VIBRATIONS OF DOOM MAGAZINE
ISSUE #57







Our mailing address:

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


TABLE OF CONTENTS:

    REVIEWS:

  • A DREAM OF POE "An Infinity Emerged"
  • AMBUSH "Desecrator"
  • AMORPHIS "Under The Red Cloud"
  • ARCANA 13 "Danza Macabra"
  • ASSASSIN "Combat Cathedral"
  • BRIMSTONE COVEN "Black Magic"
  • DARK MOOR "Project X"
  • DIAMOND HEAD "Diamond Head"
  • DI MORTALES "Dead Pages"
  • GRAVEYARD OF SOULS "Infinitum Nihil"
  • IRON MOUNTAIN "Unum"
  • KARMA TO BURN "Mountain Czar"
  • MAGIC CIRCLE "Journey Blind"
  • MALEVOLENT CREATION "Dead Man's Path"
  • MORGOTH "Ungod"
  • MURGRIND "Inheritor Of The Forest Throne"
  • MY DYING BRIDE "Feel The Misery"
  • NORTHERN CROWN "In The Hands Of The Betrayer"
  • ORPHANS OF DUSK "Revenant"
  • PENTAGRAM "Curious Volume"
  • PRIMAL FEAR "Rulebreaker"
  • RIMFROST "Rimfrost"
  • SLEEPY HOLLOW "Tales Of Gods And Monsters"
  • THE HOWLING VOID "The Triumph Of Ruin"
  • THE MORNINGSIDE "Yellow"
  • UTMARKEN "Utmarken"

    INTERVIEWS:

  • DESTINY
  • DREAD SOVEREIGN
  • EARTHEN GRAVE
  • MAGIC CIRCLE
  • MAINSTREET
  • MORGOTH
  • MYSTERIARCH
  • UTMARKEN


  • EDITORIAL NOTATIONS


    A DREAM OF POE "An Infinity Emerged" (Solitude) SCORE: 91/100



    So the Portugese doom metal unit finally entrenched on Solitude Productions, a label I always thought they belonged on, have delivered their latest opus. And lemme tell ya, this album mostly improves on everything their last album had, though the songs are mostly straightforward with very little variety from start to finish, save for the emotional and well crafted lead solos, and the ending cut which we'll get to shortly. Only 5 tracks here, and if you don't have a penchant for long songs, this might be difficult to sit through, especially as noted above their unwillingness to vary things out from start to finish. These 5 songs have two running times: You are either listening to an 11 or a 10 minute track. The new vocalist does a great job of carrying emotion, though 3 or 4 times on the disc he has a tendency to slightly run his "aaaah's" through a few different pitches, stretching them out and making them seem a bit awkward to these ears. The music is darker and heavier as well, showing me that our main composer listened to some of his critics about the music being a bit lighter than they thought it should be. Still, great melodic and somewhat soothing clean sung vocals are an unusual contrast against the darker and more My Dying Bride like ultra slow doom on display. Still, there are some wonderful female vocals on many tracks, mostly limited to siren like ghostly wails that work wonders to add to the melancholic and somewhat haunting mood. Only track 4 did I have a problem with, in 'Lighthouses For The Dead,' and I get it: the combination male/female haunting wails are supposed to be dead ghosts, but it's still unsettling. And some of the dreary guitar work didn't sit well with me either, and worse still is the track ending lead solo, which is VERY odd. Still, there's much to like about this track, and as much as we talked about the seeming lack of variety on nearly all the songs, CD ender 'Macula' could have ended 3 or 4 times with all that's going on here, and it seems to me like A Dream Of Poe pulled out all the stops to make this an epic CD closer, even pulling about a minute of solitary dark and somber piano notes. There's some keyboard work here as well, but it's mixed so well in the background you have to really LISTEN for it. As I said it's a solid disc, and one for the CD shelf but the 10 and 11 minute songs coupled with almost non varying song structures will test your patience if you aren't already familiar with doom metal. Still, an original sounding doom band is hard to come by these days, and of course Solitude signs bands like these for breakfast.
    Contact: Solitude Productions.

    AMBUSH "Desecrator" (High Roller) SCORE: 82/100



    First off, gotta say: This is NOT the same Ambush that you'll find in the classic albums section with their 4 track EP release. Although both bands do hail from Sweden! No, what we have here is rockin' traditional 80's metal done up the way that would make Judas Priest PROUD. And there are times, many EERIE times, when main frontman Oskar Jacobsson could be a dead ringer for Rob Halford. But then again, so many of the riffs on this album sound like they could have come from Downing and Tipton themselves, and it's odd how you're listening to a song and go "damn, this sounds JUST like Priest." Still, this is rockin' hard 80's metal that we here all know and love. The first 4 tracks on this album are 80's metal gold, but they don't sound "stuck in the 80's." Look, a good, rockin' catchy song sounds good no matter WHAT era it comes from. CD opener 'Possessed By Evil' is everything you want in a good song: catchy choruses, energetic galloping riffs, wonderful in synch multivocal work on the choruses, hell this is great. 'Night Of Defilers' showcases those amazing high notes Jacob hits with stunning ease, and is quite anthemic. The title track has some faster riffing, and this DEFINITELY sounds like a Priest tune, probably the one that has you thinking this is a lost classic era Priest tune. 'The Chain Reaction' seems to take things down a little bit, adding a lot more melody to the mix, but showcasing some amazing lead riffs. Sadly, this track seems to meander a little midway, but still solid overall. And 'Southstreet Brotherhood' is damn near one of my favorites, even going so far as to add some "tough guy" multivocal "gang chants" for an extra kick of attitude. This is one of the things I loved about obscure 80's metal bands that threw in that one really kick ass song that proved they could write a strong catchy tune if they put their heads together. I wasn't too sure about 'Rose Of The Dawn,' though, and this track started a somewhat downward spiral for the Swedes, as it seems like the energy and catchiness of the first 5 cuts took a backseat, culminating in CD ender 'The Seventh Seal' dragging on for it's way too lengthy 7 minute mark. This cut sees a much slower pace and Ambush desperately trying to sound like a progressive/power metal band (of the newer era, not the classic 80's style power metal of old). And about 2 minutes before the song ends, even the band realizes they need to cut out the lackluster efforts (which includes even the choruses failing to inspire me), for which they craft some amazing riffs and lead solos, rendering the first half of this track useless for me. It's not a "oh god, this track sucks balls" kind of feeling, but it's way below their efforts. Still, inbetween tracks 'Faster' and 'Master Of The Seas' aren't below par, though I must say 'Master Of The Seas' was surprising in that it laid down a slower, more straightforward pace that worked well on a near epic tune. Overall, though, this band has what it takes to craft some kick ass, 80's style metal, done with enough passion and conviction to at least command your attention, but these seasoned veterans (after a demo, an EP and this being their second full length) should be able to kick it up a few notches and create an album that breaks the 90's score. Enjoyable still, but just sayin'...
    Contact: High Roller Records.

    AMORPHIS "Under The Red Cloud" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 94/100



    It's no secret that I had been somewhat underwhelmed by the later era Amorphis albums, which includes the very misaligned "Far From The Sun" in 2003. Needless to say, I was ready to write Amorphis off but something hit me right away. Yes, some of the clean sung vocals might be a little TOO "modern" sounding for some, but there's a lot of emotion running throughout the higher toned singing. Still though, from the opening notes of the title track, which opens the record, I wasn't sure what to expect. Nice piano notes, acoustic guitars; yep, this sounded like the Amorphis of the mid 2000's period, but hey! The death metal vocals are back and shit, they're seemingly stronger than ever! There's somewhat of a folkish atmosphere to it, but you haven't heard anything yet. The death metal growls kick right in on followup 'The Four Wise Ones,' and something rather strange is brewing up within these Dark Finns: A Middle East influence that you'd expect from Melechesh or even Canada's Aeternam! Primarily death and some blackened vocals definitely caught my ear! The Middle Eastern thematic is brought home to vicious force on 'Death Of A King,' and this track would sit VERY nicely on Aeternam's "Moongod" release for sure! Still, the big letdown was on 'Enemy At The Gates;' for all the brilliance and dark yet heavy Middle Eastern occult influence, the clean sung vocals and instrumentation took away a lot of the power this song had... Still, it's a vicious listen, and those death roars are predominant throughout the track. Another favorite is the 9th cut 'Tree Of Ages,' which starts off with an amazingly folkish and melodic flute sound starting this cut off. Another surprise, since it sounds more native folk than the Middle Eastern influence on display. Still, for all the ferociousness, dark vibes and heaviness, there is a surprising amount of very catchy melodies on this disc, but Amorphis was careful not to let one vocal style dominate over the others, making for a very diverse and engaging listen from start to finish. CD ender 'White Night,' though, was a bit of a letdown. Though not a bad track, it's very anticlimatic, starting off with female vocals (the only ones I noticed on the disc), and the clean vocals on the choruses didn't really draw me in. Still, the Mid Eastern vibe is presented here, along with some melodic instrumentation. This disc shows a mastery of injecting brutality and dark overtones alongside such amazingly melodic vocal work and instrumentation; at first a bit uneasy but it all makes sense the more you dive in. Thought there are a few miscues, this is a rock solid disc that shows you what those Scandinavians are really capable of when they settle down and prove their abilities and their talents... Well done I must say!
    Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.

    ARCANA 13 "Danza Macabra" (Aural) SCORE: 98/100



    Lemme tell ya, if the "voting" were to end today, and it was the end of the year, Arcana 13 would win for best doom metal album hands down. But this is no ordinary doom metal album! You'll hear some of that epic 70's occultish hard rock, some NWOBHM leanings, and some fuzzed out stoner rock weaving it's way into the proceedings. This is a tribute to different Italian and other horror movies, though you may find (as I did), that some of this stuff is a bit too melodic overall to seem like a soundtrack to various horror movies. And part of this (though it's NO criticism whatsoever) is due to the amazing vocal work of one Simone Bertozzi, who has a very interesting delivery, which can waver ever so slightly from melodic and almost soothing tones to a slight traditional "doom" delivery, where he can portray a bit of darkness in his sound. Regardless, these tunes flat out ROCK, and they also bring a slower pace when needed, so you get quite a bit of variety in each and every song. Fuzzed out bass guitar riffs open up the cut 'Holy Cult Of Suicide,' which is a great mixture of doomy heaviness and straight up rockin' guitar riffs. It's great to hear the bottom end brought up in the proceedings. Still, for all the rockin' this band does, 'Blackmaster' lost quite a bit of points due to the way the opening guitar riffs don't sit well with me. Normally it wouldn't be too much of an issue, but these riffs are presented in many other spots. However, those catchy choruses and melodic vocal/guitar interaction means if I skip the track, I'm missing out. 'Oblivion Mushroom' had some dark and haunting vibes, adding some swirly and psychedelic spacey sounds to the mix, and is kinda dreamy and what some might call "drugged out" at the same time. A lot of these tracks have quite a bit of solo instrumentation too; almost like short, improvisational jam sessions, but that is a necessity when many of your tracks are 6 and 7 minutes long. CD ender 'Hell Behind You' starts off with some beautiful guitar riffs reminiscent of NWOBHM legends Ritual, and is a GREAT CD ending cut. You can definitely hear the dreamy, 70's occult oriented hard rock in this song, though true to their craft, some rockin' instrumentation keeps this from becoming a one trick pony. Arcana 13 knows how to keep your interest from start to finish, and I dare say that it will be VERY hard for this somewhat new band with multi- year veteran members to top this amazing effort.
    Contact: Aural Music.

    ASSASSIN "Combat Cathedral" (Steamhammer) SCORE: 86/100



    Honestly, I have followed Assasin since their full lengths "Interstellar Experience" and "The Upcoming Terror" in the 80's... And I have to ask WHY did they decide to go with a brand new singer for this album, since Robert Gonella had been with them since 1983, all the way through their breakup and reforming, singing on EVERY album except this one. Well, now that they have one Ingo Bajonczak on vocals, a realtively new unknown, I must say their sound is a lot harder and heavier nowadays! Ingo puts their style almost into a death/thrash category, bringing vicious bite and heavy full on aggression for nearly EVERY fucking song, though his biggest drawback is his almost off key rough edged singing, which fortunately doesn't rear it's ugly head too often. Still, it's a glaring black eye on the album's weakest cut 'Whoremonger,' which has a few other issues as well. Still, that being said, there's not ONE single "awful" track on the album, but there are a few missteps, besides 'Whoremonger.' Whether they're cranking out slow, powerful and intentional crushing thrash riffs, or starting out tunes like 'What Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Stronger' and 'Servant Of Fear' with dark and haunting acoustics, not every song on here is a speed fest, and they even had the forethought to bring varying structures and tempos to each and every song. The thrash riffing is superb, and goes from good to fucking awesome, even on a few less than stellar offerings. Still, one thing that got me at first was CD ender 'Red Alert;' at first I was kinda annoyed at the submarine sonar sounds and the dual guitar ultra slow riffing, but as I listened to it more I realized Assassin did a superb job of setting up a dark, melancholic, dangerous and haunting atmosphere. A misstep on 'Sanity From The Insane' was the weak choruses, a highlight damn near everywhere else, especially when those what some might call "gang chant styled vocals" kick in, accentuating the heaviness and crushing weight of these blistering speedy thrash tracks... A tad bit of similarity does kick in, but overall it's hard to believe that Ingo can sound this pissed off for the ENITRE CD, and I dare say Assassin has never sounded heavier or more angry. It'll never win "originality award of the year," but man do I love a good, sound thrashing! And I can't leave without mentioning one of the most hilarious "bad translation" quotes EVER; someone ought to meme this: On the track 'Word,' you hear 'Cause battling with a farmer is like fucking with no hard on!" Anyway, fitting these guys are BACK on Steamhammer again after all these years... Oh, wait, they really never left!! Steamhammer... Showing the world how efficient German thrash can sound...
    Contact: Steamhammer Records.

    BRIMSTONE COVEN "Black Magic" (Metal Blade) SCORE: 91/100



    If you were looking at the cover and reading the song titles, taking the entire package in, you might think this was another occult laced doom metal band. Still, given the whole spawn of "occult retro rock" bands seemingly sprang up overnight in the wake of the band Ghost's trail, you might even think another proto-traditional doom band or 70's styled rock with female vocals. Well, all that seems to fit (except for the female vocals, that is) with Brimstone Coven, who surprisingly have more up their sleeve than the first half of this record hints at. 'Black Magic' starts the disc off nicely with some heavy bass riffs, killer guitar work (though nothing too flashy or showy), and amazing vocals that will become the highlight of just about EVERY song on the disc. And some cowbell! Yeah, a cool track. Catchy choruses abound, and I dare say there's a LOT of vocal melodies from this disc stuck in my head. Followup 'Black Unicorn' is more of a faster, and heavier, rockin' tune, almost metal in execution, especially with the more aggressive and louder clean sung vocals. We're back down to a slower pace with 'Beyond The Astral,' which is a lot more melodic and has a quite "dreamy" atmosphere. Soothing clean sung vocals tell me that an indulgence of herb is how this track is supposed to be handled! Acoustic like ballad time for 'As We Fall,' and there's quite a few of these on the disc. Yes, another herb induced tune, though as I said the melodic vocals drift you off to dreamland. One of my favorite tracks is 'Slow Death,' with a bit more uptempo pace, and some rockin' guitar riffsand great soaring vocal work. Catchy as all hell, as is the followup 'The Seers' which has a sort of slow Sabbath vibe to it with GREAT multivocal harmonies on the simplistic choruses. Though many have criticized the band for putting the two slowest tunes back to back, that point is irrelevant to me because 'The Plague,' being somewhat of a laid back ballad piece, contains some of the most amazing multivocal harmonies on the disc that carry the latter half of this track through to the end. Just hearing 'Calling out your name' quite a few times just floors me every time. Extremely strong and well crafted emotional weight shows why this band excells at slower or faster paced material. And near-ballad 'Forsaken' has this kinda folky 60's vibe at the start before delving into some proto-typical doom, EARLY type of doom at that. For all this, CD ender 'The Eldest Tree' is a fucking disaster. They add some really droney heavy doom metal guitar work, some of the most traditional doom on the record, but botch it mightily. The guitars are just downright grating, and the vocals are more like robotic, monotone spoken word which makes this even worse. Sad, really, because every track on this disc has potential, even if I do like some cuts more than others. Still, the vocal melodies are awesome, the guitar riffs catchy and the choruses REALLY carry the weight and breadth of what this band is trying to accomplish. A band that stands a bit far out and beyond what most in this area of underground music are trying to accomplish, you can FEEL the authentic late 60's and early 70's vibe, not only in the songs themselves, but in the way they were recorded...
    Contact: Metal Blade Records.

    DARK MOOR "Project X" (Scarlet) SCORE: 23/100



    Man, this is unbelievable... I know power metal has a tendency to be fluffy and fruity but this is absolutely ridiculous... This stuff makes Freedom Call sound like ultra violent and anti christian black metal ala Marduk or Gorgoroth! Many tracks contain this strange, multivocal gospel choir thing; on the cut 'Bon Voyage,' I didn't know if I was being asked to praise Jeebus or listen to this fluffy alien garbage. Now to be fair, the CD starts off somewhat promising, with a rather dark synth intro, something you might hear any respectable band starting their show off with. Followup track 'Abduction' is probably one of the bets cuts on the disc, and the opening synths and vocal interactions remind me of Royal Hunt, though Royal Hunt is a lot more dynamic and invoking. This album also has the very strange quality of being very bass heavy, especially on the drums, which sound like they might be electronic. Still, the somewhat pop oriented multivocal work fits right in here, and this is a decent tune, choosing to vary tempos, speeds and structures. Decent power metal tune. Folks, it's all downhill from there practically, from the fluffy piano work and gospel revival meets heavier guitar work of 'Beyond The Stars,' to the downright ridiculous "Open your hymn books to page 77" ballad of 'I Want To Believe,' hands down the WORST track on this album (which isn't saying much). I DID like the minute or so of violins on this one surprisingly. The crooning vocals seem at odds with the forced heaviness (as if this dude realized he needed more "metal" in this trainwreck of bubble gum pop church choruses) on 'Bon Voyage,' while 'Imperial Earth' showed promise until it all became unhinged due to the last minute being a sudden departure from music with cheesy robotic dialogue and weird sci-fi synths. CD ender 'There's Something In The Skies' jumps around so much, and it's eight minutes long... Still, a few tracks were decent. 'Conspiracy Revealed' and 'The Existence' had potential, even if the heaviness seemed somewhat subdued when the vocal work came in. The guitar work is quite good for the most part, when it's not trying to sound "happy." Folks, this band reminds me of that whiny, "rock-lite" 104.7 The Fish christian alternative radio station we have here in Atlanta, watered down music devoid of emotion and "jesus praising," this is what damn near the entire disc sounds like.
    Contact: Scarlet Records.

    DIAMOND HEAD "Diamond Head" (Dissonance) SCORE: 95/100



    Funny how after all these years, Diamond Head never had a self-titled album. And yet, here in 2016, it seems like it's the right time to do so. After a few years toiling around, never really recapturing the magic or the raw power that they possessed in the early days, this sounds almost like a "rebirth" of the classic Diamond Head sound. And yet there's that New Wave Of British Heavy Metal sound, mutated and evolutionized for the 21st century. New vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen had very mighty shoes to fill, and he crushes any notions that he isn't fit for the job. The power, the range, and the length of time he can hold notes tells me they didn't just find this guy right away. He brings Diamond Head's game up by several levels! Anyway, this album shows Diamond Head spent a LONG time crafting this album, and succeeds where many reformed NWOBHM acts have fallen. 'Bones' starts this off right away, a rockin,' energetic and HUNGRY band that remembers what it was like when they started off. Lyrically, it might seem a bit more gruesome than past lyrics, but this is an older, more mature band. Rockin' NWOBHM leads meets energetic heavy, almost classic rock in 'Shout At The Devil,' not a cover of Motley Crue but a riff-rocker in it's own right! These first two tunes stand well up against ANY of the Diamond Head back catalog. A slower, darker and more brooding start brings us to 'Set My Soul On Fire,' proving that doom metal might have had a creeping influence on the Brits. Aocustic guitars show an almost dark melodic side, fast riff rockin' and one of my biggest complaints about this album: slowing things down and almost ruining the momentum these heavy fast paced songs build up. At least they can build the track back up, but this occurs again on 'Blood On My Hands,' and to disastrous effect on the too-long CD ender 'Silence.' My favorite cut of this disc is probably the most un-intentional Diamond Head "hit:" 'All The Reasons You Live.' I rank it up there along the same lines as on "Death And Progress'" most heaviest of cuts in 'Damnation Street.' Obviously, THIS track fits here much better than 'Damnation Street' did on "Death And Progress;" THERE it kinda stood out as their heaviest of the heavies alongside more midtempo and more rockin' out kinda fare. HERE, though, 'All The Reasons...' takes on a darker and more serious agenda, dealing with warfare thematics and enslaved/repressed citizens. It's amazing to hear the synthesized "orchestrated" passages here, which was a complete surprise as this turns into the most epic Diamond Head track ever. I really dig 'Wizard Sleeve,' and anyone familiar with Borat sees Diamond Head's more playful and naughty side (most evident on their earliest of cuts like 'Sucking My Love'), matching up against 'Diamonds' and 'Speed' for fun and furious rockers. My least favorite track of all was the CD ender 'Silence.' I really appreciated the Middle Eastern vibe this band was going for but overall it didn't stack up well. Dark synths and acoustic guitar work couldn't quite save this from being a near disaster, though it isn't a horrible cut, just a bit too ambitious while sacrificing all the other great qualities Diamond Head possesses in spades. A wonderful album, definitely a great collection of songs and even on the lowest points of the album, Rasmus does such a wonderful job that I think eventually Sean Harris' legacy will be a very distant memory... One of the originators of the NWOBHM movement prove WHY they were the kings of the genre to begin with, and I daresay they are right at the top once again, where they belong.
    Contact: Dissonance Productions.

    DI MORTALES "Dead Pages" (Endless Winter) SCORE: 92/100



    No surprise here, another Russian doom/death group making some damn good music. This being their first output is a really solid effort, and I could see these guys becoming much bigger than they are right now. Long songs abound folks, and I can see where some tracks might need a bit more variety for their length, but they do create nice, enjoyable soundscapes. 'Beyond The Fatal Edge' starts things off in fine fashion, with trademark melodic acoustic guitar patterns right before the heaviness kicks in. The vocals are very harsh death metal style, as you would expect. I will say this about this band. Even if they have a rough start, this band KNOWS how to finish songs with killer instrumentation! Every song has a fantastic finish. The mournful lead guitar work takes a rather different approach as far as guitar work of this sort goes, choosing to rarely ever venture into the higher note range, save for the well crafted lead solo or the instrumentation ending the track. The title track reminded me a bit of Evoke Thy Lords, with the somewhat stoner rock laced riffery, though the sudden and rather jarring shift to heavier notes here was the album's biggest downfall. Hey, all is not perfect here! Still, there's quite a bit to enjoy on this almost 12 minute track, as there damn well better be! They also can do some sick, heavy and dark crushing doom, like on followup 'Flowers On My Grave,' which shows a better transition phase from more melodic and melancholic to dark and dreary doom. Still, track 5 should have ended the CD rather than the 6th cut, as 'Inside A Dirty Cage' has such amazing emotional solo instrumentation, and once again we talked about how Di Mortales KNOWS how to end a song well. CD ender 'Release Me' is no slouch, though, containing some of the most diverse amount of instrumentation of any cut on the disc. This 11 minute track does have a bit of a rough start for the first minute and a half or so, which lost a few points, but they right the ship rather quickly. This track ALSO has the distinction of containing a TON of instrumental passages, so live I hope the vocalist can entertain himself for quite a few minutes! All in all, a solid effort, and it proves why Russia is no fluke when it comes to solid masterpieces of doom metal. Solitude Productions isn't the only Russian doom label that can crank out the prizes!!
    Contact: Endless Winter Records.

    GRAVEYARD OF SOULS "Infinitum Nihil" (Endless Winter) SCORE: 79/100



    Ah, Endless Winter Records. Proof positive that Russia has some good doom metal labels. This time they've signed a band from Spain, a two piece that has put out a full length previously. Instrumentation wise, it reminds me after many spins of Forest Stream and the like with the wintery, icy synths and lead guitar patterns. 'Nada Es Eterno' starts the CD off with a nice ambient synth piece, followed by acoustic guitars and synth progressions before the heaviness kicks in. Right into what is unarguably their best track in 'Poison In The Mouth Of God.' It's interesting how the death metal styled vocals almost contrast against the somewhat lighter and more "uplifting" instrumentation. Synth voices abound as well on this disc, and many of these tracks have TONS of instrumental passages. Followup cut 'My New World' continues things in fine fashion, and I must say it's nice that the synths don't overpower the music, rather it blends in quite nicely to times where you have to really listen to hear the synthesized passages. Female vocals accompany the death vocals in a few spots, one of only two tracks to feature them (more on that in a minute). Track 4, 'Mirrors Of Pain,' is where we start to see a downward decline in the album. Some odd synthesized choir like voices rear their heads, and also here some of the guitar work starts to sound quite a bit familiar. Still, it's a decent track; the synth voices not distracting too much from the overall proceedings. It's track 5 where things don't sit well with me, as 'Masticatione Mortuorum' has very odd female vocals right behind the death styled ones, and are a bit too "syrupy" sounding for my taste. Probably my least favorite cut on the disc, also noteworthy are the odd "alien" like synth notes towards the middle of the track. Still, it's not a bad cut, while followup 'Poisoned Air Theory' contained more of the weird, alien like synths. This track presents a darker and heavier doom style, as if they're trying to get away from the more "uplifting" and higher ended guitar/synth combinations, and it works for the most part. CD ender 'Infinitum Nihil' definitely took a few minutes to right itself, especially with the odd guitar and synth passages. Probably a bit too long at 9 minutes and 22 seconds; much of this could have been cut out though you'll probably enjoy a lot of the instrumental passages. Like most doom bands with longer songs, the vocals can tend to take a back seat to longer instrumental only passages, but it seems while there is quite a bit of enjoyable material here, this would have been a much stronger effort if things had been "tidied up" a bit. Still makes for the passing 3/4 grade to put on one's CD shelf...
    Contact: Endless Winter Records.

    IRON MOUNTAIN "Unum" (Prophecy) SCORE: 27/100



    An absolute fucking trainwreck BEYOND biblical proportions. This band first of all has no vocalist, and an average song length of 9 minutes. This 5 track CD seems more like a funeral doom band than anything else. This is said to be an Irish jazz-fusion folk metal project; truth is this band doesn't know WHAT the hell they want to be. And for the record, just because you add dual flutes, saxophones and violins in your music doesn't automatically MAKE you sound Irish. Hell, there are Irish vocalists who only play an acoustic guitar that have more of the Irish sound in one song than this band contains on an entire album! So before we continue with the bad, let's get to the good, 'cause this won't take but half a millisecond... The first 4 minutes of opener 'Bonfires' and the first 3 minutes of the last track 'Opium.' That's it, folks, that's ALL I can stand of this fucking disc. Let me just say if they concentrated more on the minimal and atmospherical ambience this band has, this disc would be a scorcher. Opener 'Bonfires' reminds me of a melancholic and melodic Irish sunrise, with the flutes, synthesized passages and atmospheric one note guitar riffs in the distance. CD ender 'Opium' manages to have a beautiful flute interlude for about 3 minutes, amidst silent yet repetitive guitar notes. And that's it folks; the instrumentalists can PLAY but on EVERY damn song, someone is going nuts and trying to out-solo the other players. And the culprit USUALLY ends up being the flute player. Two nine minute songs, an 11 minute and a 13 minute track, and the worst cut on here is the damn shortest song at a mere 5:47... That tells ya something is wrong. Like a bad jam session where everyone sounds like they're all trying to blaze out solos at once, like they get on practicing their scales and 100mph notes for when that slave driver of a music instructor comes into the room. Funky jazz saxophone riffs sounded very out of place here as well, and when it's not horrible, it's very bland. Hell, the opener even had the gall to put goofy and bouncy stuff in here! And what's with the track 'Powwow?' Nothing Irish about that, including the Native American sounding flutes which don't bring anything special to the table. So I thought "Great, okay, they're doing the American Indian thing." Which only consists of the first minute of this song and the last few. They don't even know how to END most songs properly, doing this seeming build up only to just suddenly shut it all down. Look, the instrumentalists have skill, that much is obvious, but the damn songs are ALL over the place and never can you lock into anything enjoyable long enough to make this disc worth a damn... I don't hear much in the way of "metal" either, so this disc is doubly useless...
    Contact: Prophecy Productions.

    KARMA TO BURN "Mountain Czar" (Napalm) SCORE: 54/100



    Karma To Burn... I remember when Roadrunner of all record labels took a chance on them back in 1997 for their first full length, and promptly dropped them soon after. After doing a few albums for the now-defunct Spitfire, they've been entrenched on Napalm ever since... And folks, it's sounding to me like the band is getting tired, running out of ideas, and basically just spinning their wheels. Karma To Burn has been a band, quite simply, that makes heavy, riff oriented stoner rock WITHOUT a vocalist, and they've been kicking ass for many years, even making some of their best and heaviest music while ON Napalm. But with this EP of a mere 5 tracks, something is VERY wrong... CD opener 'Sixty Two' starts things off (and yes, they STILL name their songs after numbers...) with some decent riffs, but nothing really grabbing me... The guitar work is somewhat mournful in spots, making this delve almost into doom metal territory, just not as awe-inspiring. Don't get me wrong, this isn't awful by any means, but it's just so lackluster and non-standout'ish. Followup 'Sixty One' is the ONLY track on this disc that sounds like the rockin' heavy and kick ass stoner rock vibe I know K.T.B. for, and is pretty varied for the most part. Thats it, though, so you can pretty much stop the review right here and listen to the sound files to see if I'm off base... The WORST accident on this disc is 'Uccidendo Un Sog.' I don't know WHAT the fuck this means, however what this trainwreck really is, is an "attempt" to cover a Tom Petty song known as 'Running Down A Dream,' which really isn't that great of a tune by him anyway. What makes matters worse, being the only song on the CD with vocals, is this weird set of female vocals, and singing this completely in Italian. Furthermore, I don't even know if she's really translating the words directly from English to Italian, or just making shit up! Stupidest idea ever on the part of these 'mountain boys!' And while almost every song on here is 4 minutes or so in length, CD ender 'Sixty Three' starts off with some kinda lame western cowboy dialogue ("If you're gonna shoot, shoot. Don't talk.") that made the long 5 minute track a bit too long. Twangy guitar work didn't sit well with me either, and most of this is twangy acoustic until about 2 minutes in. Another song I'm not really interested in. Folks, I love Karma To Burn, but this is so beneath their skills; I mean if this is the best they can do for an EP it might be a good idea not to make another album. Still, love those past albums. Now as a footnote, I know a lot of bands (Agalloch being one of them) that do these EP's as some sort of "experimental" phase, so if that's what this is I guess I can excuse it, even if I find I don't have a need to listen to it again... 'Nuff said, it will be up to you to see if this holds any weight for you...
    Contact: Napalm Records.

    MAGIC CIRCLE "Journey Blind" (20 Buck Spin) SCORE: 93/100



    Hailing from Boston of all places, this is my first exposure to a band that has already graced the world with a doomy full length. And if this record is anything to go by, then the debut record ought to be great. So I'll be hunting that down very soon. What really struck me as odd about this band, at first, was the vocal delivery of Brendan Radigan. At first I thought his almost power metal styled vocals were a little at odds with the type of doom presented here, even though upon closer examination (and several spins) he has a style quite comparable to Eric Wagner from Trouble, though perhaps with a bit less "grit" dare I say. He does have a tendency to sing in a much higher range, though on 'The Damned Man' it's at times scary how much he is able to channel the essence of Eric. This is no mere coincidence either, as you will see later on. The title track starts off the disc, and though a heavy doomy piece, this band has a HUGE penchant for more uptempo material that flat out riff-rocks. Fuzzed out guitars add an extra crunch that makes you think there's some slightly thrashy, choppy riffs going on. You don't really expect this to "rock" this hard! We mentioned 'Damned Man,' but we get to 'Ballad For The Vultures,' and the most trouble I had with this disc was this one song. I think the vocals are just too "upbeat," maybe that's the wrong word, for a contrast with such slow, doomy and kinda dark instrumentation. It's not a horrible track, it just didn't sit well with me. I think, too, that this cut didn't really strike me either in the structure or progression. However, one of my favorite tunes here is 'Lightning Cage,' which flat out fuckin' ROCKS!! A bit faster but a heavy rocker that would have gone toe to toe with the best songs of rockin' 80's metal; there's explosive "power choruses" and just balls to the wall jamming! Track 5 brings it all home, right away those crunchy riffs sound EXACTLY like they were coming from doom metal guitarist extraordinaire Bruce Franklin from Trouble! I sense a bit of plagiarism as well, as those riffs sound EXACTLY like the same ones from that Trouble hit 'At The End Of My Daze.' Still, that aside, they work it to be their own. Some of the best and most catchy choruses on the whole disc belong to the track 'Grand Deceivers,' which sadly only has a handful of choruses all at the near end of the song. I definitely would have allowed them to add an extra couple of minutes to an already lengthy (6:28) track just for more of those! CD ender 'Antediluvian' adds a slight bluesy set of opening riffs, kinda southern style and more laid back doomy piece which was not only quite original, it also shows that Magic Circle is FAR from being a one trick pony. In fact, towards the end of this fine stoner fried slow train, they decide to crank up the speed and heaviness; just about every track on here (despite the longer pieces) has about 3 or 4 different "ideas" going on; whether they start it out slow or fast, you won't hear the same old, same old from start to finish. A pleasant surprise and one that definitely became a staple of the already too massive collection. Do yourself a favor and grab this because it's not your prototypical doom!
    Contact: 20 Buck Spin Records.

    MALEVOLENT CREATION "Dead Man's Path" (Century Media) SCORE: 97/100



    I haven't caught up with Malevolent Creation in quite some time, actually since their last days on Pavement Music! That was quite a few years and a number of albums ago; the death metal juggernaut kept on churning up the ground in my absence. Let me just say right now, this is Malevolent at their most, "ahem," malevolently murderous... This has to be the best album they've ever made... And though some might be thinking this is just another blistering onslaught of an album, there are a few tricks still up the Floridian carnage creators' sleeves. Starting the album off with the title track, it was odd to hear mostly spoken words through most of this. I would have preferred less talking and more of Brett's homicidal roars... And murderous this guy sounds, still as fucking hostile, demonic and inhuman as never before, as if his rage grows more evil with age! Still, even more surprising is the almost doom metal tempo the opener has; I someday wish to see Malevolent Creation do a funeral doom metal album with Brett's inhumane roars... Immediately after, though, the album rips off rapid fire 7.62 rounds and damn near never stops. This is an album that will be hard to get through from song one until the end, as the energy level is through the goddamn roof! They even had the gall to throw in lots of lead solos (most are short; too short on some for all their skill) all over the place, and another doom metal like cut on 'Extinction Personified.' The thrashy guitar work serves to bring things down JUST a tad, and those almost 80's like opening guitars on 'Corporate Weaponry' gives this a slight rockin' feeling. All you really need to know about Malevolent Creation is this is a juggernaut of an album; almost non stop violent drumming from somewhat newcomer Justin DiPinto (he's only been in the band since about 2002, and I dare say someday soon he'll be mentioned in the same circles as Gene Hoglan and Dave Lombardo), the sickest, most vile and demonic throatwork we've all come to know and love from Brett, and the most evil guitar riffs this side of hell with the master of old in Phil Fasciana and surprising newcomer Gio Geraca, who would be considered the "baby" of the group, but no less murderous in his precision. Only the track 'Fragmental Sanity' fails to match up to the rest; rather odd lead riffery left me in the cold, while overall this cut is just a straightforward "rehash" of most of what they've already done, but even in this one small error, the band still manages to put other enjoyable structures in there... So far, and I haven't heard everything from 2015 yet (even though by the time this issue goes to press, 2016 will have been in full swing for a few months now), I think this should be hands down considered one of the best and most savagely brutal death metal albums of 2015... Who could do it better?
    Contact: Century Media Records.

    MORGOTH "Ungod" (Century Media) SCORE: 90/100



    I was extremely excited to hear that the German death metal giant was back in action! As a young'un barely out of high school, their "Resurrection Absurd" and "Eternal Fall" releases (gathered together on one CD by Century Media) were THE pinnacle of some of the most brutal and vicious death metal these young ears would ever hear. When I heard that the new album would not feature Marc Grewe, however, I worried greatly that something would be wrong. Well, right off the bat I gotta say that newcomer Karsten had me going back to the liner notes to make sure I hadn't made a mistake! Grewe had that unmistakable death growl that sounded like howling winds mixed in with his voice, and Karsten has emulated that PERFECTLY... His vocals add to these already dark and sinister tunes a rather monstrous and inhuman savagery that pushes the heaviness further than you'd think it would go. Just listen to the choruses of 'God Is Evil' and you'll see what I mean. The best track on here is 'Snakestate,' especially with those crunchy, almost thrashy riffs, but many others are great, like 'Traitor,' the aforementioned 'God Is Evil,' 'Black Enemy' and the ripping speed of 'Prison In Flesh,' probably the fastest cut on this disc. Now, Morgoth doesn't keep the speed cranked up throughout EVERY song; in fact there's an almost dizzying amount of tempo, structure and speed changes within many songs (in fact, 'Prison In Flesh' has so much going on in the first minute, you have no idea that this tune finally settles on powerful speed!) Many of the slower parts of Morgoth tunes end up being some of the most vicious, however, though one notices that for all the myriad of changes, a few leads fall by the wayside. Especially on 'Nemesis,' which is the weakest cut on the disc, having some really odd guitar work and really seeming like a throwaway track. And stranger still, the inclusion of TWO instrumentals, one being the title track and BOTH being the longest songs on the disc! The title tracks, though, has great riffs and keeps the interest for the 6 minutes in length (VERY important when many of your songs never even come close to the 5 minute mark!) The same cannot be said for CD ender 'The Dark Sleep,' however. Very little variety here and a tune I'll pretty much skip every time out. Still, Morgoth has shown us that time has not tempered the raging beast, and this record is a shining beacon to all the death metal world how to PROPERLY create a ferocious evil beast of devouring proportions! Read the interview, which was sought after by us for over 23 years!!!
    Contact: Century Media Records.

    MURGRIND "Inheritor Of The Forest Throne" (Deivlforst) SCORE: 98/100



    Sometimes I REALLY feel bad about not putting out more than one issue a year... Especially in the case of Murgrind, where their latest release came out in February of last year, because as it stands, Murgrind would win for best ambient album of the year. Some people throw keyboards into their music to add atmosphere, some ambient bands just plink out notes; Murgrind creates epic and magickal landscapes with EVERY note and every instrument. Rarely do I get to hear ambient music this powerful and emotion inspiring. For nearly a full CD! Starting things off with 'Awakening In An Ancient Realm,' you can hear the slow buildup of instrumentation; a traveling if you will to a far away distant land. The thunderous tribal percussion fits in with the music so well, yet it never overstays its welcome. Amazingly epic atmospheres await. The chant like voices, the flute like sounds, and you can SEE in your mind the exact invocation of the realm being portrayed. Followup 'Across A Barbarian Village' to me seemed a little TOO serene and melodic for a barbarian village; maybe these barbarians are in a time ot peace. Either way, the introduction of harp like sounds was awe inspiring to say the least. 'Far Winds Beyond The Mountains' invokes just that; an awe-inspiring journey upon great mountain heights. A little bit of "dark" instrumentation but never enough to overpower the amazing atmosphere. Which brings me to my biggest disappointment of the album: the track 'The Northern Oracle.' This is easily the darkest and most sinister cut on the disc; however it seems oddly out of place amongst the other tracks. All of which are much lighter fare than this one. Some odd spoken word passages showcase a brief glimpse into the obvious black metal "past" our main performer harbors. And this isn't just due to the black metal styled logo obviously. Still, there are a few moments of serenity and calm, but to my mind, this is the mysterious and dark oracle giving our travelers dark prophecy. The rest of the disc is equally just as fantastic however, with 'Reach For The Stars' adding a somewhat spacey and melodic nighttime atmosphere to the proceedings, including some epic piano notations. 'Arrival At The Wooden Gates' has some of that "barbarian quality" to the synthesized passages, and also contains some of my favorite synth passages on the disc. Dig the mighty and "warlike" horns starting off the title track, while 'Source Of Might' was brilliant in conveying the powerful, warrior like feeling while still amazingly retaining a sense of melodic and melancholy atmospheres. CD ender 'Leaving Alongside The Rivers' blew my fucking mind with the way simple piano notations are made so powerful and epic at the same time. This is a great CD closer, a great closing track, and it astounds me how such minimal instrumentation can be made to invoke such strong senses... The dark solo synthesized landscapes at the beginning do not betray what is soon to follow. Such an amazing disc, full of rich and varied landscapes, proving that Murgrind is definitely one of the great masters of true ambient music. Doesn't quite fit the "dark, dungeon music for kings" phrase that Mortiis coined many years ago, but it also proves that if Mortiis is the master, then Murgrind as the pupil has far overshadowed and outshined the master by light years...
    Contact: Deivlforst Records.

    MY DYING BRIDE "Feel The Misery" (Peaceville) SCORE: 97/100



    Full length number 13 for one of the original U.K. three of doom metal. After all this time, My Dying Bride proves that once the ship is upright, the voyage is indeed a thing of beauty to behold. And to be honest, I didn't think that either "A Map Of All Our Failures" or even "A Line Of Deathless Kings" was worthy enough of the My Dying Bride "lineage," though this album does not try to become another "Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light," which absolutely blew me away due to the sheer force and dark power those songs contained. This time around, My Dying Bride has successfully captured the essence of what made many past albums so great: the epic and emotionally tearing clean sung vocals of albums like "Like Gods Of The Sun," the haunting and mournful sorrow of topics which can be found on their earliest releases, and the crushing heaviness and darkness of the extreme vocal work from "Turn Loose The Swans" and of course the almost blackened vocal work of "Songs Of Darkness..." The album starts off brutally heavy with opener 'And My Father Left Forever' and the violins are in tow once again, as they make repeat appearances on the disc. Shifting to very well done and emotionally clean sung vocals, it's not what you'd expect. 'To Shiver In Empty Halls' continues to bring out the crushing blackened sickness in the vocals, but after many spins, it's obvious that all the tracks here are either completely clean sung or contain a mixture of extreme vocals and clean sung ones. So the death growls are never completely overbearing (for those who prefer MDB to be a bit less "extreme.") No matter. What DID throw me was the complete absence of guitar on the cut 'I Almost Loved You,' which is as close as doom metal will ever get to a true "ballad" piece, complete with amazing ambient "landscape" synths and dual layered piano notes that contain a certain solitude in amongst themselves. Very beautiful, and it's obvious that MDB wanted to bring back the melodic and mellow parts of their catalog. The title track is an instant singalong piece, due to the ending of every stanza containing the title of the song. Minimal instrumentation is utilized VERY effectively on this disc, and this track is no exception. 'A Cold New Curse' continues the "trilogy" wherein the first three songs on this disc are some of the heaviest of Aaron's vocal work to date. CD ender 'Within A Sleeping Forest,' at it's weighty ten minutes, does a good job of keeping interest by switching out vocal styles from start to finish and also atmospheres. Still, even though it's a good song, I didn't feel like it closed the album out effectively; a small matter when considering this is a disc that showcases MANY sides of My Dying Bride from start to finish. As good and varied as these songs are, I felt like none of them came close to being as powerful as a few of the best on "Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light," but THAT doesn't matter either because I feel this is a more "complete" record that it's six-albums-ago predecessor... This is a record you can get lost in, very easily, as the guitar work is still just as striking as ever, and the violins play a very prominent role in the overall work (as does the synthesized passages; kudos to utilizing rather ambient like landscape structures). A very worthy album to add to the collection, proving that My Dying Bride can shift gears quite frequently from song to song and still prove why they are still considered masters of the doom metal genre.
    Contact: Peaceville Records.

    NORTHERN CROWN "In The Hands Of The Betrayer" (Northern Crown) SCORE: 89/100



    Northern Crown. The irony of this band's name, being Northern, and hailing from the Southernmost state in the U.S. (Florida), is not lost on me. Still, this band DOES have epic written all over it. This is a top shelf CD, despite what the score suggests. First off, a 5 track affair that has a rather "useless" instrumental ('Approaching, Encroaching Storm') and a cover tune, at first seems like a waste. Still, the cover of Candlemass' 'Crystal Ball' was a VERY appropriate choice, even if it took multiple spins to "get that." The singer has quite an amazing voice, reminding me of a cross between Johan Langquist and the lower register of a Robert Lowe. Still, he hits some soaring and emotional passages all throughout the disc, and I daresay if Candlemass is still having vocalist issues, they should DEFINITELY pick up on this guy! I'm dying to hear other classic Candlemass tunes covered by this dude! Anyway, the cover is great I must say, Crown throatman Frank Serafine choosing to sing certain passages differently from how we remember them on "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus." The CD starts off with the title track, which surprisingly hits right out of the box heavy and fast, though your doom metal "tempo" kicks in on the choruses. Blazing lead solos abound, and these 5 tracks have a penchant for bringing out LOTS of instrumental passages in every song, another reason why 'Crystal Ball' was a choice cover (as the original covered the same ground). Followup 7 minute piece 'A Perfectly Realized Torment' does the ultra slow doom thing, with some CRUSHING heavy guitar work and is an excellent dark and doomy piece. We've covered 'Crystal Ball,' but followup piece 'Approaching...' does the eerie wind and storm sounds & spoken vocals thing. It's nice and haunting, but as I said for a band that has no other material out, this is somewhat of a waste of track space. All is forgiven with the epic 11 minute closer 'To Thee I Give An Orchard,' with some nice synthesized passages (something I forgot to mention above, but they use quite frequently), and violins covering the instrumentation closing out the track. This starts out nice and almost soothing, proving that Frank is definitely a vocalist with many ranges and styles to his talents, and does this one up nicely. Heavy when it needs to be heavy, and of course some of the most tear inducing lead guitar work is found here. A damn fine EP marred only by not including enough decent material, I daresay when this band releases a full length, it just might garner them not only more attention, but could end up with coveted "doom album of the year" status. Yes, this band is THAT fucking good!!!"
    Contact: Northern Crown.

    ORPHANS OF DUSK "Revenant" (Hypnotic Dirge/Solitude) SCORE: 91/100



    This "international" collaboration features band members from New Zealand AND Australia. Picked up at Solitude Productions, this is the band that EFFECTIVELY answers the question "What if Peter Steel from Type O Negative put together a doom/death band?" And answers it well, as the very low toned sung vocals (which don't ALWAYS stay in the lower registers) actually work well here. Don't let the genre tag "gothic/doom metal" fool you; there's a LOT more going on down below than you might realize. Four tracks, with the EP clocking in at right around 27 minutes (a five, six, seven and 8 minute track no less!). And there is a LOT going on with these songs. 'August Price' opens things up and starting off the mellow crystalline synths remind me INSTANTLY of the way they're used by bands like Forest Stream and Elderwind, creating a beautiful but melancholic landscape. You have spoken word passages like you might find in Draconian, but a lot less of them. And of course there's a TON of what you might coin the "October Rust" era of Type O Negative. The death metal styled vocals are VERY heavy indeed; proving this band is no one-trick pony! Only a 5 minute piece but VERY hard to get bored, as this tune is ALL over the place! Followup 'Starless' sees the death metal vocals and the low tuned sung vocals swapping for position quite frequently, proving there's a bit of doom/death to all the melancholy. They do take liberties with the solo instrumentation, allowing the vocals to "rest" a bit. My biggest complaint comes with 'Nibelheim,' the third track of the album. It seems like the much heavier guitar riffs and abundance of death metal vocals (here with very vicious blackened overtones) sound a bit forced, like they're trying too hard to prove they can crank up the heaviness. This occurs in the beginning, though you only have to endure it a few times in a song that unarguably carries one of the best moments of the album; and the second half of this track is a sheer masterpiece of slow heavy weight and emotion. The clean sung vocals and instrumentation could have been lifted right off of the "October Rust" album, but carries more weight believe it or not! This track will make you feel something, even the low toned "oooh's" chanted towards the end. CD ender 'Beneath The Cover Of Night' is no slouch either though, even with the somewhat alien melancholic synthesized notes and acoustic guitar notes ringing out at the beginning. The slower passages, once again, have that "October Rust" appeal to them, while the heavier death vocals are indeed quite powerful, and the heaviness is balanced properly. Despite this one flaw in a 4 track EP, this is a very listenable affair, and proves that Solitude Productions will track the best bands to the very ends of the earth to prove yet again just WHY they are the pinnacle of success in the doom metal world.
    Contact: Solitude Productions.

    PENTAGRAM "Curious Volume" (Peaceville) SCORE: 89/100



    Pentagram... 40 plus years of history and the band doesn't seem to be slowing down... Well, until I witnessed Pentagram live this year. The band was absolutely crushing, and after the show Bobby told me he is probably going to retire after 2016 draws to a close... Sad to say, but that's the gist of it. So this might indeed be THE last Pentagram record we ever get to hear. How is it? Well, funny you ask... Bobby and Griffin, the duo that started it all, and by now you can pick out Griffin's signature drop B tuning by now... He could have ANY other musicians in his band, but when he starts playing you KNOW it's Mr. Griffin. And right off the bat, 'Lay Down And Die' wastes no time in setting the tone and going right for the rock. Some heavy riffs abound, folks, and the bluesy sound comes out with followup 'The Tempter Push,' which in retrospect sounds like it was written for Victor Griffin's solo project. Liebling still sounds ominous and cool, and the doom overtones are present here. Followup 'Dead Bury Dead' is a true dark piece of heavy doom, and one of my favorite cuts on the record. It still has a rather bluesy feel to it, as do many of the songs. 'Earth Flight' is the lone "holdover;' many will remember this track from Pentagram's early days... Thankfully, everything else on this 11 track affair is brand spanking new... I REALLY dig the more uptempo and rockin' cut 'Walk Alone,' and they pull this off in fine fashion, even throwing in a sudden structure change near the end and crushing all with those heavy riffs. The title track is a rather curios and very slow doom track, one where vocally Bobby seems to be a bit more "reflective," if you will... Lyrically, this is definitely filled with personal notations on Bobby's life, but that's okay 'cause as the documentary shows, Bobby Liebling has been through it ALL, some of the lyrics seemingly colored with his past issues with his wife... Now, a cut like 'Misunderstood' is interesting, because it's a faster paced tune, and definitely has elements of 50's and 60's rock contained within, though there's still a lot of doom to consume!! Another favorite is 'Close The Casket,' with Bobby even turning out some melodic sung vocals in one spot that haven't dulled with age. And ever the chameleon (something I proudly admit was a word Bobby remembered me for), the haunting and low toned sung vocals on my other favorite cut 'Devil's Playground' accentuate the dark and very sinister doom riffs making this a cut to remember. Still, for all the variety and diversity on this record (and there isn't one terrible track on the disc), I thought 'Because I Made It' was one of the weakest cuts on the disc. It has drops in the heaviness to bring out some acoustics, interrupting the heavier vibe created throughout. True, not every disc is a scorcher, but they are all written quite well and this disc, should it serve to be Pentagram's last (Bobby admitted to me that touring is definitely taking it's toll on him), it will be a fine testament and tribute to a man, and a band, that defied all odds and stands tall as a monument to a myriad of events that would kill most men even half of Bobby's age. We love ya, man!!!
    Contact: Peaceville Records.

    PRIMAL FEAR "Rulebreaker" (Frontiers) SCORE: 96/100



    You know, I've never really paid much attention to this band after their "Black Sun" release in 2002, that we incidentally reviewed WAAAAAY back in issue #27. I think my biggest issue with them back then, besides how TOO much like Halford Mr. Scheepers tried to sound, was the rather lackluster songs that just didn't hold up well. Even when I go back now and listen to a few cuts from "Black Sun," I'm still not very enamored with them even today. But holy shit, I wasn't expecting Primal Fear to erupt into a fiery inferno and create a near masterpiece! Some say it may be age, but he's never sounded more vicious, and his highs take on a new urgency, sounding better than ever. Don't get me wrong, he can still sound like Halford but here he takes on this almost gravelly sinister tone that makes this record one half of the pummeling crew...

    The other half of this wrecking machine is the guitar work. And right off the bat, 'Angels Of Mercy' and 'The End Is Near' prove that there's a bit of demonic fury that Primal Fear has (to my knowledge) never had before! They have also added this somewhat cinematic synthesized approach that wouldn't sound out of place in battle scenes on a Lord Of The Rings movie, daring to add a second dimension to their sound (cue the female operatic chant vocals as well) that has many diverse elements than what you might have ever heard Ralf do, even as far back as his 80's metal band Tyran Pace. 'The End Is Near' is one of my alltime favorite tracks, and I gotta say seeing them live this year, this track sounded skull crushingly HEAVIER live than on record, with Ralf proving that those soaring and ear shattering high notes are no mere studio trickery! This album proves why the most recent Primal Fear setlist contained no less than SEVEN tracks off this record alone! The guitar work on these first two tracks alone is enough to make most bands go "shit, we couldn't write that many heavy riffs on a full album!" So let's go to 'Bullets & Tears,' which sounds VERY Priest like on the opening. Let me just say, there's skull crushing heaviness and then there melodic heaviness that the Swedes possessed in ABUNDANCE in the 80's, and it's obvious Ralf still knows how to write catchy 80's metal like songs! Still, 'Rulebreaker' should have been stronger than it was, being a mostly midpaced traditional metal track. The multivocal choruses are fast becoming a trademark of Primal Fear! 'In Metal We Trust' cranks the heaviness back up, complete with multivocal "hey's!" adding an almost "live" feeling to the cut (great to hear this song live too). 'We Walk Without Fear' was a VERY ambitious project, but at a mere 15 seconds 'till the eleventh minute, was a bit too long. Still, the symphonic elements were dark, heavy and featuring those operatic styled chants talked about earlier. WAY too much of the "toybox" notes, opening and closing the song and being thrown into the middle. A very powerful, almost cinematic piecce that would have worked much better if a few minutes were cut from it's length. Not one track on this record is subpar or even BELOW subpar, but damn, I didn't even mention 'The Sky Is Burning,' a shining JEWEL of a ballad in a world where I usually detest ballads. Powerful, emotional and filled with soaring vocal work on the choruses, they know how to crank out the heaviness when it's needed and give you what you need. THIS track should have closed out the CD, in my opinion, rather than CD ender 'Raving Mad,' though the latter faster paced tune features some soaring high ended vocal work which sounds better here than it would have been if he recorded this in 2002. And 'Constant Heart,' another raving favorite that features some amazing guitar work and soaring vocals and catchy choruses. It's amazing how much high quality is presented here, and how much diversity Ralf and company can get away with while still making what could easily be considered a VERY strong contender for power metal album of the year! (Especially if you're of the opinion that "power metal" means more like it did in the 80's than how it's being defined nowadays).
    Contact: Frontiers Records.

    RIMFROST "Rimfrost" (Non Serviam) SCORE: 98/100



    What a kick ass record! As many longtime readers know, I loved the Swedish blackened horde's last record in "Veraldar Nagli," and was VERY shocked to see them no longer associated with Season Of Mist. Damn shame for the label, because once again this band have outdone themselves, and I dare say created an album of the year! Every track on this disc is of exceptional quality, and the thrashing mayhem and pounding percussion keep the intensity cranked up to 10, while Hvram's extremely long winded blackened roars are not only emotionally charged, but extremely vicious as well! Starting the CD off is 'As The Silver Curtain Closes,' and right away they waste no time bringing the icy blackened fury. Still, with an 8 minute running time, I thought maybe there were a few too many "interruptions," as it were, especially the unnatural pause at the end and rather odd acoustics. Still, there is a hell of a lot of structure, tempo and time changes on damn near EVERY track. There are times when this might make tunes that are normally 4, 5, and 6 minutes seem to last longer. And believe it or not, there are slight synthesized pieces present, but they are usually in the distant background, adding atmosphere in a few select places. Melodic guitar work dots the landscape, as it's not all start/stop and choppy thrashing, Rimfrost expertly knowing enough to vary things quite severely! Some of my favorite cuts are the relentless thrashing away of 'Cold,' and hearing the bass guitars chug it out openly on 'Ragnarok' were highlights. 'Ragnarok' in particular had a very sorrowful atmosphere to it, most notably on the ending passages where you had almost militaristic, funeral styled percussion mixed with the icy cold ambience of the higher ended guitar work. CD ender 'Frostlaid Skies' really pushed things at a lengthy nine minutes, but retained a rather fantasy soundtrack type atmosphere while utilizing pounding but slow heaviness to reign in the album and provide a solid closing track. Only the opening synths on 'Witches Hammer' sounded a bit out of place; the only track on the CD where the synths dominated and were in the forefront; not really suiting the track very well, but everything else was rock solid. Freezing mystical mayhem definitely reminiscent of Immortal but with more frenzied intensity in the vocal department, as everything on this album is quite expertly done, and I find myself wishing I could witness the frozen carnage live here someday, this album dripping with frigid Norse atmosphere and a Viking theme on one track to boot! What more need I ask for?
    Contact: Non Serviam Records.

    SLEEPY HOLLOW "Tales Of Gods And Monsters" (Pure Steel) SCORE: 43/100



    A brand new vocalist after over 25 years of existence has effectively ruined this band... I've never heard of Altar Of Dagon, the doom metal band that Sleepy Hollow plucked Chapel Stormcrow from to be their newest vocalist, but I must confess the mix is NOT a good one. Chapel ruins most of the songs on this album; the ones that the band themselves didn't run into mediocrity, that is. The only great constant on this album is the amazing lead guitar work of Steve Stegg; his lead solos and mainline riffs are simply phenomenal. Sadly, though, I cannot get past the warbly and mostly low toned vocal work no matter how many spins I've given this. Starting off the CD, though, is 'Black Horse Named Death,' which WORKS with the lower toned vocals, utilizing some crushing heavy and almost thrashy riff work, and catchy choruses. Every once in awhile, you hear the vocals come together. Followup 'Sons Of Osiris' REALLY pissed me off, as this could have been a GREAT song if the choruses had been arranged better and a different vocalist selected. Matching the vocals note for note with the ending lines of the choruses did not help one bit. Still, it was nice to hear the Egyptian ambience in tow. A useless instrumental follows, then we get 'Bound By Blood,' which is a decent track. The vocals even themselves out here, making for a decent experience. I think his higher range wins out here, though it's not so fortunate in other places. These two songs and 'Time Traveller' are about all I can really take of this disc. CD closer 'Shadowlands' is bland and quite dull, and the most annoying vocal work has it's way here. The almost nu-metal stylings of 'Creation Abomination' and the fast repeating of the choruses in 'Shapeshifter' were among the worst offenders here. A few other tracks had the problems in the instrumentation department, amazingly enough. Not that those were bad, like on 'Goddess Of Fire' and 'Baphomet,' but the band didn't bring enough to the table song structure wise. The vocalist just doesn't FIT in my honest opinion, and the band could have written better material. Maybe they could have reined the singer in just a bit, or maybe they could have brought in someone infinitely better, but overall this is one album that I don't really ever care to hear again, even for the three decent songs that I halfway enjoyed...
    Contact: Pure Steel Records.

    THE HOWLING VOID "The Triumph Of Ruin" (Avantgarde) SCORE: 98/100



    This comes as a shock to me. The Howling Void, that amazing doom band from Texas who garnered best doom metal album of 2012 for their "Womb Beyond The World" release, are no longer on Solitude Productions. I'm guessing it's because this album is totally devoid of any death metal vocals whatsoever. Big fucking deal. It's still slow paced, almost funeral doom style, but now with a somewhat new element (no, not the clean sung vocals; those were presented in full force on their previous release "Nightfall.") There are some epic violins presented in the style of My Dying Bride, but true to form, they are not over utilized. The songs on this disc are quite beautiful, but also very melancholic and sad: surprisingly I hear more "ruin" in these songs than triumph (save for the opening acoustical guitar work, very nature inspired, on the cut 'Where Once A River Flowed.' Right off the bat 'Lords Of Barren Fields' showcases Ryan's amazing lead guitar work, very fast picked high ended notes that still manage to sound like the simple framework of a slower paced song. And you know, sitting here writing this review I finally figured out that his guitar work strongly reminds me of the higher ended 6 strings of none other than Canada's Sig:Ar:Tyr, especially on the leads. A lot of synthesized passages abound on this disc, and they're mostly used to ambient/landscape like effects, though as I said, Ryan's skill and proficiency in songwriting means that nothing is abused to the point of boredom. Eyebrows raised at the lone instrumental 'The Nine Worlds Wept,' starting off with solitary piano notes the weight of this piece, like every other track, adds a very melancholic feeling, though at first I questioned the 6:38 length for an instrumental. No matter. 'Fenrir' I thought didn't quite carry the heaviness and darkness such subject matter deserved, especially when you read the 5 lines of lyrics this almost 6 minute track has. And once again, clean sung vocals are nice, but you don't get a whole lot of them from song to song. 'Where Once A River Flowed' adds the bell notes that we remember from days past, coupled with the almost hypnotic clean sung vocals that make this a treat, and there's a LOT of structure changes in this song too, like many others. Melodic acoustic guitars open up CD ender 'Silence After The Storm,' adding very sad and melancholic violins to the mix. The addition of violins to this album showcases a very interesting layer of melancholy to what is unarguably Ryan's most beautiful, melodic and extremely sorrowful disc he's ever created, and this time around there isn't much that you hear that makes you go "Oh, we've heard this on the past 4 albums." If you are immediately thinking about sitting this one out because of the non existence of extreme vocals, I urge you to give this a chance, because it's a very deep, engaging listen that will speak to your inner senses. Ryan's once again created another masterpiece, shame on Solitude Productions for not continuing to "ride the wave" of success...
    Contact: Avantgarde Music.

    THE MORNINGSIDE "Yellow" (BadMoodMan) SCORE: 98/100



    I was concerned about where these Russian masters of emotional melancholy were going to go with their next full length after the near disaster of "Letters From The Empty Towns." Were they to continue on with the weird, jagged riffing that threatened to tear the ship asunder, or were they going to go in a more melodic and "commericalized" (dare I say) direction? The opening track 'To The Last Point' (which was a bold move, to start the album off with a 6 minute instrumental track) didn't do anything to assure me one way or the other where this album was going. Still, lush and dreamy acoustics and landscape, post rock oriented synthesized passages didn't hurt their cause any. Once the fast picked high ended guitar work came in I was intrigued. Let me just say that your next four tracks are masterpieces of the foundation that The Morningside helped to build with their first few albums. Yes, The Morningside returns triumphantly to what made them great early on, and the blackened vocal work storms it's way through in full force. Solo acoustics start off 'As A Pilgrim,' quite possibly tricking you into thinking a more melodic affair, but once those amazingly emotional lead guitars kick in, we're off and running. This album features TONS of solo instrumentation, in fact the vocals often take a backseat to the instrumental passages, at first making me question WHY include two instrumental songs on a 7 track affair. We'll get to that in a minute. My favorite track is hard to say with the "big 4," but for now I'll have to go with 'Out Of Nest,' a track which contains SO many great, interesting and diverse guitar riffs that it's one amazing cut. Second close favorite would be 'Depot Only,' which starts the track off with 2 and a half minutes of great heavier high end leads, adding solo acoustic work to keep things interesting, but what REALLY threw me to the floor was the epic, synthesized passages rounding out the ending of this cut! Space rock!??! If The Morningside ever decides to go the Darxtar/Hawkwind route and create a space rock opus, I bet it would be the most amazing thing ever. CD ending instrumental '...Then He Walked' is a GREAT CD closing track, and it ends the disc in epic fashion, choosing to add synth landscapes and what I assume are synthesized piano notes. Track 6 was the lone "holdup" for me, it's all ballad (despite adding some clean sung vocals on track 4 'Missing Day') with those clean sung vocals, though I think by now I'm more used to them. It's all acoustic except for the lead solo near the end, which rather annoyed me, and is probably the lone detraction for the album. Still, there's SO much to enjoy with a few surprising twists, and I'm very greatful to hear hints of the better parts of their last album while fully immersing myself in what made The Morningside so awesome and awe-inspiring, as if their epic and grandiose passages got even better... SUCH a great disc...
    Contact: BadMoodMan/Solitude Productions.

    UTMARKEN "Utmarken" (Einheit) SCORE: 92/100



    I really dig this album, the first release from Sweden's folk/power metal unit. Relative newcomers on the scene, it may not surprise you to find out that a few of the members of this band had some experience with the band TME, Fission and our drummer did some live time with Vintersorg. Very rich instrumentation can be found within, meshing violins/fiddles alongside grand synthesized passages and even the multivocal "viking" styled choruses are found within. The album is quite varied, though, making for an interesting listen over these 12 tracks. 'Stroemkarlens Son' starts off the disc nicely, with an almost doom metal like feel and some simplistic but catchy choruses; even if you don't speak Swedish, you'll find yourself with many of these melodies in your head. The low toned vocals of 'Vaelkommen Till Norrland' were a little odd, but mostly the vocalist is very adept at singing in a higher or a lower register. 'En Stadig Puls' starts off with tribal drums and multivocal repeats of the song name, sounding like something Vikings of old might chant around a campfire. The oddness of some of the Swedish words hit me in a few spots; 'Til Skogs' is one of these, but I think overall if I wasn't already very familiar with bands singing in their non-English tongues, I might have a hard time with an album like this. Still, the vocalist's power and range cannot be denied! 'Tystnadens Roest' is a great example of Mathias' skill, this is an almost ballad like piece with mostly acoustic guitar work at the start, but soon adds some heavier guitar work and some amazingly beautiful violin layers. 'Draparen' follows up and it has the "oh-whooah" thing going on, but it flat out rocks. Then 'Vintern' comes in and it starts off very heavy, another favorite of mine. The low toned vocals here serve this track well, and the soaring choruses and awesome violin layers make this a track to remember. Odd choruses on 'Regnet Faller' don't totally kill the vibe on this cut, while 'Haexkonst' was my least favorite track of all. This track sounded a little "goofy," for lack of a better description, and the choruses didn't help. Still, the opening reminded me of Fejd in a way, how they utilize synthesized passages and violin sounds to create their brand of folk metal. The rest of this disc is top shelf as well, especially the eyebrow raising 'Yxtid,' which is unarguably one of the darkest cuts on the record, with an almost doom metal feeling; helped along by the lower toned vocals and the way the violins and heavier crunchy guitars mix everything together./ CD ender 'Norrland Aer Moerkt Nog Aenda' quite simply rocks, and closes the disc out in fine fashion, which is a somewhat headbanging but rockin' tune. Folkish power metal with a bit more than that going on from start to finish, with a great singer and very rich instrumentation... I look forward to album number two! Read the interview as well, it's a good one!
    Contact: Einheit Produktionen.



    DESTINY.
    Interview with Stefan Bjornshog via facebook.

    Ah, classic 80's metal... While most people focused on the hellacious thrash trio that came out of Germany, the U.K. was making huge waves with the advent of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, which brought us not only Venom, Diamond Head (for which had they not existed, there might indeed be no Metallica), and even Def Leppard had a hand alongside the mighty Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and even Black Sabbath for creating the indelible mark that the U.K. would leave on the world. Still, Sweden is vastly underrated and hugely overlooked when it comes to 80's metal. All one has to do is point to bands like Overdrive, Axe Witch, Torch, Mercy, Silver Mountain, Gotham City and even Candlemass to see that Sweden had some amazing 80's metal bands. We're gonna cover as many of them as we can, however Destiny brought something a little different to the table as far as traditional metal is concerned. Read on!

  • I was reading something interesting about your history, and that was that Anders Zackrisson actually tried out as vocalist for Destiny, but never made the cut! When did he try out, and why didn't things work out? I know he had a great career with Gotham City and later on did some time with Nocturnal Rites, both bands whom I admire greatly...

    Well, I'm not sure that I remember exactly when he tried out but it must have been before we got Zenny Gram in the band in the fall of 1986. Anders was a great guy but he didn't want to go in the same musical direction that Destiny was heading. Nothing dramatic. I have not been in contact with him since then and I haven't heard the Nocturnal Rites stuff but I have the Gotham City album in my collection and really like his vocals on that album.

  • So the last thing we heard from Destiny was a single in 2015, and then nothing! I saw where you have a new album in the wings but are seeing a delay... Any idea about topics, song titles, themes, etc. you can share with us?

    The plan was to release "Climate Change," the "Anniversary album," in the fall of 2015 but it got delayed for a number of reasons. We did however release another song in 2015 for a special project here in Sweden. It's a song sung in Swedish, a first for us, and released on an album featuring lots of other artists from Gothenburg including people from In Flames, Mustasch, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Tiamat and even more not that internationally known acts. The song is called 'Forvantan Stiger' and there was also a video released last fall that you can find on You Tube. This song will not be featured on "Climate Change."

    The new album is mixed by Henrik Pettersson and will be mastered by Dragan Tanaskovic of Bohus Sound Recording on June 18! The album features 14 songs and is scheduled for late September release! The original plan was to release it to coincide with Destiny's 30th anniversary in 2012 but due to some tragic personal events including the passing of my fiancé Therese Hanserot everything stopped for a while.

    Anyway, about the songs, lots of albums have old demo tapes as bonus songs. We didn't want to do that so we decided to make new recordings of five very old Destiny songs from the early eighties that never made it to any album. These songs were performed live at the time but never recorded properly. We used some old demos and rehearsal room recordings to relearn them but unfortunately the quality wasn't good enough to figure out the vocals. I contacted Hakan Ring (vocalist on "Beyond All Sense") who wrote most of those original lyrics to see if still had them. He did not, but he agreed to write new lyrics based on the original vocal melodies and what we could hear on the original recordings and it turned out great. We didn't have the complete recording on one of the songs so I had to write some new music and arrangements for that particular song, but other than that we tried to stay as close as possible to the original versions.

    The oldest song 'Money Preacher' is from 1983. 'Duke Of Darkness,' 'Lead Into Gold' and 'Ruins And Destruction” are from 1985 and 'Dream Reaper' is from 1986. I'm very excited to release proper new recordings of these gems from Destiny's past and I think they are perfect for an anniversary album.

    Most of the album is recorded with myself on bass, Jonas Heidgert on vocals and Michael Åberg (formerly of Nostradameus) on guitar. We also used session drummer Adde Larsson and our sound engineer Henrik Pettersson on keyboards. Our current drummer Kane Svantesson who also was our drummer on "The Undiscovered Country" rejoined Destiny after the drum recording was completed, but he plays on one of the songs called 'Sabotage.' We also have a new guitarist in Veith Offenbacher (formerly of Dawn Of Destiny) and he also plays some solos and additional parts on about half of the songs. Then we also have some guest performers from Destiny's past like guitarists Knut Hassel and John Proden, drummer Roger Christansson, keyboardist Carl Dahlberg and singer Hakan Ring on backing vocals. Finally Dragonland keyboardist Elias Holmlid and singer Anna-Mia Bonde are guesting on one song each.

  • So here you guys are, it's 1985 and you have your first album "Beyond All Sense." I see it was on a label called Musik Bolaget, but I can't seem to find any information about the label; was this your own record label? I know there doesn't seem to have been any other bands or albums on this label.

    Musikbolaget was a new small label started by a record store chain called EKO in Gothenburg. I used to work there and they offered us a deal and even though they did a horrible job I'm grateful to them. The album was pressed in 2000 copies and only released in Sweden but still reached the third place on Kerrang's import list. The only other release on Musikbolaget as far as I know was a synth band called Tantal.

  • Sweden had a lot of great metal bands from the 80's; every time I turn around I learn about some great band that never got any attention or recognition. What do you think it was about Sweden that produced so many bands?

    I really can’t answer that. I guess that if you are a fan of music buying lots of albums and going to lots of live shows the next logical step is to learn an instrument, writing your own music and form a band.

  • And sadly, for as many bands as there were, very few got any recognition outside your home country. When bands like Bathory and Candlemass went on to critical acclaim, why do you think it was that talented acts like Overdrive, Mercy, Gotham City and you guys got overlooked by the rest of the world?

    I can't speak for the other bands that you mentioned but around the time of "Atomic Winter" Destiny got a lot of attention in Europe, especially in Germany and the Benelux area. Unfortunately when "Nothing Left To Fear" was released the label didn't do a very good promotion job and then the whole grunge movement came and killed off most of the interest for bands like the ones you mentioned, including Destiny. Around "The Undiscovered Country" things picked up again and Destiny started to get attention and press once more. But I believe the main reason for the lack of success for these bands, including Destiny, is that we did not tour enough and played too few shows.

    In the eighties before Sweden became a member of the European Union it was a lot harder to tour outside of Sweden. When bands like Hammerfall and In Flames started it was totally different. Also, I think regarding Destiny at the time there were too long gaps between our albums, but the reviews were almost always great.

  • So after releasing a demo in 1986, the very next year after the release of your debut album, it took 2 years before a label stepped in and issued "Atomic Winter." Why did it take so long to get a record deal for this album?

    I wish I knew. We talked to a lot of labels and the demo got great reviews in both fanzines and magazines. Finally the German label U.S. Metal offered us a contract in late 1987 but then it took some time before we could start to record the album in the spring of 1988. Also I wanted a real good album cover, as I wasn't happy with the one for "Beyond All Sense." I managed to get hold of Derek Riggs and after hearing the music he agreed to paint the cover, and that also took some time. When I met Derek a couple of years later he told me that the main reason that he got interested was that he liked the name of the band, Destiny.

  • What was your deal with U.S. Metal like? (For instance, did they help finance the recording, how many albums were you contracted for, did they offer merchandise or tour support, etc?)

    U.S. Metal financed part of the recording but we wanted more time in the studio and paid quite a bit ourselves. I don't remember how many albums we were contracted for but they were supposed to release "Nothing Left To Fear" as well. No merchandise or tour support. However they did good promotion for "Atomic Winter" and me and Zenny Gram went to Germany, Holland and Belgium on a promotion tour and made lots of magazine, radio and TV interviews for about a week or two. In hindsight I believe that it would have been better for us to stay with U.S. Metal but after a disagreement over money and the mix of "Nothing Left To Fear” they broke the contract, even though they say that we broke it.

  • I always thought it was strange that a German record label would call itself U.S. Metal. Of course, stranger still, I can see where they signed a lot of U.S. metal acts (like At War, Phantom, Mayhem, Dr. Mastermind, etc) but you seemed to be the only foreign signing to the label!

    I believe the reason for the name was to sign U.S. bands, but they had other bands as well. They actually had Sepultura for a short period around the time when we were signed, but that ended real badly. They also signed another good Swedish band from Gothenburg called Pagan.

  • I'm curious about the lyrical ideas you put forth in the "Atomic Winter" album, because the cover artwork seems to put forth a picture of a world that has been affected by nuclear war and tragedy. The hourglass seems to be another common image here...

    When Zenny Gram (then Hansson) wrote the lyrics for "Atomic Winter" we discussed the themes quite a bit. In those days the biggest fear for a lot of people was nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. One of the consequences for the survivors of such a war would have been the Atomic Winter and we felt that was a frightening and important issue to write about. When Derek Riggs got the lyrics for the song he used them for inspiration for the cover, as it was also the album tittle. We write about both real issues as well as more fantasy oriented stories.

  • While on that subject, I know I originally thought someday man would wipe himself out by nuclear war with other countries, but now I'm thinking we will probably be at an endless war with Muslim terrorists... They're over here in America and they seem to be causing problems all across Europe...

    The biggest threat now is Climate Change and Global Warming. If we can't slow down the temperature rising of the earth to at least 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels fast enough the living condition for both plants and animals including humans will change so drastically that we can't feed everyone and a lot of places of the earth will be impossible to inhabit. This will lead to climate refugees on a scale that will dwarf what's happening today. On top of that the rising of the sea will threaten most costal cities around the world. The only solution to stop the worst-case scenario is to stop burning fossil fuels as soon as possible. A lot of people are not aware of this because of the climate deniers, which is very scary as 97% of all scientists agree that Climate Change is man made. We need to do what the scientist recommends to minimize the damage. If we go on burning fossil fuels like now the temperature rising won’t stop at 6 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

    Another problem is that we need to save the bees, as a lot of what we eat needs them to survive. Most of our crops, vegetables, fruits and berries will disappear along with the bees if we don't act now. I could go on...

  • So how was the Swedish metal scene in the 80's? Did you play lots of shows in those days? Which bands did you play out most with? Did you ever play any shows overseas? And of course if you have any funny tour stories, that would be awesome to hear...

    In the eighties... Do I even remember that far back, he he... Well, the metal scene was pretty good in the way that there were lots of good bands as well as lots of metal fans. The problem was that there weren't that many places to play live. However, when we did play live we played quite a bit with a band called Maninnya Blade, that later morphed into Hexenhaus, but most of the times when we played outside of Gothenburg there was a local band supporting us. Later on in the nineties and up until our latest gig in 2006 we played one of dates with bands like Savatage, Vicious Rumors, The Haunted, Evergrey, In Flames, Dream Evil, Bullet, Ram and Wolf amongst others. On our last tour we supported Tony Martin (Black Sabbath).

    We hardly ever played outside of Sweden. The only times that I remember were a TV show in Norway in the eighties and the headlining gig at the Pounding Metal Attack festival in Germany in 2004.

  • Are you guys into black metal at all? Nowadays it seems that Scandinavia churns out a host of black metal, of course we all know about the notoriety of the originators of the scene, all the madness that started with the band Mayhem.

    I can only speak for myself, and I have never been into black metal.

  • While on the subject of black metal, I know Venom coined the phrase in the 80's with their "Black Metal" album, and for awhile it seemed like black metal referred to bands utilizing satanic themes or lyrical ideology. Of course, Norwegian black metal changed all that in the early 90's, but the problem was that black metal in the early days didn't really describe the MUSIC at all, whereas nowadays when you hear black metal you can definitely differentiate it from, say, speed or thrash metal.

    Well, like I said, as I have no connection to Black Metal I have no knowledge of that genre. However, ever since we started Destiny we called our music Mork Rock, which in English is translated to dark rock. When Destiny started to get attention from outside of Sweden we changed it to dark metal as people didn't know Swedish. At the time no other bands used that term, but later on it became a style of metal by other bands that had nothing to do with Destiny's music, but we were the first band to use that term. Anyway, to avoid confusion we now use the Swedish term Mork Rock again. Mork Rock has less to do with lyrics and more with the suggestive feeling and the drama within the music.

  • The internet and the affordability of computers have drastically changed the way musicians write, record and promote themselves... How do you see the internet nowadays; it's amazing how easily and quickly you can connect with people all around the world in mere seconds. And of course, people can record albums with great quality in the comfort of their own homes for next to nothing, when recording an album used to mean a huge budget and studio time.

    The Internet is both a blessing and a curse. The bad thing is of course that streaming and downloading makes it harder to sell records and make money. Even though it's easier to record a lot of stuff with a computer at home these days you still need good studio equipment. The microphones for example are very important and you need quite a few. You also need a good sound engineer and then there is the mixing and mastering. All these things cost quite a bit if you want a good end result. So I wouldn't say that the cost is next to nothing. We are fortunate to have DRS, our own studio, with an excellent sound engineer in Henrik Pettersson.

    The good thing is that it's a lot easier to make your music available and reach new fans all over the world. Facebook and other social media, blogs, e-zines, internet radio, You Tube and so on didn't even exist when we released our last album in 2005. (Actually, "I" was here - Ed.) The trick is to stand out among a million bands. You need to reach the metal fans and that doesn't happen just because you upload your music and videos. You still need some kind of promotion or you will drown in a sea of metal bands. But all in all the Internet is a fantastic tool that gives you lots of possibilities like for instance making this interview with you.

  • Finally, as we wrap this up, did you ever do any demo tape trading back in the day? Were there any 80's metal bands you thought more people should have known about?

    I never did any demo tape trading even though sometimes people gave me demos of their bands. I was and still am a big fan of the Swedish thrash metal band Ice Age who toured a lot all over Europe in the eighties even though they never made any albums. A couple of years ago they reformed and are now finally recording their debut album. Two other Swedish bands that I like from the eighties are Torch, who also recently reformed and are working on a new album as well, and Silver Mountain.



    DREAD SOVEREIGN.
    Interview with Alan Averill via email.

    This is a band that I saw tremendous potential for. When they realized their debut full length "All Hell's Martyrs," (see issue #56) even though the record wasn't perfect, most everything that A.A. Nemtheaga from Primordial puts his hand to turns out to be of exceptional quality and this is no exception... Another interview that almost didn't happen, for reasons you might surmise listed below, but a delightful read nonetheless.

  • Obviously it's been awhile since your last full length has been out. Any word on your next full length? Any song titles, themes or ideas floating around you can tell us about?

    Not that long really to be honest: releasing an album a year with any band I think is simply too much. However, yeah we just recorded a new EP. Maybe 20+ minutes of new stuff and a cover. Right now I am just finalising the mix and artwork. It should surface before the end of the year I guess. I'm not really sure even about making another full length. We might just make EP's and release songs in 1's and 2's. Use that one album as a foundation, who knows.

    Well I'm always interested in this mix of traditional metal imagery mixed with actual historical fact and the occult. Anyway the theme revolves around the first woman hung in Salem who bears the same surname as me, a distant relative it would seem. So she comes to me in a dream and tells me not to quit the word of Satan nor let her death be in vain. So here we are :)

  • Now I'm curious, because as we all know Primordial is signed to Metal Blade and they seem to do a great job of keeping Primordial "in the public eye" so to speak. How did you come to the attention of Van, and did you originally choose to seek another label for Dread Sovereign? I know some labels require that bands shop any side projects to them first, like with the case of Isole having to give Napalm Records first crack at their side project releases.

    Well I always wanted something different for D.S. I have no mainstream ambition at all, just to make music exactly as I wanted: My sound, tone, aesthetic and Van supports all bands in that. Primordial is my life's work and stands as an institution in my life, D.S. stands for something different. I'm really not bothered if anyone understands it or not.

    Originally the first pressing of the first 12" was made by Roadburn and Burning World. Some labels do indeed require that but I don't think anyone who knows me would really think I would toe the line with something like that. D.S. fits perfectly with Van and it makes the most sense.

  • How is your deal structured with Van Records? I know that Van mostly delves into black metal, but what doom metal they have released so far has been of great quality! We actually interviewed Griftegard some time ago.

    Sure. They have loads of styles, from King Dude to Urfaust. Griftegard is incredible, one of the best doom albums of the last decade or more.

    Structure? :) it's based on mutual respect and honour. I'm not interested in wading through a 40 page contract full of verbal nonsense to make D.S.. I think something like the Van festival Acherontic Arts really shows the rich seam of creativity the label embodies. Just take a look through the line up and search out the bands.

  • Taking the record in, it's obvious that the doom metal influence is there in full force, but I also hear a bit of psychedelia in there, most notably in the 70's styled guitar work and the free form jam ending the disc. And of course I'm thrilled that the bass guitar is a lot more prominent than you often hear in most albums.

    Yeah originally for me it was just Cirth Ungol mainly. Then some Venom, Hellhammer, Pagan Altar, Saint Vitus, that kinda thing. Rough hewn old metal and of course some 70's moments, Hawkwind and that kinda thing. Bones has his guitar playing style which adds a lot, much more loose and raw and 60's/70's inspired rock playing then a straight metronome metal chugger. Add in some stuff like very early Rotting Christ, Samael and Master's Hammer... demo eras and you get an idea of where I was coming from. My cousin added the strange keyboard sounds and intros on the album which add this psychedelic obscure tone to things.

    Well yeah I think the bass should be holding down the bass tone; Motorhead, Into Glory Ride, War And Pain etc. Way too many modern albums are weighed down with this middely compressed boring guitar tone with the bass hidden under it. You should feel the bass. This was always my intention. Live I want people to feel it in their bowels you know? :)

  • 05. Lyrically, there's a lot to digest. The massacre of the Cathars, which I watched a story about, was quite sad. The Catholic Church is dead center at the mass murder of millions of people, and the Cathars were said to be worshippers of the christian god, just with some different ideologies...

    Sure. I'm not interested in writing fantasy. So stories like these provide a real historical backbone yet have all the imagery and aesthetic I look for in traditional metal terms. That the church of Saint Albi burned down in the year 666? perfect :) I found the whole Cathar rebellion really interesting so it became the inspiration for quite a few of the songs.

  • A Game Of Thrones episode reminded me that history is often written by the victors, and the album title "Hell's Martyrs" reminds me that there were those who suffered greatly as well on the losing end of things. All we know about "god" is what some men wrote in a bible who knows how many years ago, and even THAT is often hard to prove, since the writers and proof of events have been buried by hundreds of years of time and dust.

    Yeah you could say it like that. That in some cultures men or women worshipped as saviours or reformers are villians in the neighbouring city, that kind of thing. In reality in regard to the album title the inference is that we are already in Hell. We were always here.

  • Regardless of where our faiths and beliefs lie, the whole crucifixion of christ is a sad tale in and of itself. IF it is an actual event that really happened... On the one hand, even if you don't believe in christ or hate christianity, it's still a human characteristic to not want to see humans suffer needlessly... And of course, some have said that if Jesus could have performed all these miracles, it would have been easy for him to "remove" himself from that whole situation anyway.

    Well he could very well have been a real historical figure. There were many religious cults at the time and the Romans crucified many of them. He was just one of those, and through chance and historical happenstance ended up being the central figure of one cult that grew more than others. Every parable was lifted from pre christian myth. You can find echoes of them all in most pre cultures, take the mythical figure of the devil, he has Loki's horns, Pan's hooves and Poseidon's trident. A book like the bible taken as metaphor is most likely what it was originally intended for, we just misinterpreted it and applied actual meaning, creating Hell for ourselves.

  • 'Cthulhu Opiate Haze' was an interesting track. I personally have a great love for the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, especially the stories about Dagon, Cthulhu, Azathoth and the elder gods. What stories of Lovecraft's are your favorites?

    He was a big influence without a doubt on my formative years. The song is really about drugs but Lovecraft is the metaphor, as he wrote many of his stories inspired by visions he had while on drugs during his sickly youth. It's the kind of song I could never write in Primordial but I'm free to reference anything I want to with Dread Sovereign.

    You know the only family name mentioned in a Lovecraft story is the 'Ancient tomb of the Averills?' Very curious. Too many influential stories to mention really. Unknown waste perhaps...?

  • Aleister Crowley was indeed a very interesting man. I personally got a lot out of his philosophies and learnings; most notably to me was how he said that the true man was a renaissance man, one who learned to embrace many different aspects of faith, philosophy and ancient cultures. I loved how he tied in Egyptian, Nordic and Sumerian mythology with occult teachings.

    Yeah without a doubt; part raconteur, part charlatan, part showman, but also a charismatic and inspiring character. There is some Crowley in D.S. - the power of magical suggestion is woven into the music!

  • Some have said that the CD ender was a bit too long; some even had a bit of issue with the aforementioned track ('Cthulhu...') After all is said and done, and you've had some time to reflect on the album's release and material, is there anything about it you're not happy with to this day?

    Did they? No one ever said that to me. I really couldn't care less what anyone thinks: for me the last song is perhaps the greatest song on the record and if I never write another song as good I think this one stands as a magical movement. I wanted the last half of the song to simply sound like an astral journey to the stars. (Personally, I REALLY dig the last track - Ed.) I'm not a person who mulls over regret. It is how it is and how I felt at the time, that's enough for me.

  • What would you say are your favorite tracks on the record?

    The closer, the opening two... I like all of it!

  • Finally, you've been in the metal scene for quite a long time. Where do you see the future of heavy metal in the next 5 or 10 years or so? It is indeed sad that a lot of the biggest and greatest bands that were playing in the 80's will one day no longer be around. Obviously, for metal to continue on we will need those young bands who will look to carry on in the traditions of those that came before.

    Yeah we are getting to the last chapters for some of the older bands. Things will have to change, who are the headliners of tomorrow? But maybe these bands need to stop to quit clogging up festival line ups and charging massive fees so all the newer, smaller and mid size bands keep getting screwed. It's the last throw of the dice for most of them. We won't see the likes of giant rock behemoths again, youth is not interested in rock...

  • I do hope that one day Dread Sovereign will make the trek over here to the U.S. to perform live. Anything else you want to talk about or add, feel free to do so here. Thanks again for your help, time and support...

    No problem. Hopefully we can someday.



    EARTHEN GRAVE.
    Interview with Jason via facebook.

    Another great band with great promise, who then shut everything all down. Sadly, these stories are becoming all too common these days, and with the last full length release by this mighty doom band (reviewed in issue #53), we have seemingly come to the end of the road as of 2014... Time, however, may tell a different story in the future, but what stood out in my mind about this band was the somewhat American Old West feeling to their somewhat thrashy doom metal, which truly stood out amongst everything else happening that year. Read what is most likely (as was the case with Aphotic - see issue #42) the very last interview ever done by this band...

  • I guess the obvious question is, why did you choose to disband Earthen Grave? I've seen live pictures posted as recently as this year? Hopefully it wasn't due to lack of a record label deal... It's really a shame because it seems like you guys set out to create a style and sound that is very unique and unusual within the doom metal realm.

    I had to walk away in late 2013. I loved and still love the band, but there were some internal tensions that got to be too much to handle. Nothing gossip worthy, just typical band stuff. We played a couple shows at the very end and I barely got through them, which was a wakeup call to let someone else take the reins, cuz if you don't love being on stage playing for people who paid to see you, you need to let someone who wants the job take over. So I walked and things kind of went into hibernation for a while.

  • Speaking on that matter, nothing saddens me more than great bands who make great music that get largely ignored for many years. One case in point was the doom/black/death mixture of Green Bay, Wisconsin's Aphotic. They self released all their own material for like 5 or 6 years and after numerous great reviews and no label support, finally called it quits... I wonder if this is something that happens more often than we know about...

    Yes, Aphotic! I have a couple of their EPs on my shelf, great stuff.

    Labels get such a bad rap, but a good label does a lot of thankless work on behalf of the acts they sign. When a band does it themselves, they're taking on a lot of non-music work that really never ends — promoting releases, scraping money together for recording, dealing with the stress of pressing copies, promoting it once it's out, minding social media, press, fulfilling orders, etc. — on top of all the normal band stuff of practicing, writing, rehearsing, maintaining gear, booking, promoting, playing, etc. If you can't afford to hire someone to do it for you, how long can most of us keep that up? If Earthen Grave taught me nothing else, it’s that AC/DC didn't write all those songs about how hard rock 'n' roll is for nothing!

  • I absolutely LOVED the self titled release. What really got to me was when I saw your discography, and you had a single release plus a demo, and all that material was somewhat "reissued" when the self titled full length came around. Six of the ten tracks were culled from your earliest material! Do the single and demo versions of songs from the full length differ in any way?

    Slightly. Things were re-recorded and remixed for the self-titled release that we put out ourselves. When Ripple reissued the album, we added a new song and a bunch of live stuff.

  • When I listen to the album, some people say it's a mixture of doom and thrash metal, which I guess I can hear to a certain degree, but what REALLY floored me was just how "American Old West" these songs seemed to sound. I suppose due to the singer, but also adding the violins the way you do; some songs just sounds like they could have been delivered in an American Old Western setting... Maybe I'm the only one who felt that way... And of course, I DON'T mean like a country-western type of vibe... This is different... Especially songs like 'Tilted World' and ESPECIALLY 'Dismal Times.'

    That's a neat interpretation! I have some personal demos floating around that veer into that territory. Maybe there's some subconscious stuff rattling around from all the depressing ass country shit my Dad used to listen when I was a kid (that stuff still makes my skin crawl). There's definitely a couple of closet country fans in the band, though, but only the old-school stuff. Waylon, Marle, Willie, Cash, etc.

  • It's probably one of the most amazing Pentagram covers I've ever heard with your rendition of 'Relentless.' I am a HUGE Pentagram fan, and think it's about time Bobby got his due... Did you see the "Last Daze Here" documentary? I thought some of the stuff got a little bit too personal: I can't believe Bobby laid his soul almost completely bare for the cameras...

    That's a really incredible documentary. We opened for Pentagram when he was getting back on his feet and while I knew his reputation and had heard some stories, none of it showed that night. He was a bit hoarse and looked a little rough, but he was in good spirits and performed his ass off. A year later in Columbus, he was even better, and a year after that in Chicago, they played one of best concerts I've ever seen. So seeing the documentary was a shock, to say the least. I really don't know how he's still alive, but am very glad he is and that people are recognizing the impact they had.

  • Witchfinder General. That was a very interesting cover to do, I take it you're a fan of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal Movement? I always loved how there were so many bands that concentrated all their effort into recording a 2 song seven inch record; must be a lot easier to come up with great material for 2 songs than to try and do a whole album and keep the quality consistent from song to song...

    That one was my choice! I love Witchfinder General in a big way, so covering them was a treat. The NWOBHM scene in general is hit or miss for me. Some of it's amazing — Angel Witch, Witchfinder General, Diamond Head, Iron Maiden — and some of it's just barely above pub rock. I'm still sifting through a lot of it, to be honest, but that was a very special time and place for music.

  • So before you ended the band, I know there was one final song released 'Death Is Another Word,' what was that like? Was that a new tune to shop around to labels?

    Musically, 'Death Is Another Word' is where the band was headed. That song is the 6 of us really gelling as a band. I still love it.

  • And while on that subject, Were there any other songs being worked on or in progress? Any themes, song titles, lyrical matter, etc...?

    There's enough raw material to put another album together, for sure. It's really just a question of willpower and getting everyone to put in the time and effort to make it happen, knowing we can't really do much with it once it's done (we're scattered all over the country and all have other priorities at this point).

  • I used to always lament about 80's metal bands doing "the ballad;" you know, the band is rockin', writing kick ass songs and then they do this "love ballad" so they can get the chicks, or try for radio play, or whatever. But 'Blood Drunk,' which some might try to mistake for a ballad, was a pretty damn good tune... Of course, the subject matter deals with a darker and harsher side of this, but still I can appreciate a good, emotional tune when done properly... I often think of Airged L'Amh's 'Mourning Grief' from their "The Silver Arm" album (look it up on youtube, man, it's great) in much the same light. Different motives, different subject matter, good tunes done RIGHT...

    Cool, thank you! That was definitely the most "radio-friendly" tune we had, but it wasn't written with that end in mind. I was just playing what ended up being the verse and chorus parts at rehearsal and it caught Ron's ear. He came up with a chorus, we worked out the bridge and it all took shape as a kind of 70's slow-burner.

  • Did you do any demo or tape trading in the 80's? 'Cause I'm always curious about a band who does such obscure covers (and Witchfinder General DEFINITELY qualifies!) Any bands from the 80's that you think most metalheads don't know about or ones that should have gotten much bigger than they did? Personally, I always thought the U.K. band Incubus (released "To The Devil A Daughter" in the 80's) should have been bigger than they ever were; those songs are kick ass AND they could have possibly been exposed to a bigger audience...

    Well, I was 6 in 1980, so I definitely wasn't trading tapes back then :) Obscure 80's bands... I really dig Witchfynde's first album. Pagan Altar is probably the biggest "How are these guys not huge?!" band from that era, for me. I keep trying to get into Cirith Ungol and Brocas Helm as well, but neither have clicked yet. Sometimes it takes a while...

  • Doom metal is a genre of music that, oddly, doesn't come around every day but most of what I hear in that genre is of great quality. (Maybe I am biased because I do love doom metal). Do you ever think that maybe the doom metal genre has done all it can as far as original material and new and innovative ideas? I guess I'm still lamenting the fact that though Earthen Grave is no more, you ARE one of the bands I considered as doing something different and a bit groundbreaking...

    That's really cool to hear - thank you. My guess is that "doom" - which is a wide, wide net at this point - has been manipulated in about all the obvious ways it possibly can at this point: doom, death doom, black doom, folk doom, doom metal, doom rock, stoner, etc., etc., blah blah blah. So the obvious "let's apply doom to _____" experiments are probably about done and now we all just keep building on these different areas and try to find the interesting nooks and crannies in whichever ridiculous subgenre we're exploring. It's really funny how such a wide variety of sounds are all still somehow doom.

  • So if the band is no more, what other musical projects did everyone move onto?

    I've relocated to Austin and started a band called Witchcryer (http://witchcryer.bandcamp.com). It's less metallic than Earthen Grave, but still good and heavy. We've released a demo and just played our first show a couple days ago. 2016 is going to be a busy year. I also still have plans for another album for The Living Fields (http://thelivingfields.bandcamp.com) and the Wintering (http://winteringdeath.bandcamp.com) album to finish up.

    Tony and Mark are jamming in Spillage (http://spillage.bandcamp.com), Ron's going strong with The Skull (https://the-skull.bandcamp.com) and Woz just joined up with Serpent Crown (https://www.facebook.com/SerpentCrown).



    MAGIC CIRCLE.
    Interview with Chris Corry and Dan Ducas via email.

    A somewhat brand new band (for us anyway), that's been around since 2012, who REALLY impressed me with their 2015 full length. We get to things rather late anyway... :) Having said that, however, it's been well noted that a ton of bands around the globe realize you cannot play an entire album in one speed and/or tempo, and no one understands that more than these guys. Some bands (see Orange Goblin and November's Doom) vary things greatly because they get tired of being pigeonholed by journalists and music critics, while others simply understand the formula that variety is indeed the spice of life.

  • When it comes to doom metal, sometimes I think the U.S. gets a bit overlooked, except when people mention Pentagram or Trouble...

    Chris: I don't know man - don't forget St. Vitus, The Obsessed, Cirith Ungol, Solitude Aeturnus, Iron Man... we have a lot of classics IMO. I'm not concerned about conforming to people's expectations of what "DOOM" should be, and I think there's obviously lots of great Rock and Metal bands that don't fit that particular style from the USA. I'm influenced by a lot of those too.

    Dan - I'd also like to throw Penance, Type O Negative, Warhorse, and Confessor into the mix as well. I think America has always offered many flavors of doom.

  • The interesting thing about your latest full length "Journey Blind" is that vocally, there seems to be a bit more of a power metal approach, especially in the vocal department... No doubt the guy can actually SING...

    CC - Well I definitely agree he can sing. Power Metal influence - not intentionally, that's not really a style that I gravitate to personally, other than some of the earlier 80's stuff. Modern power metal is not my thing at all.

    DAN - We never thought that ad in Backstage would pay off the way it did. Talk about dividends...

  • There are definitely lots of structure and tempo changes within many of these songs! Do you guys find you get bored easily, or was it an attempt to try and do different things within the field of metal?

    CC - I just try and inject variety into whatever I'm writing. I don't want to bog anyone down. Maybe I have A.D.D. My favorite songs have variety and some peaks and valleys for the listener.

    DAN - I wouldn't call it boredom, but more so a natural inclination to try new things. Metal gives you a lot of space to play around and explore different sounds and structures and we like to take advantage of that.

  • One interesting thing about the album is the fact that there aren't a ton of really slow, traditional doom pieces. In fact, a track like 'Lightning Cage' is one of my most favorite tunes on the album; it sounds more like it would be right at home on a rockin' 80's metal band's album!

    CC - Yea, I mean... it's not important to me to be a "doom" band, we just play heavy rock. Doesn't matter to me what box people put it in. I kind of thought of it as a song like 'No Stayer.' I don't think we've really tried to push the band as "slow traditional doom." Obviously that's a big component of what we sound like but we don't operate by a strict set of rules in that respect.

    DAN - I think I can speak for the rest of the guys and say that we are big fans of 80's metal. So those influences might seep in here and there. Dokken, Ratt, Ozzy, Stryper... we like it all.

  • And 'Ghosts Of The Southern Front' sounds JUST like a Trouble song 'At The End Of My Daze,' in fact, it sounds like Bruce Franklin FROM Trouble is playing guitar in this band!

    CC - Just to clarify - Bruce Franklin DOES NOT play guitar for us, but he's welcome to get in touch any time because I could use some lessons. We are all Trouble lovers, every era. I don't know that it sounds "JUST like" it but it's comparable to a few different Trouble tunes.

    DAN - Can someone organize a rock n' roll fantasy camp and invite Bruce Franklin please?

  • Now, I never got to hear your self titled, debut album; how would you say it differs from your latest full length? One day I WILL hear it for sure... :)

    CC - Well it's a little more melancholy and dark sounding. The production is a bit more boomy and less focused, and it was our first attempt at writing or recording anything so the songs are a little less fleshed out. I think it was a nice debut, and proof of concept for our band. I guess... check it out on Youtube or something.

  • Speaking of Trouble, did you ever get to hear Bruce Franklin's side project Supershine? He teamed up with Doug Pinnick from King's X, a band who for me was always hit or miss (a LOT of miss) from album to album. That Supershine debut was great, and we never heard anything else from the two ever again!

    CC - Never heard that but it sounds cool - Justin our bassist is a big King's X fan, as well as Trouble. I think he's into that Supersunshine album. I first heard of King's X because they toured with Pearl Jam in 1993.

    DAN - Doug Pinnick and George Lynch have a pretty cool side project called KXM that rocks too. Check that one out if you like those guys.

  • Now, the title track REALLY hammered things home for me with those sweet vocal melodies; the choruses of most songs are kept rather simple, but really effective. I'm assuming it's one singer there but multitracked?

    CC - Ya you guessed it. We double the vocals in some parts. Nothing crazy. Just an extra track for some parts. Pretty normal stuff I think.

  • As I'm reading the lyrics to the songs, I'm seeing a lot of kinda mystical topics, but I see things like maybe the age old battle of christianity versus "evil forces" and what not... I know some artists take a somewhat back seat approach; where do you stand on all this? Are you guys of somewhat christian origin and does that play a role in the lyrics? Some people point to Trouble's earliest past as being somewhat of a "white metal" doom band; of course members of Trouble vehemently deny this: even Candlemass was not immune from such criticism (especially on the "Nightfall" album).

    CC - Ahhh - I'm not into religion if that's what you're asking. I think it's a bad idea. We're definitely not a Christian band, nor do we have any interest in the recent influx of bands that present this sort of pastiche to Herman Slater style occultism that was popular in the 1970's. A lot of the lyrics Brendan writes are inspired by history, or novels that he reads. He has the soul of a poet.

    DAN - I'll recreationally dip into the Spates Catalog, Tobin's Spirit Guide, the writings of Julian Karswell, but that's about the extent of it.

  • Speaking of religion, it seems to have great difficulty when science gets involved. I know those scientists like Galileo (who taught that the earth revolves around the sun, rather than the other way around) and the mathematician Hyapatia who was murdered by a christian mob. I also read about a device called the Chronovisor, built by a priest of the catholic church...

    CC - Yea the Chronovisor was some kind of... like a tv that could time travel, so you could supposedly tune it to show you past events. The Vatican has a lot of trouble with science, but they also have like... one of the largest archives of UFO reports (not available to the public of course). There's a lot of secret factions within the church and there's a lot of stuff going on below the surface there. It's pretty interesting.

    DAN - They also have a problem with sex but are alleged to have the world's most extensive porno collection.

  • So in your opinion, what is the most important thing to the creation of a great, timeless song that will stand the test of ages? Personally, I love a great tune that invokes and involves strong emotion, which is why it's just as easy for me to get into a vicious, enraging black metal band as one as spacey, calm and serene as, say, Hawkwind...

    CC - For me... just needs a good hook, and a band that sounds confident.

    DAN - Yeah, it's all about that hook.

  • I know a lot of bands have been playing the 70,000 Tons Of Metal festival in the past years. Something I have yet to experience myself. Have any of you ever been on this cruise? And have there been any festival appearances yet, like Wacken or Headbanger's Open Air?

    CC - Nah we're not quite there yet. Maybe one day, but we don't do a lot of travel.

    DAN - Monsters of Rock 2020 at Castle Donington...

  • I'm a huge fan and collector of 80's metal... I've been fortunate to discover hundreds of rare and unknown metal bands from this time. Did you ever do any demo or album collecting and are there any rare gems that you think more people might not know about that they should?

    CC - Yea I've been a record collector since I was 16. I'm 35 now, but I got into 80's hardcore and punk before metal so idk if you'd be interested in a lot of stuff I've got. Interesting metal things I have... Some Abhorrence rehearsal and live stuff on a cassette that they originally sent as an audition tape to Seraphic Decay. Umm a great private press single from the Northern Virginia/Maryland area by a band called Albion... like a female fronted mix of Rush and Led Zeppelin, really strong stuff - I only know of 2 or 3 other copies out there. I have test presses of a lot of Napalm Death stuff, they're one of my alltime favs. I still need a test of Utopia Banished. I found a test press of Trouble's "The Skull" for $15 bucks in a local store once. IDK if that stuff is impressive to anyone.

    If anyone wants to get in touch and trade for Magic Circle stuff, I'm always looking for original Dark Angel t-shirts.

    DAN - I collect spores, molds, and fungus.

  • I know the latest album has only been out for 4 or 5 months now, but are you guys working on a followup release? Any themes, song titles or album ideas you might want to tell us about?

    CC - We're not quite back to writing yet. We've been playing around with some covers at practice and maybe we're going to record a couple of them sometime soon. Yardbirds, and Aerosmith are two of them. We also did a set live on WMBR radio last July which will be coming out as a cassette available direct from the band really soon.

  • Finally, I always wondered about Oracles and seers... In Norse mythology, the oracles were usually dead accurate in their visions, especially the one in legend that talks about the final battle at Ragnarok. Also, the Oracle at Delphi in Greece was an interesting read. Do you see any validity to those who claimed they could have "visions of the future?"

    CC - I love hearing modern stories about people that have visions of the future but, I think most of them are being led on by trickster type entities, and don't really have any kind of accuracy or reliability in their visions.

    DAN - One can only rely on the visions of Johnny Smith.



    MAINSTREET.
    Interview with Graf Hotte via facebook.

    Germany had a LOT of great 80's metal bands... Aside from the usual "big three" of thrash (Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction), Germany had power metal and traditional metal bands in abundance, though most of these were relegated to "indie" status, and some were even harder to find, as many only released their brightest and best on vinyl, and on labels that didn't have world wide coverage... Mainstreet is one of those bands, one who I enjoyed with their limited output being one EP from 1986 and a full length in 1988. Fortunately, Graf Hotte is still actively doing music, and was easy to track down for another 80's metal interview...

  • Looking back, I know your first EP "Black Dream" came out on Wishbone Records. How did you come to be on the label? What were the terms of your contract with them like?

    At the time Mainstreet was looking for a second guitarist and then Thomas Grunning joined the band. However, after a short time he got an offer from Avenger who later changed their name to Rage. As a replacement Thomas introduced his younger brother Marko who then stayed with us until the end. Avenger was with Wishbone and that's how we got to know the label.

  • I know Wishbone Records had a fair amount of good 80's metal bands on their label, like Avenger, Darxon, Metal Sword, and Stormwind. Did you ever listen to any of their bands or tour with them?

    We played some festivals with Darxon and Stormwind. Of course we listened to the published songs of our colleagues on the same label.

  • After the 4 track EP came out, you switched labels and went with Freeway Records, who didn't seem to release anything else other than your full length. Why the switch in labels? Or was this your label? Of course, we're curious why Freeway Records never released anything else.

    Wishbone concentrated on the emerging Metal sounds Speed and Thrash, we did not want to follow that path; we stayed put. We were booked within the bikers' scene and performed many times for various biking clubs. One club, the Freeway Riders, really liked us and founded the Freeway-Records label for us.

  • When the albums pop up in various marketplaces, they seem to be pretty rare, as they usually go for $50 a piece. How many of each record was pressed, and do you have any figures of how many copies each record sold?

    The EP "Black Dream" and the LP "Deadly Games At Night" were each copied 1,000 times, 300 copies of the LP were in red vinyl. As far as we know all copies were either sold in shops or during concerts.

  • So stylistically, what bands shaped and/or influenced the Mainstreet sound? I know that Germany at the time was heavily influenced by speed and thrash metal, with the whole Kreator/Sodom/Destruction influence going around, but there were also some traditional metal bands like Asgard, Rage, Avenger and the like.

    We were influenced by more traditional groups like UFO, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Motorhead or Rainbow. We didn't care too much for Speed or Thrash.

  • Was there any other material recorded, plans for another full length or songs that never made their way to your two releases?

    Mainstreet had a comeback as a foursome after 15 years. We met at a festival and after a few pints we decided to reform, this time as Glamour. We just wanted to see how it would go as everybody had gone their own way and developed. Just for fun we all used silly stage names, submitted our new songs to Metal Axe records, and they immediately signed us. The result was the album "The Mood" which was distributed by Sony. The album was produced by Markus Schlichtherle who also worked with the Guano Apes. The album was well received by the critics but unfortunately the record company folded. We did some concerts as a support act for Krokus and White Lion and then split up amicably.

    But let's come back to Mainstreet. Strictly speaking, we never lost touch with each other and helped out with each other's projects. Mainstreet is temporarily closed (for musical traffic) but if we want we will reopen it again.

  • Black metal took over in "popularity" for many, the Norwegians and Swedes taking death metal to a more extreme format. Do you ever listen to black metal? I know bands like Absurd, Nagelfar, and Bethlehem carried the torch for black metal throughout the 90's and 2000's era.

    Here in Germany Black and Death remained underground and was overshadowed by Whitesnake, Judas Priest, Dio etc., and later also by Guns n' Roses, Nirvana or Pearl Jam. Music is diverse and of course we listened to the stuff but it never became a real option to pursue.

  • Do you still keep in touch with any of the members of Mainstreet? Just curious what some of those guys are doing today. When I look at your lineup, it seems like you kept the same lineup on throughout your existence, except for a change in guitarist. I suppose you guys must have gotten along and worked rather well together.

    Each band member is still actively involved in music today, but each in different areas. Unforunately Detlev Forster had to leave the band due to work related reasons, but we have reamained friends.

  • Did you ever do any demo or tape trading in the 80's? I'm curious what bands you were into from the 80's that never got much attention, or bands that you thought no one else knew about that deserved more attention.

    There were demo tapes which we produced and which were represented in fanzines, but we cannot remember any other groups.

  • Looking back, do you remember any music magazines, fanzines or publications that did reviews of your records or interviews with you? I know back then, all we had to go by were copies of Thrash Metal Magazine, Kerrang, Metal Forces, and other underground publications that you couldn't always buy in stores.

    Our records were reviewed by Rock Hard and Metal Hammer, and also by underground magazines, and I am sure there were reviews somewhere in the U.S..

  • Looking back, how do you feel about those two records today? It definitely seemed like "Deadly Games At Night" had some really rockin' guitar riffs and a good singer.

    I would not like to have missed the things we did, the music was produced with a lot of dedication and we lived that time to the utmost. As mentioned before, the guitarist was really young and I was thrilled by his creativity, skills and riffs. I wanted to support his development and bought his guitar etc. We are still good mates today.

  • Lyrically, what sort of topics did you write about when crafting these songs? I know your songs seem to avoid the usual cliches of metal like Satanism, the occult, and of course you definitely didn't do the "love ballad" piece like some 80's metal bands liked to delve into.

    Our songs were about things that affected us and what was in the news, e.g. gambling halls which thrived at the time and ruined a lot of people financially or the relation with their families, famine in the third world, drug misuse.

  • And finally, how did you come to pick the band name Mainstreet? Is there a meaning behind the name?

    The name Mainstreet (Hauptstrasse) stands for our close links with our home town Wanne-Eickel. All founding members were born there, later members like Marko Grunning and Torsten Knittel were born in the vicinity of Wanne-Eickel and that's why the name did not change.



    MORGOTH.
    Interview with Sebastian via email...

    This band had a very profound effect on me during my very early years. I remember first getting into death metal, and it pretty much started out by picking up Death's "Scream Bloody Gore," while trying to find the best heavy metal that was out there in the early days. I was always impressed by Marc's vocal style, so it was a shock to see that after the reunion, Marc was no longer a part of the band! This was one of the very first Century Media releases I ever heard, and it's great to hear that so many years later, this band STILL carries the brutality and heaviness forth. An interview I have been after since the beginning life of this music magazine, it's one of our feature interviews, and was THE first interview we did and completed for issue #57...

  • So after "Feel Sorry For The Fanatic" came out, you guys definitely split up for awhile. What contributed to the breaking up of the band? I know a lot of bands from the 80's and early 90's saw their demise due to the metal scene in decline, especially given the rise of grunge music.

    By the mid-end of the 90's we just felt powered out. We wanted to change our style of music because we thought we had nothing more to say in Death Metal. We grew up from teenagers to young adults in that time and developed also on our instruments. We did not have this total overview over the scene and predicted anything. It all came naturally. We ourselves liked grunge a lot btw.

  • It seems that you did a live show in 2011, what brought that about and was that the beginning of the comeback stage for you? Tell us a bit about that show, as the double vinyl that was released from that show was well over an hour in length!

    In 2011 we reunited for a couple of festival shows. It was the 20th anniversary of our 1991 album "Cursed." Festival promoters came up to us and asked if we would like to play their festivals. The recording you mention is from one of those festivals. Actually we did not plan to go on after 2011 but we liked it to hit the stages again and so we just continued.

  • Now when you went searching for a replacement singer, surprisingly Karsten sounded VERY similar to Marc; did you have in mind to find a vocalist who sounded as close to Marc as possible, or was that just coincidence?

    Karsten sounds quite similar as Marc did in the early 90's. Marc's voice changed a lot over the years. Karsten was recommended to us and we just gave him a call (to see) if he very spontaneously can sing on our new almost finished album. When we listened to the demo recordings the next day we were convinced that he is the right guy. So yes, it was an coincidence.

  • I remember when I got your "Resurrection Absurd/Eternal Fall" CD release from Centuty Media here in the States; it was one of the first full length releases I ever got from the label. I have never seen the two EP's sold separately, and I thought this was a great way to introduce you to audiences here.

    Yes.. Those two EP's were released in Europe on two vinyls within a couple of months. "Resurrection Absurd" was actually a demo which we send to Robert Kampf, founder of Century Media. He just wanted it to release instantly with no longer wait. We agreed on that and then went on our first European tour. After that tour we went back to the studio and recorded "The Eternal Fall." By saying "we" I have to add that I joined the band in 1990 and was not involved in those two recordings.

  • Why were your first two releases EP's? I know some have thought that like back in the days of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal Movement, it was way easier (and cheaper!) for a band to concentrate all their efforts in recording and releasing two or three songs as opposed to trying to do a whole album and having some songs that didn't turn out as well as the others.

    As far as I know the two EP's have never been released on vinyl back in the day in the US. It was the CD with both EP's. As said before, there was no big master plan behind it. It just turned out that way.

  • I know with the band name and of course the song 'Pits Of Utumno,' the band seemed to have a Lord Of The Rings background. Though they didn't show much of it in the movie, I always thought that the 'Pits Of Utumno' should have been showcased a bit more, especially since it seemed to be the place where all the evil things in the world had been created...

    You mean the Pits should have been shown more in the movies? Yes, maybe. Interesting point. Let's blame it on Peter Jackson? It was our former drummer Ruediger Hennecke by the way who came up with the name Morgoth taken from the prequel book of Lord of the rings The Silmarillion. Also the title and text for the song is was written by him.

  • How was the recording process for "Ungod" different from most of your other recordings, especially the earliest ones? I know nowadays it's pretty affordable for people to record and mix/remaster songs on their desktop computers nowadays and get a more than acceptable recording, as opposed to having to spend hundreds in the studio. Most studios nowadays use software that most people can readily buy for home use!

    It was very similar to the early days except for the hard disk recording. We spend about four weeks in the studio. Attached to the studio is an old farmers house where we lived for that period. No desktop computers, mixes etc. Real studio, real people, real music?

  • A lot of people feel that "Feel Sorry For The Fanatic" was a drastic departure for the band both in style and sound. How do you feel about that release looking back, as you weren't the only band changing and experimenting with their style and sound? I know Entombed did it, for a more popular example.

    Yes, as mentioned before we just wanted to develop our style. We turned from teenagers to adults. We thought we said everything in Death Metal and wanted to bring our personal developments into our music. "Feel Sorry..." of course was a huge shift into another direction and probably too drastic for our fans.

  • And while on the subject, the album title "Feel Sorry For The Fanatic" kinda sounds like the band's attempt at saying "We're going to make the kind of music we want, and to hell with you if you don't like it or accept it." At this point, had you gotten tired of death metal, or maybe felt you were limited by the style of music you were playing?

    The title does not aim at metal fans. This is something that a lot of people seemed and seem to understand wrong. It aims against all fanatic movements in religion, politics or personal lives. As mentioned above yes, we just wanted to do our thing with no compromise. At the same time we believed in a higher acceptance of our fans in our music. But metal is very static ;-)

  • This new record showcases not only a very strong return to form, but also some of the shortest running times for your new songs! Did you feel you could "say more" with less? I know some long songs it seems like bands just kinda repeat things or drag songs out, maybe adding too many solos or "diverse elements." But then again, I do appreciate some long funeral doom songs, especially when they lock into a mood I really dig, I can enjoy it longer...

    The new stuff just turned out naturally. We did not say a song has to (be) this long or short. We put the pieces together like we felt it makes (the) most sense. That's it.

  • Let's talk about some of the songs on the new album. I REALLY relate to the track 'God Is Evil.' Because so many people decry Satan as a horrible, evil entity, but the fact of the matter is, Satan has never killed anyone (according to biblical descriptions anyway), whereas especially in the Old Testament, "God" murdered entire cities, forced his people to make war, and even drowned 99% of all life on Earth in a flood. Evil indeed!

    I wrote the lyrics to that song during the time my mother went very ill and died later. I wanted to point out that IF there is something like a god or creator he or it is an evil entity and that nothing good comes out of god or religions. It's a metaphoric text about the struggle of life in general. I personally don't believe in god or satan or any religion.

  • Then, too, I do admit I believe in SOME sort of "creative force," if you will, but it cannot be this god of the bible. I think the absolute truth about creation is hidden from man's eyes and more than likely revealed only after we pass this physical plane. What are your thoughts about this? Is there something awaiting us after death?

    In 'God Is Evil' it says: "Enter the nihil crawl into the void," I guess that answers your question. (Nope, not even close. But thanks for playing anyway! - Ed.)

  • 'Snakestate' was one of my favorite tracks on the record, not the least of which is because of all the crunchy thrash riffing and the downright sinister vibe of the cut! This reminds me of all those hypocritical religious leaders that are inspiring hatred and bigotry to all those they don't approve of.

    The lyrics for 'Snakestate' were written by Harry. It probably best describes how religious movements like IS, Boko Haram, Taliban etc.. try to undercut whole societies with brutality and religious fanatism in the name of god. What they become are Snakestates.

  • How do you see the death metal scene today? During it's decline in the 90's, it seemed like black metal grabbed the torch and ran with it, though death metal, like thrash metal, seems to be in a revival state...

    I think metal in general is bigger than ever and has a much bigger acceptance in society. There is a new generation of fans and the frightened parents from the 80's and 90's see today that their metal kids survived and have real jobs and even families. 20-30 years ago metal was much more serious than today as it was new in the extreme forms. Today it can be seen with a wink. It is like with Zombie Movies, they were scary as hell when they first came out. Today we see all the parodies of it and laugh. Also the myth of extreme metal is taken away and it is much more a money and festival machinery than it was back in the days. Slayer became number 1 in the charts with "Repentless." If someone had told me that in 1985 I wouldn't believe it.

  • How was it working with Century Media in the earliest of days? What was your recording contract like, and how did they support you? I'm sure it was easy since they were based in your home country.

    As you might know I joined the band in 1990 and was not involved in the first two recordings. What I know is that Century Media was just founded by Robert Kampf and Oliver Witthoeft (Oliver passed away last year). Robert at that time was in his own band "Despair" which was the very first band on that label. I believe Morgoth was the second or third band on Century Media and the first band that actually made some money for them. Everything was very fresh and more on a friendship base than on hard contracts although of course there was a contract. Morgoth always had a lot of freedom on Century Media, back in the days and even today.



    MYSTERIARCH.
    Interview with Lord Mysterion and Narzarath.

    Mysteriarch are definitely no strangers to this publication, since we named their "Mournful Embrace Of Aeons" very close in the running for best American black metal album of 2012. And of course, their first full length in 2006 "The Majestic Fall" was no slouch either. What was odd was meeting this band way back then when they were opening up for Mayhem in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and that particular night they were without a keyboard player, reminding me a LOT guitar wise of the mighty Heathen English Metal Horde known as Forefather. Fast forward to 2016, and this band is still as grand and majestic as ever, with some interesting plans for the near future... This is an interview that we have wanted to conduct for quite some time now...

  • So I know your first album came out on Ophiucus Records, very interesting name for a label I must say. But it seems like they aren't doing much these days, though they released some other artists.

    Mysterion: Ophiucus Records is an underground metal label that was started by myself back in 2007. The name is derived from astrology, being the 13th "hidden" sign known as Ophiuchus (the Serpent Bearer). After the debut Mysteriarch album "The Majestic Fall" was released, a few other albums followed, which included bands such as Antiquus Scriptum (Portugal) and Suspirium (Italy). Although, the most recent release was a 13 band compilation called "Requiems Of Heresy And Scorn," released in 2011. In recent times, the label side of things has slowed, yet the distro is still operating fairly steadily.

    I run a merch booth at several festivals and do some online merch sales. I do trades with several different labels, distros and, bands. I'm currently in the process of adding some new merch items to the catalog.

  • Speaking of labels, I am surprised that you guys haven't been picked up by any major or overseas labels? Did you shop demos around for your two albums to labels? What were the typical responses? Surely even overseas labels could have signed you guys.

    Mysterion: After we recorded our 2004 demo "Renaissance Of The Maelstrom" we mailed it off to a few labels just to see what might happen. One such label was Melancholia Records in France. They responded and said that although the music showed a bit of promise, it needed some improvement before they'd offer us a deal. So, at that point we just decided to keep writing music and work on our live performance. In 2011, we signed a 2 album deal with Razed Soul Productions. The experience with them has been quite positive. I do some freelance album artwork and layouts for other artists on the label.

  • It is a shame that some people won't get into extreme forms of metal. I know the most common complaint I hear from people is they don't like the "growly" or "screechy" type of vocals; some still say well, I can't understand what they're saying, but yet they listen to a song like 'Gangnam Style' which has some guy singing in a foreign language.

    Mysterion: Extreme music will always be misunderstood and even hated by the masses. I've introduced various people into metal over the years and some have since become devout metalheads. However, most people are just not into extreme forms of music, and that's actually fine with me.

    Narzarath: You know, that's just how it is. To each their own and for those that do support the extreme music scene, they don't have to prove anything. The music will speak for itself. I do however, get the ultimate euphoria when someone shows legit interest in what I'm listening to.

  • When I look at your two album covers, it's interesting to me the designs; they're somewhat spacey (especially on the first one), but not really an outer space "theme," yet somewhat fantasy oriented... Do you do your own covers or did you have an outside artist commission the works?

    Mysterion: The artwork for the first 2 albums was designed by our ex-drummer Hljodr (Cainan Dawn, ex-Evohe, ex-Nehemah), whom currently lives in France. He runs a graphic design company called Diktat Design. We plan to continue working with him in the future for our upcoming releases.

  • When I first saw you guys, you were opening up for Mayhem and Apocalyptic Visions at Ground Zero in Spartanburg, South Carolina. What was interesting about that show was that you reminded me a lot of English Heathen black metal band Forefather, but you said you were without your keyboard player that night! Of course, it was somewhat of a shock to me when I heard the grand synthesized passages in your music on the album... Have you played live without a keyboard player before, or often?

    Mysterion - We've had 2 live keyboardists in the past, yet we've been performing without one since 2011. Currently, we backline the synths and perform our live set to a click track. We'd be open to the possibility of using a live keyboardist again, granted we could find someone who is dedicated and able to fit our writing style.

  • And to that particular point I say that many times in life I believe there are no coincidences. I always find it odd some of the bands I have seen live that oftentimes do not put on their "typical" performance. For instance, when I saw Judas Priest and Iron Maiden for the first times ever, both bands were without their signature vocalists (this has since been remedied, however.) Do you ever think that there is a certain force or entity pulling us, or maybe even guiding us, or do you see life as more ebb and flow depending on what sort of energetic forces we create in our lives?

    Mysterion: Perhaps a bit of both. With me being into things such as astrology, numerology, and tarot, I think it's likely that the movement and positions of celestial objects have an impact on us. Are there people we meet in our lives that we knew from previous earthly or otherworldly incarnations? It's possible. Maybe there are certain lessons we are trying to learn or goals we are seeking. But in the end, we can alter our own paths through the powers of choice and free will.

    Narzarath: Google "Panendeism" and combine it with karma. That's what has made the most sense to me since I discovered it.

  • I'm looking at the latest full length, and I do remember saying that it was one of the best American symphonic black metal albums of 2012, although to be perfectly honest, Vesperian Sorrow's "Stormwinds Of Ages" just barely nudged you guys out, but I felt the record "Mournful Embrace Of Aeons" was SO strong that it had to be mentioned alongside that one...

    Mysterion: Thanks, it's an honor to be mentioned alongside bands of such caliber and talent as Vesperian Sorrow. I've talked to their guitarist Will via the internet, and come to find out he's actually a fan of our music.

  • So it's been 4 years since "Mournful Embrace," have you guys been working on another full length? Any song titles, themes, album ideologies or anything else you might want to tell us about?

    Mysterion: We've been working on our 3rd full-length album for over the past 2 years now. The new album will be titled "Wrath Of The Demiurge." A few of the song titles include 'Reprobates Of A Failed Theocracy,' 'Beguiling The Nescient,' 'Vitiated Anthropogeny' and 'Transgressing The Ethereal Stratum.'

  • I'm curious what you draw from as far as lyrical influences go. I see a lot of "ancient mysteries" as a somewhat common theme; maybe esoteric and arcane knowledge of the dark? It always astounded me how religion tried so hard to destroy ancient knowledge; no less than twice was the Library of Alexandria destroyed by christian idiot fanatics, knowledge gathered from seemingly every corner of the globe...

    Mysterion: In the earlier years of the band, the lyrics dealt more with themes of ancient warfare, magic, cosmology and the occult. Yet, they are somewhat more controversial and conspiratorial on the upcoming album. The songs are also a bit darker and more aggressive sounding than some of our earlier works. The music on this album has taken on a slightly different sound and character as well. Although, it's still Mysteriarch, and one can expect to hear plenty of melodic, triumphant, sorrowful, epic and medieval passages strewn throughout. We continually try to expand on our music and incorporate new ideas, yet always stay true to our concept and vision.

  • So how do you see American black metal today? I know with very few exceptions it seems like the American black metal scene took quite awhile to gain a proper foothold here; it seems to me like it was many years after the second wave started up with Mayhem that those bands finally started doing tours here.

    Mysterion: We've seen some prominent black metal acts emerge here in the U.S. throughout the years. Some of my favorite U.S. black metal bands include Abazagorath, Blood Stained Dusk, Darkmoon, Demonic Christ, Forest of Impaled, Inquinok, and Sarcophagus to name a few. We've also seen a surge of newer bands coming up in the states recently with bands such as Archael (VA), Haethen (PA), Sivad (TN), Hellgoat (GA), Helgardh (VA), Scytherium (FL), Obsequiae (MN), Shadow of the Destroyer (NC), Vitreous (FL), Rites To Sedition (NC), Vesterian (NC), Vimur (GA), Wormreich (GA) and many more.

    However, a lot of great black metal bands that used to exist here, simply don't anymore. Many of them dissolved into obscurity before ever gaining much exposure or recognition and are all but forgotten today. As for bands touring here from other countries, a very disturbing problem occurring recently is that they are often denied entry into the country. And sadly as a result, I can only imagine that a lot of overseas bands won't even bother touring here in the future.

    Narzarath: Young and in the Way (NC), Mutilation Rites (NY),Occultist (VA), and Umbra (NC) are a few more to add to the list.

  • I heard about the Tremont Music Hall; it's a shame that good music venues are being stripped down for mindless and needless strip and shopping malls... I know here in Atlanta we faced the same thing with The Masquerade; though that venue STILL has shows booked right through the middle of this year! That venue has faced closings for many years now, but being a historical building I don't think it will ever be destroyed completely... Have you ever played down here in Atlanta?

    Narzarath: I actually live a few hours away from Tremont, so I discovered it later than everyone else, haha. But, Tremont opened their doors to me to see The Casualties and that was probably one of the sickest live shows I've attended. I'm ecstatic and also upset that I was able to perform one of their final shows. As for ATL, I haven't gotten to perform there, but I did recently attend The Masquerade to see Mayhem, Watain, and Rotting Christ. The attendence was incredible and I plan on returning later this year.

    Mysterion: It's a shame to see a good underground music venue close its doors. Tremont Music Hall will be missed by many, not to mention the other venues that have closed here recently. All we can do is hope that eventually new venues will emerge to take their place. We've never played any shows in Atlanta. We did try to get a gig at The Masquerade several years ago, but things didn't end up working out. However, I recently spoke with a member of Wormreich about the possibility of setting up a show in Atlanta in the future.

  • So I see that you have a live drummer; are good drummers hard to find in your area? Down here in Atlanta, I know many bands have stated what a challenge it is to find good drummers that can actually play such fast and complicated music. So much so that one local band decided to play live with a drum machine!

    Narzarath: There are a dozen guitarists for every drummer. That's how it's always seemed, anyways. As I got more and more into the underground metal scene as a teenager (I can't believe I just said that. I'm only 24, haha) I noticed that it was pretty common for drummers to be shared with other bands. I wouldn't mind learning how to play them with consistency just so that I could too, be of service. As for programmed drums, have no shame! Bloodsoaked (NC) has destroyed every performance as a one (sometimes two) man band. As long as they have a good mix, it sounds just as good as an acoustic set.

    Mysterion: When our first drummer departed the states to move back to his native country of France, we were left with very few choices regarding a live drummer to fill the slot. There were only a handful of good metal drummers in our area, and most of them were already involved with other bands. Melkrath, Soltherius, and I have all been great friends for years, as our previous bands used to share the stage often. It's an honor to play in a band not only with great musicians, but with true metal brothers.

  • Have you guys played any festivals or shows outside of your local area? I could see Mysteriarch maybe playing the 70,000 tons of metal cruise; have you been on that yet?

    Mysterion: No, I haven't been on that cruise yet. We've played some festivals and shows outside of our area, including the Age of Luciferian Intolerance Festival in Nashville, TN and the Miami Rock Festival in Miami, FL. I also run the annual Communion of Darkness Black Metal Festival, with the 4th one coming up later this year. We plan on doing some more extensive touring once the 3rd album is finalized.

  • On your latest full length, I REALLY dig the synthesized passages; they invoke a somewhat, well, I hesitate to say "medieval" atmosphere, but there definitely is a certain majestic landscape that is conjured up when listening to the synthesized parts. My favorite passage on the disc is that somewhat slow trumpet like "fanfare" that occurs during the last 2 minutes of the cut 'Paragon Of Forsaken Virtue.' I also really dig the last minute of 'Labyrinth Of Gnosis' as well!!

    Mysterion: An interesting thing about the song 'Paragon of Forsaken Virtue' is that some of the music was conceived in a dream I had. Medieval sounding black metal is something I've listened to since the early-mid 1990's. Bands such as Abigor, Emporer, Enslaved, Obtained Enslavement, Old Man's Child, Summoning and many others deserve credit here for inspiration. But as a band, we don't really strive to sound like anyone else.

    Lately, I've been listening to ancient traditional Greek music. The time signatures and scales used are very unique, as well as the dynamics and emotion. One can expect to hear some of these influences in upcoming Mysteriarch works. The name Mysteriarch itself is of Greek origin, derived from the word "Archos" (meaning Chief) and also the French word "Mysterion" (meaning Mysteries).

  • As we wrap this up, I remember that you guys were playing with Wormreich the night before their tragic van accident, a show I wished I could have made. What did you think of those guys? I actually was in a local band that opened up for them one night.

    Mysterion: Our thoughts and condolences go out to our brothers in Wormreich, and to all friends and family of those involved. We are honored to have shared the stage with them and look forward to more shows to come. With their level of dedication and perseverance, they have proven to be an unstoppable force in the U.S. Black Metal scene. If you ever get a chance to see their live performance, it is highly recommended.

    Narzarath: That was my second gig with Mysteriarch and also my second time seeing Wormreich. It was pretty crazy having just spoken to them and waking up the next morning hearing of the accident. Very talented guys with a very unorthodox sound. Please do yourself a favor and check it out. Also, I have to include Khaotika's ex-drummer Nick Crisostomo, as he was also involved. Sickest drum fills from him.

  • As of this writing, the sad thing is that the driver of the van is actually going to be charged with the deaths of those onboard. It's a shame really, since the driver was in one of the bands... You kinda don't know what else to say after that...

    Mysterion: It is a tragedy, as so much suffering has already been endured. People were hurt and lives were lost. However, it was in fact an accident and nothing intentional. All one can do now is hope for the best.

    Narzarath: Pay respects and continue to play. I'm sure they'd want nothing less.

  • If there's anything else you wanna mention or talk about that we missed, go ahead and use this space here... Thanks again man, hope to see you guys out on tour somewhere soon!

    Mysterion: I'd like to thank you Steve and all at Vibrations of Doom for having us. Keep an eye out for our upcoming 3rd full-length album "Wrath Of The Demiurge." Visit us on Facebook and check out our upcoming show schedule. Also, feel free to give our other bands/projects a listen.

    Narzarath: Thanks for the interview! I want to give a shout out to a friend's band from Raleigh, NC called Penal Catheter. Support sick Goregrind!



    UTMARKEN.
    Interview with Mathias Gyllengahm via email...

    When I do interviews with bands, especially when I think we're both on very common ground, I end up being surprised and quite illuminated by what the reality of the situation ends up being. This brand new band, who has impressed me mightily with their very unique and most importantly, down to earth and HONEST brand of folk metal, has a LOT to contribute to the world of "folk metal." And right now, utilizing that term alone, YOU have already decided whether you want to continue on with this interview or you're done with all this. Still, when expecting this band to be fully into Norse mythology, legend, lyrics and lore, I was quite shocked by the answers I received, and this interview definitely changed my perspective on quite a number of things. Which will become obvious by the end of this interview... Still, interviews like these are a learning experience for both the band and myself, and that's what I ALWAYS strive for my interviews to be. A few "barriers," if you will, are broken down for me and I ended up seeing a different side of Scandinavia, one that I was a bit unaware existed... Read on...

  • The first thing I notice with the record is that running times for many of the songs is no more than 3 or 4 minutes per track! It's obvious you're not doing doom metal tracks!! Was this intentional; do you think the best songs are the ones that get in, get out and get the job done?

    Yes, it was intentional. It's both and, some songs can be better. My thought was to build on old and tested methods. Most folk tunes are usually really short.

  • A lot of "folk metal" bands to me seem to throw in fiddles, jew's harps and folkish instrumentation just to say "hey, we're a metal band but we have to add these instruments to be "folk" oriented. Of course, these songs you present have these instruments as well, but they seem to add to the overall vibe and sound; they're actually in complement with the other instruments, and in fact are more prominent than the guitars!

    I have noticed the same thing. I didn't really have the intention to do "folk metal" like that. I wanted to make some kind of merge between classic heavy metal, hard rock and folk music. To me the modern folk music IS metal. No other genre has the same support from people. And I think it's a bit sad that folk music has become something like an internal affair, for a very small crowd. But everything develops, and it's no use trying to get an audience playing folk music in its original form, like some try do... besides - my knowledge of "real" scandinavian folk music is limited.

    I get the essentials though: I can recreate what I hear is typical for it. I stumbled upon that nyckelharpa (keyed fiddle) and the guy who sold it to me was very helpful and introduced me to that world, and it became the center for many of the songs. I didn't write the songs on guitar and (forced) nyckelharpa upon them later - it was more the other way around. One might think that it shouldn't make any difference which instrument to start with, but I noticed the difference was huge. The nyckelharpa has its own "language," its own voice. Some things become very natural when playing it, some very unnatural. It's in the way the instrument is created. I have tried doing nyckelharpa parts for music that has been written for guitar, and even though it is the real instrument it doesn't come out well.

  • On a track like 'En Stadig Puls,' where you have multivocal "chants" and tribal percussion, are some of these arrangements taken from actual ancient Scandinavian folk songs? I know some folk metal bands re-arrange traditional "hymns" or old folk tunes, whereas some add more of a metal influence to older songs from ancient past...

    No, there are no references to old folk tunes or such, nor will there ever be. There is a place and time for doing that, but Utmarken is not the forum for such things. I want it to be something that stands on its own. There are so many other bands that have already done that and I don't claim to do anything original, so I can at least avoid things like that.

  • During our email correspondence, I was taken aback and a little surprised to have a Scandinavian ask me (an American) about how to approach a paganistic view, especially where the Norse gods are concerned... Surprising still is the fact that you mentioned Viking and Norse mythology are seemingly not taught in schools anymore. I am seriously hoping that the "dumbing down" of our kids (which I assumed at this point was more of an American horror story, where our kids are lied to about their history and where they came from, etc.) has not spread to other lands. Then again, I can possibly assume that Viking history and heritage may have been seen as more a Norwegian thing than a Swedish thing.

    You mentioned that you were a pagan and I found it interesting to find people abroad that know more about my "local" history than I do myself. We do get to hear about the Vikings and Norse mythology in school but, as I recall it, it was more like those were silly sagas that the people believed around this place a long time ago. I have read a little about these things later on, but I know too little to say anything definitive, but as I understand it this big temple with the norse gods where they were said to go each 7th year or something was in Uppsala, which is in Sweden, so I think it should be related to "Swedish" history as well (although Sweden didn't exist at that time in its current form.) However, I think there is only one song on the album that references Norse mythology explicitly and the part of the country where I live in, the northern part, has no traces of viking settlements - not that I know of anyway. That is one reason I have not chosen to focus on the Vikings and the Norse, another is that a lot of people have explored that theme successfully.

    But it's always interesting to know more, and you mentioned dumbing down kids in school... I can only see for myself how little I really know about my past. I don't know if it's something that comes with age: one catalyst is probably that I moved out to the countryside, where I grew up, and found out how little I know about this place - and how little the other people, who have lived here their entire lives here know of it, even though some have their roots far back here. There are burial mounds around here, bronze age findings etc, but no one knows. No one even knows exactly when the house we live in is built, and it's only a bit more than 100 years old!

    These are things that have fed my imagination during the creation process of the album. In this place, where I live, very few people live nowadays, but only 150 years or so back there were quite a few people living here, and with all these bronze/stone age findings around here one knows that people have been living here for a loong time. Yet, no one knows. I have been walking around in the surroundings here;, the woods, small mountains, fields... and it's a wonderful environment for creativity. I have found things that look like traces of old settlements, that are not even catalogued, and I can just dream up things. I'm there, all alone, everything is forgotten, but I can invent it again. That's where I've gotten a lot of the songs for the album. I like to imagine that I don't write the songs, but I just go out there and "find" them. They're already out there, just waiting for someone to pick them up, and since no one else is around... that's my task. And it appears to have worked quite well to do it like that, haha!

    But yes... history seems to be a mystery, and lately I've come to hear that maybe the northern part of the country has its own hidden history as well... Keep that last point in mind for the future.

  • So how do the Scandinavian gods play into life in this day and age do you think? Many Americans go to see Amon Amarth live and shout "Odin!" to the band. But how do you see the gods in the modern era? Obviously we are not sword and shield wielding warriors like the Vikings of old, but I do feel we are still undergoing a spiritual and mental battle, to better ourselves and gain the wisdom and knowledge of the ancients; also to prevent governments and the "elite" ruling power from keeping us powerless and under control.

    I actually don't think the Scandinavian gods play into everyday life nowadays, except for those that think of them, and there are very few who do. One thing one can say that it is always better for those in power if their servants don't even want to break free, that they're happy being good consumers, living their lives from cradle to grave without leaving a trace, leaving nothing behind. From what I know of; these gods and their stories celebrate ideals like heroism, strength, taking responsibility and control of your own life etc, and you certainly don't want your servants to get ideas like that into their little minds. It's bad for productivity, you know. And what would the rulers do if people found out how much strength they actually have inside them?

    To me, personally, one thing I've found that I like is the "a gift for a gift" principle. That you have to give something to get something back.

  • So the name "Utmarken," as far as I can tell, seems to refer to the land outside the city, like maybe how we differentiate the city from the country; IE rural areas that might be more of just woods and/or farmlands... I have also noted that there have been said to be hundreds of acres of Scandinavian lands that have been untouched by man for centuries, woods and mountains and fjords. I have also heard that some metal musicians from Scandinavia chose to live in these deep woods and mountains.

    Yes, you’re absolutely right about the name. I must say I don't think there is much land that is untouched though. We have a few national parks, but they are not that big - but even the vast woods are being used like plantations. Sure, it takes quite some time between sowing and harvesting, but almost all the forest land is used this way. I doubt there is land that is untouched for centuries, at least not in Sweden. I haven't heard of any metal musicians living without electricity either, but it doesn't appear to be uncommon for those type of people to live like I do, in small, rural villages. It's difficult to record music without electricity. ;)

  • So you said you were studying Nordic history and the sagas... Of the Viking gods, who do you most identify with? For me, with my strict christian and later jehovah's witness upbringing, I still find that comforting correlation between the father Odin and son Thor in my main repertoire of gods (somewhat like god the father and son Jesus christ), and those two are where my focus and relationship lie. Not that Freyja, Baldur, Heimdall or the other gods weren't important, but I definitely respect the wisdom and lover of prose that Odin was portrayed to be. A fierce and powerful warrior, but also full of knowledge and didn't rush into battle needlessly to prove anything...

    I wouldn't say I'm well studied in these topics, but I want to read more and will when I get the time, but if I should pick one it would be Odin since I know he is the god of the poetic arts. I wouldn't say I'm identifying with him, but me doing what I do... If there is anyone that looks after me, who has fixed all these things that are out of my control - it should be Odin.

  • Some of the points you made about christianity (as a monotheistic religion promoting subservience to a central power) ring true with me as well. Furthermore, I have been doing some research into the possibility that the christian religion was said to be a psychological warfare invention of the Roman Empire, as they were becoming a weakened empire due to constant feuding and attack from the Jewish leaders and followers of the day. It tends to make some sense, espeically when you consider the Romans had found out that the Jews were waiting for their messiah, who of course refused to help bring about the destruction of the Roman Empire... It was a British professor who gave a talk about this, and unfortunately I have not heard much else from the originators of this speech...

    About christianity being an invention for enslaving people... It's one of these things that if you come up with that idea you're labeled a conspiracy theorist. I'm raised in a christian environment though, and it sure was a mind job to get rid of those mental blocks. It took a few years. But I've noticed that monotheism and centralization of power seem to go hand in hand. There might be something there. On the other hand, I don't believe people need to get religious in that sense to become fanatics and do really terrible things en masse. I can come up with one non-religious ideology that did that job better than any other religion.

  • While on the subject of religion, I do find it odd how many similarities the ancient religions DO have with christianity. Like the theme of the christian cross, well, we all know that Odin also hung himself from a tree (a self sacrifice) for nine days and nine nights to gain the knowledge of the runes... Also, the theme of armageddon in christianity plays out much the same in the Norse version, known as Ragnarok, where Surtur the fire giant lays waste to the land by fire, somewhat like the biblical apocalypse.

    I think there are archetypes that we have in us when we're born, probably before. Things that come along with being a human - as long as you have a somewhat functioning intellect and are not in a vegetative state. It's in our DNA/soul or whatever it is. We live, we die, have two legs, one heart etc. There is a set of basic fundamentals that are common to all of us, and thus they manifest in cultural archetypes as well. But that's a wild guess of course. Who really knows why? There are many strange things to ponder...

  • So now that the full length album is out, what do you like most about it? As much as I really enjoyed the more metal tune 'Yxtid,' I also have to say that I enjoy the almost "ballad" like tune 'Tystnaden's Roest.' I think this is due to the fact that I've listened to a lot of Falconer's Swedish sung songs, and of course the band Tyr from the Faroe Islands sings a LOT of songs in their native language...

    What I like most about it is that I actually did it, that I worked really, really hard and created something out of my own will. Not because I was aiming for success, but because it was something that only I could do. When discussing religion etc. earlier you mentioned the "dumbing down of kids," and a "ruling elite..." When you start digging somewhere, be it history or anything else, it is easy to get the feeling that everything you've been told is a lie. Some people see the Illuminati everywhere, others see evil bankers etc, but in essence they see something evil that has this world in a firm grip, regardless of who or what that "evil" is. To me, I don't see the point of finding out the "truth:" I don't know, and I don't have the time, and it doesn't lead me anywhere but I like to play with the idea that it is something, on a "spiritual" plane, that tries to take away the power, the individuality, the essence, the soul of as many humans as possible. Maximize human suffering. Not make it too hard, since that kills off people, but balance it so that it can go on as long as possible. Keep people sick, but healthy enough to work. Go through life from cradle to grave without leaving a trace. Sort of like "The Matrix."

    I believe we're all unique and we all have our own journey to make in this life, and that each and every one of us have a lot of power inside ourselves. You should do the most of that thing that only you can do, despite all the attempts to try to hinder you. I can honestly say that I really did my best considering the circumstances. It's not perfect, but it was the best I could do, and I was the only one that could do this album. Honestly, I actually didn't want to, but I had to. And I did. That's what I like most about the album!

    I should mention that I haven't done everything myself though. I would never have been able to do it without help and support by especially Benny (did all drums, listening reference) and Jorgen (all guitar solos).

  • Your vocalist Mathias has a very fine voice... For a minute he kind of reminds me of another fellow Swede named Mathias who sings for Falconer. Of course, what's unusual about Falconer is their vocalist doesn't listen to very much metal but is indeed a medieval minstrel type of singer... Did Mathias sing for any other bands (whether metal or not)?

    Since the guy answering the questions, me, is Mathias I can reveal that, no... I have mainly sung covers for 10 years, some metal some not. Me, Benny and Jorgen collaborated before this on a metal project before though.

  • Anything about your album you DIDN'T like? Or maybe wish you could go back and re-record? For me, I suppose 'Haexkonst' would be my least favorite track; not because it's a terrible track, but it just seems to be a bit lacking something. I thought maybe the choruses could have been stronger... Still I love every other tune on the record!

    I'm a bit sceptical of 'Bleka Toner,' it's a bit too "nice" or something. 'Haexkonst' at least has a bit of interesting lyrics, to me, but those two tracks are the ones that were least successful in my opinion.

  • I know it's a bit early, but are you working on songs for a followup release? Maybe lyrics, themes, song titles or an album concept?

    Yes, 5 demo tracks are already somewhat recorded, I think 4 of those will make it to the album. I get the feeling the sequel will be a bit more "introverted."

  • One of the things I think some people might have a bit of a problem with is the Swedish language. It may sound a bit strange to some, some of the words they aren't familiar with, and some will say "I can't listen to music that's not sung in English." Still, I find people every day that listen to bands that don't sing in their native language... Like with extreme metal, some people will never get over the growling or screeching, no matter how good the music may be. And that's a prejudice I deal with every single day, when trying to get people into these bands.

    Yes, I guess that's just the way things are. To me, it wouldn't have been possible to do it credibly if I sang in a different language.

  • I did an interview with the black metal band Mayhem from Norway, where Necrobutcher said there used to be a law on their books that everyone had to keep guns in their house, to protect the country from the Swedes. Now, at the time we were all smoking a lot of weed, so I don't know if they were kidding or not, but I always understood that Norway and Sweden were, for the most part, pretty cool with each other (especially as far as band members went).

    Hahaha, that's a good story! Well, I don't know my history good enough but everyone was in war with everyone back in the days, and Sweden and Norway were of course too, but I think it was more than 200 years ago we were last at war; but Norway was declared independent quite late after that. It might very well be true, it might have been under this treaty after that last battle until they were allowed to leave the union. The Norwegians probably knew better to defend themselves against the power crazy warrior kings in Stockholm than the rest of the people of Sweden. If I understand things correctly we have gotten along quite well over the borders during the days, compared to what the rest of the world was like then.

  • Finally, if an American were to visit Sweden, and they wanted to go to some cool concert halls, venues, etc. to see cool Scandinavian Viking, folk, doom, and black metal bands, where would you point them to? Where would be fun Swedish places to go for Americans to see and do things they couldn't do back home?

    I really don't know if there is any type of festival for viking, folk and doom. Those genres are not that big here and most festivals have all type of metal genres. There is one named "Dark Days Of Stockholm" though, which is directed against the more extreme subgenres. Otherwise, if you want to hear some real Swedish folk music you should go to Bingsjostamman in Dalarna. Dalarna is probably the county that has preserved most of the old culture, and the nature there is really beautiful. And Dalarna is usually also called Norrland, although they're far south of where I live. But Norrland... that's where you should go if you come to Sweden, of course! ;)

    EDITORIAL NOTATIONS



    Yes, the zine is in September... Right before we go to ProgPower. Make sure that you tune into the Vibrations Of Doom Magazine/DOOM Radio facebook page on Friday, September 9th for we shall be telling the world what bands will be playing at the 2017 ProgPower as soon as we hear it from the video monitors. We will also have some video up from several of the bands playing at ProgPower, and just might devote a huge chunk of time to Fates Warning, who are playing their "Awaken The Guardian" album IN IT'S ENTIRETY, with the mighty John Arch handling the microphone...

    As I put out this issue, I know it's been a loooong time in coming. Yes, there were yet more delays, but once again, I am pleased with the final result. As I have stated MANY times in the past, I WILL delay issues until I am certain this will be a worthy issue, each and every time. And sadly, delays with band interviews are the number one reason many of these issues get delayed. However, I also have a 40 hour a week job I must commit to so that the magazine has a physical home, and some days I just don't feel like advancing the latest issue forward. Life gets in the way. We all get tired... And we move on as best as we can.

    Not much else to say here, though we are looking forward to next year being our mighty publication's 25th anniversary. Not sure what we're gonna do, as I never really thought this 'zine would survive all the turmoil and craziness we've had to endure for 25 years... This humble little 'zine started life in Savannah, Georgia and now makes it's home here in the metro Atlanta area. Here's to hoping it will carry on for 25 more years!! While I'm thinking about things, even stranger still is the fact that DOOM Radio, now featuring over 100 different promo spots from bands all across the globe, celebrated TEN YEARS of activity in March of 2016...

    Thanks to everyone who helped us and supported us for so many years. I hope I can reach even more people through our usual outlets. Never forget to support independent and underground music, for it is the lifeblood of each and every one of us that keeps this thing going for future generations and those who weren't even born when metal was in it's infancy. It's OUR future, so let's take responsibility for it and ensure that heavy metal will survive for another 50 to 100 years!!!