Not much to say this time around... Another late publication, but at least we're publishing twice a year! Hmmm....

Address for this publication:

Vibrations of Doom Magazine/DOOM Radio
c/o Steven Cannon
P.O. Box 1258
Suwanee, GA 3024-0963 USA


ANAGRAM TO ANNA "God, Me & Monsters" (Visceral Laments/Endless Winter) SCORE: 95/100

We welcome our brand new friends and partners from yet another Russian record label known as Endless Winter... We are indeed extremely honored and grateful to be able to showcase the very first release on Endless Winter's brand new sublabel, which, like the Solitude Productions/BadMoodMan Music co-op, is designed to showcase those bands outside of the "norms" of the doom metal genre. However, I wasn't expecting to be completely overwhelmed and taken in by this band. Right off the bat, the main front WOMAN, Anna, sounds like a voice out of the dark Victorian era. Folks, there's your whole talk of gothic metal with your Nightwishes, your Sirenias, your Tristanias; trust me, NONE of these bands know what TRUE gothic music is all about. THIS band not only KNOWS the true dark, eerie and haunting essence of the gothic genre, they have far surpassed the limits and boundaries of the goth genre. If you want to hear TRUE gothic overtones in music more akin to horror movies and graveyards rather than pretty flowers and makeup, then THIS is the band that will set you along the right path. Light bell notes, flutes and cellos start the album off, and I must say I haven't heard symphonics this rich and enveloping in quite some time. The star of this show is Anna, who looks a lot younger than she sounds, MUCH younger. Her voice far surpasses her years, and her mastery of a wide range of emotions, styles and atmosphere makes this album that much more amazing. One minute she can be near operatic and beautiful, the next minute she's near whispering or singing in very dark, occult like low tones. Her ability to weave in and out of emotions and "colors" makes these songs a lot stronger than they normally would be. The other "star" is the mixing of what I call "Victorian era" symphonics with doom metal guitars and heavy riffing; at times these songs resemble a doom metal waltz, if that makes any sense. The opening cut 'Obscure Me' is an amazing standout track, starting the album off well. There's a sadness in the lyrics and Anna's tone that paints a true hurtful sorrow, and not some whiny emo-goth crap that's infested the scene these days. When you hear Anna sing in sinister, low tones, that's the followup 'Inside Our Graves, The Silent Whisper,' you know she ain't singing about pretty flowers and frilly dresses. 'The Perverted Consciousness' has a doom metal feel about it, but with the pianos, cellos (or is it a violin? I can't tell), flutes and the beautiful but not overbearing singing, this is SO much more than the "symphonic metal" tag this band received from the label. The multitracked vocals at times sound like haunting ghosts trying to escape their fate. 'Dogs Souls Carnivale' was another standout track, though there are some odd instrumental moments. The female "ghost chanting" once again hits you the strongest here, especially when the music drives that point home so viciously. 'He Thought He Was God,' yet again floors me. An etherial sadness permeates the setting of this track, and for an 8 minute piece, there's great instrumental and vocal variety. Yes, these songs are quite long, folks, which presents a tad bit of a problem on 'The Perverted Consciousness,' as it's a straightforward doomy affair that doesn't deviate much, and CD ender 'Finally They Came' at 10 minutes was just a bit too long. Still, that CD ender is one of their heaviest and overwhelmingly doomiest, complete with tortured screaming soul voices (witches shrieks can also be heard in places throughout the disc) and heavy & dark doomy guitar work. The flutes, as cheesy as they may seem ideologically, work extremely well, especially in parts where the music might seem a little too "light" or "fluffy." Sorry can't find the proper words on this, but believe me when I tell you, it's a band like this that comes out of nowhere and rightly places themselves in the top 5% of bands worldwide that DARE to unstring the binds of what conventional genres defines are it's limits. There's TRUE gothic music in here, doom metal, darkness, beauty, darkwave, symphonics, and ALL of it presented in such a MASTERFUL and PROFESSIONAL way, I'm convinced the main two players A. worked a VERY long time to perfect their craft and B. are many, MANY year veterans of the extreme music field. Overwhelmed am I...
Contact: Visceral Laments/Endless Winter Records.

ASTARIUM "Wyrm Of Melancholy" (Metallic Media) SCORE: 84/100

We've added a LOT of new record labels this year to our roster, and what's interesting about Metallic Media is they're based right here in the U.S., but most of their releases are from varying parts of the world (like Mexico and Italy). This band hails from Russia, and is a one man black metal project with some interesting twists. You willl notice right away that the drums are pre- programmed and the guitars sound electronically enhanced, while there are a ton of synths permeating each and every track. There's also a LOT of winter snow storm and howling wind sound effects utilized as well, to remind us we're in the middle of a freezing Russian winter landscape. Opener 'Unrelieved Solitude' reminds you at first of ambient black metal, and to be honest, the synthesized passages are way more diverse and varied than the guitars, which almost seem TOO simplistic. Still, one other thing about this disc: you're either going to love or hate the vocals; let's just say that they borrow heavily from the croaking blackened delivery employed by the band Inquisition. The lyrical content is delivered at a rather doom metal pace; in fact this band has a TON of doomy tempo structures. I thought the melancholic and almost beautiful atmospheres on this track were good, though that "tortured man" near the end of this track threatened to ruin the mood. Maybe intentional. I REALLY dig the followup 'Kingdom Of White Madness,' especially with the symphonics. It has a rather majestic feel akin to Mysteriarch or Vesperian Sorrow, but Astarium has a sound all it's own. It definitely conjures up the cold, eerie kingdom. This is one of my favorite cuts. Followup 'Voices From The Night Sky' is a bit long for an instrumental at 5:15, but the shortwave radio and sonar sounds amidst the melodic instrumentation remind you of the depths of the Siberian wasteland where some scientist is searching the skies for sings of Extraterrestrial Life! The eerie waltz synth notes of 'Farewell' were VERY interesting; let it not be said that SiN can't create unusual and different atmospheres! This cut will put you in the mind of being in an ancient haunted castle. Still, you start to notice the length of these songs; one thing I was concerned with was the lack of variety for such lengthy songs. Finally we come to my alltime favorite cut on the disc 'Revival Of Cursed Spirit.' The stomping through the forest sounds and howling wolves gives this a sinister air, but the synths really drive this point home. Once again, a slow to midtempo pace, but almost 7 minutes in length. Still, the atmosphere created here is not to be missed. The 3 minute instrumental 'Velleity About Aeonian Rain' is interesting, and of course you probably already figured out there's some stream or brook samples going on. The rest of the CD (the following three tracks) aren't bad, but definitely don't have as much going for them as the previously mentioned tracks. Don't get me wrong, they're still good, but it seems like SiN was running short on ideas, as 'Grief Of The Fallen' is rather minimal and somewhat straightforward (though once again, the bell notes give it a funereal atmosphere). 'When Humanity Will Die' seems to have this avalanche of rocks and snow down the mountain sound while portraying some beautiful ambient synth pieces. It's a 7 minute cut of melancholy, followed by the CD ending bonus track, a 5 minute instrumental featuring cool pianos and the subway noise... All in all, it's a very unique and different take on ambient black metal with DEFINITE structures in doom metal. It's been said that his next release will be a more straightforward black metal affair, but I definitely wouldn't mind to hear stronger songs in this vein sometime in the future... An artist to keep a keen eye on.
Contact: Metallic Media.

AURA HIEMIS "Five" (Endless Winter) SCORE: 83/100

Sadly not much is known about this doom/death band that hails from Chile of all places, signed to a Russian label known as Endless Winter. This is one of the first things I listened to from this label, and right off the bat let me tell you they have quite a few things going on from song to song, though there is a surprising lack of variety in some of the framework of these tunes. Not a HUGE deal, since this five track CD (geddit?) boasts a few 5, 6 and 7 minute songs. Where it REALLY hurts the band is the CD closer, but we'll get to that shortly. In a mere 5 minutes and 32 seconds, Aura Hiemis manages to create a song that has you thinking you've heard it longer, and that is opener 'De Tenebris.' Now right away you'll notice they utilize clean sung male vocals. A LOT. And thankfully they're not a problem to listen to. The death metal vocals are present too, and they're quite forceful. The mood bounces around a lot on this cut, and the crushing heaviness is not to be ignored. The female vocals are supposedly a "guest" on this album, but they mix nicely here. This is a great emotional doom piece, and the drum work is quite varied as well. Followup 'Penta Imperium' is a mere 7:50, and the slow doomy guitars and pianos struck me in the face as sounding like they were lifted straight off a Draconian disc! And yes, the clean sung male vocals are back; obviously it seems like there's a bit of a gothic touch to the record. There's not a whole lot of instrumental variety here, in fact most of their "variety" comes when they take a structure change midway (maybe they play a solo, do some vocal differentiations), and then it's right back to where they started. This isn't a problem on this track. The "alarm bell" pace of the cymbals was a little odd, but it's a minor problem for me. Next comes the biggest surprise in 'Doomentia,' because it doesn't start out doomy paced at all! It's a riff fest and pretty fast compared to what you've heard so far, but the middle to end of the track (yes, all 11:37 of it) is nice and doomy, complete with clean sung vocals and some AMAZING high ended guitar work that goes on forever! The crushing heavy fast paced instrumentation coupled with the death metal vox are very attention keeping, and as small a role as they play on such a long track, they are the highlight. Gothic HEAVY is the followup tune 'In Noctem,' and the female vocals get solo time and are featured the most on this track. The piano and guitar work still has the ring of doom, but trust me, it's not JUST the womanly vocals that give this a goth edge. It's a decent track to be sure, but not as great as the rest, though I don't see myself passing it. CD ender 'My Sweet Desire' is the longest cut here at 11:50, and it suffers BADLY from the lack of variety that other tracks dealt with. First of all, this cut starts off beautifully with acoustic guitar and an amazing ambient set of synthesized landscapes, but the vocal work gets SO repetitive that it drags the whole thing down. You don't get to hear the first chorus until 4:30, and it is SO embarassing with the death metal vocals going "you could be my angel!!" I mean lyrically this really is hard to listen to, and the chorus is supposed to be an important part of the song! Thankfully, the instrumentation, especially the midway point, has some fantastic solo guitar work, but once the 8:42 mark hits, they drop RIGHT back into the overrepetitive vocals. It's definitely an enjoyable effort, not quite on par with the amazing doom bands I've heard before, but damnit, sometimes you gotta praise a band that can give you 4 good songs out of a 5 song disc. I definitely want to check out their earlier releases!!
Contact: Endless Winter Records.

BLACK OATH "Ov Qliphoth And Darkness" (I Hate) SCORE: 93/100

I eagerly awaited this second release from Italian doom horrors Black Oath, and thee album did not disappoint! Right off the bat you'll notice how much epic Candlemass oozes from the guitar riffs; it seems like I hear nods to everything from "Nightfall" on down to "Tales Of Creation" on many of these songs. Starting the disc off right, though, is the 3:19 "intro" called "Esbat," and lemme tell ya, those dark priest chants coupled with the heavy doomy guitars make this a great piece to hear while the stage is engulfed in darkness, you can't see anything and are waiting for Black Oath to take the stage. It's obvious (especially from reading the interview we did this issue - go do it!) that Black Oath revel in darkness and eerie, haunting doom; however oftentimes it's the vocals that carry most of the melodic weight to this album. Only on the cuts where is singing in a lower register do we hear hints of the utter heavy and sinister darkness (CD ender 'My Death,' and the title track). Still, many times the choruses (title track again) prefer to give a bit of "light" breathing, when the vocals hit more melodic and softer tones. This lends a sort of extra "dimension" to the whole affair, if you will. Not very many lead solos to be found, well, until track 5 'Witch Night Curse,' that is. Most of the tracks are pretty straightforward; I daresay all the structure changes and little things that make these tracks gallop away from traditional doom "norms" are found from the middle to the end of many songs. And you aren't inundated with any 10, 11, or 12 minute tracks, so they have plenty of time to create a mood and then deviate from it a bit. I did hear some Abdullah like riffs on 'For His Coming,' though, and of course a few songs have sme weird dark intros, for better or for worse (like the dark "toilet" sounds on that title track again). Every once in awhile they meander off the beaten path into odd territory; yes, I'm pointing the finger at your strange opening guitar riffs, title track again! Still, this band knows the formula and makes slow and doomy affairs that work. And 'Witch Night Curse' drinks those heavy, rockin' set of riffs that bands like Pentagram and the like knew how to utilize to bring doom a bit more uptempo. The CD ends beautifully with 'My Death' being a worthy closing track, adding hints of melancholic beauty with the piano notes mourning alongside guitar work that is well done. Before I forget, the drums are an unusual highlight on this disc, as our percussionist chooses to add some interesting speedy fills (in big part on 'Sinful Waters,' listen to what he's playing when little else is going on. Fast drums in doom metal?!?) Black Oath aren't re-defining the wheel, but they definitely add something nice to a genre that has been around for quite a long time.
Contact: I Hate Records.

BLOODY HAMMERS "Bloody Hammers" (Soulseller) SCORE: 94/100

North Carolina again... Home to Mysteriarch and Sign Of The Southern Cross, though seriously, this should have seen bidding wars by SEVERAL interested record labels! The sound, damn how can I describe this? The guitars have this fuzzed out, stoner rock vibe going on, mixed with some traditional "rock" and an almost New Wave Of British Heavy Metal vibe going down. Our singer is a fucking chameleon, man, because he can really sing his heart out, loudly and with a soft almost whisper that really conveys some complex emotions on damn near every song! And choruses!! Man, right from the opener 'Witch Of Endor' (Wait, are there witches on this Star Wars planet?) you will be remembering the choruses for days. The horror styled organ makes an appearance at the beginning of 'Fear No Evil,' and a few other places as well (like 'Souls On Fire' and a nice organ solo appears on 'Say Goodbye To The Sun'). Never is it overused, however, as the focus seems to be the riffs and that killer set of pipes possessed by Anders Manga. 'Fear No Evil' has some rockin' guitar work, and the vocals are quite melodic which might seem to go contrary to the lyrica; subject matter on this disc. There's some really HEAVY doomy riffs to be found, which makes for a crushing experience on cuts like 'Black Magic,' 'The Last Legion Of Sorrow,' and 'Beyond The Door,' the latter of which is one of my favorites, with the ultra fuzzed out leads and the vocals sometimes portraying a "calm before the storm" effect in their ultra smoothness. 'Trisect' had some stellar riffing as well, and the most striking tune was 'Say Goodbye To The Sun,' especially since for all the dark and foreboding atmosphere (complete with "Dark Shadows" like aura and horror themed organ), at the end of this cut I was thrown completely offbase by the Beatles' like multivocal choruses and a somewhat melancholic atmosphere you can hear in Ander's VERY emotional delivery! My biggest gripes were with the CD's final two cuts, though to be honest, the somewhat alternative twangy riffs opening up 'Souls On Fire' led me to believe the band was writing a more radio friendly hit, and for a band that constructs GREAT moving choruses and rocking instrumentation that is downright diabolical, this track is SO beneath them. Needless to say the choruses were quite weak, though I gave a point or two for the nice solo instrumentation that lasts 20 or 30 seconds or so. CD ender 'Don't Breathe A Word' is a strictly acoustic guitar and melodic vocal affair, not unlike a ballad, but at least there isn't a bit of love lyrics involved. Not a terrible track, but one more heavy rocker wouldn't have hurt. Heavy fuzzed out stoner rock with vocals reminiscent of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, and almost crushing, crunchy doom overtones, Bloody Hammers has created a monster release, one that will have you scratching your head as to HOW they've come up with this and made it work. Soulseller Records doesn't have much experience with doom metal (only three releases or so as far as I can see), but they seem to have done their homework and produced quality VERY fast...
Contact: Soulseller Records.

CALADAN BROOD "Echoes Of Battle" (Northern Silence) SCORE: 110/100

No, folks, that's NOT a fucking typo... I'm going to dispense with the usual track-by-track description because this band, this album and this review demand MORE than that. Although, to sum this all up in a sentence: Caladan Brood, from right here in the U.S., have knocked Summoning CLEARLY far from the throne, and done it with power, grace, class, and majesty. They one-up Summoning by creating masterful visuals to be pictured in your mind from music and vocals alone; utilizing many multitracked clean sung vocals (some would call them "choirs"), and some of the most epic fucking lead solos in the business. Two elements that Summoning didn't really play around much with are just the bottom tip of the iceberg. Folks, these long songs craft and convey so much emotion and brilliance, words simply aren't enough. Let me just say this: albums like this come along ONCE in a generation. ONCE. Nary a single fault or flaw, from a band that not only are newcomers to the scene, but have created the Reign In Blood of the black metal genre. I daresay HOW could they even come close to topping this? And lyrical content based SOLELY on Steven Erikson's Malazan Chronicles. (A series I have just started reading). It does leave people wondering HOW such a band like this could exist in America; it proves we have some very talented and amazing musicians who are focused and dedicated. This is an album that seemingly could only have come from Europe, but Salt Lake City, Utah is starting to prove it's salt as a hotbed of true genius. Ten, twenty or thirty years from now, when someone asks me about the best black metal albums ever created, Caladan Brood is in the top fucking five. I don't care what anyone else says, but I will say this: the yardstick by which true greatness is measured just had a few inches added to it. All the reviews in this issue have been "yardsticked" by Caladan Brood's epic masterpiece. Black metal album of 2013, hands down... I knew this back in December 2012 when I first got this, and no one has even come close... Only a band like Summoning or Agalloch even stands the remotest chance of tempering the roaring inferno that is this album. If you don't have it, you don't understand epic genius. If you don't have it, you don't like metal. If you don't agree with me... FUCK YOU... I get promos for free, but ask the band: I bought the album AND the T-shirt... I got THREE TIMES my money's worth... If you need more than my mere words, just go to youtube and listen to all the video reviews of Caladan Brood's latest release. The sheer amount of people raving about this band will overwhelm you.
Contact: Northern Silence Productions.

CASTLE "Blacklands" (Van) SCORE: 80/100

Never heard of this U.S. based group before, but they definitely show great promise. Some simplistic, hard driving riffs that border on thrash, and a great set of vocals from our lead frontwoman Elizabeth, who can sing in a low range while still sounding sinister and eerily seductive, but ALSO has a great higher range that proves how versatile she is. 'Ever Hunter' starts the disc off, and right off the bat the heavy guitar work (which borders on thrash) does have a doomy edge to it, but you'd be mistaken for calling this doom metal. This is just a rockin' fucking tune. And at only 4:23, there is quite a bit of solo instrumentation going on. Our lead singer also plays bass, which explains a few things; namely I've found that whenever you have a singer who also plays an instrument, your songs tend to have more instrumentation than vocals, and that is certainly the case here. 'Corpse Candles' follows, and does NOT start in a slower vein. Now here, some cracks start to weather their way through the disc. The guitar player is more than adequate for the job, however on this cut he uses a very odd set of high end riffing that sounds odd. And he OVERUSES it I will say. There is another problem with our guitar player, which makes the followup track 'Storm Below The Mountain' nearly unlistenable (for me anyway). He has this almost death metal meets Lemmy from Motorhead growl going on, and it just ruins the two tracks on this disc he uses it on. The instrumentation on this cut was kinda folky, almost with a pirate like vibe to it. Now granted, maybe this wasn't the best track for Elizabeth to sing on, but really this probably should have been rewritten. That being said, the instrumentation IS catchy, and the stoner rock vibe on later riffing (think a catchier Monster Magnet) was very interesting. He thankfully leaves us for the next two cuts, but even though 'Curses Of The Priests' MIGHT have fit his vocals better, it wasn't something I wanted to sit through. 'Liz sings on this cut but not often; mostly on the slower passages. She needs to just be the main and ONLY singer on this disc. Still, one of my favorite cuts was the title track, with some of the coolest lyrics on the disc, and an explosive emotional performance from 'Liz on the choruses. Our guitarist does mess things up again on 'Venus Pentagram,' though overall this is a somewhat weak track for the band (especially the odd riff structures on the mainlines). The choruses are great though, as is the more aggressive style of 'Liz. Further proof is on 'Alcatraz,' which turns out one mean ass set of balls on those riffs. And the wicked choruses. CD ender 'Dying Breed' had quite a bit of headbanging atmosphere, though at 6 minutes it could have used some trimming, especially since the ending instrumentation doesn't really seem to go anywhere, and this band DOES the beautiful jam quite well when all you hear is instrumentation. The band has some definite quirks to work out, but damnit if I wasn't impressed by the strength of what this band has to offer. Just watch the guitar tones and lose the male vocals, and I'm sure the next full length will absolutely SMOKE.
Contact: Van Records.

DEATH SS "Resurrection" (Scarlet) SCORE: 46/100

Apparently, Death SS has decided that the electronic/industrial and gothic image is where it's at. I haven't listened to much Death SS since the 80's (we have one of their 80's metal albums in the classic albums archives), but THIS is NOT what I expected to hear from them! Many of their older fans are screaming "cash cow!" and to these ears, they are assuredly right. Opening cut 'Revived' tells you EXACTLY what you are in for from the get go. Fading in electronic notes and electro drums tell me that this band is trying to emulate a Rammstein or, in a worse case scenario, Marilyn Manson. The heavy guitar work overlies their trying too hard to sound mainstream. Not a crappy tune, but not one that really grabs you. 'The Crimson Shrine' does a complete 180 and is probably the best tune on the album. The opening "power metal" guitar work will remind you of some of the better power metal bands, and the female vocal work they decided on are of great quality. Add some piano notations and you have a really nice and melodic goth/power metal cut; still it's NOT what I wish to hear from the Italian horror metal legends. 'The Darkest Night' REEKS of "we wanna get on the alterative rock station" madness, complete with Ministry like heavy guitars and sing along "catchy" choruses. It sounds to me like Death SS is trying to throw a LOT of different influences in there, and it shows that they've really mastered none. Still, you gotta give 'em points for the thrashy riffs, which is sometimes what catches people on more mainstream sounds like this. Cheesy synths open up the next cut 'Dionysus,' and those "borrowed" guitar riffs? KMFDM anyone? The "crooning" male sung vocals sound like Mr. Sylvester is trying to be Peter Steele from Type O Negative. The female vocals are done quite nicely, but this sounds like a "we want to have a dance club hit." Moving on: 'Eaters' has that dancey, club slash radio hit feeling once again, but this time with stupid choruses that sound SO hokey. Type O territory is hinted at once again with followup 'Star In Sight;' this time the heavy guitars seem more like an afterthought, and you start to notice they do a lot of "filler lyrics" to round out the track times. (IE, repeating key choruses or earlier phrases ad nauseum). But the absolute WORST of these tracks? 'Ogre's Lullaby.' Granted, it's slow and rather "terrifying," but the vocal work just outright SUCKS. Yeah, okay, maybe Sylvester is trying to sound inhuman, but the song, ugh. And that baby crying gets a bit on the nerves. Sheesh, shall I keep going? 'Santa Muerte,' trying to show off the Spanish knowledge, but such an unremarkable tune. And the other decent track here 'The Devil's Graal' has some nice Egyptian styled flutes and synths going on, but you have some cheesy "bell note" synths in here. This is a slower tune that is a bit long at 8 minutes, but some of the almost power metal stylings with guitar and synthesized passages make this a REALLY nice listen. It's also out of character with what we perceived Death SS to be, but worth a few spins. The spirit of Rob Zombie is summoned with 'Precognition,' even some enjoyable heavy guitars, but nothing really that great. And I won't go into much detail on CD ender 'Bad Luck,' with the unremarkable guitars that match the vocals especially on the choruses, adding utter juvenile and garbage lyrics... Like they wanted to channel the 80's arena rock sound. Granted this album gets points because at least these guys know how to play their instruments, but if I wanted radio friendly commercialized industrial and/or gothic, I'D TURN ON THE FUCKING RADIO!!! Yes, I like those styles of music, but at least a band like Ministry can get your adrenaline flowing and aggression out. These dudes haven't realized how to capitalize on the strengths of the genres they're trying to rip off...
Contact: Scarlet Records.

EVOKE THY LORDS "Drunken Tales" (Solitude) SCORE: 94/100

I could stop the review right here just by saying it's on Solitude Productions, as you all know how I feel about their releases. Still, it would be a crying shame if I used the usual terms to describe this band; suffice it to say I have really enjoyed this a lot more than the score would reflect. SO: what does it sound like? Well, for starters, it reminds me a LOT of Pan.thy.monium, without all the random, chaotic elements! Think more controlled and "locked in." The flutes on this one will evoke (pardon the pun) memories of the earliest Cathedral album "Forest Of Equilibrium" and Shape Of Despair's "Shades Of..." but that's about where the comparisons end. Vocals are the usual deep death growls, but CD "bonus track" 'Cause Follows Effect' utilizes NICE female vocals that are done very well; contrary to their first followup (rare, though I actually have heard it) the female vocals are NOT operatic, but rather lower toned and fit well with the music. My biggest and only complaint with the disc are the opening guitars on the opening cut 'Routine Of Life,' which have a sort of twang to them, but I think I'm more used to them now that when I first started listening to the disc. The flutes are a PROMINENT feature of the disc, oftentimes getting their own space and making for a spacey, dreamy and killer atmosphere (even going so far as to be used to create ambient landscapes like on the cut 'Dregs.' The tracks are from 7 to 9 minutes long, so Evoke Thy Lords obviously has a framework that they operate in (three of the tracks are 9 minutes each). I questioned at first the 9 minute instrumental, but it's obvious that they take their approach from not only stoner rock, sludge and doom metal, but the group tends to have that slight "jam band" approach. Vocals are quite minimal (save for the last track), and folks, this is something you might want to pursue if you long for a band invoking the spirit of Pan.thy.monium, this band is WELL worth checking out. Plus, it's on Solitude Productions, as well, so I think nothing more needs to be said!
Contact: Solitude Productions.

GRA "Gra" (Unexploded) SCORE: 88/100

Swedish old school black metal (and considering the record came out in 2011, I can hear the snickering about "old school") that has a very dark and eerie feeling is the order of the day here. Unexploded was nice enough to send me full packaging (labels, take note! This is how you prioritize reviews in my publication) and even though we received it a few years later, it still garners a good score... We'll skip the shouted word intro, Gra deciding to enunciate most of the lyrics in their native tongue, which makes tracks like 'Doden Ser, Doden Tar' and 'Skelmisdrep' damn fun to sing along to on the choruses, and will make your co-workers thinking you're chanting some evil spell. A fast start to 'Doden Ser, Doden Tar' leaves no mistake that these Swedes are looking for the cold, dark and evil vibes right off the bat. The blackened vocals are very ominous and powerful, giving that crushing edge to already ripping black metal. The riffs on some of these cuts take on a rather melancholy tone, and it leads me to believe Gra channels up some of the melancholic winter atmosphere to go with everything else. Pounding bass riffs send followup 'Kraft' careening out of control, though it's not quite going for the ultra speedy tempo. Not a long track by any means, though the varied passages prove their worth. Slower leads open up 'An Empty Place,' the first English sung track, and though a bit slower, is surprisingly melodic compared to most others, leaving me scratching my head a bit. Acoustic guitars and tribal percussion bring up the instrumental 'Det Sista Han Sade,' though personally I find it interesting but would rather hear actual songs. My favorite cut on the disc happens to be 'Om Livets Besudlade Harg,' and this cut also defines a slower pace, but the guitar work is rather majestic as well as dark, opening up with some amazing leads. At a mere 3:15, it's too short though, but keeps me interested until the end. And we mentioned 'Skelmisdrep,' which is fun to scream the title to along with the vicious raspy vocals. Did he have to stop things halfway with an acoustic passage though? One more English sung cut in 'All Light Fade,' and here it's easier for non Swedish speaking people to hear the torture and pain radiated in Heljarmadr's vocals. The 9 minute cut 'Offerok' went on a bit too long, choosing to start off with odd acoustic instrumentation; not always this band's forte. The slower eerie passages this band does quite well, so as not to become a repetitive blast fest. 'Farval' resumes blasting speed before settling into a rather eerie and slower pace, though once again acoustical work interrupts the vicious flow, and again ends the cut before CD closer 'Ett Sista Kapitel' has to be one of the most interesting "outro" pieces I've ever heard. You'll hear a rather sick sounding man coughing and spitting up something over what sounds like a Russian military clean sung vocal piece (low toned and obviously one person) inlaid over old time sounding instrumentation. That's the self titled debut in a nutshell, folks, and for those wondering if there's still anyone out there celebrating the old school sound of black metal, Gra knows how to keep things in a dark, eerie and evil vibe, though some of the more experimental aspects of the band hurt the score on this a bit. Still worth checking out!
Contact: Unexploded Records.

JEX THOTH "Blood Moon Rise" (I Hate) SCORE: 93/100

Though I rave about Solitude Productions A LOT, I Hate Records out of Sweden has put out quite a lot of great records themselves. It's where Isole came from before Napalm snatched them up. So here, the psychedelic/folk and stoner rock touches are back alongside Jex's seductive, sometimes haunting and amazingly beautiful sirenic vocals. This time around, though, there's noticeably more TRUE doom metal, even some funeral doom as well. The CD starts off with a rather interesting short "intro" of sorts (though Jex's vocals are here) in 'To Bury.' The howling wind sounds and large creature stomping footsteps give off a very sinister and scary aura, somewhat out of fashion for Jex, but the vocals soon come in and "soothe" things a bit. On to 'The Places You Walk,' which could very well be a "hit single" if you will, complete with somewhat doomy atmospheres but rather "uplifting" at the same time, complete with great catchy choruses. The seductive vocals at times retain a hint of mysteriousness as you realize Jex isn't always going to sound "pretty." Followup 'The Divide' is probably the track I have the MOST problem with, as the super heavy, stomping doom riffs don't work well with Jex's vocals here. Though there are good vocal/instrumentation interactions here, I usually skip this track; it's just TOO heavy for the way Jex tries to sing. And those riffs aren't as catchy as they should be; in fact they're over-repetitive as they don't vary at all. On to the minimal instrumentation of 'Into A Sleep,' and some BEAUTIFUL vocal work sees more of a slower pace but in the vein of a kind of folky stoner rock. Jex shines on melodic passages like this. And a mere 4 minutes in length as well! Onto the WAY too short instrumental 'And The River Ran Dry,' at merely 1:12, but with NICE acoustic guitars and did I mention cellos are used here? 'Keep Your Weeds' is another masterful highlight, showing some of Jex's most powerful and emotional soaring vocal work on the disc, and the catchy choruses make this a MUST NOT MISS track! I dig the psychedelic guitar work while retaining some fuzzed out heavy gits in the background. And here you have some emotional lead guitar work; in fact the guitars on this album (with very few exceptions) are simply astounding. FUNERAL DOOM!!! Yep, not kidding here, the opening riffs on 'Ehja' remind me of some funeral doom bands on Solitude Productions! Still, the vocal interaction is WAY better here than on 'The Divide,' proving that the doom metal landscapes are handled with class. Hazy and dreamy, it's yet another masterpiece with more fantastic guitar work; Matt (or is it Brandon's) guitar playing is a highlight that you'll have to pay attention for but the results are worth it. Heavy doom yet again for followup 'The Four Of Us Are Dying,' and it's amazing just how heavy some of this doom guitar work actually is, while not sounding out of place amongst the "siren of the woods." This has to be one of Jex's darkest and most ominous tunes, however by the end it all falls back into place, to end the CD with 'Psyar,' closing out the disc with beautiful vocals and minimal melodies; the cellos here sounding old worldly and almost ready to go out of tune. This track is rather long but it's easy to get lost in (another 8 minute + piece), as well as the latter half to the end of the album where you have TONS of the amazing lead solos and interactive organ sounds. At times bringing out some of Jex's most beautiful and haunting passages alongside some of the heaviest doom metal indoctrination Jex has ever done, this album is very multi-faceted but it doesn't take long to see the brilliance of not only Jex, but the entire band. Let's just please not make us wait to A. see this live and B. get another full length album (it was a 5 year wait between this disc and the last full length!)
Contact: I Hate Records. (But not this one!)

KORGULL THE EXTERMINATOR "Metal Fist Destroyer" (Demonhood) SCORE: 91/100

Female fronted blackened thrash. Not something you hear every day, even less obscure as they hail from Spain of all places! This 13 tracker is vicious and skullcrushing from the start. A nearly relentless pummeling assault awaits you inside, as if to visualize the battlefield in which Korgull is raining down a massacre on the enemy. Even the intro 'Chant Of The Reapers' which starts the album off is no slouch. The blackened shrieks are intense; in fact I've seen videoclips of this band live and the vocals were even MORE sick onstage! Make no mistake, as Lilith Necrobitch will cause most extreme male vocalists to go running for the exits! It's really hard to pick favorites here, though major points go to 'Possessed By Steel,' especially with the hints of melodic riffing while still battering you with heaviness. 'Time To Die' is noteworthy as well, with some killer headbanging riff work. In fact, the majority of this record is a speedy affair, and at times you'll swear you've heard some riffing in earlier tracks, but make no mistake: the guitar work isn't going to just stand back and let the vocals do all the shredding! Speaking of shredding, just check out the opening rising crescendo of opening riffs on 'Queen Of A Thousand Sorrows' if you need further info. The only downside to this album? The title track. Man, those guitar riffs are kinda annoying, and this should have been a stronger cut since it's their title track and all. The Voivod cover 'Korgull The Exterminator,' I guess it was to be expected, but still it's not a great choice for this band, although props have to be given to hear the band play this thing faster than Voivod ever did. The CD bonus track 'Revenge Of The Dead' comes from their 2009 release "Dogs Of War," and you can kinda tell this track is a tad different from the other material on this album: still, though, it sounds like it belongs here. It's a brutal speedy thrash assault, and though most times the band seems locked into one mode, most of the songs have enough variety that you wonder if they ran the writing well dry creating this one!
Contact: Demonhood Productions.

MAGISTER TEMPLI "Lucifer Leviathan Logos" (Cruz Del Sur) SCORE: 83/100

These Norwegians are attempting to bring back that 80's traditional sound, and they are doing it in quite a convincing manner. One of the reasons we featured an interview with them is because lyrically their ideologies and beliefs mirror my own to a degree. Many of the spoken word passages (though there aren't a whole lot) deeply mirror some of the tenets I have laid down for my own life, and it's good to see some positivity reign in the 7 tracks presented. Anyway, off we go with the opener 'Master Of The Temple.' Killer riffs dominate just about every track; here, they change structure majorly twice, making this 6 minute affair sound like TWO songs! And Abraxas' vocal range is impressive as well: mostly he sings in a rather occult oriented lower register, but holy shit is what I'm saying when he belts out a "power metal yell," which is somewhat falsetto but a hell of a lot more powerful and convincing than some others who we all cringe at. The high notes are rarely ever overused either; mainly to emphasize a chorus or the track name. A slower headbanging pace proceeds with 'Lucifer,' and it's somewhat of a doomy tune. In true diverse fashion, though, they speed things up towards the end. 'The Innsmouth Look' DEFINITELY grabbed my attention, though lyrically this is a little strange. I laughed at the opening "movie like sample" (more on that in the interview) and tried to dig into this song, but something just kinda felt missing. I think it has to do with the rather odd choruses, catchy though they are until you listen to the words. But I get the point; I just thought for such a horrific story (which I have seen, the original "Dagon" movie) it should have been more powerful. Still, heavy riffage abounds. And following that, 'Leviathan' had some of the most cringeworthy riffs I definitely DIDN'T like! It's still a decent track, but you have to sit through "those riffs" more than a few times! By the time the 5th track 'Tiphareth' rolls around, you could swear you've heard this in the album before. It's a galloping tune, and the on again/off again riffing adds a twist. One of my favorite tracks is 'Logos,' because it has some ROCKIN' guitar work starting out; reminding me of when Pentagram cranked out the heaviness and a bit faster tempo (like on 'Forever My Queen.) The start/stop instrumentation here REALLY allows the vocals to force their point home. CD ender 'VITRIOL' starts off with very dark acoustic guitars, which was said to be a throwback to their more folky/hard rock beginnings. Midway through, though, WHILE Abraxas is singing no less, the heaviness slowly starts to creep in, before keeping a heavy pattern through to the end. These guys aren't redefining the wheel, but they're definitely not writing complex, 100 miles an hour riffing either. They do traditional metal with some occult and doom touches VERY well, and the singer definitely holds his own mysterious aura very well. It's rather fitting, since the band name is taken from the third order of the golden dawn. Rather enjoyable, I'd say!
Contact: Cruz Del Sur Music.

MENTAL TORMENT "On The Verge" (Solitude) SCORE: 95/100

Yep, here we go again... I swear, people are going to think Solitude Productions is PAYING me to write these reviews!! Mental Torment, despite the name, is more about sorrowful, emotional doom/death metal. The intro starts things off by showcasing their synthesized passages, which are utilized to very good effect. The nice thing about this band is that they do what they do well in the span of shorter songs than what most doom metal bands wrap their soundscapes in. There's quite a bit of dark and ominous guitar work to be had, but there's also moments of sheer beauty and epic emotion. Some of the catchiest guitar riffs are found on 'Maelstrom,' and 'My Torment' pulls off some REALLY sad and doomy instrumentation. This 8 minute track showcases great variety in the song structures, proving that even on longer songs they're not just repeating the same riffs over and over. And they do have this habit of putting most of their best riffs towards the end of the track here. Still, 'My Torment' does waver at times closer to the midway point, but obviously they right the ship. 'Unspoken Word' follows and quickly sets the tone yet again; this time the high ended riffing catches the ear. Spoken vocals come into play here and on 'I See This End,' the latter cut choosing to incorporate them right at the beginning. Usually I would say "sing!" (or growl), but they are very dark in tone and actually VERY clearly enunciated. Dark and mournful is the order of the day on this track! Catchy guitar work runs amok on 'Tradegy' (not sure WHY they spell it this way), and it is a DAMN catchy track, especially with the mournful yeat beautiful high end leads. I did find the opening of CD ender 'The Drowned Man' very strange, as it's solo synthesized passages sound oike some weird alien landscape, however once the piano notes kick in, things right themselves. It's a 5 minute instrumental, though not a waste of space since you have an 8 track CD clocking in at 52 minutes (most good doom bands usually top out at 6 or 7 tracks and over an hour of playing time). Once again, it's great quality doom you can lose yourself in, and of course if I mention Solitude Productions, you are probably listening to the soundfiles and have probably already whipped out your credit cards! (Or your cash).
Contact: Solitude Productions.

OCTOBER TIDE "Tunnel Of No Light" (Pulverized) SCORE: 53/100

Goddamn, was this ever a very frustrating record to not only listen to, but to put some kind of "score" on. First off, I was a fan of this band even though I only heard their Avantgarde release "Grey Dawn." And the change of vocalist? Well, right now I can safely say that Alexander Hogbom is the strongest part of this band, with a vicious death metal style that's very strong and dominant. Too bad the rest of the band couldn't keep up. Right off the bat, the HUGE problem this CD has is that NOT ONE SONG even comes close to the power and majesty of the CD opener 'Of Wounds To Come.' Powerful heavy, almost blackened death vocals mesh nicely with the overtly powerful and emotional guitar work that stays consistent and kick ass from start to finish. Such an amazing mix of beautiful melancholy and subtle heaviness that this band almost NEVER comes close to matching on the rest of the disc. These songs are long, folks, and at least three songs I know of seem to have two or three different "stopping" points. Followup 'Our Constellation' is a prime example of the problem: the band tries to add too many elements (beautiful and melancholic guitar parts, some brutal heaviness here and there with thrash riffs, and doom passages) without tying them altogether and making them fit. Many of the cuts contain good guitar work but there's SO many instances where I feel the band is not only holding back, but they're not even bringing their A+ material anywhere CLOSE to the table. Almost 9 minutes of just meandering on (a word you'll find is the perfect term to describe this album). Now, that's not to say there aren't a few good tracks, though it took MANY, MANY listens (over 20 - truth!) to get over my initial disappointment at stopping beyond track 1. But they are there. 'Emptiness Fulfilled' has some dark guitar work, gloomy if I dare say so, but all is not perfect here. The heavier passages do sound forced, like "oh we gotta add some heaviness here." This happens again on 'The Day I Dissolved,' another cut that I just go "eh." And yes, too much for too long, though this is one of the shorter cuts. 'Caught In Silence' was nice, and the midtempo guitar work stays consistent, adding a few subtle choppy thrash overtones. And one of my other favorites, 'Watching The Drowners,' has some good guitar writing from start to finish, utilizing some of the better emotional guitar work found only on the opener. Even CD closer 'Adoring Ashes' is 7 minutes of "hey, that sounds familiar," only to just drag on and add an acoustic passage that would have been better served elsewhere. Folks, they're trying to do too much in the span of some LONG songs, and even though roughly half the disc is enjoyable, I STILL can't get past the fact that the opener of the disc is the best track here. Sadly, I will go back to "Grey Dawn," and shake my head at the talent that is obviously here, but so BADLY wasted... Is this the reason Candlelight Records dropped them after only one album (which, if I remember correctly, didn't really appeal to me either)...
Contact: Pulverised Records.

ORCHID "The Mouths Of Madness" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 78/100

It was nice to see Orchid get more attention after their indie label release "Capricorn" that blew us the fuck away some time ago. In fact, one of the most noteworthy things about this band is the amazing vocals of a METAL singer in Theo Mindell, who sounds like a cross between two bad ass motherfuckers of singers; Blackie Lawless from W.A.S.P. and Eric Wagner from the mighty doomsters themselves, Trouble. But the obsessive guitar stylings of Black Sabbath is what is culling all the controversy, and this album shows NO signs of giving up the Sabbath riffs anytime soon. This CD is not quite as good as the debut, in fact there's one GLARING flaw in this album, which I will get to in a moment. Right now, let's concentrate on the opener 'Mouths Of Madness,' which kicks ass in all the right ways. The addition of acoustic like guitars inwards shows a band not content to rehash everything they did on the first album. The marching sounds and 'Marching Dogs Of War' comes into play. And this track REALLY made me stand up and take notice, because the guitar work is SO fuckin' heavy, in the way Abdullah did things on their self titled debut release for Meteor City. These gits ain't so clean but they're definitely not obsessed with distortion, and it DEFINITELY has that late 70's hard rockin' vibe. Addition of harmonica? Another plus. And 'Silent One?' Yeah, you KNOW where those opening riffs come from. In fact, if the vocals weren't arranged different, you'd SWEAR that was 'Into The Void' mixed with 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,' all the way down to the 'Bloody Sabbath' midpoint when they slow it doen with that evil guitar midsection. They re-arranged it to avoid copyright infringement, man! And finally we come to the main griping point of the album. Mellow and melodic. That describes the next FOUR tracks, starting with 'Nomad,' with the melodic but cool choruses. 'Mountains Of Steel' seems to have a stoner rock vibe going for it, still retaining a slight heaviness, but definitely not trying to bring it hard and heavy. The ending piano notes were cool here, but now you're ready for something a bit "stronger." Not yet. We have 'Leaving It All Behind,' which is definitely more laid back in a "there's a Sabbath thing I've heard in here somewhere." There's not a lot of variety in this thing, all 7 minutes of it, but the soaring vocals definitely round things out. 'The Loving Hand Of God' might induce some to sleep (another long tune), but the storyline from start to end is pretty good. I wasn't a huge fan of this track from the musical aspect of things. Finally, with cut 8, we're back to the heavy Sabbath riffing 'Wizard Of War,' a crushing number that reminds me lyrically like a cross between 'The Wizard' and 'War Pigs.' It's a shorter track before CD ender 'See You On The Other Side' jams on for 7 minutes. The haunting and heavy vocals are a highlight, as are the familiar Sabbath riffs. It's a good tune to end the album, but the problem is TOO many slower, more melodic cuts all sandwiched into 4 cuts one right after the other. If they had varied the track list better on this record, it would have made a better impact. As it is, if you're tired of the "Sabbath worship" that permeated the first record, it's all crammed into the first 3 tracks before they branch out. Not their strongest record to date, but none of the tracks here SUCK, they just suffer from an unfortunate placement issue... Still, even with the slower numbers, we see Orchid trying a few new things musically...
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.

PSILOCYBE LARVAE "The Labyrinth Of Penumbra" (Buil2Kill) SCORE: 82/100

Another of our newest partners, Nadir Promotions out of Italy, sent us some goodies to review. The band name is apparently taken from a line in a Tiamat song 'Whatever That Hurts,' and it's apparently obvious that the Swedish gods were a huge influence on Psilocybe's sound. Still, that being said, it's definitely heavier than most of Tiamat's early works combining dark ambience and atmosphere with the heavier sound. Although it's said to be melodic doom and death, there's not a whole lot of the "doom" influence in here; especially when they decided to crank up the heaviness and the speed. It took me an awful long time to really "get" what they are doing here, because damn near every song has a dizzying amount of tempo and structure changes, most notably when they go from crushing heaviness right down to minimal atmospherics, and sometimes the changes are not gradual. Still, there are also times when I cringe at the way they do things, for instance the opening track where he repeats ad nauseum "you can't stop the random clocks." And the odd chug-like riffing on 'Shining Shambhala,' plus their insistence on some really odd synth passages. It's not perfect but for the most part it works. The only track I would probably skip is 'Trial By Fire,' and even though it's a speedier tune, it suffers from the odd guitar work more than most. I say it's a bit too quirky, right down to the oddly clean and low toned sung vocals. Speaking of that, the vocal styles are just as dizzying as the music; I counted at least 5 different sets of vocals. And the harsh death metal vocals are also accentuated with low toned and normal register clean sung; there's even some vicious black metal styled vocals in there as well! They do have a tendency to repeat some structures in a few songs; for all their multitude of changes, cuts like 'Fortress Of Time' and 'Into The Labyrinth' can make it easier to focus on all they have to offer. 'No Escape' I thought ended the disc nicely, though some might say those lead riffs are overused; I preferred them and think they are some of the best on the album. They still need to correct a few missteps, but for what it was I was impressed at the overwhelming number of things they bring into each song; songs that sometimes barely hit the 4 and 5 minute mark. They do a lot with a little, and I really dig the way the synths get their own space alongside the guitars. It will take you more than quite a few spins to take in everything they have to offer, but whether you love them or hate them, this Russian band that has released four full length albums definitely has made an album that you will have to spend time with. And probably walk away a lot better for it.
Contact: Buil2kill Records.

RAVENTALE "Transcendence" (BadMoodMan) SCORE: 99/100

Out of all the bands tied to the Solitude Productions roster (yes, BadMoodMan Music is a subdivison), Raventale is one of the few who have been amazingly consistent from album to album. This is their SIXTH full length in almost as many years, and it amazes me how diverse and even DIFFERENT they sound from album to album! All that being said, this is SO close to being the perfect, definitive masterpiece; I dare say it's the best album they've released to date. It's 4 songs, 45 minutes running time, meaning you have two 10 minute songs, an 11 minute and a 13 minute tune. WAIT! Don't run out the door just yet or else you'll be missing one of the most intense releases of 2012 from this label. Described as atmospheric black metal, the opening cut 'Shine' starts off with some brutal death metal styled vocals. For this release, apparently a few guest vocalists were brought in, so you get to hear TWO different vocal styles. However, this opening track is the only one you hear death metal styled vocals, quite low toned and harsh, giving this otherworldly music a second dimension to tap into. The first thing that smacks you in the face is those ungodly high end melodic leads, and they're ALL over this album! There are synthesized passages as well, but they are rarely ever the highlight, so you at first have to really listen out for them. This cut has quite a few different emotions all wrapped up in themselves and changing and morphing CONSTANTLY. A few blackened shrieks creep in, and they even throw in some choppy thrash riffs and manage to retain crushing heaviness at times. The doomy lead solo reminded me of the band Ea. In fact, some of their atmospheric landscapes have that Ea touch to them. And a beautiful lead solo, not played at 100 miles per hour but emotionally crafted! And folks, I've just described ONE song! Followup 'Room Winter' starts off with fast ripping Norwegian styled black metal with a winter's touch. We slow down a bit near the 3 minute mark: Raventale won't keep a tune at one tempo or structure for very long. This tune has a slight "folk metal" feel to the riffs in spots, so expect to want to "swing your mug 'o mead" in places. The solo instrumentation has a euphoric synth/guitar mix. This is such a fantastic tune! 'Without Movement' has the midtempo guitar work, and this track has a lot more of a doom metal feeling than any of the others, though the percussion keeps the pace a BIT more frantic than doom metal usually can incorporate. Beautiful post rock like guitar work is the highlight here, and the breathtaking lead solos are in such abundance towards this song's end. The amazing and wow factor NEVER cease even on a 10 minute track! Finally, the title track I thought should have been a bit more epic than it was, but the headbanging tempo reminds one of some epic Bathory passages. Still, this track loses a few points because some of the riffs in this track could have either been omitted or reworked; they just didn't give me that same overwhelming feeling everything else did. Still, they aren't out of ideas on this track even by a long shot, especially when the emotionally crafted guitar solos threaten to leave you melting on the floor. I DO wish they had more lead solos in these songs, but damn I guess it leaves you wanting more. Folks, when I talk about the ultra high quality of Solitude Productions' releases, THIS is what the fuck I'm talking about, and musicians of such an amazingly high caliber are few and far between. THIS band has created one hellaciously moving experience. I STRONGLY order you to BUY THIS ALBUM, no matter what it takes...
Contact: BadMoodMan Music/Solitude Productions.

SAMMAL "Sammal" (Svart) SCORE: 93/100

Folks, I thought Svart was kind of a traditional doom metal label; so surprised I was to hear a band like this gracing their roster. In fact, it seems recently that Svart has been dipping their toes into other genres besides metal (a LOT of traditional Scandinavian folk artists), so this was a curiosity at first more than anything. What hooked me right away was the Hammond organ sounds coming from track number one! Now, anyone who knows MY history probably remembers my fascination with a certain German electronic band known as Hacienda (for whom we coined the term "stoner's techno.") Right off the bat, the first thing you notice is the excellent guitar work peppered all throughout the album. The vocals are well done as well, though I can see where some might be put off by the all-Finnish lyrics. Yep, the boys hail from Finland, and English AIN'T on the menu. That shouldn't stop you from enjoying this, as our beloved singer can reach some high notes (like on 'Jokainen Pysykoon Uskossaan') as well as soar with emotion. The band definitely couldn't decide the overall tone of the album, that's why you'll hear the band totally rockin' and gittin' heavy, then the next few tracks they switch to minimal instrumentation and mellow, trippy vibes, only to crank it back up again, but their FAVORITE trick is to start a cut off really mellow and somewhat melancholic, only to rock your block off by the time the chorus rolls around. They do this to great effect on 'Lehtipuiden Alle,' one of my favorite tracks on the record. My other ravin' fave is 'Janiksen Vuoksi,' and though it is all instrumental, those guitars and organ passages are SO damn catchy! Some of those Hammond like riffs remind me of ones Hacienda did on their "Narrowed Eyes" album from years ago. CD ender 'Kylmaa Usvaa' had some old timey sounds to them (maybe a violin or something), and portrayed a very old world melancholy, but the heavier and more sinister instrumentation near the end was a bit odd; in fact this is probably some of the darkest instrumentation Sammal HAS. A few other miscues develop as well; like the need to add somewhat sinister, low toned vocals near the end of 'Esox Lucius.' Still, it's obvious to me that they're not only having a blast and enjoying themselves, but they're combining psychedelic 60's flair with some heavy rocking music, and it's all a good ride... Something to look out for if you want a change of pace from metal.
Contact: Svart Records.

SHAME YOURSELF "Wonderfuck" (Metal Scrap) SCORE: 89/100

One of our newest partners from the Ukraine, and Metal Scrap has been putting out quite a few releases. Vicious mix of death and thrash metal, with mostly thrash in the instrumentation while the vocals are a cross between loud shouts and death metal. Right off the bat, Shame Yourself kills us with 'Work Is Not Over,' and the formula seems to be variety, seen all throughout the disc. Some speedy parts combine with headbanging thrash riffs, interspersed with some melodic leads. This track kinda reminds me of the Hanted but a bit thrashier. They even pull off a few "Tomb Of The Mutilated" Cannibal Corpse riffs near the end (which is significant for reasons I'll mention later). 'Secrets' gives the bass guitar a chance to shine in at the start, utilizing start/stop riffs and a rather straightforward approach. 'Metalheads' is somewhat of an anthem for these guys, though it felt a tad too long at around 6 minutes. Still, nearly all the tunes are well under the 5 minute mark, with only one one track (CD ender 'Hell,' which, as cool as it was, probably could have had some stuff cut out for length) going over 5 minutes. 'Cannabis Corpse' seems to give homage to the band of the same name (complete with guy coughing from smoke inhalation to the opening bong sounds), and it helps that there's lots of melodic stuff going in to add to the heavy, thrashy shit. 'Redrum,' now this is one of my favorites because it reminds me of that slow, eerie horror feeling Cannibal Corpse did with Chris Barnes on their "Bleeding" album, a sound that I wish C.C. had explored more. The sound is a bit slower overall on this cut, and definitely more menacing. And 'Slave To Masturbation?' Despite kicking ass, you'll be laughing HARD at the lyrics (pun... intended?) "Once upon a time I took my dick in hand and I began wonka wonka!?" Folks, I'm not making this up... The band knows how to keep variety from start to finish, and damn if these simplistic yet crunchy riffs keep me coming back for more. Still, it's not all a shelf of porno mags, the song 'Jab C.O.' (despite me having NO idea what the song title means) has some odd instrumentation ideas, and that weird dude on the megaphone yelling something about a new world order (which the lyrics don't mention) just grated my nerves... Still, this is a damn thrashy enjoyable disc, and coming from Poland you know there's quite a few artists in that region who keep things heavy. It'll keep the heads banging and offer some new twists that will bring you back around for more.
Contact: Metal Scrap Records.

VENOMOUS MAXIMUS "Beg Upon The Light" (Napalm) SCORE: 92/100

This is an interesting mix of stoner rock, doom metal and BIIIIG riffs! Hailing from Texas, this band has definitely hit on a rather unique formula, utilizing the vocals of one Gregg Higgins who also plays guitar. Lead guitars? Hell, who knows, but those riffs are massive! This album may have doom touches but I really don't see a whole lot of the doom metal here. Rockin' guitar work adorns 'Path Of Doom' (an epic sounding title if ever there was one), and the clean vocal work here is most interesting, as it's somewhat low register, but never dips into the higher ranges, and on many tracks, touches of blackened vocal work showcases a guy who could probably front his own black metal band if he wanted to and it probably wouldn't hurt his clean vocals one bit! One of my favorite cuts pops up next, in 'Give Up The Witch,' which does a bit of a slower pace. Great catchy choruses, almost thrash like guitar work and the almost extreme vocal work makes this a standout. There's a few "filler" tracks, though, one being a 2 minute piece 'Father Time' with really odd spoken vocal passages, and the other utilizing some neat old timey violins and acoustics, but really we could have benefitted from a few more rockin' tracks. 'Dream Again' boasts some very dark and sinister overtones, and of course the aggressive vocals drive some of this over the top, but some of the bridges on this song leading up to the choruses could have been constructed better. Still, this is more of a doom metal offering than most on here. 'Moonchild' takes an interesting turn, more of those heavy stoner rock like guitars but with a much heavier edge. And my other favorite track 'Battle For The Cross,' you'll definitely have the choruses stuck in your head! 'Venomous Maximus' (the track) is probably one of the fastest on the disc, but some of the choruses are a bit strange lyric wise. Be that as it may, it still rocks. CD ender 'Hell's Heroes' is a pretty interesting track as well, clocking in at over 7 minutes and at times seems like they ran it on a bit longer than it should have been, but once things crank up the instrumentation definitely rocks. Despite few flaws, this is a band I'd love to experience live, to see how it all comes out. Heavy stoner rock mixed with powerful metal makes for an interesting experience, and the lower register of vocals adds a definite punch to some dynamic and heavy material!
Contact: Napalm Records.

VOIVOD "Target Earth" (Century Media) SCORE: 31/100

You know, I have read SO many reviews that praise this thing to the heavens, and I just can't see it. This is the first record written and recorded by the new kid on the block guitarist in Chewy, and lemme tell ya he's been doing his homework, studying Piggy to a T! And it's obvious Chewy spent much of his time listening to "Killing Technology" because I hear SO much of that album pop up in these songs. This is such a damn frustrating album to listen to because they jump around SO much, and Snake's vocals are extremely inconsistent from track to track. Most times he's singing rather embarassingly, frankly though his "yells" (for lack of a better word) still have the bite that they had from days of yore. The title track starts us off and it sounds like the Voivod you all know and love. The sneering vocals here are a bit weird, and it seems like Snake is trying too hard to sound otherworldly. Half of this makes me want to tune out, while some of it I dig. But who wants to listen to a song full of half good ideas? These aren't really songs to my ears either, just a kind of start/stop collection of ideas thrown together to round out the time. And speaking of time, boy do they over-utilize it! FOUR tracks over the 6 minute mark and TWO 7 minute songs?? Wasted space in many cases. Moving on. 'Kluskap O Kom' wins hands down for STUPIDEST song title and hearing that shouted on the choruses ruins ANYTHING good this track may have had going for it. O yeah and the weird "huh-huh" breathing sounds were too much. Oriental acoustic guitar work? Yeah I was surprised at the opening of followup 'Empathy For The Enemy' as well. And "Killing Technology" riffs (from the title track) hit me right away on this one. It's a decent tune, but that melodic singing? Not right for Snake. Granted, this guy ain't got the best set of pipes in the business, but damnit if he didn't know how to WORK it to sound right. He's had this problem on more recent albums I've reviewed, so this problem isn't limited to THIS CD alone. Snake gets more irritating on 'Mechanical Mind,' and the 7 minute length is waaaay too hard to take with all the time changes and structures that bounce around from decent to weird. This tune DRAGS. ANOTHER 7 minute tune? Yep, 'Warchaic' continues the downward spiral. Synth scrapings and tribal drums to start out. Of course, I do hear a bit of decent material, but I'm out the door. And finally, the best song on the album in 'Resistance,' complete with great shouted vocals and catchy choruses with decent lyrics. And an awesome foray into doom metal territory as well near the end. Then damn! Another decent tune in 'Kaleidos.' Suddenly Voivod is cool again, with some killer start/stop riffs and the aggressive vocal work. 'Corps Etranger' started out GREAT, in fact this tune has the distinction of having the thrashiest and fastest balls out riffing on the disc, but once again midway through the awful choruses and guitar work is half in-half out. 'Artefact' makes you listen to the word 'denied' thousands of times, before you pull a gun out and shoot yourself. CD ender 'Defiance' is a VERY short track but features a heavy riff fest and Snake doing his aggressive, early days viciousness. WHY couldn't they reign in the weirdness and write some good SONGS?!?? This album definitely AIN'T about the songwriting process, it's a collection of weird ideas and half leftover "Killing Technology" and latter day "War And Pain" sketches. It took me forever just to figure out how to score the damn thing, but this is an album I NEVER want to go back to again, save for maybe TWO songs...
Contact: Century Media Records.

WHO DIES IN SIBERIAN SLUSH "We Who Have Been Dead Since Long Ago" (Solitude)
SCORE: 80/100

I remember their first ever release on Solitude Productions, I wasn't overtly pleased with it but it wasn't terrible. This CD is a marked improvement in so many ways. Starting off, I learned a bit of U.S. history with 'The Day Of Marvin Heemeyer,' a man who armored a bulldozer and drove it right through the streets here in the U.S. It's a pretty heavy tune and one of the best songs W.D.I.S.S ever wrote. The vocal samples E.S. pulled up for this one are top notch! It's your slow, ominous and doomy track, but there are some faster passages as well, probably some of the fastest instrumentation you will hear on this disc. Followup 'Refinement Of The Mould' starts off with some nice, haunting piano notes, and I definitely liked the dirgey atmosphere. Still, some of the instrumentation more towards the end of the song could have been fleshed out better; namely some of the vocals and instrumentation mixture. And a lead solo in here, that was rather unexpected. For it's 9 minutes in length it's got quite a few structures to play with. I will say this is probably the weakest cut on the record. I loved the doomy trumpet sounds on the followup 'In A Jar,' which reminds me of Colosseum, adding some piano notes and of course the deep death metal styled vocals. There's lots of solo instrumentation on these tracks, preferring to not over utilize vocal work. Followup cut 'The Spring' is a very enjoyable track, though the opening "toybox" notes were kind of odd. This particular cut sports some of WDISS's best guitar work on the record I must say. And another lead solo, something you definitely don't hear a lot of in doom metal. 'Funeral March No. 14' sounds a bit like what Candlemass did with 'Marche Funebre,' and I questioned the 7 minutes in length this track runs on, especially being an instrumental. Not a whole lot of variety present on this one either. And CD closer 'Of Immortality' didn't overtly impress me, though the slow and heavy riffs aren't bad, and the mournful instrumentation picks up in places. Once again, the culprit seems to be the passages where the vocals interact with the instrumentation. Overall, it's definitely a step up from the debut, and after reading the interview it seems like E.S. was going for more of a rather uncomfortable vibe on some of the songwriting. Still, there's definitely reason to check it out, I'd say. Listen to the soundfiles and make up your own mind.
Contact: Solitude Productions.


AETERNAM. Interview with Ashraf Loudiy via email.

First the top black metal BAND and ALBUM of 2013 and now we finally lock in an interview with the band who created the best death metal album of 2012. Hands down, it is indeed an honor, because we thought we would not have this issue, especially since it took quite a long time to actually get this interview back. You all read the review and hopefully listened to the soundfiles an issue or so ago, this amazingly talented and creative band that incorporates Arabic and Middle Eastern flair so well with the brutal and warlike music, and they even throw a few surprises at you. Hands down one of the feature interviews this issue, learn all about the Canadian war machine known as Aeternam. And Metal Blade Records, PLEASE make things right with this band and put this thing out WORLD WIDE...

  • What really surprises me is just how diverse and amazing this album is! Especially since I'm not a huge fan of death metal, since the genre started to lose me about the time black metal came around and most of the vocalists just tried too hard to sound unintelligible and brutally fast.

    Well, thank you for your appreciation. We always wanted our albums to contain songs based on the same musical spirit, but very different from each other.

  • Now you guys had an album out on Metal Blade, which unfortunately I never got to hear. This album garnered a best death metal album of the year from us here, and I am seriously shocked that with the quality of this album that Metal Blade didn't pick you up for a second album! What happened with that? It's not like there was a HUGE delay between albums.

    We could not tour to promote our first album because of immigration issues I had. When the album was released, I was still a foreign student in Canada and I had a lot of immigration restrictions that prevented me to go on tour. So, we were forced to cancel the promotion tours that Metal blade offered us and that's why they did not pick us for the second album, even if I am able to tour now. And maybe they did not like the second album. (WHAT?!? Are you kidding me? Then Metal Blade needs to re-evaluate their "signing" department... NOW - Ed.)

  • I don't know much about Galy Records, what is your deal with them like? The main concern I have is that a small label like this might not be able to give it the worldwide attention it so eagerly deserves... (tour support, number of albums, merchandising, etc).

    Galy is helping us with promotion and selling albums on his website. He also helps us do some shows in Quebec. Yes it's a small label, but it's the only one that was interested in Aeternam.

  • I suppose that the closest bands you could be compared to (something I REALLY hate to do) would be bands like Melechesh but Nile probably comes the closest. How do you feel about Nile, because when I first heard "Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka," I was immediately blown away by the layering of Egyptian ambience and the more brutal and warlike aspects of death metal. However, I feel that Nile has gotten away from the more "ambient" parts of their sound and opted instead for more of a brutal speedy approach, which leaves me preferring the older days.

    Well, Behemoth, Melechesh and Nile are for sure good references for us. I personally love Nile's sound, especially their latest albums because their sound has evolved in an interesting way. We draw upon several bands when we write our songs, and those bands play different kinds of music.

  • So let's talk about the album's theme, so to speak: what is this cult of the Moongod? It seems to me like this is a somewhat unknown tribe that wages war and actually seems to destroy Islam and Christianity.

    The true meaning behind those lyrics is not to inform people that the God of Islam is not a true god or something like that. I respect people's beliefs but it shocks me when people don't make the effort of spiritual search. And this theme is part of people who did not make that effort. Sometimes, we use theories that contradict popular beliefs in order to awaken the most important things in human behavior, opinion, doubt and criticism.

  • The Arabic influences were extremely well done, and I am curious especially about the clean sung vocals; whoever is doing them sounds like they came from that region! It seems like a tremendous amount of research went into the lyrics and making sure that the Arabian or Middle Eastern influences sounded authentic, though keep in mind I do not have the original CD (just a downloaded promo copy from the P/R people [Clawhammer I think] handling the label) and do not have lyrics for what's going on.

    Well thank you, it's very important for us to fully incorporate the Arabic flavour in our music. Our goal is to be faithful to the ethnic music that inspired us doing a certain part of a song. And yeah, arabic vocals we use come from that region because I am the one who sings them.

  • So just out of curiosity, from what I could gather of the lyrics, where IS the Egyptian civilization in all of the storyline? I hear (I think) mention of a few of the Egyptian gods but it seems they are non-existent by the time this story takes place. I'm guessing the timeline is more around the time of the Crusades and the Muslim clashes...

    "Moongod" is not a concept album, so the themes of the songs are different for each track. However, there are a lot of songs on the album that deal with the pre-islamic and oriental mythology such as 'Hubal, Profaner Of Light,' 'Moongod' and 'Descent Of Gods,' 'Cosmogony,' and 'Idol Of The Sun.' The song 'Invading Jerusalem' deals with the theme of the holy warrior back in the times of the crusades. But there is a song on the album called 'Rise Of Arabia' where we expose our view on the Arabian Spring, which is a theme very much in the news.

  • Could you see a book or movie arising out of the storyline? I know some of the christians might get offended as it seems their religion is not positively portrayed in the many skirmishes and battles that take place.

    No, I don't think that a book or a movie will be appropriate for any of our "Moongod" songs. We don't tell consistent stories. It's a mixture of parts of history and feeling towards some circumstances. However, on "Disciples Of The Unseen," I would be curious to see how the story of the song 'Angel Horned' can be primed as a movie. We don't want to provoke religious people. We criticize some aspects of religion to make people realize that their beliefs should not be stored in a workbook forgotten in their brain. We always need to do research, work on ourselves and always question our beliefs.

  • So which was harder, writing the lyrics and storyline or getting the music to match up with what was going on with each song's lyrics, because for many of the tracks, the music seems to match perfectly what's going on in the topics.

    When we write music, we have a process that makes the topics of lyrics match with the song. We always start by a reflection on what do we want to tell on our song. Then the type of melodies and the kind of song starts building in our heads. After(wards), we write parts of the music and test the lyrics on them in parallel.

  • For most people, the area of the world they were born in has a HUGE impact on what religion they will become a part of. I know a country like Afghanistan is almost 99% Islam, while obviously Christianity is a very large staple of the U.S., especially in the Southern area where I reside. And as this occurs, I know sometimes it's VERY hard to "go against the grain," so to speak, especially when they are probably the only one who feels the said religion is not right for them.

    Well, as I said we criticize some aspects of religion and I always did since I was in my home country back in the days. It's true that islam is a dominant ideology in my country, and when I was kid, I always wanted to live my metal at 100%. In Morocco, you can do whatever you want since you don't scream your non-conformist opinions loud. But I can't say that living in Morocco as a Metal fan was so difficult. Metal came to Morocco very late, and when older people saw some young boys and girls all dressed in black and everything, they were shocked but nowadays they got used to it. There is not a massive Metal scene in Morocco but there's a lot of Metal fans.

  • There's been a lot of talk about how brutal and barbaric Muslims are here in the U.S., especially with the terrorist acts; people saying that Islam is a religion that preaches warfare and destruction of other races. I have not read the Quran so I cannot say, but people in THIS country tend to ignore the endless bloodshed christianity was involved in early on; from controlling science and medicine, to burning witches and of course the Crusades where they sent children off to die in wars... Religion in general has been the cause of much suffering and heartache world wide...

    I don't think that religion has much to do with the butchering that occurs and occured in the past. Humans are entirely responsible for everything. Religions were made by people to legitimate their brutal actions. There is a lot of beautiful and positive things in religion that were considered avant-garde back in the(ir) time. Islam had a vital impact on science, architecture, art and culture in the middle ages. Evil is within human beings; if there was no religion, they would find something else to demonstrate their evil ways. National Socialism was not a religion but had the same bad effect on people as a religion can do. Now, with the accessibility of internet, I think that the more we move on the more people will be able to build their proper identity.

  • One thing religion really seems to take a huge role in is the stranglehold it has on people's fear of death: it was interesting to me to see that as much power as the kings of individual kingdoms had, they still looked to the church to "pave their way" for the afterlife. For it is well known that once you die, what happens to you in the next life is somewhat out of your control. The churches in some cases grew to be more powerful than any king of any region. Just look at Catholicism!

    I think it's natural that people can have hope for life after death. I think that religion has benefits and shortcomings for our society. Religion is part of our identity, it's just a more organic way to gather all our vision at a time. However, these religions must adapt to contemporary society and this is the problem. Religions such as Islam can have a very radical interpretation and there are countries that are against the reform of Islam; that's what really hurts the image of this religion. I think we can simply learn to live together, each has his religion and his favourite brand of shoe. But the most important in my point of view is the fact that we must not lose our spirituality in favour of contemporary ideals.

  • Personally, the spiritual path has helped me answer many questions that man's religions could not, and to me spirituality is more of a path to help enlighten the individual, rather than what religions do which is try and get the individual to conform to the mass mentality. With religion there seems to be no emphasis on personal growth and evolution, unless it's within the doctrines and dogma of the church.

    Well, there is a type of religious people who can grow personally and evolve as much as a spiritual guy or an atheist. It depends on how we consider our religion or spirituality. We should see this aspect as a case by case and try to not generalize our opinion on religious people. I've met a lot of religious people that surprised me a lot with their opinions, and others who were very closed minded as well.

  • Speaking of the album itself, I was rather surprised that for all the kick ass riffs and heaviness, one track I kept going back to was 'Iram Of The Pillars,' especially since there's no guitar at all and it seems to be a PERFECT manifestation of the rather dreamlike state of the storyteller out in the lonely desert... I'm curious the feedback you've received over this track that is seemingly out of place with the rest of the material (though it fits if you take it into the concept of the album).

    We always try to write one acoustic song on our albums. It allows us to use more instruments, get out of our comfort zone and experiment a lot. It was even a possibility in the past to make an EP containing only acoustic songs. I hope it will come true one day.

  • The CD ends perfectly with "Hubal, Profaner Of Light," and I just couldn't help but think how some of the heavier guitar work, being almost thrash oriented, fit in so well with the synthesized parts, even though at first you don't see how the ambient passages would possibly match such heavy instrumentation!! Is this ending track the end of the story or is there more to come?

    Good question, I don't know. Im my opinion, I think we are done with the topic about the pre-islamic era. We are now focusing on something new. I always want to experiment different things. Maybe you will have your answer on the next record!

  • And while we're at this, are you working on a followup full length? Any song titles, themes, lyrical concepts or what not you can reveal? Personally, I would love to see this storyline followed to a great degree on a future release!

    Currently, we are working on a third record, but it will take some time before the release. Unfortunately, we can't reveal anything about it.

  • How would you say this album differs from your previous one? I've seen a few reviews that state the symphonic stuff is mixed in with the guitar work kind of like this one, but I haven't heard it so I'm not sure.

    "Moongod" is definitely more mature on all the aspects. It's also more symphonic and progressive. However, "Disciples..." is more primal and aggressive in my opinion. The riffing on "Disciples" recalls the classic riffing of the 90's Metal era.

  • Finally, is Aeternam a live entity? I am curious how you pull off the Middle Eastern and Egyptian like parts live if you do so. Have you done many shows or tours with Aeternam? (PLEASE if you tour make it down to Atlanta!)

    Yes, we would love to tour, but we are not big enough to do so. I really hope we can tour someday. We are trying to promote ourselves as much as possible.

    BLACK OATH. Interview with M.S.F. via email...

    I guess we felt we needed to say something about the bands we're interviewing this issue... Black Oath has impressed us mightily with their debut effort "The Third Aeon," and we were glad to see them release a new full length. I Hate does put out some great releases, so dig into their newest effort "Ov Qliphoth And Darkness," listen to the sound files and check out this interview from one of Italy's finest doom metal bands!

  • So what would you say are the main differences between your latest album and the previous one? Besides album and song titles and artwork of course!

    Oh well, we could say the new one is the right evolution of "The 3rd Aeon." Some of the tracks were written right after the first album's release but, with the passing of time we worked more on the arrangements and vocal lines and the final result is clearly listenable on "Ov Qliphoth And Darkness." This album includes all our influences and past experiences! Also the recording sessions took a different way as we used 2 studios (for several reasons)... We are proud of how it came out!

  • I know with this album it seems there's a lot of what I would call "emotional" variety (with some dark & gloomy, yet somewhat "uplifting" passages). Do you think doom metal bands sometimes stagnate themselves at one speed? (Personally, I know bands like November's Doom and Spiritus Mortis take to adding faster tunes on their albums to vary things up a bit).

    Doom Metal doesn't mean to only play slow music! Those who still believe this are simply blinded minds... "Doom" means a macabre feeling, morbid sound and dark atmosphere... Take for example a song like 'Symptom Of The Universe...' It is fucking killer and fast! Of course it is a Rock song but that's from where heavy/doom metal was born... I could make the same example for Black/Death metal... It isn't necessary to play only fast to be brutal! This is one of the reasons we don't call ourselves a DOOM band... our roots are more into the dark Italian sound ... Cursed Rock Musick!

  • Doom metal does tend to seem like kind of a niche genre in a way: there's not a whole lot of doom bands and albums being poured out constantly, and it seems to be a genre that doesn't have a whole slew of crappy bands. Most doom bands are of high quality...

    ...Or maybe because only the good ones got the "success" they deserve! I am pretty sure there are shitty bands here and there.. We should bury them as fast we can before they start growing up!

  • Have you ever thought of adding extreme vocal work (like death or black metal) to your sound? I know some bands have tinkered around with it like While Heaven Wept or even Ereb Altor to a degree (though Ereb Altor incorporated it a lot more in their most recent work than While Heaven Wept, for an example).

    No! We have enough different kind of voices in our releases and to be honest extreme vocals wouldn't fit well with our art... We did it during some live performances because whispers and spoken parts are almost impossible to hear from the stage, but we will never put them in our albums... that would be useless as we think our musick is creepy and diabolic enough to need those voices!

  • Where does religion fit into the hierarchy of your everyday lives and, more specifically, in the lyrical content of your most recent songs? It seems like over here in the U.S., certain governmental leaders are trying to incorporate their religious beliefs into the lawmaking processes, as if to subvert one of our main constitutional laws about keeping church and state separate.

    Even if we are Italians and have the misfortune to live in a catholic country, we can say our lives are not endangered by religious ideology... We feel the right to be free and are fascinated by the dark side of life. (The) occult world gives so many different ways of thoughts! Black Oath is a band who should thank Aleister Crowley's THELEMA for being influenced in musick and personal life!

  • I see you have a few songs about witches in your latest full length; seems like the two songs are running a mini storyline ('Scent Of A Burning Witch' seems to be about the persecution of witches, whereas in the followup tune 'Witch Night Curse,' maybe the witches take their revenge?) I seem to see a ton of doom metal bands penning a song or two about witches (Venomous Maximus wrote a song on their latest full length entitled 'Give Up The Witch,' and even Candlemass has a witch song on their last full length).

    Witchery is something I always loved and I wanted to describe both (the) suffering and pleasure of a witch! Those two tracks are not a concept, they simply try to explain the anguish, torture and passion of a devil servant. 'Scent Of...' is about a witch execution; it describes the pain, the anger and the revenge put into a curse! Inspiration also came out from old Barbara Steele Movies which I really love! For the other track I tried to figure a meeting in the woods.. a real sabbath! They gathered to summon the lord until he finally appears covering the world in its shadow!

  • It was nice to hear you utilize some synthesized passages. Personally I love the hammond organ, and it is good that some doom bands have keyboard parts.

    For this, we should thank Chris Z. our drummer... we were about to finish the album and he put keyboards on the titletrack. In a first moment we were not so sure about it but... why not! So we let him play and he came out with very good ideas... He also played synth on the 'Drakon...' intro (which was initially composed by Azter from Denial Of God)...

  • So what would you say influences the Black Oath sound? Especially on the latest full length, where there seems to be a lot more diversity in the instrumentation.

    We can be inspired by everything... We let our feelings come out in every moment of the day... This could happen watching a movie, listening (to) another album or just living the daily life... Most of the time, it is because of this last one that we released macabre and dark compositions...

  • Speaking of influences, Candlemass was a HUGE one on me... It was sad to see Candlemass call it quits after their last album. I know Robert Lowe was a great voice for Candlemass, but apparently his performance live caused them to reconsider keeping him as singer...

    Don't tell me! Candlemass with R. Lowe was simply great!! To be honest, he was my favourite singer ever and I also love Solitude Aeternus! (I) saw both bands live and we had the luck to share stage with Candlemass themselves in Germany... Don't know why they fired him but I must admit the latest performances were not that good... Maybe some personal problems between band members of personal life... Don't know... BTW, there's another band who can sit on the empty throne left by the Swedish gods... they are Procession from Chile... They represent the real epic doom metal nowadays!

  • I kind of wanted to examine a few tracks off the newest full length. I noticed on the title track you mentioned crucifixion, which is a pretty horrible way to go. They say the Romans were the masters of this torturous "artform." Regardless of whether you believe in Christ or not, it's still a pretty fucked up way to go... Did he deserve to die that way? Probably not...

    Crucifixion we talk about is a metaphor... Not the physical way! I never wondered if Christ or who else deserved it... But I wondered many times why the "church" tortured women just supposing them to be witches... Anyway, nowadays we have something interesting to write on lyrics... so we welcome tortures and murdering above humanity!

  • 'Sinful Waters' was another interesting track. The thematics remind me of the mythological Lethe, which were supposed to be the waters of forgetfulness.

    I wanted to describe something similar right! Alighieri helped a lot for this! It is a sort of purification of the soul with the goal to reach the highest level of knowledge! A sort of baptism but far away from Christian ideology... No slavery or morality... Pure rebirth of the spirit!

  • Most of the tracks here are pretty moderate in length, especially compared to some doom/death bands that like to have 15 and even 20 minute tracks... As near as I can tell, your longest song to date was 11 minutes on your first full length album. Will we ever see an ultra long track in the future?

    Who knows? We never plan how long a track must be... Sometimes it needs 5 mins., sometimes more... The most important thing is the final result; we must be 666% satisfied before we enter the studio for recording sessions!

  • I Hate Records does put out good quality records, but their release schedule is somewhat thin compared to a label like Solitude Productions. I am thinking they focus on quality and only usually have 2 or 3 releases out at a time...

    I don't know how Solitude Productions works, but we're satisfied about how our labels are promoting the band. I Hate and Horror Records are doing a big campaign and things are going well, from Soulfood to Century Media, "O.Q.A.D." is well distributed... so what more can I say? Sometimes it is better to have a label which focuses their energies more on quality than quantity.

  • The song 'My Death' of course raises some interesting thematical topics... I once heard a quote where it was said "man is the only animal that knows it's going to die..." Where do you think we end up after this mortal life is over? There's tons of theories, from reincarnation, to heaven/hell, and even reintroduction to a restored paradise on Earth at a later date.

    Mmmh... hard to say! As you know there are tons of theories about what could happen after this nightmare called life. I often think about the beyond and how it can be, I don't absolutely believe in reincarnation and the fact to be once again part of this lousy world. Many times my mind is tainted by these thoughts and questions, but I never find an answer (at least till I die). '...My Death' is the description of a last moment in life, last prayers while I'm exhaling my last breath... I am hoping to know the truth as soon as possible, leaving this flesh body and releasing my spirit..

  • Anything else you want to talk about please feel free to do do now. Thanks again, and we hope to see a trip to the U.S. from you guys sometime soon!

    We thank you for this interesting interview... You have signed the black oath! Keep an eye on our Facebook page (we still have no official website, but we're working on it) for more news to come and let's hope to play in the U.S. one day! CURSED BE...

    CALADAN BROOD. Interview with Shield Anvil via email.

    Folks, I struggled for quite awhile with my score for this album, in which newcomers to the music world Caladan Brood, from Salt Lake City, Utah of all places, have blown the doors off of what black metal has done for nearly 25 years now. But regardless of whether people think I went "too far" in my scoring of their debut release and sheer masterpiece "Echoes Of Battle," it is no doubt in my mind that Caladan Brood HAVE indeed created that once in a generation masterpiece. In which no mere perfect score would suffice. Whether you think I'm off my rocker or not, there's something brewing in the water over in Salt Lake City, because Gallowbraid also hails from that region (incidentally, also signed to Northern Silence Productions). More bands it seems are popping up from that area, but no matter what, expectations are going to be extremely high for this amazingly talented young band; one that I expect to see on best of year end lists for 2013 in no time...

  • Now, sadly, the first thing people are going to say is how much like Summoning you sound. Us journalists do it, mainly to give people a frame of reference, but I understand that that can sometimes "pigeonhole" bands (and in the case of a band like Orange Goblin, forces them to drastically alter their sound and/or style in order to avoid sounding like what they're being tagged as).

    That's not sad to us. In fact, we expected it, and we don't mind. We won't be changing our style just because people noticed that Summoning was our primary influence.

  • Speaking of Summoning, have you heard their latest full length? I for one have enjoyed it, but I definitely think your debut is amazingly better in many ways.

    Yes, we have heard it and we absolutely love it! It's a spectacular album and worth every minute of the 7 year wait.

  • In my mind, if I wanted to be straightforward and compare differences you have with Summoning, right off the bat I'd say that there are clean sung multivocal harmony parts, more lead solos that craft incredible melody and emotion, and of course the songs are usually longer and DEFINITELY more epic. What would you say really sets you apart from them, besides the fact that you are from America and they are from Austria?

    You pointed out the most obvious differences: heavier use of clean vocals, the inclusion of guitar solos in homage to our metal roots, and an overall different approach to arrangement and song structure. I certainly wouldn't say our music is more epic than Summoning's (they are the grand masters of epic black metal after all), it's just arranged differently.

  • I know for a long time, American black metal got somewhat of a bad name, especially overseas. I know there have been many bands from the States that have been there since the near beginning, but for the most part I'm thinking world politics and the atypical view of most Americans had more to do with it than the actual crafting of the music...

    It is probably a combination of world politics and USBM's more recent and unfortunate propensity toward "depressive" bedroom projects and "post-black metal/blackgaze" bands that gives the United States a negative international impression. But you are absolutely correct, there are some truly fantastic and legitimate black metal bands on our side of the pond that are keeping it alive over here in spite of the aforementioned trends. And we are honoured by the fact that the European response to our music has been overall very positive.

  • As we take a look at "Echoes Of Battle" album, the first thing some will notice are the long track times, which oftentimes parallel with doom metal. How do you see the running times of these cuts; do you feel that shorter songs don't give you enough room to breathe life into the tunes, or maybe lyrically there's a lot to translate?

    It's really just the direction the music took us. We never started a song with a predetermined length in mind; every song is the length it is because that's what we ended up with after fleshing the ideas out the way we wanted to.

  • Now I haven't read any of Steven Erikson's books yet, but the concept sounds interesting; in fact it seems like these books were written around the same time that George Martin wrote his Song Of Fire And Ice series. What about Erikson's books captivated you? And are we going to see future albums dealing with lyrics inspired by the books, the way Summoning has done with Tolkien?

    The sheer scope, depth, and complexity of the world created by Erikson and Esslemont is enough to engage any avid fiction reader who wants something more challenging than standard grocery shelf fantasy fare. Every primary character in the series - and there are a lot of characters - has an incredible amount of depth, and the story arcs are absolutely massive in scope. There is also a very engaging display of philosophical discourse and literary aptitude throughout the volumes that lends a level of poignancy to the works that feels a bit absent in some of the other more popular fantasy blockbuster series right now. And yes, our future music will be Malazan-themed as well.

  • Speaking of Tolkien, I am fully immersed in the Game Of Thrones T.V. series, and as much as I loved the Lord Of The Rings movies, I would have loved to see them done up in ten 1 hour episodes since the movies left out so much that was in the books. I realize that these three books may never be redone, but was still surprised to see them turning the Hobbit book into three movies.

    We're not surprised; Tolkien's work is very lucrative intellectual property, and understandably so. We just hope that the inevitable film adaptation of The Silmarillion is treated with due respect!

  • One of the things I always wanted to do was take the original music from Lord Of The Rings and rip it out almost completely, replacing it with epic music from bands like Caladan Brood, Blind Guardian, Summoning, etc... Why do you think it is that these epic bands haven't been tapped in such movies; surely these bands fit a soundtrack to movies like these much better than, say, Annie Lenox...

    The film scores for the Lord of the Rings films are absolutely spectacular and truly do the movies justice. The reason such bands haven't "tapped into" that market, as you say, is because the vast majority of film-going audiences would find a metal soundtrack irritating. There have been some mainstream films here and there which have included metal songs in the soundtracks, but they're few and far between, and it is almost always very commercial metal because the big labels are the ones with the resources to connect with the film industry. And honestly, that's perfectly fine by us. We'd prefer that our fans are people who put in a bit of effort to seek out bands; people who listen to music with a critical ear and care about and respect metal in general. Our music is intended for fans of the books and for people who want to truly engage with the music they discover.
    Now, that being said, we naturally feel it would be incredibly cool to hear the sounds of Summoning resound through the sky as Saruman's orcs march on Helm's Deep during the Battle of Hornburg in the film adaptation of The Two Towers...

  • Do you think that maybe the Steven Erikson series will ever be made into movies? I would love to see Caladan Brood at least considered for doing some of the music for it! With the success of Game Of Thrones, it does seem odd that it took a long time before the HBO series was made.

    I remember reading an interview with Erikson a while back in which he mentioned that he'd actually like to see an attempt to do a serial television adaptation of the Malazan Book Of The Fallen. I believe the rights had even been purchased by a film company at that point. This was a while ago, however, and nothing has been said about it since. Honestly, I can't see any sort of adaptation being successful. Malazan is notoriously complex and has one of the most massive cast of characters ever recorded in a fantasy series (monolithically dwarfing the dramatis personae in, say, A Song Of Ice And Fire or Wheel Of Time). I can guarantee, however, that we would never be asked to do music for a television adaptation were it ever to be created. We aren't professional film score composers. We don't have music degrees and we don't have professional connections. And, most importantly, any music director would immediately hit the "stop" button the second they heard the black metal vocals, haha.

  • Now I have talked a LOT about the recent History channel series Vikings, mainly because I consider myself an Asatru warrior and it was amazing to me to see just how historically accurate the show was, right down to the mythology, the gods and goddesses, and the way the Vikings dealt with matters of law and justice. It's one of very few shows I've seen that actually talk about the gods and their lives, whereas on Game Of Thrones, we see mention of the old and new gods, but we never are told who or what they are, which is a shame because it gives readers/watchers a chance to really tap deep into the characters. How does the Malazan Book Of The Fallen series address deities and their lives?

    In Malazan, the gods actively interact with the world. They can die, and die they do. Mortals can ascend to godhood through various means. In other words, the concept of godhood in Malazan is quite a bit different than in many other fantasy series. They are characters with unique personalties and character flaws who, while very powerful, must also fear death like any corporeal being.

  • So with a title like "Echoes Of Battle," what do you consider some of the most epic wars and/or battles of all time, both in reality and in fiction? I know personally, the World Wars probably got pretty scary for most, since so many nations were involved. And of course, some of the Roman conquests turned out some legendary heroes. Lord Of The Rings probably did the best job movie wise of conveying a massive clash of armies I think I've ever seen.

    In reality, there aren't really any "epic" wars seeing as war is wretched and horrifying (a theme that we approached with some of the lyrics on our album). In fiction, there are countless examples, and it would be impossible to list all of our favourites here. That being said, you can safely assume we're fans of the battle scenes in Malazan, The Black Company/Dread Empire, The Horus Heresy, Elric, and many more.

  • So what's on the horizon for Caladan Brood? Are you already at work on another album; any song titles, lyrical themes or ideas you want to throw at us (if it's not too soon after your album release).

    We do have some music in the works, but it will be a while before we have another album. We do have lyrical themes in mind, as well as some songs that didn't make it onto the full length that we are considering sprucing up and releasing in the future. We really can't get too specific here, but it will be more Malazan themed material with a similar musical approach.

  • Northern Silence Productions seems to have jumped on you guys right away; how many other labels did you shop around to? And how did that all go about, as I don't see mention of a demo in your discography! I am surprised that Napalm Records didn't express interest, but then again they probably might not want two of their bands "competing" with one another! Actually, I'm surprised that there weren't a TON of other labels, both from here and overseas, foaming at the mouth to have "Echoes Of Battle" as part of their label roster!

    We sent some early demos of some of the songs to Northern Silence (if memory serves, it was 'Echoes Of Battle' and another song called 'Onearm's Host' that didn't end up on the album). They were interested immediately (the label owner happens to be an avid Malazan reader as well as a Summoning fan, so it was an easy sell). We had heard great things about the label from other artists who have worked with them, so we went ahead and sealed the deal. We couldn't be happier; Northern Silence is a very honest label that truly cares about the music they work with. They've been wonderful to work with and have really gone all-out for us.

  • How is your deal with Northern Silence structured? Is it difficult for an American band to deal with a label all the way over in Germany? Of course, as far as the "deal" goes, I'm curious about tour support, merchandising rights, and number of albums. We all know that labels have re-structured their approach to signing bands, since in the past labels invested in artist's careers rather than dropping a band that doesn't sell X number of copies from their first album...

    As per any recording contract, we're not at liberty to discuss the specifics publicly, but we can safely say that Northern Silence is supportive, fair (to the point of being generous), and really grants us full creative control of what we're doing. As I mentioned before, they're passionate about the music they release. They don't sign bands just because they think it will sell, they sign bands because they personally enjoy the music and want to be involved in seeing it released. We couldn't be happier, label-wise.

  • So why have you decided to use pseudonyms and not reveal who you are? I understand wanting to keep the mystique and "human element" out of the music, but man I if it were me I'd not want to hide in the shadows for very long. Personally, I'd like to leave this world accomplishing something great, something memorable; that's what all the great warriors set out to do, though obviously many fail. Have you played in other bands before?

    This music isn't about us as people, it's about the theme, aesthetic, and atmosphere. We felt it would take away from that to have our faces all over the CD booklet and what not. I'm sure we won't be able to remain anonymous forever since the internet makes that difficult to do and the Salt Lake City metal scene is very small, but so far we've been more or less successful.

  • I assume from your statements that Caladan Brood would not be a live event? I'm thinking you probably assume that it would be difficult to pull off just getting on stage and trying to re-create the album experience in a live setting...

    Correct, we are not planning on playing live.

  • Finally, as we wrap this up, I'm curious to know, and this may seem like a weird question, but I had to explain to someone recently what the appeal of metal was and why I've been listening to it for over 20 years. Of course, they couldn't get past the lyrics, the "satanistic" tendencies, the fact that it's not popular and you don't ever hear of these bands... I'm sure you see where this is going. My final statement to him was, besides the fact that there's more sub-genres and creativity in metal than ANY other genre of music in the entire fucking world, metal can TEACH you things. I personally learned about the Tiananmen Square riots in China from Slayer, of course I learned about a "new" fantasy author from you guys, Chthonic taught me quite a bit about culture and mythology from a Taiwanese perspective, and of course Blackie Lawless from WASP taught me about living well in the face of your enemies... So what would you say are some of the most important things you learned from metal?

    I think it's safe to say we've been introduced to a good number of philosophers, historical events, and authors through heavy metal music. Iron Maiden paraphrases Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Judas Priest instills confidence and learning to be comfortable in one's own skin, and Motorhead teaches the lesson of not letting 'em grind you down and the importance of marching to the beat of your own drum. But hey, we're preaching to the choir at this point. Thanks for the interview, Steven. Cheers!

    INTRUDER. Interview via email with John Pieroni via email.

    It seems strange that for all our love of 80's metal, we almost didn't have a single interview with any 80's metal bands! This interview arrived literally DAYS before we went to press, and it's an interesting look into a band that was active during the 80's from Nashville, Tennessee of all places! Now, when you think of Nashville, usually only one thing springs to mind, and that is United States Southern area country music. I enjoy to a degree their debut on Iron Works Records "Live To Die," and then Metal Blade stepped in and offered the men a contract, which lasted for an EP and two full lengths. Besides, IronWorks releases are among the rarest of the rare in the metal collecting world, so it's nice to be able to find someone that can recount what the label was like. Now, let's recount a little of the story from the beginning and see where they are headed now...
  • So I'm curious what Intruder is doing in this day and age: I read that you reformed for some shows as early as 2002, but the last album you released was in 1991 I believe.

    Yes, that was the last year of an official release with new material. It took us a whole decade to work out the issues we had as a band to finally put them aside and get back together for the reunion. Since then we have gone back to Europe a few times, once for the Headbangers Open Air festival and once for the Keep It True festival. We also reunited again for a hometown show in Thrashville. We have been working on a never ending project of a "Best Of" CD: re-recorded fan picked favorites and a brand new track as well.

  • Speaking of, it seems like many 80's metal bands called it a day by the beginning of the nineties; I'm assuming it's because grunge took over and metal was somewhat on it's way out at that point. What do you think happened in the early 90's and why did Intruder call it quits after the "Psycho Savant" album?

    You hit the nail on the head as far as Grunge. It seemed like overnight, Heavy Metal, whether it (was) thrash, hair band, whatever, just disappeared off the face of the earth. For us, it was the internal strife that blew us apart. After the Psycho tour, we should have taken some time off and gotten away from each other for a while, but our manager insisted that we go right back in the studio. We had been giving it 1000 percent for a decade and as a unit we could not stand to be in the same room together. An analogy I like to give is it's like being married to not 1 wife but 4, AND you have to be around them 24/7 almost all of the time. I’m sure you can imagine what that would be like ;)

  • Now I want to go all the way back to your first album "Live To Die." How did you come to be on Iron Works; it seems like Iron Works had been established for a few years releasing things here and there. I'm assuming Azra Records was the parent company, maybe Iron Works was their heavy metal sublabel.

    They were actually one and the same. It was all run by one man, Dave Richards. We had sent him a demo tape and he liked what he heard and thought it was interesting that we were from Nashville not California, like the Bay area and such. The demo was OK. Pretty amateurish, but I guess it was enough to pique his interest. It took us about a year to complete "Live To Die" and when we sent it to him, he thought we were another band – it was light years better than the demo tape. He really did a lot for the band and got our band out there in the world.

  • What was it like being on Iron Works; did they offer any tour support or merchandising rights? Being in the earliest of days, I'm wondering if they did any press or publicity for the band?

    Being a one man company, he really did not have the money for tour support. But he did pour a lot of money into promotion in the form of ads and interesting vinyl singles - which get big money on EBAY these days – look in your closets folks!

  • "A Higher Form Of Killing" came along and it seemed like you switched from the power metal with thrash overtones to a much more thrash oriented style, which landed you a deal with Metal Blade. What prompted the style change; I don't know though maybe you didn't see the new album as a different "sound," just possibly a progression or evolution of your sound, as the singer Jimmy still hit some high notes on this release.

    Absolutely a change of sound. We were slowly evolving our sound to a more aggressive approach priot to "A.H.F.O.K.," but what almost flipped the switch overnight was one thing: Slayer's "Reign In Blood." We put the LP on, played it over and over and that was it – Let's thrash!! You can hear influences from Slayer in a lot of songs on "A.H.F.O.K.’ What's funny is we got signed to Metal Blade because of the "Live To Die" album. They were pretty surprised when we handed over "A.H.F.O.K." They were still expecting the sound of "L.T.D."

  • How was your deal structured with Metal Blade? Did you have a certain number of albums in your deal? I'm sure Metal Blade did a lot by this time to help your name get more well known.

    I really can't remember how many albums were in the deal. We actually had 2 record deals with Metal Blade. The did a lot to promote us on our first release, (though) not so much later on.

  • Speaking of Metal Blade, you did one more album through them and then the band seemingly called it quits. How did Metal Blade react to this; I'm always curious with bands that still have options on their contracts what happens when the band breaks up; is money owed or does the contract just get "finished?"

    Well, we actually had 3 releases on Metal Blade – "A Higher Form Of Killing" in 1989. The "Escape From Pain" EP in '90 and "Psycho Savant" in '91. We did not call it quits, we were actually dropped by Metal Blade in the middle of the "Psycho" Tour. Our manager said that in her whole career she had never seen a label do that. To this day, we have no idea why that was done. We were having issues with the label, but all I can think is that they wanted to send us a message. Make of that what you will. The contract is finished but we still owe them money. We never made a dime from Metal Blade for our CD's.

  • It seems like Intruder played tons of shows in the 80's, I'm assuming you traveled all over the country! Had you ever made it overseas for shows in the 80's? Tell us about some other bands you played with and some of your most memorable shows? (maybe some funny road stories?)

    Touring was the only way we could make money to live so that is what we did non-stop. Which was the way to really see Intruder. Personally, I thought our records never really captured who we were when we played live. The best complement I can remember receiving was when we played a show at "The Stone," the famous club in San Francisco where thrash bands like Metallica, Megadeth, etc. got their start. To say the owner was kind of gruff is an understatement. We went to get our money and he said, and I quote, "I have seen Metallica and Slayer and you guys blow them away live. Now get the fuck out of my club." That still cracks me up today.

    The tour that will always have the best memories for me was our first tour with Helstar. You know you never forget your first time - whatever it is. James and crew were awesome and it was total debauchery like a good metal tour should be. Wish I could elaborate but we are all married now... wink, wink...

  • The opening of "A Higher Form Of Killing" had those terrorist news stories clips; it was kinda eerie listening to Walter Cronkite's voice!! Anyway, it must seem like a foreshadowing nowadays that we seem to have so many problems with terrorism INSIDE the U.S., as the violence used to be contained overseas.

    Yes, it's actually kind of funny as I got accused of sympathizing with terrorists because of the lyrics I wrote for 'The Martyr.' As I did with all the lyrics I wrote (I wrote the majority of lyrics for all our songs) I went to the library (remember those?) and studied for 2 or 3 weeks about that topic. I wrote the song from a viewpoint of a terrorist. I was fascinated on what compelled them to do what they did. Then I envisioned a terrorist attack in the U.S., which at the time was unheard of. The song was ahead of it's time for sure. A lot of those songs dealt with subjects that were ahead of their time. Another one, for example, was 'Genetic Genocide' which was about the manipulation of genes and the consequences of those actions – Monsanto, are you listening?

  • Do you ever see a war being fought on U.S. soil in the future? I tend to think if anything is going to happen, the people in this country might rise up against the government; it will be interesting to see how that all plays out. I personally don't think this regime will be able to get the military to start firing on it's own citizens...

    That's a great question. Growing up in the 60's and 70's, I saw my fair share of protest and activism. If you are speaking of Revolution, well, anything can happen if history is a lesson. But, personally, I feel that it won't. People have gotten fat and lazy and complacent. They will scream and holler for change but they don't have the balls to make the sacrifices to effect that change. I am not saying everyone is like that, but it will take more than a few to make changes in this society.

  • There seems to be a huge thrash revival going on right now, and many 80's metal bands are seemingly "rising from the ashes" to resurrect their careers, with varying degrees of success. I know Onslaught seems to be doing well, and of course Hallows Eve are still making a go of it, as are Coven (both from Seattle AND Michigan). What bands from the 80's that are going at it today do you enjoy, and what do you think of some of the "newer" bands giving props to their predecessors, like Evile, Gama Bomb, and the like?

    In music, everything is cyclical. And not just music; fashions, etc. from previous decades or 2 come back in vogue as well. But it warms this old thrasher's heart to see the resurgence of thrash. It won't last - no resurgence does. But I think it is great that bands from back in the day, like us, who probably never got a dime from their labels can now go back out and enjoy the spotlight one more time and even make a few bucks while doing it. And it is amazing to me when I hear new bands that have the 80's sound - did these guys go through their parents' collection and listen to the Slayer and Intruder records? In the end, It's just nice to see us old-timers getting (our) props.

  • I've read a few feature interviews with various Intruder members in the pages of Snakepit magazine... Did you ever take part in that? I dunno how those guys do it, but I remember guys like Katon Pena from Hirax being astounded at how much of the early days of the band they remembered, thinking one of them must have been a roadie at one point for the band!!

    The Snakepit interview was with me, if I recall that right. I did the majority of the interviews. I was the unofficial spokesperson for the band as I wrote most of the lyrics. But yes, it's crazy that some people, who had nothing to do with the band, know every little thing about the band and I can't recall a lot of it... guess I had a good time... lol Katon is exactly right!

  • Sadly, the great metal magazines of the 80's and even the 90's died out. Metal Maniacs, Thrash Metal, those guys are no longer around, and it seems like very few magazines still want to carry the torch. With record labels turning to the digital promo pool for bands and magazines getting frustrated at doing too much work for too little pay (or other incentives like getting their CD's from the label), how hard is it today for bands to get their name and their music out there? I know the internet has changed the game for music today; many bands do promotion and press themselves, but even online magazines are necessary to get reviews and interviews out...

    I still have copies of all those magazines from back in the day. Basically, the internet changed all that. One thing is cost and the other is accessibility. No paying for printing, no problems with distribution – put it up on the web, the whole world sees it. Everything evolves, everything changes. As long as those changes are for the better, I am OK with it. The thing I am most happy about is you can actually cut labels out of the mix. It's time for artists to be paid for what they do. In most cases, the label is the pimp and the band are the hookers. For example, we have never made 1 penny in royalties from any of our releases on Metal Blade. You have to remember that every dime they put into you; money for the recording, advertising, touring money, ANY of it, has to be paid back to them before you can earn your measly 1 dollar per CD – and that was when CD's were going for 12 or 13 bucks... or higher...

  • Finally, as we wrap this up, what do you think the future holds for heavy metal? I mean it's going on over 40 years that this genre has been around and survived, I mean grunge came and went, rap is on the decline, and who knows what other musical genres will come and go.

    Music is always evolving and that's good. If you don't evolve you die. Metal will never die. It may not sound like your parents metal, but it will still be a genre that will be loved by many. To a lot of people, it is more than just music, it is a lifestyle, a way of thinking and Heavy Metal fans are some of the most loyal fans in existence.

  • If there's anything else you want to mention that we missed, feel free to do so... Thanks for your time.

    Thanks for the opportunity for the interview. It warms this old metalhead's heart that there is still interest in Intruder after all these years. Metal on!

    MAGISTER TEMPLI. Interview with Baphomet and Abraxas via email...

    We're kinda newcomers to this band, though they definitely seem to have TONS of interesting things to say in their lyrics; most speak to me on a rather spiritual level. Signed to Cruz Del Sur music for their latest album, "Lucifer Leviathan Logos," we discussed more about religion and spirituality topics than the music they make. Still, it makes for interesting reading I think; how many times do you want to understand the ideology behind what makes an artist's vision?

  • I read in an interview you are big fans of black metal. How do you view the events leading up to black metal's rise in popularity today, especially with the church burnings and Varg Vikerne's events up to his release from prison (and recently, his suspected terrorism activities in France!)

    Baphomet: I guess we're all into black metal in some way or the other and three of the guys in our band plays in a black metal band called Svarttjern. Black metal is a big part of our musical heritage and has influenced the whole Norwegian metal scene in different ways. Vikernes is not really a part of the Norwegian scene socially, if he ever has been, so we don't have any inside stories. But I've read some articles and I can't see that he had any plans of terrorism.

    As far as I know, they took him in for questioning because of some political propaganda which he posted in the same time period as his wife bought some new rifles. I've never been a big fan of the church burnings though, because the old stave churches are a part of our old architectural history and I don't think it had anything to do with attacking Christianity. And murder happens everywhere, all the time. But I guess angry, white, middle class, misfit youth can be more dangerous than you might think.

  • So in the album, I'm listening to the opening track and I'm hearing the lyrics, and it seems to me like the temple being mentioned refers to the body of the individual, whereas you also mention the eye, could that be in reference to our third eye, which some spiritual teachers say is the inner eye of understanding?

    Abraxas: Yes, it could definitely relate to the inner eye, or maybe rather the Eye in the Triangle. The temple could be seen as the body, but also as the entire being of the operator/ritualist.

  • I'm also curious about the entity of Leviathan. I always saw Leviathan as a massive creature of the ocean, not unlike the Kraken. But I assume there's a far deeper meaning to the role Leviathan plays in your album.

    Abraxas: Of course, Leviathan is the Chaldean/Biblical creature of chaos that was before the beginning of time. But in the context of our album it is used as a representation of the untamed element of Water in its most passive-aggressive and destructive form. As well as of course some stuff that happened in my life years ago.

  • And of course, there's Lucifer, upon which many texts have been written. How do you view Lucifer's role in the grand scheme of things? Many satanists I have spoken to either worship Lucifer as the supreme being over all, or take a different look at the rebel angel as merely an archetype, a figurehead if you will that merely points the way.

    Abraxas: In many ways I see Lucifer as the first patron saint of Gnosticism rebelling against an insane God. But on this record we aimed for a more traditional view. I did of course want to make a musical representation of the concept of the fallen angel. But the song actually ended up being more about the fall itself. Simplified you could say that the album as a whole is made to be a movement of one being from the fall, through a deep watery diabolical state and to a final restoration.

  • Either way, what gets me about Satanism is mostly, besides what Anton LaVey wrote and other people from years past (Crowley to a degree), what we know about the Devil's activities is mainly limited to what's been written about him in the bible. And if you don't believe in christianity, it's hard to adopt a pure "satanic" stance, since most of the rites and rituals are just inversions of christianity's own rites and rituals.

    Baphomet: We are not a satanic band as such, even though some members of our band are influenced by LaVey. The teachings of LaVey are not a "pure satanic" stance in a religious sense, more of an ideology of aggressive atheism and a rebellion against the Christian code of ethics. The inversion of Christian symbols is a big part of this rebellion. You don't need to believe there is a Christian god to be Satanist in this way. Anyway, using known cultural objects can also be powerful tools when you perform rituals.

  • Even though called "the rebel angel," in many cases rebellion becomes necessary. In our country, had we not rebelled, we would probably still be under the tyrannical rule of the king of England. To carry this a step further, what we can assume about Jesus was that he was also a "rebel" of sorts, in that he didn't necessarily come to this realm to "play by men's rules." He pretty much refuted many of the Jewish laws and traditions, seeing the need for true change.

    Abraxas: I have nothing against Jesus, in fact, I studied Christianity at the University. I'm not a Christian myself of course, but as the Norwegian saying goes: "Even the Devil reads the bible." On the other hand I have nothing against Judaism either, in fact Rabbi Isaac Luria is one of my great heroes... he was a rebel of sorts too...

  • It's rather funny to me that most of what christians know about their "god" is what is written in the bible, flawed though it may be, and that's pretty much it. Of course, they don't question it even though most modern day christian celebrations and rites are strictly borrowed from paganism. Furthermore, the bible as a "complete" book wasn't even really codified until the 1600's.

    Abraxas: Weird as it may sound, I view the lack of knowledge about the bible as a huge problem today; after all until recently everyone read it and went to church every Sunday. Because of this all of European-American culture is filled with references to that book. This goes, not just Christian writers or artists, but also for skeptics and the critics of Christianity. The problem is that when people today read say Percy Shelley, without knowing what Tabernacle or 40 days signifies, they miss a lot of great references and sometimes even the point of the whole poem. OK, I have no idea if Shelley ever talks about the Tabernacle, but you get my point.

    I'm not sure what you mean by codified, before the reformation everyone did of course use the Vulgate for a thousand years, but only clergy ever got to read it because it was in Latin – Imagine what fantastic stuff common man made up and blended into his own Christianity without ever looking at the Bible at all! I'd recommend a book called "The Night Battles" by Carlo Ginzburg for a wonderful glimpse into the world of mixed Christianity and folklore. Am I getting boring now?

  • When you mention the concept of "love," (and I always cringe when I see 80's metal bands doing "the power ballad), it seems to me like the phrase I remember most is "love under will, love is the law," which was even mentioned by the band Behemoth in one of their most vicious albums. Jesus also said to love one another, though in many concepts I guess it's easy to dismiss "love" to a degree because it tends to sound like a rather fruity Christian concept...

    Abraxas: Well my origin is the same as yours here. Both the phrase "Love is the law, Love under Will" and "...That I will love all things..." derive from Aliester Crowely. Behemoth's quote is from "The Book Of The Law" and ours is from "The Oath Of The Abyss." So no, it's not an "I love you" thought behind it.

  • The biggest problem I see with religions, not just christianity, is that they have refused to advance and evolve with the modern day times. Even the bible writers like Paul and some of the apostles still held the belief that women should be subservient to their husbands, and there was a general belief that women were still considered second class citizens. Obviously, that's not the case today, and most women would never hold those views in this day and age but still cling to the old world beliefs that should have been abolished centuries ago.

    Baphomet: Sometimes it seems that religion doesn't really evolve; people adapt their religion to things like economic liberalism, often parting with core values in their religion. If someone tells me they're Christian, it doesn't tell me anything really: it's all a mess. In a church in Oslo you'll never hear the name Satan, but if you travel to the west of our country the church house walls do reek of sulfur.
    Abraxas: And we're not talking Alchemical Sulfur here.

  • So being from Norway, have you heard of the organization called the Dragon Rouge? I have read up on a lot of their doctrines and beliefs, and I like it that they are interested in psychology, religion, science, culture and philosophy. What's most impressive to me is their culling of Nordic, Egyptian and Luciferian concepts together, instead of binding themselves to one belief structure.

    Abraxas: Yes, but it’s been a while since they've been active in Norway, not sure though since my days of googling esoteric orders are over. We had a Misantropic Luciferian Order in Norway for a while, but I don't know what happened to them. My point of view has always been that if you want to get to the bottom of things you have to see both sides. That is both Christian and Satanic or in this case both Traditional Kabbalah (quabala, qblh etc.) and Qliphotic Kabbalah. So I guess I stand with the more boring, traditional, western occult/hermetic people on this one.

  • So speaking a bit about your musical influences, it's obvious that there's some doom metal influence, but the choppy and almost thrash like guitar work rears it's head many times. What were your influences music wise for Magister Templi?

    Baphomet: The faster parts stems from our love for old school heavy metal, bands like Saxon, Angel Witch, Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate. An important influence is Trouble and their way to blend the heavy, ritual-like doom feel with the beer-throwing-punch-you-in-face heavy metal. I personally listen a lot to weird 70's band like Comus and Popul Vuh, which gives you an urge to give genre rules the finger. Even though our music is recognizable and has a lot of classic influences, the process of making them is rather free floating, though often tightly knitted to the lyrical themes.

  • I was intrigued to see the song 'Innsmouth Look,' and am a HUGE H.P. Lovecraft fan. I remember seeing the movie adaptation of Dagon which was pretty kick ass, but I don't remember the opening vocal sample (of that freaked out guy). Where did the vocal sample come from?

    Baphomet: I agree about the movie. I was pleasantly surprised by the adaption. But the sample is not from the movie, it's actually from a great radio theater edition of "A Shadow Over Innsmouth."

  • Will there be more songs dealing with the Lovecraft universe? I know there seems to be quite a few songs popping up here and there, I know bands like Fungoid Stream base their entire album structures upon his work, and other bands like The Howling Void, Bal Sagoth, and The Great Old Ones pay many tributes to his work.

    Baphomet: Don't forget Electric Wizard and the awesome band from the 60's H.P. Lovecraft! We love that stuff, but the main focus of Magister Templi lies elsewhere. We'll see in the future...

  • So are you into any spiritual concepts? I dig teachers like Bob Proctor, and of course some of the old literature writers like Napolean Hill and Raymond Holliwell. Some people write off spirituality in this day and age as "fruity, new age shit with crystals" and all, but the difference between spirituality and religion is with spirituality, the focus is on evolution and growth of the individual on a constant basis, whereas religions are all about the herd mentality, throwing upon you the old set of laws designed to keep you controlled and doing what they think you should be doing...

    Abraxas: I think the main thing in a healthy spiritualism is to constantly challenge your own view of the world. The moment you start focusing on reaffirming the things you believe in you become a dogmatic religious. In my opinion this is an equally dangerous trap whether you're into crystals, Ritual Magick or Darwin. The moment you start looking for things to confirm your beliefs instead of things to challenge it you are screwed.

  • Finally, I know if there were gods and/or goddesses, their agendas must obviously be above mortal comprehension. The concepts of "good" and "evil" are merely human definitions and designs, hell everything we think we know about creation and what "gods" and "devils" are were thought out entirely by the human mind and written with the human hand, regardless of whether you believe these books were written under "divine influence" or "higher power inspiration" or what have you...

    Baphomet: Good and evil are necessary cultural concepts for social integration and relative to context and culture. It tells us if we're in with the "in" crowd or not. There is great power in store for the guys who define these concepts if the people find them legit. But I cannot totally exclude the idea that real divine inspiration exists, because most of the questions are beyond our comprehension. I guess I'm a seeker of spiritual inspiration and I don't oppose religion (whatever that is) per se, but religious power and blind, irrational faith is really the strangest part of human madness.

    Abraxas: I work with Gods and Demons more pragmatically I think, more as psychological archetypes that I use to tap into a specific mindset. I do believe in inspiration though, and I also do believe that you can provoke inspiration to happen and give it a particular flavor. But whether it's divine or not I have no idea. Perhaps... If I am to call anything divine it would be the state of inspiration.

    PALLBEARER. Interview with Joe Roland via email.

    Pallbearer. Yet another band interviewed in this issue who have released their debut album; in fact, you'll find most of the interviews this issue are with brand new faces to the music world. Their debut release "Sorrow And Extinction" has even been called debut doom release of 2012, and I could totally see that. Folks, this is one of THREE interviews that came back within a week of the magazine's release, in fact this particular interview, not only did we not think to be able to have it, but it came in a mere 24 hours before this issue went to "press." So honored and greatful we are that they took time out of their busy schedule to present this to us, and now to the world...

  • The last time we saw you play was in Atlanta, and what a killer show that was! Unfortunately, we couldn't hear the vocals at this club; sadly this wasn't the first time this happened with bands at this particular location. So really, do some venues have problems mixing your sound right? Agalloch played there and even though they use lots of effects and switches, their sound suffered there as well.

    This normally isn't an issue. I'm not sure what the problem was that particular night, but for whatever reason, the engineer running sound was having difficulty with the mic feeding back, so the vocals ended up getting cut out entirely. We also had a speaker blow in one of our guitar cabs, which led to some problems, so overall, it was just not the best unfortunately, but not typical.

  • You guys seem to take the more, what I term as the "While Heaven Wept" approach to doom; IE, the clean sung vocals, a more upbeat approach in song writing structures. It's definitely different compared to most of what doom metal is doing these days.

    We are definitely fans of While Heaven Wept, particularly their older material with Tom Phillips still on lead vocals.

  • Are you a fan of extreme vocals in doom metal? I was surprised when While Heaven Wept did a very few on one of their earlier albums. Any chance you might utilize death or black metal vocals yourself on a future release?

    We have some sections on some of the newer material that have a slightly aggressive edge, but it's fairly safe to say that we'll never venture into more extreme death/black styles with the vocals. It works for a lot of other bands but that's just not something we're interested in terms of Pallbearer.

  • Speaking of future releases, I remember hearing an upcoming tune on tour that sounded really good and if I remember correctly, seemed like it had a long running time. Anything you can tell us about the next record; song titles, themes, artwork, anything at all?

    That's still under wraps for the time being, sorry! We will be releasing a new album in 2014. There will be more detailed announcements when the time comes, but for now, that's all I can share.

  • How were shows in other cities? It seems like you guys are on the road ALL the time! Tell us about some of your more recent excursions; any funny road stories? I'm curious how you guys went down at the Housecore Horror Film Festival, did you get to meet Phil? How receptive was he to your music?

    We have been on the road quite a bit this year, and we actually met Phil prior to HHFF, at (the)Heavy MTL Festival in Montreal. He's quite a character! We ended up drinking with him at the end of the day that we both performed. I have no idea what he thinks about our music, but we enjoyed our bit of time hanging out. I think a lot our road stories that we find funny might be lost on most people, although, Phil Anselmo did threaten to poke my eye out with a feather. So there's that.

  • So just off topic for a second, what do you think of Candlemass calling it quits after so many years? It was a shame that Robert Lowe wasn't allowed to continue, as I thought his voice was stellar; he just couldn't seem to keep up on the live front.

    Personally, I'm not really a fan of the more recent Candlemass output, so it didn't really affect me much. They don't seem to be curtailing their live appearances, so I don't think it's really a big deal.

  • So I see where you guys are on Profound Lore Records, also the home to Agalloch interestingly enough. How are they as a label? I must confess I don't really know much about them, they seem like a small independent label. What's your record deal structured like? Are they helping out with the tours, as you guys seem to ALWAYS be on the road.

    Profound Lore is a small, but effective operation. Chris does a stellar job and honestly these days is easily giving any other underground metal label a run for their money, so to speak, in my opinion. Profound Lore has helped out on some select bits of touring, like our run with Enslaved, but we are lucky enough to have both a very good management company and booking agent that have helped us immeasurably, alongside Profound Lore. They are all key to us being able to do what we do, on the level and frequency that it has been to this point.

  • It always seems like a lot of doom metal comes from Europe; of course several doom bands have long histories that DON'T come from Europe (Scandinavia in particular) like Black Sabbath, Trouble and even Pentagram. I always like to see good bands come from the U.S. and prove that there are good musicians that can rise up from anywhere...

    There are good bands all over the world; I think with music being so readily available via the internet a lot of the regional idiosyncrasies style-wise are starting to get blurred a bit, for better or for worse.

  • There's a few sites out there that have recommended "Sorrow And Extinction" for doom metal album of 2012... Is that going to put pressure on you to come up with a better album number 2? I've seen many debut releases from new bands that just blew my mind; Caladan Brood's brand new release is one that has blown me away in 2013 for sure.

    We're just looking to release a logical set of pieces that reflect where we are as musicians and as people, just as the first album was to us. That's the only thing we feel we can do, so everything else is secondary. I can't say I've heard any debut albums in 2013 that really floored me, but there have definitely been some very solid releases, namely Pinkish Black's "Razed To The Ground" and Vastum's "Patricidal Lust."

  • How do you see the future of doom metal? It's not a hugely popular genre, or at least it used to not be, but lately I see a lot of up and coming doom acts. Is the genre becoming stale? I know we still have funeral doom, doom/death and some of the hybrids.

    I can't really say. I still think there is a lot of vitality, IF bands will think outside the box a bit. I think the genre has gotten flooded with bands that are a little less creative and inspiring and way more formulaic than I would prefer.

  • Do you think humanity is truly "devoid of redemption?" I know religion has a way of making people feel like we're powerless to change our lives without putting all our hopes and trust in an invisibile sky dweller. It's one thing I love about the spiritual path to enlightenment; it teaches us that the power to alter or change our destiny and our every day reality lies in us recognizing our own godlike powers of thought and manifestation...

    Well, that song isn't so much of a grand statement, as it is more of a cautionary tale. People can believe what they want; we're not looking to force any ideology, or lack thereof on anyone.

  • I've noticed a lot of extended, what I call instrumental "jam sessions." Some people point to bands like the Greatful Dead and Phish who do this, but I've seen groups like Spirit Caravan and some doom metal bands (most recently Jex Thoth from here in the States) add extended instrumental passages to their music. Just curious where your head is at when writing these types of songs.

    The improvisational aspect comes pretty readily to us, and we enjoy being able to tap into different levels of dynamics and emotions that are afforded by not having a totally strict structure to certain sections of songs; plus, it can give the audience a totally unique experience every time. That's something I personally would connect with, if I had the opportunity to switch roles from performer to audience member.

  • If there's anything else you wanna talk about that we missed, feel free to use this space here! Thanks again, hopefully you can come back around to tour again and we can hear the vocals clearly next time!

    Thanks, hopefully next time everything goes as smoothly as usual!

    SAMMAL. Interview with Jura Salmi via email.

    The Hammond organ... One of my favorite "non-metal" instruments. My interest in this band was a direct result of hearing these were used to ungodly effect, especially since many of you know my fascination with the German electronic band Hacienda (a band for whom we coined the phrase "stoner's techno.") This was a strange release we found at first to be on Svart, a label that so far dealt in heavier things. Surprising still that this band does have a tendency to just flat out "rock," and some of their heavier moments will surprise you. Choosing to sing all in their native Finnish tongue, this band is nothing like what you'd expect and everything to do with innovation, progression and forward thinking in music... We're honored to feature these chaps this issue...

  • Are you somewhat surprised to see press and coverage in primarily heavy metal magazines?

    Well, not really since Svart Records has been primarily known to put out heavier stuff. So I guess the contacts to heavy metal press dictate where our album was received.

  • I really enjoy the hammond organ sounds on your album. I would have to say that the Hammond organ is very psychedelic and one of my favorite "non metal" instruments!

    Mine too. It was clear from the start, that in Sammal we wanted to have one guitar and Hammond, or other keyboards. We didn't want to have the typical twin guitar assault.

  • Have you ever heard of the German electronic band Hacienda? They create what I termed a long time ago as "stoner's techno," as it's really trippy and mellow electronic music that sometimes gets a little wacky.

    Sorry to say, that I haven't listened to them. I'll have to check them out. To me stoner's techno would be Can or NEU or stuff like that.

  • So how did you come to be on Svart Records?

    We'd been creating a little buzz or hype, around Turku playing shows, and getting received well. After one show, Kimi Karki posted on Facebook, that Svart guys should really pay attention to us, 'cause we were about to release the album ourselves. We'd been in talks with Svart earlier, and decided to post them some MP3's one more time. So Kimi helped, and the local "bubbling under" (was a) success.

  • I would say that so far, even though there are a lot of metal bands on Svart, they DEFINITELY have a vision that goes far beyond the metal genre!

    Yeah, I think they΄re really doing a favor for the Finnish music culture. In my opinion they're like a renaissance label. Hats off to them really, and a deep bow!

  • Now it was cool to hear the Finnish language so clearly; I am not afraid to get into bands that prefer NOT to sing in English! (Finntroll would be a great example!) Are there ever to be any plans to sing in English?

    We've had bands, where we sang in English, and even now we recorded a cover song in English. (It) didn't quite make it to the next release.

  • The Finnish language... How similar is it to Norwegian and Swedish? Can people from these three countries understand each other's languages well, or do you all utilize English when speaking to one another?

    Finnish belongs to (the) fenno-ugric language family, so it's related to Estonian, Hungarian and some say, even Turkish. We have quite a lot of borrowed words from Swedish, especially here on the west coast, where there's about 7% of (the) people speaking Swedish as their native tongue. But no, languages are totally different. Norwegians, Swedes and Danes understand each other pretty well, but we have to talk English or Swedish with them. They might know one word of Finnish, and it's Perkele!

  • Finland has a unique history of music when it comes to metal: so far I have interviewed one of the first Finnish heavy metal bands in Sarcofagus, and also one of the first Finnish doom metal bands in Spiritus Mortis! Are you into any other Finnish bands and/or these?

    Yeah I like Sarcofagus, the 80's stuff really. Rajuilma was a good band too. And personally, I was really into early Sentenced and Amorphis. Now my Finnish metal favourites are Lost Society and Oranssi Pazuzu.

  • We here at Vibrations Of Doom have a large collection of 80's metal gems from around the globe; sadly it seems like there weren't a huge amount of 80's metal bands like in other areas. What were some of your favorite Finnish bands both metal and non-metal from the 80's?

    I used to like Cobra and Iron Cross in the 80's. They're kind of heavy/hard rock. Peer Gunt was a really nice blues rock band. Then there was Dingo, the biggest band ever within Finnish borders and of course Hanoi Rocks. Mostly I listened to stuff like W.A.S.P., Pretty Maids, Helloween, Kiss etc. in the 80's.

  • I know personally it took a long time for non-English singing bands to really break in over here in the U.S. I think Rammstein somewhat paved the way, as they are somewhat popular over here having done several tours, a few radio hits, and even a song or two in a few movies! Of course, industrial music (bands like Laibach and Die Krupps) seems to be one of the first genres to really push bands singing in their native tongue. And of course, the harsh sounding German language fits REALLY well with aggressive music!

    Yeah. Rammstein with the Hitler's speech German. Heh. I was flabbergasted, when one time I was watching Conan O' Brien, and they had a band called Dungen from Sweden, and they sang in Swedish on U.S. national TV. That was pretty awesome. We never really thought, that Sammal would be reviewed abroad, because we chose to sing in Finnish, so it's really a nice surprise for us, that so many positive reviews from so many countries have surfaced.

  • So do you know much about the Kalevala? It's one of the books I hear about when talking about Finnish mythology and legend; sadly I don't know much about it. Tell us about some cool stories or legends from the Kalevala.

    You should listen and read the lyrics to Amorphis' "Tales From The Thousand Lakes." That pretty much covers all the cool stories. My favourite is the character Antero Vipunen. This quote is from Wikipedia: "Antero Vipunen is a giant who figures in Finnish mythology and Kalevala folk poetry. He is buried underground and possesses some very valuable ancient incantations. The god-hero Vainamoinen has an incantation with three words or "luotes" missing. In order to get them, he goes to wake up the sleeping Vipunen by putting sharp stakes into his grave or through his mouth to his stomach. Vainamoinen hits Vipunen in the stomach so hard that he gives up, and hands over the words to get rid of (the) stomach-ache."

  • It seems that no matter WHAT genre of music is in question, Scandinavian bands seem to pick up on the genre and produce many great bands that take the framework and run with it. Of course, if not for Norway we wouldn't have great black metal, but stoner rock, gothic, doom metal and death metal have HUGE roots in Scandinavia. Why do you think it is that Scandinavia produces so many quality bands? Many are hugely popular here in the States, especially bands like In Flames, The Haunted, Dimmu Borgir and Mayhem.

    Our summers are so short, that we dwell in darkness throughout most of the year. You tend to drink beer and imagine stuff, write stories, learn how to play instruments just to entertain yourselves. And the mythology is still strong here. Christianity and the Roman empire never really conquered the north the way it did in some southern countries.

  • So I see that psychedelia influences a lot of the sound of your album; tell us about how Finland was during the psychedelic 60's that the U.S. went through?

    In the 60's Finland was still heavily pressured by the Soviet Union, so there were socialists and capitalists here that defended their own agendas. Socialist or left wing people were the ones doing most of the art & music back then. I think it was a time of social turmoil, a bit like in U.S. but about different things. People here too protested against the Vietnam war, mourned the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, but from a different view. I guess some people smoked cannabis, mostly hash, and The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix played here. But mostly people were rebuilding the country after the 2nd World War, where Finland defended themselves against Soviets.

  • I noticed with your album that the songs kinda jump around A LOT. Like there's a few melodic and kinda "quiet" songs, then some tunes that get a little heavy and start to rock, and then some instrumental jams.

    It's our way of being progressive. (We) tend to get bored easily if repeating the same riff for too long.

  • I've also made an observation that many bands who have a singer who ALSO plays an instrument; there's a LOT more instrumental passages in songs than vocals, why do you think this is? I know your album seems to be that way at times. At least on stage when there's no vocals the singer isn't just standing around or trying to figure out what to do!

    I think our singer considers himself as one of the instrumentalists even when just singing. But he plays congas and percussions, and is a quite good drummer. We recorded the early stuff with me on guitars and bass, and him on drums and vocals.

  • Now I'm curious: I put this question to Hacienda, and I guess it's fitting here: are there ever any "mind altering substances" consumed to write the songs for an album? Some of the world's greatest music was written "under the influence," heck without certain drugs I'm sure the Beatles' music wouldn't have been as good as it was...

    Mostly I tend to write sober, but when jamming with the band getting the tunes ready, well... you know. Beer and weed might be consumed. And sometimes mixing a song, or adding instruments on tracks, it's sometimes helpful to be a bit more relaxed.

  • So is Sammal a live entity? I'm just curious what sort of bands you would play with live, as I don't know how a metal festival would react to you guys. Tell us about some shows you've played, and how they went down; have you traveled outside of Finland to play?

    We tend to get gigs with other psychedelic proggy bands, and sometimes with a bit heavier, doomier groups. Really we're hoping to get to play Roadburn in (The) Netherlands, but I guess (we) didn't get the job this year. I think you can put us on any bill, and we'll pull through; just because we are an entity, and not really tied to any genre too strongly. Shows have been going mostly well, and there seems to be more people coming to places or cities we've played before, so I take that as a good sign. (We) just played our first gig abroad, in Tallinn, capital of Estonia. Shared the stage with Taak and Smouk, Estonian bands, and the audience seemed to like our set too, and bought all the vinyls and t-shirt we had left!

  • Finally, any plans for another album? Any song titles or themes, ideas floating around? Would love to see you guys come to the States!

    Our next release is coming out in January 2014, it's an interlude between the first album and the second. Most of the songs for the second are somewhat composed, but (we) still have to work on them quite a bit. I think the second full length will be darker in some ways, but maybe not heavier in sound. Let us see what comes forth! Ha! And it would be more than cool to come to the States. (A) dream come true to be honest. And I could maybe visit my old neighborhood in Ringgold, Georgia, where I spent a year as an exchange student in the 90's.

    SPEEDTRAP. Interview with Ville via email.

    Yet another Finnish entity; there seems to be a few of them this issue! Sadly, we were not able to get the review of their latest full length in this issue, though suffice it to say they are not only newcomers (though they did release the "Raw Deal" EP in 2009, this is their first full length), but they have a rather unique way of mixing TRUE 80's styled power metal with speed and some punk thrown in for good measure. An explosive debut, one that we can't afford to NOT review next issue!

  • So I'm curious how you guys landed on Svart Records. I know they signed quite a few bands, it's a shame the Bedemon record didn't turn out so well. It's nice to see they have Church Of Void & Deathchain...

    Usually we've been in contact with labels asking for a deal after we have the master tape in our hands, but this time things were a lot easier. We recorded a 6-track rehearsal tape in December 2011 and somehow Svart Records heard about the tape last year. They asked us to send 'em the tape, which then resulted in Svart Records offering us a pretty good deal for a full-length album. A few other labels were also interested in releasing our LP, but since they never replied to e-mails or phone calls, we decided to go with Svart.

  • Are you fans of bands like Midnight and Speedwolf? I could easily see this band signed to Hell's Headbanger Records here in the States, as those other two bands have a similar approach to heavy metal.

    Midnight are great (especially 'Destroy Tsunami's Power' on the benefit 7" they did with Toxic Holocaust a couple of years back), but I haven't really checked out Speedwolf. Only heard a couple of songs but for some reason didn't pay much attention to it. I should probably check 'em again just to make sure I haven't missed anything cool.

  • Even though this is only your first full length, it's obvious the band has been around for quite a bit. Did you guys play in any other bands prior to this one?

    All of us have been playing in several bands over the years, and we still do. When we started this band in 2007 Jori was playing drums for a thrash metal band Nailgunner, myself and Markus had a thrash band called Pyrotoxic, and Miika used to play drums for a "NWOBHM-ish" band Tiger. All of those bands were kind of falling apart bit by bit, and since we all shared the same kind of interest in fast heavy metal, we thought that the time was right to start a band like this.

  • How versed in 80's metal are you guys? I know about bands like Sarcofagus from Finland, one of the first metal groups in Finland, and I'm also a huge fan of Spiritus Mortis, one of the first Finnish doom bands. Any rare, unknown or classic metal bands you were a fan of?

    At some point I spent quite awhile buying every NWOBHM or US METAL record I could get my hands on, but I had to stop that 'cause I really couldn't afford to do that anymore. Anyway, all of us have been listening to 80's heavy/speed metal since we were kids so I guess you could say we're quite versed in 80's metal.

    If you're looking for obscure finnish gems you should definitely check out these:

    Riff Raff – Robot Stud LP
    Stud – Ma Haluun Elaa/Viimeinen Yo 7"
    Crom – Earth Queen/Eyes Of Fire 7"
    Kimmo Kuusniemi Band – Moottorilinnut LP

    There's a lot more and you can find most of the stuff from blogs and web archives.

  • When I think of bands like Midnight, Speedwolf and you guys, I wonder if bands like this COULD have existed in the 80's? I'm guessing partly no, simply because the second wave of black metal, especially vocal wise, didn't start up until the early 90's...

    It's true that the raw vocal style wasn't too common in the metal scene in the 80's, but since early thrash and speed metal bands were influenced by punk rock and hardcore (Overkill covered Canada's Subhumans, the Holy Terror guys used to play in punk bands and later on joined Zeke, etc.), it would've been possible to pick up the raw vocals from punk bands. It's hard to say whether metal bands wanted to associate their music with elements from different genres, but I think it was all there even in the 80's. It was just a matter of putting it all together.

  • So if there was that ONE band from the 80's that sounded even remotely close to what you guys are doing now, who would it be?

    I'd have to say Blood Money from the UK, especially their first LP "Red, Raw And Bleeding." I guess that's pretty close to what we're doing now, and the band has been a huge influence to us since the very beginning.

  • Your sound, as I've characterized it to others who asked me about you, seems to me to represent true 80's style power metal and speed metal, with some of the punk attitude represented... How far off the mark am I?

    The punk influences are definitely there. In fact I spend way more time with punk and hardcore than metal music. When we first talked about starting a band, we wanted to make something like diamond head on 45 RPM, or the kind of stuff you can find on the early Razor and Exciter records. Later on the sound developed a bit when we wanted to have this super high speed-rock 'n' roll feel to it.

  • Power metal, like black metal, means something different in this day and age. I think of bands like Liege Lord, Omen, Armored Saint and the like when I think of power metal bands, but nowadays it seems like power metal means bands like Rhapsody who have tons of keyboards, progressive grooves, tons of high note singers, and a general "cheesy" factor, especially in their lyrics.

    It's pretty unfortunate that a lot of people don't wanna check out any early power metal, because they might think it's gonna be something like Rhapsody, Freedom Call or some other shit like that. Feels like a lot bands didn't get the appreciation they should have back in the day. I mean, Savage Grace or Liege Lord never got big, right? Nowadays power metal seems to be mostly over produced high-pitched bullshit with stupid lyrics. Definitely not my cup of tea.

  • Your lyrics seem to focus on strength and pride. I know most people I was associated with when I was younger still listen to metal in this day and age. It's amazing to me that heavy metal has survived to this day, when many "fads" in music, like grunge or alternative, have faded completely. Metal seems to have always been around, even through some of it's roughest periods during the 90's.

    Metal music survived, but at some point its evolution seems to have taken a few wrong turns. Early 90's was OK, I love the early 90's death metal stuff for example, but somewhere around the year 2000 there was definitely a rough period with all the rap-metal stuff and such nonsense. (But) then again, a lot of stuff survived the 90's besides metal. Mainstream music trends don't seem to have that much effect on hardcore punk or blues for example.

  • Nowadays, bands seem to be combining styles and genres, giving metal a somewhat "new twist," especially with metal bands mixing in folk influences, bands mixing metal genres (like black metal and thrash, etc.) and even going so far as to add electronic and industrial elements. Where do you see metal headed for the next 40 years when all it's pioneers are long gone?

    Looking back on what metal used to be in the 70's and 80's, and what it is now, I can’t say I'm too optimistic about the future of metal music. I've never been much of a fan of industrial metal and, living in Finland, I've been really fed up with the wave of folk metal that's been around for a while now. I kinda get it why the folk metal bands got big, but I'm not really into wearing dead animals and playing accordion at a metal show.
    On the other hand, there have been quite a few bands combining punk and metal in different ways, and it seems to work out well for some bands. Not everyone has succeeded, but who knows; someone just might make stuff that's as good as (the) Plasmatics or English Dogs for example.

  • Now that you've finished the album, what are you most proud of? Anything you wish you could have done differently? I know some bands rave on and on about how "this is our best album we've ever made," and then you read an interview with them a few years later, in retrospect, where they're saying the same thing about their next album, while seeing a few flaws in their last release.

    It's easy for me to say that "Powerdose" is the best album we've ever made since it's the first one, but I honestly think it's also a huge step forward in songwriting and performance. Probably in a few years I'm starting to find some flaws in this album, but for now I'm just really glad we finally got this thing done. Some of the songs have been around for a few years already, and the album as a whole might not seem too fresh to us since we've been playing these songs for a long time before actually recording the album. The first 2 tracks on the B-side ('Powerdose' and 'Battle Cry') are the only songs that we finished this year, so it's still kinda hard to form an opinion about those two.

    It's true that most bands brag about their new albums and say it's the best thing they've ever recorded, but I guess it's partly a way to advertise the new album, even though the bands might know they haven't really hit the jackpot. I really liked the Circle (experimental group from Pori, Finland) interview a couple of years back when they were saying their new album is maybe the 4th best thing they've recorded.

  • Have you guys any tour plans or overseas dates planned? Have any of you ever been on that 70,000 Tons Of Metal Cruise or the Barge To Hell? I hear those are fun events!!!

    We don't really have any tour dates planned yet, but if we find the time we might be playing some shows in Europe early next year. This year we've got some dates in Finland, including a few record release shows with Ranger (who are also releasing a 12" on Ektro Records btw). We've been touring a lot with other bands, but Speedtrap have only played a handful of shows outside Finland so far, so it would be great to tour more, and I think we're gonna put more focus on Speedtrap after the album is out. I've never been on a metal cruise, and to be honest I've never even heard of those. Might have to check 'em out at some point.

    WHO DIES IN SIBERIAN SLUSH. Interview with Evander via email...

    I remember when I received the first Who Dies... album awhile ago. Now, I will admit that it didn't strike me right off the bat. However, things have improved a bit since that earliest of outings. "We Who Have Been Dead Since Long Ago," their newest full length, may not convert those who weren't paying attention the first time around, but the band is definitely sincere. I found myself fascinated by the opening track and actually having a Russian artist teach ME something about a historical event in my own country I knew nothing about was humbling. No folks, truth be told, though I AM a fan of history I do NOT know everything, and musical history included. Still, even though I touch upon certain themes and topics with many interviewers, I was very much into reading the answers I got back, as many of them speak to me on different levels. The band is signed to Solitude Productions, and that may be reason enough for you to check out this interview...

  • Your latest album "We Have Been Dead Since Long Ago" starts off with a very interesting subject matter, that of the life (and death) of Marvin Heemeyer. I must say I've never seen any other songs written about him; stranger still since the events surrounding his bulldozer incident happened here in the United States. How did you come to know about him and what made you decide to write a song about him?

    One can have different opinions on the character of Marvin Heemeyer, as well as of his deeds, but only one thing is clear: that man defended his rights desperately, engaged his enemies in a hopeless fight, well aware of its tragic finale. In his deeds we saw a display of what we could call "Russian spirit" and decided to highlight that. Yes, we have many heroes, but this time we decided to dedicate the first track of our album to Marvin John Heemeyer, an ordinary American welder.

  • There are quite a few recorded vocal samples from the song about Marvin, how did you come to obtain them?

    All the samples were acquired on the Internet from open sources and were subjected to a bit of editing. We wanted to convey the mood of our main character and the atmosphere of the occurrences as fully as possible, and doing it within a short track was not that easy. That's why I decided to resort to these kinds of quotes.

  • So what do you think it is about Solitude Productions that signs so many good quality bands?

    Solitude Productions is a serious world-class player, never mind its indie status. There is nothing surprising about the label being capable of signing so many good bands, and not only Russian ones at that. The distribution reach, the amount of releases, as well as the sheer volume of successful work, calls for my sincere respect. With the current ever decreasing sales of CD's, I cannot call Solitude Productions anything other than art patrons.

  • I know some doom bands want to play slow and brutal, while others strive more for emotional content... Still other doom bands want to write catchy songs with hooks, catchy choruses and good riffs. What to you makes for an enjoyable doom listening experience?

    We don't strive for a comfortable perception of our material, and we don't commit exclusively to any specific musical framework. All we do is deliver our message to the listener by any means we find appropriate at the time. For instance, our second album showcases new arrangements of two tracks previously featured on our split with Ego Depths. The same goes for live performances – we play our stuff the way we find it to be most relevant at that point.

  • How do you see the progression from your first album "Bitterness..." to this latest release? Are there different recording techniques, things you learned to do differently or better?

    In my opinion, the material on the new W.D.I.S.S. LP has become more musically complex and technically demanding; many new and different stylistic inclusions have appeared, as well as mood swings. No new technical methods worth mentioning have been used on this album. The recording equipment and its configuration changed a bit, some instruments changed. On our second LP we decided not to use synths the way we did before. It's the listener's call, if this was for worse or better. As for us, we are satisfied with the interaction with Primordial Studio, as well as with the end result.

  • Now I read an interview with you some time ago, where you mentioned the theme of the latest album talks about the hopeless struggle of a person against circumstances, and the death of an individual. Do you think there's hope for people in this life? CAN people overcome their circumstances and achieve their goals?

    Yes, I believe that if they really want to, people can overcome the circumstances they find themselves in, and even derive profit from it. The question is only what kind of profit that will be. We are all mortal and the outcome of everyone's life is one – death. Death is one way to overcome circumstances. Would you be satisfied with the result even if you're dead? There are as many answers as there are people.

  • And while on that subject, some believe that this life is a trial, a test for what lies beyond; that death isn't the end of a person's existence but that something happens after death where the person lives on. We all seem to want to avoid dying but we ALSO seem to have some inborn instinct to want to live forever as it will.. What are your thoughts on this?

    As far as I know, many different psychology "schools" single out the instinct of survival as a primary one. Can we equate the instinct of survival with our wish to live eternally? That's a big question. Some psychology "schools" postulate, alongside life instincts, the existence of death instincts, those that "tend to drive living creatures towards death." So, on an instinctual level, does a human really long for eternal life or the other way around, does he subconsciously seek to break the circle once and for all? It is not meant for me to know what there is on the other side. I'm an ordinary human being burdened by worldly vices, this knowledge is hidden from me. When my time comes and death takes me into its embrace – then it'll become clear to me. I'm afraid I won't be then in the position to share my personal experience in regards to the subject with you, though :)

  • Do you think the religions of this world can offer man ANY comfort? I know personally the spiritual teachings have helped greatly: I see religions just basically forcing people to conform to the herd mentality, whereas spirituality helps a person with their individual growth and "evolution" if you will... I obviously take more comfort in spiritual ideologies than any of man's religions.

    I don't like the word itself – "religion." It has gained commercial and manipulative hues in the modern world. There is a nice Russian word – "veroispovedanie," roughly equivalent to "confession." A confession is a voluntary choice, faith stemming from the heart. I presume that this kind of aspiration in particular can usher peace and comfort in a man's soul and open the path to self-perfection.

  • There has always been quite a number of great Russian bands for a very long time now; I remember when The End Records started in the U.S. for the first time as a showcase for great Russian bands like Mental Home and Nokturnal Mortum. Sadly, The End Records has moved far and away from this, but labels like Solitude Productions, Gardarikka Music, Metal Scrap Records and Silent Time Noise Records all seemed to have stepped in and given Russian bands even greater exposure to the world. Why do you think it took so long for this to happen: maybe it was economics, maybe a boost with the internet?

    I think the internet played a crucial role in the situation of Russian bands. But, as it seems to me, on a global scale it will be the internet that will eventually bury the release of CD's and with that most of the labels. Sad, but true.

  • So what is your contract with Solitude Productions like? IE, number of albums, tour and merchandise support, are they easy to communicate with, etc?

    We've signed a separate contract for each LP. We have no strict commitments to the label regarding future work. In our case, the contract mainly establishes the time limits for the label to use our material and terms of distribution. Tour support and merchandise were never stipulated in those contracts. As for interaction with the label – yes, it is easy for us to deal with them, they are very open. I just call one of the label owners, depending on the matter at hand.

  • I would love to know how the "record signing" process goes overseas. I know here sometimes it involves lawyers and much paperwork, sometimes going back and forth over how many albums you sign for, how much advance money you get to handle production and recording costs, tour support, etc...

    It is a lot simpler in our case – no lawyers, no advance money, no fancy stuff. Yes, there are indeed some bands that commit to two or more albums, but this is more of an exception. Royalties and tour support is not our case either. We do not get money explicitly from releasing an album, it is all financed by the band members.

  • So are you familiar with the history of rock music in Russia? I have read a few books on the subject, and it's interesting to me when I see that here in the U.S., music is still considered an entertainment outlet ONLY, and the government has no interest in it, while in Russia, there was a time when the government, even under Communism, decided it might be a good idea to invest in the music of the youth and even support some bands...

    I was born and grew up in the U.S.S.R., received free health care, pre-school and school education, received higher education on a government scholarship – this is why I can explain the situation of those times in general terms. The U.S.S.R. under socialism (it is considered we never reached communism) supported mainly choirs, folk, dance and song ensembles, as well as amateur pop bands ("estrade" music, as it was called). It is the first time I hear the U.S.S.R. supported or even funded rock bands. Possibly, we have different sources (I'll have to do my fact checking, by reading up again on that beloved book of mine - The History Of Rock Music In Russia - Ed.)

    Rock in the USSR was always underground, it's history scarce and there really isn't much to be proud of.

  • I am curious how you came up with the band name. Obviously, Siberian winters are extremely cold, so I know that no one would die in Siberian slush! That would mean that all the snow had melted; it must be spring or summer time.

    As a matter of fact, everything is extreme in Siberia – very hot summers and exceptionally cold winters. We have summer and spring too, they are delightful in their own right. The image of a man, dying in melted snow, in the mud of a new spring is that of someone forever absorbed by the fierce winter of his inner self, unable to see the surrounding world in another light. For us this name is a kind of tribute to some of our departed friends – people who couldn't or didn't have the time to establish themselves in this world.

  • Does the band ever play live? I am curious to know what a live show is like. Maybe you've had the opportunity to play outside of your country?

    Yes, we play live. Not enough, I think. Last time we played was during the one day Moscow Funeral League part 1 show at the end of August 2011. If you're interested, you can find footage of our performances on our Youtube channel. As for shows abroad, we have a couple of proposals coming from Europe, but for now only in perspective. The band does not have such experience for now.

  • And while on the live front, do you ever have to trim the length of your songs for the live performance? I know if you're not headlining, you usually get only a 35 or 45 minute set, which can make long songs in doom metal difficult to perform!

    Yes, gig organizers tend to give you 45 to 60 minutes for a set, including sound check. This sort of situation is not catastrophic for us, as Who Dies In Siberian Slush is one the few funeral/death doom bands that have just a couple of songs going over 9 minutes. We usually play 6-7 songs, it's enough in our case.

  • I am attracted to OMB's because of their authenticity. This is also their weak spot, though. As for Who Dies In Siberian Slush, it struck me one day, that the project no longer belongs to me personally. Too many people were involved in it, in one way or the other. When I gathered a full crew, many things revealed themselves to me from a whole different perspective. Those who agreed with sharing and expressing my ideas added their own vision to the material, for which I am grateful. Though, I'm afraid, that not many collectives can achieve full mutual understanding. It isn't easy, and we weren't an exception.

  • I have read that Vikings originally visited Russia many years ago; many Scandinavian bands hail their Viking heritage in their mixing of old folk and metal. What do you think of this; as many of the Nordic black metal bands turned away from extreme evil and satanistic concepts and started embracing their Nordic roots and Viking culture?

    There's even a theory, that Slavs and Vikings share common roots. It's all very interesting and even seems plausible. At least some of the ancient Russian princes were direct descendants of Vikings, this is known for sure. As for metal bands switching to folk, it's very prevalent in Russia. Bands started to sing about their "native Slavic gods, the wind and the brightest sun," blending their metal sound with folk tunes and instruments. There are even some very successful projects, known worldwide. But as far as I'm concerned, neo-paganism in metal is not much more than a trend. If someone manages to become famous and even earn money doing it – I'm happy for them. Unfortunately, looking at them play does not make me believe the musicians are taking what they sing about seriously. But this is very important! If there is no sincerity in what you communicate to other people with your music, then you're just a clown!

  • Are you now working on new songs for another full length? Any song titles, concepts, or themes you can tell us about...

    Yes, we have some new drafts. It's too early to talk about them as of something whole. But as soon as I have a reason – I'll definitely tell you. For now, I can say that this time we're leaning stronger towards funeral doom, unlike on our second full length. I'm not excluding the possibility of using leading synths again. The core of the lyrics will remain the same, we'll possibly explore the subject of repentance.

  • Finally, if there's anything else we missed, feel free to use that space here. Thanks for your time and help!

    I would like to talk about other projects in which I participate. One of them, specifically. In the middle of 2012, Decay Of Reality was formed in Moscow, consisting of members of Abstract Spirit, Twilight Is Mine, Who Dies In Siberian Slush, Revelations Of Rain, Shallow Rivers, and Beheaded Zombie. My role in the collective – vocals and lyrics. We played 10 gigs in Moscow by April 2013, released two internet demos, and released an EP on Shapeless Visions Records. We recorded material for our debut full length at Primordial Studio, it is currently being mastered. In musical terms, Decay Of Reality is die-hard death metal with lyrics on the subject of psychological disorders and deviancies. This might interest some of the readers of Vibrations Of Doom. You can stream the songs from the band's Soundcloud page:

    Thank you for the interesting questions and the possibility to introduce our band to your esteemed audience, I wish for all of you to believe in your strength and to be honest about yourselves.


    Folks, it's been a long strange trip these 21 years... I will say I am most pleased with how this issue turned out, even though I always say "well, I could have added this review, or went after this interview," etc. Sometimes we can be our own worst critics... I think it's great that this issue features two band interviews from two different years; both bands creating remarkable masterpieces that re-defined and also helped define a genre of music that often gets pigeonholed and blindingly limited by those very influences that helped shape the genres we all know and love. Caladan Brood's album is even more impressive when you consider this is their very first introduction to the world, and I dare say that in ten or even fifteen years, people will come to define "Echoes Of Battle" as a must have, revolutionary release for black metal. Personally, I think it's probably in the top 5 of most important black metal albums EVER. And it has been hard because albums like these almost ALWAYS influence the way I approach following albums of other bands in the genre. You almost can't help but compare what follows to such an amazing release.

    The album of the year award by Canada's Aeternam, garnering best death metal album of 2012, is even more surprising considering death metal is usually one of my LEAST favorite metal genres. Now, that's not to say there aren't bands out there playing death metal that I do enjoy. It's just whenever anyone criticizes heavy metal in particular, the first thing they point to is the extreme vocal work. And of course that to me is the ONE thing that keeps many people from totally getting into metal music. It's a blinding factor that frustrates me at every turn, trying to introduce bands of great skill and passion to my more non-metal oriented brethren. Aeternam, however, embraces everything I love to see in a band: amazing lyrical concepts, skill in combining brutality and heaviness with amazing musical ambience, and the ability to shape a vision and a world with music alone. Caladan Brood did it, brining the epic Malazan sagas to life, and Aeternam brings the world of the Orient and Middle East to life with amazing synth work and, like the Nile band of old, merging brutality and epic musical ambience so well you think the two can't possibly work together. These two artists are at the pinnacle of what I love to see in music, and I hope more bands come out of the woodwork and challenge not only themselves, but their listeners in particular to embrace a style of music that is still, to this day, evolving despite it's inception over 40 years ago.

    A good song... Folks, sometimes it just comes down to writing a good, catchy song. 21 years in and I STILL know what a damn good song sounds like. I love emotional song structures, catchy choruses, depending on what type of music it is I judge accordingly. I still give a CD at least 5 or 6 spins, just so when I think of a song's name I can hear the melody and know how it goes in my head. That's kinda hard to do with extreme metal bands you ain't got a lyric sheet for. But I have been listening to extreme metal for years, so it gets easier and easier. If it's brutal and heavy I wanna hear it sick and fast and crushingly heavy. If you're gonna play doom metal, those slow melodies and heavy feelings should cave in your chest. Music should make you FEEL something, regardless of what genre. Do you remember the first time you heard Slayer's "Reign In Blood," how it got your blood racing? Or when you hear Draconian's first two albums and you get lost in the complexity of the keyboard work and deep guttural death metal vocals that seemingly draw the life out of you? I hope that the music I get for years to come still invokes those deep responses from me. I ain't asking for the next brand new, unheard of style or creation. Hell, there's bands out there that can out-Slayer Slayer! There's bands that take old favorites and add new twists to them! Just make a record full of good songs that you wanna listen to over and over...

    Finally, I've been asked a few times about the way I do alphabetizing in the magazine and the classic albums section. First off, all these stupid fucking rules about capital letters don't make any sense... It's like Capitalize the first word of every sentence, but DON'T capitalize of, the, etc... Folks, EVERY word in a band's name or song title is important... It would be so much easier to remember, just capitalize EVERY first letter of EVERY word. No memorizing stupid exceptions, this that and the other... Just ONE rule to remember. Keep it simple... Now, I know some have said, well, if it's a space between... First off, a SPACE is NOT a letter; it's more like a character. You notice this more in examples like the band Blacklace and Black Axe. Now, granted, the way MOST people do things, Black Axe should come before Blacklace regardless of spacing, simply because the first letter after black is "A." A space is NOT a letter. So my way of doing things runs a little contrary to the normal rules, but it's the one thing Martin Popoff and I agree on: if it's a band's name or song/album title, EVERY word in the damn thing is important; yes, even the a's, the's, and of's...

    On a final note, yes this issue is late once again, but here's the thing many may NOT know: The LAST interview came in to us no less than 24 hours before this issue went to press... And two of the other interviews came down in the final week before... It's always a rough thing to delay an issue because we're still waiting on interviews and other "replacements" don't bother to answer back or take months and months to honor their commitments. Still, we forge ahead, and though I'm pleased at how everything came together, I still have a few regrets about this issue, like the fact we interviewed Speedtrap but didn't review their latest album, or there were 3 or 4 titles I REALLY wanted to get in here, like the amazing Finsterforst record on Napalm, which has a story all it's own (in short, it was basically given to us as a christmas gift from the label and we didn't crack it open until well after 2013 had started. If we had, it would have garnered accolades as a top folkish/black metal album of 2012). Regardless, we look forward to putting the next one together, so hopefully it won't be 8 months between releases!