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 length.
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 year's end.
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 next one!
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...
Contact: Honcho.

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 in!
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 blackened microscope!
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 to be.
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 future recording?

    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 face.

  • 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 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 Of Space".

  • 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 sea.

    '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 similar horrors.

  • 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 project.

  • 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 (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 them live.

    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 label boss.

  • 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 change.

  • 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 critics.

    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 demise.

    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 the States?

    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 sure!

    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 not today?

    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 the scene....

  • 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 announced soon.

    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 such bands.

    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 Sweden?

    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 for me.

  • 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.

    Hravn: Zzzzz...

  • 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 topics...

    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 rather philosophical.

    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 hearth.

  • 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 spirit?

    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 can imagine.

  • 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 about?

    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 Frey material?

    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 them.

    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 fuzz!

  • 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 vocals!

  • 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 tempered somewhat?

    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 albums.

    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 these releases.

  • 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 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 album!

    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 disinterest.

  • 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 arrangements made?

    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 were donated.

  • 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 own?

    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 no.

  • 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 audience...

    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 Malice...

    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 the others?

    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 those albums?

    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 breather.

  • 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 what.

    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!