Gonna try out a few new things. First off, the biggest news is, as of this writing, we're going for a world's record! We've submitted an application to the Guinness Book Of World's Records for the world's oldest and longest running internet based music magazine... They have approved the application, and we hope to hear back from them soon!

Also, now we have implemented a table of contents within this issue. We are considering adding a table of contents to older issues as well, but I kinda want to keep the older issues as they are, as it's a nice time frame to see how each issue has evolved over the years. We're still tweaking and fine tuning things, so we'll see what happens.

Our mailing address:

Vibrations Of Doom Magazine/DOOM Radio
c/o Steven Cannon
P.O. Box 1258
Suwanee, GA 30024-0963 USA



  • ALGHAZANTH "The Three Faced Pilgrim"
  • BATTLEAXE "Heavy Metal Sanctuary"
  • BELOW "Across The Dark River"
  • BLACK HAWK "A Mighty Metal Axe"
  • BLOODY HAMMERS "Under Satan's Sun"
  • DARKFLIGHT "Closure"
  • DARK FOREST "The Awakening"
  • DREAMS AFTER DEATH "Embraced By The Light"
  • ELDERWIND "The Magic Of Nature"
  • FALCONER "Black Moon Rising"
  • FUNERAL CIRCLE "Funeral Circle"
  • GRAND MAGUS "Triumph And Power"
  • HIGH SPIRITS "You Are Here"
  • ICHABOD KRANE "Day Of Reckoning"
  • OGRE "The Last Neanderthal"
  • PILGRIM "II: Void Worship"
  • PRIMEVAL REALM "Primordial Light"
  • SLEIPNIR "Oaths Sworn In Blood & Mead"
  • SPARTA "Welcome To Hell"
  • STEEL ASSASSIN "WWII: Metal Of Honor"
  • THE HOWLING VOID "Nightfall"
  • VIN DE MIA TRIX "Once Hidden From Sight"
  • WE HUNT BUFFALO "Blood From A Stone"
  • ZOMBIE LAKE "Plague Of The Undead"




    ALGHAZANTH "The Three Faced Pilgrim" (Woodcut) SCORE: 82/100

    I gotta tell ya, I definitely worship at the altar of the cult of Alghazanth! Ever since I first heard the "Wreath Of Thevetat" album, I was fucking blown to kingdom gone... Granted, "Vinum Intus" was no "Wreath," but it still had great songs and structure/tempo changes that would have ADD children running for some heavy medication! This album is probably the weakest of the most recent three, sad to say; though to be perfectly honest, "Wreath Of Thevetat" is like the "Reign In Blood" for Alghazanth. This album is STILL a worthy addition to any Alghazanth fan's collection however. Surprisingly, 'Zanth's two longest songs ever written BOTH grace this album; I mean we're used to the 6 and 7 minute tracks from this band. (And yes, before you ask, I DID check the running times of EVERY SINGLE SONG on EVERY SINGLE ALBUM). The nine minute track 'In Your Midnight Orchard' (being the second longest song - gasp!) opens this disc up PERFECLY, complete with a myriad of tempo, structure and guitar riff changes. And they even have the decency to throw in an acoustic passage midway. The one thing I REALLY love about the synths is those female chant like voices you hear all over the record. Still, for all the synth work, there are times when it's seemingly in the distant background compared to the guitars. I'd say this is a more guitar oriented record, though you will hear plenty of key-scapes. 'To The Pearl On High' was next, and here I REALLY noticed the percussion utilizing many different structure and riff patterns, morphing from slow to fast with great precision and very smooth. There's quite a dizzying number of different things going on, rarely ever keeping the same chord progression or drum tempo very long. Alghazanth makes these 6 and 7 minute tracks seem like 3 or 4! 'Promethean Permutation,' sadly, marks the biggest flaw with this album. Here, the mood is mostly slow and eerily sinister; sadly here it doesn't work out well for them, and there's not a ton of variety either. This track I'd skip altogether personally, because even the few speedier passages don't add much to this. Right away, though, followup 'AdraMelekTaus' redeems things in great fashion, portraying some GREAT melodic guitar work and synths. Acoustics start up the 5th track 'As It Is Fated,' and what's interesting about this is right after the minimal instrumentation gives way to heavier stuff, it sounds like a set of instrumentation that would END a track! There's more solo instrumentation on this track than damn near any other. CD ender 'With Sickle, With Scythe' goes pretty much the same route as 'Promethean Permutation,' and it's TEN MINUTES LONG... For the first 6 of this, it's slow and eerie again, though the instrumentation is a bit better, once again Alghazanth falls into the trap of not displaying much variety here, however by the time the melodic, minimal instrumentation kicks in at about 6:20, DAMN it's like a different track! The slower instrumentation is quite serene and hearing the sick blackened shrieks amidst such minimal soundscapes makes them that much more powerful. The ending instrumentation rounds out the CD very well, in fact I'd dare say you can't miss the ending of this cut. My only other complaint is kinda minor, but by the 5th track, you kinda hear similarities from earlier material. That being said, I enjoy this record, though of course nothing beats the ultra sickness and melody of "Wreath Of Thevetat."
    Contact: Woodcut Records.

    BATTLEAXE "Heavy Metal Sanctuary" (Steamhammer) SCORE: 85/100

    Man oh man was I ever surprised that THIS came out!! I had been a fan of Battleaxe ever since I stopped into Graveyard Records, saw the cover for their 1983 album "Burn This Town," said "I don't know who they are, but the cover is cool and it looks metal. Okay, $7.99, say goodbye!" And like the reformed band Onslaught, also from the U.K., right off the bat you're thinking this band has a different singer. Rough and gravelly are the vocal chords of one Dave King, and man it's amazing to hear him hit some high notes like it's the 80's all over again! The opening track is the title cut, and surprisingly it has some epic, Manowar like synths and "intro" dialogue, and we're off and running with one of the best Battleaxe tunes ever written! Killer choruses, energetic as hell; yeah it's a metal anthem for the next generation! Followup 'Shock And Awe' is just fuckin' sick... Their heaviest and most vicious cut yet, seeing them just flat out RIP the heaviness... It's a great war anthem tune. I mean the band name is Battleaxe, and they are no strangers to war themes. The opening riffs on followup 'Hail To The King' are about as close as you are going to get to the guitar stylings found on "Burn This Town" from freakin' THIRTY ONE YEARS AGO! Wow right? The catchiness continues, though the slower passages allow Dave's vocals to show a bit of his diverse range. Kick ass choruses and rockin' guitar riffs open up 'Rebel With A Cause,' complete with aggressive prechoruses as well as the choruses. Another energetic tune and we're four for four! Sadly, this is where things slide a little. Battleaxe seems to take the "all us NWOBHM bands need to try and make it in America" approach to a different level. In the 80's, bands wrote like Def Leppard to try and cash in on "American fame." Here, Battleaxe thinks sounding like AC/DC is the way to go, and 'Give It More' is like a slower AC/DC like tune. Not a terrible tune, mind you; some of the lyrics ain't bad, but there's some general weirdness going on. And later on, 'The Legions Unite' has great lyrics, but a slower AC/DC riff rock thing going on. It's very lackluster compared to what this band in the Y2K era is truly capable of. Still, that opening synth intro has epic written all over it, and the lyrics are battle worthy. The weak choruses don't help. And track 10 'Devil Calls' with the fake crowd noise and "Hey, lemme tell ya a story" thing are just awful. Folks, we've all heard the "sold our souls for rock 'n' roll" thing to death. Still, all that being said, the CD ender 'Romeo' FINALLY nails a good AC/DC vibe, especially lyric wise, and it seems like Battleaxe are playing tongue in cheek with the whole "rock star success" theme. The cut even ENDS like an AC/DC track should! There's other gems on this 12 track affair as well, like 'Spirits Of The Fallen' and the loud vocals and rockin' headbanger 'Too Hot For Hell.' This band has REALLY got a new thing going in 2014, and if they could just STOP the AC/DC worship, you could probably see this album hitting top ten lists for true metal this year. As it stands, a record definitely worth your money 'cause you're getting more than half a disc of great tunes that show a lot of heart and energy went into the recording...
    Contact: Steamhammer Records.

    BELOW "Across The Dark River" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 91/100

    With Candlemass sadly deciding to pack it in (at least on the album recording front; we'll see how long that lasts), Sweden's Below seem poised to pick up EXACTLY where Candlemass left off. And to many, that's the biggest complaint of this band; that you could almost SWEAR that Lars Johannson was there cranking out most of the riffs in this band. Damn near EVERY song sounds like something the 'Mass wrote on "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus," "Nightfall," or one of their newer releases. That being said, there's very little here that's absolutely cringeworthy, save for the CD ender (also the title track). Zeb has a nice range and has been compared to Ronnie James Dio meets Messiah Marcolin, though without the operatic flair that the latter had, while belting out more higher notes than many of his predecessors. That being said, he does have a tendency to waver at times; nowhere is that more apparent than on the CD ending title track. The instrumentation on this particular track isn't as strong as on nearly every other cut on the record, in fact the best thing about this cut is the lengthy instrumental passages which frustrated me even more as they end the track (and the disc) by suddenly fading the song out! Anyway, that frustration aside, there's some damn dark and haunting instrumentation on this record; at times it seemed to me like way more than you'd typically find on a single 'Mass record. No mistaking the rain and grave digging sounds on the opening cut 'Trapped Under Ground,' and of course the rather church like multivocal choirs were a nice touch here. A few leads in this track could have been better, though; it's obvious by the ultra high quality of many other leads throughout the record. My favorite cut has to be 'The Whitechapel Murderer,' a subject matter more akin to a band like Macabre (and maybe Church Of Misery) that the usual doom suspects. The dark acoustics play in very well on several tracks, and it's obvious that the entire mood is dark, haunting and quite evil. If their originality is questioned, their craft and skill at creating a permeating and eerie, dark and haunting vibe is most assuredly NOT, and few are masters at varying from song to song while keeping the overall mood intact. Even the short 35 second instrumental 'In My Dreams' offers no respite from the darkness! Say what you will about how much Candlemass worship is on display, there aren't too many bands that KNOW what haunting, dark and eerie doom sounds like, and I daresay this might even end up on some doom metal afficionados year end lists. Not quite perfect, but many sing along choruses and killer guitar riffs make this a must purchase.
    Metal Blade Records.

    BLACK HAWK "A Mighty Metal Axe" (Pure Underground) SCORE: 77/100

    Man oh man, I had NO idea how many 80's metal bands were STILL actively recording and releasing albums in the 2010's!!! Let me say right off the bat that thanks to the Pure Steel Promotions collective out of Germany (who are obviously HUGE fans of ours) you will be hearing a LOT more from other bands who are still active from the 80's! Right off the bat, lemme say that as cool as some of the songs from Black Hawk's "First Attack" EP were, this album has so much more going for it; these are some of the heaviest songs I've ever heard from this band! After a surprising intro that sounds more like something Summoning from Austria would have written (nice acoustic guitars and synths), we're off with 'Fear,' which has some great but slower passages in it. The vocals are in that rough German style we all know and love, and latest frontman Udo Bethke sounds like a rougher Biff Byford from Saxon! Still, the intensity and heaviness of this 6 minute cut (a few minutes too long maybe) is interrupted at times by acoustic only instrumentation. Many of the cuts on this disc are less than 4 minutes, so the Germans definitely understand how to get rockin' and keep it simple. A KILLER 80's metal cut in 'The Fighter' is one of the reasons I wanna keep this disc around; complete with soaring vocals, catchy choruses: Damn, everything I crave with 80's metal! Sadly, the sinister side of things doesn't work well on the followup, which is the title track!?!? It's a rather awkward mixture of dark and sinister vibes which doesn't help on weaker choruses. Still, the lead solo here is killer, as they are on just about every song; at least the axe work is stellar! A headbanging good time is had with 'Nightrider,' and the sung vocals mix RIGHT in with that aggressive bit Udo has when he pronounces the song name in the choruses! Ballad like 'Fashion Victim' falls prey to the pseudo-ballad, and complete with pronunciation faux-pas like using the "w" sound for a "v" (I mean, really, over 25 years and you haven't mastered the english "V" sound?!?) and goofy lyrics, makes this cringeworthy... Until the nice multivocal clean sung passages and ending sung vocals. 'Burning Angels' is the surprise hit here, portraying some nasty heaviness that sounds like 80's metal meets more aggressive material without succumbing to extreme death or black metal vocals. The low toned sung vocals stay true to their genre and exhibit an 80's metal flair that might sound "updated" for a modern era. Let's skip the awkward attempt at blending Arabic instrumentation with metal axework (though some riffs are well done); it's really a kinda useless instrumental. As is the acoustic guitars only and sung vocals of 'Venom Of The Snake.' Finally, the CD ender 'Beast In Black' has a bit of over-repetitive choruses, that aren't really utilized well, and for a speedier number, this is a weak cut as well. Still, count 'Killer' and 'Heroes' as two more reasons to pick up a disc (great cuts though short and sweet). Yes, there's a bit of filler, but just enough to keep you interested for a bit. It sounds more 80's metal than MOST bands from the 80's that feel they have to change their style, sound and/or approach.
    Contact: Pure Underground Records.

    BLOODY HAMMERS "Under Satan's Sun" (Napalm) SCORE: 68/100

    Folks, this was a difficult album to call. It's their first record on Napalm, and obviously the move from Soulseller means more exposure, which I felt they deserved after their time spent on the Belgium indie label. Still, though I missed their second release (this being their third), it's not like the first album was absolutely perfect. Most notably was that somewhat alternative style that made a cut like 'Souls On Fire' simply awkward. And the title track on THIS record should have been something special: instead we're treated to a kind of alternative "clap-happy" tune. Now I get it, obviously the band thought a song like 'Under Satan's Sun' would be hilarious if people were singing this like it was a radio hit somewhere. Bloody Hammers isn't exactly known for it's mom and pop friendly lyrical content, but this was just too much. What we're basically saying is out of a 10 song CD, 4 of these cuts are QUITE weak. Anyway you do the math, you're talking like at least 60% out of 100. Still, some people might be gratified in this day and age to get at least 6 good songs on a CD. And good songs these definitely ARE, starting off with 'The Town That Dreaded Sundown,' which also spawned a nice old timey video. Now slow and doomy is not what you ALWAYS think about with this band, but everything fits real well, including the fuzzed out crunchy guitar work. And they do throw in some faster instrumentation near the end too, just to keep it interesting. Dark and heavy is the name of the game with followup 'Spearfinger,' and though a bit odd lyric wise, the subtle synthesized passages add just a graceful hint of dark horror to the proceedings. 'Death Does Us Part' I SWEAR sounds like it has guitar patterns right out of Nirvana's melodic favorite 'Heart Shaped Box,' and if it wasn't for the nice melodic sung passages, you might want to write this off yourself. Decent tune without Nirvana's heaviness. 'The Moon Eyed People' REALLY floored me with just how dirty and fuzzed out the guitar work is, and the soaring vocal work REALLY drives the heaviness home. 'Second Coming' was weak, frankly. Mainly in the guitar and synth melodies. Not a horrid track, but we all know this band is capable of MUCH better. 'Welcome To The Horror Show' is another disappointing one; slow and melodic with not a lot going for it. Weak choruses leave this a cut with a very weak foundation. We've already mentioned how disappointing the title track is, but 'The Last Alarm' proves fatal in the really jarring vocals and instrumentation mix; it's Anders at his most awkward vocal performance. The song really kinda sounds incomplete; the scraping guitar sounds and minimalist instrumentation kinda gives this away. Still, 'Dead Man's Shadow On The Wall' fuckin' rocks. It's a bit faster, proving that the 'Hammers still can crank 'em out. CD ender 'Necromancer' is another sick and killer tune, filled with KILLER rockin' guitar riffs, and sinister slow and doomy passages. It's a great vicious and energetic CD ender. Folks, this band STILL has what it takes, but takes a few blunders backwards here; I KNOW this band is capable of SO much more... Maybe they've been slumbering too long in radio friendly land; I dunno... Still possibly worth your dollars if you come to understand that 4 of these 10 tracks will probably HEAVILY disappoint you... SO close to the 3/4 demanded to keep one of these on the shelf.
    Contact Napalm Records.

    DARKFLIGHT "Closure" (Metallic Media) SCORE: 98/100

    And here we are, 11 years after their first full length release, and SIX YEARS after we reviewed their second masterpiece "Perfectly Calm." Folks, it seems like Ivo has not even started to run out of ideas, this being another fantastic emotionally soaring piece of work. The guitar work is superb, the lead solos are crafted with emotion and precision, and the vocals are some of the most twisted, icy and tortured yet... Dark, doomy and ominous is how the opener 'Worse Things Than Dying' starts out, and it just gets better. Great symphonics and thunderous percussion all adds to the bombastic elements on display, and I even heard some flute notes in here! Beautiful but sad is how the title track starts out; a fitting song and one of my favorites on the record. You can definitely hear the pain behind those blackened screams. And of course some of the most moving guitar work occurs towards the end of this cut. 'Contemplating Suicide,' worth every second of the 10+ minutes here, one of three songs that crosses the 10 minute threshold. I must say this CD drops a few points off at track 4, 'Cognitive Dissonance,' with the start/stop synthesized notes starting off this song; trumpet like notes that reminds me strongly of Dimmu Borgir on some of their most popular tunes. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no hater of modern day Dimmu, but this didn't sound like Darkflight much, and it takes a full minute and a half before the ship rights itself. Once it does, it still retains that doom metal vibe and of course the ancient sounding, icy vocal work NEVER stops. At 11:33, 'Day In, Day Out' turns into the longest track on the disc, and probably crafts the most amazing amount of brilliant lead guitar work (hell, I bet this track alone took a few years to materialize!) on the disc! There's a lot of rain and storm sounds ending some of the tracks, and here is no exception. And wow, a track that clocks in at a mere 3:45? Yep, it's 'Monument Of Sadness,' and it's NOT an instrumental! Beautiful synths and piano notations at the start of this make you think it's going to be an instrumental, but once the vocals kick in, all doubt is relinquished. Crunchy guitars are found on hand on the previous cut 'It Wasn't Meant To Be,' and CD ender 'Limbo' IS the lone instrumental. Though some might question a 6:23 instrumental song, it keeps MY interest until the very end with melodic and beautiful synth passages (ambient landscapes almost), mixed with pianos and acoustic guitar work. It's not one for the heaviness column, but you could tell his tracks lead the album towards a melodic ending, as if to give a fitting bit of "closure." Folks, I don't see much else in black metal (as of this writing) that would leave Darkflight in the dust; I daresay (especially after Agalloch's 2014 album seemingly more experimental and not as mind blowing as past works) this will be THE black metal album of 2014... Ivo continues to astound and amaze...
    Metallic Media.

    DARK FOREST "The Awakening" (Cruz Del Sur) SCORE: 81/100

    Folks, from the opening spoken word piece down to the lyrical content, this is the first time I can remember getting more into the lyrics of an album at first glance than the music. (See the interview for more details - Ed.) SO much of what this band sings about resonates DEEPLY with my core beliefs and methods of "attack" for life. That being said, this is somewhat of a melodic metal band, though the NWOBHM movement can be heard with great enthusiasm. Of further note is the frequency used to record the entire album; they decided to utilize a 444hz tuning instead of the 440hz. This might not be noticeable to some, and it was an interesting question to see if it mattered with other types of metal (once again, see the interview for more details), but it is said that this type of frequency is more in line with healing vibrational frequencies... ANYWAY, it's really the music that matters to most. And since it's somewhat power metal oriented, the song's the thing. Catchy choruses and soaring vocal work start off opener 'The Awakening,' and we're hitting the ground running. A few of these cuts might seem a bit TOO lighthearted at times (witness track 2 'Sacred Signs' and it's followup 'Penda's Fen') though what brings the score down a bit on 'Sacred Sign' is the fact that, to me, the choruses could have been a bit more "outstanding," and it does seem to lack that "soaring" quality. Maybe 'Turning Of The Tide' was a bit too long at over 6 minutes, but with the shortest song at a mere 4:35, you either dig the bit longer songs or you don't. 'Rise Like Lions' is a bit faster paced, and the anthemic choruses will stick with you long after the song fades. This and 'Immortal Remains,' followed by a superb cut 'Secret Commonwealth,' are easily the best three tracks on the disc. Most noteworthy is the tremendous axe-slaying skills of our lead guitarist, who crafts some of the most amazing lead solos on the disc. And the melodic vocals of Josh Winnard REALLY shine on 'Immortal Remains.' CD ender 'Sons Of England' sounds like an English folk-pride tune, still in a rather laid back fashion but you can hear the tremendous surge of honour these guys have for their homeland. It's still METAL, but it does have that slight folky feel. And once again, those lead solos simply RAGE... Some might be a bit off put by all the melodic tendencies, but at least the songs are GOOD and the axe work is strong, plus the soaring and emotional vocal work never dips into a King Diamond type falsetto range; Josh is a bit grounded but knows how to work within his material. Besides that, if you think metal doesn't have anything positive to say lyric wise, then AT LEAST get behind what Dark Forest are singing about.
    Contact: Cruz Del Sur Music.

    DREAMS AFTER DEATH "Embraced By The Light" (Endless Winter) SCORE: 91/100

    A wonderful one man project from Hungary. When we first hooked up with Endless Winter out of Russia, we were contacting them due to Ankhagram being on their label, and me just HAVING to have their latest full length. This album came out in 2011, right at the end of that year, but regardless it would be criminal of me not to have touched on it. Right off the bat, the synthesizers are going to play a very large role in defining the shape and sound of the band. These are long songs, folks, though not as long as you might think. The 10 minute track 'Genesis' starts things off quite nicely, the synths doing some spacey and serene ambience before the harsh guitar work and vocals come in. There's a ton of instrumental passages in these songs, not unlike mainstays of the funeral doom genre like The Howling Void, Ea, etc... Right away I must say one of the biggest flaws of this particular track (which really sounds almost like 2 different songs, the way he splits the tempo and structure up over the last half of the song) is the almost carnival like synth notes that sometimes grate at me, sometimes they don't. 'Funeral' is absolutely amazing, however, and the synths here take on a wintery, funereal like quality. The vocals I really started noticing have a unique death growl to them, almost like a winter chill is mutating the vocal chords, but then I noticed some blackened vocals beside them! Folks, Dreams After Death possesses some of the harshest and most tortured vocals in all of doom metal, bringing out a sick, torturous quality that few can match. And here we also have another interesting development: those guitars can also crank out some emotional riffing! Heavy and mournful, though that's not ALL this guitarist is capable of. Add some beautiful piano notes as well, and this track really pulls at the heartstrings. As does the followup 'Meeting With The Ancestors,' starting off with amazingly beautiful synthesized layers, with guitar work as rich and as astounding as anything you'd hear on a My Dying Bride album, mixed with the slow and doomy atmosphere of a Shape Of Despair. Folks, it's THAT good. Followup 'The Endless Time,' at a 12 minutes in lehgth, is one of the darkest and most hauntingly sinister cuts this band has on the disc. Still, it takes a LONG time to really get anywhere, as mostly it's dark haunting piano notes and single note heavier guitar riffs that slowly fade in; it's almost 7 minutes before you hear the harsh vocal work and heavier guitars. Still, once that dark and haunting passage gives way to the heaviness, it's ultra sinister. A lot could have been cut out of this track, especially since right at the end it contains a lot of more silent parts. Followup 'From Time Immemorial' contains just as much darkness, though it doesn't waste time bringing the heavy instrumentation and harsh vocals to the forefront: not even a minute passes before you're right into it. It's a crushing dark and doomy masterpiece, before CD ender 'Outer Space' ends the album with an 8 minute instrumental... Yes, you heard me right folks, and it's got some of the most beautiful and melodic passages on any one song. It's interesting that most of the synths represent lighter versions of some riffs from a previous track, though sadly this track meanders a little bit near the ending. The intricate piano layers raised an eyebrow as well, choosing to include complex piano notations as opposed to slow and doomy one note pieces here and there. This track could also have used a bit of trimming, but despite it not being a perfect CD, it's absolutely amazing what this one man project is capable of, and it's not all haunting, dark, and melancholic. Yes, two other offerings have passed since this disc saw the light of day, but what a shame it would be if I didn't turn as many people on to this disc as possible, lest Andras Illes become yet another in a long line of frustrated bands that called it a day WAY too soon in their careers.
    Endless Winter Records.

    ELDERWIND "The Magic Of Nature" (Deleting Soul) SCORE: 99/100

    This is kinda sad... This album is 2 years old, and had I known of it's existence when it came out in 2012, it would have been a strong contender for black metal album of the year. VERY strong. This Russian band has captured so eloquently the "magic of nature," with icy guitar riffs, an icy and raspy set of black metal styled vocals, and synthesized ambience that literally steals the show. When you talk about a band that captures the very beauty and melancholy of the winter landscapes, VERY few bands master it fully. Even fewer bands seem to understand what a winter landscape is all about. Many of your tracks start off with ambient synthesized passages, and I definitely LOVE the crystalline synth notes presented everywhere. The guitars, even though they are mixed with with everything else, often take a back seat to the synthesized passages, though that's not the case on EVERY song. I really get taken in by the overwhelming and deeply emotional instrumentation on three of my favorite tracks 'The Magic Of Nature' (which still manages to throw in faster blackened instrumentation near the end with furious double bass drumming), the nine and a half minute piece 'Approaching Spring' and it's immediate followup 'When The Rain Starts Again.' My only complaint was with the CD ender 'Cold In The Soul,' as the opening scream and piano/guitar notes are rather jarring, and it seems to take a second to right itself, but those amazing lead guitar notes played at a faster speed REALLY take the show here. This track is a bit more aggressive than the others, but provides such a dominant atmosphere. Folks, I can't really say enough about this disc, except that should you come across it, PLEASE do yourself a favor and pick it up!! Everything on this album is magical and entrancing, which is what a band of this caliber should be.
    Contact: Nihil Art Records/Deleting Soul.

    FALCONER "Black Moon Rising" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 96/100

    It's no secret that I am a HUGE Falconer fan. Just about every album they recorded has been great, for the most part (we won't mention "Grime Vs. Grandeur," although even that album had it's merits). "Black Moon Rising" is going to raise quite a lot of gasps from those familiar with them, especially with the heavier and more aggressive material on this record. Still, it shouldn't REALLY shock anyone that knows TRUE Falconer history, as we all know (and if you don't, shame on you!) guitarist Stefan disbanded the more blackish folk outfit Mithotyn to start Falconer. Right off the bat we hear what is being branded as aggressive, faster and a hungrier Falconer. From the first track 'Locust Swarm,' I wondered just HOW Mathias' vocals would fit into such an aggressive framework: he isn't an aggressive singer. Still, there's a catch to this that you'll soon realize upon multiple spins: there is a bit of a slower approach once the vocals kick in. For all the aggression and speed, it's still VERY OBVIOUSLY Falconer. That being said, Stefan blazes away some of the fastest lead solos I've ever heard, like on the cut 'Dawning Of A Sombre Age,' damnit if the man doesn't sound inhuman. No, this is a revitalized band, though they never seemed to lose their balance once "Grime.." was a distant footnote. There's a LOT going on with these 11 songs at a running time of a mere 51 minutes. 'Age Of Runes' features some of the heaviest and most vicious thrash like riffing, and nice multivocal chant like pieces near the end; a fitting Viking piece in Falconer style. The choruses are catchy; I enjoy singing along to cuts like 'Halls And Chambers,' 'Wasteland,' and countless others. And there is the obligatory "folk ballad," which unfortunately is their weakest one yet, and so short it seems like it could have been left off. Adding the heavier guitar work to this piece seemed an odd fit. ('Scoundrel And The Squire.') Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed previous album "folk ballads" like the humorous 'A Quest For The Crown,' and even the Scandinavian language pieces from "Among Beggars And Thieves," but this one doesn't stack up well against these. And despite a few oddly placed leads here and there ('At The Jester's Ball,' which shows Stephan may be a bit rusty every great now and then when trying to rework his earlier past into modern day Falconer), the guitar work is stellar. Superb even. Pounding percussion work makes the blackened influence scream for even more attention, but overall, it still sounds VERY "Falconer." Many have been surprised by this album, but knowing this band's history means it's really NOT that surprising. What IS most surprising, and what will probably garner album of the year status by many, is just how WELL everything is put together. This could be the big break that pushes Falconer above and beyond their relatively unknown status here in the States (and let's be honest, Falconer has rarely EVER been a priority for Metal Blade here in the U.S.), and finally sees them touring here with regularity. I for one hope this is the case...
    Metal Blade Records.

    FALKENBACH "Asa" (Prophecy) SCORE: 98/100

    I was so excited to finally hear this, Falkenbach's first album on their new home at Prophecy Productions. And it doesn't disappoint; in fact I dare say it's one of their strongest yet! Starting off the album in fine fashion is 'Vaer Stjernar Vaerdan,' complete with female chant like synths and amazing clean sung vocals. This is a great album opener: epic and powerful, just like Falkenbach has been doing for years now. Followup 'Wulfarweijd' starts off fast and furious with gut ripping, vicious, snarling blackened vocals and I gotta say; Vratyas has never sounded more vicious! This is a sick track in it's own right; frankly half the songs on this album have all clean sung vocals, and the other half have those scalding blackened vocals. There's something for everyone on this record! Beautiful acoustic guitar work mixes in VERY well with the heavier guitars on most tracks, especially the third cut 'Mijn Laezt Wourd.' Many of these tracks seem too short for my tastes; only a few pass the 5 minute mark! SO goos are these songs. Icy gutripping and fast paced black metal the way Marduk would do it if they were somewhat folk oriented follows with 'Bronzen Embrace,' and this is probably Falkenbach's sickest track. Incidentally, the only cut on this disc with English lyrics. Vratyas even does a lower toned clean singing register on 'Eweroun,' and it was cool to see him add some piano notations here as well. I DO love followup 'I Nattens Stilta,' as yet another vicious blackened tune, with a bit of a slower pace to let the teeth of the biting blackened growls set in. A few points come off for those odd synths near the end though; they definitely seemed really off. The track is also the longest on the disc at 6:24, maybe they could have cut a bit of that down but still, it's not like the track drags on. 'Bluot Fuer Bluot' is most noteworthy as being about the only track that has both clean sung and blackened vocals getting about equal time, also varying the tempo and pace when each is present. CD ender 'Ufirstanan Folk' ends the CD quite nicely, and sound most like a CD ending cut, with nice acoustic guitar work and chanted vocals as well for a great folkish atmosphere. Especially those flute like synths. Folks, this is a very strong album, and I daresay one of their best, even though I love most of the albums I've heard from them. They have created an album that works very well for more acoustic and heavy folk and snarling, scathing ice cold black metal; a great bridge between their two "styles." HIGHLY recommended...
    Prophecy Productions.

    FUNERAL CIRCLE "Funeral Circle" (Shadow Kingdom) SCORE: 96/100

    Man oh man, doom metal that is threatening, ominous and shrouded in black mystery, and you can literally feel the fog creeping in behind the black robed, shrouded figures... From the first ominous and dark note that starts this album you can tell this is going to be epic as fuck, and damn the running times of the songs! Our journey starts with 'Scion Of Infinity' which is as good a place as any to start... The vocals here are truly superb, far and above what most doom bands are doing. The ultra low toned delivery is not only menacing, but truly dark and haunting without really trying. And did I mention the lead guitar work?! Absolutely STELLAR, on EVERY fucking track! There is a bit of a Middle Eastern flair that permeates their sound as well, and lyrically you can hear the Candlemass influence (especially when he says "where is the sun?") Then surprise, followup 'Amaranthine' starts off with acoustic guitars that I SWEAR sound almost note for note the same as those that end the Candlemass epic 'Mourner's Lament' from their Nightfall album! And surprise follows surprise when you hear Jeremy Hannigan sing in a very melodic and quite soothing tone! Now, at first I wasn't totally crazy about this cut, as it kinda seemed out of place with the more ominous and dark feeling most of the other tracks have, but this cut has really started to grow on me (after about 10 or 15 listens, that is!) Beautiful lead solos I think really hammered this one home. Crushing heavy and dark passages follow out with 'Corpus Of Dark Sorcery,' and those high ended leads will melt you. There's a very ancient and archaic atmosphere behind this one for sure, and ritualistic as well I dare say. Catchy choruses go above and beyond what you think doom metal is supposed to be about. And then a beautiful instrumental follows; a short one though ('Tempus Edax Rerum') featuring the most melodic acoustical guitar work and some spoken word pieces, that kinda go hand in hand with this short 2 minute cut. There's a TON of instrumental passages on 'The Charnel God,' which gets a little odd with the instrumentation at times, and this one contains a bit of melancholica and sorrow to add to everything else. If you needed proof that our axemen had any skill, it's all over the place, but concentrated to great effect on the last few minutes of this 10 minute epic. So many great riffs to be found on 'Black Colossus' as well, and the Candlemass like leads were emotionally wrenching. VERY funereal doom like, and the almost whispered vocal delivery gives even more sinister overtones, though the vox work displays GREAT variety on this cut. CD ender 'Obelisk,' being the longest track on the album at a mere 11 minutes, packs so much into this epic closer, complete with more midtempo instrumentation, going so far as to just flat out rock for a few. The near blackened vocals were a touch, though FAR too few on this disc; I would have loved to hear some blackened sickness with this slow and funereal pace. My biggest question is; do they have anything LEFT for their next full length? Because they pulled out ALL the stops for this one, such an amazing piece of work, and I dare say they threw out so many great guitar passages that they may have to take a year or two to come up with as many great ideas and riffs. I was sad to hear that as of this writing, Jeremy is no longer singing with the band, which may be a huge disappointment for album number two, as he is such a strong and amazing presence in his own right... From Canada of all places, this is some of the best funereal doom mixed with epic and grand dark and haunting atmospheres, reminiscent of the masters like Sabbath, Candlemass, Isole and the like but nowhere NEAR as calm...
    Contact: Shadow Kingdom Records.

    GRAND MAGUS "Triumph And Power" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 92/100

    I remember the earliest recordings from Grand Magus being on Rise Above Records, which wasn't a bad thing back then. And though their earlier records were indeed somewhat heavier, there's no doubt that J.B. is one hell of a vocalist. This album definitely has a more laid back vibe to it, going for quite an epic sound on many tracks in the vein of a more melodic Bathory, but the stoner rock riffs come out in full force as well. CD starter 'On Hooves Of Gold' has a very nice melodic opening, and of course those infectious Viking chants pull you right in. Almost all the tracks here have some catchy choruses; something this band has a powerful trademark in. There's amazing guitar solos on damn near every track as well. 'Steel Versus Steel' sounds a little too laid back for the lyrical content, but it's still a nice sing along laid back piece. The rather dark and doomy riffs opening up 'Fight' threw me for a loop, and what you really notice here is they're not trying to crank up the heaviness (which at times seems subdued), but still the songs manage to rock. The title track I thought definitely should have been a stronger cut; in fact the much lower sung register (one of the only places you hear J.B. sing in a lower tone) definitely caught me off guard. Still, the choruses are nice and the multivocal "hail!" chants are a nice touch. One of my favorite tunes starts off with the majestic multivocal chants and just a kick ass rockin' set of instrumentation! We're talking about, of course, 'Holmgang,' which was the first track I ever played on the radio show from this record. Those stoner rock like riffs are crushing! Now, there's two instrumentals on here, the first 'Arv' isn't really much to speak of, it's a dark and VERY odd tune with some tribal percussion and odd instrumentation. The second one 'Ymer,' is absolutely breathtaking, complete with nice piano notes; it's quite beautiful and epic at the same time, leading perfectly into the CD ending track 'The Hammer Will Bite,' which, while being a decent tune, had some very odd moments midway, especially on the lower sung parts. It's a bit too long (and the longest cut at 6:54), though I doubt I will skip it. Honorable mention goes out to 'The Naked And The Dead' which has some pounding percussion and more war march like drumming added for that battle feel, though the choruses are more laid back and straight forward. The guitar work is splendid, managing to crank out some stoner rock riffage and still add a unique folk like feeling, while J.B. is singing his balls off, and absolutely soaring where it's needed. This might be a bit more "laid back" than earlier efforts, but it's presented very well. I definitely like singing along to just about every song here!
    Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.

    HIGH SPIRITS "You Are Here" (Hell's Headbangers) SCORE: 100/100

    This is a rather unusual release for a record label that primarily deals with the sickest and heaviest death/thrash and black metal around. Folks, I can't find a single thing wrong with this disc, which consists of Chris Black's solo ideologies running around for 9 tracks. Now, for those of you wondering, Mr. Black is also the man responsible for performing in bands like Pharaoh, the heavy and grungy Superchrist, and the amazingly criminally underrated band known as Dawnbringer (a band we're thoroughly familiar with). High Spirits has kicked a CD demo around for a bit and entranced nearly everyone it's come in contact with (including Mr. Brian McGlade, one of the student DJ's down at WREK here in Atlanta, who do a 6-8 hour metal radio show on 91.1 FM every Friday night). It's hard rock mixed with some of the NWOBHM sounds, and High Spirits is a good band name as it aptly describes the style and sound of the band. Still though, the lyrical content is very personal and emotional on many tracks; it's my assumption that Chris was going through some emotional trauma (possibly related to a break-up; witness the song 'Reminding You Of Me' and 'Gone To Pieces.') EVERY song is rockin', filled with amazing emotional guitar solos and high ended guitar work, the likes of which most bands would take 5 or 10 albums to come up with. EVERY song has so many great moments of soaring, emotionally catchy and energetic vocal work; in many places multivocal parts to really hammer the point home. 9 tracks, 35 minutes, on par with an album like Slayer's "Reign In Blood" for to the point consistency, and no song ever touches the 5 minute mark. 'When The Lights Go Down' starts the disc off right, rockin' and rollin', filled with catchy choruses. The songs all sound different too; I can't say that any one song sounds like another. There's fast tempoed songs ('Can You Hear Me,' 'I Will Run,' 'One Thousand Nights') and slower numbers as well, but damn those guitars! My ultimate favorite track is the CD ender 'High Spirits,' which opens up with multivocal work singing the title of the song, reminding me of those great Beatles multivocal harmonies (hell, it may be just one guy multitracked for all I know). Great melodies, fantastic and catchy choruses (even if they're simplistic to a point), soaring vocal work; damn no wonder those hardened by the death and black sickness are raving about this album. It hearkens back to a time when New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands understood a successful formula to writing catchy, memorable songs that also know how to rock. And I LOVE those high ended guitar riffs. Any band that can make me want to sing along to a song titled 'I Need Your Love' is bound for glory. What a superb release; how are these guys going to top this?
    Contact: Hell's Headbangers Records.

    ICHABOD KRANE "Day Of Reckoning" (Pure Steel) SCORE: 51/100

    All sorts of 80's metal bands are coming back and doing interesting things. The collective behind new band Ichabod Krane showcases some surprising talent; most notably members of Detroit 80's metal machine Halloween, the band Sleepy Hollow, and an interesting and unique singer who also fronts the band Wulfhook. Granted, Jeff Schlinz has a very impressive vocal range, and frequents the high range quite a bit on this disc; sometimes that is a major detraction, and other times I have to stand back in awe at how powerful his blistering high notes are. Sadly, there's only about 4 tracks on this 10 cut affair that I get pumped up for. Let's talk about those for a bit, starting with track 2 'Hypnotized' and it's one-two punch followup 'Unwanted.' Right off the bat, the guitar work is quite crushing and dark: I dare say when I think of U.S. power metal of the 80's variety, THIS is what I want to hear more of. The high pitched vocals REALLY work well here, and the highest notes NEVER get awkward. Not a ton of variety to be found on any of these tracks (most you get is a skilled and blazing lead solo midway to "break things up" a bit), but what is HERE works SO well. And the followup 'Unwanted' does more of the same, though the choruses here as well as on the aforementioned track stand out. Most of the other cuts I didn't care for have a very glaring problem in that there's nothing distinguishing the choruses from the rest of the song, and what the rest of the song HAS doesn't perk up my ears at all. I'm talking about the cuts 'Final Warning' and 'Evil In You' most notably: you'd think 'Evil...' would be a bit heavier and darker at least. And on these not so great cuts, the glaring lower register of the vocalist will REALLY rub you the wrong way. And the CD doesn't get off to a great start either, with the oddly titled 'Dark Valentine.' You notice the unique vocals right off the bat but the tune never really seems to "get" anywhere. And then of course you have the "ballad," in 'Nothing Without You,' in which it was nice to hear some more melodic sung vocals, proving this guy HAS a good range. 'Immortal' had odd phrasings and weird choruses, though it wasn't terrible. CD ender 'Nostradamus' was almost doom metal in tempo but not as dark and haunting as some of the other tracks, and quite interesting in a way I wasn't expecting. Still none of it can compare to the biggest skull crusher this album has in 'Fallen Angel,' (me saving the best cut for last), and ANY complaints you had about either Jeff's high OR low register are put into the ground harshly with the overall vibe and aura that is completed by both the instrumentation AND the vocals; THIS is where this band works SO well together. Shit, if this band had put together an entire album like these few tracks, I would be in fucking AWE of what SHOULD have and COULD have been a masterpiece. Many of these musicians have over 10 years in the music business, and I KNOW a better album is around the corner, but sadly I just shake my head at what SHOULD have been. Listen to the blazing guitar solos and you just KNOW there's tons of potential here. Tighten up on the songs, guys...
    Pure Steel Records.

    OGRE "The Last Neanderthal" (Minotauro) SCORE: 36/100

    TWO SONGS... Just two songs on this album worth a damn... Sadly, this band just doesn't seem to have what it takes to really drive home the point... After a rather useless and noisy 46 second intro, we're off. 'Nine Princes In Amber,' besides having a kick ass video done up with legos, is the track that this band is hyping. Rockin' guitar work, catchy choruses and soaring vocal work; if the band had written the rest of the album like this, then we'd have a scorching hot platter of molten lava... Heavy grinding stoner rock with a balls to the wall edge is what this track is... And the vocals, while not the greatest, fit SO well with this track, since bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham has a great high register that, had he utilized for the rest of the album, would have kept him from being the weakest link in the chain. That being said, it's painfully obvious that Ed is going to be an acquired taste, one I can NEVER get past. Followup 'Bad Trip' is absolutely AWFUL, this band also not having the gift of being able to write slow doomy songs. This track has that dragged out feeling going on, and at 8 minutes is terribly too long. The ultra slow passages on this track bear an embarassing point as to how bad these vocals are, especially when he's trying to emulate a sneering Ozzy. There are some cool leads present, proving these guys can play, but the song is a total mess. Snooze fest follows with 'Son Of Sisyphus,' another too long cut at 7:20. The twangy vocals definitely get on my nerves, and the weird horror synth sounds are too much. Another slow doom cut; painfully obvious these guys don't have the chops for doom metal. Here's some cool warpy sounding guitars with their cover of some obscure 70's band (actually some other band from the 70's named Ogre) entitled 'Soulless Woman.' Though the guitar riffs are cool, the song is bland and vapid and once again the vocal work isn't the only glaring problem. Finally, the only other reason to own this album: the cut 'Warpath.' Jammin' gits and catchy choruses, and somehow the Ozzy like vocals work here, mainly I guess because this track is an energetic kick ass piece. Not quite as good as 'Nine Princes,' but damn this is the best this band can do. You even hear a few extreme vocal pieces which are working just fine. Add some smokin' hot riffage and some of the most beautiful guitar work near the end of this 8 minute track; you have what should be the definitive formula for Ogre's next album. What follows is a 2:20 instrumental entitled 'White Plume Mountain,' which features kinda twangy, western styled atmosphere, and I just don't see the point of this. CD ender 'The Hermit' is an 11 minute disaster, and the vocals REALLY don't help this along much. The eerie doom feeling isn't written well by these guys. WAY too long. Guys, stick to the rockin' instrumentation and have Ed SING in a higher range, which he is obviously suited to much better. Sad when the best track on the disc (which also is the featured video) is also the only other decent song on this 8 song train wreck to hell. Very sad... So much potential wasted...
    Contact: Minotauro Records.

    PILGRIM "II: Void Worship" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 92/100

    The first time I ever heard any of these songs was the night Pilgrim opened up for Spirit Caravan here in Atlanta. And when the intro from the CD made it's way on the stage, I was mesmerized. At that time, this album was still a month away and all I knew of was Pilgrim's one and only CD "Misery Wizard," which they only played one track off of the whole night. Sick dark guitar work and a very haunting, occult feel permeate the first two tracks of this disc. The guitar riffs lead from the intro right into 'Master's Chamber,' one crushing, dark, and ominous 10 minute track. Folks, one of the most vicious and crushing doom metal masterpieces of this year IS 'Master's Chamber.' What's interesting is hearing the low toned, sinister vocals, but at times some melodic higher toned singing is heard. Some of the riffs here are almost epic sounding in an old school, Black Sabbath sort of way. Once past that 'The Paladin' kicks in, a mere 4:08 in length, and reminds me STRONGLY of the earliest High On Fire record "The Art Of Self Defense," with some faster instrumentation and a definite stoner rock vibe to the fuzzed out guitar work. Enter the second of FOUR instrumentals on this 8 track disc (more on that later) in 'Arcane Sanctum,' which portrays some dark acoustic like guitar notes. Dark, sorrowful and haunting all at the same time, this is an awesome but short instrumental. Followup cut 'In The Presence Of Evil' is probably the weakest cut here, and the instrumentation takes on a bit more lighter vibe than previous songs. It's not a bad instrumental, and definitely has nice melodic leads (gets better near the end as well), but most assuredly shouldn't have the word "evil" in the title. The Wizard's best vocal performance is on the title track, and it's amazing to hear his soaring high register which barely gets any useage on this disc! Vocals kick in at 1:51, and sometimes with this cut and CD ender 'Away From Here,' it sounds like the Pilgrim team doesn't want the songs to end! There does seem to be a bit of padding out of length, when maybe some riffs could have been trimmed, but for the most part the ultra eerie and haunting vibes are toned down for the last few cuts of the disc, with the lone exception being the very short (not even 2 minutes) instrumental 'March Of The Dwarves.' Dark aura and definitely march like. It must be said that Pilgrim has definitely crafted a much heavier record, but one still wonders why out of 8 songs, 4 of them had to be instrumentals. Regardless, if you can deal with song lengths of 8, 9 and 10 minutes, you're gonna hear some dark and vicious riffing that often crosses the border from colossal doom to fuzzed, heavy and slightly crunchy stoner rock. This band of Pilgrims are no one trick pony, proving that you don't have to drench the listener in darkness and haunting atmospheres for the entire length of the disc. A treat to hear this stuff live, lemme tell ya!
    Metal Blade Records.

    PRIMEVAL REALM "Primordial Light" (Pure Steel) SCORE: 88/100

    Man oh man, can these guys write some KILLER material! After 3 demos which, strangely enough, were all recorded in 2009, 5 years later Pure Steel releases their one and only full length, and sadly they called it a day soon after this album was in the can. I dunno why, because this is absolutely brilliant material for the most part. There's not a crappy song on here, but the fact is that out of 7 songs, with a mere 39 minutes running time, there's THREE instrumentals on this disc! Now granted, the CD ender 'Primordial Light... Departure' contains some spoken word piece, and the piano and acoustic guitar mix was interesting (as well as the flutes and synths mixed in there), but really this CD should have had at least a few more "songs." But that's just me. Midway through the disc there's a 7 minute instrumental entitled 'Galaxy Lifter,' which still contains some rippin' guitar riffs and psychedelic keyboard passages. It's like a doom metal "guitar hero" track, and the axe masters can fuckin' shred as well as craft some MEAN riffs! Maybe a few minutes too long is this instrumental but it's still got enjoyable stuff on it. So on to the rest of the disc: Slow and doomy is 'Black Flames & Shadows,' and those simplistic choruses are stuck forever in my head. This definitely could have been on the heavier side of a Spirit Caravan album, complete with varying tempo, speed and structure changes to keep this 8 minute cut VERY interesting. Vocal work here is kinda midrange, keeping it simple but effective. One of my FAVORITE cuts follows with 'Electric Knowledge,' simply electrifying choruses and really diggin' the Hammond organ psychedelic keyboard bits. Soaring vocals on the choruses proves this band did their homework when writing these songs. And doom metal they may be labeled, but they don't find themselves stuck in one mode. Almost thrashy like guitar work rears it's head on 'Heavy Is This Mind,' which almost has a "radio rock friendly" vibe to it but make no mistake, it rocks mightily. And channeling the spirit of Bruce Franklin himself from the mighty Trouble, 'Night Of The Wolfmoon' is no slouch, conjuring up some of the meanest riffs Trouble WISHES they could muster these days... Heavy as fuck with some dark 'n' doomy low toned sung vocals (the lowest this guy goes on the disc for sure), this is an exemplary example of a band that isn't afraid to vary things up and try different influences. Sadly, this band is quite capable of a 90+ score, and I dare say it's that kind of disc that SHOULD be a 95 or higher, but man, they really needed to flesh this disc out with more material. Maybe one of the older demo cuts that didn't make it would have rounded this out even better, but sadly their full potential may never come to fruition. I have no idea what caused this band to throw in the towel so early after such a monstrous release, but it's not a story I haven't heard before in the music world (anyone remember Aphotic?) Truly a cut above the rest...
    Contact: Pure Steel Records.

    RESTLESS OBLIVION "Sands Of Time" (Solitude) SCORE: 97/100

    You probably guessed the score from the above line that reads: On Solitude Productions. This time it's showcasing to the world a brand new band hailing from Russia with an extremely bright and promising future ahead of them. The album does a masterful job of weaving the somber, melancholic and more serene ("lighter," if you will) moments with some crushingly heavy, almost funeral doom atmospheres. This album owes as much to early Anathema and My Dying Bride as it does some of the more recent doom bands delving into funeral doom. After an intro which I usually skip (due to all the weird voices and atypical storm sounds), I will say the synthesizers at the end of this paint a nice picture, not ready to betray what is to come. Slow, heavy and mournful guitar work graces 'Deadline Of Essence' and we're off. Blackened vocals rear their heads quite a bit; it's a nice interplay with the almost typical but strong death metal styled vocals we all know and love. Pianos and solo acoustical passages are a further strength, and you'll find most of the songs hover around the 7 and 8 minute mark, never really overstaying their welcome. 'Resolution Of Slavish Pain' is one of my favorite tracks, especially since it showcases (as does another later fave, 'Our Tunnel Light') some almost thrash like riffs, more midtempo guitar work, and a penchant to threaten to drown everything in darkness beyond all hope. Even the CD ender (the 'Epilogue') has some beautiful pianos and ambient synth passages that I would never dare to skip. There's so much great and moving, yet powerful guitar work, which makes it one of the highlights of this disc. Still, there are a few tiny flaws, mostly in error of execution, but they are almost so minute that I can't see anyone complaining heavily. 'Sin Of Pure Life' has minimal instrumentation at the beginning and seemingly struggles to catch my ear for a minute or so, but soon the ship rights itself and we are coasting along just fine. Russia has become such an amazing place to find some of the world's best doom metal, and I daresay there is such precision and expert craftsmanship on this record, I don't see how they can possibly make album number 2 better than this one! Restless Oblivion's "Reign In Blood?" Absolutely astonishing for a new band's debut...
    Solitude Productions.

    SLEIPNIR "Oaths Sworn In Blood & Mead" (Gardarika) SCORE: 95/100

    I've been waiting for a LONG time for this gem to come out, five years after the first epic release and at least a year or so after Darklord and Tossel told me it would be available... Right off the bat, though this isn't a doom metal band... six tracks with a total running time of EIGHTY MINUTES... Don't let that throw you, but the album DOES require some patience. The shortest tune here is 9:24, while two tracks clock in at 15 seconds shy of 17 minutes! I will say this, though, this is probably the most epic and amazing release that Sleipnir has ever done, in fact the synthesized passages (which I assume are HEAVILY multilayered) are so rich and powerful, that the T.V. show Vikings should RIGHT NOW adopt ALL of Sleipnir's music for every place on the show that has music. 'Farewell To A Fallen Brother' would make a GREAT opening theme song. But as I said, this album is not for those who want a quick 4 or 5 minute song and then you're out; this album REQUIRES patience, but from the first listen you notice something special. Opener 'Hail The Heathen Hordes Of Midgard,' for instance, takes about 4 and a half minutes before you hear the rather familiar rough edged vocals kick in. Still, rather than make the opening stuff an intro, it's tacked right on. The coolest thing about the album is the clean sung multivocal chants and sung lines all over the album, and I swear all the songs you'll be singing for days. At first, it was a little rough, as the multivocals sounded a little off kilter a bit, but remember these are supposed to conjure images of drunken battle weary Vikings singing songs to the gods, so after that initial shock the opening cut made more sense. Still, epic doesn't even begin to describe what's going on. Crunching footsteps, thunder, sword on anvil and wolf sounds being 'Blood On The Sword,' and those heavy guitars are just Bathory like epic. Still, the production seems a bit rough in spots, and here the solo vocals over the minimal instrumentation seemed like there was some feedback or static. Let's also talk about the drums, now obviously you can tell there's a drum machine present, especially on the faster parts, but there are some nice tribal/folk percussion elements presented, which gives this a more authentic feeling. 'Farewell (To A Fallen Brother)' has the impression at the start of a bit of an oriental feeling; odd due to the synth work, but the Bathory like epic feeling kicks in, and the epic backing chanted vocals mix well with everything else. We could go on and on about this record, especially the choruses, which are so memorable from track to track. Except by the record's end, you've kinda been overwhelmed, as Sleipnir doesn't throw in a ton of variety over these long songs. Usually there's a definite beginning that proceeds to a middle point where a bit of instrumental variation goes down (anywhere from a few minutes to several minutes; keep in mind the length of these songs) before the beginning of the track is expanded upon to round out the track's end. This CD loses points for the ending track 'What The Runes Foretold,' though due to the nature of epicness this band possesses there's a lot of great instrumentation; however the choruses are a bit too fast and don't have that catchiness the rest of the album has. And at 16:45, it definitely might have some saying "enough." That being said, it's amazing to me to see Odin's greatest inspiration coming from England instead of, say, Norway, Sweden or Finland, and I dare say that this is probably THE best Viking album of the year, complete with epic soundtrack like and rich synthesized passages. Unique that you have an underground black/viking metal like atmosphere with the underground production of rough vocals and guitars, yet the orchestrated passages are so rich, they exceed the orchestration effort of, say, Therion via their "Theli" album, though without the 30,000 dollar budget Nuclear Blast spent on the production job. Odin would be honored and surely Sleipnir's place in the golden halls of Valhalla is already assured...
    Contact: Gardarika Musikk.

    SPARTA "Welcome To Hell" (High Roller) SCORE: 81/100

    The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal Movement was one of the most important times for metal ever, especially considering several of it's bands are still actively touring and releasing albums today. Of course, Iron Maiden is the most popular and successful of all of these, but now those unknown bands who might have released a few 2 song seven inches are coming back as well, and Sparta is amongst the latest to have a record deal. Right off the bat, we get to hear some rockin' guitar work as the title track opens the album, complete with a movie quote from the movie "300." Yes, they sing about the Spartans. This track rocks, folks, and gets us off to a righteous start, complete with great catchy choruses and lots of oldschool sounding lead solos. Everything that made the NWOBHM era of metal great, Sparta knows about. Next up, 'Angel Of Death,' which is a re-recording of the flip side of the 7 inch "Tonight" which was released back in 1981, and doesn't sound much different, save for the production values; it's practically the same song with the same singer that performed this way back when. I must say I didn't really care for 'Time,' though; I didn't like the way the vocal lines were delivered, and the choruses didn't strike me either. Still, this track, like all their others, has a LOT of solo guitar passages in there, and not just lead solos either. 'Soldier Of Fortune' continues the "war" theme well, and the clean sung vocals opening up mixed with marching boot sounds showcase Karl's vocals very well. I wasn't as crazy about 'Wild Night' either, as the tune kinda seems to wander around aimlessly; it's definitely not one of their stronger cuts. However, 'Dreaming Of Evil' should have been heavier than they presented it, though it's still a rather enjoyable more melodic piece. 'Arrow' is a kick ass, rockin' cut and one of my favorites on the record. The choruses definitely have some kick to them, and this one's just energetic, straight up rockin' from start to finish. The opening instrumentation has that heavy bass line sounding like it was picked up from Motorhead's 'Ace Of Spades,' in fact that directness of the tune reminds me a lot of the Ace. 'Rock 'N' Roll Rebel' will certainly appeal to the metalhead in us all, and what's funny is hearing all the popular metal song titles from Hawkwind, Metallica, Motorhead, AC/DC and more in the lyrics! CD ender 'Kingdom Of The Sky' is the longest cut here at 6 and a half minutes, starting off with nice dual acoustic guitars and varying tempos and structures, giving us great sing along choruses and great instrumentation. Good to see the Reders family giving us a great reminder of what NWOBHM songs sound like, and it's no doubt we'll hear more from them in the future.
    Contact: High Roller Records.

    STEEL ASSASSIN "WWII: Metal Of Honor" (High Roller) SCORE: 47/100

    Here's a trippy thing: This band put out three demos in the 80's before calling it a day, only to release two albums within the past 7 years. Folks, lemme tell ya right off the bat before I point out all the shortcomings of this album: the vocals are kick ass... This guy can sing, and on opener 'God Save London,' I swear he is doing a Bruce Dickinson impression. He has a hell of a range, and can even get emotional and downright aggressive. The guitarists are no slouch either, and just about every song has some amazing notes and tons of catchy lead solos. The problem? They just can't string together songs that make me want to give this damn thing repeated spins. I mean, when you're a singer and you're most critical of the vocalist, it should be a win-win if you're loving the singer's voice right? Well, starting off with track one we see EXACTLY what the problem is. Air raid sirens, and a power yell and crushing heavy almost thrash like BLUDGEONING riffs, and we're off. Explosive and catchy songwriting, the likes of which are seldom reached on this album, and they bring out such a DOWNER of a chorus. I'm like "you had me until the lethargic choruses, man!!" So we follow on, and damnit if the overall tune just doesn't grab me. I think 'Blitzkrieg Demons' suffers most from that goddamn bouncy and goofy instrumentation! Soaring vocals on the prechoruses tho. And then 'The Iron Saint' does a pretty good melodic maiden, complete with soaring vocals, though some may see this 7 minute piece as too long. However, the song's kinda split in two, with the last 3 and a half minutes of just fantastic instrumentation! I mean, I would usually skip over an instrumental, but this has kind of a sorrowful but still jammin' set of riffs, and it seems epic as well. Bland choruses plague us yet again with followup 'Four Stars Of Hell' (Really?!?), and besides that, nothing here is really grabbing me. I mean, it doesn't suck, either, but I'm just like "eh." The harder edged, kinda "gang chant" vocals kinda seemed out of place as well. Spoken word pieces usually bother me too, but they kinda fit with the slightly darker instrumentation, but once again, those goofy bouncy passages make me turn away. 'Guadalcanal' is a speedier number and is okay; what really grabs me is the intricate and complex drumming that really steals the show. 'The Wolfpack' is really the only other song on this disc that I can call a "complete" tune, especially on the explosive choruses, complete with REAL explosions and hardcore like multivocals that REALLY drive the point of combat home. The saddest thing about this disc? The best track on here is a stunning and emotionally charged number called 'Red Sector A,' which is just flat out amazing; great heavy driving guitars and soaring vocals, of which NOTHING else on this disc can even come close! What makes this so much worse is THIS ISN'T EVEN THEIR SONG!?? It's a Rush cover, and when I listened to the original, I thought wow... They took a rather lackluster song and turned it into a crushing, heavy epic! I am NO fan of Rush, sad to say, but this cover floored me. None of these songs suck outright, but damn if they can't put all these amazing pieces together to achieve a cohesive whole. It's like you have these great musicians and singers, but they seem to have just "phoned in" their performance. No spark, no life, just a by-the-book kind of U.S. power metal that does NOTHING for the genre. Sad really, because you can HEAR the talent so easily...
    Contact: High Roller Records.

    THE HOWLING VOID "Nightfall" (Solitude) SCORE: 93/100

    Trust me when I say, this is a low score for a Howling Void disc... Ya know, some of my more non-metal oriented friends would really enjoy this band, right until the death metal styled vocals came in. So there are those who wondered what The Howling Void would sound like with clean sung vocals only. Yep, you guessed correctly, that's what the funeral doom mastermind Ryan thought as well, and the results are quite good. With a few notable exceptions however. This disc seems to culminate in bits and pieces from T.H.V.'s last few albums, and nowhere is this more evident than on the CD's opener 'A Long Day's Journey Into Night,' which is an ambitious and lengthy 14:46! I hear shades of their last two full lengths present here ("Shadows Over The Cosmos" and 2012's best doom album "Womb Beyond The World"), and it isn't until 4:03 you hear the chant like clean vocals. Still, as is customary with most Howling Void releases, there aren't a lot of vocals. Lyrics show THREE LINES... That's it folks. And for the most part, as nice as the vocals are, they really seem almost buried by everything else. On 'The Chaos Beyond The Stars,' you REALLY have to listen hard for them. But anyway, moving on, 'In Subterranean Temples' started me off with QUITE a shock! Whether intentional or not, the opening guitar and synth notes sound STRONGLY like the emotional and moving passages on Mourning Beloveth's track 'Autumnal Fires' from their "Dust" album, which is my all time favorite Mourning Beloveth track from that release! Still, hearing the funeral bell notes (which are present all throughout the album) and clean sung vocals give this a unique take on this cut. The rich synthesized passages, often dual in nature, go quite well with the acoustic guitar work and the piano notes, and some serene moments are added. 'God Of The Gallows' is a beautiful instrumental 3 minute piece which serves as a nice bridge between the first few and the last 3 tracks. You can definitely picture the early morning sun creeping over the horizon here. And with the heavy guitar notes, 'Mist And Moonlight' reminds us that The Howling Void still knows how to be dark and HEAVY, and the guitars here are the most prominent and quite reminiscent of those found on the heavier cuts off of the "Womb Beyond The World" CD. I do admit I worried how the clean vocals would fare against such heavier, thunderous instrumentation, and suffice it to say they hold up WELL. Still, the track is rather long for the amount of minimalism presented; not usually a problem in years past but here something seems a tad amiss. NOT the case with followup 'The Chaos Beyond The Stars,' still, there isn't much chaos present but definitely some beauty and tons of melancholic riffing. This track alternates quite a bit between synths and guitar and just synth passages, which keeps things moving for the almost 10 minutes in length. Beautiful lead guitars abound, but they're quite sad, in fact CD closer 'Voidward' picks up at the very beginning right where the previous track left off, with the exact same synth landscapes, making for a 12:41 instrumental!! Now, normally a 12 minute synth piece might seem a bit of overkill, but the incredible melancholy keeps you hanging in there. At times I look at the track (which, incidentally, contains NO guitars whatsoever and could be seen as a mostly ambient track) and think it's just too long, but those amazing synthesized passages pull me in. This track definitely makes you realize just how small and fragile we are in this infinite universe, and it will definitely make you feel a sense of beauty and intense melancholia. Not much variety until the 5:52 mark for this one, but it does end the CD nicely. Seen as an experimental album, it does contain several passages that longtime Howlong Void fans will say "Wow, that sounds familiar." Still, I play this disc quite often, and though I don't prize it as highly as his other blockbusters, trust me when I say the experimentation is greatly appreciated. In the future I DO hope he experiments with clean sung vocals more, putting them in the foreground and making them more audible, while still keeping the harsh vocals we've come to know and love for several albums. ALWAYS good to hear a new Howling Void disc.
    Solitude Productions.

    VIN DE MIA TRIX "Once Hidden From Sight" (Solitude) SCORE: 79/100

    Definitely a somewhat low score for a band on Solitude Productions, but I can DEFINITELY see the merits of this band. Granted, within the doom/death genre, they aren't doing anything groundbreaking or innovative, but they DO have a few things going for them. Though they do employ the standard doom fare you've heard from heavyweights like My Dying Bride and Swallow The Sun, this album has SO many great riffs and leads that you will definitely forgive them if you hear passages sounding like they were ripped right off a M.D.B. album. I'm looking right at you, opening track! ('A Study In Scarlet'). Some of the most beautiful guitar work to grace the album starts off the opening track well, though they DO have a tendency to lose me on this track in one spot with the weird post rock jangly riffing (which also pops up a bit on the 7th and 8th track). What REALLY drives this home, though, is the beautiful clean sung male vocals; at times layered giving off this rather Gregorian monk chanting feeling. The biggest problem with this CD is though there are 8 tracks, two are piano instrumentals. 'La Ou Le Reve Et Le Jour S'Effleurerent,' besides having a ridiculously long song title, has very bland single note piano pieces. And at 7 minutes, is WAY too long... It somewhat gets interesting near the end with the addition of ambient synths, but there's very little variety for the agonizing length we're being asked to sit through. And then again, with 'La Persistencia De La Memoria,' the piano notes are a tad better, but once again not much variety (not to mention five minutes is shorter, but still they could have thrown in an extra track!) That being said, most doom albums these days are a 6 track affair, so you still get a decent amount of material though this has to be judged on 8 songs not 6... Noteworthy on this album is the cut 'Metamorphosis,' which is their darkest and heaviest cut on the record, and down the line you hear the clean sung vocals make a HUGE faux pas in trying to sing in a dark and sinister tone, something this vocalist isn't cut out for. Thankfully, only a few places in this song where that pops up. There are amazing lead solos all over the place, including the best one on the disc itself with 'Metamorphosis' again; surprising since this track seems to be hell bent on creating dark and haunting vibes. They play the sorrow filled emotional passages very well, and the death metal styled vocals are a bit different from your usual low toned growls. The leads and the clean sung male vocals are what makes this band stand out, however much needs to be trimmed out and eliminated if this band is going to make it huge in the doom scene. Still, there's enough to mark this disc as a keeper, and the amazing guitar work notwithstanding, Vin De Mia Trix is a welcome, if at times wary, addition to the Solitude catalog.
    Contact: Solitude Productions.

    WE HUNT BUFFALO "Blood From A Stone" (We Hunt Buffalo) SCORE: 92/100

    Folks, I was a little hesitant about this release at first. Right from the get go of this 4 song EP, though, the guitars are DRENCHED in that heavy stoner fuzz that I recognized INSTANTLY... Bands like Sparzanza, Honcho, Sasquatch and the like have VERY similar guitar sounds and structures. The title track opens this disc off nicely, and the cool, clean sung vocals have a bit of a mellow side to them, much more so than on many other stoner rock discs... Now, truth be told, I LOVE stoner rock... Probably know more about it than 95% of the people who have already dissected and reviewed this disc. I was around for the Man's Ruin days, caught up with Meteor City and Small Stone after Man's Ruin folded, hell I even dipped some toes into the French based Water Dragon Records and folks, I can't get ENOUGH of this shit... But the vocals threw me at first. Still, a stoner rock record shouldn't ALWAYS be balls to the wall heavy. More on THAT in a minute. We're still talking about the opener, the title track, and lemme say there's lots of sing along stuff in here. Choruses that soar. Vocals that aren't ALL the time melodic and well sung (even if there's a tendency to do that "alt-twang" at the end of a few sentences in 'Cobwebs.') O yeah, speaking of the "followup" 'Cobwebs,' it's a slower tune. Heavy and fuzzed out, but the boys from WAAAY up yonder have a few tricks up their sleeves. Dig the somewhat blackened screams worked ever so subtly in there (so if you guys wanna do MORE of that on the next record, I'm SO down! Blackened stoner rock... Make it your genre, dudes). This track doesn't go for the hard rocker vibe as much as the laid back but STILL heavy stoner vibe. And next, my FAVORITE tune on the disc, which surprises me that it is because it's such a BEAUTIFUL mellow tune, man! Amazing vocals, SOARING in many parts and a chorus that's to DIE for. BEAUTIFUL guitar work, and the range on our throatman! Lean back and fire up a green machine people, this track's ultra stellar! Our CD ends with 'Telepathic Eyes,' and it's a little confusing... The fuzzy yet minimal guitar work abounds and starts this off, and it's yet another laid back vibe, so more in line with the third track than the first one. The vocals soar yet again, and yes, it's more a laid back track than the opener. So I don't get it, does the heavy rockin' end after one cut? I'm guessing there's a bit of diversity these guys want to show off, and this last track is good, but not as great as the opening three. More stoner than rock, but surprising JUST how much I enjoy this disc, 'cause if you know anything about Honcho and Sparzanza, Sasquatch and Operator: Generator, you know there's a lot of heavy rockin' going on... This one is superbly chill. At a mere 19 minutes too; yeah, I know you were expecting the 9 and 10 minute epics. Even more surprising... Fuck yeah I want more... Fuck yeah ALL the hype around this band is WELL deserved. And fuck yeah, WHEN the hell are they gonna A. release a FULL LENGTH, B. play "my hometown," and C. get me a copy of their first album!!!! (Maybe D. do an interview with us?)

    ZOMBIE LAKE "Plague Of The Undead" (Iron Shield) SCORE: 81/100

    This is kinda one of those "guilty pleasures" albums for me. It's touted as a thrash band, but really it's more like a mixture of death metal and thrash, especially as you can hear some of the Obituary and "The Bleeding" era Cannibal Corpse in there. The vocal work is truly sick, though, and "Golem Missy" reminds you of a zombie's rotting throat doing the vocals, which are surprisingly well articulated (IE: easy to understand without straining through a lyric sheet). The lyrical concept is, well, all about zombies... Not too difficult to figure out. Well, except for maybe the song 'Flesh For Frankenstein' but I suppose the good Doctor needed a non-moving zombie for his experiments... Anyway, I'm getting off on a tangent here. The thrash riffs are not always blazing along at 100 miles per hour, although I must admit the last few songs on the disc were kinda amateurish sounding. Opener 'Blood! Blood! Blood!' (Yeah! Yeah! YEAH!) has a rather eerie intro tacked onto it before ripping out some vicious thrash. Despite a few songs not sitting well with me, ALL tunes have some killer guitar work, and even the not so great songs usually get better near the end. In fact, that's one very interesting thing about this album: No matter what song you listen to, if you can stick around until the end you will be rewarded. They vary the tempos quite a bit, so not every song is stuck in one mode and speed, and they even have the decency to bring out some melodic leads and passages (there's an acoustic intro on the cut 'The Cemetary'!) 'Deceased And Obsessed' bounces around a bit and loses focus, while I think the worst song on here is 'War Of The Worlds,' which has really oddly phrased choruses and bounces around a bit too much. Still, 'Emperor Of The Walking Dead' was one of my favorites, and I love the lyrics on 'Brain Frenzy' where the lyricist seems to get inside the head of a wandering zombie: "Where have the living gone? Where are their juicy brains? I look to the sun - I'm slowly going insane!" There are a few blackened vocals too, and it was nice to hear a bit of variety from a rocker who has a long and storied history in the metal business. This band is a collaboration of musicians who hail from New York and Stockholm, Sweden, though the vocalist is none other than Martin Missy, who did throat work for the band Protector throughout the 80's! This album won't win any innovative band of the year awards, but damnit, sometimes you want something you can crank up fucking LOUD and just get into the zombie spirit... And the thrashy start/stop riffage means that there's a LOT to get into on this one... Try it, ya might like it...
    Contact: Iron Shield Records.

    Interview with mastermind and main composer Anna via email.

  • First of all, I am very sorry to hear about the conflict going on in your area... As I mentioned before, I have contacts in both areas and it is my sincerest hope that this gets resolved very soon, and with as little loss of life as possible...

    Thanks for your participating but, unfortunately, we don't really have much hope that soon the clashes will cease and conflict will be resolved, because its root lies much deeper than some mighty people are eager to see.

  • So what's your take on the situation; as it seems now there's a conflict over higher gas prices coming out of Russia...

    Honestly, at first I came across such an interpretation of the current situation in Ukraine. Perhaps because of this they say in your country, on TV and in networks? We live on the territory of the self-proclaimed Donetsk National Republic, so we have no right not to be aware of all events.

    I can say that a very powerful Puppeteer was able to pull the right strings, which stirred up in our people the dark that had matured for many decades and easily pushed to the escalation of mutual misunderstanding and as a consequence – a full-fledged armed conflict. The seeds were in a very fertile ground for the most part of our country covered by the nationalist fever and prosperity, and erected on a pedestal only right national idea slogans "Hail our nation! Death to enemies! Ukraine is above all else! Ukraine is for Ukrainians! etc" This ignites all Ukrainian media, politicians, public figures, influential people, oligarchs.. Until I face: as our lands "save" the Ukrainian army and multiple battalions of mercenaries, we see only a destroyed town, burned lands and hundreds of corpses of civilians. While comprehensive lies and cynicism comes from the mass media, there's something that is not shown on TV as it is; all international organizations have turn a blind eye to the fact of real genocide, without exaggeration. Too ugly! We've been trying to be convinced that black is white ..

  • What is surprising to me about the album "God, Me And Monsters," is that your record label Visceral Laments says that this is a "power metal" oriented album, but clearly the record is firmly rooted in very dark and haunting gothic music, and I don't mean the poppy, metal band with a female singer, but REAL gothic music, of which I was involved in the scene for quite awhile, with bands like Sisters Of Mercy, Bauhaus, The Mission U.K., and others... Any reason why the label might have misrepresented the album's classification?

    Unfortunately, I cannot say exactly why we have ranked precisely this style, we have not discussed how it should be called :) Perhaps this was done for the simplicity of perception and classification. Non oriented listeners are hard to take (to) a new style. So if the musical elements are metal+female vocals, with a high probability this will be either gothic or power metal. Of course I would not compare with power metal. However, I also can not uniquely identify our style, but call it the puzzle of the existing ones. Something is closer to the symbiosis of styles marked darkwave + gothic + doom + metal.

  • As far as the latest record is concerned, it's PROPER gothic oriented doom metal, of a type seldom heard anymore... There's definitely some dark and haunting melodies, as I mentioned before... What prompted you to pursue this particular style, and do you listen to many gothic styled bands?

    I will say that I prefer to create something of my own, not going the already proven path. Since the beginning of the period when I became interested in music in general, not as a background but the way of reporting thoughts, I was attracted by many bands and styles; not only gothic, doom, and darkwave directions, but also all sorts of styles from classical to avant-garde. Most noticeably, before creating music, I listened to a lot of music, interested in new trends in genres and albums.

  • Also, some say that gothic culture and literature/music started around the time of the Victorian era, but more recently in pop culture in the 1950's and 1960's with such T.V. shows as The Adams Family and The Munsters... Now, I don't know if you agree with that or not, or even if you've seen those shows, what do you say?

    I think the Victorian gothic culture and the gothic culture that's been artificially created nowadays - are two different things. Anyway, all that is created for fun, and can not carry the true sense of such a sophisticated culture. It can create images that form patterns of behavior, but can not force into human consciousness craving to comprehend the true dark side of the world and himself. As you rightly named it – it's just pop (popularized) culture.

  • When I listen to the record, I am rather astounded because your voice sounds like you have way more experience and years on it than you look in your photos!! I'm curious how you came to sing with a somewhat operatic style but still retain a very haunting and dark presence... It's one of the most powerful and diverse female vocals I've ever come across... Do you have any opera training? Sometimes it's hard to believe one person is responsible for all the different vocal approaches you do on the record!

    I haven't had any vocal training actually. I have not graduated from a musical school, have not taken vocal lessons or something like that. Only flute lessons connect me with the music education. Singing for me is a hobby, a state of mind and mood. Perhaps because I'm not held by any academic or pop styles of singing, I can bring to my songs any vocal experiment.

  • Are you much into extreme metal? I know Candlemass had an operatic styled male singer from early on in their careers, and bands like Therion have flirted with operatic voices, but mostly it's an unknown commodity in the metal realm.

    I am. I once started acquaintances with classic doom, and Therion in its time also left an indelible impression with its operatic fringed metal. I am most attracted by subgenres of extreme metal marked avangarde, symphonic, atmospheric, something in the spirit of Septic Flesh, Ihsahn, Madder Mortem. Oh and do not forget about the good old Empyrium, Tiamat, Moonspell, Saturnus, etc.

  • As unique as your style and sound is, do you think it's difficult after over 40 years of guitar oriented music to come up with anything original or groundbreaking in any genre? I am constantly amazed that metal bands continue to defy their genre and reach out and expand with new sounds...

    I think that the more you listen to other music genres, the more you have ideas that can be implemented into the metal genre. After all, almost all musical genres (including metal first of all) have almost become obsolete, and without non-metal music injections we probably get what we can not distinguish one from another metal band. If you strictly follow the canons of the genre, which someone has formed before, you may not find your face, the unique and catchy. That's why we use anything to enrich existing styles through the prism of own music. Now many people have turned to this "trick" and we hear the influence of jazz, classical, electronic and folk music inside extreme metal works. It allows you to add more "atmosphere" and, if you say, "soul," into his creation.

  • So the album title "God, Me And Monsters," how does it all tie in? Sadly I don't have a lyric sheet but would love to know what your thoughts on the title are.

    First of all, the album title binds the songs thematically. Lyrics are interconnected and weaves the narrative thread about the search, finding and struggle against internal and external enemies. Briefly, the essence of the problem is how your ego can be both some divine creatively-destructive and some monstrous destructively-creative force for himself.

  • I am assuming that you write all the flute and keyboard parts, but you have a guitarist in the band. How do you convey to your guitarist how to come up with riffs or guitar patterns for the album?

    All guitar and bass parts we created together and together we put them into the concept of the song. So difficulties with mutual understanding of what it should eventually it look like, did not arise. Sometimes firstly guitars parts appeared, on which the rest instruments relied later, sometimes keys, or just unplayed melody gradually transformed into instrumental incarnation.

  • So is Anagram To Anna a live entity? I am assuming that for you to play live you would also require the services of a drummer...

    ... and one more guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and back-vocalists : ) But seriously, while we have not had an opportunity to perform as a live entity, in general we'd like to adapt the songs so that will require a minimum of people on stage, but without pre-recorded tracks.

  • On that note, the liner notes don't mention how the drums were done; I am wondering if they were pre-programmed, but I am unable to tell...

    In the album it's indicated (a) session drummer. In the beginning it was an idea to make preprogrammed drums, but then after experimenting, we decided that it wasn't the thing we wanted to get as a result, so our friend helped in recording the drum parts.

  • So how did you come to the attention of Endless Winter Records? It must make you proud to be the first band on their new sublabel Visceral Laments.

    After a hesitation, at last we decided to release an album and began searching for the label. We sent a record to several labels and almost immediately Endless Winter responded. And since our music does not really fit into the concept of the label, the owner decided to create a sublabel, which would release such atypical doom bands. Undoubtedly being the first is (an) honor :)

  • I haven't seen a lot of press, but the few things I have seen written about the project were pretty positive. Have you seen any press or done any other interviews?

    Yes, I've seen comments and reviews – mostly positive, that is good ;) Such a wide-ranging interview like this one is for (us) the first time.

  • So what other women in the realm of heavy metal do you admire? I know there are very few extreme female vocalists, though I do admire Dana Duffey, who pioneered one of the first all female doom/death bands in Mythic. Plus, Sabina Klassen from Holy Moses is still doing her thing, almost death metal like thrash since the 80's...

    I never make idols from anyone. Therefore, to say that I admire or idolize any representative of (the) musical industry would be wrong. First of all atypical interesting voices or methods of execution always arouse interest in me. Extreme female vocals cause no more emotions than male; I do believe that the extreme singing style has no gender.

  • Do you listen to death or black metal at all? I know there was a lot of craziness perpetuated by the Norwegians in the early 90's, but many Russians and Ukranians have done amazing things with black metal, especially bands like Nokturnal Mortum, Raventale, Zaklon and the like...

    I am familiar with many bands of these areas. But too I can't say that I'm a fan of classic death or black. I love music more complicated and multifaceted, devoid of conformity of specific styles. Like "something" with splashes of death or black, for example "depressive black," "doom/death," "atmospheric death," etc.

  • So now that the album is finished and out, are there any plans for another record? Any themes, song or album titles you can let us know about?

    There are ideas, there are drafts, there is a desire. Unfortunately we do not always have time for their implementation as music is not our main occupation. There was an idea of a small shift towards acoustic, focus on a more active use of flute and acoustic guitar. But perhaps this wish will not come to life, and we would move towards something else.

  • The record definitely deals with some very sad themes; loneliness, depression, abandonment and also some haunting and dark matter as well. Do you have any spiritual or religious beliefs? I am not sure how widespread christianity is in your country, even though I am not a fan of the religion (to put it mildly).

    To be honest, I'm an atheist and a skeptic in many things concerning spiritual practices. Perhaps the mention of "God" and "soul" in my songs may mislead (some) to thinking about some religious overtones, but their meaning is somewhat different in this case. As one example – "god," as one of the guide levers of our own consciousness in the construction of their relationship to the world.

  • What does the band name Anagram To Anna represent? Obviously your name is in the band title, and of course I can see in one song 'Dog's Soul Carnival' where the word dog can be transposed for god...

    You're right :) As some of the letters can build words that are different in meaning (dog-god, monster-mentors etc), so the same words and actions can have different meanings and implications based on who will analyze or implement them. Transposing words (dog-god) for me has a special meaning: as a clean, open, not burdened by the human dirt, dog's consciousness is close to the idyllic picture of thinking of a human being as close as possible to the realization of his "god within."

  • A final question I have for you; I have been asking many bands, and wonder if you have any thought on where we go after this physical life is done? I know many religions have different ideas on what happens after we die; still some of those seem quite far fetched, yet we still have that inborn nature that we don't really want to die. Some people don't even really want to think about it much...

    Because of my religious beliefs, or rather their absence, I do not believe in the existence of the afterlife as such that's described variously in different religions. But I do not reduce the value of a single human life from the point of view of the Universe; I.E. each of us definitely fulfills his role in the web of events. And after death we become a mix of what we put ourselves in life into. And the less you interact with the world, the less you have left in it after death.

    Interview via email with Brian Smith.

  • It's good to see you guys back again! Let's talk a little bit about your latest album "Heavy Metal Sanctuary." That's a very interesting title; I know for me personally metal has always seemed like a place I could always go to that would never let me down...

    This album although for the most part has turned out great, it is a small miracle that it ever saw the light of day at all. It started in 2011 really, but what with no budget and a lot of internal differences within the band as well as some big technical issues, it got off to a slow and painful beginning. It literally started on a laptop and we eventually ran into technical problems as well as some musical and personal differences which delayed the completion of the album for a long time. On the plus side, some of the best material we have ever written is on this album and when we finally took it into the studio to complete it we managed to squeeze a better production than we first imagined we could achieve with the very limited budget. All the work we put in seems to have now been worth it, we have had very positive feedback from the fans and at last count the album has had over 120 reviews, most of them being very positive.

  • The vocals on this newest release sound VERY different from your earlier days! The vocal work is heavier, in fact I dare say if I didn't know it was the same singer, I'd swear you guys hired a new vocalist! Is Dave singing purposely with a lower register, and does he still sing the older songs the way he used to?

    Dave really went to town on this album and raised the bar for his own vocals by quite a bit. A lot of burning the midnight oil went into those tracks both for the vocals and the guitars/drums. He still has no problem singing the older songs, and yes has widened his vocal range.

  • So it seems that there is this HUGE New Wave Of British Heavy Metal revival going on, with bands like Satan, you guys, and even Angel Witch releasing new albums. What do you think of some of the other British bands? I know the thrash revival was huge with Onslaught reforming, playing shows and releasing albums...

    Overall it's great, although the revival seems more centered around Europe and South America more than anywhere else, the UK always seems so pop orientated and the media always ignore any type of metal over here. In particular Hell's albums sound amazing though that probably has a lot to do with Andy Sneap, one of the best metal producers ever. Just listen to Accept's new albums to confirm this. People see the fundamental influence NWOBHM has had on the metal industry and continues to do so today. Most of the modern metal bands today mention the influence of bands such as ourselves. The most amazing outcome of this is that a huge percentage of the fanbase we have today consists of people below the age of about 35. The young fans often tell us the reason they listen to older bands such as ourselves is because they find little of this type of exciting music in the modern scene. This makes our music multi-generational and this is a very rewarding phenomena. Some of the audience were not even born when the original albums were released.

  • I'm wondering, with the sound and heaviness of this album, do you think you could have recorded and released an album like this back in the 80's? I mention this because your first record "Burn This Town" had a kinda laid back vibe to it, while "Power From The Universe" seemed a bit more, shall we say, "accessible," while still being a heavy record.

    No, I don't think that "Sanctuary" could have been made to sound as it does today back then. The technology simply didn't exist. Yes, we could have made a powerful album with much better production than "Burn This Town" but it would have been expensive to do that with the analog equipment of the time. In fact "Power From The Universe" was much better produced than "Burn This Town," and that was a conscious effort to get a better sound than the budget local production of our first album. We were on a mission to get a better drum sound than "Burn This Town" on "P.F.T.U." and we certainly achieved that, but in hindsight felt it lacked the excitement and aggression of "Burn..." Sometimes you can get too focused! With Sanctuary we were determined to get a massive modern production which captured ALL of the instruments equally well and we achieved that on a tiny budget over a long length of time. Slap 'Shock And Awe' on a good Hi-Fi and you will see what we mean.

    Some people think we should have gone more for a low production NWOBHM sound as some of those bands have done, but to compete in today's market we believe in getting the absolute best sound possible taking full advantage of modern technology as of course Hell and Accept have done. If you want it lo-fi then just roll off the bass and treble!

  • Speaking of "Power From The Universe," I remember reading that once Def Leppard made it huge in the States, suddenly many of the British bands, especially the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal ones, were trying to re-define their style and sound to follow in their footsteps. Was this any sort of a thought when writing and recording "Power From The Universe?" I know the song 'Make It In America' lyric wise seemed to suggest you were preparing for an American take over!!

    During the mid eighties it did seem fashionable to release more radio friendly music and many bands of the time did this, but Battleaxe wasn't really that kind of band although we always had a hard rock sort of flavor to our music in some of the tracks like 'Shout It Out' or 'Dirty Rocker.' "P.F.T.U." had a more hard rock edge than "Burn This Town" and wasn't as intense, but that was partly to do with its much cleaner and better produced sound. The track 'Make It In America was atypical of the band and was written by the drummer Ian McCormack who was maybe more into that style than we were. We wanted to put a much faster track 'Mean Machine' as the last track but he got his own way in the end. 'Mean Machine' finally appeared on the remastered "Burn This Town" album which was released late 2013.

  • I have TONS of releases from the NWOBHM era, but sadly, many bands never got around to releasing more than a few songs on 7 inch releases. Except for you guys and a small handful of others, why do you think so many bands never got to release a full length album?

    Many of the NWOBHM bands probably started with a low budget self produced single as we did with 'Burn This Town.' If they were lucky they would gain some radio play and play gigs and support slots to bigger bands. A few would be lucky enough to attract the attention of record companies, some small label such as Neat, or maybe a bigger label. Even if this happened as in our case, few survived the musical changes of the eighties and most were dropped before 1990. The fact is NWOBHM is an era not a genre since the bands vary wildly in style from AOR to black metal and everything in between. We always regarded ourselves as just a metal band or Classic Metal as it is referred to today. We are sometimes quoted as influencing many of the more modern styles such as thrash and speed metal and maybe there is some truth in that, but you could say that about several bands from that era.

  • On the flip side of that, you would think it would be easier for a band to put all their time and effort into making two great songs. Some bands did it with ease, while some might get one great track and one bad track...

    It is true that some bands survived with only one or two good tracks per album but we feel that a band should devote more time to doing as many top notch tracks as possible. We have always tried to do this and although we only have three albums out there it is easy to put together a good set for there are several memorable tracks per album.

  • In the 80's, the lines between heavy metal and hard rock were blurred for some bands, thought it's quite obvious where you guys stood... Some early NWOBHM bands were rejected by a site like the Encyclopedia Metallum, for instance, because they seemed too hard rock based and had few metal elements. Of course, with a genre in somewhat of it's infancy, it's somewhat understandable...

    Many of the NWOBHM bands probably started life playing covers in the local pubs and clubs so would certainly have a grounding in playing traditional hard rock. Others may have started playing metal almost immediately and this may be where the differences lie, although almost all of them had some hard rock influences.

  • Music For Nations signed a TON of bands back in the day, even seeming to do some licensing deals and generally doing well for themselves... How was your record deal structured with them back in the day? Did they give you tour support, how many albums, merchandise deals; anything you can tell us about how you and the label kept in contact and maybe album sales or royalties??? I know a few 80's metal bands whose members still get royalty checks from albums that are still selling by their labels...

    Many people don't realise that a band has to sell a huge amount of records to make any money at all and most of the NWOBHM bands simply didn't sell enough to make any money at all, to most of them it is an expensive hobby not a job. You have to be a band the size of Saxon to make a living in this music. Festivals do not pay smaller bands and some do not even help with expenses so there is no money at all to be made.

  • There is a definite difference in the production of your first few albums and your current one, obviously... How do you see the differences in recording and making songs in this day and age as opposed to how it was done in the 80's? It's interesting that any kid can record songs right in his own home with computer and recording equipment software that's fairly easy to get...

    Modern technology has totally changed the way bands record today, it is almost always on a computer sequencer such as Protools or Cubase and although there are many advantages to this many agree that modern recordings lack the analog warmth of tape. In those days we had no option to go into a studio and record the instruments one at a time usually to a click track. Usually only signed bands had this luxury. Today it can be done much more cheaply and often with gear in the home. In our case much of the preliminary guitars, vocals and all the bass were done this way. We simply ran out of computer power and had to take the recordings into Fred Pursers studio to finish them off to a professional standard.

    Live drums and fully cranked Marshall stacked guitars were added here to get the massive sound of the "Sanctuary" album. We feel that mixing down on an analog desk and using analog outboard gear has added some warmth and depth to the tracks.

  • Were you a big touring band in the 80's? Did you get a chance to tour outside of the U.K., and tell us about bands you played with and any memorable tour stories. I LOVE good tour stories, especially the wild and crazy antics some bands get involved in!!!

    The best tour we did was the Saxon tour in early 1984. We played most of the larger venues in the UK at the time, but we also played some headlining tours and gigs of our own around the 1983-86 period. The Leeds Queens hall festival in 1983 was good with Saxon, Twisted Sister, Girlschool and Anvil too. We toured in an old black double decker bus in which all the bottom deck was ripped out and used to hold backline, drums, PA system and lighting rig and the top deck was fitted with bunks a and mini kitchen for the band and roadies. As you can imagine it was a good laugh for most of the time but the old bus was slow and it was freezing in the winter. Unfortunately we never managed to play outside the UK in the eighties but we would have loved to.

  • The "Nightmare Zone" EP is a rather interesting release as far as I'm concerned: though I've never heard it, it seems those 4 songs were recorded in 1987 but never released. Was that a somewhat of a comeback, as it didn't come out until 2005...

    The "Nightmare Zone" is a demo we recorded in 1987 at Neat studios in Wallsend. This lineup consisted of Dave King on vocals, Brian Smith on bass, Mick Percy and John Stormont on guitar and Ian McCormack doing drums. Three tracks were recorded and a live track was added to make up the four tracks. This is the only recordings with this lineup. They were basically forgotten about until 2005 when renewed interest in NWOBHM bands prompted Dave to self release it. It was not designed as a comeback as the band didn't reform until 2010.

  • While on the subject, after the E.P., it took you guys quite a long time to really become active again as a band... Was it hard to "jump back on the trail," so to speak? And what accounted for the long delay?

    At that time no one was interested in reforming as we all though it was over for our style of metal and the music of the nineties and beyond were not really our scene. In 2007 Paul the drummer phoned us and told us he had a small video company he was launching and asked if we would like to do a video of one of the old tracks just for fun. At first we were not interested but he persuaded us eventually and we made a low budget video to 'Chopper Attack.' This was uploaded to youtube and basically we forgot about it for another three years. It was only in 2010 when we were asked to play Headbangers Open Air in Germany that we even considered reforming. It seems that the video had garnered renewed interest in the band and we decided that we would let the response we got at the festival decide the fate of the band.

  • So did you ever get involved in tape or demo trading back in the day? I know it took me a long time to discover a lot of the 80's metal bands from Britain that were making great songs... What were some of your favorite "rarities" from the 80's that you think most metal fans might not know about??

    Not really, but I did collect a fair amount of vinyl some of it colored. Some of the old NWOBHM singles I have are quite rare including Mythra's "Death & Destiny," Satan's "Kiss Of Death," Tokyo Rose's "Dry Your Eyes," V ardis "If I Were King" and more.

  • From vinyl to cassette to CD and now digital MP3 files, what is your favorite format for music? I know personally, I loved the full color artwork you could get with vinyl, though I had more cassettes and now CD's...

    Vinyl was great in its day and to many people still sounds the best with its warm analog sound and of course had the best album art by far. CD is just more convenient, has a clearer if less warm sound and does not have scratches, pops and surface noise. Of course these days MP3 is far more convenient and can be taken anywhere, it just does not sound quite as good.

  • Any plans to try and tour the States?

    We would love to tour the States; it is something we never managed to do back in the day, but as you can imagine it is difficult to finance, and we have been told by several American bands who we ran into at festivals such as Attacker and Culprit that the audiences are far smaller than they used to be and indeed far smaller than in Europe. We have the same problem in the UK. Saying that, if there is any way we can organise a mini tour perhaps with the help of an American band then it may be possible.

  • I wanted to touch briefly on the debut album. It seems like lyrically there was some rockin' tunes, but it was cool for me to see a song like 'Thor-Thunder Angel,' seeing as how I consider myself an Asatru warrior, heavily into the Nordic gods. Warfare topics seemed to be touched upon as well.

    It's strange, there has always been a sort of Viking like theme to this band although with a name like Battleaxe it is hardly surprising. Even our first single 'Burn This Town' has a Viking warrior on the label, and the new album has a similar Viking on the cover. 'Thor Thunder Angel' was slightly different to our other songs and is one of the few that was started on piano and transposed to guitar. I think the medieval warfare type themes are appropriate for a band with our name, the title track 'Battleaxe' is a good example of this. 'Hail To The King' on the new album is another example. These themes are probably one of the reasons the band is quite popular in Europe.

  • Out of all your releases, which one are you most fond of? Personally, I really dig "Burn This Town," as it was the first thing I ever heard from you guys, having the vinyl and transferring it to tape and all, but the new album DEFINITELY kicks ass... Favorite songs?

    It is hard to choose a favorite, 'Burn This Town' for the sheer energy and excitement that it still seems to generate only the production lets it down slightly; 'Chopper Attack' from "Power From The Universe" and 'Sanctuary,' 'Revolution,' 'Too Hot For Hell' and more from the new album.

  • If you had the chance to go back and redo some of those earliest albums and songs, what would you change?

    Mainly the production on "Burn This Town," we would make the drum sound much better. With "Power From The Universe" we would make the guitars more crunchy, and replace 'Make It In America' with 'Mean Machine.'

  • Are you a fan of the heavier styles of metal? I personally LOVE doom metal, but have a particular fondness for the Norwegian style of black metal... It's amazing how many different styles and types of metal there are!!

    Some of the newer stuff is ok though we are probably rooted in the more traditional forms of metal due I suppose to our age. A lot of the music coming from Europe is very good, bands such as Primal Fear, Firewind and Edguy are very listenable as well as the older bands like Accept and Helloween. We did Hard Rock Hell a while back and both Sabaton and Turisas were on the bill, they were quite good too.

  • Finally, I noticed you are on Steamhammer Records now, which is interesting because they had a hand in a good bit of 80's metal themselves. Some of the heavier end of things, like speed, thrash and early death metal, were signed to them, most notably for me was the German thrash groups like Iron Angel, Kreator and the like...

    SPV is one of the better companies in Europe and have had a large part to play in the recent return of Battleaxe to the scene. Amazingly the A&R men in both SPV and Nuclear Blast were Battleaxe fans and this was influential in our return. Of course SPV's distribution has managed to get our albums to the four corners of the world and we are very grateful for this.

    Interview with Christian via email...

  • I REALLY must say how surprising it is that I got into the lyrical content before I got into the music; most of what I had heard about the band and your topics piqued my interest so much I think I spent the first few plays focusing on picking out the lyrics and catching myself at just how insightful the lyrics are!

    Thanks a lot, it's nice to hear that people appreciate the lyrics and themes on the album as well as the music. We spend a fair bit of time writing them and making sure the mood of the music fits with what the lyrics are talking about. I'm sure some people may assume we're just writing about fantasy scenarios but that really isn't the case.

  • Okay, of course I love both the music and the lyrics, but obviously you want the fans to be into the actual song structures as well.

    Yeah just the entire thing as a package really. Unlike the early days, it can now take months to write just one song because we're constantly trying to make them the very best they can be and really try not to have any filler material on an album. So yeah we do hope that people enjoy the song structures, melodies, lyrics; just the whole thing.

  • So I guess a question I would pose to you would be: do you think extreme forms of metal like death or black metal have the ability to paint "positive" portraits? We all know metal has received some really negative backlash over the years (and to be honest, bands haven't helped themselves out in this area either; from the Norwegian black metal bands burning churches and murders to some of the more graphic depictions of torture and extreme violence like acts like Autopsy and Cannibal Corpse), and I do enjoy the raging surge of energy these forms of music bring.

    I think you can certainly channel that surge of energy into a positive outlet, yeah. There's a strength that can be found in that sort of music and I'd say it could benefit people at times depending on the situation but of course it can also affect people negatively. It depends largely on the person I suppose. I would also say though, that the intent of the creator of the music will be alive within it and if they're coming from a very negative place when they create the music then that could be transmitted to the listener. Personally speaking I think all of those horrible things you mentioned are totally uncalled for and just add to the problem that the human race is currently dealing with. Our thoughts and attention need to be focused on higher things.

  • And while on this subject: I don't know what your views are personally, but I understand that every piece of matter in the universe living or not vibrates and responds to certain frequencies. Now I know that you used a different set of frequencies to record your newest album. Could those same frequencies be utilized in, say, an album of death or black metal? Or is it something related to the melodies and harmonies of the record?

    Yeah this is true. I don't think people realise the extent to which frequencies affect us. Sound frequencies are even being used in mainstream medical practice to kill viruses, even though a lot of the time the idea that frequency can be used for healing is classed as new age bollocks. Nikola Tesla spoke about the importance of vibration and frequency in understanding the universe. We recorded in 444hz which gives you a C note of 528hz, one of the frequencies on the Solfeggio scale. I just chose to do it after researching into different frequencies and the positive or negative impacts they can have on us. 440hz, which is the standard tuning was apparently brought into being by the Rockefeller foundation after the Nazis had experimented with it during the war. They found that it basically causes disharmony and disruption in people. But going back to the question, yeah they can certainly be used by anyone and any sort of music, it's not to do with any type of melody we play.

  • It seems like many people are indeed "waking up," as even extreme metal bands like Toxic Holocaust (I mean, their album title "Chemistry Of Consciousness" says it all) and Melechesh understand the "deep sleep" some people are in.

    Yeah that's all good stuff. I do think there's a shift in consciousness coming. I think it's definitely already started and will continue to accelerate in the coming years.

  • So are you guys fans of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal Movement? I know being from England metal has a very rich and storied history over there. In fact if it wasn't for Diamond Head we might not have a Metallica today. Any faves from this era? Personally, I'm amazed at all the bands like China Doll, Triarchy, Buffalo, Geddes Axe and the like who never recorded more than a few 7 inches or EP's in their entire history...

    Yeah I'm well into that stuff, although I'm not an obsessive collector or anything. I know some people go mad collecting every rare 7" they can find but I just appreciate the music and the atmosphere of the time which you can hear in the recordings. Yeah Diamond Head are from the town right next to where I live, Stourbridge, as are Witchfinder General. In fact we had Phil Cope play a guest solo on our debut album and often still see him down the pub.

  • Do you feel it's maybe time for bands to start becoming a bit more, shall I say, "responsible" with their lyrics? I mean, after all, bands have the ability to reach out to hundreds of fans worldwide... It seems like for collective humanity to "evolve," as it were, it's going to take a bit more of an effort than what's currently at hand, even though I see more and more evidence of people becoming more "aware."

    Yeah people are becoming more aware but I also reckon that regarding bands having responsibility, that you can't push it or force it, that would defeat the point. It just needs to happen naturally, bands will sing about certain subjects if they want to, but if it's not in their interest then that's perfectly fine. I think the fact that we live in a world full of people creating their own unique, beautiful music and bringing joy to so many people is more than enough. It's that kind of thing which will bring down the entire matrix of shite that we're stuck inside.

  • So are there any spiritual teachers or healers you're into? I have been studying a lot with Bob Proctor and Mary Morrisey's audio series "Working With The Law," and it's opened my eyes to the tremendous power we have to craft and shape our very world before us. I dig David Icke too; I know he speaks a lot within the United Kingdom, but I just can't agree with his "reptilian race" theories though!!!

    There's lots yeah. I started reading into people like Geoffrey Hodson and the Rev. G. Vale Owen when I was younger and over the years got into the research of all sorts of people. A mate of mine introduced me to a lot of people like Colin Wilson, Terence Mckenna, Anthony Peake, Rupert Sheldrake, Michael Talbot, etc. and I'm really into researchers like David Icke, Jordan Maxwell, Chris Everard and the like.

    Well a lot of people struggle with even the basic ideas that these talk about, I know people that have a hard time even believing that the Government and people in places of high power DON'T like you! I always think that if you don't resonate something then that's fine, just leave it alone and take on board the parts that do resonate with you, because we're all at different levels of learning and understanding. Icke is just explaining where his own research has led him and to be honest, the stuff I'm reading into at the moment is far weirder! I'll just quote Yeats: "...Have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true and the earth is only a little dust under our feet."

  • One thing that I find sad, yet still rather comical, is that it took me over 35 years to find out these truths, and how reality REALLY works. That being said, maybe my younger self wasn't ready for the answers to many of my questions, including my extreme puzzlement and confusion over religion and it's many forms of enslavement (ranging from Baptists and Catholics to the Jehovah's Witnesses). Do you think the knowledge and information becomes available to an individual ONLY when they have the knowledge and are capable of understanding?

    I'd say so yeah. Something I'm starting to see at the moment is that a lot of people don't seem ready to handle the kind of information that's coming available to them through things like the internet. It's all well and good that it's becoming harder and harder for the elite to hide their secrets and that alternative media is growing all the time, but it's so important for people to undergo their own journey of mental maturing. At the moment it seems like a lot of the people who go around calling themselves "truthers" are still in an adolescent mind frame, getting into petty online arguments and have knee-jerk reactions to hearing certain information. I even heard a story in America where a kid stabbed the Pastor of his Church because he believed he was a Freemason and when people jumped in to help, he started stabbing them believing them to be fellow Masons. That said, I'm sure in time things will level out to how they're meant to be. It's obviously going to take time for people to mature and grow spiritually after the centuries of enslavement and conditioning we've been put through and I know that it's certainly better for all information to be out in the open rather than being guarded by secret societies etc. which has shown to lead to complete corruption and has resulted in the mess we're in now.

  • So where do you see religion's place in all this exactly? Because to me religion doesn't REALLY empower the individual (I think back to Machiavelli's book "The Prince" when I think of religion usually), rather forcing them to focus on conforming to the "herd mentality," whereas with the spiritual movements of today, it seems to DEFINITELY focus on helping the individual solve their everyday life problems. As a good example of what the term "evolution" REALLY means in this day and age (as in, we can EVOLVE by learning a new set of skills or train our minds to think in a different way), it emphasizes that we can do more for our fellow man in the world via the "airplane" example, where they always tell you put on your own oxygen mask first before attempting to try and help others in a crisis.

    I completely agree with you about the role of religion, it's a big part of the web of control. At best it completely disempowers the individual and at worst totally brainwashes them, more often than not into a hateful, bloodthirsty lunatic. There's not enough time here to go fully into this subject; it's a huge one but I am very interested in the origins and roles of religions, especially Christianity and there's a hell of a lot of historic and esoteric knowledge to be gained in this area. You have to be careful though even with some of these movements classed as spiritual or new age because of a lot of them have been hijacked and basically turned into a modern day religion themselves. You'll see a lot of the same old archetypes cropping up from time to time within them. It's just a case of using your intuition I guess; I think that real truths resonate with all of us and the higher part of us recognises them. I really agree what you say about evolving as well, these days society is all about being as selfish and greedy as possible, looking out for number one and pushing yourself to get to the top. It's all a load of fucking bollocks. What we need is kindness, generosity and compassion. We need to look out for each other, help people less fortunate than yourself, create your own music, food, poetry and stand up against tyranny in all its forms.

  • One song that really moved me a great deal was the tune 'Immortal Remains.' The different religions of the world have many different ideas about what happens to us after we die; in fact it's the one thing that religion attempts to do to free us from that fear of the unknown. Sadly, the religions of this world have ALSO failed me from that final, fateful day. Still, you reason, that if we ALL have to go through it at some point, and we all have that innate, inborn desire to never want to die, there HAS to be something after this life. Will we be spirit bodies? Will we arrive in a new realm? Got any ideas on this?

    This is something that I've always read into and been fascinated by. I don't mean fascinated by the question of what will happen, because it's been completely proven what happens, but fascinated by the whole subject. Like I mentioned earlier, I grew up reading people like the Rev G. Vale Owen, who started automatic writing in the early 1900's and Geoffrey Hodson who was a very gifted clairvoyant and was in the Theosophical society. I went further and further into the subject over the years and along the way have had many supernatural experiences of my own as too have many of my friends and family. When I say it's been proven you need to read "The Scole Experiment." Also I'd say "Proof Of Heaven" by Dr. Eben Alexander is a good recent one on the subject. There’s all sorts of research you can do into this stuff but gladly it seems to be becoming more and more accepted that the brain does not create consciousness at all, consciousness creates physical reality.

  • So what happened with Northern Silence Productions? I know you were signed to their Eyes Like Snow label, and now are on Cruz Del Sur.

    We signed to them for our debut album back in about 2008. They'd heard our demos and saw the potential in them. We were on them but not under contract or anything, so we weren't tied down. We got an offer later from Iron Kodex who we released our EP "Defender" with. After them we went for a while searching for a new label until Cruz Del Sur contacted us. In fact we were just about to contact them ourselves asking if they would be interested in signing us, so it's strange how things like that work out! It was Manuel from Atlantean Kodex who pointed the label in our direction, so cheers Manuel!

  • Speaking of Cruz, what is your record deal like? Most bands I know on that label are quite happy with them, and the contracts I hear about are usually album by album, a far cry from the days when bands were locked into a label for multiple albums, and usually ended up owing the label money after an album or two went by and the labels dropped them for "lack of sales."

    Yeah it's been really good; we've got a good relationship with the label I think, they look after us really well. We signed a three album deal; "The Awakening" being the second one, "Dawn Of Infinity" was the first, so we've got one more album to come and then after that we'll just see what happens and take it as it comes.

    I've heard some similar stories as well about certain labels, I'm just glad we've never experienced anything like that and ended up basically trapped or dropped!

  • The song 'Turning Of The Tides' really spoke to me as well, as I've often thought that with all the great technical advances we've made, we've kinda lost our collective "humanity." It's definitely easier to hide in our homes behind our computer screens than to deal with issues in the real world. And besides that, our ancestors seemed to know more about how to deal with the real world than people today.

    Yeah they did, they were completely connected to the land and worked with it, understanding their part in the greater scheme of things. That's what the song 'The Last Season' is all about, how we're all being herded into artificial bubbles and becoming more and more disconnected from nature and basically the universe. I personally don't relate to modern technology at all: I don't own a mobile phone and I've got pretty poor computer skills haha. I just hate seeing people everywhere walking around glued to their phones or plugged into headphones, no one knows what it is to be alive these days, they're completely shut off from reality and they're being sucked into a cyber world. 'Turning Of The Tide' is more to do with things like geo-engineering and chemtrails, Genetically Modified Organisms and how the elite are trying to play God and take control of nature. I do think that's what it really comes down to, not to destroy but to control and be the master of nature, including us.

  • Tell me a little about that opening vocal line in the spoken word intro that starts the album... "Rise like lions..." That voice, I swear it sounds like the odd vocal recordings that were scattered around the landscape in one of the Bioshock games... (Great games, all of them, even down to the "Infinite" version).

    That was recorded around a friend's flat by a chap who actually used to be my old English teacher when I was at school, Richard Clay. He's always been a supporter of the band and he does spoken word and poetry himself. He's also an author, so when we were trying to think of someone suitable to do a spoken word part we thought of him straight away. He's got a very strong charismatic voice I think.

  • As an aspiring vocalist, I hear all the time people complain that bands are just writing about the same old topics, but man, I KNOW there's still tons of things bands AREN'T singing about. The latest thing I can think of lyric wise, besides the spiritual topics you guys sing about, is a band like Caladan Brood, who like Summoning bases their lyrics off a writer's body of literary works (Tolkien); in this case it's Steven Erikson's Malazan Chronicles. I mean there's the Ica Stones, there's a nuclear bomb sitting right off the coast of my old hometown Savannah, Georgia; there's this latest conflict between Russia and The Ukraine...

    Well there is an unlimited source of lyrical inspiration out there yeah. I think it's very easy to fall into the same old tried and tested lyrical cliches because firstly it's less effort and secondly a lot of bands form with the set idea of the kind of thing they want to be about; they already know exactly what themes they're going to sing about because that's what bands of their genre are supposed to do. I think that's the kind of attitude some of them have perhaps. It may also depend on if you have many personal interests. If you're in a band and your life is literally just music and partying then you're not exactly going to have very interesting lyrics.

    At the moment we're writing new material and on the lyrical side we're delving quite a lot into some of the lesser known and stranger aspects of folklore and the supernatural.

  • So have you seen the movie "The Secret?" Of course, listening to the audio series "Working With The Law," I have come to understand that the law of attraction is just one law, but it's funny to me how some of the "laws" kinda play off each other; for instance, the law of forgiveness is an interesting one, but of course it goes back to the first and most important law the law of thinking where most everything in your life resonates from...

    I did see it awhile ago and although I reckon the main p oint of what they're saying is very true I wasn't really impressed with the film. The way it seemed to focus on using it for material gain was a bit annoying and the whole vibe of the film generally seemed a bit cheap. All I know is that you're in complete control of your own life and can change any of it any time you like by your thoughts, focus, actions and intent.

  • So are you guys a touring entity right now? I'm curious what shows and festivals you've played; any memorable and/or funny things that happened while on the road? And how do you guys approach the live front?

    We're gigging from time to time but we're not on tour. It's fairly difficult for us to tour for great lengths of time because of our full time jobs so we tend to stick to solitary gig dates and festivals. We've played some great festivals in Europe, we went to Germany a few times to play Metal Assault and Hammer of Doom and we also played the Stronghold Of Metal festival in Portugal. We did a small tour of Ireland a few years ago which was really fun and there's been loads of mini UK festivals over the years.

    We always put 100% into our gigs and by that I don't mean acting or showboating to get the crowd going, we take our music much more seriously and it's not an act to us. The music lives through me as I play it and all the passion and energy I've put into the writing and creating of it bursts out on stage. I think the crowd can tell that we really mean what we play and that our music is very dear to us.

  • Are there any plans to come to the States? I'd love the opportunity to see you guys in a live setting!

    There aren't any plans as of yet but we would absolutely love the chance to come over and play that’s for sure!

  • If there's anything else you want to mention that we haven't touched upon yet, do so here! Thanks again for your time...

    Thanks very much for the interview and for the great questions! Thanks to everyone who supports Dark Forest and drinks Bathams bitter! If you haven't already, get a copy of "The Awakening," keep a look out for our live dates and keep standing defiant against the tyrants!

    Interview with Alex via email...

  • I must say right off the bat the debut album is phenomenal! I haven't seen a whole lot of press for this album, save for a few fan written reviews on a few small internet sites, and I have to ask: WHY aren't more people talking about this album?

    Hmm. Maybe cause it's just a debut, right? We have to release more albums to become famous. Moreover, we are not interesting guys – we didn't set churches on fire, we don't talk much about satanism or nazism, none of us has committed suicide, we are just simple guys that love black metal.

  • So what made you decide on the sound and style for your first album release "The Magic Of Nature?" Did you draw influences from the Russian winters (I know Siberia has some of the harshest winters on the planet, but also must be quite awe inspiring as well), or did you just decide black metal already had enough harsh material and you wanted to present something with a different slant?

    A different slant? I don't think so. We really like our music (I often listen to Elderwind on my walkman), and there are no reasons to change it, we didn't write all the songs we want. But I'll be honest - I don't know a lot about making our style, this is a great Persy's secret.

  • I would say that one good thing about being from Russia, instead of, say, Norway or Sweden... When you play a kind of black metal from Scandinavia, most people expect that it should sound a certain way, or mostly to keep the "true" elements of black metal as they were developed in Norway...

    But Darkthrone is a real cvlt :) In fact, I know nothing about "true" sound and "true" lyrics. Yes, many Norwegian bands maintain their exclusive "Norvegian" style, but it's not panacea. It’s no matter where are you from, if you really want to make music with a certain sound, you should do it without paying attention to others.

  • That being said, I also do see a lot of similarities between the Norwegian influences and the Russian ones, as Russia also I'm sure has lots of icy landscapes and I'm also sure some glacial mountains and deep, endless forests. The landscapes of Norway are also often depicted on many black metal album covers from Scandinavia as well...

    It seems to me that those people from the North have a specific mentality that is reflected in their culture.

  • I'm curious how you ended up being on Deleting Soul Records... I know they are a Russian record label, but surely I think your music is good enough to have been on Solitude Productions, hell, I think even Napalm Records or even I Hate Records or Firebox Records could have handled this... Did any other labels approach you about signing with them? I'm sure it's easier to deal with a record label that's in your home country (even though there could be hundreds of miles between you and the label; the country is HUGE!)

    Hahaha, thank you. You know, we really wrote to different labels including European and American but... they didn't want to work with us or just offered small CD-RW's edition. I can understand them: "Unknown guys from the Empire of Bears wanna promote some songs? What? From Russia? Elderwind? Who are they? No, it's a bad idea for our business." Anyway, it isn't a problem now – we released a split CD on a good label Kunsthauch and I think we will cooperate in the future.

  • I recently heard about a split CD you did with a band called Lustre, how did that come about? Is the material in a similar vein to your full length album? I hear that this material is in somewhat of a space theme.

    We just wrote to Nachtzeit something like "Hi, we are from Russia, these are our tracks, what about a split CD?” and he answered "OK, let's work." Now, it was experimental work, we don't wanna make ambient music, we are a black metal band, right? :)

  • Any chance you might be working on your next full length? Any song titles, themes or album concepts you can tell us about?

    Of course, we are working on our second LP. I can say it'll have a heavier sound than "Magic Of Nature" and we've prepared some surprises.

  • There's been much in the news about the Russian/Ukranian conflict recently. What's your take on it all? I really hate to see the conflict going on; after all I do service record labels and bands in both countries... As far as the conflict goes, I definitely think America needs to stay out of it: I know how America appears to many European countries, but suffice it to say we have enough problems at home without spending massive amounts of money stepping foot on other people's lands unwanted and unwelcome.

    I don't watch news and I don't know the details. Be that as it may, politics is fucking shit, people all over the world should live in peace, trade, explore the depths of the ocean and conquer the mountains, colonize Mars and turn deserts into green gardens, make music and write interesting books. The future of humanity is in the society of respect and understanding. You may call me a hippie, I dont worry about it.

  • So does Elderwind plan on playing live shows? I know the history of the band shows that originally a man named Vyacheslav started the project, though I am confused as the Encyclopedia Metallum does not list him as an active member. Does he still have input in the writing and recording of music?

    Wow! There’s a little misunderstanding here. Vyacheslav is Persy! About live shows, it's impossible, 'cause we live in different towns. Finally, it's difficult, at least for me, to imagine Elderwind live; our music is not for public listening.

  • Tell us a little about the recording of the album; when I listen to it I hear a very good production job and most everything can be heard clearly. Where was it recorded and how was the recording handled?

    Believe me or not, all the guitar and bass work was done at Persy's place and all tracks were mastered on his computer. Vocals were recorded in a studio only 'cause I’m a lazy ass and wouldn't buy a good microphone.

  • I know a little bit about the early history of rock music in the former Soviet Union. I did think it was interesting that the government originally had the foresight to consider getting involved in heavy music, even going so far as to sponsor some Russian bands. Maybe you heard about or witnessed some early Russian heavy music?

    There were many cool Soviet heavy bands. First of all, I wanna mention the old thrash metal band Master. Dude, you must listen to their third LP "Talk Of The Devil," it's amazing music. Moreover, I really like the heavy metal band Black Obelisk, especially the two first albums.

  • Does religion or spirituality play a part in your life? I know many black metal musicians and artists regularly shun religion, especially christian ones. Do you see Paganism as a valid practice for many Russians?

    No. I don't believe in God, Satan, Flying Spaghetti Monster or something else, it's a way to waste your time and money. Paganism is a religion, therefore, it's a lie.

  • I'm heavily into Viking culture, lore and mythology, and I know that many Vikings settled into Russia (even giving them their name, an origin of the original word 'Rus,' which means "men who row," thought to be those who travel the seas). Do you ever get into any Viking metal bands, like Amon Amarth, early Enslaved, and the like?

    Yeah, we played in folk metal bands. Persy played in an Ekaterinburg band Thanatos, Andrew and I played in a Samara folk black metal band, but all these bands are on hold now. I should note, it was a very good time for me, I have so many sweet memories about it.

  • How do you see black metal's evolution in this day and age? We already mentioned the Scandinavians and their developing the modern day era black metal "sound," though black metal was originally coined by Venom in the 80's to describe metal bands that had an element of Satanism in their lyrics and/or sound, though that term was somewhat too vague to really describe certain elements of heavy metal's newest offspring.

    In my opinion, there has been nobody like Niege in black metal in the last 10 years. He is a genius, he could make something new with black metal on Alcest's EP "Le Secret" and Amesoeurs' EP "Ruined Humanies." As far as I know, atmospheric/depressive black metal and different kinds of blackgaze are in trend now. In addition, there is a small but strong scene of experimental and progressive projects or vice versa, 2-chord "back in '93" raw black bands. This is a new stream of interesting music for me. Other bands with classical Mayhem like music, poor quality DSBM or sympho black metal are out of style now. Of course, these bands have many fans (for example, I really like many old dsbm projects) but I don't think this is a future of black metal.

  • Finally, as we wrap this up, a common question I have been asking some bands for quite some time: Many people on this earth fear death in one form or another. Some fear death by drowning, burning alive, being shot, or what not. What do you think happens to us after we die? Is there an afterlife, maybe we get to come back and start life over, etc.

    I'm afraid of death and sometimes, especially when I'm sad or ill, I really want to believe in an afterlife, but always I don't think so. We are animals: intelligent, but animals, and like all animals, we will rot and will be eaten by worms after death. Sad but true.

  • How do you feel about black metal bands that also create totally ambient music? I know it all seemingly goes back to Varg Vikernes of Burzum who started out as raw black metal and then turned to creating synthesized music with little or no percussion. There's a band called Moloch who have pretty much done the same thing (also from Russia I believe). It's strange, but only in black metal do you find bands creating ambient works of art; you don't hear about the same level of devotion from death metal or even power metal bands!

    I rarely listen to ambient music and I don't know much about it. As for black metal musicians, I think it is an additional way of self-expression.

  • Besides the very few reviews I've seen, have you seen any reviews for this album or your split with Lustre? I'm also curious if you have done any interviews with anyone else?

    Of course, I'm interested in reviews; sometimes I check Encyclopedia Metallum and our YouTube channel for reviews or criticism, but it isn't my hobby :) Moreover, we've done three or four interviews so far.

  • If there's anything else we failed to mention you wanna talk about, feel free to use this space here... Thanks again for your time and support!

    Thank you Steven, it was a really interesting interview. Greetings from Russia!

    Interview with Mark via email...

  • As many are no doubt aware, the band name was taken from the Voivod character which appears as far back as their first album. How do you utilize Korgull? Is it just for the band name or do you have a storyline and setting for Korgull The Exterminator?

    Hey Steve! First of all thanks for your fucking support mate!!!! We're honoured to be included in this legendary mag!!! Yes, our moniker is a tribute to the Canadian beast!!! It was Joe Bastard's idea, our drummer and founder of Korgull The Exterminator, but everyone was really into it as we all are great fans of their first albums. We changed the umlaut from the 'u' to the 'o' also to pay honour to another band we really worship... Motorhead!!! Anyway I should say we don't use it further than just a band name and no storyline is in relation with us...

  • Is the band Voivod aware of your existence, and what do they think?

    I read some years ago an interview with Away from an American website and they asked him about us. As far as I remember He said he was aware of our existence and willing to listen to us. Honestly I don't have a fucking idea if he finally did it or not!

  • Speaking of Voivod, the first album I ever heard was "Killing Technology," which I must admit at first I did not like to a degree because I didn't really "get" it. But soon after it became one of my favorite Voivod releases, even though I do like the first two albums. What are your favorite Voivod albums and what do you think of their more recent day stuff?

    Well I totally understand you as the first one I listened was "Dimension Hatross" and couldn't "get" it either!!! I really liked (the) 'Tribal Convictions' song but couldn't understand the rest of the album!!! Bizarre stuff for my young ears, man!!! But as years went on I realized it was an amazing album and digged into their earlier works. That's when I got totally blown away by Voivod's stuff... the Thrashiest ones... "Rrroooaaarrr" and "Killing..." are both masterpieces but my favorite is their first one, "War And Pain"!!! I followed their next albums up to "Outer Limits". I like them but prefer their hardest first stuff. Then I must admit I lost interest in their next albums.

    Recently I got (the) "Target Earth" CD as I read a lot of good words about it and I have to say that I really enjoyed it so I'll dig into the albums I lost soon, for sure...

  • I was always impressed that Jason Newstead from Metallica joined up with Voivod, as Metallica has definitely disappointed me many, MANY times over the years. It's kind of a shame he's not with them anymore.

    You must know that I'm the worst Metallica fan in my area, dude... hahahaha I find them the most boring Thrash Metal band ever!!! Even their first works doesn't impress me... I was really more into Megadeth since I was really really young!!! If you add that I wasn't into Voivod when Jason joined them you can imagine I didn't give it a fuck back in that time... But to be honest if one thinks about it nowadays that movement really honoured Jason, he left a millionaire band to join an anti-commercial one that He really worshipped... Good for him!!! Anyway I prefer to have Blacky back in Voivod.

  • The artwork of the most recent two full lengths is somewhat similar to the art of Away from Voivod, who does the artwork in the band?

    Yes! The artwork since our second album "War Of The Voivodes" is done by the same guy that designed our logo. He's Alastor and is a good friend of Joe and Lilith living in Finland. He's also doing some logos nowadays and some covers for other bands so that's great for him!!! He also did the cover for our side in the 7" split with norwegians Deathhammer and we have yet done the cover for our next full-length and I can assure you that's the best stuff He's ever done!!! We're completely comfortable working with him so we'll keep on going.

  • As far as Spain goes, there's some very talented bands even if you don't hear from many of them. I know bands like Evadne and Dantalion are two of my favorites from this area. Who else would you recommend?

    That's true! I never was a Spanish bands supporter back in the 80's and 90's with the exception of some like Baron Rojo or especially Muro, but it seems that the new century brought the explosion of great and amazing bands in our area! Especially in extreme Metal you can find very interesting bands. You should definitely check out Graveyard, Morbid Flesh, Ataraxy and Decapitated Christ if you're looking for pure Death Metal; Machetazo, Haemorrage or Gruesome Stuff Relish if you want some more brutal stuff, also for Black Metal you can find Balmog, Akerbeltz, Foscor and lots of others. And if you want some ugly stuff more similar to us you have Insulters, Roar, Atonement, Maniac or Nocturnal Hell!

    There are some classic Heavy and Rock bands here raising like Steelhorse, Witchfyre, Oath or Mean Machine, all of them really worth to be heard! Some of those bands are really into a very, very underground level but I'm sure you'll listen to them soon as their stuff really slays... And I forgot a lot of other good ones, for sure...

  • Now speaking of the new album, I never got to hear any of the earlier albums; how does this release compare to your earlier efforts? It seems like this album is the first to feature a Voivod cover (rather fitting since it's the band's name-song that is covered!)

    Our new album "Metal Fist Destroyer" keeps on with the work we've been doing in the past. You won't find lots of musical variations between our three full lengths, but maybe the new songs sound more varied and a bit more elaborated than before. But it definitely keeps on with our straight and violent way of playing Metal. Also this one is a bit less punk and more thrash than our previous two... But the essence stays the same! A violent mixture of Black and Thrash Metal with some Heavy Metal and Punk influences!!! That's what we want with our music and the way it'll always be, no "evolution" nor shit like that in Korgull The Exterminator.

    And about Voivod's cover, we've been doing one cover in every album (Plasmatics and Sabbat (Jpn)) and a couple more for other bonus tracks (Napalm Death and Impaled Nazarene) so for this third album we thought it could be a great idea to cover the song that brought us our moniker!!! We had some doubts about the final result as covering Voivod's complexity is the most great deal we've been through ever!!! But I must say we are really proud of that cover. I think we've managed to keep Voivod's spirit and given the song our own violent touch, and that's what it was all about!!!

  • I know in the past, women into extreme metal were somewhat of a rarity, and even more so as frontwomen. Of course, we all know about Jo Bench with Bolt Thrower, and of course Arch Enemy and Holy Moses. I was always very disappointed that Century Media here in the U.S. always hyped up Arch Enemy while Holy Moses has had a woman "growler" for over 20 years now, even signed to the European branch of Century Media. What do you think of these bands?

    I simply adore Bolt Thrower dude!!! And the first recordings of Holy Moses were also amazing, especially their first two albums!! I personally hate female front women when talking about clean or operatic or gothic voices but don't have any problem if a female singer leaves her balls growling or screaming!!! It's good to see how many women are more often over the stage. Actually I don't care if an instrument is played by a man or woman while it's played with attitude!!! In our particular band I must say Lilith's voice is one of the best extreme voices I've ever heard; plenty of rage, anger and force with no additional effects on it!!! Lots of men get surprised when they realize that there's a woman behind those howlings!!!

  • Back to the new album, there's definitely a lot of killer riffs going on with the record! Who writes all the instrumentation? Is the song and lyric writing process a collaboration or a vision of one or two?

    Yeah! I'm glad you enjoyed it! Joe and I used to write all the music. But also Steel has written one song for the new album. We always keep the same formula. We bring our stuff more or less finished to the rehearsal room and there the four of us end up with it, changing parts, adding bridges, etc... until the four of us are okay with the song. We have very clear ideas of what we want a K.T.E. song to be so it works great with us doing it that way and everyone feels implicated in the final resulting song. And about lyrics, it's up to Lilith's demented mind, with a few songs written by Joe. Lilith's way of writing fits perfect with our musical concept so there's no need to add anything else while she doesn't lack of ideas... and that seems it'll never happen!! hahaha.

  • Every time I see youtube clips of the band live, the vocals always sound much sicker live than they do on your albums! Why do you think this is? Maybe the record mix is different?

    Well, playing in front of the audience is always very stimulating and we don't have any doubt that Lilith gives their best on stage!!!! Actually on stage we prefer the attitude, fun and violent way of playing rather than concentrating on making the best interpretation with our instruments... We don't care if we do some mistakes while the mood in the show is the one that must be!!! That keeps out a lot of pressure and, if you add that we use to play with high alcohol doses in our veins, maybe that could explain the sicker voice of Lilith onstage you talked about!!! hahaha She really becomes a beast onstage!!!

  • Speaking of, Demonhood Records is somewhat of a new label for me. I haven't heard of them before, how have they been about promoting you and your album? Are they easy to work with, and do you plan on doing any more albums with them in the future?

    Demonhood is a new label ran by Einar from Duplicate Records, who released our split 7" with Deathhammer. It should have been out through Duplicate but Einar told us about releasing it through his new label with the same conditions so we didn't see it as a problem. He's a great fan of Korgull The Exterminator and we are also very fans of their band Inferno so working with him was an honour for us and very easy. We know he's doing his best to promote the album and now when the LP version of it is out this November/December we'll also push the promotion ourselves!!!

    And about the future we're now just starting to write new stuff for the fourth full length so, although we have some label offers, we haven't thought about it yet. Demonhood will also release early next year the double vinyl version of our previous album "War Of The Voivodes" with some covers as bonus tracks and live footage.

  • Now your lineup is kinda confusing, on the live footage I saw a woman bass player, but yet there seems to be a few other bassists you've used. So how is this new lineup, are things stable?

    Nothing confusing on it, man! We had a session bass player in our very first recording (a split CD with the spanish band Morbid Yell) and never played a gig with us. Soon after that recording Steel Maniac joined us and has been with us 'til early this year. She recorded the three full-lengths and every release since that first one and played all the gigs we did until she decided to leave the band due to personal reasons. We can only hail and thank her for all these years of dedication and all the efforts and sacrifices she shared with us!!!

    Now Javi Bastard from Graveyard is helping us with bass duties. We've done just one show with Destroyer 666 and Desecration with him and it all went fucking great. He's a good friend of the band and the one responsible for our last recordings as he's also the owner of Moontower Studios, and also one of the first supporters we had from the very beginning. We have some gigs scheduled really soon and be sure he'll get convinced to stay as a permanent member of our hordes... hahahaha I'm also playing guitars with Graveyard nowadays so he owes me one favour!!!

  • Tell us about some out of country shows you've done: I've seen footage from Germany and London of all places! Any wild and wacky stories you can share with us from the "front lines?"

    We've never played Germany unfortunately dude... But be sure that's one of our main aims and we've been closer a couple of times!!! So let's hope it'll happen next year... We've played some festivals in Portugal, Belgium, France, Italy and specially that Live Evil one in London, where we had played also the year before in a single gig. We have plans to land in Finland and Norway next year and I really hope that finally happens!!! As I said there are still some places in Europe where we'd like to play soon like Germany or Sweden but time will tell... We were told a couple of years ago to do a mini-tour through South America, what surely would also be amazing and of course devastating the USA would be great!!! Let's see...

    One can find wild and wacky stories in nearly every fucking gig we play dude... Outwards and even here in our area... That's normal when you mix violence and alcohol!!! Hahahaha. And that's the main problem, that alcohol doesn't let you remember anything the next day! I've played a lot of gigs and can remember just a few of them!!

  • I saw where you did a live release for a show you played in Genova, Italy. Why this particular show, and how did that all come about?

    We played a gig in Genova with Loculo and Evil Spell and asked about the chance of recording the audio of the show. It happened that the sound tech of the hall was thinking about the idea of trying it from some time ago and we recorded it to see what would be the result!!! So we were the very first band recording live there and when we received the master CD were really happy with the result. Mind you that it's recorded completely ambient, without a sound table, so the sound is completely underground.

    At the same time a good friend of ours Inaki from Discos Me Cago En Dios Records, and the bass player from bands like Moho, Maniac and Dishammer amongst others, told us that he wanted to release anything from Korgull on tape. We showed him that live tape in Genova and here you have it!! I like that raw sound, for sure.
  • Anything else you wanna talk about or mention feel free to do so here... Thanks again for your help and time!!

    Beware of our next release on Doomentia Records!!! It should be out when you're reading this... It's a 12" split release called "La Germandat De La Nit Profunda" with our brothers in Graveyard featuring new stuff and covers of each band!!! Thanks to you for your questions Steven and keep with this good work!! Total support!! And to all your readers let "Metal Fist Destroyer" hit your face!!! We are Korgull The Exterminator... and We are here to stay!!!!!

    Interview with Jukka via email....

  • Now unfortunately, I never got to hear your later releases "Resurrection Of The Wicked" and "Devolution Of The Species," how do they compare to your self titled release from 1989? I have read that your last release had a few experimental tracks on it...

    OK, interesting question, let's try... I think that the "Resurrection..." album was really a natural progression from the 1989 album, a true thrash metal blast with a great sound and cool songs. I can still listen to that one without grinding my teeth. "Devolution..." has some good musical moments and great ideas but in my opinion the band went too far from the thrash metal roots. It's still heavy as hell but a bit too much all over the place. Too many weird songs and not enough fast songs. The mix is not very good either, maybe if we'd remix it I could listen to the damn thing. And that NNS line-up was at the end of the road already. Unfortunately you can hear it on "Devolution..."

  • When I think of thrash metal from other countries, there aren't a whole lot of thrash bands from Finland that were around in the early 80's... Of course, there was Dethrone, with their "Let The Day Begin" album, and of course Stone gained a bit of popularity for a little while, along with Airdash...

    The 80's thrash metal scene was split in two; we had the northern bands and the southern bands. The Helsinki scene was Stone, Airdash etc. And we had A.R.G., us and some other bands.

  • What was the thrash scene like in Finland at the time? Were there a lot of concerts done, did many bands come from overseas to play there? Where were some of the best venues and cities in Finland for thrash bands to play?

    The scene was good for a few years, lots of shows and lots of people attending. The best shows were in Helsinki, we played the Metal Massacre shows at Lepakko maybe three times. Thrash metal was big, even over here in the north the kids were really into it and we saw some sick stage diving. Those were the days! I saw Death Angel and Anthrax early on here in Oulu and Megadeth in Helsinki just before we released our first album. Of course the southern thrashers saw more shows than we did but we had some cool guests from overseas too. The bigger cities were the best of course, I think the Lepakko shows were the best and we had a big club called Adam over here that ruled. Both of those place are long gone now.

  • When I listen to the debut album, I can definitely hear hints of the crossover sound, more akin to bands like Anthrax, S.O.D., M.O.D., and the like. How did you decide on what sound you would have back then, and what bands influenced the recording of your first release?

    You heard it right, we had a huge influence from the crossover bands. The S.O.D. album actually made us form the band, we played half of the "Speak English..." album as covers in the beginning. Slayer is very important too along with Dark Angel. I think we were more a hardcore punk influenced band than NWOBHM or something like that. We wanted to sound like Slayer playing Discharge. I was always drawn to faster and more aggressive styles of music. I think Venom was the first one who really blew my mind. And I still listen to the same bands and the same albums as I did back in the 80's!

  • Any chance you will be working on recording a new album? If so, any song titles, themes, lyrical topics you can give us would be cool.

    We are recording a new EP right now, we recorded two new NNS tracks and two Finnish hardcore punk covers. It should be out before June. The lyrical themes are the same as always, anti-religion and sick cults etc. One of the songs is called "Planet Satan," it's a story about a doomsday cult and the deranged cult leaders. We are not preaching just trying to point out some things that are just plain wrong.

  • Now I'm curious, because you had several demos released before your first album could come out, and it was 1989 before you had a full length. Why did it take so long to secure an album deal?

    Finnish labels didn't really sign metal bands, I think we were the second thrash metal band signed right after Stone. And before Stone and us, there were only a handful of Finnish metal albums released. We were kinda like opening the doors for the next generation of Finnish heavy metal bands. Nobody was interested in us until we got some cool reviews from Kerrang and some other foreign magazines. After that we had three majors after us and we chose EMI.

  • EMI if I remember correctly was a big label here in the States; so I wonder was the Finnish EMI label a bigger label? How did you get signed to them and what was your contract like? (IE, number of albums, any tour support, merchandising deals, etc).

    EMI was the biggest. Lots of promises and B.S.. We were young and stupid. They told us that they would get us worldwide distribution and tours, etc. None of this ever happened. I should have believed what the Sex Pistols said in their song 'E.M.I.!!'

  • Right around the 1990's, here in the States metal seemed to die a slow death due to the grunge movement (bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, etc). Did grunge become popular in Finland as well? I did notice a long period of inactivity from 1989 to 2003, so what exactly happened during that time?

    Yeah, grunge was big for a while. I didn't hate it; many of the bands sounded like old Black Sabbath anyway so they were ok by me. After we disbanded around 1991, I hung out with the local punks here in Oulu and soon joined a hardcore punk band called Amazing Tails. I was with them for a few years. Later I formed a power metal band called Burning Point with the BP singer Pete. We did a couple of records before I put NNS back together with a new line-up and started thrashing again! The other guys from the original band had some project bands and so on but nothing big.

  • Going back to the debut album, I noticed the song '911,' which of course is the 3 digit phone number you dial in case of emergencies. Just curious if Finland's emergency number is the same; if not I'm curious what prompted you to write this tune?

    No we have a different emergency number, I picked up the 911 from movies and T.V. series. The song is about domestic violence so 911 suited perfectly. It could have been 999 but Girlschool had already done that!!!

  • I know Finland is probably more well known for doom metal, especially of the extreme variety. I've interviewed bands like Spiritus Mortis and Sarcofagus, who were some of the first doom bands ever in Finland. Are you into doom or black metal at all? Those happen to be two of my favorite genres of metal...

    Actually I worked for a Finnish metal label for a while and I signed Reverend Bizarre and released the "In The Rectory Of The Bizarre Reverend" album. So I have the doom connection! I love doom metal: Saint Vitus, The Obsessed and Trouble of course. I listen to old Black Sabbath every day. I don't know if you can call Avatarium doom metal, but their new album is killer. That Candlemass guy really knows how to write heavy tunes.

    Black metal is not that close to my heart; I like Black Crucifixion and Watain but most of the bands are a little bit too out there for my taste. Impaled Nazarene is good but not exactly black metal, they have created a genre of their own.

  • At, we have tons of rare, classic and out of print 80's metal albums you can listen to and I've found some really unknown gems, even amongst die hard metal collectors. What would you say are some of your rarest and most favorite 80's metal releases?

    I like Sindrome a lot and a band called Mercenary, both were from the United States. I don't think they made any albums, correct me if I'm wrong but I only had some demos. Most of the metal we listened to were on tapes, we traded all the time. I have some old Noise Records albums which could be rare nowadays, old Celtic Frost and Voivod stuff. If I choose the top 5 from the 80's it would be like this: 1. Assassin "Interstellar Experience," 2. Blind Illusion "The Sane Asylum," 3. Exorcist "Nightmare Theatre", 4. Sadus "Illusions," 5. Holy Terror "Terror and Submission" plus the albums we already talked about earlier.

  • Your debut album is almost 25 years old now! How do you feel about that release; favorite and least favorite tunes? Is there anything you would have done differently if you had the chance to redo that album over again?

    I kinda like it as it is, as it was my first baby. The mix could be better and there's a lot of mistakes on the album but it is what it is. We were just kids playing our hearts out. If I could do it again I dont know if I would. There is some great stuff there like '14U' and 'Lucy.' 'The Final Gathering' is the weakest track in my opinion, too many useless parts. With the gear we have now and with the modern studio technology, some of those old songs would sound massive. But like I said, the metal scene was almost nonexistent at that time in Finland. None of the studio engineers knew what the hell was going on when we started thrashing. Ok, there were good producers in Helsinki but not over here. One guy even said to us that he can't record our faster songs. Too much distortion on the guitars and nobody can play faster than Motorhead. Well, he was wrong and out of the job. :)

  • It seems like most of your demo material made it's way onto the first full length, but some did not. Any chance some of that demo material may surface?

    Most of the unreleased stuff is already out. Some small underground label released the first demo some years ago and EMI put out our last demo as bonus tracks on our compilation CD. But yes I think there is something still unreleased. I have been trying to track down one demo which we did for EMI back in 1988; there's some interesting stuff, a Nuclear Assault cover song among others.

  • I remember reading old copies of Metal Forces, Kerrang, etc. and some of those magazines were my only source of metal info at the time. Do you remember any mags that gave you guys reviews and/or interviews? What sort of metal magazines were around in Finland at the time?

    I read the same magazines, we ordered copies from the UK. Kerrang, Metal Forces,the German Metal Hammer and loads of underground fanzines. We didnt have anything over here at that time, the zine scene started pretty much with the thrash metal. There were numerous small underground zines writing about finnish bands and interviewing the up and coming metal bands. We got really good demo reviews from Kerrang and after that we started to get more contacts all over the world. There were others too but I can't remember what was said and by whom.

  • Is there any chance your debut album might be released on CD? I've seen a few vinyl copies turn up on ebay a few times; it seems to be easier to pick up your later releases...

    Actually EMI released the re-mastered version of the first album in 2007. It was included on a 2cd compilation called "The Birth, Death And Resurrection." It sounds much better than the original version. I think it is still available.

  • If there's anything else you want to talk about that we missed, you can do that here. Thanks again for the interview!!

    No thank you man, it's cool that you support an underground band like us! I want to point out that the lineup we have now is the closest you can get to the original band. We have Aku and Pasi back in the band on vocals and drums. So go to our facebook page and spread the word, we are back!

    Interview with Tony Foster via email...

  • Now I know a couple of compilations came out in 2006 and 2011, but what made you guys decide to come out in 2014 with a new record? After all, it had been 33 years since you last released a single, besides the one song that appeared on a split release that same year.

    The record "Use Your Weapons Well" sold very well and increased the profile of the original band. There seemed to be an interest in the band and the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal especially in Europe. We were receiving interest from all over the world and I was amazed how many people had got the original records or bootlegs and unofficial releases. I thought it might be time to get together again and try to record something. We reformed with exactly the original line up and I wrote a song called 'Welcome To Hell.' I sent the demo to High Roller Records in Germany and they liked it. They said it sounded just like the original Sparta which was exactly what we wanted. We recorded the song in a local studio and were determined to keep faith with the original Sparta sound of rock from NWOBHM in the 80's. They remixed the song with Thomas Engel from the Temple Of Disharmony Studios in Germany and we all liked the end result. They said they would like us to do an album as long as it stayed true to the original sound and we agreed.

  • So tell us a bit about the early days, how it was for Sparta. Did you do a lot of shows, touring? I know most NWOBHM bands never toured outside of the U.K., mostly doing local shows and what not. Any memorable gigs; who from the scene did you play out with?

    We never toured outside of the UK but we played with a lot of bands at that time such as Diamond Head, Praying Mantis, Lionheart and Geddes Axe. We also played with Budgie and the Ken Hensley Band (from Uriah Heep) from the old school and many other bands around at that time such as the Groundhogs. We were all Budgie fans and that was a very memorable gig.

  • A lot of people look to the NWOBHM movement as th beginning of all things metal; Diamond Head, Judas Priest, Saxon, Iron Maiden and Venom all got their earliest of starts in that era. Where did you see yourselves in all that? It seems like after those two singles, you guys called it a day!

    We were exactly the same as all the other bands at that time but we didn't get the lucky break. We were not living in the same cities such as London, Birmingham and Newcastle where the major labels were. This is why we decided to release our own records on our own label, Suspect Records. We tried and came close to getting deals but never quite made it. Some of the guys in the band were active until 1990 but never managed to get a deal. It is quite ironic that many of the reviews for "Welcome To Hell" play on the fact that this was our debut album after 35 years. This was indeed our debut album but many reviewers said that if this album had been released in 1980 it would have been a classic. Who knows?

  • It seems like so many bands from that era put out a few songs on a 7 inch record and then faded into obscurity. Why do you think it was that many never made it past the 2 song single stage? Was it expensive to get an album recorded, or was it just easier to concentrate on making a few noteworthy songs?

    I think that if you look back there were many NWOBHM bands at the time. It was a new type of music and there were only so many record deals around. We thought, as did many other NWOBHM bands, that it was better to get some music out on vinyl, even if we had to finance it ourselves. We paid for both singles ourselves and the "Scene Of The Crime" album featuring Tyrant, Savage, Panza Division and Manitou was also paid for by the bands. We all paid £200.00 and got 200 albums. All the bands were happy to get something out on vinyl at all costs. Metallica found Savage via this album but it would never have happened without the foresight of me and John Fritchley who were actually Suspect Records. This is the lucky break I'm talking about. It could have been any of us.

  • Have you kept up with metal since the early days? I'm a huge fan of doom metal, a style which Black Sabbath pioneered in the early days, and of course I really dig black metal which was spearheaded in Norway in the early to mid 90's.

    We are very much a band of the late 1970's and early eighties. We were influenced by Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Motorhead and also AC/DC a little bit. We listen but don't have much interest in the newer styles of metal. There doesn't seem to be any new stuff around that sounds quite like the original New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.

  • Grunge music (Nirvana, Soundgarden, etc.) took a hold here in the States in the late 80's/early 90's and many heavy metal bands called it quits by that time, I suppose due to an apparent lack of interest. How did the grunge movement play out in the U.K.? I understand that heavy metal never really died in many places over in Europe...

    Heavy metal in the UK has stood still for many years. There are very few new British Metal Bands. I think this is why Grunge was so popular in the UK since it filled an empty void. There was nothing else to listen to other than the usual groups such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Motorhead etc. It would have been better if more NWOBHM bands were popular since this would have widened the audience to something like it was in the 1970's with bands such as Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, etc.

  • Looking at the new album, I was kinda surprised that even with the album titles and subject matter, the catchiness and melodies that were so prevalent in the NWOBHM period are in full force on this album. Do you think people might look at the album cover and song titles and quite possibly expect a more extreme metal album?

    As I have said before we have a certain style and although we play Heavy Metal I like the music to sound catchy so the audience can sing along to the songs. I wrote 8 out of 10 of tracks on the album and that is the Sparta sound. We were always melodic in a heavy way. Some people who have reviewed the album have said that they thought it would be heavier. But we wanted to stay true to the NWOBHM styles. We have many more good reviews from people who "get it." We were not trying to be a modern metal band since there are thousands of such bands all over the world but there is only one Sparta.

  • What were your goals recording "Welcome To Hell?" Did you purposefully try and write an album that sounded like a direct follow up to the singles material, or was there something else in mind?

    As we agreed with High Roller Records the album was going to sound just like the original Sparta and as such should be viewed as a direct follow up from the singles and the sound we had at the time which was summarised in the 26 track compilation double CD "Welcome To Hell." The original members were all involved in the recording and I still use the same original Gibson SG guitar so the sound is more or less the same.

  • How do you see the differences in recording today as opposed to how things were in the 80's? Obviously people can write and record music in the comfort of their own homes; computers have made it easier to have a mixing and mastering studio for less than 1000 dollars and get good sound quality.

    We paid for all of the original recording of "Welcome To Hell" just like we did in the 1980's. We mixed every track in a local small town recording studio which is what we did with the original recordings. The digital recording is great since you can do so many things that you could not do in the 1980's. One mistake does not mean you have to record the whole track again like it used to be.

    The album was remixed in Germany but we would have put it out as it was if we didn't have a record deal. The difference is that we have a record label prepared to spend some money on the album. In particular the artwork was also done in Germany and was paid for by High Roller Records. I hope you will agree that the artwork perfectly captures the 3 parts of Hell which is a part concept of the new album. There is the picture of the 'Kingdom Of The Sky' based upon the track on the album which depicts 'Hell In The Sky,' there is the Hell of Battle as captured by the title track 'Welcome To Hell' and then there are the pictures of resurrected warriors appearing directly from "Hell" beneath the earth. Also the remix was excellent and captured the original Sparta sound. I had endless discussions with Thomas Engel about the remix of each track and although we didn't always agree we came up with exactly what we were trying to achieve.

  • A lot of bands in the 80's got their name known via demo and tape trading. Thrash and extreme metal bands especially, most notably early demos from bands like Metallica, Exodus, etc. got their name out there by swapping their songs around to traders all over the world. However, I don't remember ever seeing any of the NWOBHM bands involved in this practice; did the demo and tape trading scene have a foothold in the U.K. amongst NWOBHM bands?

    We played with a lot of NWOBHM bands and we usually used to swap copies of the singles that we had out at the time. In particular we used to sign all copies given to other bands. Vinyl was everything at the time and High Roller still releases vinyl copies of their new albums; check out the white vinyl version of "Welcome To Hell." I know a lot of fans in America like vinyl copies of records and it is very popular in Europe particularly Germany.

  • Now I wanted to talk a bit about the days when Sparta was known as Xerox, how long did Xerox last and were any songs ever released or recorded? Did Xerox last very long? It seems like Sparta's history dates all the way back to 1979!!

    Xerox was formed from a punk metal band called Test Tube Babies. The band lasted under 2 years and you can see original photos of Xerox on Facebook at Sparta UK. We played half original music and half covers such as 'Highway To Hell' (AC/DC) and 'Breadfan' by Budgie. There was never anything recorded which is why when I formed Sparta I was determined to make sure we left a legacy with some lasting recordings. Looking back I guess we succeeded with Sparta.

  • Now that the album is out, I wanted to say I remembered the 'Angel Of Death' song from the flip side of the 'Tonight' single. Why was that the only older song you re-recorded for the new album? I must say too that this song sounds like something Angel Witch would have written!!

    We recorded 'Angel Of Death' on the new album since firstly it was a link to past material and a neat link to the messenger who travelled between the Kingdoms of the Gods and Hell. You will find the original reference to the 'Kingdom Of The Sky' in the lyrics to 'Angel Of Death.' Secondly we wanted to use the newer recording techniques that were not available to us at the time. Therefore we produced a new version using new techniques featuring dual guitars and multi tracked vocals. There is also a song called 'Arrow' on the album which was written in the 1980's by Snake Reders but never recorded so we included that as well. Nothing to do with Angelwitch!!!

  • What does the NWOBHM mean to you specifically? Obviously it's hard to fathom what exactly went on for those of us who weren't there, but I DO remember reading about people bringing cardboard guitars to gigs where the music was playing. I also know that there was very little press given in the U.K. outside of a few fanzines...

    The NWOBHM was a chance for ordinary people to record Heavy Metal and Rock. Unfortunately there wasn't the financial backing from record companies. Several bands did make it such as Def Leppard but there were hundreds who didn't. Companies such as Neat Records in Newcastle recorded many artists with some success but it was never mainstream for the vast majority of the bands at the time. It was a great "Do it yourself" movement where you could spend some money and make a record. It is interesting that the NWOBHM is now more popular in countries such as Germany and Holland than it ever was in the UK. I think this is a pity since the UK metal scene would have been much more interesting if the major companies would have been prepared to invest in what was seen as "Underground Music."

    There were a couple of Heavy Rock DJ's at the time who were The Bailey Brothers, who both played cardboard guitars during their disco and when the bands were playing live. We played with them many times and I think it is fair to say they were fans of Sparta.

  • Were you guys ever into punk rock? Here in the States, I got into punk at about the same time I did with metal, though metal was my first love. I have heard bands like Slayer and Venom cite punk rock as a big influence on their sound.

    Tony Warren and I played in a punk band in the mid 1970's when punk first broke through in the UK. We played in the Test Tube Babies and played for about 18 months. During the recent recording session for "Welcome To Hell" we recorded a track called 'Situations Vacant' from that band on the recording session for "Welcome..." We use the track to loosen up before we play. There were many other tracks but nothing was recorded officially.

  • One thing that surprised me was realizing that Def Leppard had quite a bit of more metal oriented material before they started "watering down" their sound and getting HUGELY popular here in the U.S. with radio play and mega tours. I also know that many British bands tried to start writing in Def Leppard's style to try and become more famous... Obviously Sparta didn't change a thing after all this time.

    Def Leppard were from Sheffield which was 26 miles from Mansfield where we were based. They played the same dates as us and the Reders brothers were fans of their early metal music. It happened so quickly for them and their music changed drastically. But hey they are famous. We do not compromise on music but as you have previously commented our music is full of catchy riffs and melodies.

  • I love the opening sound quote at the beginning of the album from the movie "300." I really enjoyed that movie, though I realize a lot of the "events" probably didn't happen as Hollywood wrote it. I haven't seen the sequel yet but plan on doing so. It's amazing how Hollywood can take a historical event and make it seem so much larger than life.

    Sparta was formed in 1979 but we were more into the idea of a cool sounding name than the actual exploits of the Spartans. However we have always used the Sparta symbolism as can be seen with our logo and the cover from "Fast Lane/ Fighting To Be Free" and the other recordings. The concept of the song "Welcome To Hell" is loosely based on Spartans in battle so it seemed to be appropriate to include a quote from the film which I thinks fits in perfectly to the song's intro. The artwork from the new album also features Spartan warriors so we must be influenced, to some point by their ethos.

  • Any plans for a new record? Maybe some song titles, influences, style or sound you might be going for? I know it's still kinda early as the latest record hasn't been out long.

    Got 3 new songs but will be waiting a while yet. I don't see us changing direction in any way so we will see if the album does well and if High Roller would want us to record another. But to be fair, in the true original spirit of the NWOBHM we will record some songs and if necessary they will be free on the internet. Can't forget the original roots and ethos of punk and NWOBHM! Music is for the masses and true fans.

  • Did you guys ever do any interviews back in the day? Maybe some memorable reviews appeared in various magazines or newspapers? Where do you think was the strangest place Sparta got press from?

    The main Heavy Metal publications at the time were "Sounds" magazine and Kerrang. We were featured in those and got Heavy Metal Single of the Week in Sounds. A brief interview in Kerrang under their "Armed And Ready" column. You can see these as well as further interviews abroad on our Facebook page Sparta UK. We did many interviews on local radio stations such as Radio Hallam, Radio Trent and Radio Piccadilly but sadly no recordings still survive to my knowledge.

  • Finally, as we wrap this up, how do you see the state of music today? Obviously, it's a LOT easier to reach a worldwide audience in this day of the internet, facebook and youtube, where one can search out and find bands that probably never went anywhere. Of course, record label sales are down and people are complaining that the business isn't making much money anymore...

    Facebook is the single greatest invention for getting like-minded people together and I would not have had contact with you and many others without it. Youtube is also the same. In the early 1980's you relied upon being picked up by someone and sending your records to everyone in the hope of them playing your songs. Sparta were never motivated by money just the love of the music. We never made any money in the 1980's and have made more recently than we ever made. But the Sparta philosophy is such that every penny we make will be put back into the band. This is the way Sparta have always been and always will be.

    Thanks for your interest. Check out Sparta UK on Facebook.


    Ah, another late issue... :) Sadly, only 7 interviews grace this issue; Odin only knows how many other interviews didn't happen, either because bands didn't respond, were on tour, or who knows what else? I'm not as pleased with this issue as I have been with others, but waiting and waiting on interviews is NOT a fun option for me. Still, the 'zine must go on!

    As we mentioned earlier, we have been trying to get the Guinness Book Of World Records involved. As of this writing, we have pretty much been turned down by the research team over in the U.K. even though we feel they didn't spend enough time "researching" our publication. If they did, it would be easy to see that via the wayback machine (google it), our earliest "web presence" they were able to archive goes back at least to 1998, and from there you can see how many issues were released. It's not a dead issue for us yet, but we still have to convince them that internet based webzines aren't a "recent phenomenon."

    Not much else to say except we're going to try and have one more issue out before the year's end. It's been an exceptional year for metal, with many great bands putting out excellent albums: Falconer, Falkenbach and what looks to be album of 2014 with Darkflight's "Closure" left me with many hours of enjoyment. I think the rest of 2014 will have some surprises too, and my biggest surprise was the announcement that Falconer was indeed confirmed as headliner for 2015's Prog Power, once again to be held in Atlanta! Don't miss this, as it promises to (for now) be the last live performance Falconer will give in 2015.

    We do apologize for not running the Korgull The Exterminator interview in the 54th issue like we originally planned; somehow we forgot to include it, but if we had, this issue would only have 6 interviews instead of 7. So my deepest apologies to the band, and hopefully we can quickly get many things lined up so there WILL be a 56th issue by the end of 2014. Right now we're talking to some bands; nothing confirmed yet but we hope to have interviews with some 80's thrash bands we have been into for a long time. Keep checking our facebook page and look out for a brand new DOOM Radio episode the Sunday following this issue's release!