albums when we recorded our first
There are plans to record Chapter III. I would love to record with the guys
from Roxxcalibur. Kallie, Roger, Mario, Neudi and I got along great while we
were rehearsing to play the Swordbrothers Festival at the request of Volker
Raabe, the Festival's founder. The guys were gracious enough to join me in the
German version of Thunder Rider much to my gratitude. I wish I could tell
everyone when Chapter III will be recorded, but the fact is I don't know when.
I hope we'll be able to record before we reach the 10 year mark.
It seems like Thunder Rider has a life of its' own. We haven't done any type of
promotion other than the odd interview or review. You could say we have a cult
following that spans the globe. I'm always amazed when I find a new review
during a Google search. For some strange reason we sell more CD's around this
time of the year. We've had ups and downs in interest but never a complete
The fact that albums #1 and #2 have practically the same name makes
me wonder if there's a natural storyline that follows from the first release to
the next. I don't have lyrics for the first album so I'm wondering if there's a
theme or common thread that runs through the releases.
There is a common thread through all of our music and lyrics on each of our
recordings. They are tales of darkness and light.
It's been said by some that lyrically you are a Christian band,
though in the liner notes of the second album nothing is mentioned about this.
Does Christianity play a large part in the making of your songs, especially
lyric wise, or do you take the stance of, say, Black Sabbath, where you mainly
mention the evils of the dark side and how harmful they are to mankind?
I don't consider us to be a so-called Christian Band. It's true that Black
Sabbath is one of our influences and I would say you can definitely draw a
parallel. In my opinion the commonly recognized expressions of the highest
powers of good and evil are God and Satan, so we made this commonality our
forum in order to set the stage and create a visual or to display the interplay
of good and evil in a language one can easily relate to.
Whether a Christian or not, how do you feel about the religion
today? Personally, I feel that many aspects of Christianity don't fit into
today's modernized view of the world, especially since I've known religions
that still insist on keeping women out of the governing bodies of the churches,
and some who seem to only have monetary goals and don't try to keep up with the
issues and changes this world goes through on a continuous basis.
I think there is nothing wrong with religion today; however I believe the
misinterpretation of certain scriptures will lead to our demise. The
incorporation of man made rituals and customs that pretend to be included
amongst the holy words suit the will of some believers; ignorance is most
certainly the warmonger's prize.
We should all be free to worship as we wish with the understanding that no God
is greater than another, no practice more meaningful than another. If I may
quote from 'Preacher', a song on our first album: "Religion is not the law of
God, the law of God is peace. Religion is meat for war dogs, laws written for
man by the beast". I think we have to realize that no hand of any God has ever
touched plume to parchment. Every word in any of the Holy Scriptures was
inscribed by man. The Beast in this quote is man, which is to say, laws written
for man by man. I feel that the power of good and evil lurks in the hearts of
all humanity: only a balance of the two will read true.
I recently saw the video for the song 'Thy Kingdom Come' as
performed at the Keep It True Festival. I have been a huge fan of this fest,
even though I have been unable as of yet to attend. How did everything go? Did
you get to hang out with the other bands or witness their performances? How
would you say the festival as a whole is run and organized?
We had a great time and we met a lot of great fans and musicians. Unfortunately
we didn't hang around to see many of the other bands because we had to travel
the next day to do our next gig. I was fortunate to return a couple of years
later as a spectator and I noticed that Keep It True is a well oiled machine.
Everyone does a great job for the love of the music. I must say that Oliver,
the festival's founder, is a real Godsend for providing a forum for all the
great bands he invites.
When I received the latest release "Tales Of Darkness And Light
Chapter II", I was pleasantly surprised at the extra things thrown in, like
the guitar pick and all the attention paid to every detail in the CD booklet. I
feel that in this day and age when CD's are seemingly becoming obsolete and the
albums are easy to get for free, those little details are going to become even
more important (as will bonus tracks and DVD styled content) to keep people
wanting to buy CD's rather than download them.
Yes that was the whole premise behind the concept of the CD. Our perspective
was that of a true fan and collector of music. We also really wanted to offer
our fans thanks for their loyalty.
While on the subject of the "extras", I was pleasantly surprised to
see several detailed art pieces to go with each and every song. It's amazing to
me that so many different people contributed artwork for the album, how did all
that come about? Were these artists paid for their work or were other
I'm very happy to hear that you appreciate the artwork. We put a lot of time
and energy into collecting all the pieces. The concept for both the CD and LP
versions of "Tales Of Darkness & Light Chapter II" revolved around achieving
the look of a storybook. We wanted to enhance the listeners' journey though the
soundscape of the CD while they followed the lyrical path and visual
interpretations of each song. Some of the works were commissioned and others
You guys hail from Canada, which to me has always seen a number of
very talented metal acts from the 80's, some more extreme than most of the 80's
metal bands known to the masses; for example, pioneers like Voivod, Anvil,
Piledriver, Slaughter, Razor, and the like. What did you think of the metal
scene in Canada in the 80's?
That's a good question; I can only speak for myself in saying that I'm old
school metal or even hard rock and I have to say that I'd rather play metal
than listen to others play. I'm not a collector of music and was more into
Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Iron Maiden. I never listened to any
of the bands you just mentioned. I do enjoy most all styles of music. I always
try to find something that speaks to me every time I listen to newer styles. I
try to keep an open mind.
Tell us a bit about shows and gigs you played live during your
career, especially any that stood out (and especially gigs from the 80's).
Prior to going to Germany for the Keep It True Festival, had you ever had an
opportunity to play outside of Canada?
I would say the highlights of our career were few and far between but playing
in Italy in the early 80's was very interesting. Aside from that we didn't play
much in Canada. At the time the scene here was invaded by Tribute bands so no
one was interested in seeing original bands.
When you look at the first release and the latest one, what do you
see are the main differences in writing? It's amazing to me how consistent you
have been, especially after over 10 years of making a record! The songs on both
releases sound remarkably similar, as if your vision never changed from the
beginning to now.
I find they are quite similar for the simple reason that all the songs were
written in the same period of time. I would say the only major difference
between Chapter I and II is in the arrangements and production.
What are your favourite songs from both releases? I thought 'Thy
Kingdom Come' was a great choice to start off album number 2, and I really
liked 'Death To Death' from the first record. 'Holy Terror' and 'Satan's Wrath'
also are favourites from album #2.
I have to say that I love all of our songs, and the thing I love the most is
that each song is unique. I loved listening to bands like Queen, Led Zeppelin
to mention a couple, because when I would skip the needle from track to track
each song had a completely different sound, feel and pace. I must say that I
have a preference for the song 'Heavy Metal Wizzard'. It's a song about an old
friend of ours who was a great inspiration.
Looking back to the beginning, what inspired you to create the
sound and style that's become the "signature" Thunder Rider sound? Many have
said that the word EPIC springs to mind when talking about Thunder Rider and
some have even compared your style and sound to that of Manilla Road, Omen and
even Brocas Helm!
I think our style is just a compilation of the influences from all the band
members. There was no "eureka" moment where we said this is what we have to
sound like. We knew what we wanted to say and how we wanted to say it but as
far as pinpointing how our sound came about I really can't say. I remember the
first time we were coined as being an "Epic" band; it was when I received a
Greek Metal magazine called Metal Invader, we had a two page spread and we were
completely floored to hear that people were really enjoying our Music enough to
call it "Epic". The title of the article was Epic Metal from Kanada.
It's amazing that people compare us to these great bands. Especially since we
have come to know them only after we released our albums and only because of
the constant comparisons. I guess we all had the same influences.
Keyboards weren't as prevalent in metal back then as they are
today, I'd definitely like to get your thoughts on that. Also, the fact that
you utilized flutes is an interesting touch. Are we a bit of a Jethro Tull fan?
I think the only reason they weren't as prevalent was simple, the fact that in
order to get a decent sounding keyboard you had to spend a fortune. Today for
the same price as an Oberheim OB 8 or an E-mu Emulator II sampler you can have
an entire orchestral sound library loaded in your laptop and at your
fingertips. I do love Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull. He's a genius in my book.
Your last release was on your own record label. Are you actively
searching out a record deal, or are you happy to just release stuff on your
It's great (to) have control of all aspects of the production process but the
financial strain is an important burden to bear. If there was a financially
secure independent record label that could offer us artistic freedom and the
backing to set us up as a backing band for some well known acts we wouldn't say
It seems like the internet is a great promotional vehicle for bands
these days, that the record labels seem to be afraid of the power of this new
technology. How do you think Thunder Rider would have fared back in the 80's if
you had access to the world wide web and sites like facebook and myspace? Did
Thunder Rider ever take part in the demo tape trading scene that got the word
out about bands in the 80's?
We always talk about having the power of the internet back in those days and
wonder what could have been. We never took part in any of the demo tape trading
I guess we were somewhat out of the loop.
If there's anything else we failed to mention, feel free to do so
now. Thanks again for the help and support!!!
Thank you Steven, for inviting me to do this interview. I hope I've answered
the questions to your liking. Thank you to all Thunder Rider fans and we
greatly appreciate your loyalty. We will do our best to deliver Chapter III to
you as soon as possible.
WILD DOGS. Interview with Matt McCourt...
It's 80's metal time yet again folks! We've had the "Reign Of Terror" album and
"Man's Best Friend" up in the classic albums archives for awhile now. And Matt
is QUITE the talker! He's also responsible for the band Dr. Mastermind, which
we may speak with him about in the future, and also for the 80's metal band
known as MAYHEM!!! Yes, there WAS a metal band known as Mayhem that was NOT
from Norway! This is a long one, but chronicles Wild Dogs' career so well.
Going all the way back to the beginning, I was fascinated to see
that Wild Dogs was one of the first bands to ever sign with Shrapnel. How did
that all come about? Did you ever realize that Shrapnel would still be around
over 20 years after that first album release?
I saw Mike Varney on early MTV doing an interview and asking for demos of
unsung guitar heroes... it happened to be soon after our first demo (one song-
'Fugitive Of The Law') was recorded (we got together to record for a local
studio who had engineering classes (recording associates) unlike most bands we
did not set out to become a band and playing live was never in our sights at
this point). We went back for another class and recorded 3 songs ('We Got The
Power', 'Tonite We Rock', and 'Running Away'). We sent that to Mike and he
liked it and wanted to hear more... Pete Homes was drumming on those tunes, he
joined Black 'N Blue after those songs so Jaime St James (who had moved from
the drum seat to front man in "movie star" - later they changed the name to
Black 'N Blue) was available during the afternoons and we worked up 'Born To
Rock', 'Tonite Show', 'Two Wrongs', 'I Need A Love' and 'Life Is A Game' and
recorded those and sent Mike that demo. He chose 'Tonite Show' for U.S. Metal
Vol. 2) I realised Mike would be around as long as he wanted to with Shrapnel
when he started focusing on guitar players and bands without singing which was
one of my input ideas to him in our many nightly conversations (I also urged
him to record as he is also a world class guitar player on par with most of the
guys on his label)....the us metal comp came out.. and a local FM station KGON
92.3 fm put us on their homegrown compilation and gave us a lot of airplay...
When the feedback came in from the U.S. Metal Vol. 2 and fan mail I suggested
to Mike he should do a full album with the band who got the best response...
since we had already 5 songs recorded he said how about you guys... we had some
royalties coming like a few hundred dollars and went back in the studio which
we recorded at free of charge after our long search for a drummer (Black 'N
Blue moved to Los Angeles and we finally came across Deen Castronovo I did at a
small club Deen and I did the first Malice demos with Jay Reynolds and Kip
Doran on guitar and singer James Neal - that's how Jay got the other members
Mick Zane and Mark Behn to join him.
How does it make you feel to see Shrapnel gain a reputation as a
guitar virtuoso's label? Artists like James Murphy, David Chastain and Marty
Friedman are all associated with that label in one way or another...
I'm very proud to have that in my legacy... it's a step above the normal labels
and to be associated with the world's best new players. And I'm extremely proud
of the fact that some of my ideas and input were well recieved by Mike...
Guitar was stagnant... before his label I was into Al Dimeola, Jeff Beck, Jimi
Hendrix (I also loved band bands like Kiss and Aerosmith) but Billy Cobham and
fusion bands really lit my fire! My neighborhood was full of prog and jazzers;
one guy played with Mahavishnu on violin and others were some of the guys who
first took up moog synths. And Gentle Giant and Yes were the norm in my high
school... I was a hybrid rocker...
I loved the rockstar thing but the playing level of jazz guys excited me. I
started going to concerts at age 11 and they had such great diverse bills in
those days. I did think that by the time I did Dr. Mastermind on Shrapnel it
was getting a bit redundant and factory like Yngwie and Paul Gilbert and Marty
Friedman I feel are the base of the new era guitar players. Most who followed
were followers and the guys all kind of looked like the same poodle perm gurlie
men - I bet there were... I KNOW there were a zillion guys who played their ass
off but due to the picture they sent got dumped before they got a chance (being
a bigger guy myself I sided with the underdogs... ears can't see, ya know?)
it all started really with Yngwie... I heard his demo over the phone while
talking to Mike Varney one night and said THAT is the future of guitar man...
classical was really uncool back then as much so as country and Yngwie was
using the same things I heard on clavichord but transposed to guitar. He took
Al Dimeola and "Into The Arena" by Schenker a step above and beyond and it's at
warp speed - how I listened to most of my vinyl- on 45 or 78 speed....
While on the Shrapnel years, I'm curious as to what happened with
Shrapnel, as your last 80's metal record moved over to Enigma? It's obvious
that Enigma had better distribution and a bigger presence, especially since
they worked some titles with Metal Blade...
I was not on that record... "reign of terrier" as we call it... None of that
music did anything for me, I couldn't write to it... all the songs on Dr.
Mastermind were originally intended for the third Wild Dogs album but "weren't
commercial enough" and my image as a wildman and not a gurlie man... They
decided to try their luck with another singer. I did all the footwork and
booking and promo. Up 'til then Mike offered me a solo deal based on the demo
I made with my band after the previous replacement for me didn't work out...
evil genius we did a ton of gigs and while I was living at our band house
(something Wild Dogs never did) I got a call one morning from Jeff Mark and he
asked me if I'd do a show with them (I'd been replaced in a really crappy
way... hahah. They came to a meeting with this other guy who had the
prerequisite hair and was thin but had no voice that could topple a building
like me) and introduced him to our new "manager" guy who I'd been hanging with
a day before plotting the next move... "Uh hi Ken, this is our new singer
John..." He lasted 3 months, I think he got tired of people throwing things on
him and showing up with signs and tee shirts that read "Matt is god" and "mild
dogs". Little did I know that this would happen again in a few months but I had
plans of my own when they wouldn't tell me they found a new guy - but backbone
or communication isn't these guys' strong points...
And one last question on the Shrapnel years: the first two Wild
Dogs albums are seemingly hard to find these days... I assume that the rights
are no longer in Shrapnel's hands?
Well I asked Mike if he was going to put out our record on CD when the format
changed and he said no, the only vinyl he put out on cd was Steeler. So I did
it myself in short run format. Rights? It's more important to me to have the
music in people's hands and ears even if it is less than 100 (copies). And I
know those people are making copies for others because the underground is alive
and well... I didn't want to waste my life which I pretty much put off for the
lure of rock 'n roll... Varney was right when he said it wouldn't be worth the
money to do a reissue. The originals sold less than 1000 copies each. He had
just destroyed the vinyl of the remainders when I told him I was selling these.
Ya know I go on this basis.. as I've learned in art history ... NONE of the
great painters ever made any money while alive. Only after they were dead and
their BODY OF WORK was discovered and deemed something of value. in some cases
like Da Vinci it took 300 years for some of his work to surface!... not that
any of the Wild Dogs songs are any groundbreaking material but it's MY art,
and I need people to hear it... pass it on however it gets to 'em, so I don't
get back to the homicidal motherfucker I was in 1985; pissed off 'cuz I
couldn't make a living with music... once I stopped thinking in those terms
(after film school and working as a stagehand ) music became a joy again. And
I've recorded a couple hundered songs and put those out in small quantities
also - everything I do when I die I don't wanna leave a big body I'll leave a
big body of work as well... Some guys like to play little big businessman, and
have everything be all proper and on a label or they don't do it - fuck that
shit... I'll write more if someone's interested.
One of the things I always admired about Wild Dogs was, the
insistence on writing true metal oriented material. I always hated 80's metal
bands that would put out such kick ass material, but felt they had to write a
"ballad" piece, or some love track to "get the chicks", or go for that radio
Bullshit the one thing the OTHER guys were interested in were getting chicks to
our gigs... Our audience was 90% male and I'm fine with that. I'm too busy
meeting people to flirt up some slut so I can have my 10 seconds of glory but
Danny and Jeff... no their fragile egos needed that crap 'cuz they read about
it in some magazine, and it was their primary interest in getting involved in
music to begin with. With me my family were musicians my grandpa was friends
with Buddy Rich and also a drummer himself, that's how he supported their
family. My mom is a pianist, my grandpa's whole family a swing band in the 40's
as well as my uncle. Another drummer who was an in-demand drummer for the jazz
scene of portland when Sammy Davis Jr., Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones lived
here and the scene was world class! I grew up around people showing me how to
play drums since I was age 4! I was taking lessons at age 6. Getting laid never
occurred to me, music has always been the language of my life! From the time I
SAW the beatles on Ed Sullvian at age 4 I was hooked. I'd heard them as well as
Elvis and Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis before that... so at least for me,
writing music was just writing for the situation. The whole base of EVERYTHING
I do is blues. Going thru the things I have I can now at age 51 see where it
comes from and radio I learned EARLY on that radio costs A LOT more money than
I'll EVER have in a budget to get airplay... If we hadn't been on a compilation
the radio station was selling there'd be no way a local artist would get on FM.
That cost money. Payola - call it what ya will - but why write for a medium
you'll never get played on - I say stay true to your own self. Fuck the money
or whatever. "Man's Best Friend" TRIED to be something it wasn't and failed
miserably and I got the blame... when it wasnt MY idea... I knew what we had,
we didn't set out to be a band. We wrote and recorded the songs inside of us,
something that'll never happen again, because it got tainted.
I'm curious about your lineup situation, because it seems at
various times in the Wild Dogs history, you've had members of a band called
Matt Mc. Court playing just about everything there is to play! However, you've
also had three different singers in the band, and seeing as how you're credited
with vocals all the way back on your very first release, I'm curious as to why
you enlisted different vocalists at various periods? It was interesting to see
Brian Allen was in the band at one time, as I am a fan of Vicious Rumours and
Brian Allen has been a friend of mine since 1986, he moved in with the evil
genius drummer and formed a band called Father Mary about the same time I did
Dr. Mastermind. He has asked me for years to help get him into a situation or
group doing something... so knowing Geoff for so long and hanging out in
Germany in 2009, he said they need a new singer and I said I got the guy for
you... It worked out I'm so glad man! Malice... Well I knew that wasn't going
anywhere; Brian had high hopes with that and it was a let down just as I
predicted. The Malice appearance at Keep It True will be and it will be just as
it is: A one time deal.
I was going to try and work some "Reign Of Terror" songs into our set and have
Brian sing with us for fun... and for something different. I like to include
others... even audience members if they wanna sing can jump up onstage and have
a go. Ya know man it's all about the people who come and see ya so I figure
they wanna be onstage, why not let 'em. It's nothin' to me... but it's a big
deal for the people who do that... and they will remember that forever ya know?
Like I said I SHARE! They share by yelling at the end of the song so, come on
up and take over for a minute and ya never know you might find a great talent.
I hate to see talent wasted.
Deen was rotting in Salem, Oregon and part of the Dr. Mastermind deal was that
he'd get moved to the Bay area and paid to play in Tony MacAlpines' band as
well as paid session work, I hooked that up. And for the most part it's worked
out well. I love Deen, he just called me yesterday to wish me happy birthday.
He's like a little brother. When I heard him play I said he plays all the drums
I hear in my head... Like Billy Cobham with a rock band! Funny thing is, Jeff
and Danny did not want him when he came over. I'd done 2 sessions with the
Malice material with Deen and it was amazing, it made ME play better! I'm a
bass player, always have been since age 14 so it was great to play off his
counter rhythms. But back to vocals... I didn't change the singers the other
guys did and they always, ALWAYS came back to me! Why? Cuz I'm the real mother
fuckin deal baby... My range isn't what Brian's is or Furlong's but I have the
FEEL and I can write songs 'til the cows tell ME to come home!
When I first got into Wild Dogs, I first heard "Reign Of Terror",
which was a very kick ass record at the time, and throughout the 80's, I find
it to be one of your heaviest records from the 80's... Would you agree? I do
like the other 80's metal albums, but for some reason "Reign Of Terror" seems
to be the sickest!! Is there any particular release you're more fond of than
No I think it is what it is: a cheap ass copy of better bands like Racer X,
Cacophony and a multitude of Shrapnel bands. Before they heard my Dr.
Mastermind songs it was going in a commercial way to get the "major label
deal." I've learned a lot of those songs, nothing compares to Slayer or
Megadeth and the singer sounds like a bobcat caught in a barbed wire fence.
After learning a number of those songs I've discovered that 4 of them have the
same exact patterns! And you can't fuck to any of the songs. I do like 'Metal
Fuel' and 'Psycho Radio' if I had to pick but I'll take "Speed Metal Symphony"
or anything by Yngwie, or better yet Motorhead... or even better yet it don't
even come close to the mighty Exodus! Now that is one fucking killer band who
should be surpassing Metallica, or Kreator!
As to "Reign Of Terror", maybe it's becuase I know how non-metal the dudes who
played it are. And it's a "fake" album in terms of people pandering to a style
to accomplish something. The lead guitar doesn't excite me but Deen's drums do.
One thing Deen told me yesterday was "Matt YOU are Wild Dogs". I said what
about "R.O.T." he said that was the fucking Michael Furlong band.
I'm sure you are probably looking at your first few releases now
and realizing that the technology to record albums is vastly different in this
day and age than it was 20 or even 30 years ago. Looking back, is there
anything you would have done differently when recording those songs or even
On the first album... No I'd keep it the same. It is a classic and honest and
pure. Guys not knowing WHAT we created or having a purpose - that's the only
way you create something with that integrity. "Man's Best Friend", Yes. No
backing vocals and harder material, and no fantasy about "getting signed", a
term I think is as stupid as the notion that a label will be the end all of
your dreams. In fact what it does, and I do love Varney for this, he didn't
give us tour support or do dodgey accounting... You can trust him like your
mother. Other bands I've intervewied on bigger labels owe so much money they'll
never see any cash. And if they don't keep going have to pay it back. Jay had a
deal like that wehn he joined Megadeth. Atlantic wanted him to pay back the
cash for Malice if he kept going with Megadeth (according to Jay), and you can
never trust a guy with his lifestyle.
While on that subject, I remember back in the 80's when demo tape
trading was the way bands got the word, and their music, out to the masses.
Nowadays lots of people are up in arms about MP3 trading and downloading music
online, saying it will eventually kill the music industry. However, I see it as
a great way for bands to reach even more people than was possible years ago,
especially with networking sites like facebook and myspace. I understand the
reasoning behind people's distrust of music sharing, even when it's considered
that demo tapes were nowhere near as good a quality as the released album. That
being said, the number one point that is the overall deciding factor to me is
that the true fan will ALWAYS want the original product, and will support good
bands that he or she likes...
Once again... I don't care HOW they get it, as long as they listen to it. The
record industry as we knew it IS dead - that's why American Idol is so popular;
they pay the singers a salary, and it's keeping the thing afloat. With our type
of music, or most, I think the way to survive is going to be what they can't
get on a disc: a live show. I don't know anyone who makes a living off music
except Deen, and he always was a sideman for huge groups who play big shows.
And yeah, people who support you will support you, but these days no one has
any money and I don't see that getting any better; in fact I see it getting a
lot worse before people have money to burn. That's why going to see a band will
be the way to go. You can always find the tunes somewhere or someone wil share
it with ya... Or do what I do: promote the music by writing about it and get a
copy from the band or label. I don't need the full blown package, a CDR is
fine. I'm listening not reselling it! So many so-called magazines want the full
retail version... I say go buy it! I'll send you an MP3 version, email or CD-R.
But no one is gonna get rich selling records these days, in rock, and according
to my sources grunge is on it's way back for its 20 year anniversary. Those
bands sold tons they'll do it again.
You were involved with several short lived 80's metal bands, most
notably for me being Dr. Mastermind and Mayhem... I have to assume though that
Wild Dogs was always your number one priority band? Especially since it seems
to be the only one that's still going to this day...
The only reaosn Wild Dogs is going is becuase people will book that. I've tried
for years to just be Matt McCourt. Finally opening for Raven I became Wild
Dogs' Matt McCourt, and we do a combined set of Dr. Mastermind and Wild Dogs
and the hit 'Fuck-U' off Mayhem, but Dr. Mastermind is my baby... And what I
wanted Wild Dogs to sound like. We do the 'dogs tunes to give the drummer a
What is the status of Wild Dogs today? I've heard it mentioned that
some CD's are released as Matt McCourt and Wild Dogs, so I'm wondering if
there's some legal reasoning behind this.
See above answer... It's all about the internet. I want the association of my
name to be synonymous with Wild Dogs. And you're missing the best selling band
I have done, recording with Church Of El Duce. When it comes to CD's that
actually sell and fans who actually fork over cash in suppport of a band you'll
not find any better fanbase than that of The Mentors or of rape rock, sleaze
rock, etc. The nastier, dirtier, and most disgusting, the better. Those CD's
outsell every one of my 30 titles. 10 to 1... Raperock sells! And the people
are much cooler than the usual stuck-up metalhead collector; they are MY kind
of people! And it's almost like a worldwide gang, and they will stand up or
show up, in some cases, at people's houses that don't see eye to eye. ha ha!
Recording with them since 2001 has been the best thing ever that happened to me
and one reason I found joy in music again. I'm a punk rocker deep in my soul,
and I usually find my friends after the usual Mentors sing along. Backstage
with Raven we had so much fun singing all the Mentors classics before going on
stage I forgot to tune up! They are huge fans, so is Metallica. I say anyone
with half a brain and any type of taste worth having is a worshipper of Lord El
Duce and at gigs.. THAT'S where the chicks come in... and get down! Blowjobs on
stage, taking off their clothes... One chick bent over and Sickie fucked her
while he was playing 'The 4-F Club'! Now THAT'S rock 'n' roll baby! The other
Wild Dogs were too squeamy to get with them... I've been a fan since Pig
Champion turned me onto them in 1978.
In the history of Wild Dogs, there were many amazing and talented
musicians that came on board to work with you... Why do you think it never
worked out with a lot of these guys?
I'm not sure who you're talkin' about. Ya know a lot of times it's just "Hey.
Wanna do some recording"? Nothing is EVER worked out or "professional" like we
calculate things, it's just convenient and fun... And like sex it may be a one
time deal. It's all about bein' fun, never "If I got this guy this would
happen", it's "Hey I like this dude... right now... so why not"?
I've seen where Wild Dogs has played live a few times, even
appearing in a few festivals! Tell us a bit about some of these; I'm surprised
you actually haven't (to my knowledge anyway) played at the Keep It True
festival yet! How were some of these appearances? Any chance Wild Dogs will be
trekking through the States anytime soon?
Well, ya know tours cost money. I make less than 14 thousand per year at my
job. We don't get paid at any of these gigs so unless it's a one-off or people
are willing to help out... No. I'll go back to germany! The guy who books Keep
It True didn't give me the time of day when Juergen introduced me to him at
Headbangers Open Air. I have some real true friends there near Hamburg and in
Itzehoe, so i'll go visit them. Headbangers Open Air 2008 was amazing, I've
wanted to go play there for 15 years.
Last question: What advice would you give young and up and coming
bands and musicians in this day and age? I know the music industry changes on a
daily basis but surely you feel there's still hope for dedicated musicians. The
Anvil story was a rather interesting take on sticking to your guns no matter
Anvil is the only band that will happen for. And did ya know that tour in the
film was a Vicious Rumors tour but they couldn't make the first gig? Larry Howe
told me that. And my best advice is: get used to working and get a job it will
help with music... not only will you learn what resonsibility is ('cuz it ain't
sittin on your ass doing interviews....its work!), and you'll have some cash to
pay for your hobby. Work as a stage hand so you know what fuckheads a lot of
the arena guys are so you WON'T wanna be like that. And make friends with other
bands because THAT makes a scene. The other dogs (original guys not my regular
band and that goes for all the previous mentions I'm talkin about... Jeff Mark
and Danny Kurth. Not Robert Robinsin and Troy Stutzman, I love those guys!),
the original guys never spoke to the other bands we played with ever. Never
made an effort to band together. They'd sit back in the dressng room and rag on
'em... EVERYONE! While I was drinking beers with Slayer they were yakkin' about
how shitty they were, loud enough so I could hear them. DON'T DO THAT! The band
you think sucks will be bigger than you... for not other reason that that!
I REALLY wanted to make issue #50 something special and kick ass... So, there
went the usual delays... Waiting for bands to send interviews BACK took up most
of the time. One thing that REALLY upset me though, I wanted Anvil to be the
feature interview this issue. I just got done watching the Anvil movie and man
I gotta say my heart REALLY goes out to those guys, they stuck to their guns no
matter WHAT. That being said, I emailed the band FOUR times and didn't even get
a reply... SO I guess Anvil is too big to bother with one of their biggest fans
stateside... I really wanted them as a feature interview, but that won't
happen. Rather than sit here and talk shit about them for wearing the persona
of stuck up rock stars, I will say that here's to hoping Anvil continues to
make great music and continue on for another 20 years or so... Congratulations
you fucks!! See what happens when you stick to your guns and don't budge?
One thing I am getting ready to address with labels is the whole promo thing.
See kids, back in the day (talks in the grumpy old man voice) we used to get
CD's from the labels as a result of all our hard work. Now, besides those
stupid cardboard sleeves that don't have any lyrical information ('cause we ALL
know extreme metal bands growl intelligibly where we can understand them...
RIGHT?) now we're being thrown into the Ipool! Okay, yeah it cuts down on
postage (surprisingly, the post office didn't get approved for yet ANOTHER
raise!), but what do WE have to look forward to these days? WE, who receive NO
pay for what we do, who get NO advertising money from the labels, who have the
hardest time setting up interviews... You'll notice that EVERY SINGLE INTERVIEW
in this issue is email. Why? Well, because most PR companies schedule
interviews with bands on certain days, and usually when I'm working! ALL the
interviews in this issue I set up with the bands MYSELF... Not that THAT is
what I'm complaining about. But back to the promo thing, where's our incentive?
The labels you'll see worked with more frequently are the ones who SEND OUT
ACTUAL CD'S!!! YES, there are a few exceptions, and I am going to get to those
in a moment, because I HAVE SOLUTIONS!!!
That's right, I have a MULTITUDE of solutions for labels and magazines, and I
hope sincerely that labels will start following these ideas... First off, the
best way to service magazines is to wait until you have about 5 or 6 releases
out, and then mail them all together. There's a few labels that have REALLY
brought this point home, and I will mention their names: Solitude Productions,
Gardarika Musikk, and a few others. Send the CD's stuck together and wrapped in
cellophane (hell, Saran Wrap does the trick well). I forget what you call that
clear thin sheet, but it's like plastic wrap. Second, send the front and back
CD sleeves/booklet by themselves, underneath the CD wrapped bundle. Saves you a
TON on postage; hell, we don't need jewel cases, we can provide those ourselves
man! That's one way. Secondly, CD's, as we all know, can be printed rather
cheaply... Throw us into the Ipool if you must, or even send out those lifeless
cardboard sleeves, but how about throwing us a full packaging CD if we agree to
do an interview with the band? A few labels have REALLY gotten on board with
this one, like Napalm (thanks Nathan!) and Season Of Mist here in the States.
Self explanatory. If I LIKE a band I WANT to interview them; most magazines
generally have a policy of not interviewing bands they don't like. If I'm after
an interview, it generally means I REALLY dig the band!
The third thing, which I think is not only going to help ME but help the labels
as well, is OFFER THESE TITLES FOR A REDUCED PRICE TO JOURNALISTS!!! Let's face
facts, folks, if you send me a cardboard sleeve of a band I really dig, guess
what I'm gonna do? That's right, I WANT THAT JEWEL CASE VERSION! SO... off to
Ebay I go! And nine times out of ten the CD I WANT is being sold by ebay
"stores" at a price that's ridiculously high. If I'm lucky enough to find an
auctioneer (after I usually wait half a year to a year after the thing's been
out) and IF I win the bid, I usually end up getting the CD for around 5 - 9
dollars. SO, why not set aside 40 or 50 copies of a certain title ONLY for
journalists that they can purchase at a reduced price. I'd say 5 or 6 bucks a
title even if that's possible. I'd be VERY happy to purchase a CD like this at
a reduced cost if it's something I want to OWN... And I think a lot of other
journalists would as well. Think about it: 40 or 50 copies at $5 or $6 a piece,
that suddenly makes your PR company at least $200 for one title! You see where
I'm going at here... I have spent many hours thinking about these, and instead
of just bitching about things, I'm offering REAL solutions...
I've been able to witness some really cool live shows this year. My second time
seeing Watain was awesome, even with the smell of rotting, decaying corpses
that didn't leave my car for about a week. Watain put on one of the sickest
shows I've seen from them since their last appearance when they headlined with
Angel Corpse and Nachtmystium. What was odd was in the Masquerade they had put
on ANOTHER show upstairs, that being The Sword and Karma To Burn. When The
Sword finished up right after Watain took to the stage, there were MANY Sword
fans who got their first taste of vicious, Scandivanian black metal in all it's
fury. And one fan I talked to was so blown away by what he witnessed, that he
was FULL of questions! Like "Damn, what style of music is that? Tell me more
about THIS band!" This guy, who looked more at home amongst the "townies" (the
British will understand me right away), went back in and bought EVERY damn CD
that Watain had for sale... It was a really unique opportunity for Watain, and
the downstairs venue was VERY crowded from getting The Sword's concert crowd.
Other unique shows for us, I FINALLY, after my third time, got to see My Life
With The Thrill Kill Kult, opening up for Lords Of Acid of all things! And
lemme tell ya, those two bands, who embrace the industrial/techno genre, had
members who were all over the stage! The bass player for Lords Of Acid in
paticular was jumping all around the place, very energetic performances by both
bands, and it felt more like a highly charged rock concert than an electronic
extravaganza. We also got to see the mighty Pentagram here in the Atlanta area,
expect more great things for Pentagram now that they are signed to Metal Blade
Records! And with Victor Griffin back in the fold, I'm sure the next new album
will be a scorcher! On a final note, I FINALLY got to see Overkill live this
year, and what a thrash festival THAT show was: Bonded By Blood with their new
singer, Evile who I saw before and actually SLAYED live, and the newly reformed
Forbidden! Lemme tell ya, Russ has an AMAZING set of pipes; not only does he do
very low toned vocals, but DAMN he can still hit the highs! It was great
hearing 'Through Eyes Of Glass', 'March Into Fire' and 'Chalice Of Blood' after
so many years! Overkill was fucking phenomenal! Bobby has SO much energy on
stage, and playing for almost 2 hour or so, they ran through so many cool songs
from all the albums I knew of: 'Rotten To The Core' from their debut, "Wrecking
Crew' from "Taking Over," and a tune I love to death that I thought they'd
NEVER play live: 'Horrorscope.' They did play 'Necroshine' and 'Hello From The
Gutter,' and overall a very intense performance.
Moving on, I am currently thinking how cool it is that I am putting this issue
out during the holidays. You know, there's SO many more discs I wanted to
review, but there just wasn't time to add EVERYTHING... The new discs by Ea,
Gallowbraid, Vinterriket, Raventale, Diamond Eyed Princess and a few others are
unfortunately, going to have to wait until next issue. That being said,
I hope everyone out there is having a happy December, and the new year is
ALWAYS more promising down the road no matter HOW much good or bad stuff
preceded the new year. If you think it, you can do it, and I will be doing this
for some time to come. I gotta hit the 20 year mark, which will be in 2012.
Thanks to everyone who stuck it out with me through the delays and setbacks,
and thanks also to the many labels and PR companies who still believe in us. We
added some new labels as well, like Hammer Of Hate out of Finland, and NOW we
have a dedicated facebook page! So go to facebook and check THAT out! Also keep
digging the radio show, as we will be rebroadcasting select WREKage
appearances. See you all again in 2011!