DAMN if there ain't a TON of exciting changes that have come to the Vibrations Of Doom website in the last 5 or 6 months! First off, you'll notice that ALL the classic albums are being re-encoded in a much higher bitrate. What we HAVEN'T been able to tell you is that the soundfiles section will now be encoded, starting with THIS issue right here, with the highest possible bitrate utilizing the RealAudio codecs... If you haven't heard how phenomenal these songs sound, PLEASE take some time to familiarize yourself with our brand new digitizing processes. I guarantee you've NEVER heard RealAudio so dynamic and alive before... Thanks and eternal gratitude goes out to IX Webhosting for being VERY generous with the bandwidth and disk space, and believing in us enough to allow us to do what we have been doing for almost 20 years now...

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

We've added quite a few new record labels to our lineup, like Silent Time Noise Records, Arx, Xtreem, Les Acteurs De L'Ombre, and more! Many labels you'll see more from in the next few issues to come...

"When you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true."
Paulo Coelho


1000 FUNERALS "Butterfly Decadence" (Silent Time Noise) SCORE: 98/100

Folks, welcome our new partners at Silent Time Noise Records out of Russia. The wonderful package of all 5 bands arrived a mere week and a half before this issue will see press, and usually that would be WAY too late for any reviews to be included in this issue... I obviously made an exception, for this label, MARK MY WORDS, is on par to be the next Solitude Productions. This little known band hails from Iran, and on the Encyclopedia Metallum, there's only about 38 listed bands from this country. It's quite obvious that this group admires Shape Of Despair, though the way they compose their songs it's also obvious that Shape Of Despair is a small reference. The CD starts out with one of the most amazingly beautiful and moving instrumentals I've EVER heard, in 'Sutured Lips.' Folks, the synthesized passages here (after the intense rain sounds get us started) are VERY spacey, in fact couple that with the synthesized violins and I wouldn't have thought this cut out of place on a Hawkwind album! There are even some drums and heavily distorted guitars on this track (the guitars have a heavy bass effect to them as well) which makes it well within the realm of funereal doom. 'Of Love Then Deceit' starts things off with piano notes and ambient landscape synths which will be forever known as their trademark on this record, as nearly EVERY track utilizes this in some manner. This is by far their longest song on the disc, clocking in at 10:32. The heavy atmosphere on this track is soul wrenching however, and with the sick death metal styled vocals, there are ALSO some rather alien and harsh low toned spoken male vocals for which I REALLY wish I had a lyric sheet. You'll find that the single piano notes end this track rather nicely. 'Nothing Has Ever Been' will seem like an instrumental piece, almost totally devoid of not only death styled vocals but also composed nearly entirely of synthesizer pieces and piano notations (though those might be synthesized as well). The bass guitars feature in here a bit, though there are some whispered vocals near the end of the cut. The title track was the strangest piece of all, at a mere 2:39 and some really dark and eerie piano and synth notes almost didn't sit well with me, though the synths were definitely multilayered. There's some interesting spoken female dialogue near the end of this cut, almost like an intro. 'Vast Infinite Beauty' starts off right away with heavy crunchy distorted guitars and doomy synths, and more of the low toned spoken vocals. A true funereal doom masterpiece, including death style vocals (only 2 cuts here have them sadly). They finally end the CD with a Shape Of Despair cover 'Night's Dew,' and it's pretty faithful to the CD closer from Shape Of Despair's "Angels Of Distress" album, though I must add there seems to be more emphasis on stringed orchestral style elements and flutes, which stands a cut above the rest. With two, almost three instrumentals and only 2 real doom metal pieces, I REALLY wanted to hear more from a 6 track CD that clocks in at a mere 39 minutes. That notwithstanding, this CD really blows you away with intense atmosphere and amazingly emotional content. Yep, I can't wait to cover all the other Silent Time Noise releases. Folks, PLEASE support this label, don't let them fall by the wayside, as there are some fucking amazing bands on this label, and not just from Russia or the Ukraine either.
Contact: Silent Time Noise Records.

A DREAM OF POE "The Mirror Of Deliverance" (Arx) SCORE: 87/100

Many may not know this, but I actually had an opportunity to try out for the singer's position in this band... Unfortunately, I couldn't get anything recorded for the one demo track he sent me, which turned out to be the song 'Liber XLIX,' incidentally one of the heaviest cuts on this record. After listening to this album, two things are readily apparent to me: One, is that I missed a HUGE opportunity to sing for a band that is capable of writing some amazing music, and two, the vocalist they DID decide to use does a very commendable job. His higher toned singing is a bit unique, while still reminding one a bit of Aaron from My Dying Bride, while his extreme death metal styled vocals are a bit different from most in the genre, in that it's almost a hardcore'ish slant to the rough edged vocals. Still, the vocalist isn't the only place where this band shines. Building on the "less is more" factor, 'Neophyte' opens the disc with some mellow acoustic guitars and often mixes them with the heavier guitars that many times are playing prolonged one and two note patterns. Lyrically, 'Neophyte' has a lot going for it, especially the catchy choruses featuring "phoenix and dragon." The guitar solos here are to die for as well, utilizing the higher ended notations to soaring emotional effect. 'Os Vultos' follows, and it's a 10 minute piece. The melancholic and beautiful acoustic guitar work is NOT to be denied, though this track mainly features spoken vocals in what I assume are Portugese. The addition of some choppy, almost thrash like riffs was a nice surprise. Followup 'Lady Of Shallot' begins the assault with the solitary acoustic riffing, and the sung vocals are mostly low toned. One unique trait A Dream Of Poe has is to combine the death vocals right alongside the clean sung ones, and this is done in many spots throughout the album. The wild, female ghost wailing vocals (almost operatic sounding) gives this track a rather otherworldly feel that was a treat to hear. And the final minute of the song features more interesting spoken vocals. Finally we get to the most crushing track on this disc in 'Liber XLIX.' The intensity of the dark instrumentation cannot be denied, and the extreme vocals roar quite viciously through much of the track. 'The Lost King Of The Lyre' I felt wasn't quite as strong as the first 4 tracks, mainly due to some odd leads, but this song is still worth listening to. And sadly, the CD ender 'Chrysopoeia' was the weakest cut on the disc. The instrumentation unfortunately never really grabbed me, and clocking in at over 11 and a half minutes, this track was way too long. The wailing female crying vocals halfway in ruined it for me, and the guitar work tended to really grate the nerves, especially when the death styled vocals were working solo. Even the minimal acoustic guitar work didn't pan out for me, and it's a crying shame that on a 6 track affair this CD rates much lower than I would like to give it. That being said, it's still a worthy purchase, due to the fact that there is some QUALITY material on the disc. Still makes me sad when I think about what might have been... *Sigh*.
Contact: Arx Productions.

AGALLOCH "Marrow Of The Spirit" (Profound Lore) SCORE: 94/100

After a 4 year wait, Agalloch finally unleashes it's newest release upon the world, sure to grace many year end best of lists before it's all said and done. (And yes, I realize I'm reviewing a 2010 record in 2011). That being said, it's surprising to me that for the first time in Agalloch's career, they are NOT releasing a full length on The End Records, instead signing to Profound Lore, and I have to question WHY this wasn't picked up by the same label who released their past three full lengths. Right off the bat you'll see a huge similarity with doom metal: the song lengths. 6 tracks clocking in at an hour and five minutes: I'd say this is a rather bold move on the part of Agalloch, though to be honest Agalloch is no stranger to the long song. After a beautiful intro which lasts a mere 3 minutes, containing beautiful cello passages over rushing stream sounds, we're treated to the first "shock" of the album: fast and intense drumming, and a production that's a bit muddy compared to the production of earlier albums. This in itself isn't that big a deal, in fact it can be said this is probably Agalloch's most vicious of blackened releases to date, especially in the vocal department. 'Into The Painted Grey' starts things off and I definitely see the post rock influence WELL. The guitar work throughout the album is emotionally charged, and it becomes apparent WHY this album took 4 years to make: there's so many amazing guitar passages that it probably took that long just to write the guitars ALONE. This 12 minute track has TONS of variety, both pace, structure wise and tempo wise as well. Followup 'The Watcher's Monolith' is probably one of my favorite pieces, and an 11 minute running time sees this tune showcasing some of the whispered vocals AND clean sung vocals (the latter very rarely making an appearance on this newest disc). The fast paced instrumentation is in full force, and this track ends with odd night insect and ambient landscape sounds amidst solitary piano notes adding the right touch of melancholy to the track. Get ready for the longest piece of music you've probably heard in awhile (unless you are a regular follower of the Solitude Productions roster): SEVENTEEN MINUTE piece 'Black Lake Nidstang.' Odd noisy pieces start this off, and I must say this may have been a little TOO long in spots. Frightening higher ended blackened vocals of the tortured variety were definitely a surprise, though unlike most bands that utilize this, Agalloch does it very well. Classical guitar work rears it's head as well, and the emotional content is well on par with one of my favorite Agalloch songs of all time in 'Bloodbirds.' The opening of this song, in particular, could very well serve as a "live intro" before the band takes the stage. Thankfully this track showcases much diversity, which is extremely necessary for a song of this length. 'Ghosts Of The Midwinter Fires' I thought should have ended the album, especially with the way it ends, and the rather tribal like percussion and interesting choppy dark guitar passages made this track a treat. The guitar work by the last two tracks DOES start to sound awfully familiar however, as if he's repeating guitar parts, and this is especially evident in the higher ended notes. CD ender 'To Drown' was only 10 minutes long, but definitely seemed a bit too drawn out with the instrumental passages, especially near the end. I did enjoy the cellos being brought back over the rapid paced high ended guitar work, even if the guitars did tend to be a tad annoying near the end. Still, despite the few flaws, Agalloch does a great job with the guitar work, and it's nice to hear some of Agalloch's most vicious blackened vocal work to date. Very few in the business even come CLOSE to sounding like the Portland band, and I dare say that this is probably the group's most ambitious and outside-the-box release yet. Bound to turn some heads and dismay those who STILL haven't figured out that Agalloch has no ties to ANY style or genre of music, so get used to it and drown in the atmospheres and ambience of the Agalloch headspace.
Contact: Profound Lore Records.

ALGHAZANTH "Vinum Intus" (Woodcut) SCORE: 96/100

I was definitely surprised when this newest release came out. Lemme tell ya, Alghazanth is one of the best black metal outfits around right now. At first, it took some getting used to because there's definitely an up front and in your face production this time around it seems, and the synthesizers definitely seem to be more in the background than I remember from "Wreath Of Thevetat." The songs also seem to be presented at a much slower pace, and this is so that when the atmospheric synths do come out more in the forefront, they are utilized to great effect. 'A Living Grave' starts this off with some dark synths and the vocals are still sick and dominant as ever. Old school black metal is the order of the day here. 'With A Thorn In Our Hearts' was definitely the shocker, as the synthesized violins turn up near the end of the track, and damn if this didn't sound like it was being played by the mighty Simon House of Hawkwind fame! The melancholic styled guitars made this track a definite highlight of the album. 'Only The Reflection Bleeds' continues things on, and the guitar work here is kick ass and another highlight. The incorporation of acoustic guitars and piano notations keeps things interesting. 'Under The Arrow Star' to me sounds like it could have been on "Wreath Of Thevetat," though still the focus is mainly on the guitars. The short "intro" like piece 'Our Ascent Of The Tower' was interesting, especially with the operatic like multivocal choruses joining with the blackened guitars; this piece features tribal, almost militaristic type drumming and synth based passages ONLY along with the vocals. It was interesting though some of the lone blackened shrieks were a bit off. And followup 'Wine Within,' while not being a terrible track, annoyed me a bit with the synths and guitar mix not sitting well with me, especially when there are no vocals present. That being said, it seems like the last few tracks bring about more of the speed, especially 'Triunity' with it's myriad of tempo and structure changes. 'For Thirteen Moons' is another epic piece with more of the violins and piano notations, and note that this cut is nearly 8 minutes in length! 'The Way Of The Scales' ends it all very nicely, and I dare say that this is a near perfect masterpiece once again. All that separates "Vinum Intus" from "Wreath Of Thevetat" is one track. Alghazanth has proven once and for all that the crown of symphonic blackened metal may belong to them. All hail.
Contact: Woodcut Records.

APOSTATE "Trapped In A Sleep" (Black Art) SCORE: 67/100

Hailing from the Ukraine, which formerly was part of Russia, it's obvious that there are a TON of talented bands playing doom, funeral doom and doom/death in the land of the hammer and sickle. This band definitely has a different take on the whole doom/death thing, with some killer guitar riffs and great atmospheric keyboards that are oftentimes more melodic and, dare I say, beautiful, than the harsh death metal styled vocals would indicate. Although the opening track is really a 20 second throwaway piece, the CD starts out proper with the cut 'Earth Escape Plan.' Now, I don't know what it is about Russian (and now Ukranian) clean male singer, but they have a great tendency to annoy me quite a bit, and here we find no exception. However, that being said, there are times when, for some reason (maybe I've gotten used to it after hearing them for so long, see the band Frailty for examples of this) the clean sung vocals aren't as bad as they are elsewhere. They almost completely ruin the cut 'Worm,' though surprisingly that is the least of problems on this and the followup 'Trapped In A Sleep.' Now, if this were a new band, I could excuse some of the shortcomings, but this band has released a demo, an EP and a compilation album (which features a few tracks not found anywhere else). The synths do make themselves VERY useful; at times you'll hear pianos, violins and orchestral sounds (making the CD ending instrumental 'Eternal Return' sound a LOT like not only an epic soundtrack like piece, but a track Summoning could have written). The other problem with this CD is the variety factor. Now, granted, 8, 9 and 11 minute tracks are nothing new for this genre, but for example on a cut like 'Trapped In A Sleep' (which comes close to 12 minutes), the only "break" comes halfway in when you have a guitar solo (which could have been a bit more inspiring), before going right back to the same stuff that rounded out the first 6 minutes of the song. 'Worm' could DEFINITELY have used more variety as well, though it was only 9 minutes. That being said, 'Filling The Void' was DEFINITELY one of my favorites (LOVE the choruses especially lyric wise), especially with the long winded unique take on death styled vocals (sounded VERY eerie and almost chant like), and those guitar riffs take on a rather choppy thrash like feel to them, though at a slower speed than most thrash riffs. The ultra melodic piano notes seemed at odds with the bass guitar rumblings opening up 'Sisyphean Struggle,' and of course the odd clean sung vocals kick in again. After a few minutes, some NICE instrumentation kicks in, and those synthesized notes are amazing, as are the guitars. And even some clean vocals towards the end of this track were nice. The bottom line is, ALL the songs have quite a bit to like about them, but there's also a LOT of things that needed work. More variety, and MUCH less of those clean sung vocals and this would have been better. The talent is DEFINITELY there; I mean you can hear interesting doom ideas being hammered out, but I fear the annoyances are going to cost many a total enjoyable listening experience.
Contact: Black Art Productions.

AXENSTAR "Aftermath" (IceWarrior) SCORE: 58/100

Here's how badly the mighty have fallen. Their first two releases were on Arise Records, and though it was a very small label, those two records are great. Then "The Inquisition" came out on Arise, and it signalled the beginning of the end for Axenstar, as they promptly left Arise (I don't know the details). Their next release was on Massacre Records, which was to give them a higher profile, though sadly that label would no longer hold them. Now on another small label in IceWarrior (who I've never heard of before), it seems like this new move may not last long either. The biggest problem with this record seems to be the clash between the heavy thunderous percussion, the thrashy and heavier guitar work and the melodic singing vocals. All three are quite good in and of themselves, however the formula doesn't work well together. The other huge problem is many of the songs have NO extreme catchiness to them. Remember such power metal favorites like 'Far From Heaven,' 'All I Could Ever Be,' 'The Cross We Bear,' and 'Children Forlorn?' Not one single song on this album even comes CLOSE to being as memorable as those. Oh sure, choruses on tracks like 'The New Breed' (incidentally, one of their least memorable cuts on the record), 'Until Your Dying Breath' and CD opener 'Dogs Of War' (their best track here) manage to be catchy, and even slightly memorable, but they just don't stick with you, mainly because they don't have the energetic pace and overall strong dynamics that we've been used to in the earliest of days. The thrashy guitar work was quite shocking at first, and I was like "wow!" But once the wow factor wore off, you realized that Axenstar was trying to become a bigger player in the scene by adding a heavier and darker element to their songs, while forgetting to write catchy material. 'Dead Kingdom' was probably their slowest and lightest track, and one of the weakest incidentally, which was a shame considering THIS track went against the cut of the rest of the album by presenting a slower overall pace. (the keyboards too played their biggest role on this track). The lead solos were great, though, and all over the place you could hear definite skills and years of honing the craft has made for some enjoyable high ended lead notes. Only three tracks really grabbed my attention here, the CD opener 'Dogs Of War,' 'Tears Of The Sun,' (tracks 1 and 3), and not until track 8 'Until Your Dying Breath' was I enjoying this. The other tracks aren't totally terrible (well, except for the really awkward speedy instrumentation that the vocal work never seemed to catch up to or even blend with nicely on 'Signs Of A Lie') but like I said quite a bit was lost in the mix and the translation. This isn't a horrible record by any means, I mean I wasn't groaning in agony at the disc, but there just seems to be less emphasis on strong songwriting as it was on heaviness and adding a "dark" factor. And I usually speak of vocals, which for the most part were just as good, if not better and well aged, than their previous releases. No my friends, I'll reiterate once again: the problem is DEFINITELY not in the vocal department, but in the overall writing of the instrumentation and the songs. MAN, I hope the next record steps it up a whole hell of a lot, because they definitely need to do some SERIOUS reworking of the formula.
Contact: IceWarrior Records.

BLACK OATH "The Third Aeon" (I Hate) SCORE: 93/100

You know, I DO realize that there are other great doom metal labels in the world besides Solitude Productions. I Hate Records is such an entity, after all if it wasn't for I Hate, then Isole wouldn't have been able to sign to Napalm Records. Black Oath came along with their debut and completely blew me away upon first listen. They remind me a bit of The Wounded Kings, though their penchant for Candlemass worship is uncanny. I would say a darker and more eerie vibe permeates these tunes, like maybe dreary Wounded Kings mixed with Candlemass. And the synthesized organ landscapes are phenomenal in creating that horror filled atmosphere that is well known amongst the Italians. 'Death As Liberation' opens this 6 track affair off, and right off the bat you can recognize dirty and heavy riffs straight out of the Candlemass song 'Solitude.' They're a bit tweaked of course, though they are still quite doomy and effective. The crunch on the guitars makes these tracks just ooze with horror and eerie permeating darkness. Even the bass guitars have their solitary moment when they too are drenched in sludgy effects. 'Growth Of A Star Within' starts off with some acoustic like notes, soon giving way to the Candlemass riffs from their 'Well Of Souls' track from the "Nightfall" record. Here, though, Black Oath doesn't even try to hide the obvious influence, damn near note for note! It's not an entire track of 'mass riffery though (pun intended), though there wasn't a whole lot of variety on a track that clocks in at over 7 minutes. Be that as it may, it's still good. Then the 3 minute piece 'The Third Aeon,' which, running time wise, definitely sticks out like a sore thumb. Yep, you guessed it, the Candlemass riffage is in full force. Mostly an instrumental cut is this one, with some spoken word thing going on. And then by 'Evil Sorcerer,' the disc's 4th cut, you start to hear Black Oath's distinction creep through, as the bass guitar starts it's primal rumblings and the slightly more uptempo pace kicks in. It's here that Black Oath seems to want to find it's own sound, and this is easily one of my favorite tunes. The catchy choruses, and the vocal work, which can go easily from bright and upbeat to dark, eerie and dreary all in the space of a song. By the end of this track, though, some amazing mournful leads kick in and I could swear that Lars Johansson himself or even Mike Wead was crafting the lead work! 'Horcell The Temple' opens with some dark guitar work, still reminiscent of Candlemass but taking on a bit of Black Oath originality. I will say as far as atmosphere, this one has a bit more of an uplifting tone , maybe 'Under The Oak' like in structure and sound, though the darker and more sinister tones aren't far away. And to add somewhat thrashy guitar work at the end was a nice move, keep things from being ALL slow and doomy. CD ender 'The Black Oath' was the biggest surprise, epic in scope at 11 minutes, and probably contains the most solo instrumentation on the disc. I will say that some of the guitar work sounded awfully similar to the previous cut 'Horcell' however. That being said, by this rather evil and sinister piece, you have the ending instrumentation which is probably some of the fastest and most rockin' on the disc, surprisingly going for a slight NWOBHM influence and those vocals simply soar, amazing even me! It's a nice way to end this disc, and I daresay that for a band wearing the Swedish doom legends FIRMLY and clearly on their sleeves, by the disc's end you most definitely see the potential for greatness. A very enjoyable slice of horror and epic doom, this band is on to big things. Can't wait for album number two!
Contact: I Hate Records.

CRUCIFIED MORTALS "Crucified Mortals" (Hell's Headbangers) SCORE: 88/100

I was surprised to hear that this thrash band features two members of the band Nunslaughter within their ranks. Even more surprising is that for a band who has been around in one form or another for 10 years, this effort is their first full length. This debut full length features 11 tracks filled with interesting stories; read the interview we did with them for more on this. The thrash riffs are vicious, choppy and quite sick; in fact they're damn consistent from start to finish. I DO tend to think they rely a bit too much on the faster side of the instrumentation; nowhere is this more evident than the fact that the best song here 'Fatal Scheme' features a bit more haunting and slower pace for the majority of the song. This track has it all; sick riffs, a cool storyline that will shock you with it's ending, and of course the brutal vocal stylings of Craig Horval, who utilizes a somewhat hardcore'ish approach but conveys the darkness and brutality of these twisted and "fatal" lyrics perfectly. In some cases they remind me of the approach Benediction used when releasing their "Organized Chaos" album with then-new vocalist Dave Hunt. I did tend to find some faults with the higher ended lead work, which hurt the opener of 'Sordid Treachery' a bit, as well as the somewhat unfocused sounding leads of 'Desecrating The Dead' and some odd leads on 'Masked Murder' and the CD ending track 'Doom.' Incidentally, 'Doom' is one of the longest cuts on the disc, clocking in at almost 6 minutes, which tells you that this band likes to create shorter, more vicious tracks that get in, do the job and get out without overstaying their welcome. Not a perfect record by any means, but it WILL get the heads banging and the guitar work and vocals add an extra dimension of heaviness that truly ROCKS. THIS is what retro thrash bands these days need to study to get an idea of how thrash metal SHOULD be done...
Contact: Hell's Headbangers Records.

CRUSADER "Rise Of The Templars" (Crusader) SCORE: 95/100

WOW. Who the FUCK are these guys? Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, this 4 track EP is EVERYTHING I love about balls to the wall, rockin' fucking metal... My BIGGEST complaint? Only 4 songs at 14 minutes! This reminds me SO much of the heaviest of 80's metal bands that didn't overstay their welcome! CD opener 'Rise Of The Templars' starts off rather slow and melodic, building up to a pace where those guitars start rockin' at a faster clip. The sung vocals do their job well, no wailing high notes to be found on THIS disc. The choruses are catchy as well, and you've definitely heard metal like this before. Next cut, DAMN, is this even the same singer? A rather gravelly throated roaring vocal style sets this NWOBHM meets dirtier Motorhead on it's ass, and 'Engineface' is thoroughly IN your face, with some kick ass guitar work, and a VERY short running time where you never see the 3 minute mark. Killer lead solos abound as well, man they pack it all in there! Finally, as good as these tunes were, the crowning glory, once again utilizing the roughed edged sung vocals: 'Asgard's Fire.' The Viking lyrics are fantastic, and wouldn't be out of place on an Amon Amarth album, but it's pure heavy metal!! I love these lyrics, they make you want to rush out with the sword and shield and lay waste to the poseurs who get in your way! Finally, this all-too short EP leaves us with the cut 'Iron Forge,' and my only complaint about this one was the singer's THIRD vocal change. You hear it opening the vocal lines and it's kinda thin sounding, but not terrible as it sounds more narrative than anything else. It's hard to describe but it's kinda low toned singing. That aside, the choruses are absolutely beautiful, and sung very well, even soaring on some notes. Obvious it is that this singer has some range and even cuts loose quite a bit. The lead solo work is most prominent here, proving that this band has what it takes to compete with the big boys. The ending of this cut slows down the pace to include a bit of epic guitar work, though they mostly keep this at a speedy pace. And those bass guitar notes are flying fast, folks, and very audible. This is so enjoyable and well done, fuck I can't wait for the full length release to come out. Do yourself a favor and see how some Americans from the north fly the flag of true balls to the wall ass kicking heavy fucking metal!
Contact: Crusader.

CULT OF ERINYES "A Place To Call My Unknown" (Les Acteurs De L'Ombre) SCORE: 91/100

Now, to be honest, I don't know of many bands these days out of Belgium, however, I could point you to some great 80's metal bands that made Belgium their home. (Like who? Okay, smart ass, like Bad Lizard, Acid, Decadence, Killer... Come on, man, you REALLY want to challenge me on some 80's metal!?) I will say this: I didn't care much for L.A.D.L.O's first release Pensees Nocturnes, but they really made up for it with this crushing black metal assault! Right off the bat 'Call No Truce' sets the tone for what is to come, and it's definitely NOT 100 miles per hour black metal mayhem, though this is what they do best. A sick vampyric like screech rings out and all hell breaks loose. There's some wicked vocal work throughout the disc, and long winded black and death metal emanations are just great. Midway things slow down a bit, and this is something Cult Of Erinyes does quite often, usually only to build right back up again with more mayhem. There's amazing clean sung vocal work on this track, and one other time ONLY on the cut 'Velvet Oppression,' and I will be god damn amazed if those higher toned sung vocals are done by the same vocalist who rips those fucking vocal chords for 46 minutes! 'Island' is where things really get insane, though it starts out at a slower pace before the vicious scream tells you in what direction they're headed. I did enjoy the utterly low death metal vocals, as they added a secondary dimension to the throat work. The song lengths are as varied as their approach, though you do have 3 7 minute songs alongside a 4, 3 and 6 minute piece. I didn't think they needed to add TWO 2 minute instrumentals, though, since one of them ('Thou Art Not,') probably should have been left off the disc, though the other ('Permafrost') did have some nice dark acoustics. 'Black Eyelids' was the lone track that preferred to go in a rather doom metal direction; IE very slow and this made for some rather odd moments, as I didn't care for some of the slower instrumentation and then they added whispered vocals to it. CD ender 'Last Light Fading' started out well, with a somewhat fast start, but this song got dragged down quite badly by the song's end. There was quite a few minutes of solo instrumentation that had very little variety and dragged all the way through the end of the song; with it's 7 and a half minutes in length, quite a lot could have been cut out of this song. And then to just fade this whole mess out, the CD ending track should have been a lot stronger. That aside, the vocal work is top notch, and there's still quite a lot to enjoy, when they stick to midtempo to fast ranges. I quite enjoyed the disc overall, and look forward to seeing what the Belgian horde cranks out next time. Contact: Les Acteurs De L'Ombre Productions.

DANTALION "All Roads Lead To Death" (Xtreem) SCORE: 95/100

I've been looking forward to this for some time, but with some reserved apprehension, and for a number of reasons. Having to search for a new label to call home was one thing, after Det Germanske Folket seemed to disappear, but now we have a new vocalist for the first time in Dantalion's career. And I must say, that with one swift change in singers, Dantalion (though still musically sounding like Dantalion) moves from atmospheric black metal (read: a mixture of doom and black) to a rather small but growing sub genre of metal, once ruled over by bands like Forgotten Tomb and Xasthur. (That would be the suicidal blackened doom genre, for the uninitiated). The vocalist is truly streaming pain and anger through each and every scream, wail, moan and growl, proving that new singer Sanguinist (who also doubles as guitarist) is one of the most inhuman and utterly striking vocalists to grace this genre. He DOES tend to give off a rather annoying high end shriek at times that sounds like him sobbing, which was quite uncomforting at times (most notably on the minimal instrumentation passage of the track 'Walking To Eternity') though thankfully he keeps that in check. I also have to admit this seems to be the album that has the most amount of speed I've heard in a Dantalion album, though the doomy passages and melancholic/majestic guitar work is in full force, and CD ender 'Gloom And Failure' is probably the best example of this. It cannot be stressed enough how heavy the vocal work adds to this disc, in fact I daresay that right now the most exciting thing about Dantalion is hearing Sanguinist take the emotional content of the songs farther than most in the black OR death genre. It seems to me that he is totally radiating pain and despair, and I don't see how he can pull off that much extreme vocal work for the course of an entire disc! The songs are a bit long, though none exceed the nine minute mark, and true to Dantalion's credit, they manage to pull off slower and speedier passages very easily from track to track. Even the opening intro 'Only Ashes Remain' manage to keep your interest. The only complaint musically I had was with the shortest song on here 'Scorn,' which is pretty much a 3 minute fast paced tune from start to finish. The higher ended guitar work didn't always sit well with me, and I thought Dantalion was trying too hard to make this a more speed oriented Nordic styled black metal piece. The vocalist, however, definitely was the highlight on this cut. And 'Thought Of Desolation' lost some momentum with the guitar work towards the end. Lots of the guitar patterns start to sound the same once you get 3 songs from the end, but I daresay if you enjoyed "Call Of The Broken Souls" and the debut "When The Ravens Fly Over Me," then you HAVE to check this out, because musically the band has never been stronger, and vocal wise Sanguinist turns out one utterly crushing performance that rivals that of the many blackened greats like Atilla, Maniac and even the Gorgoroth and Darkthrone guys. Dantalion, welcome to the suicidal blackened realm, and definitely a highlight disc of 2010.
Contact: Xtreem Music.

DAWN OF ASHES "Genocide Chapters" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 89/100

My first chance to see this band live was with Dimmu Borgir and Enslaved. Unfortunately we missed their set, but when I realized they were in costume I also realized I missed out on what was probably a great show. Then, when I saw the utterly sick and twisted video for 'Transformation Within Fictional Mutation,' well, this was one band I couldn't pass up. With stage costumes that look more sinister and fucked up than GWAR, and with 100 times better musical abilities, folks, this band is something special. Going from electronic and industrial to black metal may seem to many a stretch, but trust me, all those years of writing music with synthesizers has shown me that Dawn Of Ashes can indeed add the right atmosphere with the keys. And they use them oftentimes to add a very alien and sinister vibe to the music itself. Vocal wise, the blackened vocal work is downright sinister in many spots, though some alien death metal roars make themselves heard. Once tendency this band has is to try and make some alien sounding guitar passages, often with a bending of the strings, and this makes tracks like opener 'Conjuration Of The Maskim's Black Blood' and 'The Ancient Draining Room' tend to lose a bit of focus. That being said, this is a very riff and guitar oriented album, despite the tendency to stop a few cuts midway to play on some synth passages. It IS all about ambience though, and the epic synths shine right through on 'Sacrilegious Reflection,' one of my most favorite tracks. CD ender 'Beginning Of The End' had probably the most surprisingly melodic and slightly sorrowful instrumentation, and was an interesting way to end the album, despite still having instrumentation that proceeded at a rather fast and furious pace. This record just oozes with a horror/sci-fi element that makes them stand out in an overcrowded black metal scene, though at times the instrumentation, epic though it can be, makes them seem like they borrow a few pages from the Dimmu Borgir style of heaviness, most notably on a cut like 'Carnal Consumation Of The Empty Space.' O yeah and they definitely do a brutal tribute to Lovecraft with 'Nyarlathotep's Children Of The Void,' complete with the 'Ea! Ea!' chants we all know and love. It's not a perfect record by any means, but damn if this didn't grab me right away with it's viciousness, heaviness and downright sinister and eerie unholy alien vibe. Gotta remember NOT to miss their set next time they storm their way into town! Contact: Metal Blade Records.

DESULTORY "Counting Our Scars" (Pulverised) SCORE: 88/100

No one knew what to expect when Swedish band Desultory re-entered the metal world. Fourteen years had passed since they released "Swallow The Snake" and then faded into oblivion. Fortunately for them, I had been a HUGE fan from way back in the day; in fact, one of the first CD releases I remember getting from Metal Blade was the latest Desultory CD. And I must say that right off the bat, the track 'In A Cage' tells you that this isn't going to be a generic old school Swedish death metal album. Those beautiful guitar riffs I suspect will probably be stolen by some doom metal band later on who covets sorrowful and dare I say beautiful atmospheres. The same can be said of the opening melodic riffs to 'The Moment Is Gone,' one of my absolute favorite Desultory tracks on this disc. These 9 tracks are mainly speed fests though, Desultory deciding to keep most tempos and structures in the fast lane, with the occasional tempo and structure change to keep things interesting. While it IS death metal, there are lots of places containing melody, though they are utilized mainly to add an extra dimension to their sound, kinda like the Gothenberg sound of greats like At The Gates. And the lead solos, when they decide to, craft some amazing melodies of their own (like on the CD ender 'A Crippling Heritage'). The vocal work is a little different from most death metal growlers though, slightly on the more shouted/hardcore'ish end (not sure how to distinguish Desultory's somewhat unique take on the death metal vocalizations, suffice it to say that it's the same singer Desultory's had since day one), and retaining a rather uncanny ability to be somewhat intelligible (meaning you'll be able to pick out many words here and there without the benefit of a lyric sheet). Major complaints? Well, besides utilizing 45 seconds of wierd industrialized noise at the end of the CD's best track 'The Moment Is Gone,' I would have loved to hear more variety in the song structures. And a few tracks seemed rather formulaic, like 'Dead Ends' for example, though I do have to admit that 'Leeching Life' is definitely one of the most evil tunes the band has ever crafted. Vicious and thunderous with intense percussion to boot, this isn't going to be seen as an original effort, but it IS one that has very nice guitar work and a welcome return to form for those who have been wondering where Desultory was all these years. Welcome back.
Contact: Pulverised Records.

DIAMOND EYED PRINCESS "Korlguelaal" (Northern Silence) SCORE: 93/100

I REALLY dig this label. I've heard some great black metal bands that seem to incorporate diverse elements into their blackened compositions. Diamond Eyed Princess is no stranger to me, though it's amazing to me how great this album is compared to the near disaster that was their previous effort "Pagan Rite." Much has changed since then, and in fact, if this release had been on ANY other label, I probably would have passed over it. Since I know that Northern Silence does NOT put out crap, I was very intrigued. CD opener 'Ghamal Sonahven' starts off the disc very mischievously, as the folkish guitar work, bagpipe ambience, acoustic guitars and multivocal chanted passages make you think you're in for a more laid back, melodic folkish affair. How wrong you will be when the opening passages of followup 'Kregan' suddenly blast into sick blackened vocals and ripping blackened instrumentation! Still though, the folkish elements are there, but primarily this is a vicious and dark black metal album. The guitar work tends to remind me of Forefather though a LOT more of the vicious riffing akin to the likes of, dare I say, Marduk, Darkthrone or early Mayhem than Forefather, Falkenbach or anyone else associated with heathen/pagan or even Germanic roots (though D.E.P. hail from France, as do Belenos). Slower passages also abound, which makes the folkish parts stand out more, since they're primarily synth based. 'Tum Fornorhvok' continues things onward, and the addition of acoustic guitars was a nice touch. Followup 'Korlguelaal' was one of my favorite tracks on the record; starting out with more traditional synth folk ambience and what we like to call the "mug-of-mead swinging" tempo. Of course, soon the furious blackened pace beckons, though they bounce around quite a bit between structures and tempos; this is good for a song almost 7 minutes in length. There's a nice Moonsorrow feel on this track, which may be why it's one of my favorites (naah, the guitars are just too cool mixed with those synths). Followup 'Svarn Lak Dral,' another almost 7 minute piece, is JUST the right length for all the folkish and furious stuff going on. (I kinda thought maybe the previous track could tend to SEEM long with all the furious paced music, though I do realize I enjoy it more and more). The main problem I tend to have with this album comes with the cut 'Tum Dralver Flona,' this tune seemingly has a gore soaked death metal vibe going on, especially with the slower riffs you hear at the beginning. The odd chunky death metal riffs didn't seem to fit later on either, and then about 2:12 suddenly switches to some cool folk stuff! It's like D.E.P. was confused about what they wanted to do with this piece, though it ain't all bad folks. 'Klon' was eyebrow raising at a mere 2:10, though with very little blackened vocals the music carries this one well, making it sound like an instrumental but not really. And then 'Drytor I' it took me about a minute or so before I could get into this cut, due to the odd whispered distant vocals and strange synth ambience. Once the ripping fast instrumentation comes into play, we're off on another vicious ride. These tracks come very hard hitting, and this one REALLY rips your face off. CD closer 'Drytor II' brings a LOT of melodic piano notes into play, especially laying the groundwork near the track's end, and REALLY adds an extra dimension to the ultra dark and eerie sickness. Folks, the band name might be REALLY goofy, but make no mistake: this band means serious business and you'd be hard pressed to find a vicious black metal band that doesn't drown you with cheesy synths and folkish ways just to prove they're different. Do yourself a favor and seek this out; I guarantee you'll continue to find new things to love about Diamond Eyed Princess.
Contact: Northern Silence Productions.

EA "Au Ellai" (Solitude) SCORE: 94/100

I missed the opportunity to review this album last issue, even though it's last year's release, but felt it would be a damn shame not to review this one. First thing I will say is: TWENTY THREE MINUTE SONG... Has that scared you off? 'Aullu Eina'opens the disc right off the bat with BEAUTIFUL lead guitar work. The amazing ambient synths accompanying this album shows me that were Ea ever to become a pure ambient styled band, they would STILL be amazing. You've got TONS of beautiful atmosphere all over the disc. Heavenly synth chanted vocals, and even some female sung vocals on this album! The emotional content of this one track alone is overwhelming. Right around the 11 minute mark, solo synth landscapes add a small break. The death metal styled vocals are still harsh, and rarely pushed into the foreground so they don't distract from the amazing atmosphere. That being said, the last few minutes of this song got weird. Consisting of simply bell, synth and piano notes, the darker instrumentation was a bit unsettling. Then they suddenly get a darker and heavier vibe which was indeed odd. Still, 20 - 21 minutes of great music far outweighs that few. Then track 2 (a ten minute piece) 'Taela Mu' kicks in, and right off the bat I am not much into the odd solo piano notes and weird ambient synths. This continues on for about 1:41, and then once the heavier guitar work comes in, things are MUCH better. But damn, that guitar sounds familiar! Why yes, it's the EXACT SAME RIFF PATTERN that was found on track one, only expanded and lengthened (time wise) a bit. From 5 minutes on, however, this becomes a VERY different track. Nice piano layers suddenly become more complicated and comprised of more than just one note hits. The drums are probably utilized in a more complex fashion, with the cymbals being loud and used more. It's another good track, however the bit near the end of the track gets weird once again. It seems ot be those "haunting" and dark low register piano notes again. CD ender 'Nia Saeli A Taitalae' is an 18 minute piece, and probably contains the most solo synth work on the disc, creating some diverse and amazing ambient moments, even to end the track rather dynamically. And there's TONS of that amazing high end lead guitar notation, though once again you're going to hear the SAME guitar notes that graced tracks one and two. Despite that repetition of patterns, it DOES NOT make up the bulk of material on the last two tracks, and I think is used as highlight material. My guess is since the tracks flow together without periods of silence (LOVE the synth "violin" pieces that start the final track, which flowed nicely from the previous piece), this could be taken as one long 51 minute work of art, split into three "songs." Despite the few flaws, Ea continues to create beautiful works of art, some saying this album is more "accessible" than their previous release. In any case, the scoring unfortunately works out to "II" being the better album simply due to this album containing a bit more "undigestable" material. The fact remains that Ea has created another genre defying masterpiece of funereal doom/death, an album that deserves every high mark it gets.
Contact: Solitude Productions.

FALKENBACH "Tiurida" (Napalm) SCORE: 95/100

I can see what some of the complaints are about, regardless of the fact that this record mirrors a bit of what Falkenbach were doing when they started. The fact is, on this8 song affair, the opener is a bird and foghorn/rain/thunder laced instrumental, and there's 2 more instrumentals, 2 songs with black metal styled vocals, and 3 songs with clean sung vocals. I'd say that makes for a very varied album. The blackened vocals are still vicious (tracks 'Time Between Dog And Wolf' and 'In Flames), and pack a mighty mean punch, and of course the instrumentation to go with these tracks is rather slow, dark and menacing. I still can't help but be reminded of Bathory's 'Shores In Flames' when I hear 'In Flames,' could be because of the roaring ocean sounds and the really dark acoustic guitar work starting this off. Actually, musically it reminds me of 'Enter The Eternal Fire.' 'Where His Ravens Fly' has nice folkish guitar work, actually many tracks have this trait. 'Tanfana' was an interesting instrumental piece, managing to retain some nice folk melodies while keeping the heavier guitar work, making a true bridge between folk and metal (often intertwining the two seamlessly). 'Sunnavend' was ALMOST like an instrumental, since the clean sung vocals are at a minimum, and probably had the most folkish guitar work of any track on the record. 'Asaland,' which is a bonus track (but still included in the body of songs as far as I'm concerned), probably has the fastest and heaviest set of metal riffs this record owns, and not bad for an instrumental. The atmospheric synths heard here are quite nice as well. I do wish for more content, however, and I must say that 'Runes Shall You Know,' though being a good tune, seemed a bit straightforward and containing little variation from start to finish. All in all, though, Falkenbach KNOW what they are doing, and they do it well. A band like this who isn't afraid to vary the formula around a bit can create a very diverse piece of work from album to album. Still, my few points off come from the fact that there's maybe TOO much variation? Still, 7 solid songs and a damn good listen all around. Maybe you should ignore my small critiques...
Contact: Napalm Records.

FEJD "Eifur" (Napalm) SCORE: 91/100

I eagerly awaited the followup to 2009's "Storm" release, which I enjoyed very much. Not a whole lot has changed since then, though when you consider all the instruments utilized on this record (synthesizers, a hurdy gurdy, Swedish bagpipes, a jew's harp, a wood flute and more), it's easy to see how things can be changed up in a multitude of ways. The fiddles seem to play the most prominent part of this release, and there's definitely an air of melancholy on many of the tracks. This seems to be a bit more laid back than "Storm," though that doesn't keep it from being any good. The grand and rather epic sound starts off the disc (the cut 'Drangen Och Krakan'), and the Swedish bagpipes are not very far removed from the Scottish ones. Followup 'Farsot' shows Fejd utilizing the bass guitar and percussion to provide bits of heaviness: this is important since there are NO guitars on this record, electric, acoustic or otherwise. And there's even a bit of headbanging instrumentation present on 'Jungfru I Hindhamn.' The instrumentation even gets a bit emotional on the cut 'Alvas Halling.' And it was interesting to see how the non-traditional instrumentation was utilized to portray a dark and heavy sound near the end of the CD on the track 'Trollfard.' The jew's harp makes several appearances and is always an instrument I love to hear. I did have a problem with the cut 'Varstav,' as it's just spoken word vocals for about 36 seconds, then when the ambient landscape synths do come in, they're shortly followed by some odd flute like notes. It's quite short, but seems to stick out like a sore thumb. Also, the track 'Arv' starts off with some rather fast fiddling that sounded a bit out of place as well, and this also ends the track. 'Arv' might have been a bit long at almost 7 minutes, but rest assured there's still some nice instrumentation within. Not quite as strong a release as "Storm," however that being said there's still a lot to enjoy, especially when the instrumentation seems to take on a more melancholic tone. Lots of moods and structures to enjoy so take time to really examine all that's going on.
Contact: Napalm Records.

FERAL "Dragged To The Altar" (Ibex Moon) SCORE: 91/100

It's funny that they're calling this in the style of "Death 'n' Roll," when it is CLEARLY more death metal oriented than most playing that style. And don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it when Entombed did it, though this band beats the living hell out of many efforts even in the realm of death metal. The riffs are quite thrashy and have really wicked effects on them, and it's the riffs that make SO many of these tracks enjoyable. The other highlight is the vocal style, which at first will STRONGLY remind many of Petrov from Entombed, but for some reason I see that higher range and tone that Dismember utilized on many of their greatest albums like "Death Metal" and "Massive Killing Capacity." SICK fucking vocal work makes this one evil trip to the cemetary. Opener 'Once Inside The Tomb' reminds you early on riff wise of Entombed, though it's at a faster pace, and catchy yet simplistic choruses keep you hooked. I really love the followup 'Altar Of Necromancy,' especially those leads! There's a bit of echo effects on the vocals, which helps things along nicely. 'Judas' proves that Feral isn't all 100 miles per hour riffage, in fact a tune like 'Welcome To The Graveyard' works so much better with the slower pace. 'Howling' is another fast number with extremely simple choruses that you'll remember while the vocal work is long winded and extra brutal. 'The Deathbog' and 'Graverobber' seemed to be devoid of the simplistic, catchy choruses, but they more than make up for that with pummeling riffs (though to be honest I thought 'Graverobber' suffered a bit with some odd slower instrumentation near the end, and some overrepetitive parts definitely seemed to overstay their welcome). And who doesn't love a GREAT song title like 'Behead The Crucifix,' especially when the choruses (simplistic again) take the speed down to a slower pace to hammer home the vocals so there's no mistaking what you're singing! There's a TON of tempo changes in this one song alone! CD ender 'Outro' is an interesting instrumental, as it starts out with acoustic guitars and still there is a slight creepiness factor thrown in here and there to keep this from sounding like a mellow tune. Not a whole lot of originality in here, and there are a few things (like the stopping the brutality of the song 'Behead The Crucifix' a few times to let the bass and cymbals do their thing solo) that could have been fine tuned, but overall this is a monstrous, kick ass effort from The Swedish horde known as Feral; a band that proves death metal isn't the stale and overworked genre I left behind once black metal entered the picture.
Contact: Ibex Moon Records.

GHOST "Opus Eponymous" (Rise Above/Metal Blade) SCORE: 92/100

SO glad to see the Rise Above catalog distributed domestically here in the States, especially since the fall of The Music Cartel. Ghost is a very interesting entity hailing from Sweden, NOT the U.K. as the music would have you think. The vocal melodies remind me a LOT of the U.K. band Incubus, there's some great sung lines and catchy choruses in there! Lyrically, this deals with satan, horror and occult themes, once again reminding one of Incubus and their one and only 80's metal release "To The Devil A Daughter." The CD starts off with an organ laced intro, geez this sounds kinda like slightly sinister church music! Then 'Con Clavi Con Dio' starts the affair off, and right off the bat you'll notice some HEAVY bass guitar lines opening this up. There's a heavy bass guitar element that if you pay attention you'll notice from the get go on many songs. The tracks are quite eerie but strangely melodic, which at times can be their downfall (more on that later). There's some slight elements of extreme vocal work at times, but the sung vocals are out of this world. 'Con Clavi...' suffers near the end from some odd, low toned chanted/sung vocals which were very odd. Thrashy guitar work and a New Wave Of British Heavy Metal feeling? We must be talking about followup track 'Ritual,' which will DEFINITELY remind ya of that glorious NWOBHM movement. I must confess I didn't much care for 'Elizabeth,' as I thought the sung vocals on the choruses were quite odd, maybe TOO melodic sounding and that weird pronunciation of Ms. Bathory's name didn't sit well with me. The transitions from some of the heavier passages to the more melodic choruses were a bit awkward as well, and herein lies the problem with Ghost; that they tend to throw the song off with some of the odd instrumental passages when the vocals aren't weaving their magic. It cost them quite a bit when the vocals kicked in on 'Prime Mover' especially, making much of the wicked bass and dark riffing early on the better part of the song, as well as the killer choruses. Odd guitar work creeps into 'Stand By Him,' but the overall track is so cool that THIS oversight can easily be forgiven (brief as it is). I really dig the catchy choruses here, and one of my favorite tunes is 'Satan Prayer,' especially those choruses! And the psychedelic synths are back! 'Death Knell' is another wicked tune, rather doomy and slow, complete with bell and rain sounds, coupled with vocals that fade out to sinister whispers making for a very ominous track! The CD ends with a nice instrumental in 'Genesis,' with probably some of the lightest instrumentation you'll find on this disc, complete with nice synth work, acoustic guitars and a prog rock/psychedelic feel. Overall it's a damn catchy disc, and not something you hear everyday EVEN out of the Scandinavian region that seems to have all the innovation in just about every genre of metal these days.
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

ICETHRONE "Beggar's Song" (Black Tears Of Death) SCORE: 34/100

There's SO many things plaguing this band's release right now. First off, the production leaves a LOT to be desired. The guitars sound so thin and weird that it almost makes the whole thing unlistenable. The death metal vocals sound atypical and generic, but they aren't really the problem. The band, especially on the cut 'Storm In Midgard,' sounds like a sloppy garage band, and their tempo and structure changes are REALLY awkward. Even the acoustical guitar work on the opening of 'Storm...' is REALLY quiet. And they utilize the most awful spoken vocal passages. Furthermore, besides the death metal styled vocals, there's this horrid almost emo black metal styled shouting going on with the title track, and at odds with the death vocals; like they're competing or something. The instrumentation just doesn't cut it, folks, and the songwriting is not up to par. They claim to be playing a style of Viking death metal, though I think these Italians don't have a clue as to what they're doing. Don't get me wrong, I hear flashes of potential, like the interesting way the thin guitars sound on 'The Gambler,' especially the lower end ones. There's a bit of amazing lead soloing going on with 'Wotan's Rage,' proving that the guitarist, skilled though he is, is being held back quite a bit; I dunno if it's the amps he's playing through or they're just not miked up properly, but he does possess some lead guitar proficiency. It's sad when the second best track on the CD is the closer 'See You In Valhalla Pt. 1' where it's mostly acoustic guitars and NICE backing high ended leads. The tracks are quite short in length; in fact this 9 song affair barely tops the 30 minute mark. 'The Gambler's is the best track here hands down, though you still have a few seconds of those goofy almost growled spoken vocals. Not much else to say about this, though there are a few moments here and there, it's not enough to sustain interest. That being said, I ALWAYS encourage you to listen to the soundfiles and see for yourself.
Contact: Black Tears Of Death Records.

KAIRI "My Light, My Flesh" (Endless Desperation) SCORE: 77/100

Kairi started out life as a dark ambient project hailing from the U.K., and with this release you can see the movement towards doom/death metal. This CD definitely is NOT covered in total darkness, though nearly all the tracks have many extremely dark and minimalist elements. This is not strictly a doom metal band, though, and herein lies the problem, because the instrumentation on nearly every track is EXTREMELY minimal, sometimes to the point where it feels like there's empty spaces that could have been filled with either another instrument, or maybe more vocals could have been placed there. The disc starts out with the cut 'Proximity,' and the dark piano notes are quite bass enhanced, right before the guttural, utterly inhuman growling vocals come in. The guitar parts here are quite distorted and even electronically enhanced, creating a very dark and alien vibe. It's obvious that the vocals are drenched in effects as well, as they sound completely inhuman. No drums to be found on this track, which was stranger still. Some alien like noises crept in near the end of the cut, and I'm still not sure how I find all this. Followup track 'The Light' is easily one of the best cuts on the disc, starting off with a beautiful synth ambient landscape, and some percussion, followed by some of the most melodic and beautiful guitar parts you'll find on the disc. The chanted vocals are very soothing, and this is probably one of the most uplifting and melodic cuts from start to finish on the disc. Melodic piano notes start out 'The Flesh,' and the minimalistic instrumentation carries on throughout the length of a nine minute piece. On these long tracks it's rather painfully obvious that more needs to be happening where the song structures are concerned. The inhuman vocal work is accentuated during these periods of near silence however, as if they are lurking in the background. The tune becomes basically an ambient piece, though it is VERY nightmarish. 'My Reality Became A Dream' was interesting, and the minimalistic instrumentation all comes together by the cut's end. Synthesized landscapes both dark and melodic grace this track, and the utterly evil guitar work makes an appearance. The inhuman vocals work their way back in, and this is once again more of a doom/death piece. It's interesting how all the single elements were brought together at the track's end in a nice blend, proving that this doesn't have to be minimalistic. The church organ like atmosphere was introduced on 'The Past,' along with the multitude of what I assume are synthesized chanted vocals, much like Ea did with their two recent releases. The inhuman vocal work sometimes seems a tad out of place amongst the music, but this is a BLEND of doom and ambient. CD ender 'The End' had very annoying electronic whirring noises, almost like yelling electronically processed until the sound pattern no longer seemed human. The odd synth landscapes near the end also annoyed me a bit, but there was lots of chanted vocal work and some beautiful piano playing in the background. Somewhat inconsistent from track to track, Kairi has shown us LOTS of promise in this interesting transition from dark ambient to doom/death metal, but many of these cuts needed more to be added to them. Unique in the same way that Fungoid Stream is not MERELY a doom or even a doom/death band, these two musical entities are proving that doom metal is still evolving and there is still much left to do within the confines of their respective genres.
Contact: Endless Desperation Records.

KING OF ASGARD "Fi'mbulvintr" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 95/100

For fans of Mithotyn and Amon Amarth, this CD is definitely a treat. The CD starts off with a rather catchy tune 'Einharjar' after a nice acoustic like guitar intro, but this track would NOT have sounded out of place on an earlier Amon Amarth album! The vocals are mostly black metal, and though I have noted that Amon Amarth tends to have a blackened vocal delivery at times, putting the two bands side by side the black metal vocal influence is all too clear with King Of Asgard. I can DEFINITELY hear the Mithotyn connection on followup 'Vamod's Tale,' especially with the folkish lead solos. Actually, I hear bits of Falconer in the instrumentation despite the opening starting off fast and with some rockin' guitar work! I was a bit puzzled at the female vocals opening up 'The Last Journey,' I'm not sure they fit well here, though I did enjoy the multivocal chants throughout the disc. This is, incidentally, one of the longest tracks here at 5:43, and it's safe to say that King Of Asgard don't spend a lot of time doing what they do from track to track; in fact, NONE of the other songs even touch the 5 minute mark. The guitar work is quite amazing too, this band DEFINITELY didn't run out of ideas, which is good because a 13 track CD (well, with an opening and closing instrumental, you've got 11 actual "songs," if you choose to see it that way) needs to keep things interesting and fresh from start to finish. There's quite a few favorites of mine, especially the ultra brutal 'Heroes Brigade,' which surprisingly operates at a bit of a slower pace for the most part, also choosing to open and close the track with very well done dark acoustical guitars. 'Snake Tongue' starts off slow and it takes about a minute and a half before any vocals kick in, but when they do it's filled with Nordic pride and great thoughtful anti christian sentiment. I also enjoyed greatly the sick speedy riffing on 'Wrath Of The Gods,' in fact I dare say it's a vicious battle tune that projects the full fury of the Norse gods! Folks, there ain't much to complain about, and though the riffing is fast and furious for the most part, this is NOT a one trick pony. Great high ended guitar leads are the highlight, as well as the vicious and long winded blackened vocal work that made this such a kick ass affair.
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

PENTAGRAM "Last Rites" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 89/100

How extremely fitting that Pentagram, after over 30 years of existence, finally "gets their due" on a label that probably owes it's earliest incarnation to the United States' oldest and longest running doom metal band. I will admit, upon first listens I wondered what this was all about. At first, only 'Call The Man' appealed to me, due to it's catchy nature and unique heaviness. There is a certain 70's magic found within many of these songs, and coupled that with the doom magic that Victor Griffin has been cranking out with his own band Place Of Skulls (Victor Griffin WAS indeed the guitarist for Pentagram starting in the late 70's), you can hear a winning combination. It's not QUITE as crushing or as heavy as the Liebling/Hasselvander combo that made "Sub-Basement" such a damaging and skull crushing album, but this album has a charm all it's own. In fact, tracks like 'Into The Ground' (another catchy favorite) and 'American Dream' (this song being the lone track that Victor actually sings on) could have been released on just about ANY Place Of Skulls record and not sounded out of sorts. Victor's axework has never been more pronounced. The CD starts out, interestingly enough, with a track called 'Treat Me Right,' one of the fastest on the disc (and definitely throwing you for a loop), and with both barrels blazing this thing hits the ground running. The album does vary itself a bit, marking the song '8' in a rather doomy vein with melodic guitar work. It's a decent tune but not one of their best. Surprisingly, the two weakest cuts on the album would possibly be considered the two darkest and doomiest (is that even a word?!?) on the disc: 'Horseman' and 'Nothing Left.' The heavier guitar riffs were just downright odd sounding, and on the former the gloomy and dark instrumentation clashed with the parts of the song that had a more melodic feel to them. On the latter ('Death In 1st Person' if you've lost track), the vocals sound rather odd, Bobby preferring to utilize an almost spoken delivery. The guitars here were quite odd, though the track picks up significantly towards the end (too little, too late however). This song would have been good if the opening half had been thrown out and the latter half expanded upon. The CD ends with a VERY energetic cut entitled 'Nothing Left,' and the sneering, eerie tones of our favorite chameleon's vocals are quite intense. Bobby turns in what is unarguably one of his best vocal performances, and he's more energetic than ever (especially on 'Call The Man.') I even enjoyed 'Windmills And Chimes' with all it's melody, and there are quite a few other great tunes as well. It's not as stunning as "Sub-Basement," but it IS a grower and one that will require repeated listens to fully appreciate how doom metal adds touches of 70's flair and of course Victor's own unique take on doom lifted straight out of his own outfit Place Of Skulls. A unique collaboration that I hope to hear MORE from in the near future! (Though let's get some brand new material? 'Walk In The Blue Light' seemed unnecessary considering the "First Daze Here" compilations!)
Contact: Metal Blade Records.

SHATTERED HOPE "Absence" (Solitude) SCORE: 98/100

This time around, as Solitude Productions (based out of Russia, mind you) dips it's toe into internation waters, it just so happens to make a pit stop in Greece, home to Shattered Hope. Now, I don't know of many doom bands that hail from Greece, with the exception of Nightfall who have been around like FOREVER, but I had no idea such passionate and emotional doom/death bands were evolving in the land where some of the most passionate and dedicated heavy metal fans on this planet can be found. Utilizing landscapes and textures found most commonly within bands like Mourning Beloveth, My Dying Bride and even Ahab, I must say that every song on this disc is an emotional roller coaster ride filled with soaring synthesizers, well crafted high ended guitar notes, and deep vicious death metal roars. Solitary acoustic guitar work starts off the disc (the track 'Amidst Nocturnal Silence') before launching into amazing atmosphere. It reminds me of some of the most emotional parts of early Draconian alongside the epic instrumentation of a band like Ea! For a 13 minute piece, there's lots of diversity, though I thought maybe a bit too much time was spent on sicker and heavier material. 'Vital Lie' follows up, and I gotta say that there's one part of this song where you hear some of the sickest and heaviest vocal work you'll ever hear, it's almost like a shouted hardcore style mixed with vampyric black metal, and you'll have to hear it to believe it! For all the dark and sinister vibes going on, though, there's still many moments of melody, including some nice violin and piano notations. There are a few short pieces, though, and the track 'Yearn' throws you off a bit (at it's 3:32 length) with the faster paced instrumentation; it's kinda doomy but DAMN heavy. Though almost blackened vocals can be heard on 'Enlighten The Darkness,' the track stays predominantly in a more melodic and etherial mood, adding piano notations and landscape synths in all the right places. This CD features one instrumental track 'Lament In F# Major,' which mainly uses violins, pianos, and stringed instruments to lead you through the 18 minute album closer 'The Utter Void.' The track at times conveys the idea that this could actually be two or three separate songs, most noted by how some solitary instrumentation breaks the track and right before a variation in tempo or style and sound. The last 5 minutes of this song feature some great epic doomy instrumentation, which are extremely ear pleasing and catchy, and will leave you with a lasting impression long after the last notes have faded from this CD (And yes, I digitized the last 5 minutes of this track for you so you could hear what I was talking about!) I really enjoyed this disc, and can't wait for the next release from this Greek band.
Contact: Solitude Productions.

TANK "War Machine" (Metal Mind) SCORE: 52/100

I dare say that Tank without Algy Ward is no Tank at all... The new recruit on vocals is certainly a seasoned veteran, in one Doogie White, who some may have remembered for his work with Pink Cream 69, Yngwie Malmsteen, Praying Mantis and even Rainbow (YES, THAT Rainbow). Here he sounds SO much like Biff from Saxon that it's pretty damn scary. And herein lies the problem, because obviously Doogie isn't really cut out to sing on some of these cuts. Not only that, but many of the songs don't really SOUND like Tank. That being said, right off the bat the opening cut 'Judgement Day' sounds like MAYBE it could have been on the "Honour And Blood" album. It starts out with great high ended power guitar riffs, and let me say that the guitar work here is most assuredly NOT the problem. Even on lackluster tunes like 'World Without Pity' and 'Great Expectations,' you can tell if things went in a different direction that this would have been a better album. Anyway, followup 'Feast Of The Devil...' DAMN, this tune kicks serious ass. Best fucking tune on the record. It's got a slower start, but killer riffing, and THIS track is more in line with what Tank SHOULD have written. Catchy choruses, damn everything I like about a good HEAVY metal song. I would LOVE to hear how Algy's vocals would have sounded here. And that is it folks. Six more tracks that don't stand up until the CD ender 'My Insanity,' which showcases some of Doogie's best vocal work on this disc. It's got acoustics though, which was odd... But they worked, giving this a somewhat arena rock feel while still retaining some heaviness... Okay, I've been nice, now it's time to get down and dirty... Something Tank used to have no problems with in their past. The title track... Hands down, 7 minutes of yawn on this slowest of tracks. The slower heaviness worked well on 'Feast...' however here this track is CLEARLY not cut out for the Saxon styled vocals. And those lower toned guitars don't mesh well. Worst track on the album. 'Phoenix Rising,' well let's just say that with the goofy riffing starting off and the repetition of somehat weak choruses, this sounds more like what Saxon would write on an off day. 'Great Expectations' is a more midpaced number, with the whole 'down, down, down, down' repetitive thing at the end really pissing me off. And once again, the guitar work and vocal mixture isn't working for me. This singer just can't project the power that Algy had. 'The Last Laugh' was most notable for me because hearing some of those lead solos reminded me of Cliff's best guitar work on "Honour And Blood." Sadly, that's really the only highlight here, as Doogie is just kinda there, not really adding anything to the track, though the guitar work isn't bad. Overall, this disc sounds more like something Saxon would write rather than a band like Tank. If they could have made more songs like the aforementioned three (once again, 'Feast Of The Devil,' 'Judgement Day' and 'My Insanity,') this would have worked out quite well and have been a surprisingly great change to their style, sound and voice. As it is, the only thing that sums these mediocre songs up is the old Tank song 'Who Needs Love Songs?' Listen to the acoustic ballad 'After All' and you'll realize just how far off the mark Tank is these days.
Contact: Metal Mind Productions.

THE MEADS OF ASPHODEL "The Murder Of Jesus The Jew" (Candlelight) SCORE: 88/100

I dare say this is probably one of the most important concept albums ANYONE has ever done. If you don't believe me, check out the Meads' website where Metatron has written a sixty THOUSAND word essay on EVERY song on this album. And what an album! If you think this is just some overblown brutal death or black metal album with lyrical themes tying it all in together, think again. This album not only challenges the concept of exactly WHO Jesus was, but musically this album challenges EVERYTHING you think you know about music, and black metal in particular. Expect to hear female vocals, psychedelic and strange synthesizer work courtesy of the Japanese band Sigh's keyboardist Mirai, fiddles, a whistling stranger, electronic beats and so much more! What REALLy surprised me the most was to learn that TWO former Hawkwind members are involved in this project as well, that being Alan Davey (bass) and Huw Langton (guitar). Their contributions help make this project what it is. Your opener 'Boiled In Hell Broth And Grave Dust' starts off with piano notes and a spoken word piece; here Metatron is nice enough to give you a few lines about what this album is about before launching into synth work that sounds like a dark carnival piece! And then, 'My Psychotic Sand Deity' blasts right into things with heavy and fast guitar work and sick extreme vocal work. The folkish instrumentation with the horns does NOT go unnoticed. At 7 minutes long, there's plenty of twists and turns in this tune, including some multivocal work of the female persuasion. 'Apocalypse Of Lazarus' follows with dark synths and eerie spoken vocals, and once the handclaps follow, the multivocal parts and high end leads will STRONGLY conjure up images of a metal version of Jesus Christ Superstar. Regardless of all the twists and turns, the backbone of this project will ALWAYS remind you that this is an extreme metal album. We got some lounge lizard type atmosphere in followup 'Addicted To God,' and here some of the goofiness starts to rear its head. The Middle Eastern influence, the spoken dialogue back and forth; folks, we've only written about the first four tracks here for Christ's sake! (No pun intended). Followup 'Stiller Of Tempests' I didn't care for, though short a track it is, with the weird Hindu chanting thing and this weird voice that sounds like the flying monkeys from the Wizard Of Oz. 'Man From Kerioth,' which lyrically seems to deal with Judas, is where the Hawkwind influence REALLY kicks in, especially synth wise. It's a headbanging tune, though, but it adds the somewhat psychedelic and spacey vibe we've all come to know and love from the Hawklords. The whistling on 'Dark Gethsemane' was cool, and this was almost like a techno track; the clean sung male vocals take a bit getting used to however. 'Jew Killer' showcases a rather unusual trait for Asphodel: an almost doom metal like atmosphere, very dark and slow. Add the rather Arabic synths in there and it's out of this world. 'Genesis Of Death' is track 9 out of 12, though CLEARLY this epic track SHOULD have ended the CD, and would have done so in great epic fashion, complete with Pink Floyd like melodic leads (some of the BEST fucking guitar work on the album in fact), fantastic spacey synths and great female vocals near the close. The conversation/"christ whipping scene" will REALLY have you thinking, this dialogue between a demonic entity and the christ figure questioning why he is being put to death. Quite a moving performance and the climax to this whole story. Alas, the followup three tracks vary greatly in quality from minute to minute: 'From Eagle To Cross' I could do without for the awkward heaviness both in vocals and guitar work, but the cool folkish fiddles (violins?) added points to what would otherwise be a skipped piece. 'Apostle Of The Uncircumcised' continues the oddness, though the unique trumpet approach didn't do much to raise the score. CD ender 'A Canticle For The Lost Amputees...' (and no, I'm NOT going to write the long ass song title; suffice it to say I think they BEAT Bal-Sagoth for the world's longest song title) had REALLY odd and bizarre synth work; you can DEFINITELY hear the Sigh influence on this one. This tune is probably the best out of the last three, especially when Mirai turns it around and produces some spacey synth work and cool Arabic notations via the electronic keyboard. Overall, probably one of the most important concept albums of the day, though some may find the oddities to be a bit more overbearing than I did. Very well thought out and extremely well researched; I dare say that more work may have went into this than with Macabre's "Dahmer" album, but READ THE INTERVIEW we did this issue for more info on just HOW much went into this album.
Contact: Candlelight Records.

THE SULLEN ROUTE "Madness Of My Own Design" (Solitude) SCORE: 92/100

Yeah, you all know what this is, where it comes from, and why it kicks ass... It's another winner from the Russian doom label. This time around, though, it's amazing to me how simplistic the guitar work is making up the framework, but it conveys the melancholic and serene atmosphere SO well. The opener 'Dagon' (well fuck! They had me RIGHT THERE with that song title) has quite interesting opening guitar riffs, they're high ended and slightly fuzzed out. And of course a highlight of this entire disc is the high ended guitar notes. The one thing that did catch me off guard was the odd sound coming from the double bass pedals; this isn't REALLY a problem until CD ender 'One Way For Burning,' when the heavier guitar work is accentuated by faster double bass drumming. Anyway, followup 'Gates' had the oddest guitar riffs, they sounded ALMOST like they were out of tune, but they were really catchy as well; I wonder if this was done on purpose! Dark & solitary acoustic guitars start off 'I Come With The Rain,' and the on/off riff patterns were quite nice. Spoken vocal passages pop up a few times on this album; tastefully done and not overused. 'My Autumn Call' keeps it simple but has nice high ended guitar notes, and it's here that I noticed for the first time how tortured the death metal styled vocals sound; it's not your atypical growl and seems to add a sense of pain into the proceedings. There's TONS of solo instrumentation (IE, no vocal passages) on many of the tracks, however I think with the ten minute CD ender 'One Way For Burning,' there might have been a bit too much, especially since on that particular track, a minute or so of guitar patterns seemed very off. And the track before it 'No Memories, No Matter' had some solitary guitar work that seemed like it could have used more fleshing out. The rest of the tracks blew me away, especially the cut 'Sullen Route' which was a 5 minute instrumental, but managed to hold my interest the entire time (it helped that there was a beautiful set of acoustic like guitars at the halfway point. Things start to sound a little similar by tracks 7 and especially 8, but all in all it's not the atypical doom/death thing, opting to throw a few curveballs here and there. The atmosphere's the thing though, and simplistic though those riffs may be, they create TONS of melody and ambience to a CD that has just the right riffs in all the right places. Can't wait for the next full length!
Contact: Solitude Productions.

ZUUL "Out Of Time" (Planet Metal) SCORE: 91/100

This band definitely floored me from the first listen. It's got a definite 80's metal feel, and reminds me strongly of Axe Witch from Sweden, especially the way the guitars are constructed. Vocal wise, Brett Batteau reminds me of the mighty Anders Wallentoft, but only at times. The two vocalists are different, but it's uncanny the few times when those two share a certain range. Instrumentation wise, most DEFINITELY in the dual guitar harmonies; in fact I daresay that the cut 'Warriors' REALLY reminded me just how much I miss listening to my old Axe Witch "Pray For Metal" EP. The title track starts the disc off, and it's a rockin' cut, filled with almost New Wave Of British Heavy Metal guitar harmonies. Six minutes might seem a tad long for this type of traditional metal, but Tank made it work on their "Honour And Blood" release, and this is no different. 'Executioner' continues things on (after the aforementioned 'Warriors' cut, a short but kick ass piece), and right off the bat you get floored with the NICE opening guitar riffage. Air guitars will be brought out in full force for this one. I really dig 'Warhammer' too, which is probably their darkest cut on the record, filled with battle lyrics and heavy metal imagery in full force. "The hammer of doom!" 'Backstreet Crawler' has a nice catchy yet simplistic chorus to it, utilizing multivocal work and of course the kick ass lead solos. Folks, this is a guitar lover's dream, if you dug the dual guitar harmonies of many 80's metal bands, the dual axe attack cranks it out in full force! Bass guitar rumblings start off 'Darkness On The Ice,' and DAMN if this didn't remind me of a fucking Misfits song!! It has that fast, kinda punk feel, especially on the short multivocal shouted chorus parts. The last two tracks were definitely the weakest cuts on the disc, 'Ride Ride' for it's over repetitive use of the word 'ride' on the choruses, and the tough guy spoken vocals at the end were kinda weird. Lyrically it's like a biker's love song or something, but at least there's nice guitar work AND it doesn't succumb to my most hated notation of 80's metal bands: the "chick" ballad. CD ender 'Return To Yagi' wasn't bad either, but the choruses could have used a bit more punch, and the vocals ending this track could have lifted things up more. Still, all in all, this is a kick ass band that KNOWS how to write GREAT guitar melodies within the framework of simplistic yet catchy and effective Scandinavian/NWOBHM 80's metal. And they hail from right here in the U.S. They have studied the greats, folks, so do yourself a favor and help Zuul celebrate the best of traditional metal. No shrieking vocals, keyboards or extreme vocal work. Just 80's metal the way it was meant to be played: from the heart and with skill.
Contact: Planet Metal Recordings.


A DREAM OF POE. Interview via email with Miguel...

  • First of all, I'm curious about the fact that you recorded a live album when all that was previously available was a 3 song demo, none of which turned up on the live release. I'm assuming you had more material available than what you originally put out.

    What happened was that at that time I was about to release the EP "Sorrow For The Lost Lenore," it was supposed to be released in October 2007, 2008 and so on, so I already had other songs ready to play live. I chose those songs instead, the ones from "Delirium Tremens," because I considered them to be more mature and represented better the directions and sound I lead A Dream of Poe into.

  • It will be of interesting note to my readers that we were originally in contact with each other about me possibly doing vocals on your latest release. After hearing the material, it's a shame that didn't come to pass! How long did you search for a vocalist, and how did you come to find Joao?

    It's true, it was right at the end of 2009 or something when I was still writing the songs, you had the privilege to listen to them still in a very raw version. Well, I had to go down and search on my posts on the internet to remind myself when I start looking for a vocalist, I found that I started searching for one in February 2009 and come to a decision in January 2010, so it was almost 1 year searching for someone suitable for the position not only in terms of vocal capabilities and qualities but also thinking on live appearances. I had some people interested on it, people from Columbia, Mexico, USA, Belgium, Germany, also had some people from here (Azores) interested in it. About Joao, I've known him for quite some time; we never talked before but he was a familiar face on live shows and as he played in other bands I knew what he could do so I invited him to try singing one of my songs just to see how his voice would adapt to my songs and how comfortable he would feel singing it. We tried it with what would become 'Lady of Shalott' and I was immediately convinced that he was the one I was looking for; on top of having a great voice, both growls and clean, it would be easy to rehearse and play live because he lives on the same island as I, so he got the job!

  • The character of Lenore is featured quite a bit in your body of works; what is it about Edgar Allan Poe that captivated you to use him as part of your band name? What would you say are some of his best works?

    It's difficult to tell... Today I would choose "The Pit And The Pendulum," "The Fall Of The House Of Usher" and "The Black Cat." About using Poe as part of the band's name, well, there's an old song from a band where I played before starting A Dream of Poe; on that song the lyrics were written by Paulo Pacheco who writes the lyrics for me, there was this small verse "One of us must go - Into a dream, A Dream of Poe..." man, that was all I needed to know that the time to go solo has come and I even got a name for it!

  • So what exactly happened that you were forced to search out a new vocalist? It seems like you have been primarily a one man band; couldn't you have just recorded your own vocals as well as everything else? I realize it's tough to tour in this fashion however.

    What happened was that my previous vocalist, Paulo Pacheco, who is still the one who writes the lyrics for A Dream Of Poe, had to stop singing due to personal issues. With that I simply could not give up from A Dream of Poe so I started searching for a new vocalist. Yeah, I was the one who sung on my first work, but I'm not a great vocalist; I don't have a deep growl like Joao and my clean voice is rubbish... so that's not a work for me really. I prefer to concentrate on writing the guitar parts, leads, melodies and even drums and have someone else to sing it.

  • Speaking of touring, how has the live front been lately? I know last time I checked, you were getting ready to do a European tour. What bands did you play with and how were you received? Any funny or fascinating tour stories would be cool to hear about, especially curious am I as to how bands are treated by promoters and venue operators in Europe...

    I would love to tell you that it was great, we played to hundreds people, funny stories and so on, but I can't right now. I can't because the tour you saw announced was postponed hehe but finally it's confirmed and we will be on tour from November 10th to 19th. We will be on tour together with Helevorn (Spain) and Bellator (Belgium). So far we have announced our gig at Dutch Doom Days on November 11th with The 11th Hour and Spina Bifida and a gig in Lokeren (Belgium) on November 19th, in due time we will announce other dates.

  • Tell me a bit about the concept behind the new album "The Mirror Of Deliverance," because at first glance there doesn't seem to be much of an Edgar Allan Poe theme in the title. Are the songs connected at all to the theme? Since the CD I have doesn't come with lyrics, if you wanted to talk briefly about what some of the songs are about, in particular the opener 'Neophyte' was interesting with references to the Phoenix and Dragon.

    Well, first of all we have to look behind the name: It's not by having in the band's name the name of a writer/personality that we will have to write only about him or his works. Poe means a lot; it's not only his poems, do you ever think what Poe used to dream of? What was (it) like being inside his mind and dreams? To see through his eyes? It's these things that are part of A Dream Of Poe too so we don't feel forced to write only about his work. As stated on the album this is a surreal journey through consciousness, through the Mythic, Beautiful & Grotesque; through the full destruction of everything in order to rebuild something lost in a novel form. An appeal to the development and awareness through symbols and archetypes. An experience in Magick, Art & Music.

    I really don't like to talk about what the songs are, what it means and so on. Paulo Pacheco is the one who writes the lyrics for A Dream Of Poe and I never asked him about what's the true meaning behind the lyrics. I like to listen to the songs, read the lyrics and have my own interpretation; I think that is much more interesting than knowing what it is really about. I guess that many people are just like me so I really don't want to induce another interpretation to them. For me it's important that each person can identify themselves with the songs through their own interpretation. Although about 'Neophyte' here is a small part of the Diaries that is part of the booklet and talks about 'Neophyte:' "The elipse of the stars creates the path I walk every night with my glance, in a perpetual grimace of unfortunate brilliant monotony. I dream of ascending to these spheres of light and fury, of creation and destruction, where the gods walk triumphantly. Neophyte before the universe. Mortal but curious. Lonely but trustful that everything is tied together by forces of differential sensitivity. The dream awaits for me; the Awakening in the cavernous maze of the Minotaur where all mysteries are fog and the only source of light, a reflection of a mirror which is the reverse polarity of ourselves. We are One when there's a merge between body and spirit in the fluid mass of thought."

  • I noticed you covered a Morbid Death song on your live album awhile back. Tell us about them; I looked them up on the Encyclopedia Metallum and noticed they have been playing for quite some time in Portugal and are indeed still active today! It seems like they started out playing a more gothic oriented style of material and have moved towards thrash if I am not mistaken.

    They started back in 1990 and as the time goes they were playing a more gothic oriented style although they started breaking with that with their album "Unlocked" that was released back in 2004. Last year they release their last album "Metamorphic Reaction" which is more like a modern thrash metal style. I'm not that into this style but it's a great album. They are the most important band here in Azores as no other is as old as them and people really like them. They are also a reference for most bands and musicians here in Azores. Unfortunately last June Ricardo Santos (lead singer, bass player and founding member) left the band. They are now in a reflection period so it's not sure what will happen to them.

  • Your album is being released through Arx Productions over in the Ukraine. How did you come to be noticed by their label, and what sort of recording contract did they give you (IE, number of albums, tour support, merchandising deals, etc).

    You know, nowadays the internet can do a lot for us bands. Social networks like Myspace, ReverbNation, Facebook and so on are a great way to promote bands and their work and it was through Myspace that after releasing (the) "Lady Of Shalott" EP that ARX Productions discovered me and proposed (to) me a contract for the album. It is a pretty simple contract. Basically we are connected with ARX Prod. only for this album and for a period of 2 years, this means that only after 2 years I can for example re-release the album or make it available for free and legal download. It was done in only 500 copies but the label can produce more copies if necessary. It doesn't include anything like tour support or merchandising, just like I said, it is a simple deal but I'm happy with it.

  • Speaking of the internet, you did what seemed to me to be a very exhaustive myspace campaign to promote the album and the band, which seemed to pay off quite well... How do you approach the advertising and marketing aspect of the band?

    I see it as something essential for every band. There are a lot of bands trying to get noticed so if you want to get something back, at least you want people to know that you exist so you cannot just skip the advertising and marketing. Myspace is a good way to do that as you can reach a lot of people and with that in mind I started to gather as many "friends" as I could and send them a message about A Dream Of Poe. Another way to promote the band is by sending promos to as many places as possible, sure you can get bad reviews but if you get good reviews that's a great way to advertise it and due to the good reviews people will eventually check out the band.

  • Do you do everything yourself in regards to promotion and advertisement? It seems like with the internet it's so much easier and quicker to market yourself to a worldwide audience.

    I do it all by myself. It takes some time, it's very time consuming but there's no way to do it as I cannot afford to pay someone else to do it. You don't get rich by playing Doom and most things you have to pay by yourself so...

  • Tell us about the music scene in Portugal. Obviously Moonspell is one of the most popular bands from your country; are there other bands worth watching out for, maybe in other realms of metal like death and black metal? What places and venues are great for bands to play live in?

    Yeah, there are many other bands worth watching out, I could be here forever giving you names of great bands of other styles besides doom! But I can give you few names of great doom bands coming from Portugal: Desire, Process Of Guilt, Ava Inferi, Before The Rain, Morning Lenore are just a few names that definitely are worthy to check out!

    About venues, first of all let me tell you that I live far away from the mainland, around 2 hours by plane and surrounded by sea so I really don't know many venues that are great for metal bands but I can name Harclub, Incrivel Amadense and Side B. Here where I live there's no good venues for metal, it's all too damned big and the metal scene is really small here.

  • What bands do you admire in the doom metal scene? I know My Dying Bride are obviously an influence; my favorite album of theirs is "Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light," especially with the black metal influence vocal wise. Do you follow any of the stuff coming out of Solitude Productions in Russia, with bands like Ea, The Howling Void, Raventale and the like?

    You are right, My Dying Bride is one of them but I admire other bands too like Officium Triste and The 11th Hour. Fortunately I will have the pleasure to share the stage with The 11th Hour at Dutch Doom Days on November 11th. I try to follow the doom metal scene in general but it's getting harder and harder to stay 100% updated, but yeah whenever I have the time I like to check other doom bands.

  • If you haven't already mentioned it, tell us about the concept behind the Lady Of Shalott, which turned up on the EP of the same name and as a track on the newest full length.

    Well, Lady Of Shalott is part of the album and its concept so it is impossible to separate them because Lady Of Shalott is just another part of this novel. This is what the Diaries tells us: "The world is shadow. I stare at the mirror that, before me, reflects a body that is not mine: the Lady of Shalott weaves the infinity across the silver portal. Sisters in curse. What is this oracle? What feverish vision announces the end of me, towards the Great Beyond? I am the full light of a moonbeam, I am Wisdom and ancestry but my passion died, the existential urge that makes us raise from the nocturnal darkness. I reached the realms of God but desire nothing more than to dissolve in materiality, in lust and anxiety for a sinful moment. They come to me seeking wisdom. How I long to offer them vulgarity because from my altar I'm sad and lonely. I wish to get off the mountain temple where I live and bathe my flesh in lewd silk sheets. Pleased to offer my lips and lose myself in the cyclical vice of warm sighs."

  • Finally, any chance you might be working on a new album? Any themes, lyrical ideas, or concepts you might be able to tell us about would be great.

    I have some riffs ready but as I'm preparing the tour I really don't have the time nor the required concentration to work on it. After the tour I will start working on that but I really don't know how it will sound, hopefully it will be as good as "The Mirror Of Deliverance."

    CRUCIFIED MORTALS. Interview with Reaper (Craig Horval) via email...

  • First off, I'm curious why it took you so long to release a full length album? You guys have been around since 2001, doing mostly demos and split releases. Did you not have an interested label at the time?

    "Converted By Decapitation" was supposed to be a full length album, however we had to cut the cover track "Into Eternity" by Desultory because of time constraints with the recording while Novy (ex-Vader) was here. Ever since then we took up offers from labels and bands to do the splits and the EP we have done. Any demo material was all the same material solely recorded for constructive criticism (aside from the "Hung Out To Die" demo). Getting a label to put out our stuff hasn't been a problem and we don't rush creativity; the band is our passion and hobby so there was never a rush to put out an album just because it'd be proper.

  • The songs on your latest full length all seem to tell stories of one sort or another, but they all seem to deal with tales of betrayal and treachery ending in death. Where do some of these stories come from, as some of them sound really interesting. Any true to life events portrayed in the lyrics?

    You're right, all the songs are a story and death is usually an ending or plot. They all come from movies or episodes, some particular inspirations for this album have been "The Vault Of Horror," "Death Dream" (or "Dead Of Night,") "Twice Told Tales" and "Tales From The Crypt" (TV show and movie) just to name a few.

  • When listening to the album, the vocal approach seems a bit hardcore influenced, not unlike (to these ears) the approach utilized by the band Benediction, especially on their album "Organized Chaos."

    To each his own opinion: there has been no inspiration from the Hardcore genre or Benediction; it feels natural for me and more unique/interesting than the monster voice most bands of the genre (especially retro) seem to do.

  • I also heard a few sick black metal like vampyric screams, though they only popped up in a few songs like 'Hidden Tomb' and 'Perpetrator.' Have you ever thought about using more black metal styled vocals within the band?

    Oh no absolutely not, I am not very fond of black metal and actually the influence for such screams came from Razor and Death Angel.

  • I wanted to talk a bit about a few of the songs; one of my favorite tracks on the album was 'Fatal Scheme,' especially due to the kinda heavy but slow instrumentation on this. The lyrics were cool, and the storyline where the guy is "hiding" in the grave to perfect some scam before finally being released was a trip, though the story's ending was kind of a shocker, a different twist to the song from what I expected.

    Cool man, glad to hear the storyline engulfed you rather than just being the words to a song. You pretty much have the idea, but I will elaborate on the story. A man has partnered up with a colleague to commit a fraud which they will collect a large fortune from his death. He of course is going to fake his death himself which leads him to being buried alive. His colleague is supposed to dig him up before he obviously can't breathe anymore, but instead he turns greedy and leaves him there to rot. The story takes an even bigger twist however when his grave is unearthed in time by grave robbers in search for a fresh corpse. Unbeknownst to the man these people are not a part of the scheme and unbeknownst to them the man is alive. Unfortunately for the man as shocked as they may be they are still only interested in him dead and so the story ends the man has been betrayed and winds up dead after all.

  • There seems to be a few cuts dealing with religion, mostly on 'Doom' and especially the storyline behind 'Hidden Tomb.' The christians don't fare so well in your stories I take it. I guess it's safe to say you're not a big fan of christianity...

    Haha, well you are right I am not very fond of Christianity or religion period, however that isn't the entire basis in selecting the theme of those songs. When it comes to horror I'm mostly interested in stories dealing with biblical themes and the paranormal. As much as I do not believe in God or Satan I think the bible paves way to some really cool stories and the fact that some people actually believe in the bible gives a reality to the story making it more horrifying. But there is also a reflection of my personal beliefs that contribute to my selections, for instance 'Sordid Treachery' is not only a dark twisted story but metaphorically portrays how hypocritical Christians really are. And in the end I'd rather my opinion be portrayed by my interest in such topics rather than being directly emphasized because in the end preaching is preaching and no one wants to be preached to.

  • The thrashy riffs found within were pretty kick ass; personally I sometimes dig slower but heavier riffing than blatant speed, something you seem to incoporate very well. What bands inspired you to write guitar riffs the way that you do?

    It is important to us that the songs have a direction and although speed and aggression are important, one doesn't appreciate them as much if that is all that is given throughout. First band that comes to mind is Desaster with their later more thrashy material. They incorporate everything that is great about metal into the songs and for me that kind of writing never gets old.

  • I can see where some might list Slayer as a possible influence, and while I hear some solos that might warrant such a guess, I would have to say that there's more to this record than that.

    I agree there is much more and people have done that already, which is not a bad thing for someone to compare us to such a great band; however I don't agree with that and to me such a statement sounds like something someone with a very minimal knowledge of metal would say. It is about as basic a statement as saying "Their music is heavy so they obviously like Black Sabbath." The metal genre has diversified so much that it's almost impossible not to distinguish a few particular bands of reference that are more precise with comparing our sound than use the biggest band of it's kind.

  • How do you see Slayer these days? I know they seem to have shot themselves in the foot with their "Reign In Blood" release, as they've never seemed to release an album since with that much intensity and ferocious power. That being said, I wonder when Slayer is ever going to retire, as they've been playing and making music for such a long time.

    The last album I bought and liked was "Divine Intervention" and I don't particularly like anything they've done since. However I cannot really insult them for anything they've done because for out of all the bands as big as them, they are probably the one who have stayed the truest to their roots, at least lyrically and visually: by which I'm talking album covers and stage show (to a commercial standard; I am not saying jerseys are a cool apparel). Let's just look at the big four and compare: Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer there is no wonder who is the closest to their glory days.

  • what are your thoughts on the whole thrash revival thing going around? Personally myself, having had a small part to play in Hallows Eve's reformation, it still was cool to see bands I grew up listening to like Onslaught, Voivod, Destruction and Kreator still making heavy music, and it seems like these days lots of new bands are carrying the torch and making new thrash metal for the masses... It's like music keeps going around in cycles!

    I think most of the big bands are just cashing in and/or trying to relive the good ol' days. Unfortunately for the old bands they've transformed into something different and in most cases as if they are just a new band. I think the real revival has occured from the new bands; it's the new bands who are trying to achieve that old sound and image which has in turn made the old bands realize that they can get back together and make money. However as far as the new bands I also think most of that is boring and just a cheap clone of the old classics. Bottom line is there is (and always has been) a lot of crap coming out from both old and new bands, but I think you are more likely to find a good newer band than you are an old band's new record. That is the way it goes, but at least there is a wave going on with bands to weave through... It's the only way it will continue to live.

  • In your earliest of days, it seems like Crucified Mortals was more like a one man band approach to music. When did the band incorporate more members, and what was the reason? Did your approach to songwriting/lyric writing change, and how would you describe what Crucified Mortals sounded like back then as compared to how you sound now?

    It just started with me using a drum machine, that was only meant to be temporary and from that I built the band. A few months after the beginning the band got another member and so on and so forth. Absolutely it changed; in the beginning it sounded like some kid trying to get his dream together (which means it sounded like shit) and now it sounds like what I had set out to do (which to some may also mean sounds like shit).

  • I was rather shocked to realize that you and another current member also had a hand in the band Nunslaughter! Nunslaughter has been around for far longer, so why did you see the need to start this different band?

    To start that I must state I was a part of Nunslaughter for about 6 years and Zack joined a year or so later and still is the guitarist. Also it didn't go that way, Crucified Mortals was already a band and "Converted By Decapitation" was already released by the time I joined Nunslaughter. I just accepted the offer to join a great band with Don and Jim who were (and still are) friends of mine. There was a point where NS was just a studio band because we were just a three piece band where I played both guitar and bass so I suggested that Zack join the band and so that's how it went down.

  • Nunslaughter has tons of live albums to their credit, which leads me to ask when Crucified Mortals will get a live release. Is Crucified a touring entity, and have you played out live much with this band? If so, would love to hear some funny tour stories, or maybe some bands and stages you've played on.

    I'd like to emphasize that Nunslaughter is a completely different band and that even when I was a part of the band it never influenced the decisions, songwriting or sound of Crucified Mortals and still doesn't now that Zack still plays in the band. To answer your question I think I thoroughly enjoy listening to about 4 live albums and 2 of them are Iron Maiden albums. I really don't like live albums for the most part and have no intentions of ever releasing one. We play shows, they are very irregular and sporadic but we play them. My favorite band we shared the stage with was Sadistic Intent and I think a pretty funny story since you brought up the whole live thing is that I was told the multi-camera footage from our show in Poland was completely ruined because Sebastian (drums) had his cell phone on while we were playing which somehow interfered with the cameras. I'm still boggled with how that happens and why his phone was on.

  • Finally, just curious what's next for the band? Working on a new album or world tour? How has press been for this album? Thanks for helping us out with our next issue...

    We are working on a new album, I've already started writing and hope to be rehearsing the material shortly. The press has been positive, but the real opinions and support worth a damn have come from underground metalists and 'zines such as yours. So for that on behalf of rest of the band we thank you for your support and interest in what we do. Thanks a lot for including us in your 'zine and for playing a part in keeping the music we all love alive!

    DESULTORY. Interview with Thomas via email...

  • It's definitely good to see the band back in action, as many other bands from the earliest of days have reformed long ago and been releasing albums. What made you decide to give it a go once more? I know recently thrash metal has seen a revival, with bands like Onslaught and Evile carrying the torch in recent days.

    Well, after "Swallow The Snake" we were pretty tired of playing death metal. We started, as you can already here on "Swallow," playing more stoner rock oriented music. We renamed ourselfs to Zebulon later on. The years went on and on and we realised 2 albums and a mini album. Nothing really happend. A couple of gigs, that's all. All the responses we were reciving was more questions about Desultory than the current band, Zebulon. In 2008 we were pretty fed up with the stoner thing and during our rehearsals we played more and more Desultory stuff. It came natural for us, that we missed our original band and music. We felt that we wanted to give Desultory a second try, and we have not regretted that I can tell!

  • Now that you're back, did you see any challenges in recording and writing the new album "Counting Our Scars?" These days it's easier and cheaper for bands to record, some even doing it at home on their computers and getting sound quality that rivals that of studios.

    Our first challenge was to learn our old stuff. To find the technique, the timing and practice to play fast again. When we started to write for "Counting Our Scars" we said in an early stage we wanted to catch up where the "Bitterness" era ended. To catch our old style and try to add some new influences from today's death metal. The recording process was much easier as we this time used a fully digital studio. Epecially for me as a drummer. First we were not sure what kind of studio we wanted to use but we met Tore and we felt that he had new fresh ideas to add for the band and of course (he's) a nice guy! A top modern studio located in Stockholm was of course also tempting.

  • I wanted to touch briefly on the "Swallow The Snake" album. UNLIKE many of your fans, I did enjoy many songs off this album even though it's a bit different from your first two releases. First off, a song like 'In My Veins' is kick ass and brutal, and the album reminds me a bit of the death and roll style that Entombed later experimented with on later releases. Do you think maybe this album influenced Entombed to branch out a bit from their signature sound?

    No, I don't think so. They already started on "Wolverines Blues" to play more death 'n' roll. So I think we followed them... Glad though to hear that you like "Swallow," the album people love to hate. Every interview we have done for "Counting..." there's more questions about "Swallow..." compared to the first 2 albums...

  • I'm a huge fan of stoner rock too which this album ("Swallow The Snake") could be seen as a much heavier version of! What were your thought processes going into the recording of this album? How do you feel about it these days; will you ever perform anything off the record live?

    No we will not play any songs from this album live. In retrospective this should have been the first Zebulon album. I have a mixed feeling to this album these days. I really like the drum sound. Some songs are good for example "Silent suffering." But the album "Swallow The Snake" is not our strongest. As I said, we were fed up of playing death metal wanted to try something new that's why this album was made.

  • It seems like earlier releases dealt with topics of depression, death and despair; what sort of things are motivating the lyrics especially for this newest record?

    Well, there's still despair and depression in our lyrics but from another point of view. Different situations between people in special environments, how strange things can be in life when you analyze things and stuff. Our lyrics have not been the happiest ones on earth so to say. The "Counting..." lyrics characterize people's offering to life and death.

  • Last question for "Swallow The Snake." I noticed on quite a few songs that there were some really cool psychedelic guitar effects, most notably on the opening of the track 'Beneath' and 'The Bitter Man.' What inspired you to experiment with these unusual (for the time) guitar tones? Were you using any special amplification or guitar pedals? I know bands like Orange Goblin and Sons Of Otis swear by the trippy effects generated through Orange and Green amps...

    Woahh, don't know acctually. I don't remember what we used for amplification. Nothing special I think. Marshall stacks... But I sure remember we wanted to have some mystical kind of Black Sabbath vibe on this, inspired from songs like 'Solitude' and 'Hand Of Doom.'

  • Let's go all the way back to the beginning of Desultory's existence. I find it a bit unusual that you had to release three demos before being picked up by Metal Blade. Granted, two of the demos were released in the same year and the third a year later; had you any contact with any other record labels around the world? How did Metal Blade get in touch?

    During the early days we practised 3-5 times a week. We made a lot of songs. When we recorded our first demo, the songs for demo #2 were already written. By the time we recorded demo #2, the songs for number 3 were finished. We had some contact with other labels but as I remember it Metal Blade recived a cassette from us and they liked it. Swedish death metal had a very good reputation those days, especially from Stockholm where we were from.

  • While on the subject of the demos, many of the demo tracks later appeared on your first full length "Into Eternity." Still, none of the songs from your first demo "From Beyond" turned up on later recordings, why was that? Is there a chance that some of the older demo material might be reissued or used in later recordings? Also, how do the demo tracks differ from the versions that later appeared on your first album?

    "From Beyond" is a good demo but we felt it was too "thrashy." We wanted to be more death oriented that's why no tunes ended up on "Into Eternity." We did some minor differences on the album songs compare to the demo songs. You will hear that, as I'm writing, Pulverised Records have just realized our first 2 albums with the demos on it.

  • The cover art for the new release was a bit interesting, I'm thinking there is some sort of theme going on for the cover and the title track to the album?

    Yes, locked up people/souls both physical and psychological, caught up in an institutional environment. (It) could be us, could be you.

  • I remember many years ago you were brought over here for a U.S. tour I think it was in the early 90's, though I can't remember who you toured with. Can you recall ever playing here in the States, and is there any chance you will tour here again?

    We have never toured the states. We have recived offers but nothing has been interesting enough. Hopefully soon we'll come over to the states and play, (we) really want to.

  • I find it odd that older Desultory releases are going for obscene amounts of money on ebay, considering the fact that Metal Blade records is still around to this day! I'm curious if Metal Blade contacted you when you reformed and announced a new album, and why did you decide on Pulverised?

    Yeah, that is crazy! I can not understand that. Ok, they are out of print but (to) sell "Bitterness" for 100 Euro is too much. Metal Blade did not contact us. We chose Pulverised because they are dedicated fans to us. We liked that + they had a really good reputation and had some cool bands signed.

  • What sort of recording deal did Pulverised give you? IE, how many albums, and is there tour support and other things like that?

    We have signed for 2 albums. We haven't negotiated any tour support; we'll see about that. We're doing some festivals this year, that is what we like. All in all the band have families and regular jobs so we can not be out on the road for 2 months...

  • Looking back at the state of music in the early 80's and 90's and seeing how things are done now, I am sure you can see how much things have changed, like the ease of getting the music from the internet, and how bands can almost do things themselves. I welcome your thoughts on this; I'm sure you probably feel if you had the internet back then it might have made getting the word out a lot easier.

    Yeah, we copied tons and tons of cassettes and sent them to every corner in the world. That's how you spread your music back then. We wrote millions of letters with penpals all around the world. Of course if the internet was (around) back then everything would have been easier but it has its charm to have done this. You have to be sooo dedicated as we were. I think it's hard for today's musicians to understand how different it was, not a long time ago. Thinking of recording your music by yourself was not of this world for 15 years ago. We have tons more listeners today thanx to (the) internet so I like it alot. Thank you world wide web he he.

  • I keep seeing a CD on ebay every now and then called "From Beyond The Visions Of Death," which I am told is a bootleg. Do you know anything about this release, what's on it and who put it out?

    We, the band actually received it not a long time ago. I have seen it for a couple of years. I mentioned this CD in an interview and a fan wrote to me that he had 4 copies left...for us he he. It is our 3 demos and some live songs from a gig we did playing with Asphyx here in Stockholm. Some obscure record company from the eastern block did this bootleg.

  • Finally, I hear that a new album is in the works; anything you can tell us about it, like album titles, themes or completed songs? I definitely look forward to the next album. Thanks for your time.

    Well, no titles, but 3 ready songs and 2 half ready... We'll see how the final result will be. I'm sure you will recognise us when you hear it. Thanx to you and 1000 thanx for your support, hope we'll meet on tour!

    EXCITER. Interview with original member John Ricci...

  • I remember Exciter existing as a 3 piece, with the very unique position of having your drummer as a singer. How did this go down live with Dan Beehler, as the kind of vocal style he had I thought it would have been a lot more effective if he could be free to move around a lot; he seemed like such an explosive vocalist!

    In the early days we always heard the same comment "why don't you guys get a frontman?" The problem was trying to find a screaming vocalist in our city (which by the way is the wimpiest non-metal city in the world; Ottawa, Canada) that would do justice to the music we were writing. Originally, the 3 of us (myself, Dan and Allan) all tried to sing lead vocal but is was obvious Dan was the best singer. So, we decided he could do vocals and play the drums which I agree with you he was quite explosive with his delivery of singing and playing fast double bass drums. It was something very unique at the time. Personally, I thought we didn't need a frontman because Allan and I moved around stage quite alot so the visuals were still there. Besides, lead singers just get the way when you're trying to play a guitar solo!!

  • So what happened with Rob Malnati? I never heard the album in question, but it seemed like he only sang on the O.T.T. album before Dan came back into the band for "Kill After Kill" and then a live album.

    I wasn't in the band when Rob Malnati was in the band. I was not in Exciter from 1985-90. I don't really know too much what happened during that period. All I know is when I left the band (long story) they replaced me with Brian Macphee and recorded "Unveiling The Wicked" in 1986. Then in 1988 they added Rob and released OTT, shortly after that the band dissolved. Then in 1990 I called Dan and after talking it out, he and I decided to get back together and continue the Exciter phenomenon (Allan was not interested so he was out) with a stand-in bass player. Dan and I wrote all the music for "Kill After Kill" (Noise Records, Germany) and then toured Europe with German band Rage in 1992 which was the tour that the live tracks were taken from for the live album, "Better Live Than Dead."

  • When you released The Dark Command after an almost 5 year gap between albums, had you tried to contact Dan again to do vocal duties? I noticed that now that Jacques is gone (it seemed he lasted for two albums), you have a new vocalist within your ranks...

    After the European tour Dan was very frustrated with the industry and the challenge of trying to make it big. He told me after that tour that he did not want to play music any more and that he had it with the business. I waited for him for 2 years to change his mind but he never did. So, in 1996 I decided to put a new Exciter together and continue. Jacques actually sang in my side project Blackstar (1986-88) when I was out of Exciter. So, when it was time to find a vocalist I called Jacques; he was into it but he is a very challenging person to get along with. He lasted for 10 years (1996-2006) and appeared on "The Dark Command," "Blood Of Tyrants" and "New Testament." Now, we have Kenny Winter singing who is an American (Brooklyn, New York). He has been with us since 2006 and recorded "Thrash Speed Burn" and "Death Machine" with us.

  • It's weird to notice that your first album was on Shrapnel Records, a label most commonly known for guitar virtuosos, so that must have made you proud to notice some of the talent the label was noted for cranking out. I remember doing an interview with Wild Dogs where he talked about the great guitarists that the label was home to.

    If it wasn't for Mike Varney and Shrapnel Records Exciter would not be here today. We sent a cassette demo tape to Shrapnel I think in 1982 and when Mike heard it he was completely blown away and offered a deal on the spot. Yes, the label was known for discovering shredder guitarists (which I'm not) but I think what attracted Mike to our music was that it was completely original sounding and later credited as the start of speed and thrash which was a real surprise to us because we really didn't know what we were doing. To us our first demo was just a bunch of songs that we thought were pretty good.

  • You later ended up on Megaforce, then Music For Nations, and even Osmose before finally settling on Massacre Records. Why all the label bouncing around?

    The problem is with these labels is that at first they are all hot to sign you then when they see that the sales are not as good as what they expected then their enthusiasm gets lukewarm and they decide not to promote you as originally planned. Small indie labels have limited funds to put into their bands and Exciter is no different. I think the best labels we've had so far have been Osmose and Massacre. Both labels have been good to work with and they have been honest with us (which are traits you don't find with record companies). In the early days (80's) I had a problem with Megaforce but today since the label is run by a new owner and my relationship has been very good with them since the re-issues of our early records.

  • Speaking of labels, you probably have a lot of experience with different record labels; how is your deal with Massacre structured (IE, number of albums and do they offer tour support, etc.) What were the most important things to you when shopping your latest releases to labels?

    Massacre offer no tour support or additional support of any kind. They simply release our record and whatever happens so be it. Our sales with them have been respectable but nothing fantastic. The most important thing when we shop for a deal is that the record company is willing to pay for our recording and that they promote the shit out of it.

  • You were on Osmose Productions for a few releases. How was that experience (if you didn't talk about that above). I know Marduk was very displeased with some of Herve's actions, and even Immortal left the label eventually.

    I never had a problem with Herve. He was always totally cool with us and actually I think Osmose promoted us quite well. Herve signed us in 1996 without hearing any advance demo. He told me based on Exciter's excellent songwriting he was willing to sign us no questions asked!

  • How do you see metal in this day and age? Obviously with the internet things are different, but in a way it's more global and easier than ever for bands and fans to communicate with each other. There's been lots of talk about free downloading of music, but it's somewhat reminiscent of the 80's demo tape trading days. I'd love to get your thoughts on the whole thrash metal revival with bands from the 80's coming back and newer bands trying to write new material that capitalizes on what made 80's metal great back in the day.

    I think bands from the 80's coming back into the scene is bullshit. I mean why go away in the first place? Does it take a revival of 80's metal to dust off your guitar and make another go of it? To me that says "oh lets jump on the band wagon" and make some money but actually you're heart is not into it. On the other hand, the newer bands are taking the 80's influence and playing faster and harder and heavier than 80's bands ever did and I take off my hat to that. The internet has definitely made it easier for newer bands to be discovered. When all that downloading thing started to happen years ago and you had established musicians trying to stop it, it was a waste of time because it was actually helping artists getting exposure.

  • I haven't digested the newest release fully yet, but from original listens, Kenny Winters definitely reminds me a bit of Beehler, though toned down a bit on the higher ended vocals. Though I must admit I haven't heard his other band Fischel's Beast, a project he's apparently no longer with.

    Kenny is a suitable singer for Exciter, he could use a little more aggression in his vocals but you cannot compare him to previous Exciter vocalists. Every phase of Exciter has had different personas of vocal stylings so I have to work with that when I'm writing riffs. Kenny is a good frontman and he really gets the crowd going (check out on youtube Exciter live in Chile 2011 and you'll see what I mean). I don't know anything about his other bands.

  • You've probably done TONS of tours since the early 80's... Tell us about some of your most memorable shows Stateside... Any chance you might be making your way through the U.S. anytime soon? Specifically down here in Atlanta? Incidentally, I don't know if you ever played in the Atlanta, Georgia are at any time in your band's history.

    We've never played Atlanta, you're right. We did some full length tours in the US in the 80's. We toured with Motorhead, Megadeth and Mercyful Fate. Since 1996 we've played some one-off shows in the States but nothing steady. Just like Canada there seems to be no interest in Exciter in North America and so far there are no shows planned in your country. I guess one memory of one of our tours is when Dave Mustaine asked me if he could join us on stage and play 'Pounding Metal' with us, I think it was in Oregon or Seattle (can't remember - old age I guess, he, he). When Mustaine stepped on stage the whole crowd went nuts, we played the song and extended the guitar solo part so Mustaine and I were trading off riffs! Quite the moment!

  • Canada has always had some really good bands, like Razor, Slaughter, Voivod, Sig:Ar:Tyr and even in some other non traditional metal bands like Sons Of Otis. Of course, it seems like the most famous of these was Anvil, who plugged away for over 20 years and is just now getting more fame and attention with that movie that came out awhile ago.

    I'm very happy for Anvil, we are friends and we have toured and done festivals together in Europe. They deserve everything that has come to them, they have stayed with it since day one and that is the key to longevity and success.

  • I always wonder why Exciter never got really huge like some of the bigger names in metal today. Certainly Exciter could compete with the intensity level most bands brought to the table, especially with the early albums like Unveiling The Wicked (my personal favorite), Heavy Metal Maniac and Violence And Force. Maybe it was the labels you were on, the fact that a huge American label didn't pick you up or just one of those weird things...

    The problem with Exciter is that we never had a professional manager or agent or major record company pushing us like some of these other bands! That's the problem! There are no believers in the higher ranks of the music biz to take notice of Exciter. Everything we've done in our career has been pure self- direction and self-management and we've had limited funds to promote ourselves.

  • I remember reading an interview with you in Snakepit magazine. That was a very good read, it seems like that particular staff really knows their stuff! Many bands I have read in there were quite simply amazed at the amount of stuff these guys knew about their bands; Hirax in particular, I remember reading an interview with Katon where he was just floored. He thought one of those guys must have been a roadie for the band at one point!

    The Snakepit mag was very in tune on the whole genre of 80's metal as it emerged. The metal community is very small and everybody talks to each other and even more so now because of the net but back then you had dedicated journalists who were very dedicated to metal. So, it was there job to know all the gossip among bands!

  • Any notes or words on the future of Exciter? Maybe you have song titles or themes for the next release, or upcoming touring plans? Anything you could tell us about would be great.

    Right now we are developing ideas for new songs and we do have a tentative tour of South America in late Sept. early Oct. of this year. That's it for now but I'm sure more offers will come through. I get phone calls and emails from promoters from all over the world inviting us to play!

  • I've never heard the release, but I read somewhere about your very first demo World War III. It seems like none of these songs ever appeared anywhere else, and there isn't a whole lot of info about this. Anything you could tell us about this demo, like who appeared on it and what the songs were like would be cool.

    We did a 4 song demo tape in Toronto at Nimbus 9 studios in 1980. Three of the songs were horrible but World War III set the template of the Exciter style as we know it today. It was that song that got us signed to Shrapnel. This song appears on an LP called US Metal Vol. 2 on the Shrapnel label - it is difficult to find.

  • If there's anything else you'd like to talk about we failed to mention, feel free to do so here. Thanks again for the help and support...

    Steven, thanks so much for the interview. All I can say is Exciter will continue as long as time allows writing and producing intense metal! Metal will Never Die!!!

    FALKENBACH. Interview with Vratyas!!! Via email...

  • It's cool that you write lyrics about Viking lore and legend, however most people think of Norway or Sweden when they think about the Vikings. I know that Germany has a nice history of Viking involvement, and even some of the gods' names are different, so what would you say characterizes the main differences between (and please excuse me for generalizing this so) Viking culture in Scandinavia and that in Germany?

    Well, obviously an interview is far too short to answer such a question. There's several similarities, but also a lot of differences. As you said, some of the Gods having different names must be one of the most obvious differences, but this depends on the region, too. Sometimes, depending on the area we're talking about, Freya and Frigg are one, in other regions those are two characters. There's differences about which God(s) was/were more honoured, in some regions Frey and/or Freya, in others Wuotan or Tyr. Depending on those differences, the Gods are characterized different, too. As I said, it's far too much to be put into one answer.

  • The new release has a song entitled 'Runes Shall You Know,' which was very interesting to me as for a christmas present I believe, I was given some Rune stones and a book on how to use them. What's interesting to note is that, according to the book, the original interpretations of the Runes are lost to us (no thanks to christianity). How do you see the runes in this day and age; as many seem to view them in the same light as tarot cards, and many more still barely understand that the Runes were revealed to Odin as he hung from the world tree Yggdrasil.

    I think most of the things on earth are exactly what people want them to be. To most people, runes are letters, no more and no less. To others, as you said, they're somehow occult or mystical. In the end everyone has to find his own way about runes, there's nothing one can tell you about it. There is your way, or there is no way. As you mentioned, Wuotan/Odin obtained the runes without anyone who told him how. There's a way to go, and you decide which way it is, and where it ends.

  • I do greatly enjoy the new album. Obviously it's different from your previous release "Heralding - The Fireblade." From what I've been told, it's a somewhat return to form from your earliest of demos, especially with the clean sung vocals and more folkish melodies, even though the album is way more diverse than that. Maybe it's the album that bridges your more recent present with your earliest past?

    "Heralding The Fireblade" is an album that was meant to be the debut CD. Due to several problems back then, the recordings were put on ice, and a while later the official debut was recorded and released. During the years some of the original songs were used on other albums, but in 2005 the whole album was finally re-recorded and released.

  • Speaking of the demo material, there are some who have asked, so this is the question I pose to you: Is there ANYTHING you can tell us about those earliest of demos, especially ones that were limited to only 9 copies of each? Many don't even have a known track listing, though I do know you've managed to re-record some demo and older tracks.

    Well, the first one, as some people may know, is called "Havamal," a 3-track tape done in '89. Until 1995, when the debut album was recorded, several more tapes followed, except for "Laeknishendr" (33 copies) and "Promo '95" (a couple of hundred copies) all the tapes were done in a 9-copies edition. But you shouldn't see them as "demos" or something like that. I recorded songs that time, and put them on a tape, for close friends and family members. Most of those tapes did not even have a cover or any other sort of layout, as they were not meant to be "demos" or something like that. Musically, the first tape was actually pure folk, no e-guitars, just acoustic guitar, percussion, clean vocals etc. Tape by tape, the e-guitar became more important, and so the sound did change. Quite a lot of songs from that period were used for CD recordings, actually no CD's was released without at least one older song, and I think that's something I'll do on following releases, too.

  • Tell us about Crimson Gates, as this band apparently created two demos that are little known about as well. What happened to the band that you decided not to carry on?

    We were active in the early 90's, and even played two fucked up gigs. As well as we, as you said already, did two "demos." We never sold them, as the recordings totally sucked, one of the few things we agreed upon as a band back then. The songs were quite ok, I still like some of the parts, but we never managed to record them in a suitable way. In the end we split up a while after we kicked out our drummer. We tried to find a new one, but we felt it wasn't the same anymore. We were quite good friends, at least apart from music, but as a band we had to face loads of problems. We were way too different characters, we had far too different visions about what to do. We tried to make compromises, but no one was pleased with it, I guess. So, after the old drummer was out, a couple of months later Crimson Gates was history. We're still in touch, sometimes we go out for a beer, and we even once tried to rehearse a couple of songs again. But honestly spoken, Crimson Gates is much better a memory than a real band meanwhile.

  • I noticed you run a label called Scaldic Art Productions. How is that going these days? I'm not sure what acts are signed to the label, but I did notice that there were two tribute albums to Falkenbach. I thought that was a little unusual for a band to run a label that does it's own tribute albums. Is someone else involved with this, or did a bunch of bands get together and contact you to perform Falkenbach songs for a tribute release?

    Skaldic Art was put on ice years ago already. I am simply not the right person to run a label. The tribute, well... This idea was born by a guy from Belgium, who created the Falkenbach forum back then, too. He started to gather the songs for this tribute. The whole things was actually finished when he told me he had to give it up due to personal reasons, as well as he passed me the forum. So I had to decide: telling the bands they recorded the songs for nothing, or doing the tribute via Skaldic Art on my own. Obviously it's been strange to release such a tribute via the own label, and several people took that opportunity to call me an arrogant and narcissistic asshole. However, the bands deserved their songs being released, they invested time, and some of them even money to record the songs. In the end it's been the only way to get a fair result for everyone I guess. (And I applaud you for that, obviously you knew the risks and did the honorable thing. Mega fucking hails to you - Ed.)

  • How do you feel about folk metal these days? It seems to be gaining in popularity here in the States, though fortunately most of the bands I know that are involved in this genre of music seem to create good music, rather than just putting out crap to satisfy their label contracts.

    To be honest, I do not follow any scene. I haven't listened to new stuff for years now, except for a song here and there, while having a beer with friends, but it's something I listen to in the background, so there's not too much I can say about it. On the other hand, nevertheless I realized the fact that the folk/pagan/viking metal grew lately of course. But in the end that's something Falkenbach hasn't got a lot to do with. This scene grows, but Falkenbach doesn't, and I am fine with that. Obviously Falkenbach cannot be seen as a typical part of that movement.

  • Running a label yourself, I was curious about your signing to Napalm Records. They must treat you very well as you have been on there for quite some time. Do you see the running of the business from their end differently from the way you run Skaldic Art? I'm also curious about the recording contract you have with Napalm; IE number of albums, tour support, whether other bands or projects you work on have to be presented to Napalm first (like Isole, when they decided to work on another Ereb Altor release, they had to at least show it to Napalm first).

    Skaldic Art was meant to support young bands, to give them a fair chance to record their songs. I wouldn't have been able to release a Falkenbach album, and in the end, as mentioned already, I am not the right person to run a label anyway. It's just not my cup of tea. The contract with Napalm Records actually always was for one album, with one more as an option. I did not want to have a long-time contract. The time with Napalm Records was ok for both of us, I guess, otherwise we wouldn't have release 4 albums probably. Meanwhile things changed, and Falkenbach signed to Prophecy Productions.

  • I'm heavily into Viking lore, culture and mythology, and have read and immersed myself in many books, especially where the mythology and lifestyle is concerned. Do you see this as odd coming from someone in the U.S.? What were some of your favorite legends and stories? It seems like everyone knows about Ragnarok, but there were other cool tales as well, especially the tricking of one of the giants to build the giant wall of Asgaard, and of course the many deceits of Loki (like the one where he was turned into a tree, and some of his good deeds like presenting Odin with Sleipnir).

    There's no favorite part for me. One has to keep in mind quite a lot of parts are heavily influenced by christian views, if we're talking about the Edda. Some of those are rather obvious, others less, but in the end, at least in my opinion, it's possible to see what is original and what's not. We can take this particular collection as what it is one of the few written things left about northern germanic culture, and can take those things out of it worthy to us to be taken out. Same goes for Tacitus for example. There is valuable information one can find in the writings of Tacitus about the germanic tribes, but you have to keep in mind the intentions the person had who wrote it down. In the end one has to answer one single question: do I see all this as something based in the past, or is it something like the roots of what we want to life today? If you take it as some nice tales, as a historical plaything, it doesn't matter if and how it's influenced. In that case it's just something from the past; interesting, nice to read. If you see it as a part of your own roots, you've got to find a way to understand.

  • I recently heard Falkenbach is going to possibly become a touring entity soon. Any chance there will be a U.S. appearance? Also, what would a live show be like? I'm also curious as to why it's taken so long for Falkenbach to prepare for a live assault? You've definitely had the fanbase and the interest!

    There's (been) plans for a couple of concerts since a lot of years. It's been hard to find the right people, to complete the line-up. Now the line-up is there, and the first rehearsals will take place soon. At the end of this year we will decide if Falkenbach live will be possible or not. Right now there are no further plans, it's not sure if there's gonna be just a couple of rather small gigs, maybe a little tour, or whatever. We will see.

  • If you could speak to a young musician or band today, what would you tell them? You've obviously seen and done a lot in the roughly 20 years you've been in existence. Anything you'd warn them about?

    If possible, talk to an experienced band first, before signing a contract. Labels are used to promise a lot; they will talk to you like you're the most promising band on the whole planet maybe. In the end they care about sales, no more and no less. Be careful with "options." Those options make the labels able to extend or end the contract whenever they want, no matter what you think about it. Don't think signing to a label was "the chance of your life," it might be, but it also might be the end of your band.

  • When people speak of "Viking metal," most point towards Bathory and his genre defining albums "Blood Fire Death" and "Hammerheart" as the beginnings of the Viking metal scene, but there were a few Scandinavian bands in the early 80's who added a touch of Viking atmosphere to their releases, and that would be Heavy Load and Faithful Breath. Of course, most of their stuff was more imagery than actual music; just wanted to get your thoughts on this.

    I liked the first album of Bathory very much, and same goes for "Hammerheart." The following albums, however I did not like that much anymore, and over time I lost touch to Bathory in general. Nevertheless, Bathory obviously is one of the most seminal bands of this genre.

  • So what's next on the horizon for Falkenbach? Any song titles or themes for your next release you can tell us about?

    Not sure, but probably the recordings of the new album will start this year, and of course the first rehearsals for Falkenbach live. There are song titles indeed, but often I use to change them over time anyway, so...

  • Finally, as we wrap this up, I recently read an interview with Varg Vikernes where he was asked about "the native mythology of your own country," and his answer somewhat surprised me, but it does reference with the first question asked above and also a few others as well. He basically said that the ancient European religion was common to all Europeans, and I'm wondering how you see that? Actually, now that I think about it, since Varg is now a free man, how do you see his incarceration and release?

    If you go back in time far enough, of course everything that might be different today, must have been one somewhen. At least it must have been much closer to each other, regional differences are probably always there. I am not sure if you can call it exactly the same for all european cultures, but as I said already, it probably was much closer to each other than all the religions you can find in Europe today, as most of them are based on different cultures. About the person itself I cannot say anything. I don't know him, and one shouldn't talk about such things if you don't know a person at all. I don't know anything, so there's nothing I can talk about.

    SHATTERED HOPE. Interview with Nick via email.

  • There's not a whole lot of doom bands I know that come from Greece, save for Nightfall. Is there a big doom scene in Greece?

    Well, this question is being made a lot, lately! The truth is that the kind of music we play doesn't blossom here as much as we would like to. "Black" and all the other kinds of metal are preferred more than Doom! But, it's OK! Our music style is still "underground" and we like it. Decemberance and Hedon Cries are highly recommended, if you want to start with the Greek doom/death scene.

  • Greek fans are some of the most devoted to metal I know of. Here in the States, a band like Iced Earth will be lucky to play to 300 or 400 people in a few good venues across the U.S., however I saw where they played a soccer stadium that holds 30,000 people and they had to book the same show for three nights in a row, with every night being sold out...

    I used to listen to Iced Earth when I was still a teenager, so I don't have an idea about what show you are talking about! But I believe they can be more popular, here, than the States. And as you said, Greek fans are loyal to their favourite bands but I think they have to be more open-minded.

  • Now onto your latest release "Absence." First off, I gotta say the album is simply amazing. How did you come to sign with Solitude Productions, who I gotta say is signing some of the most amazing doom bands the world over, and not just from Russia anymore! Is it difficult to work with a label based quite a distance away?

    Thank you so much for your great words. This means a lot to us! The story is simple; a promo of the album sent to S.P. (thanks to Adrian and Lugga Music) and then we had a positive answer from them! We knew that Solitude Productions is a top label in the world doom scene, so we decided to sign the contract.

  • So now that you're firmly entrenched in the Solitude Productions camp, how is your record deal structured? (IE, how many albums, is there tour and/or merchandise support, etc) What other bands on Solitude Productions are you into? Personally, I really like The Howling Void, Ea, The Sullen Route and a TON of others.

    When we sent our album in a promo version to Solitude it was ready, so the guys from there asked us if we wanted them to release it. (They) offered us a nice deal about the release but only for this release. If them and we are satisfied with our co-operation, then we'll discuss for sure an option about releasing another album on Solitude. Up to now our co-operation is cool but we don't have any conversations about a tour. To be honest we couldn't arrange a tour last year due to some reasons, but for sure we'll try it in the future. I guess that we have common music tastes, as The Howling Void is one of my best funeral doom bands and Ea too. I also like The Sullen Route a lot and of course Ophis and HellLight are some of my favourite bands.

  • Now that "Absence" is out, what are your least and most favourite tracks on the album? Is there anything about the record you'd like to change or do differently?

    There are no regrets about "Absence." It's an album we are all proud of. So, there are no things I would change.

  • Now I noticed there's quite a lot of synthesizer interaction on this record. It's not uncommon for doom metal, but how do you see their role in the creation of your music? Is it more of a background or landscape for the rest of the instrumentation and vocals?

    My personal opinion is that synths are indispensable for this kind of music. Our song structure can easily depend only on guitar, bass and drums but the "Keys" give the extra taste we want in the end.

  • 'Vital Lie' was one of the most interesting tracks on the album, especially for those interesting extreme vocals which were only used in a few spots. I think you know which ones I'm talking about; they sounded kinda like a mixture of black metal and sick hardcore style. Who pulled those off, and are they ever to be used again?

    I know what you mean. The ones recorded by Jo Marquis Thery (Ataraxie). His voice is one of the best in doom/death metal scene and we thought it would be the perfect person to perform the vocals in this part of the song. In the future, this kind of vocals may be used again.

  • While on the subject of 'Vital Lie,' I also thought it was interesting how beautiful those track ending melodies were, especially after the heavier and more brutal material. Quite a lot of diversity in the instrumentation for that one track!

    'Vital Lie' is an old song, coming out (with some changes) from our first demo. It's still a song we love playing live. Its variation makes it interesting and really enjoyable. The violin, in the end of the track, is the detail that relieves the listener after this storm of sound.

  • So now I'm curious about the track 'Enlighten The Darkness.' How exactly do you do that? It seems like from the lyric writer's perspective, death is the release that ends the pain and hurt, or the "darkness" in this case.

    This track takes me back in 2007 when my life came into an awful mess. I thought there was no way back and nothing could save me. But never say "never" in this life. You will be proven false!

  • The band name is quite interesting itself, while we're on the subject of lyrical matter. The name alone is very well suited to doom metal, so I'm curious as to how you came to choose this name and how the lyrics of the album relate to the themes you put forth... The album name too, for that matter.

    Well it was about the time that we formed the band. We were searching about a name that could reflect our music. While listening Paradise Lost's "Gothic" album that includes the song 'Shatttered,' thought that this is a nice word that is not used widely as others. But in any case we didn't want to "steal" the name from another band that we like and listen to a lot. Also we preferred an expression as the band's name and not a single word. So we decided and agreed to name the band Shattered Hope. A nice expression that reflects our music too. Our lyrics and album's name are related with the band's name a lot. Our lyrical theme is about loss, feelings, redemption, love, hate and more, something that is related with the expression Shattered Hope, a hope that actually you cannot believe because of the fact that it is shattered, almost dead. The album's title is "Absence;" nothing could reflect its music than absence itself.

  • The track 'Utter Void' I thought was a fantastic way to end the album. I love how that ending instrumentation goes on for more than just a few minutes, allowing me to experience the full weight of emotion and content rather than just being a short piece. It makes the 13-minute track worthy of every minute!

    We just made the same thought when we had to put the tracks in order. 'The Utter Void's' final melody, I think, is what the album needed at its ending. It helps the listener feel free and relaxed, after having been through all the emotional changes during the album.

  • I have noticed a trend in doom metal bands of late, most notably with Spiritus Mortis and November's Doom (the latter band doing it because of being "stuck" into being labelled a slow doom band), and that is the utilizing of faster and more brutal death metal styled instrumentation. 'Yearn' is a perfect example of this: it seems like it's ALMOST out of place with the rest of the material and yet it still fits perfectly within the framework of the Shattered Hope sound.

    Yes actually when I listen now the 'Yearn' song, I believe that is something strange if we compare it with the rest of the album. Of course we don't have on mind to play or turn our music into this faster way of doom, at least not now. I don't know what the future will bring, music tastes change by time. We only wanted to have a "break" on the middle of the album from the doom/funeral doom songs, so we added 'Yearn' that is a faster, more death song. I think that although it's faster and not a doom track, it includes the same atmosphere with the rest of the tracks, the same feeling.

  • So what bands inspired you to create doom metal of this caliber? And what were some of the first doom metal bands you ever listened to?

    Black Sabbath is the first piece of doom, I've ever heard. But, My Dying Bride is for sure, our first influence. Apart from them, I can say the early years of Anathema and Paradise Lost affected our music, a lot.

  • While talking a bit about other doom metal bands, I don't know how familiar you are with these bands I'm going to mention, but Shape Of Despair is a band I enjoy greatly, and they definitely utilize instruments OTHER than guitar to create their sound (I know flutes, violins and cellos are not uncommon in their soundscapes).

    Maybe my favourite funeral doom band, at least one of them. This band was from the first ones that I met when I began searching (for) this sound. Shape Of Despair do not have the guitar as the first instrument in their music. I think that everything is based on keyboards and they "clothe" their music really beautifully adding the rest of the instruments on keyboards. At least this is my opinion for them. They are masterminds!!

  • Candlemass, they're pretty much the band that some say kick-started the doom genre, although Trouble and the U.S. band Pentagram were around longer. How do you feel about Candlemass with Robert Lowe from Solitude Aeturnus doing vocals? I feel he fits perfectly, and I've recently heard him doing earlier material and performing those older songs very well.

    Actually Candlemass wasn't the first doom band that appeared, as you said. In my opinion it was Black Sabbath, and guess what, the first metal band was a doom metal band hehe!! Of course Trouble and Pentagram were previous than Candlemass but the latter ones were those who firstly added this epic-dramatic feeling into their music. In my opinion they did it better than anyone else. I've seen once Candlemass live with Robert Lowe and I think that they released really cool albums with him, I enjoyed them a lot. He fits perfectly to Candlemass. I know that everyone is used to listen them with Messiah's voice, he was the perfect voice for this kind of music for sure, but Lowe is also a great front man and a worthy continuer.

  • I still have a soft spot for Candlemass' first vocalist, though, Johan Langqvist, who performed on the very first Candlemass record "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus."

    Maybe the best Candlemass album, in my opinion always. Another great voice for sure. His performance on this album is brilliant. I don't know how his voice would fit on the rest of Candlemass' albums but his performance on the first one is great.

  • Now I'm curious about the track 'Lament In F# Minor.' Usually instrumental tracks like this are reinterpretations of classical composers who wrote such pieces hundreds of years ago. However, this particular track was written by one Chris Gounaropoulos, who I cannot find anything about online except for in the credits of your album. It also carries over into the follow-up CD ender 'The Utter Void,' so please tell me more about him and what he normally does outside of composing instrumental pieces for your band!

    The story of 'Lament...' goes like this: Chris is George's (our drummer) friend. He plays violin and one day he wrote a theme for his practice. It was an up tempo track with a nice melody. George noticed this and tried to reduce its speed. The result was better than he expected. So, he sent it to us and we agreed that this should be a part of the album.

  • I know I talk about this with many other bands, but I know you are currently working on new material for another release. Any song titles, lyrical topics or even a theme you can share with us?

    You are right. We are working on some new ideas and we have already composed a whole song. I have no track titles yet, but I can tell you that the lyrical themes are going to be different from "Absence."

  • I'm curious about the album cover for "Absence," as it features a rather lonely lighthouse shrouded in an ocean and fog. I know personally I've always been fond of lighthouses, as I used to live near Tybee Island in Georgia, and their lighthouse has always held fascination to me. I guess life as a lighthouse keeper was probably pretty lonely.

    I'm glad you noticed this. I've always thought myself as a train driver or a lighthouse keeper. When time came to choose a cover for the album, the idea of a lonely lighthouse was something I loved. This picture completely describes the "absence" of all things. This idea became real thanks to our friend Geert Van Mook (Faal) who worked for the cover.

  • As we close out this interview, my final two thoughts for you are: Do you ever see a time when doom metal will be hugely popular the world over, and also where do you think doom metal will go in the future? Thanks again for your help and support, and I look forward to hearing your next release.

    My answers are: 1) That it's too good to be true (but maybe we prefer this scene as it is nowadays; Underground and Pure! (lol) 2) I don't think that things are going to change. Maybe better music for all? Anyway, thank you so much for your interest and support! Good Luck! Doom on!

    THE HOWLING VOID. Interview with...

  • I was curious how you came to choose the name The Howling Void, and what the name means to you. At first glance someone might think that there were references to H.P. Lovecraft in your works.

    I chose the name because it resonated deeply for me, more on an intuitive level than a rational one. But Lovecraft is an influence, certainly. But moreso, the influence comes from Gnosticism, and The Howling Void represents (among other things) that realm which is the antithesis to our own universe.

  • I remember when I first received "Shadows Over The Cosmos" from Solitude Productions, I was so impressed that I sought out "Megaliths Of The Abyss" on Black Plague Records. I recall purchasing it for around 7 or 8 dollars, and I thought that was kinda cool in a time when most full lengths cost around 13 to 15 bucks. Whatever happened with Black Plague Records, I know your full length was the last thing they listed as releasing; it seems like they're not doing much anymore. Are you still receiving money from sales of that album?

    Black Plague is a great label, run by a dedicated and trustworthy proprietor. I haven't spoken much with them recently, so I can't comment on their status. But I know that the original debut album continues to find its way all over the world, and for that I am grateful.

  • Speaking of "Megaliths," it seems like that was a darker and heavier record though on your latest full length "Shadows," there's that CD ending track 'Lord Of The Black Gulf' that harkens back to the darker sound of "Megaliths." How do you see the progression from the first album to your more recent one?

    The progression was not intentional, but simply a result of writing at a different time. I didn't set out to make an album that was less dark, or anything like that. In fact, I personally find "Shadows..." to actually be quite darker in my opinion. But in retrospect, I think that the melodies on "Shadows..." do feature more sombre and tranquil moods which perhaps might not have been as abundant on the first album. I wasn't sure how the second album would turn out, to be honest, but it definitely did feel different.

  • It was always interesting to me that a Russian record label would sign an American musical entity. It's also surprising to me that considering the fact that Solitude Productions started out by promoting doom bands from their country, The Howling Void is what I consider one of the best bands on their label, and indeed "Shadows Over The Cosmos" was in the top 3 of doom metal releases for 2010.

    I think that geography has much less to do with music than most people tend to think these days. The world is so small, as a result of the connectivity of the internet, that influence and innovation don't seem to be trapped in any particular region. But I recognize that many people are surprised to learn that The Howling Void comes from the States, especially from Texas. I think that Solitude are interested in finding unique and genuine funeral doom regardless of where it comes from, and I'm flattered that they find my work interesting.

  • How has the press reacted to your latest full length? Can you recall which magazines and press and what they had to say about it? I must admit I was shocked and surprised by some of the negative reviews on the Encyclopaedia Metallum; it seems from some of the reviews that more seemed to like your first album, and those who reviewed the more recent effort didn't seem to know what they were talking about! Like one who said "the riffs are good, they have a cosmic and esoteric feeling," yet he still gave the album a 10 out of 100!

    The vast majority of reactions I've come across have been quite positive, which is encouraging. But all in all I care very little for critical reception. An individual's musical tastes are subjective value judgments, and no amount of rationalization or debate will be able to prove any single person's tastes to be "right" or "wrong." So I tend to take criticism with a grain of salt, be it positive or negative.

  • Is The Howling Void a project that we will ever see performed live in any form or fashion? I'm curious if so how you would envision such a thing happening?

    I would enjoy playing live with The Howling Void, but so far I haven't had the fortune of being presented with any interesting opportunities. I must admit that the typical live performance setting doesn't seem, to my mind, appropriate for this music. I envision performing in a venue where a person can sit and relax and soak up the music, without fending off hordes of belligerent, rowdy imbeciles.

  • There's quite a lot of bands on Solitude I enjoy, like My Lament, The Sullen Route, and Ea, a band I have enjoyed for quite some time. What bands from Solitude do you listen to and like? I'm quite curious about Ea, not sure if you know anything about them, as they are a complete mystery to me as to who they are and where they're from. I like the fact that their lyrics are composed of an ancient language, though not much else is known about them.

    I enjoy most of the art coming out of Solitude, but I'm not particularly fond of listing bands which I do or do not enjoy. As for the Ea mystery, I am as oblivious as you, my friend.

  • Any chance you might be working on a followup full length, if so anything you can tell us like song titles, themes or concepts would be great.

    I am actually going into the studio to record the third full length in a matter of weeks. It will be called "The Silence of Centuries," and will continue in the same vein as my previous works. I continue to search for entrancing melodies, rather than attempting to innovate or experiment with the overall sound.

  • The cover artwork for the latest release is quite intense, though I must admit on the CD copy I received the text on the back of the CD inlay is quite hard to read, the same with some of the lyrics inside the booklet. Still, to see the CD itself pressed on gold was awesome. Tell us about the cover art for the album.

    The art on the cover is a piece called "Thaw" by the 19th century Russian painter Vasilyev. I am quite interested in landscapes, so one night I found myself browsing through a collection of paintings which had been scanned and archived online. As soon as I saw this particular painting, I knew instantly that it must be the cover of the album. The central image, that of a thawing river, is symbolic of the dissolution of the universe, which is the central theme of the album.

  • I was reading a bit further and noticed you have a link to Voidlight, a book talking about the gnostic religion/philosophy. I was quite intrigued by it as my own research into religion and spirituality in particular (a path I now find easier to walk as it shuns mankind's organized system of religions's controlling and limiting theologies that do nothing for the individual) showed me that most humans accept a tyrannical and jealous, manipulative god that constantly betrays the loving and compassionate deity that is SUPPOSED to be the "god of the bible." It runs alongside a different path than what I've accepted, but maybe you can shed some more light on this.

    "Voidlight" is a book which I wrote at the same time as composing the second album, and has since been published by Lux Ferous Press. The essential Gnostic idea that we are alien to this existence is what draws me in. I cannot help but feel utterly alienated and disconnected from not only this world, but from the entire vista of reality. In the wisdom of the ancient Gnostics I have found ideas which resonate deeply within me. It is all quite similar to Platonism in the end, where one realizes that the world we inhabit is a world of shadows, not of reality. And Gnosis, which is a state of no-mind in which the human organism loses its control over consciousness, allows Truth and Wisdom to penetrate this awful existence and gives insight which helps to unburden one's soul.

  • I think what most people are REALLY worried about is where they end up when this physical existence they are in now has ended. Many religions and philosophies have varying opinions, of course, such as reincarnation, ascension to heaven (or burning in hell for the wicked), or even rebirth right here on a newly restored paradise Earth. I think religions over the centuries used this as a method of control, as they knew that no one could really control what happens to you after death. I suppose it's a mystery that no one living will ever really have the answers for.

    Strangely enough, it is not the end which concerns me, but the beginning. And this is a typically Gnostic sentiment. If I am able to understand my origins, then all the questions regarding my end are answered. And I don't necessarily consider myself to be a Gnostic, or to be part of any mythical "Gnostic religion." Suffice it to say, I am merely searching, and Gnosis is where I am in my journey.

  • When I listen to the albums, in particular "Shadows," I have to wonder by the way the songs are composed if you have certain landscapes in mind, or places you visualize when creating these pieces. The track 'The Hidden Sun,' in particular, somewhat invokes the image of the front album cover!

    You've actually made an astute observation. I do actually tend to write the songs under the influence of an image, or set of images, in my mind. And it is often landscapes, especially subterranean images of vast, empty places abandoned by time and memory.

  • A lot of people point to the most noticeable characteristic of the doom metal genre, and funeral doom in particular, being the longer length of the songs. How do you determine exactly HOW long a certain track should or should not be? I know a band like Ea has no problems creating songs that run even longer than 20 minutes!

    I personally enjoy extremely long, extremely repetitive and entrancing songs. When I hear a melody, I want to lose myself in it. I want to be taken somewhere by it. And this is something which simply doesn't often happen in shorter songs. So I tend to let the song wander, so to speak, to let it go until it feels complete. That may not make much sense, but it is the best way I can explain it.

  • I think as far back as I can remember, the earliest example of a song that portrays some elements of drawn out doomy like passages would be The Beatles, and that song 'I Want You (She's So Heavy),' where they lengthened that one riff. I absolutely loved that passage, and it's one of the earliest examples of doom like material I can point to. Just wanted to get your thoughts on that.

    It's not necessarily the length, but the mood which gives me a feeling of doom. For example, listen to the version of 'House of the Rising Sun' performed by Eric Burdon and the Animals. That track has doom written all over it, yet features none of the hackneyed doom criteria.

  • I read somewhere that Emperor really influenced you symphonically. Are there other bands in Black metal you really enjoy, maybe you also like other styles of music (I personally like industrial, some gothic, and psychedelic/space rock).

    "In The Nightside Eclipse" was an album that really changed my life. The synths on that album absolutely blew me away. The album was so much darker and so much more profound than any of the crap I was listening to at the time. As for other styles of music, I really don't listen to much music of any style these days. I often have a very stormy relationship with music. When I do listen to music, it's always classic albums from my youth (like the above mentioned Emperor album). Nostalgia is a powerful, wonderful thing.

  • You apparently are involved with a few other musical projects, like Hordes Of The Morning Star and Intestinal Disgorge. Are you still actively involved in those projects, and how do you find the time to juggle 4 different bands? Would you consider The Howling Void as your main priority right now?

    Yes, I am actively involved in all of those projects. I have been doing Intestinal Disgorge the longest, since 1996. But I still don't consider any of them to be my "main" project. Finding time for all of this is easy, because I am quite the recluse. I have always been this way. I simply don't find much joy out in the world, among people, doing this or that. I'm happiest in seclusion, writing music.

  • Though I didn't mention it earlier, I was curious about how you chose the artwork for "Megaliths Of The Abyss," as it seems such a dark cover, with the shadowy trees and then an eerie sphere of light, which I assume relates to the gnosticism philosophy you are into.

    I found a central image and then worked on it, digitally, until it seemed to resonate with me. It was originally a photograph of a tree, but as I darkened it and overlaid other images, it began to take on a life of its own. And the finished cover is simply the stage of revision which seemed to jump out at me. And yes, the sphere of light is symbolically related to Gnosticism.

  • Finally, if there's anything else you want to talk about that we missed, feel free to do so. Thanks again for this opportunity and I can't wait to hear your next release.

    First of all, thanks for the interview. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss The Howling Void, and I appreciate all of the people out there who find some meaning or some enjoyment in my music. Take care.

    THE MEADS OF ASPHODEL. Interview with Metatron via email.

    Who was this mysterious figure known as Jesus Christ, that so many claim to know and love though he lived and died a few thousand years ago? Do we truly know everything there is to know about the most popular figure who ever was claimed to have lived? Is christianity based in truth or is it a fanatical cult started years ago? These questions and more are a very in depth subject of English black metal band known as The Meads Of Asphodel, and with their latest release "The Murder Of Jesus The Jew," Metatron spent hundreds of hours of research and study to define these answers. The album in question is probably one of the most bizarre and amazing concept albums to be recorded since Macabre released the "Dahmer" album some time ago. An interesting conversation is this interview, one that should be enlightening for all, and quite stunning considering most black metal band's distate for anything related to christianity.

  • Right off the bat, I noticed that James Fogarty had at one time been in the band, but is no longer around. What happened that lead to his departure?

    I formed the band way back in 1998 and recruited J. Fogarty into my world of Meads. We did an album and thereafter whilst the split with Mayhem was being released by Supernal Music our direction began to falter. I went my way, he went his. The band has since grown stronger around the song craft of J.D. Tait, a master songsmith and more in tune with my thoughts. That's that.

  • I know he released the "Jihad" title on his own label, which you consider a bootleg. I wonder why he thought he had the right to release this, when it's obvious he was only in the band for a few years; I guess since he fancied himself one of the founding members he thought he was justified...

    That's just nothing to do with me all that shit. That's just on the Metallium site, who knows who wrote that and I don't care. It's no problem to me as the Meads of Asphodel is a band that far surmounts anything past members can possibly stain.

  • Well, I was rather curious about his own label, citing his hatred for the music industry, and of course amused that one of his projects Jaldaboath actually got signed to Napalm Records.

    Good luck to anyone who can create music whether good or bad; at least trying embraces the whole scene's up and down momentum, good and bad, so it's ok to sit on my back and use the Meads name to further their own path if that's what people need to do. I really never think about the side effects of the Meads, the little ripples it has created with other offshoots. Some times others need direction when they lack any themselves.

  • Speaking of other members, I was extremely surprised to see TWO former members of Hawkwind within your ranks! I have always been a HUGE Hawkwind fan, citing "Warrior On The Edge Of Time" as one of my favorite albums of theirs of all time. How did you get them to come on board? I know one is listed as a session musician; is that for touring purposes? Hell, while we are at it, I would love to know your favorite Hawkwind songs/albums. The only live opportunity I got to see Hawkwind was when Nik Turner brought his interpretation of Hawkwind to the States... playing alongside Sleep.

    This is a band I have seen countless times; they are a true underground entity and a British institution. "Warrior On The Edge Of Time" is also my top Hawk album, (we covered 'Assault And Battery,' on the first album) followed by "25 Years On." I prefer the Calvert/Brock era of the seventies as well as the Huw Lloyd Langton guitar genius of the mid eighties. Huw in his prime was one of the finest guitarists this country has ever produced. This guy is like lightning on the frets. Alan Davey who is our bass player is like a Lemmy MkII. His bass is thunder so we try to keep it from obliterating the rest of the instruments. It all came about many moons ago when I was helping a friend deliver some stuff to this house and as I walked though the hallway I noticed these gold discs on the wall. These were Hawkwind albums and I was in Huw's house. I was stunned and couldn't believe it. I kept the signed delivery sheet and a few years later when the Meads was born I called him up and asked him if he would play some lead on the debut album. I got Alan's number through Huw, and it just went from there. Fucking fate or what!

  • Now, I'm curious about the name Metatron, because the earliest reference I can see to this name is a demo "Metatron And The Red Gleaming Serpent." It seems like Metatron was an angel on this demo cover, but I of course want to know what Metatron means to you.

    Metatron is a name that transcends biblical perceptions of Angels. There are hundreds of Angels in Hebrew lore, but only three are mentioned in the Bible. That's just indoctrination by Christianity who have abolished all traces of Jewish influence that is ingrained in the Old Testaments but totally ignored in the New Testament. Metatron is a great mighty Angel and that name felt right to use. The first lyrical themes I worked on were ancient Hebrew myths and biblical themes. Those demos were great fun to create, and that ethos is still very much part of the song writing process to this day. If it feels wrong, it's probably right kind of gut feeling.

  • The album "The Murder Of Jesus The Jew" has to be one of the most intense concept albums I've ever heard, especially lyrically. It's interesting that a black metal band would try to research and understand his very existence, especially since you said that most black metal bands are mainly about either satanism or hating his very existence.

    The album is a complete work of years of research and it is a lesson of truth. From the music to the lyrics, the cover and the massive explanatory work on the web site, this album is a true concept album. We are all very pleased and proud of this album and know its limitations as purists will hate the experimental edge, and the more liberal minded will hate the more primitive edge. The music touches many moods and atmospheres. Satan is no more real than the supernatural Christ, or the Vampire and werewolves stories we are told to frighten us at night. There are things that are nonsense and things that are possibilities. An example is, there is no Satan, nor Hell, nor Demonic apparitions. There may be Alien life beyond our world or some form of extraterrestrial existence. The balance of truth is weighed by probabilities. There is far more probability of Alien life than Satan existing in this universe. There is far more probability of Jesus being a mortal Jew than a son of God. I am also bemused by all the silly conspiracy theories that captivate us, like the governments of the world being reptilian invaders. What bollocks is that all about? That's how I base my perspective on this weird and wonderfully strange world we live in.

  • The amount of hours of research you poured into this subject is absolutely astounding. So after all this research and hard work, how do you see the man known as Jesus now? I'm rather convinced that Jesus was an intelligent philosopher, and that his true message has been deliberately distorted; I believe he tried to help the individual realize his inner strength and power; obviously not something the world religions or those in power would want to see.

    Jesus (or Yeshua) was a Jew who lived for his faith and cared little for outsiders. He preached a slight deviation from orthodox Judaism, as many wandering Hasisds, or Rabbis did. There were sects of Essenes and the very influential teachings of Jon the Baptist that steered Jesus towards his own calling. He had a few followers and wandered around Galilee doing his own thing. At passover most Jews flocked to Jerusalem on a yearly vocation and Jesus did the same. He was a stranger there; a Galilean in Jerusalem would have been like a Texan in New York, or a Scotsman in London. He was an outsider in a volatile environment and his very nature was like fuel for a fire of Roman oppressive embitterment. He caused some disturbances and at this massive festival the Romans would have had no qualms about arresting and crucifying any one who caused the slightest imbalance of a very unbalanced gathering of dispossessed people. A tree was as good as (a) cross, probably more so and that's where this kindly healer ended up. Thereafter the sect of Jesus was born and adopted by non Jews who stole the Judaic foundations of the cult and created the christian version. This utter nonsense of christianity is a blight on the modern world, and yet History is full of tragedies; none more so than the Murder of Jesus the Jew.

  • One thing that puzzles me however, is that Jesus is the most important figure in the bible by common accounts; the Old Testament speaks of prophecy and the coming of Jesus to "save the world," while the New Testament deals with what are supposedly eye witness accounts of his life, his death, and what happens afterwards. I find it VERY strange that for such an important figure for the entire world, not ONE single translation of ANY bible even bothers to include the book of Jesus (one that Jesus himself apparently wrote). My reasoning behind this (though I've never read the book of Jesus) is that what Jesus had to say would probably have brought the religions of the world (like Catholicism especially) to their ruin.

    There were many other messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that Jesus never fulfilled, let alone the ones he supposedly did. Jesus is the most important person in the New Testament. He pales into oblivion compared to Abraham and Moses of the Old Testament. The Book of Jesus is a nonsense as Jesus would not have bothered to write anything of his life down. He was not important enough to be written about when he lived. His life was remembered by word of mouth until his cult gained momentum and his short life was then documented. This would have been at the behest of the anonymous writers of the Gospels who were not Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Other works (gnostic) were cast aside by the early Church fathers who eventually compiled the New Testament cannon according to their doctrinal constraints. Heresy was a by word for any other view apart from theirs and murder, torture and cruelty was their spawn. The original word of Jesus was buried under the weight of this new ludicrous religion that made the monotheistic faith of its founder fragment into a trinity of father, son and Holy Ghost. I find it totally incredible how this religion has survived and maintained its grip on the world. The truth is so obvious.

  • I also wondered too where Jesus would have gotten his knowledge, since in those days most commoners couldn't read well and probably couldn't write as easily as a scribe or scholar. I tend to think that maybe he visited the Library of Alexandria where a great wealth of knowledge was said to exist. He obviously studied from other philosophers and teachers as well.

    Jesus was already a learned young man when he joined the sect of the Baptist. His early years were of learning of the sacred scriptures and he would have had full knowledge of his own faith. Nazareth where he was born was within walking distance of the great metropolis, SEPPHORIS, the great city of Herod and his father would have been some form of mason doing work there. This was a pretty cosmopolitan city and Jesus would have gained much knowledge here. We must remember he was extremely well versed when he began his preaching so he certainly absorbed knowledge somewhere. We don't know where for sure as the years between the age of 12 and 30 are completely amiss in the Gospels. I very much doubt if he left Galilee or Judea. He was a country boy with humble teachings that had some Greek influence (from his time in Sepphoris, oddly not mentioned in the bible) and from his beloved religion. He spent most of his life in the countryside, so the big cities would have seemed very noisy and corrupt set against his own humble and peaceful outlook.

  • So how do you see the bible's relevance in this day and age? Personally I think there are some good life lessons in there, but once again I believe that the book has been purposefully mistranslated and rewritten by those who desire to control and manipulate the masses. I refer to Machiavelli's book "The Prince" as a guideline for how religions operate (IE, control them through fear, like with their afterlife; something that NO man can control is what happens to them after they die). I do remember a time in our history when the bible was considered too sacred a book for the common man to possess, so obviously only the clergy and nobility had access to it (and what do you think people did when they read things they did not like?)

    As bibles were written in latin only the clergy could read then, hence the common folk had no idea if they were being taught the correct wording. Religion is a beacon for the blind, a nucleus of ignorance and yet humanity is part of the herds of the earth, inherently tribal and thus susceptible to indoctrination of whatever form. Most religions (Christianity included) have a good ethical foundation on which to base a functioning human environment on. Unfortunately, like you have hinted upon, the powers that be will gladly use such powerful mediums to enact their own agenda. Fear of death and what lies after had always gnawed at the mortality of us all, maybe not so all encompassing for the modern mind to comprehend, but certainly a daunting, unfathomable conundrum for the uneducated peoples of yore.

  • The song 'Addiction To God' was an interesting topic; like I stated earlier, it seems most do the weekly church ritual because they're afraid of this jealous and capricious god. Growing up catholic, my family moved towards becoming Jehovah's Witnesses, though the fear and harshness that religion brought into my life still haunts me to this day. Still though, I've never thought of addictions breeding out of fear.

    The song, 'Addicted to God,' is all about a very real addiction that only truth can cure. I find no problem with any ethical teaching but you don't need a God to tell you that killing is wrong and stealing is not exactly good. The time of Jesus was the apocalyptic age of Judaism where the end of the world seemed nigh. To the Jews the Roman persecution did seem like an eradication of their very being and it would come to pass that the great temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. and the Jews expelled from Jerusalem shortly after. This apocalyptic literature would have influenced Jesus greatly and it was a dark, cruel age he lived in. This is the mind set of the quite foolish Jehovah's Witnesses who are completely addicted to the end of days.

  • I really thought that the music was so varied and diverse from track to track; I mean you have whistling sounds on 'Dark Gethsemane,' and there's even a beautiful Pink Floyd set of instrumentation on 'Genesis Of Death.' I still say though that 'Genesis' probably should have ended the album! With such varied vocal performances, though, I definitely saw similarities to the whole "Jesus Christ Superstar" movie/play and your album.

    The whole concept could be taken on the read as a musical as the album is a story, a tale of truth from our perspective. It details many of the fundamental tenets of christianity and tries to unearth the reality behind the fantastic. We have removed the supernatural and glimpsed at a window in history that has changed the face of our world. The tracks are deliberately varied to embrace the mood of the lyrical content. 'Dark Gethsemane' is a mellow song as it is about a man's contemplation of his imminent agonizing end. 'Genesis Of Death' deals with the Crucifixion and is an eccentric prog style arrangement. The reason 'Genesis...' did not end the album is its place in the story dictated its position.

  • So what's next for The Meads Of Asphodel? Surely after all this work you are probably creatively exhausted... Any touring plans in the works, or maybe you have some ideas for future albums or songs?

    The Meads of Asphodel are part of a new split MCD due to be released via Godreah Records in June 2011. The Swine's Of Hell, MCD, 5 bands, 5 exclusive tracks, 5 hymns from Hell. Sigh, Taake (with Necrobutcher), The Meads of Asphodel, Thus Defiled (with Sakis Tolis of Rotting Christ), plus for the first time, Evo (Warfare) and Algy Ward (Tank) unite under EVO/Algy, to perform a skull pounding Status Quo cover. Our track is called, 'There's A God In My Gruel.' This is the last song from the Jesus the Jew recordings; there is one more called 'If God Could Talk What Would He Say?' that is a bonus track on the vinyl version.

  • Speaking of concept albums, though this one is varied enough to be a somewhat song oriented album, are there other concept albums you find to be brilliantly written and executed? Usually when I think of some of the greatest concept albums of all time, I have to say that Macabre's "Dahmer" album is one of the greatest of all time, especially with the different approach to instrumentation and vocal work. Going from death metal to blues to an almost black metal synth approach, this was one of the greatest concept albums of all time.

    There are not many I can think of. I liked the Warfare, "Hammer Horror" album, and the King Diamond concepts were good. Venom's "At War With Satan" track is pure heaven to me (it's a kind of concept), and Hawkwind's "Chronicle Of The Black Sword" is another fantastic concept album, it's so out there!

  • Finally, I just wanted to say that metalheads had it right all along for many years. We were taught to rebel and question EVERYTHING, that we had a power inside ourselves and weren't going to take shit from anyone, and metal made us FEEL that power. I study teachers like Deepak Chopra, and I was really interested in the movie "The Secret,' moving onto people like Bob Proctor, Eckhart Tolle and of course Raymond Holowell's "Working With The Law." The problem with religion is it doesn't help the individual, it mainly promotes a herd mentality, and religions are really just out to "get theirs." This is why I think people turn to concepts about this, because it helps you out with everyday life and gives you the power to REALLY take responsibility for your life, and to rely on yourself instead of an unseen god who rarely ever answers the individual. Would love to hear your final thoughts on this...

    I have always said Metal fans are the most liberal and open minded people and certainly the most decent. It's always easy to talk to an invisible God, to put some pre written meaning to the meaning of life and what may exist beyond death. Life is a personal journey of seemingly pointless meandering, and we will all have our own perception of who we are and where we will end up. I hope some may find some ray of light emanating from our albums dark shadowy music.

    Many thanks for your interest in the Meads and we wish you and your readers well.

    VAINGLORY. Interview with new guitarist Jerry Tharp via phone.

    Folks, this is an interesting interview... Jerry is one of my best friends who until recently was in a band called Soniq Armada with another good friend of mine Sean Morrisey. Now anyone who knows anything about my history knows all about my involvement with Hallows Eve, and the similarities between our two paths is striking. We both grew up fans of the bands we eventually got our chance to play in. Finally getting to watch the movie "Rock Star" within the last few months was a moment in time that really punched me in the gut as far as seeing the way things worked for this new kid and the experiences I had with Hallows Eve. Sorry about all the reliving the past moments in this interview, but it was interesting interviewing officially a good friend and the moments we both are able to relate could really give you a unique insight into what it's really like to be a kind of nobody or someone with less than public profile suddenly find themselves with a bit of mainstream attention, so to speak. Vainglory is a band I have been a big fan of for quite some time, and of course this band also has ties to 80's metal, so it's an interesting and enlightening interview. It also give me the opportunity to do what I can to help out one of my friends in his "moment of glory." This band is going places. The attitudes of all involved ALONE are enough to prove that.

  • It's like 10 years old but I finally got around to watching the movie "Rock Star." I'm sure that's what you feel like right now!

    Yeah, I mean my first photo shoot, I couldn't quit smiling. I even told Kate, "I feel like fuckin' what's his name, dude from that movie.

  • I thought that was funny, you going into a photo shoot, I'm like "Damn, he's in high fashion now...." It's kinda funny.

    Oh yeah. It was weird, the whole makeup deal and everything. It was more than 2 hours long, I was sweating my balls off. I kept having to get my hair dried and redone because I was sweating so much.

  • So did the band bring in a professional crew for that? Because I saw those photos and they were pretty professional looking!

    No, actually, Kate did it. When she's not doing the music thing she WORKS in cosmetics and she's done some modeling and all that stuff. David Chastain's newest band, Southern Gentlemen I think? She models for their album covers. She knows the cosmetic thing, and she did my makeup and was actually the one clicking the button and stuff.

  • It's funny because one minute you were playing with Sean in Soniq Armada, and playing in local bands to playing in Vainglory that's obviously VERY professional about everything.

    Well, I've known Corbin for years, and it's something that's been talked about over the years. I let him know if he ever needed anyone, it would be an honor to play with him. The guy's fucking bad ass! Him and Kate, and I have a lot of respect for both of them. I got an email from Corbin, he said "I know you're in a band right now, you're probably pretty busy, but we'd like for you to come down and audition."

  • So what was it like to walk in there and audition? Well, obviously it went well, because you got the job, but what was it like to walk in there and have to show off your axe skills to a guy who could be considered a guitar virtuoso?

    Corbin IS a virtuoso, and it amazes me that the guy isn't more well known than he is. He could stand on stage with ANY fucking body. He could go on stage with Yngwie Malmsteen and could be right there with him. He's THAT caliber of a musician, and he's definitely not scared to play with anybody. He'll shred it! The guy definitely has a GIFT, that's for sure. As far as the audition, I showed up, and the weird and the coolest part... Because I've known Corbin and it was just like going over to a buddy's house or something, I'm pretty comfortable around him having known him for a few years. The coolest part for me was getting to meet Kate. Before the audition, I was stressing out about it, I was like "oh shit, I better have my shit together!" But after being there for 10 minutes, meeting Kate for the first time and talking to her; her personality... She has this aura about her, it felt really cool... They played their set and Corbin told me to plug up and follow him. He'd show me a couple of riffs before we'd play a song, he said there's no pressures, just play what you can... We did that and then had, umm, several adult beverages... (laughs).

  • (Laughing), yeah I was about to ask you about the "drinking contest," who won that actually?

    (Laughing), Umm... Corbin is a drinker... And, you know I can funnel back too. We can drink together, that's for sure.

  • I remember you saying something about that was kind of a prerequisite; how well you can drink and still handle the duties of the guitar I guess... But to me it's like, I'm thinking... You're in trouble if you're ever too drunk to fish!

    Oh yeah. I mean you gotta be responsible. But at the same time, a LOT of alcohol gets consumed. But yeah, exactly... Just do your job and there's nothing to worry about.

  • And I noticed that show you guys played at Sweetwater, Kate seemed to be the only one that didn't do any drinking at all, whereas everyone else definitely let the alcohol flow freely. Has that ever been a little weird, does she drink much or what?

    Kate really isn't a heavy drinker. She does drink but not like we do. It's not that she DOESN'T drink... I mean you know me, I drink beer more than I drink anything else. She likes her Vodka cranberry and stuff like that.

  • I know from a singer's prespective... personally for me, it goes one of two ways: It either works really well or it totally fucks things up.

    Right, I mean she doesn't drink that much when she has to perform, because you can get the slurred speech and things like that. She does I think... She likes the Vodka and cranberry because it opens up your chest I guess. I know for me when I used to scream and stuff, a couple shots of Bourbon and your good to go!

  • So that show at Sweetwater, I'm curious because I'm guessing for that set there was like okay, here's the ten songs we're doing and that's it. But I heard a few songs from that self titled album, some newer stuff, a cover and a guitar solo and that was it. But there were other songs I just plain didn't recognize. Their first album "2050" I don't have...

    There's nothing at all left over from that period of the band. The set we played at Sweetwater, we had three songs we played from the self titled album, the cover song (No More Tears by Ozzy - Ed.), and the rest was all from the upcoming album, the new one. Actually, the album was done and they decided to scratch it, and they said we were all going into the studio and we're going to record it again, just because of the lineup changes and everything, and that's what's so awesome about these guys! I was like "man, the album's DONE, get it out there," and they were like "No, we want YOU to play on it!" And that's huge to me, that means a lot to me that all the time and money that went into recording the album, for them just to say, no, this is Vainglory NOW. We want the new guys on the album.

  • Wow, that's really fucking impressive.

    You hear it from bands all the time, especially like from Zakk Wilde of Black Label Society, saying "Black Label is a family" you know? But no shit, Vainglory IS a family, and I've been totally welcomed into that, with open arms. And it's amazing how they just embraced me coming into the band and how comfortable everything is. It's just awesome.

  • It's funny because I have known Rod Montoya for a long time, (the newest drummer) and its like the two Art League Atlanta guys, the new guys, two of my good friends are the new guys in the band. It's weird, how much smaller your world gets all the time....

    When Rod actually came into the band, I told him that was AWESOME. That is such a killer gig. And I was like "I want to be in that band." I've wanted to be in that band for years, and I told Rod, I will be in that band one day. And then here I am. We actually talked about that last night, I was telling Kate and Corbin about that, and Rod was like "yeah, when I joined the band he was telling me how happy he was for me, and how he wants to be in the band too," and here we are.

  • That actually brings me to the next point... that night at Sweetwater, there was a song... And the first time I met Kate, the positive energy she radiates almost bowled me over, and it's like "wow, who the hell is this person?"

    She's an amazing person...

  • There was this new song called 'Manifesting Destiny,' and I'm like...

    That's actually the working title for the new album right now.

  • Did they give you any insight into the lyrical ideas for that song?

    Um... (long pause) I knew that question was coming (MUCH laughter here from both of us - Ed.) Particularly since we talked about this... We have talked about stuff like that but once again that's when the tons of alcohol was flowing through the blood. I know it does have to do with, like you were saying, it's this book or this movie.... She did explain it to me. I was there during the conversation but afterwards that kinda skipped me. (He had forgotten that it was all based on that movie "The Secret" - Ed.)

  • Well, right around '91 or '92 when I lived in Savannah, I had first started the magazine but I was writing for a magazine which you know now as Creative Loafing... Back then it was called Good Times Magazine. And I remember getting a call from a guy at a record label I think it was called Nightfall Records out of Macon, Georgia. He told me that Hallows Eve was looking for a vocalist. At the time, you gotta remember this was over 18 years ago, and I was a huge fan of theirs back in high school. I wanted to do it but the chance never came. Then fast forward to like what 6, 7 or 8 years ago, and it all started with me talking to Skully saying "Hey, I'd love to do a Hallows Eve interview" and I interviewed Tommy, one thing led to another and I ended up singing for Hallows Eve. So it's like an almost 15 to 18 year dream, and the same thing seems to have happened to you. So 'Manifesting Destiny' seems to tie it all together, and it's a shame things didn't work out for me with Hallows Eve, but Stacy's back singing with them again, so I guess it all worked out the way it was supposed to.

    Yeah, Skully's not in the band anymore... Actually, I don't know if you know this, but Skully's getting Lestregus Nosferatus back together.

  • Yeah, I heard about that. Actually, when I was singing for Hallows Eve, Skully had talked about doing some Nosferatus songs, and they had wanted me to do keyboards and possibly some of the black metal vocals, because they had heard my black metal vocals. They were working on some of the older tunes like 'Vampires Drink Deep' and what not.

    I think within the last few weeks they had their first rehearsals. And everybody I've talked to are like "Ah, man, I can't wait to see that shit live!"

  • Skully's a fucking shredder man, I used to love watching him crank out those riffs. And a lot of people don't realize that even though he left Hallows Eve after their first record, he wrote a LOT of the material that was on Hallows Eve's FIRST record "Tales Of Terror."

    The local music scene right now is kinda... It's WAY different from the way it was back in the day when you had Hallows Eve, Lestregus Nosferatus, Ghost Story and Dark Overlord. All those bands, they used to be a lot tighter.

  • Metal was just starting out in the 80's, and I think Hallows Eve was one of the first metal bands in Georgia to land a major recording contract. It's good to see Hallows Eve still around, I love Tommy to death, he's got probably the greatest road stories of ANY person I've ever talked to or even met. He's just a great down to earth guy and I really wish I could connect with him again. He was such an awesome person to play with and he taught me a lot about how my OWN voice really sounds. He was very inspirational in helping me; I didn't even know if I could do this, I just wanted a shot and I got it. I wasn't mature enough to handle it at the time but that's just the way it goes I guess.

    So tell me about the new record; song titles, theme, anything you might (laughing) "remember" that you could relate for us.

    Well, compared to the self titled album, it's a little different. The self titled album has a lot more kinda neo-classical, Corbin shreddin' his balls off. The new album still has a lot of shred in it, but I think during the writing of the album, Corbin was paying a little bit of tribute to Dimebag. So it's got some of that Southern heavy... a lot of groove oriented stuff. To me it's just a good southern metal album.

  • Now when you first got into the band, surely the band envisioned you possibly getting interviewed by the press and what not; was there a time when you had to sit down and the band goes "okay, we gotta explain lyrics, themes of the band, etc." or was it just something you kinda had to just go and pick up on; I'm sure you have the self titled album at your house.

    Oh yeah, definitely. I'm a FAN of the band, and then here I am. It's kinda like Tim Ripper Owens. How lucky was he, and then like how lucky am I! I'm in a good spot right now, and I plan to be here for a LONG time. And the way we function as a unit and how cool it is. I've been told by both Corbin and Kate that ANYTHING I can do to help, any interview, any ANYTHING, do it. They've really welcomed me in and made me feel comfortable and confident enough. And I have been told by them "This ain't the Kate and Corbin show," I'm just as important as they are, and they really STRESS that to me. I have a lot of respect for them but what's just awesome to me is that it's a mutual respect. I get that back. I'm a vested member in this, I'm not a hired gun.

  • And you literally WEAR the vest. I thought that was interesting too, that all the band members were wearing black leather vests. It's almost like a uniform in a way, and it kinda reminded me of the NYDM and the Georgia Metal Army in a way.

    Well... (long pause here) That wasn't the intention, there's no set like uniform or anything. We're five people that are very much alike and doing something we love. And we look good together (laughs). It doesn't have anything to do with NYDM or anything. Now I'm not saying we don't have anything to do with them, or don't... I have several good friends who are in those organizations. A really good friend of mine, Rich Montalongo I think he's the Georgia president of the G.M.A. I remember he tried to get me to join, but it just wasn't something I felt the need to do.

  • Well, in this day and age I do see the need for organizations like that. I understand that they have the family attitude and all. Because Bloodstorm who approached me years ago at a Blind Guardian show pretty much started the G.M.A. I respect them, I like what they do but I just didn't think it was for me. I mean here's this worldwide club who has members from all over the world, and you're being asked to just automatically accept people who you don't know who also might have a different agenda from you. It's great and all and I think more clubs like that need to be established. But like if you're a band, a label owner, a worker in the metal scene, it's good to be part of this big unit. I've always been a loner, an outsider, walked my own path and answered to no one for it.

    Me too, really.

  • I will wholeheartedly encourage people to check it out, I will always support it... It's like religion though, research it and see if it's right for you...

    Right. I've got nothing against that group, I think it's awesome what they do. I've actually, in previous bands that I've been in, I've played benefit shows FOR their organization which every year they do a Toys For Tots benefit show. I've played that a few times.

  • That's something you're gonna have to get used to... Sometimes these journalists are gonna throw the hard questions at you! (laughing)

    Right. That's fine. The vest thing... shit even Skully wears a vest!

  • That's true. It's just a curiosity question. This is a subject I have to touch with you, but you were a member of Soniq Armada at one time. And obviously things went in a different direction for you. Did you ever see yourself continuing on with Soniq Armada at some point? Kate practically told me that if you wanted to continue on with Soniq Armada you were more than happy to. I do realize that with your work schedule being as crazy as it is, it would be difficult to continue on with two bands. Sean is a very good friend of mine as I know he was a very good friend of yours.

    Oh definitely. Sean is like my brother. And my intention was never to just leave him hanging. I went from being unemployed for 15 months and then I got a job that had me working 70+ hours a week. I just wasn't able to make the rehearsals. And it was nothing intentional, I just had to feed the kids! I didn't plan on quitting, but during the same time period the Vainglory thing happened. And I was given specific instructions that I had to keep my mouth shut about it until it actually went public. I felt like a dick! It wasn't too long that I had to keep it private, but I hadn't had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Sean and let him know. He got a little pissed off because he actually heard it from someone else before I got to sit down and talk about it to him. Once we sat down and had a couple of dozen beers, I told him what went down and what happened, and everything's fine now. He's still my brother, I love him and my kids love him. We still hang out, and everything is good. And I wish him the fucking best, I wanna see him do something because he's been beating around for years and years and the guy writes good fucking music. And people need to hear it. He needs to catch a break. Actually, we were talking I guess about a week ago... One of the songs from the demo that I recorded with him, something crazy, like close to 10,000 views on youtube! And this was something he posted like 8 months ago! And he knows that too, I mean everything is good between us, there's no animosity and no hard feelings between us.

  • I think Sean's been very lucky that he has not only the equipment but also the know how to be able to do the Soniq Armada stuff. And he has said if he has to he can record EVERYTHING himself. To me, that's pretty good to be able to have THAT kind of talent to play every instrument required to make an album.

    I actually own a bass rig and a bass; I've played bass in a few bands just to be able to do it. Sean has my bass rig and my bass, and he's tracking I know one new song, possibly two new ones. He has plans to record a new album, and he DOES plan to do it all himself. He's got another guitar player that he's working with right now. And I've told him, you can do this shit by yourself, DO it. Don't sit and wait on anybody else... if you sit and wait on somebody else, you're gonna be sitting and waiting forever. Do it, get it done and get it out there.

  • As we wrap this up, I know you're a big Mercyful Fate fan. King Diamond, that's one of those guys you either love or hate. I respect him, he's probably one of the most intelligent Satanists I know of. I've never really been a big fan of his though.

    Mercyful Fate was like one of the largest exports from Denmark. I know we've talked about King in the past, and I fuckin' love him. I've seen him several times live, I grew up listening to King Diamond. The musicianship is excellent and I think that band should be bigger than they are. And I think the reason that they're not is you either love him or you hate him. But the guitar work is awesome. My kids love him... It's good stuff.

  • So how do you feel about some of the Norwegian black metal, 'cause you know I've brought you some CD's to check out from time to time.

    You know I love that stuff... I REALLY enjoy some true Norwegian black metal. I love it all. I grew up in a time when death metal was the new thing. One of the major influences on me and someone I will always respect is Chuck Schuldiner. And that's one of those guys that was taken from us WAY too soon.


    The time passes once again and another issue is quite a few months late... Well, there's also another way to look at this, as many of the interviews I wanted to run took a long time to come to fruition. The last interview I received, that I thought wouldn't even make it, arrived complete a mere two weeks before this issue sees press. And so far, it's probably one of the biggest issues second to the 50th issue I released last year. Folks, we're on a new path, as Vibrations Of Doom Magazine celebrates 20 years in 2012. HOW we are going to celebrate I have no idea, but I can't let it go by with no fanfare and no attention. 20 Years is a LONG time to do anything. I hope to be around for at least another 20 more.

    There's a lot to celebrate just with this one issue. The website has been almost completely redesigned, with nice little shockwave type buttons to take you to various parts of the site, and of course the biggest announcement was that the classic albums section was going to see a massive overhaul in the sound quality. The soundfiles for each album reviewed are in the highest possible quality for the RealAudio codecs, and PLEASE take a listen to the soundfiles for what we're reviewing, because I think the quality will amaze you. Yes, there are two types of encoding for the audio on this site, with the classic albums done at a slightly lower quality, but don't think I'm not contemplating doing THOSE in the highest possible quality as well. Even though I recently announced that the server has given us unlimited space and bandwidth, nothing is truly "unlimited." I never wanted to offer MP3 style quality due to the fact that there's still the whole legality issue, plus the massive amount of disk space needed for even the RealAudio portion of over 1400 titles is mind boggling. Nevertheless, we graciously and with massive praise thank the gods over at IX Webhosting for all their help and support. Even when the site was hit with a rather nasty virus, they fixed everything and kept in constant communication.

    Lots more to come in the months and hopefully years ahead... We're going to try and get issue #52 completed before the year's end... Time will tell if that happens. Until then, thanks for sticking around with the world's oldest and longest running internet based music publication!