VIBRATIONS OF DOOM MAGAZINE
Okay, yeah, the 'zine is late again... It happens... Anyway, I'm working out
some things in my life so that I can dedicate more time and bring ya more CD
reviews for next issue. There's only like 21 reviewed this issue... BUT, on the
positive side, I know the next issue will be better. Hell, I say that every
Wanna drop me some stuff? Address is on the title page. :> Okay, well here it
is again, in case this magazine is coming to you from a different source than
on my official website:
Vibrations of Doom Magazine
c/o Steven Cannon
P.O. Box 1258
Suwanee, GA 3024-0963 USA
It's da krunk!!!
ARMAGEDDON DILDOS "Morgengrauen" (Electric Blue) SCORE: 88/100
I haven't heard from the Armageddon Dildos since their 2 album deal with U.S.
based Warner Brothers was finished. And for those who remember the rather
chaotic and heavy guitar laced industrial of their "Homicidal Dolls" and "Lost"
albums, this may shock some people. Let me be the first to say that upon my
first listen, I loved this record. While it certainly lacks the overpowering
guitar work and sneering, sinister vocals, it more than makes up for it with
sheer coolness and a laid back atmosphere that really works. Songs like 'Der
Letzte Zarte Kuss,' 'Gotter Der Nacht' and 'Vergiss Nicht' are so laid back
that you almost forget this used to be a harsh industrial outfit. The vocal
work is very mellow and has a rather confident vibe, while still maintaining a
strength all it's own. The instrumentation is quite well done also, check out a
track like 'Raus' which definitely utilizes some trancey elements, and the
guitars do pop up on 'Gotter Der Nacht,' however they are electronically
enhanced and almost don't sound like real guitars. His penchant for the
beautiful guitar solo shines through on this track, and it's truly a shame that
this wasn't used more often! The biggest drawback I see is with the female
singer which is incorporated on a few tracks. It ruined 'Life Like This,' with
the only song on the CD sung in English. The vocal work here bordered on
soulful, and to be honest the Dildos don't NEED a female vocalist. 'Raus' as
well suffered from the female treatment, though not as bad, but this song ended
up sounding a bit more house oriented. 'Spiel Mit Mir' and 'Der Glaube' show
us some robotic vocal effects, and they were a bit hard to get used to on 'Der
Glaube,' though it was interesting enough for the darker electronics on
display. The last track starts off rather ballad like, well, for an electronic
piece, but the atmospheric synths were almost ambient and landscape like, and
the cool vocal work shone through to the end. Catchy choruses and a vibe that's
really laid back and mellow all the way through, plus the German lyrics, and
you'll find yourself wondering what Rannstein would sound like if they were a
more mellow outfit. Keep in mind that Armageddon Dildos were doing it WAY
before Rammstein became a household word. Oh yeah, and before I forget, one
other thing that A.D. has done differently on this album: unlike most electro
acts, no song even touches the 5 minute mark, with many songs (especially the
good ones) not even lasting 4 minutes. Different, and unlike what I expected
but HIGHLY enjoyable.
Contact: Electric Blue/Ausfahrt
Web site: http://www.ausfahrt.de
ATOMIC NUMBER 76 "Atomic Number 76" (Independent) SCORE: 48/100
The name isn't terribly original, but the sound emanates somewhere between old
school Sabbath, 70's era rock and stoner rock; however the format isn't very
appealing to me. 'Born With No Soul' starts the CD off at a somewhat lethargic
midpace, and the clean sung vocals I thought were a bit too weak in many spots.
Many of the songs here aren't terrible, but there are too many "average" songs
to even warrant a score higher than 50. So what makes a 10 song CD with only 2
completely enjoyable songs rank close to average? Well, the guitar work is
definitely commendable, but mainly during the lead solos or instrumental breaks
like on tracks 'Devination' and '100 Proof.' 'Blind' wasn't too bad of a tune,
with the more uptempo guitars starting things off and lots of really cool
guitar effects right out of a Hendrix album. But it didn't impress me as much
as '100 Proof,' which had a slow pace but some NASTY fuzzed out guitars and,
finally, a vocal style that was a bit rougher and heavier, fitting this song
well. 'Gas Hangover' continued peaking my interest, especially since the faster
instrumentation kept things going while the louder vocal style, sung though it
was, had nice distorted effects during the choruses, which were catchy. Not
much else brought me to the table, though, as the song structures for the most
part left me wanting more. MUCH more. And by the end of the CD, I was ready to
kill whoever was playing that cowbell. The last track 'Alkihol' I thought to be
an instrumental, one with rather annoying guitar riffs, until the slower pace
brought the vocals around the 2:48 mark. These guys I suppose have the talents,
but it's rather odd that if you go to their webpage, the only 2 songs they have
MP3's of for you to listen to are the only songs I liked off the album. Wonder
what's in store for album number two?
Contact: Atomic Number 76.
Web site: http://www.atomicnumber76.com
BLOOD RED THRONE "Affiliated With The Suffering" (Hammerheart) SCORE: 92/100
Ya know, people are going to ask how I could like a project like this. It's
death metal in the vein of Cannibal Corpse, however one important facet of this
information sticks out: It is in the vein of my alltime favorite Cannibal
Corpse album "The Bleeding." Cannibal Corpse, to me, was at their most powerful
when Chris Barnes injected some slower passages and more eerie riffs into the
music, and THIS record to me is how Cannibal should have sounded had Chris
Barnes not left. The difference between that era Cannibal and Blood Red Throne
is the massive amount of crushing guitar riffs. For every speedier passage,
there are some amazingly heavy and thrashy guitar riffs that can't help but
keep you going. For the ultimate in misanthropy, check out how the opening tune
'Unleashing Hell' starts off with the spoken vocal sample. Then the
instrumentation blasts right onto the scene, with vocals that are somewhat
reminiscent of Barnes era Cannibal Corpse. The vocals themselves are not the
most extremely impressive but they get the job done. Every song you can hear
some fast riffing, though not so fast as to sound like a mess, and then the
slower guitars come along and these guys are masters of their instrumentation.
Which should be seen as no surprise, since all the members of B.R.T. are
affiliated with some of the most cult and underground black metal bands today!
Surprising? Shouldn't be, considering the fact that many Norweigan black metal
bands started out as death metal projects (see the B.R.T. interview for more
details). There's sick and twisted lyrics, cool use of samples (the girl
screaming her head off in 'Razor Jack,' and the near death gurgles of a victim
on 'Mandatory Homicide.') and some instrumental passages (like the one on
'Bleeder's Lament') that will make you go, "Didn't I hear this type of guitar
passage on the first few Cannibal records? There is a lot going on with damn
near every song, so you won't get the same set of riffs and structures repeated
50,000 times in the space of 5 minutes. If death metal could be as well written
as this stuff is, I'd be back to the genre in a heartbeat. Leave it to the
black metal elite to show the world how true death metal is supposed to be
Contact: Hammerheart Records, P.O. Box 277, 63000 AG Valkenburg, NETHERLANDS
Web site: http://www.hammerheart.com
DIXIE WITCH "One Bird, Two Stones" (Small Stone) SCORE: 54/100
I must say, I haven't heard of Dixie Witch before but it looks like a band that
Man's Ruin might have experimented with. From what I remember about Small Stone
though, I didn't think I'd dig it. Bands like Puny Human and Five Horse Johnson
didn't sit well with me, though I must admit Dixie Witch is a bit better than
the aforementioned bands. Utilizing fuzzy guitar riffs that sometimes work
really well, what drags this disc down for me is the insistence on southern
rock orientations, most notably in the lyrics of songs like 'Drifting Lady' and
the twangy guitars found nearly everywhere else. The first song 'Get Busy' is
probably the only song I can find nothing to complain about. The guitars can be
heavy, and there are some nice guitar solos on many tracks. 'Goin' South'
wasn't too bad, but what's with the lyrics sayin' 'Brother' every so often?
The shouted vocal work seems to be a decent idea, and I can't say that the
vocalist is doing a bad job, but many of the tracks here I don't care much for,
even if I don't hate them outright. 'Makes Me Crazy' really drove me, well,
nuts, as it's a slower tune (something Dixie Witch does a lot of) that has
REALLY twanging guitar riffs and a vocalist that is trying to emulate the
southern style. Give major points on instrumentation to the last few tracks,
especially closer 'Traveler,' well, until the vocals kick in. Not a big fan of
this style of rock music, if you are though (I assume people who dig Lynyrd
Skynyrd) then you'll find a good home for this CD. Not a terrible release, but
too many songs I couldn't see myself listening to on a regular basis.
Contact: Small Stone Records.
FAITH AND THE MUSE "The Burning Season" (Metropolis) SCORE: 70/100
When I got the double CD set from Metropolis from this legendary and cult
gothic band, I was amazed at how much great material there was to be found.
What sets Faith And The Muse, for me, apart from the rest of this genre is the
insistence on beautiful, sensuous and melodic female vocals, inlaid with
medieval type instrumentation that includes some orchestration and frequent use
of a Mandolin. This record jumps all OVER the place, and as such is not quite
the bona fide keeper I had hoped it would be. Track 1 starts off more as an
intro than anything, and though odd, Monica's vocals hold up well. The next
tune, 'Sredni Vashtar' is surprising as hell and probably the heaviest, most
pure industrial track this band has ever written. This is a great tune, and
besides having tremendous club potential, is the exception to the rule about
F&TM and heaviness. The catchy choruses help also. From here things start to
slide downhill, though I can't write some of this stuff off completely, and
that may be due to the fact that Monica is a great singer. 'Boudiccea' is the
next track of record, and this is a rather dark and dreary, dare I say
brooding, type of gothic tune I'd expect from anyone in the genre OTHER than
F&TM. The acoustic guitar work starts off nicely, but just like the Bauhaus
cover from the double CD set, Monica does not do the haunting and dreary
atmosphere very well. Even if there is some halfway decent instrumentation.
'The Burning Season' sounds like another dark piece, but here Monica's almost
whispered delivery cannot be ignored, even if the track refuses to grab me
totally. 'Whispered In Your Ear' would be a good club hit as well, and this is
definitely a bit more upbeat and of course, this is more of what I prefer to
hear from you know who. 'Gone To Ground' was the first song that REALLY made me
wince, as it's set to a sort of sultry nightclub, maybe late lounge, type of
instrumentation that did not work at ALL for Monica's vocals. She just doesn't
do the wicked, dark and seductive thing very well. And then there's the electro
punk tune 'Relic Song,' which was very out of place (even considering the fact
that both William AND Monica both have rich punk backgrounds). It's not until
track 9 that I start hearing the stuff that made me a F&TM fanatic, like the
medieval mandolin and club atmosphere of 'Visions,' and the awesome multi
vocal work and minimal instrumentation (with a medieval feel once again) on
'In The Amber Room.' 'Prodigal' is more alternative sounding and yes,
clubworthy, but still a good tune, and 'Willow's Song' closes out the CD in a
fashion where you hear acoustic guitars, Monica, and not much else. All in all,
there's good stuff here, but not what I was hoping for, and not quite enough to
warrant a definite keeper rating. Still, I suspect if you can handle better
what I couldn't, you'll find this an indispensable part of your CD collection.
Contact: Metropolis Records, P.O. Box 54307, Philadelphia, PA 19105 USA
Web site: http://www.metropolis-records.com
FALCON "Demo 2003" (Independent) SCORE: 38/100
I was rather interested in this latest project by members who you would think
wouldn't come together to do a project like this. One exciting thing about this
group is the welcome return of Cirith Ungol guitarist Greg Lindstrom to the
music making scene. This project also features Darin McCloskey on drums, who
of course is most famous for his work with stoner gods Pale Divine, and finally
completing this trio is Perry Grayson formerly of Destiny's End. It's this last
addition I have the MOST trouble with. The vocal work here is extremely hard to
get into, and keeps me from enjoying the few great moments on this CD. First
off, the music is said to be a return to the power trio's of the early 70's
like Budgie, Trapeze, Dust, and even bands like Pentagram, Mountain, and
Captain Beyond to name a few. I really don't think the band worked very long on
this demo, and it shows. Opener 'Shelob's Lair' has lyrics straight out of
Tolkien, which isn't a bad thing, but the instrumentation here is rather basic
and straightforward. Almost TOO straightforward. There's nothing really dynamic
about this song, which is sad considering who's playing. There are some opening
guitar riffs on track 2, 'Downer,' even if the song structure isn't put
together well. One annoying glare, especially on this track, is how poorly the
transitions are from varying tempos on the song structure. You can tell these
songs weren't rehearsed for very long. The choruses especially suffer the worst
from the vocals here. There are, to be fair, some interesting lead riffs, but
nothing I'd have to listen to more than a few times. Usually, for me, once the
vocals are poorly done, it's game over. Now 'The Crying Of Lot 246' definitely
had the best possibilities of all 4, and the vocals worked extremely well with
the catchier and faster instrumentation, but most of the instrumentation is
dreary and slow, and the vocals are absolutely horrid. More interesting high
end guitar work starting off 'On The Slab,' the last track, but by now you
probably know why I can't get into it, especially when considering that the
instrumentation holds nothing much to cheer about. I'd like to see more
development on this project, but the vocals are going to HAVE to improve.
Contact: Falcon, c/o Perry Grayson, 6442 Pat Ave. West Hills, CA 91307 USA
Web site: http://www.thevine.net/~fortress/falcon.htm
FOREST STREAM "Tears Of Mortal Solitude" (Earache) SCORE: 100/100
All I have to say is: WOW! This is the highlight CD of this issue and what has
to be at least one of the top 3 of CD's this year! But in which category? The
bio on the back of the CD says it best: "Symphonic, blackened doom of the
highest possible quality. Epic, majestic and suicidal, is a crestfallen
classic." Sorry guys, but I really can't do much better than that. Many of the
songs here easily surpass the 8 minute mark, but I guarantee you there is not
ONE single dull moment on ANY track. Many of these songs run through damn near
EVERY single human emotion ot be found: anger, sorrow, melancholia, despair,
rage, beauty, and damn, I think this band ran out of emotions! There's no more
that they could possibly touch! Here's an example: a track like 'Legend' starts
off like somewhat fast paced black metal, with amazingly epic and melodic
synths, only to add melodic piano notes within and they change structures in
every song quite frequently. 'Last Season Purity' showcases their doom metal
styled guitar work from the start, and upon first listen you never know what
sort of instrumental variations are going to hit you. The synth and guitar
passages mesh amazingly well together, putting over on you some of the
catchiest and most heart rending passages I've yet to hear in music. This is a
CD people should be raving about for years to come! 'Black Swans' has the
opening flute like notation, and extremely rich instrumentation, and amazing
lead guitar solos! You will be surprised to hear track 6, 'Whole,' as this is
the first song to make use of amazing clean sung vocals, which they also do on
'Black Swans.' The vocal work is mainly black and death metal, with a few
guttural passages on 'Mel Kor.' An amazing instrumental 'Steps Of Mankind,' a
short one at that, closes out this album is great fashion, and I cannot say too
much more about this amazing masterpiece, hailing from Russia of all places.
This sounds to me like the most innovative creation that Mental Home could have
come up with, had they advanced by several years. As it is, it's Earache and
not The End Records that brings us probably the BEST band to EVER hail from
Russia. The highest possible rating we can possibly give it...
Contact: Earache Records, 2nd Floor, 43 West 38th Street, New York, NY 10018
Web site: http://www.earache.com
FROSTMOON ECLIPSE "Death Is Coming" (ISO666) SCORE:99/100
...And ready to crush your skull!! Holy shit, I knew this band had potential
when I heard the awesome "Gathering The Dark" but this is quite easily my vote
for at LEAST top 5 black metal releases this year! If you remember the review
of "Gathering The Dark," you remember their penchant for amazingly written
acoustic guitar parts, and this album has those, but they definitely utilize
some intense speed! Listen to them blast away on tracks like 'The Black Tide'
and 'World In Ruin.' The lyrics are bleak and misanthropic yet again, which
makes 'World In Ruin' one of my favorite tracks to scream to. 'The Darkest
Season Of Humanity' starts the CD off and it blasts right out of the box with
nary a second's delay, only to suddenly drop in some rather dark acoustic
arrangements. The track 'Funeral,' which is actually song #4, is a very good
acoustic only instrumental and serves this CD WELL as a small 1 minute and 37
second breather for this record. The last three tracks start the songs off
acoustically, especially 'Blindness' with some really dark sounding acoustics.
The vocal work on the CD is absolutely sick and throat ripping, even on
'Blindness' where there is lots of "spoken" type vocals mixed in with the
acoustic passages. 'Waiting For The Storm' is a fantastic way to close out the
album, complete with epic instrumentation and a dramatic finish. This last tune
is rather long, at almost 8 minutes, making it seem a tad bit longer with the
essence of speed, but still worth damn near every minute. Each song has the
amazing ability to go very quickly from blazing speed to maybe a slower pace or
even an acoustic break, so you know the band is extremely tight. It will be
tough picking out tracks to digitize for this, and I STRONGLY urge you to hear
what is most definitely one of the STRONGEST and most innovative black metal
albums this year!
Contact: ISO666 Releases.
HELLOWEEN "Rabbit Don't Come Easy" (Nuclear Blast) SCORE: 45/100
The first time I ever started listening to this record I was surprised how much
I actually hated it. I mean, "Better Than Raw" wasn't a perfect record, but it
definitely had more dynamics, more strong and catchy choruses, and this record
lacks MUCH of what made "Better Than Raw" one of my faves. I'm not extremely
familiar with Helloween's back catalog, and it's been several years since I
owned, and then subsequently lost, "Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part 1," so I'm n
definitely NOT an expert in all things Helloween. Despite that, there are some
things I did pick up on right away, like 'Never Be A Star,' which is very
easily THE best song on the album. Great choruses, nice vocal work, great
guitar parts and song structures. This album is all over the place as far as
styles go, and 'Liar' shows them trying to write a real heavy tune, and it just
sounds too forceful. Forceful as in they're trying too hard, with the results
ending up with rather bland choruses and an overabundance of speed. 'Sun 4 The
World' had nice Arabic styled instrumentation starting out, which surprised me,
and it was one of their better cuts, as was 'Back Against The Wall,' which had
thrashy guitars and a heavier vocal style that DID work. Too many songs I
didn't care for, 'Do You Feel Good' was one of their WORST, especially when the
choruses sound so cheesy and the lyrics didn't help. CD opener 'Just A Little
Sign' REALLY had some of the worst lyrics, especially when he says 'Something's
growing in my pants as I look into her eyes.' Poppy choruses didn't help
either. 'Nothing To Say' clocks in at over 8 minutes and is definitely TOO long
for what they are doing here. 'Don't Stop Being Crazy' had nice symphonic
instrumentation but by the time the guitars and syrupy choruses come in (the
song title should tell you all you need to know) I was already jumping ship. I
can see where some people might like this, but I miss the dynamics and the
catchiness of the last CD I heard, many of these songs just sound like by the
numbers power metal, without an emphasis on POWER.
Contact: Nuclear Blast Records.
IPSUM "Mystic EVilution" (Ipsum) SCORE: 61/100
This was an interesting release hailing from the land of Switzerland of all
places, and featuring both a guitarist and vocalist that are female, and quite
attractive I must say. This is a somewhat black metal oriented band, though
what threw me was just how brutal the female black metal styled vocals (that
border on death metal as well) really are. The problem comes with the song
structures themselves, as they do have the ability to change tempos and
structures in the breadth of a song, but they don't really possess the
qualities that push their music over the top and really get in your face. Many
times, especially the way too long tracks (well over 8 minutes each) 'The Last
Of Gethsemane' and 'My End,' they drag some of the instrumentation out and it
really bogs the songs down. They have some interesting guitar work, in fact
the opening track 'New Model Inferno' and also 'Shadowcrown' prove that the
band has skills in the guitar riff writing department. The drums on this
release bothered me as well, they sounded a bit flat, though quite well played.
It's obvious that Michelle, the vocalist, is influenced by Immortal and
Emperor, not just because her band bio states this but because the faster black
metal instrumentation has promise, plus all that high ended guitar work that
would make these tracks sound better were they worked in more. Michelle's vocal
style, while interesting and unusual, just doesn't have that sick driving force
that someone like, say, Carnal Forge or the screamer for Dark Funeral or
Marduk has. The songs just never seem to go over the top, and while not really
bad (save for the few awful guitar notes that pop up here and there), they
most definitely need more work to make an album that I'm not picking through
to get to the good stuff.
Web site: http://www.ipsum.ch
KATATONIA "Viva Emptiness" (Peaceville) SCORE: 44/100
Believe it or not, I think I am probably being a bit too generous with the
score. Put simply, if I wanted to hear music like this, I would just turn on
the radio to the umpteen number of bands who put out songs like Katatonia does
here with tracks like 'A Premonition' and 'Evidence.' The latter song sounds a
lot like the newer metal bands out there that get radio play that have to do
whiny sung vocals in with the heaviness. Which, by the way, is rather insulting
to those of us who call heaviness home on a daily basis. He'll take a song like
'Wealth' or 'Complicity,' drop some "metal" guitars just to prove to everyone
he thinks he knows what metal is, then start some toybox instrumentation or
acoustic guitars, and put in some clean sung vocals. I don't see HOW people who
love the sideproject Diabolical Masquerade could EVER get into Katatonia. After
2 songs starting this disc out, 'Criminals' is the first song I could even get
into, utilizing some explosive choruses and nice swirling guitar riffs. Hearing
him say 'fucker' on this track is pretty funny though. And while we're at the
guitar riffs, the opening "heavy" guitars on album opener 'Ghost Of The Sun'
remind me STRONGLY of the guitar work that the band The Great Deceiver used,
though to rather annoying effect. Katatonia seems to be trying too hard to say
they can create a commercial album while still being "metal" or "heavy," and
oftentimes it's coming across as WAY too forceful. His higher ranged vocals are
annoying as hell too, like on 'Sleeper,' it didn't help that the haunting
instrumentation didn't stay consistent. The closing instrumental 'Inside The
City Of Glass' shows me that this band has good instrumental ideas, and I can't
call ALL the vocal work crap, but this band reeks of radio friendly alternative
or nu-metal at times. Most songs are like this: heavy guitar work to prove a
metal stance, then dropping right down to alternative soundscapes and cleanly
(TOO clean) sung vocals. Maybe heaviness on the choruses just to remind the
metal buying public who's supposed to be grabbing this album. Sorry, but I'm
not taken in...
Contact: Peaceville Records, P.O. Box 101, Cleckheaton, W Yorks, BD19 4YF, U.K.
Web site: http://www.peaceville.com
LEGEND "Still Screaming" (Monster) SCORE: 92/100
There are two bands known as Legend, and the confusion gets easier when you
realize that both are now affiliated with Monster Records, and as a matter of
fact, BOTH are digitized in the classic albums section. The band we're focusing
on today hails from the U.K., well, the Channel Islands, and have had quite a
buzz for years. Their three recorded efforts were firmly entrenched in the
NWOBHM movement and I must say this new effort sounds like NWOBHM up to date
with the current era! It surprised me just how heavy they can be while still
conveying lyrics that might sound like they came out of the early 80's. 'I'm
Not Angry' starts this disc off in FINE fashion, with some heavy guitars and
fantastic clean sung vocals. 'GHB' unfortunately didn't impress me as well as
I'd hoped, they utilized some Slayer type guitar riffs that sound as if they
were lifted from "South Of Heaven," though the vocal work kept me from dissing
this piece entirely. And while we're at the subject of vocals, lemme just say
one word: 'Pompeii.' What a fantastic set of harmonized vocals that sound truly
NWOBHM'ish, and if you want a reference point (besides listening to the actual
song itself), my best references are from obscure 80's metal bands Wolf (with
their tracks 'Medicine Man' and 'Rest In Peace') and Incubus (The U.K. band,
check the songs 'Helen Of Troy' and 'Life Beyond The Grave.'). You want more
surprises, twists and turns? 'Born In Chaos,' starting off with some mellow
acoustic guitars that really hide what comes next: heavy guitar riffs and some
low toned, angry, almost death metal styled vocals! Then the choruses kick in,
and I have to say this is what Legend's newest release shines and blinds you
with, those catchy and amazingly done choruses. My favorite track here HAS to
be 'Take A Man,' with a rocking guitar start and amazingly sung vocals that
bring 80's era Wolf to mind again. They actually redid one of their 80's tunes
in 'Hiroshima,' which was originally found on their self titled album that came
out in 1981. This time around, the tune sounds very doomy and much like the
Sabbath hit 'The Wizard,' though not much different from the original version,
all the way down to the snarling low toned passages here and there. Their
guitar work, though quite intense and phenomenal, did tend to lose my attention
in a few spots, namely the last 40 seconds of 'Generations Underground' and
the aforementioned 'GHB.' Some of the songs dipped in at 8 minutes and over,
and for some of the slower tunes this may have seemed like a bit much, but hey!
There's a LOT to enjoy on this disc, and Legend is definitely BACK! Now I'm
waiting for the U.S. Legend band to have "From The Fjords" officially released
Contact: Monster Records, P.O. Box 460173 San Antonio, TX 78246-0173 USA
Web site: http://www.monsterrecords.com
MELECHESH "Sphynx" (Osmose) SCORE: 93/100
This is an incredible piece of work. To listen to "As Jerusalem Burns," their
first record, you hear primal rawness and overt hints of great things to come.
Though I have not heard "Djinn," I find that this record definitely shows the
style and sound of Melechesh in full. The guitar work is amazing. Thrashy, and
blazing fast as hell, a track like 'Annunakis Golden Thrones' perfectly shows
just how well the guitar parts are written. The fast dual axe attack comes
swirling at you like a rabid desert sandstorm! And major points have to go out
to the Middle Eastern/Arabic sounding instrumentation which is found a LOT more
here than on their debut, while they managed to avoid the Egyptian style and
sound that would get them tagged as Black Metal Nile clones (though people who
would be unable to tell the difference might stupidly say this anyway). Their
uncanny ability to play both slow and fast is evident in their maturity, though
I must say it is also at times their biggest weakness. Melechesh works very
well at the faster pace, and a track like 'Secrets Of Sumerian Sphynxology' is
almost a complete downer for me due to the overtly repetitive guitar work. I
had to take off some points too for the odd guitar work which plagues both the
beginning and ending of track 5, 'Tablets Of Fate,' but there's no denying that
the guitar work will never completely ruin a song. The vocal work absolutely
shreds, check out the power metal screams you'll hear on opener 'Of Mercury And
Mercury,' which is the best example of a black metal vocalist going from sick
scream to power I have EVER heard. There's a few instrumentals to be found
within, and the length notwithstanding, are excellent examples of their native
style and sound. I love especially the swirling sands and somewhat Arabic
chanting on 'The Arrival Ritual' and this has killer tribal percussion and a
very dark and powerful feeling. 'Caravans To Ur,' the other instrumental, is
all guitars and drums, and might I add that Proscriptor's drumming (of Absu
fame) is nothing short of phenomenal and very up front and in your face. If not
for the odd quirks the guitar work takes on a few tracks, this would definitely
be one of the best and most powerful black metal releases of the year, in fact
the voting is DAMN close... But I've never been one to do the "best of" year
end thing anyway. Way too much here to enjoy!
Contact: Osmose Productions, B.P. 57 - 62 990 Beaurainville, FRANCE
Web site: http://www.osmoseproductions.com
POWER SYMPHONY "Futurepast" (Evillot) SCORE: 83/100
This CD is a treat for fans, as it has lots of multimedia stuff on it, and 5
actual songs. Two of the songs, 'Army Of Saints' and 'Mother Moon,' are from an
OLD demo that fans have been asking for for years. Two other songs, 'Nine
Moons' and 'Infinite Machine,' are not only brand new tracks, but also the best
on the record, AND an indication of where the band is headed (there are going
to be, it seems, no more keyboards on the next release). 'Nine Moons' has great
lyrics and is a perfect way to start out the disc, with Michela in perfect form
as usual. Heavy guitar work and opening acoustics touch this off very well, and
the heaviness along with the melody is in place. 'Infinite Machine' I found to
be very catchy, especially the choruses, and the slightly thrashy but heavy
guitar work definitely carries this through. Track 3 I didn't mention yet, but
is an even more surprising treat, it's a GREAT Manowar cover for 'Blood Of My
Enemies,' and hearing Michela cover this with strength and conviction in her
voice is such a plus. The only weak link of this release is with at least one
of the older tracks. 'Army Of Saints' I didn't care for that much, and Michela
does some rather quirky things with her voice! The choruses didn't hold that
strongly my attention either, but the last track 'Mother Moon' was very good
instrumentation wise. It's probably the most melodic thing Power Symphony has
ever done, and the acoustic guitars are utilized to good effect. A few vocal
lines were shaky, but overall the material held up well. I don't know how
Michela used to sing back in the olden days, but it's surprising that ANY way
she chooses to sing would do nothing but sound great. So there you have it, and
as late as I usually end up being getting this magazine out, I'm sure the full
length is already ready to go... Pick this up anyway, it's good for the fans!
Contact: Evillot Records, Apt. 242, Via Antonietti 7, 20052 Monza (MI), ITALY
Web site: http://www.powersymphony.com
STRAASHA/NUMENOR "Split CD" (Melancholia) SCORE: 92/100
This is the first CD release on this French label, and I must say it is very
interesting and a great start for this brand new record label. Both bands
presented here are quite similar in style, Straasha sings about the ocean, and
Numenor sings about the cold majestic forest. Rather unusual for a split CD is
the fact that Straasha gets 7 tracks, consisting of 4 "songs" and 3
instrumentals. It is the instrumentals that raise the eyebrows quite a bit, as
the only thing you hear, besides the ocean sounds, are beautiful and majestic
acoustic guitars and a cello, which adds a somewhat heavy yet melancholic feel
to the tracks. Songs like 'A Revelation Beyond Dream' and 'Farewell To The
World,' though, present nice high ended guitar work and the typical black metal
riffing that is often times very catchy. Unusual still is the abundance of
clean vocal work, which on the first track here sometimes sounds a bit off.
The clean vocalist for Straasha is also doing clean vocals in Numenor, which
was slightly more favorable for me, though not by much, as both bands are quite
excellent. No cello in Numenor's work, and there are only 4 songs, but ALL
contain vocals. The blackened vocals in Numenor's camp are a bit more harsh
than with Straasha, which I enjoyed a great deal. 'A Journey Of Honor' contains
slower paced black metal, but as with every song on this CD, they vary the
speed and structure enough to make things interesting. This is a good thing,
as the tracks 'Engulfed In Eternal Majesty' and 'Allegiance To The Dark Spirit
Of Elements' tend to run over the 7 minute mark. Clean vocals are performed
extremely well, and the majestic riffs catch you big time on 'Engulfed...'
Quite an interesting release (Straasha's songs are presented in the form of a
story divided into chapters) and I definitely look forward to more coming from
Contact: Melancholia Records, 12 Rue Du Plateau 91700 SGDB FRANCE
Web site: http://www.melancholia-records.com
SYMBEL "We Drink..." (Angelisc) SCORE: 39/100
This is a new signing that forefathers of English Heathen Metal known as, well,
Forefather, decided they wanted on their label. And I must say that there is no
threat to Forefather's legacy as KINGS of the scene. The most interesting thing
about Symbel is a very unique vocal style. Anyone ever seen the cartoon
Dangermouse? This guy, at his somewhat lowest, scratchiest and almost hoarse
style vocals, sounds like the frog faced villain Baron Silas Greenback! And as
interesting as this was, I just couldn't find much to like about many of the
song structures. They do the lyrical style that Forefather presents, and this
isn't a problem in the least. They do attempt some very interesting musical
styles, in fact on 'Lord Of The Hanged,' the vocals remind me of a rather weak
attempt at Glenn Danzig era Misfits, complete with speed. The dark guitar riffs
started off interestingly enough, and this may be seen as one of their
heaviest. 'Wassel Grove' continues the Misfits styled pace with the chanting
"whooahs" that we've all heard the Misfits do over the years, but here it just
ends up weak sounding. On 'A Journey With Oak Staves,' I rather got into the
odd flute type notes, and the Baron Silas Greenback vocals somewhat work here,
even if the track doesn't sustain my interest as a whole. The guitar work, when
doing solo and solitary notes, sounds very emotional and I really wanted to
like this track. You will hear some odd guitar passages thrown within this tune
however. I must ask if there is use of a drum machine, as some of the drumming
sounds rather flat and mechanical, though until I heard Ground:Xero I wouldn't
have known what a drum machine sounds like. 'Heathen I Am' is their catch
phrase that REALLY sounds like a track The Misfits would have written, though
of course not as good, it even has that slight punk vibe to it. 'Saecsen
Drinking Song' kinda held my interest longer than it should have, as the synth
notes are interesting and the rather upbeat tempo was infectious for a few
minutes. The sung vocals didn't work well, further irking me. I would have
expected better than this for a band like Forefather being of such high
quality, but I assume with the vocal styles (very cool) and the quirky and
sometimes slower instrumentation, this must be an acquired taste.
Contact: Angelisc Enterprises, P.O. Box 68, Leatherhead, KT23 4YE ENGLAND.
Web site: http://members.aol.com/angeliscE
TEMPLE OF BAAL "Servants Of The Beast" (Oaken Shield) SCORE: 81/100
This is a side project of Amduscias, who I remember having an album come here
to the States via Metal Blade. It's rather old school black metal with emphasis
on higher ended guitar work, though what really makes this band shine is the
catchy guitar work, especially on tracks like 'Deathblessed' and 'Years Of
Hatred.' I could swear I've heard those riffs in another band before, and this
band won't win points for ultra originality, hell, they even do a slower Frost
like medley on 'Slaves To The Beast', which I appreciated, even if the more
singing like approach to black metal was a tad off on a few lines. Always good
to hear even old school type black metal bands paying homage to their roots!
The main problem I see with this band is twofold: They will either lose you by
the rather straightforward attempts at high speed, witnessed by both tracks
'Backstab' and 'Ruins,' which incidentally are the first and last tracks on the
CD respectively, or they can drag things out with the slooooow paced
instrumentation, which they do on 'Towards Eternal Death.' Regardless of not
being perfect, you can hear a LOT of structure changes just within a 3 minute
mark on nearly every song, these guys aren't afraid to vary the tempo from slow
to fast and right back again. 'Years Of Hatred' had some catchy chorus work
(Hey, is that allowed in black metal?) and though they do the Frost tribute on
'Slaves To The Beast,' after about a minute and a half they go right back into
fast riffing mode. Good to be getting stuff from Adipocere and its sublabel
Oaken Shield, which I might add is a cool name for a record label. If you like
raw, sick black metal, this is pretty good. And I must emphasize the sick vocal
work, it's what I have truly come to love about black metal.
Contact: Oaken Shield, c/o Adipocere B.P. 02, 01540 Vonnas, FRANCE
Web site: http://www.adipocere.fr
THROCULT "Soldiers Of A Blackened War" (Crash) SCORE: 76/100
This is a rather dicey score. First off, the band hails from the U.S., Colorado
to be exact, and is one of the latest footsoldiers in the battle to gain ground
for U.S. Black Metal. And while they can definitely create atmosphere with the
eerie synth work and vicious screams, my biggest beef with them lies mainly in
their insistence on bringing death metal into the fray. They are all over the
place influence wise as well, which can at times be a distraction, but as I
said there's enough bone crunching brutality to hold your interest over several
tracks. 7 songs here on the CD and they had to run an intro for track 1. So
really all we get is six songs. The intro was kinda useless, some multi vocal
samples that sound almost like radio stations being switched around constantly.
But let's go with what we DO have, which starts off with the first real song in
'Dark Cloud Holocaust.' Fast black metal interaction to kickstart, and the
vocal work which proves to be quite vicious. There's lots of high end guitar
work as well, though they tend to focus on speed for the majority of the tune.
Then 'Hunted' kicks in, which has to be the WORST track on the CD. Nice
haunting synth notes, guys, but waaaaay too slow overall to work with the
vocals, and it just ends up sounding messy. Even the death vocals get annoying
and they do have a tendency to use high ended riffs that annoyed the hell out
of me. 'Hunted' showcases mostly black metal fare but by the middle of the disc
you can tell they are going to showcase some death metal roots. 'Kill Or Be
Killed' was rather a favorite of mine, with really grim and dark guitar and
synth notes. Their higher ended guitar work gets out of hand in a few more
spots on 'Eclipse Of The Blood Moon' and CD ender 'Ellipsis,' but the latter
track shows us that they can write slower instrumentation and throw in a
twist with some metallic sounding percussion (by metallic I mean like someone
banging a metal pipe!). This last track had quite a bit of spoken word passages
which added a bit more to my frustration, but overall the band has promise, and
they definitely know how to write furious and blistering material. Not
something that's high on my rotation list, but the band is young, raw,
unpolished and most importantly SICK, so I expect greater things from their
Contact: Crash Music.
USURPER "Twilight Dominion" (Earache) SCORE: 95/100
This has GOT to be the best Usurper album EVER! You know for the most part what
you are getting when you listen to at least the first half of the album. There
are headbanger's gems and metal anthems galore, song titles like 'Metal Lust'
and 'I Am Usurper' ought to tell you all you need to know about a band who
worships Celtic Frost but does it in a different way. And Usurper has some of
the best thrashy guitar parts I've ever heard, and they utilize them both slow
and fast; their slower guitar riffs being some of their most crushing! Take a
tune like 'Utopian Nightmare,' an obvious homage to Celtic Frost, right down to
the song structures, but those riffs change near the end of the song, going for
full speed and never looking back. 'Invincible Overlords' and 'Golem' show off
a drummer who has this insane speed on the double bass pedals! And the vocals
are down, dirty and rough, just like I like 'em! The vocal work also takes a
few twists and turns as well, like on 'Lycanthropic' you hear an evil, almost
robotic effect, and some demonic growling can be heard on a few cuts. Surprises
continue abound on 'Golem' as well musically, I swear with the acoustic, Arabic
sounding guitar work I thought for a moment I was listening to Melechesh! There
are tendencies when things get out of hand for Usurper, in fact I can almost
scratch the whole 'She-Devil' song, as the faster instrumentation and the vocal
work really clashed hard, especially since our favorite growler decided to sing
higher notes (not TOO high tho) than what he normally does. That being said,
though, there was still some cool instrumentation to be found within. They do
have an interesting song with lyrics devoted to Lord Of The Rings that at times
sounded power metal based, at least in the guitar department. This is such a
heavyweight album that the bad points don't stick around long enough to keep
you from cranking this to the 10's! If you're a headbanger who loves sick
vocals, evil thrashy guitar riffs and songs that crush with power, Usurper will
definitely send you reeling. If this is what Usurper sounds like on Earache,
their new home, then I can't wait for the next record. The soundtrack to the
blackened apocalypse has arrived! No poseurs allowed!
Contact: Earache Records.
VINTERRIKET "Winterschatten" (Ketzer) SCORE: 80/100
I was very happy to get this in my mailbox almost weeks before the last issue
went to press and I had already typed up both review and interview of
Vinterriket. As you may know from last issue, Vinterriket plays mostly synth
based music, largely instrumental until this release. And this is my MAJOR
gripe to date with this newest record. His vocal work is definitely black metal
styled, but if the shrieking, nails-on-chalkboard screams of someone like Dani
Filth bother you to a great degree, the first two songs are not for you. And
the sad part is that even with the heavier distorted guitars, there is some
nice instrumentation to be found. I believe the problem, exactly, is this: Mr.
Vinterriket seems to only know how to record instruments, especially of the
electronic variety, and didn't really master the vocal recording process. His
vocals almost sound buried in the background, and one suspects that the voice
you hear on this CD is not a TRUE representation of how his blackened vocals
really sound. All that aside, since there are 6 tracks, you still get more than
half of a good record. The title track, which is track number three, starts
things off with nice alternations of mood between upbeat and dark. Percussion
is definitely used here, more so than the last record, but not all the way
through every track. There are nice piano notes, and the ultimate Vinterriket
song is track 4, 'Endlos Und Karg.' This track starts out with some of the most
emotional and intense, yet simplistic, piano and synth notes I have ever heard.
The pure definition of ambient in style and sound, the landscapes painted here
are DEFINITELY ones that invoke images of sitting in solitude in the deep
forests. 'Derschneite Waelder' has some very dark instrumentation going within,
but also a melancholic tone as well. These songs, like the previous album "Und
Die Nacht..." definitely have the ability to hold your interest when they clock
in at over 7 and 8 minutes a piece. Ending track 'Das Ewige Eis' utilizes
distant sounding yet simple percussion, almost tribal in nature. A very
relaxing piece at that that may seem to some a bit too repetitive, but for
these ears it's a landscape that holds MY interest for a good 8 minutes or so.
Were the black metal vocals not a problem, this CD would score MUCH higher, as
it is, there's enough material to warrant you keeping this in your constant
playlists. And please, no Mortiis comparisons... :>
Contact: Ketzer Records.
WHILE HEAVEN WEPT "Of Empires Forlorn" (Eibon) SCORE: 99/100
A true fucking doom metal masterpiece, worthy of all the highest praise and
respect it can be given. Would be definite pick of the issue if it weren't for
the one point off that actually seems to belong to Forest Stream. Anyway,
starting off, 'The Drowning Years.' Here we have nice bell notes, melodic
synths, and then followed by slow and heavy guitar riffs. And when the vocals
kick in, from here on out we all notice the stark and contrasting difference
between WHW and the many other bands in doom metal: A sharp contrast between
the almost upbeat and melodic vocal work of Tom and the moody, sometimes
downright funereal instrumentation. This opening track, along with a few lines
on the song 'Soulsadness' also show that while staying mostly midrange, Tom can
belt out sime high pitched power metal style vocals. Needless to say this does
not happen very often. 'Of Empires Forlorn' is probably the most unusual of
tracks on this album, though it doesn't start off that way. There's the unusual
mix again of ultra clean, melodic, upbeat and dare I say, epic vocal work, but
by the end of the track we hear something from Tom that is not heard ever again
on this CD: Black metal shrieks of a vicious kind! Granted, it's only like
three lines on the whole song, but the instrumentation does change to match the
vocal work, and it is a KILLER! There is a brilliant cover of Candlemass'
'Epistle No. 81,' and Tom does a damn good job of injecting vibratto into his
voice, making this track sound all his own creation while actually almost
upstaging the original performance! I swear, if Messiah Marcolin hadn't
rejoined the fold, Candlemass would have found new and diverse blood with Tom
doing the honors. 'Sorrow Of The Angels' has nice calming ocean sounds, before
the melancholic bell notes come in, and here the synths get their own solo!
Amazing how you can hear such sorrow and melancholy in the lyrics and the
instrumentation, but almost uplifiting and melodic vocal work! Okay, so you may
be asking why the point loss? Well, first off there are only 7 tracks. Not so
big a deal, until you realize that track 7 is an instrumental 'From Empires To
Oceans.' As beautiful as it is, it's mainly just a more symphonic reworking of
track 2 'Of Empires Forlorn,' minus vocals. I would have REALLY loved to hear
another tune with vocals, but all in all this CD has to be considered at LEAST
in the top 3 of doom metal releases for this year, if not the top 5. The
interview with them this issue will reveal still more details.
Contact: Eibon Records.
Web site: http://www.eibonrecords.com
ARMAGEDDON DILDOS. Interview with Uwe via email.
Regular readers of the magazine may remember when we had a review done in Metal
Maniacs MANY years ago when we still had an ultra long web address. One of the
bands that may have caught readers attention is the Armageddon Dildos, who I
remembered doing ultra harsh industrial with guitars, like many of their
brethren. I had thought this band long since extinct, and their newest release
"Morgengrauen" is quite a surprise and a departure from their usual style, but
oozing with class and coolness.
It's been a LONG time since I heard anything from you. Was there
purposefully a long wait time between the "Lost" record and this new one? (Of
course, I now realize I missed the "Speed" album which was released in 1997.
After the "Lost" album and the following tour, we started to work on new tracks
for the "Speed" album. In 1995 we left Zoth Ommog to sign with the major label
Metronome. We recorded "Speed" during the summer of 1996 in London and
Dusseldorf with Andy Gill and Bob Kraushaar. But we had bad luck because in
November 1996, just when we came home from London with our new album, they
decided to shut down Metronome. We got back the rights for the music and
artwork but had to look for a new label. We signed on RCA Ariola in spring
1997. But the album and the following tour didn't work that good and so we left
this label in Autumn 1998. In 1999, Zoth Ommog had it's 10th year anniversary.
We released Re:match, a remix compilation of older AD-tracks and made a tour
with some other Zoth Ommog bands. After this tour in the end of 1999, Dirk
decided to leave the band. For me it was clear to continue with the Armageddon
Dildos and the result of course is "Morgengrauen."
What was the origins of Armageddon Dildos from the beginning, and
how is the lineup now? I remember seeing in band photos two members but assume
that a live show would possibly need more members.
Dirk and I met in 1986 for the first time, as we had the same rehearsal room.
He played in a synth pop band called Head On Shoulders and I was the singer and
guitar player in a band called Beat The Beat. We decided to start a new band.
Only the two of us and electronic equipment. But it took us three more years
before we started to work on the first AD tracks. It was only Dirk and myself
on stage until the "Lost" album. A guitar player and a drummer joined our live
shows during the "Lost" and "Speed" tours, and we will be four on stage now
when we do a "Morgengrauen" gig: a female singer, a keyboardist, percussionist,
So tell us about the female vocalist you used on this latest
record, and how you came to work with her? It seems to be the first time I have
ever heard use of such vocals on one of your albums.
Malin is a very talented singer from Stockholm, Sweden. I know her for a long
time. She came down to Dusseldorf for the holidays when I was working with
Mathis Black on the new AD songs in his studio. I asked her if she would like
to sing some notes to one song and she said yes. All of us loved the result and
so we decided to work together.
The new record "Morgengrauen" was a bit of a shock for me, as I was
remembering the harsh industrial guitars and the heavy vocal work. I love the
new record, but what prompted the change in style and sound?
One reason is that I had to do a musical cut for myself after Dirk left the
band. I wanted to create my own unique sound. Hard electronic pop music with
E.B.M. influences (Stands for Electro Body Music - basically what Europeans
call Industrial at times - Ed.) and pieces of modern dance grooves and sounds.
How do you view the industrial music scene these days? Here in the
States, it seems like there are very few industrial labels left, and most of
the labels that have folded are watching their acts go over to Metropolis
Records, which seems to be one of the last U.S. industrial labels left!
I don't know anything about this situation in the States, but here in Germany
it seems that elektro or EBM music is coming back more and more.
Are there a lot of good industrial bands and labels coming out of
Europe? People still show up in large numbers to any industrial shows that come
to the U.S., but the shows are very few and far between.
It's hard for me to tell because I have not been listening to industrial bands
that much for the last few years. But you can go to elektro, industrial or
gothic shows and festivals all throughout the year.
I know that several of your CD's have been released on Zoth Ommog,
so why did you feel the need to switch to Electric Blue?
I was without a contract after they shot down Zoth Ommos. I posted my new
material to a couple of labels and after some meetings I decided to sign on
I noticed that with one exception all the lyrics on your newest
album are in German. Does this mean a possible end to writing songs in English?
I would also love to know what some of the song titles are and what they are
about, especially my favorites like Der Letzte Zarte Kuss,' 'Gotter Der Nacht,'
and the title track.
No, it does not mean that I stop writing English lyrics. But right now I feel
more comfortable to write and sing in German. 'Der Letzte Zarte Kuss' means
'The Last Tender Kiss' and describes the last minutes of lost love and the last
goodbye. 'Gotter Der Nacht' means 'Gods Of The Night' and 'Morgengrauen' means
'In The First Light Of Dawn.' A sensual story, a new love, the first night, a
promenade on the beach and then in the first light of dawn...
So what sort of lyrical topics are you covering these days? I'm
assuming that maybe your lyrical stances have changed along with the style and
Of course those major themes, like the wars for example in Afghanistan, Iraq,
or the situation in Israel or Liberia. But also the problems that we have in
Germany right now like a very high unemployment rate. And no, I don't think
that I changed my lyrical stances because I always wrote about people in
different situations and moods.
I'm very curious as to how and why the U.S. deal you had with major
label Sire/Warner Brothers here in the States didn't work out, as it was a very
high profile situation. I know the last time I heard anything, they were trying
to bring you over here for a U.S. tour. Did that ever happen? And are there any
plans to license the new record in the U.S.?
The answer is easy: they shut down Sire Records and we did not get a new
contract in the States. And yes, a tour was planned but never happened because
the sponsor jumped off some weeks before the tour should start. Our band name
didn't fit their product. There are (currently) no plans (to license the record
here in the U.S.).
What can we expect in the future from you? Any chance you might be
working on a new album or new material?
I just wrote a couple of new Armageddon Dildo tracks and will produce them in
the spring next year. Besides I have to work on the live set. We are going to
play most of the "Morgengrauen" tracks plus a collection of songs from "That's
Armageddon" until "Speed."
Lots of the tracks on this record would be great club tunes, do you
ever write songs with the intention that they might be playable in clubs? Some
bands I spoke with indicate that they just write what they feel, and if a song
is selected for the "dancing masses," it's not totally their doing...
In the beginning there are only some notes, loops, a good hook line or some
words. I never know what it will be at the end. But when I see that a track is
more suitable to be played in a club, I go that direction during the production
or do a club remix myself.
When you look back at all your releases, which songs did you like
the best, and which ones did you not like? I know 'Haut' got quite a bit of
club play down in my old hometown of Savannah.
I do not have one or more favorites. It always depends on the situation and the
mood I'm in. But I do have one song that I don't like: 'Captured' on the "Lost"
I've always said that without the guitars in industrial, there are
sometimes fine lines between sounding like hard trance and actual industrial.
How do you feel that transition is made, as I know I hear lots of electronics
in your music that sounds like hard trance or techno.
I think you're right. Not only has the wall in Berlin crashed down. More and
more musicians look around to see what happens in other kinds of music.
Searching for new ideas, sounds, etc. to create their own sound.
Anything else you want to say before we wrap this up?
Too hot outside! Too many questions. I feel so thirsty, I better go get me a
beer. Cheers and a big hello to industrial and elektro America!
BLOOD RED THRONE. Interview with Tchort, once again, through email.
It's amazing to me to see death metal making a comeback in some fashion, and
the people responsible today are surprisingly IN the black metal scene. It's
also noteworthy to point out that many Norweigan black metal bands started life
as death metal bands, turning away from the scene when they thought it had gone
soft. Tchort is also a member of Green Carnation AND sick black metal masters
Carpathian Forest, so he's got his feet planted in three different styles of
With many members of Blood Red Throne firmly rooted in other black
metal styled bands, what exactly made everyone decide to start up a somewhat
old school death metal project? Now I am aware that many black metal bands had
life as death metal projects (Old Funeral, etc.)
I had my beginnings in music with Death metal when I formed Green Carnation in
1990. We released our first and only demo in 1991, making us one of the first
death metal bands in Norway. When the idea behind Blood Red Throne came about,
I had a wish to go back to my roots and continue where I left off with Green
Carnation before joining Emperor in late 1992 and stayed with various black
metal bands for so many years. The others had a passion for death metal but
never had the chance to do anything about it, as there were very few musicians
into death metal when we started BRT. We met each other through internet chats,
friends of friends, etc. and despite different background we all wanted to play
death metal like we do today.
Blood Red Throne to me sounds like a continuation of the style
Chris Barnes started with the Cannibal Corpse album "The Bleeding," which is
still my most favorite of Cannibal albums. The newer stuff with George from
Monstrosity is not quite as powerful as this stuff, and Chris Barnes' Six Feet
Under project is nowhere NEAR as satisfying to me. How do you feel about both
bands? Personally, I thought injecting slower passages into Cannibal Corpse
made the material that much stronger.
I am a big fan of Cannibal Corpse, though I like the older stuff the best. Six
Feet Under don't do anything for me when it comes to CD, but I saw them live at
Wacken a few years ago and there they really got my neck going! And I think
that is some of the key elements we aim for, that our music should be cool on
CD but also give the fans a kick when they see us live.
For the uninitiated, please tell us all who is in Blood Red Throne
and (besides yourself being in Carpathian Forest and Green Carnation) what
Mr. Hustler is our vocalist who we brought in for the debut album, just two
weeks prior to recording. He had never held a microphone before this, as he
originally is a drummer (still is). BRT was his first real band. Espen Antonsen
came into the band when Freddy, our original drummer, had to leave because of
work commitment that forced him to move to another part of Norway. He
recommended Espen to us, and after a trial weekend he joined our ranks. He also
plays drums in a black metal band called Slagmark. Erlend Caspersen was our
fourth member to join, and I learned about him through an internet chat
channel. He is a real talent and we are happy to have him in the band with us.
Dod, our second guitar player, formed BRT and was soon joined by myself and
reddy. His background is with several bands but I spent 3 years with him in
Satyricon, which was where we learned about each others' passion for Death
Metal, and where the idea behind BRT came from.
I remember something about you doing a Green Carnation tour some
time ago. Have any BRT tours taken place yet, or will any take place?
Well, we never did any tour with Green Carnation but we have done a couple of
small tours with Blood Red Throne, and a full scale European tour. In September
we are going to do a mini tour in Italy together with Gorgoroth, so we are
keeping active with BRT, even though we have started to write on material for
the third album.
Are you into Macabre at all? With some of the vicious topics, I
love the way the music and lyrics of Macabre take a humorous stab at serial
killers. I feel if we couldn't laugh about this stuff it would probably drive
many people nuts!
I have only listened to one of their albums and I only remember some crazy
lyrics and a great drummer. Sounded like a band I should check out more for
sure. And yes, I think it's important to have your humour also in this kind of
music. We have great fun doing a lot of the stuff we do and it's what keeps us
sane, I think.
Okay, so I have to ask, where did you get the vocal samples in a
few songs? You know, the ones where it sounds like someone is being scraped
with a knife, and the screaming victims and killings going on.
One of the samples is from the uncut version of Hellraiser. All other samples
we made in the studio with a microphone and a mini disc recorder. We feel it's
cool to do something exclusive on the albums, to spice it up a little, and we
had a gorgeous girl who came down to the studio, wearing a school uniform and
pig tails, who screamed her shirt off, literally! Then we put it together with
the broken glass track we taped. Stuff like that. The spoken intro was
something I wrote for a song, and we got this American guy to say it while we
recorded it. We took the mini disc with us to a bar and taped the background
noise you hear on the intro. We just spent a little extra effort.
Are there any "actual events" that inspired some of the lyrics on
this record? I'm also curious about the war like topics on tunes like 'Chaos
Rising' and 'Affiliated With The Suffering.' So spill your guts, man!
All I can say is that our lyrics come from dreams, fantasy, desires and real
Going back to the spoken intro, I bet the opening lines of that on
the song 'Unleashing Hell' will get many people going. I like to listen to that
song when I've had to deal with stupid people all day!
Yeah, I know what you mean, and in many ways, it's the same reasons how the
opening came about. I mean, like you can tell, I put people talking in the
background, so that it gave the statement depth and directed it more to humans
So how did the split with Severe Torture come about? I know split
CD's are a good way to get to hear about 2 bands for the price of a single CD.
The split with Severe Torture is only released in the U.S. market. I understand
that MCD's don't sell very well there, so it's a common thing to put together
two MCD's and sell them as a full CD. If you like both bands, it's great, but
if not it sucks to pay a full price for something you only want half out of.
I noticed on the full length "Affiliated With Suffering," there
were a few bonus tracks not listed on the CD anywhere. With the advent of MP3's
and music piracy, do you feel extra material on CD's should become more common?
Maybe it would cut down on piracy, or at least make fans of the music feel they
are being catered to.
That's wierd, because the promos hold the bonus tracks, also in the booklet
list, as well as the limited edition of the digipack. The jewelcase version
doesn't hold the extra tracks on the CD nor the booklet, so what version you
have of the album is unknown to me!
I have always felt it's important to give people their money's worth, so we
usually have long playing time or do something exclusive, like on the mini CD.
People seem to forget that the artwork is very important to an album. Remember
those great vinyl covers that you could put up on your wall? Well, we did an
exclusive photo session for the MCD where I was buried underground for an hour
with maggots and spiders, just to get the right shots for the booklet. And I
think that's something that can be better worked on (by bands), the booklets
and artwork, because that's not something you get from downloading MP3's. Take
the latest Immortal album cover for example. It must be the most boring booklet
I've seen in years! It has the front picture which is used EVERYWHERE in the
media as a promo picture as well, and the rest of the pages looks like
something they just copied and pasted onto a simple background. That's it! I
mean, come on! Who cares about buying the album if you can have it for free on
the internet? You are not missing out on anything! So by making the booklets
special, and the covers into something cool that people will want to put up on
their walls, I think you will have an increasing number of people who want to
buy the actual album instead of downloading it!
By the way, what ARE the extra tracks after the end of
'Malediction?' One I didn't recognize but the last song sounds like it might be
an Obituary cover.
The extra tracks are 'Mercy Killings,' which is a Blood Red Throne song, and
the last tracks is 'Deadly Intentions,' which is correctly an Obituary cover
Do you ever see the guys in Obituary getting back together? I know
Trevor was busy with Catastrophic but I think someday the call might be heard
from within them to regroup.
Well, if they ever can make an album like 'Cause Of Death,' then I welcome them
back, but the last I remember from them sounded like shit. Didn't he start to
sing clean vocals on some parts even? I think I remember a rap song on one of
the albums as well. I don't know maybe it was just a bad dream I had...
Okay, now I have to know about the cover artwork. How much blood
(can you reveal the victim who shed this much? Haha!) did it take to actually
get this thing comitted to paper? Or did you cheese out and do computer aided
I am not sure if we used pigs blood or cow blood, but we had 5 litres of it, so
there is no fake stuff used. Mr Hustler who is on the cover was freezing his
balls off doing that photo shoot, drenched in blood for an hour in a cold
basement only wearing his boxers. We always have a lot of fun when we have our
photo sessions. Like the MCD when they buried me underground and I was almost
choking. That's when I showed them the finger, FUCK YOU!! Dig me up! We used
that picture under the CD inside the jewelcase. And on one of the autopsy
pictures on the Affiliated album, with the big toe nail sticking out with the
name tag. You know, simple humoristic details or that have its offspring in a
I'm curious how long you've been around the black metal scene and
if you ever knew any of it's key players, like Eronymous, Varg Vikernes or Dead
from Mayhem? Have you read the book Lords Of Chaos? I enjoyed it but thought
that it spent a little too much time on Varg himself, even though he was one of
the key catalysts for what happened to the Scandinavian black metal scene.
I knew Varg and Eronymous but I don't think I ever met Dead. I never got the
chance to read Lords Of Chaos so I can't comment on its content.
DATURA. Email interview with Craig Williamson.
Datura. What a band! Based out of New Zealand, they released two INCREDIBLE
masterpieces of psychedelic/stoner rock and then folded! What a pisser! So when
I got the email from Craig a long time ago, I vowed that I would interview them
once again, though we actually tried to interview them several issues ago.
The questions got lost in the (e)mail, surprisingly, but once again it is a
great thing, as we often do here at the magazine, to revisit time and speak
with a band who created incredible music.
First off, for some of our non informed readers, we need a bit of
history here. In a small area like New Zealand, how did the band come together,
and how difficult was it to find members that were interested in a style and
sound like this one?
I got the band together after I left a Black Metal band I was in at the time
(???) called Azazel. Things went slow for a couple of years; members came and
went, and it was really difficult to find anyone who was interested in what I
had in mind musically. So after a few years, the guys I'd been jamming with,
Jon & Brent, started getting into some cool music, music I'd been playing
endlessly for three years. So it kinda started from there, getting all cosmic
I know much about the music scene in Australia, from metal bands
like Hobbs Angel Of Death, Destroyer 6666, Bestial Warlust and what not to
gothic bands like Ikon. But what was the music scene like in New Zealand, and
did any of the "bigger" bands ever play in your area?
Yeah, lots of so called "bigger" bands come down here, always have. But the
music scene here in New Zealand has always been an unknown thing, quite
underground, mostly though very commercial and bland. Just the same shit that
happens in the U.S. but on a much smaller scale, so the decent groups that get
known are few and far between.
I'm still listening to "Visions For The Celestial" on a semiregular
basis, and I'm wondering how you feel about it compared to your first release
"Allisone" on Cranium?
Well, they're two very different things in my mind. The first album "Allisone"
is very young sounding, like we didn't know what the fuck we were up to or
anything, it took two days to record, etc. etc. But there are some feelings on
that album I prefer to the second. "Visions..." is my "I'm going to make an
album that is unique even if it kills me!" I guess I put the other guys through
some crazy stuff to get their minds where I felt we needed to be going, but it
was hard. Often they didn't like some of the effects, didn't like some of the
song choices, didn't like the mix, blah blah blah and it went on and on!
I guess I still love both albums equally, they just came out during different
times in my life, maybe that's wierd?
Lyrics are something I'd like to talk about, because as heavy as
you were, the lyrics seemed to reflect more the "peace and love" attitudes of
the American psychedelic era 1960's, but also there's a somewhat calming,
spiritual side to the lyrics. So obviously I'm extremely curious about tracks
like 'Sunshine In Purple' and 'Euphoria.'
I've been into a lot of obscure acid-psychedelic-kraut-heavy sounds for a long
time, and some of the things I've heard have been really interesting to me. And
within these sounds are some radical views lyrically, so I suppose over time
these feelings filtered through to my lyrics and how I felt in general.
'Sunshine In Purple' and 'Euphoria' are really reflections of how I was
feeling. 'Euphoria' is more a stream of consciousness-astral light-higher key
type thing. 'Sunshine In Purple' was more about some things a stoned friend of
mine told me about from a drugged out party.
I guess I'm also curious as to why you never put lyrics in your CD
Well, I don't like to be too obvious about anything with the music and what
goes with it: artwork, photos and lyrics. So I didn't want to be taken too
literally with the lyrics, you know, to be possibly taken the wrong way. I
guess I was looking for a mystical feeling to come across, and by printing the
lyrics I thought that might have hindered the ideas.
Speaking of the artwork, I've always been curious about the artwork
for "Visions..." as it was a very magical and interesting piece of work. Did
the artist create this piece of work specifically for you or did you choose
from a gallery of his works?
The painting was done in the mid eighties. Richard from Cranium Music showed me
some of Franz Landls' work and I was completely blown away by it! He was very
nice to us and let us use the piece for the cover that I had picked; I felt it
went very nicely with what the lyrics dealt with and the feel overall that I
had in mind.
How did you come to be interested in stoner rock and psychedelic
types of music? Were there any good shops in Zealand where you could obtain
music released from the outside? I'm also curious to know some of the bands you
get into with this style of music.
I got interested in this kind of music ages ago, after I left the black metal
band I played bass in. I started with the regular stuff and got more obscure
along the way. Then I met Richard Stockwell who was starting up a psychedelic
mail order shop, so that helped a LOT! He was the only one around who knew
anything about what I was interested in musically, there were NO stores around
selling stoner-psychedelic-eastern spaced out sounds. But now there are a few
around, but not many. I usually get my music overseas, I listen to a lot of
stuff, varied styles, but I guess relevant artists would be Leaf Hound, Black
Cat Bones, Free, early Hawkwind, Gong, Erkin Koray, Human Instinct, Spacious
Mind, Laslo Hortogagyi, Klaus Schulze, Celtic Frost, Word Of Life... I could go
on and on!
Speaking of Richard Stockwell, what happened with Cranium Music? It
seemed like he was struggling but at the same time he was always running sales,
and there weren't very many places in the world dedicated to this type of music
to begin with.
No, not too many places at all, especially when Datura started up, but then the
so called 'Stoner' scene hit. After that it was much easier to get people to
listen to 70's rock music and the like. Cranium? Yeah, he had been struggling
for a long, long time. I think it was the case of trying to do too much too
soon; with all the releases and the record label it slowly sent him broke. But
Richard had never lost hope of keeping it going, not until the last and then he
just completely quit.
And you mentioned Hawkwing as well, I remember reading that you
actually got to see them live! What was that like for you? I remember when they
played down here, well, it was Nik Turner's version of Hawkwind and it was a
very memorable show, the visuals were fantastic, complete with flashing black
lights, and this awesome liquid lava display that floated around the room.
Hawkwind are cool! We saw them a couple of years ago, nice friendly guys... No
rock star egos or anything; really really good shows too, crazy light show,
fire breathing, we had a blast! We got to have a smoke with them too, but
unfortunately, Datura couldn't support them because Jon was at the Gold Coast
(Australia), plus things were pretty low for the band at that time, but they
heard our album and bought some copies so that was cool.
So was there any "partaking" of certain psychedelic drugs, maybe
some green grass? I know personally that especially with marijuana, certain
doors can be opened that are otherwise unobtainable in the normal sense. Just
look at classic albums created by bands like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Type O
Negative, and maybe realize that these albums might not have turned out the way
they did were it not for some influences.
Yeah, only pot, at the time of recording "Visions..." anyway. But a lot of
other things which have influenced the way you'd look at things. "Visions..."
was recorded in a very peaceful farm house in the country which might have had
an effect on the proceedings, but only in performance: I wrote those tunes in
my flat which was in the city... where a LOT of pot was consumed...
You had a band Lamp Of The Universe I believe it was, at least at
the time of this writing. You also mentioned another band you were working on,
tell us about that, and is Lamp going to be an ongoing thing?
Yeah, Lamp Of The Universe is actually my solo project, I play all the
instruments so it's not a bad thing at all. Just me at home alone recording in
the spare bedroom. It might be an ongoing thing, I'm not sure, see how I feel I
suppose! And yes, there's another band I've started with, don't know what's
going to happen with that either. It's like Datura, but I'm playing guitar
instead of bass. Who knows? The guys I'm jamming with at the moment are: Raj on
the bass, and Jon Burnside (Datura) on drums, so with me that's 2/3 of Datura
right there! So we'll probably have a sound very similar to what's gone on in
the past. So far the songs we're rehearsing are heavy and rockin' with that
psychedelic edge that seems to follow me around! We plan to get an EP out by
the end of the year or early next year, so I'll keep you posted.
Finally, why did Datura break up exactly? It's such a shame to me,
especially after all the great coverage all over the world (especially when you
consider the geographic location and the inherent difficulty in getting more
"mainstream" coverage) and of course two great albums! Are you on speaking
terms with any of the former members at all?
Yea, I only talk to Jon the old drummer. Brent the guitar player went all
wierd, he quit playing almost immediately after "Visions" came out, brought a
big, flashy new car and became a briefcase wielding businessman! Why we broke
up is too hard to pinpoint, lots of things really. I know I was definitely fed
up with what was happening within the band at the time, the label was fucking
us over too. It felt like everyone was, or were... we weren't getting paid,
lots of stuff really. So two or three months after the album came out I quit
the band to go solo. I'd had enough. Then we tried to get back together and
Brent told us he had finished playing guitar!
Were you ever invited to play live outside your home country? There
is a Stoner Hands Of Doom festival done here every year, and Emissions From The
Monolith would have given you great exposure here in the U.S.
Datura were invited to play overseas on a few occasions; in the U.S., Germany
and Australia, but it all fell over after we decided to give it a rest. We
nearly went to Australia at the beginning of 2000 but by that stage I was ready
to kill them in their sleep!
How is the country of New Zealand today? Anything specific that
people should look for if they decide to travel over there?
New Zealand's alright, everyone's Rugby mad but it's always been like that.
It's very peaceful here or it can be if you want it to be. There's a lot of
space geographically to "get away from it all," but like any country there's
the busy cities too.
DREAM EVIL. Interview with Gus G., guitarist extraordinaire... Via email...
Dream Evil has put out two great records, both we were somehow able to get
despite Century Media deeming us unworthy of further cooperation (yeah, yeah, I
know, I'm probably beating this horse to death, but damnit, if they didn't have
such good bands!) Not much needs to be said, except for the fact that they play
power metal with an emphasis on POWER, and if you know anything about Century
Media's roster, you know most of what they put out is worthy of attention. SO:
One email to the official web site and I was surprised to hear back from Gus
G., who I might add sent the replies back in exactly ONE DAY. Thanks again.
I actually have both Dream Evil CD's in my collection, and I have
to ask which one you like better? Personally, though I love many of the songs
on "Evilized," I have to claim that "Dragonslayer" is my favorite.
I love both our albums, but I think "Evilized" is a more mature record and more
focused musically and lyrically.
I have been informed that you no longer live in Greece, residing
instead in a city near Gothenberg. Was this so you could be closer to your new
bandmates, or just because the music scene is better?
Actually, I lived in Sweden pretty much for the past 3 years. In fact, I spent
all of 2002 in Gothenberg. I had my own apartment there, but since January of
2003 I moved back to Thessaloniki, Greece. I've been away from home since 1997
pretty much, and I felt that I needed to come back. It feels good to be back in
Greece, but still, I travel to Sweden all the time, because of our activities
with Dream Evil, plus I tour with my other bands too. Of course, there's no
doubt that Gothenberg and Sweden in general has a much better metal scene than
Fredrik Nordstrom is a top notch producer and I know he's worked
with several bands, is there a band he produced that you are most fond of?
I really like Fredrik's work with Dimmu Borgir. I think that's the best he's
ever done. Of course, his work with In Flames and At The Gates is also
So how did you come all the way from Greece to be involved in this
project with Fredrik?
I met Fredrik in 1999 when he was in Greece for vacation. He was then
producing a Greek band called Exhumation and since I was a close friend of that
band, I met Fredrik through them. Me & Fredrik hang out a lot and I decided
to take a trip to Sweden while Exhumation was recording their album in Studio
Fredman. I stayed in Fredrik's studio for 2 weeks and after that I found a
roomate. That roomate was Jesper Stromblad of In Flames. I stayed in Sweden for
a few months, and then me & Fredrik wrote some songs and eventually started
Now some people may or may not be aware, but you have another band
(which we reviewed a few issues back) called Firewind, which band do you see as
a priority? And will Firewind ever do a tour?
Well, the past few months I have been working and recording the new Firewind
and I must say that this will be more of a priority for me, from now on.
Although I'm a founding member in Dream Evil and my style is part of the D.E.
sound, Firewind is "my baby." We have a great new album coming out soon, and we
will definitely do our best to try and tour as much as possible. However,
touring will also depend on sales of the album.
What I love about Dream Evil is the really strong and anthemic
songs, like 'Fight You Till The End,' 'Kingdom Of The Damned,' 'Heavy Metal In
The Night,' etc. Of course, there are also a few ballads, something I usually
don't like in metal; you know how 80's metal bands always had the "let's pick
up chicks" kind of ballad that plagued these bands? I must say that 'The Chosen
Ones' was VERY well done, and more medieval and majestic in scope than what
I've heard in so many 80's bands. Were you conscious of this when writing this
Well, to get this straight: All of us in Dream Evil LOVE ballads!! That's why
we got 2 or 3 ballads on "Evilized." That says it all. We don't really look at
them as "chick songs," we just want to play good music. However, it's true that
it's the ballads that attract the girls and I've seen that happening many
times. 'The Chosen Ones' is an epic bombastic song and that was the feeling we
tried to create, so it's definitely not a chick song!
As dark as the second album "Evilized" was, there was a song like
'Made Of Metal' that showed off the fun side of the band. As powerful and heavu
as you made the album, I'm sure you feel that the fun side of things has to
come out sometimes as well, I mean most people would not still be in a band and
making music if they didn't enjoy it!
I agree with you. D.E. is a fun band most of all, and we were never serious
about being so metal and all that. Sadly, there have been people that don't
understand or get our mentality and they think we're idiots! But that's not the
case with 'Made Of Metal.' That song expresses the whole mentality about being
true to the music you like and the life style you've chosen. For me especially,
playing Heavy Metal is my whole world, so this song is my hymn. Yes, there's a
dose of humour in there, but the message of it is pretty clear: "I am so
fucking metal and so is my wife!" Stay true to what you believe in, and live
the life you want to live. We are metalheads and we scream it out loud!
So are Dream Evil currently in the studio working on any other
recordings? I know "Evilized" has been out for quite awhile.
We're currently preparing a Mini CD release that should be out this Autumn.
It's called "Children Of The Night" and it will be a very cool package. It will
feature previously unreleased tracks, an acoustic version of the song
'Evilized,' the edit version of the single 'Children Of The Night,' and the
video clip! And all this for the price of a CD single!
Many people have said you are an amazing guitarist, including
people within the industry. Who would you consider your "guitar gods?"
Personally, I really dig Joe Stump who fronts Reign Of Terror right now, not
only for his whole attitude, but also his playing and the fact that he's a very
cool, laid back guy. I can understand why people say Yngwie Malmsteen, but I
met the guy and his attitude and whole presence stinks, personally. I had a
VERY bad experience with him when he came to Atlanta.
It's amazing that a lot of people from the industry have said such good things
about me and some people have helped me very much in my career. It's cool that
you mention Joe Stump, because I feel the same way about him. I actually took
some guitar lessons from him back in '98 when I lived in Boston for awhile! Joe
is a very nice guy and he remains true to the music he's playing all these
years... I have great respect for him. But the guitarists who are my personal
"heroes" are Michael Schenker, Uli Roth and Yngwie. I don't really care if all
those Yngwie stories I hear are true, I just like his guitar playing and his
music. That's all that matters to me. My connection to Yngwie is more spiritual
I would say, as our life's stories are similar. He left his home when he was 19
to go to the U.S. to play music and I left Greece to go to America when I was
18, for the same reason. Of course, I ended up in Sweden though, ha ha!
I did read in several interviews that you had been in America quite
a bit. Anything about this big country you like or don't like? For me, living
in Atlanta, the traffic is a nightmare! It takes you literally 45 minutes to go
6 miles on some roads! But I'm sure you've been in European cities maybe where
traffic was bad?
I lived in America for almost a year. My uncle lived in Florida for many, many
years and I've also lived there for some time. But after a few months in the
U.S., I felt that it wasn't the right place for me to stay. While America is
huge and you can find and do everything there, I just couldn't adapt myself to
the American way of life... but it was an experience though!
How have sales been for the two albums, and where do you see the
most interest and sales coming from?
I don't know how "Evilized" has sold worldwide, but I know it sold better than
"Dragonslayer." I think our main market is Japan and Germany. However, it looks
like we sold quite well in the U.K. with "Evilized!" Now that's strange because
the U.K. is definitely not a market for us! So we're going to do a one off
headlining show in London this September.
So I guess the big question is, when will we see Dream Evil on a
U.S. tour? I am sure you have played lots of festivals and concerts around the
world, so if you want to relay highlights that would be cool. I'm sure the
Japanese market is eating this stuff up!
Well, here's a thing that a lot of people think they know, but they have no
idea: Japan. It seems like everyone can make it big in Japan! Wrong. Actually,
the Japanese fans are very different from European or American fans and much
more selective. There's a lot of bands that are big in Europe, but they never
had a career in Japan. I think the Japanese audience doesn't only want soft,
melodic catchy music. And they don't only want aggression. They like acts that
mix all of this together in their sound. We have toured with several bands,
like Blind Guardian, Hammerfall, Kamelot, Masterplan. We have done some very
good shows in Japan, especially our last tour there was a complete success. I
remember last summer our appearance at the Wacken festival and most shows on
our tour with Hammerfall were great! In regards to coming to the U.S., we would
LOVE to play there, and hopefully we will manage to do that with our next
Any American bands you are fond of? I know power metal here in the
States has a following, but it seems still it's not as big as death metal and
black metal, which is on the rise here. Are you into any black metal bands at
I like Queensryche. I've been listening to them a lot lately. I also like some
black metal bands like Dissection and Dimmu Borgir. I've also played with Old
Man's Child. That was a nice experience and a lot of fun! I played 2 guest
solos on their latest CD, which I really like.
Are you able to sit down and listen to your own music? I've always
wondered with some bands if they can actually sit down and listen to the music
they wrote, whether they be guitarists or vocalists. I think it might be
different for a singer to listen to his own voice than a guitarist who listens
to another guy singing and him playing.
Oh yeah, there's definitely a difference! I personally feel wierd when I hear
my albums and especially when I hear myself play. Sometimes I can be amazed and
say "hey, this sounds really cool," and sometimes I feel like "this is crap!"
It's hard to be subjective on your own music, sometimes it's good to step back
and not listen to the album for some time and then go back and listen to it,
when the head is more clear. I can express a more "round" opinion about Niklas'
voice than Niklas himself. The same goes for my guitar playing. Whenever I get
out of the studio with the finished master CD in my hands, I definitely cannot
express an opinion about my new album until weeks later. I guess it takes time
to grow on you. The feeling is SO different when you create the song and when
you hear the final version of it mixed and mastered. I think the magic of the
song is when the artist creates it. That special moment is what it is, a lot of
So how has Century Media been to you as a label? And do you ever
feel you might be getting lost in the shuffle? After all, Century Media does
put out a LOT of records from different bands. Though on the positive side,
the U.S. office brought Marduk to the States for a U.S. tour, and their newest
record hadn't even been out two months here!
Century Media is a very good label and they've been very nice to us. They
really believed in Dream Evil from the very beginning and they have done good
promotion for both our albums. We are one of their best selling bands.
How is Snowy Shaw working out as a drummer for you? I don't think
he is still working with King Diamond anymore, but then again I wonder about
all these other musicians that have been or are still in other bands.
I think Snowy is probably the best drummer in the world! The guy can play
anything he wants... from jazz and bebop to black metal. The cool thing with
him is that he's not really a drummer. He's an artist. A true musician. He's an
excellent songwriter and he's also good with photography and graphic design.
He's what I call multi talented. It's great to work with him.
So finally, how is the writing of the albums done? I noticed,
especially with "Evilized," that the writing of both music and lyrics is spread
out between damn near everyone in the group! Are there any songs you wrote
lyrics for you want to describe? What sort of influences does the band draw
upon to write lyrics?
In Dream Evil, we all write music and lyrics! Sounds strange, but it's true. I
think that's rare today in bands. I wrote all the lyrics and music on 'Break
The Chains,' which is a song that talks about freedom, something that I think
is very important in our lives today. Feeling free to do what you want with
your life and beraking the chains that bind you is definitely an achievement.
A lot of people don't do what they want with their lives, and that's misery. I
don't want to live like that, so this is my message with that song. I also
contributed lyrics to 'By My Side,' 'Made Of Metal,' 'Fear The Night,' and
'Children Of The Night.' On "Evilized" most of the songs have realistic
messages, as opposed to "Dragonslayer" which is an album about a king and a
dragon. So I think this is a step forward for us and there's definitely some
nice positive messages in the album.
MELECHESH. Interview with Moloch via email.
Much has already been said about the latest full length "Sphynx," which was
kindly sent to me by Proscriptor here in the States since Herve apparently
STILL does not like American publications. Please distance Nile comparisons
from Melechesh, as the Middle Eastern/Arabic influences are easier to
disseminate if you read the lyrics and obtain some knowledge of old world
cultures and mythologies. I'm no expert, but I know enough to conduct an
interview FULL of questions that should keep this from sounding like the lame
"What are your favorite bands," "Where have you played before," etc. type of
questions that sometimes become a standard when I know nearly nothing else
about a band. Enjoy.
I am curious about your deal with Osmose Records, how many albums
is it for and how well are you dealing with them? I ask because Immortal and
Mardul both had very bad experiences dealing with Herve, especially after the
interview we did with Marduk (see issue #28).
We signed a three album deal with Osmose: "Sphynx" is our third album as a band
and a second album for Osmose (after "Djinn"). Things have been going extremely
well 'till now. We don't always have the same vision of things, which is
normal; bands and labels usually don't see things the same way, the band being
mainly concerned with it's release while the label can sometimes have other
priorities. But, for "Sphynx," they have been very supportive and understanding
concerning all the logistics, studios, etc. So our relations with Herve and all
the people who work at Osmose are very good. As for the other bands you
mentioned it's really none of my business to discuss it in an interview.
The new album is fantastic, and though I have only heard "As
Jerusalem Burns" (their first album) before this one, I am wondering how you
view the progression from your debut album to the newest release? You can
definitely hear MORE of the Middle Eastern sound than ever before.
Every Melechesh album must have it's unique touch. "As Jerusalem Burns" is very
old material. "Djinn" was a huge step forward in our "Mesopotamian Metal," that
is where you really started hearing all these middle eastern sounds. But
"Sphynx" is much more mature, more professional than both. Don't get me wrong,
I love our first two albums, but you can hear in "Sphynx" the result of our ten
years of existence; the maturity residing in the the song structures, the
interpretation, the sound, the concept, everything. So yes, there's more middle
eastern sounds but they are one with the extreme metal that we deliver.
Speaking of Middle Eastern influences, was it difficult for you to
come up with instrumentation and sounds that didn't sound rather, "Egyptian?"
Because you know how close minded some people are, and I would fear that they'd
say you were trying to sound like Nile, like "The black metal version of Nile."
Yes, I do know how close minded people are. But what surprises me is the way
the lack of intelligence shows itself in their critiques. I don't need to even
say that Melechesh is different from Nile, you simply need to listen to BOTH
bands. I really like what they do, as they (like us) too. Other than mutual
esteem, nothing musical or conceptual relates to both bands. Now why do people
compare us both? Simply because in their small little mind they see it as the
same "Eastern" thing. Never mind that both lands existed on two different
continents and have different cultures (language, religion, political system,
traditions, etc). So it's basically ignorance of history in general, but also
ignorance in culture (there is the "west" and the "east"), of music, and
finally of both bands and what they are trying to accomplish. What frustrates
me is not the comparison in itself, but the fact that people can sometimes be
so fucking ignorant!
I am curious about how you got to working with Proscriptor, and is
that not difficult for you to put together albums with band members that are so
far away? Did Proscriptor visit you in your country for the writing and
recording of "Sphynx?"
Most of this album was written by Ashmedi (guitars/vocals) with some
contributions from Al'Hazred (bass) and myself for a couple of tracks. What
happens in the following: Ashmedi and Al'Hazred program the drums in
Al'Hazred's studio, they record guitars and bass and then they send us the
demos. Each member rehearses alone, and I usually travel to Holland in order to
meet up with the other two members (I live in France). Before the album we'll
meet up for a month and rehearse intensively every day, as we changed a couple
of things, finished others, completed some details, etc. And then we went into
With members in three different countries, is touring even a remote
possibility? And will we ever see Meleches in the States? I know with
Proscriptor; Melechesh and Absu would make a good billing!
Yeah, we will tour, it's not an easy thing, but it will be done. The problem is
that the last time we played live was in 1998, so we just need to get the habit
back! Melechesh and Absu would do a great billing, but I believe that it will
be impossible for Proscriptor to handle that much intensity.
I'm curious about the origins of some of your Middle Eastern
philosophies and religions, as I know a bit about Sumerian culture, which
predated Egyptian culture by quite a number of years. It's rather interesting
as well when I read a website about the Annunaki and saw that they were said to
be an advanced race from the tenth planet in our solar system that had actually
brought about the advancement of the human race! (There's a song on the new
Melechesh CD called 'Annunaki's Golden Thrones').
That's the whole thematic that we deal with in "Sphynx." It's a theory depicted
by a certain Zecharia Sitchin, and that has its sources in Mesopotamian
mythology. Now it depends on how you interpret the whole thing, (though) I
believe that Sitchin's vision is closer to fiction than reality. And even in
the band itself we see things differently! While Ashmedi is closer to Zitchin
theory I'm more interested in the philosophy that lies behind the myths. The
Annunaki's, the Seven Sages, Anzu and the Tablets Of Fate, hence, all these
myths that we mention on "Sphynx" deal more generally with the time when
humanity began; with the place of man in the cosmos, his relation to something
that transcends his being (the gods), etc. Every myth is full of sense that you
can reinterpret even in the present world. But of course, aesthetically,
mentally and even spiritually, these myths can bring more in terms of music and
And somewhat on the point mentioned above, with the album title
being "Sphynx..." Forgive my ignorance but wasn't the Sphynx mainly an Egyptian
creation? I know the Egyptian culture followed shortly after the Sumerian
legacy and maybe there were similarities in the two, but the Sphynx statues and
pyramids were obviously still standing...
Even if the early Mesopotamian civilization (Sumeria and Akkadia) existed
before the Egyptians, I don't have an exact answer to the origins and to when
the Egyptian Sphynx was built. But who cares really, it's not a question of who
came up with it first. We chose the title because it's a creature that is
important in Mesopotamia, and that for us he held a specific signification. It
is the creature that portrays that knowledge that the gods were thought to have
brought to mankind. And I think it's the Greeks that perceived the symbolism
behind this mythological creature. In the tragedy of Oedipus written by
Sophocles, it's the Sphynx that formulates the enigmatical question of "what is
man." I believe that the Mesopotamian Sphynx asked a more fundamental question:
"what is humanity?"
I have the reissue of your first album "As Jerusalem Burns" on War
Is Imminent Productions, which was a very cool re-release because of the killer
video for 'Hymn To Gibil.' Why did you feel the need to reissue this album,
which I also had on Breath Of Night Records? Why did you not resign with Breath
Of Night? I'm assuming they're out of business now as I have heard nothing more
Breath Of Night Records didn't want to reissue the album, for reasons that I do
not know. So the album was only pressed once in 1996, and that's it. After we
released "Djinn" in 2001, War Is Imminent contacted us and asked our permission
to re-release it. We accepted, so we remastered the album and added all the
bonus material. It was good to re-release the album to show that Melechesh had
been around for some time, and also because it was a good album at the time
that didn't get the attention it deserved.
I loved the videos you did, especially the 'Hymn To Gibil' one,
plus the new one off of "Sphynx" was kick ass as well. How did you come to do
these videos, as I'm sure they must have been expensive to produce. And where
were the locations for 'Hymn..' shot at? Were these videos ever shown on any
MTV style networks, maybe local TV shows in your country?
Actually, it was a cinematographic school that contacted us and wanted to do a
documentary about Melechesh. So they had professional cameras and all. They did
their show, and we asked them for a clip in return. But the assholes didn't do
it, but we still had the shots, so we sent them to War Is Imminent and they
edited the clip. It could have been much better because we had over four tapes
of material that is unfortunately not in our hands. The clip was shot in a club
in Jerusalem, in the studio of that cinematographic school, in the old city of
Jerusalem, and the desert of Jericho. The documentary (that had a version of
the clip) was on local TV, but nothing more.
The Israeli scene seems to have more going on these days! I
recently did an interview with Nail Within, and I'm sure more bands will be
brought to light. One band which seems to have been overlooked from Israel is
Bishop Of Hexen. I have their "Archives Of An Enchanted Philosophy" and no one
from Israel seems to know of them! I am aware, of course, that you have been
moved from Israel for some time now.
I remember when they released their demo, we were in touch then, but there has
been no news since. You know, it's been five years that we left this country, I
probably know as much as you do of the present Israeli scene.
One thing I read on your web site was an article about Anton LaVey,
especially concerning his book The Satanic Bible. I do have to ask, since you
do not seem to be fond of him: Is there any way that you can see his work as
maybe a starting or reference point? I know that LaVey borrowed some things in
his writings, but also did Crowley and some of Crowley's teachers. Besides, in
the late 1960's/early 70's here in America, there were not many other persons
responsible for defining what is Satanic or "non christian," so I guess in a
way we needed some sort of starting point to build upon an opposition to
The article was not written by us, but by someone else. I partially agree with
that article because LaVey is nothing very original, but I must respect the
fact that he created a whole church. And actually, I do agree with some of his
interpretations of Satanism that I see more as a philosophy than a belief. We
put up the article because we thought that it could trigger something for the
people who read it, not because we have something against LaVey.
How fond are you of black metal's uprising in Scandinavia and what
of it's ideals and philosophies? In some ways, even though I could never burn a
church or commit murder (simply because here in America these actions would
precipitate a death sentence by the courts), I see where Christianity should be
held accountable for their atrocities against other religions and cultures.
They nearly destroyed every evidence of Viking culture in Scandinavia, which
was definitely NOT in line with the Christ they preach incessantly about.
I don't see things that way. It's not the sayings of some preacher in the
desert some two thousand years ago that killed the Viking culture. Men destroy
what men create, this is the cycle of history. The reasons are always the ones
of a will for power; God or his prophets are nothing but a mask. Being an
Atheist I cannot hold God responsible for the death of the Viking culture
simply because for me it's nothing more than a word made of three letters
G-O-D. Atheism and Satanism is also a rebellion against religion, but after
awhile you stop seeing things in a conflictual way. That's because you've
reached a point where these aspects of religion that you grew up with are
totally banished from your system. That's my position at least. After being
destructive you need to be creative.
I'm a huge Egyptology buff, and find the gods and goddesses rather
fascinating. How do you find Egyptian culture and mythology these days? Have
you anything to say about the book The Necronomicon? I haven't read much of it,
it's on my to do list, but I know the version you can buy in bookstores today
is said to be a rather incomplete version of what was originally written.
I don't know much about Egyptology actually, nothing interesting that I can put
in an interview at least. Concerning the Necronomicon, it's a long story, and
no one can authentify any version of this book. But in the many versions that
you CAN find of it, you can easily figure out the influence of the Mesopotamian
belief system. Now, (is it) novel or real manuscript? There's no real answer to
such a question.
USURPER. Interview by phone with Rick Scythe.
It seems like the new record "Twilight Dominion" is getting tons of
killer press from people, some are going so far to say it's album of the year!
Have you seen any of the press statements about the record yet?
Yeah, a little bit, I try to see whatever's out there. I don't go all over the
internet, but it's cool that people are appreciating the record.
I know last time I talked to Dark Funeral they were having problems
with Necropolis, and I guess you did too as you moved over to Earache.
Basically, when we signed with Necropolis, we were coming off of a really small
label called Head Not Found out of Norway; it was Metalion from Slayer
Magazine's label. Necropolis was a good, logical step for us because it still
had that cult, underground feel to it, but yet there was a little more money
for a budget and the most important thing was they were going to push us to get
us on tours. That was something we really wanted to do. We seemed to get a
little bit lost in the shuffle, as Necropolis seemed to be getting away from
the real original extreme underground stuff, and going more for the typical
death metal stuff. We just didn't fit like we were fitting in any more. Then
there were a lot of people who were working there that didn't support Usurper
at all. We went to Europe in 2000 doing a tour supporting Cradle Of Filth, and
when we got out there they weren't making the bus payments, making things
really stressful. We got back from that in the Winter of 2000 and we knew we
had to leave this label. Our contract was about up with them anyway.
Speaking of tours, we missed the last New Jersey festival you guys
were supposed to play at this year, but we've been dying to see you come down
to Atlanta! It seems like Usurper has never traveled very far south.
We were supposed to all the way back in 1997 with Dark Funeral.
We saw Dark Funeral down here in Atlanta awhile ago though.
It's been hard for us; for touring, we pretty much have to take what we get
offered. We start that tour Saturday with the Metalfest and going out with
Epoch Of Unlight. Unfortunately, that tour doesn't go very far south.
Was the reason you left Head Not Found, was that to get better
distribution for your albums? I mean, between Chris and I we have "Diabolosis"
and it's pretty hard to find but still available.
It's really hard to find. When we signed with them, we knew it was just going
to be for one album, you know it was an underground thing, and our demo was
only out for about six months at the time. Back in those days, I'm sure you
remember, no one really did much stuff on the internet, it was all tape
Well, actually, I've had my magazine online since about 1991, 1992
or so. And still running!
Yeah, but I mean the majority of people did the tape trading, spreading of
flyers and things like that. That's what we did with our first demo, and we
sent out about 1,300 copies all over the world. Now it doesn't seem like that
big of a deal, but when you're actually sending out 1,300 tapes all over the
world, that's quite a bit of activity in six months for such a small band. And
Head Not Found offered us a deal, and Metalion's so legendary, he's been
thanked on (Celtic Frost's) "Morbid Tales." We said this was the perfect label
to put out our debut album. It wasn't anything much more than that though, he
was very upfront with us, he didn't have any kind of money for a big recording
budget or a tour.
I noticed there's some different themes running around with this
record, it surprised me to hear a song like 'The Oath Of Silence,' and I was
like, "Damn, a Lord Of The Rings track!"
Ha ha! With this record, we feel we've captured the essence of what we've done
in the past and where our heads are at now. We feel we haven't really lost
any momentum or changed our style. We perfected these songs to play live on
stage, because some of our older stuff is kinda hard to pull off live. A song
like 'Oath Of Silence,' our vocalist wrote the lyrics to that, he's really into
"Lord Of The Rings." He's been bothering me for a few years now to do this.
Especially after the movies came out...
Yeah, well he was into it before that, but once the movies came out, he was
REALLY insistent then. He told me how he wanted the music to be more like an
epic; bigger music and epic and a longer song with a lot of dynamics to it.
What would you consider some of your older stuff that was hard to
play live? I don't really see what you would have a problem pulling off live.
It wasn't like we COULDN'T pull it off live, but sometimes it's really hard to
get the headbanging going; a song like 'The Ruins Of Gomorrah' off of
"Diabolosis," to me that's a good song to listen to, but live it's like 8
minutes long. Live you don't really want to break down that momentum. We had a
lot of songs that were REAL long. When you only get a 40 minute set opening for
somebody you can only play like 5 songs or something. That's what I mean by
that. It wasn't that we couldn't handle playing the actual parts, it was more
like the energy and the feel. 5 minutes for a song now, for us, is like a
The CD is seemingly divided into two parts, and I'm curious about
what the Chronovisor is all about. I really dig the song 'Vatican Time
That's basically a time machine that was actually built in the 50's called the
Chronovisor. It wasn't something that you could go into and actually travel
back in time, but it was some wierd thing with this scientist-priest, who
invented this device that was almost like a T.V. monitor where you could tune
in ferquencies from past years and kind of view them. He viewed all these
things from the bible that didn't really happen quite the way that they are
Wow, so this is based on a true story!? I haven't ever heard about
any of this.
The Vatican, it's such a wierd thing, because this guy was actually working for
them; he was a priest and a world authority on occult arts and sciences, and he
was also an exorcist. And those are things that the church really frowns upon.
You know, the occult stuff, and anything that actually has any kind of logic to
it (laughter breaks out on both sides - how true this point actually is - Ed).
This guy was on the inside and he really expanded his mind. This album has a
feel to it, a certain feel like you know, back in the day when everything was
on record and tape, you had a side one and side two, and obviously side one has
an opening track and a closing track. Side two had the same thing, you opened
side two with an actual opener. And it seems like a lot of CD's that are coming
out are like 10 to 12 songs and kind of stagnant, they lose their feel to them.
We felt this album had the dynamics where the ending song on side one was
'Gollum' and side two starts off with 'The Descent.' So instead of labeling it
side one and side two we have two chapters. For us it's like the two aspects of
the band, the total diehard metal aspects of the band, and the references from
the past that we thought were cool.
You did that with "Skeletal Seasons" too where you talked about the
werewolved and man-beasts and stuff. That was some cool stuff!
I'm glad you appreciate it, you know that album seemingly gets overlooked by a
lot of people.
The thing that amazes me so much about the records, I mean everyone
says it's the whole Tom G. Warrior/Celtic Frost thing, but not really, and of
course there's the Ooorah's and Heeey's, but the thing that really blew me away
was he's doing all these rough vocals and then out of nowhere comes these high
pitched, almost power metal screams!
It's cool to hear you say that, because that's how we feel as well. We don't
feel like the Frost influences are a direct ripoff, I mean guys like them and
Black Sabbath, they wrote the book on Heavy Metal. For us to deny that as an
influence is just stupid. A lot of critics hated "Skeletal Seasons," I know
the label didn't like it...
Necropolis didn't like it!?!??!
Oh no, they couldn't stand it, they gave us a lot of shit for that because they
had a big budget...
Well, to be honest, there are a couple of songs I didn't care much
for but the album overall is pretty damn good.
We actually gained a lot of fans with that album, and to this day people love
those songs. That's why with "Twilight Dominion" we feel that we captured some
of those dark elements, some of those werewolf stories...
Yeah, I like those! (laughs)
You know, things like that. But also we wanted to have that upfront feel like
"Necronemesis" had. That impact.
Now, that's one thing we may have to disagree on, because I wasn't
really impressed with "Necronemesis" as a whole. I hate to say that but I have
to be honest with you.
It's okay, I mean we put everything we have into everything we do. We know that
each album that we put out has it's own feeling. There's people that didn't
like "Skeletal Seasons" that love "Necronemesis."
(laughing) - You can't even figure it out can you?
Right, exactly, so we don't even try.
I have to say that "Twilight Dominion" has to be, hands down, THE
best Usurper album ever made.
And I appreciate that, definitely, and that's how the whole band feels.
Now I don't know how much this has been mentioned in the press, but
I remember reading at one time you were considered Chicago's most hated band?
(MUCH laughter here). I'm wondering how in the hell that came about?
It was kind of like a gimmick. It wasn't something that we did, we just got
labeled with that. This label from Chicago, R.I.P. Records, they put out
"Diabolosis" on vinyl. They did that and they also helped us with a lot of
press and promotion back in the early days when we were on Head Not Found and
even before that. They were kind of like our management but they weren't real
big time. What happened was, back in 1995 or 1996 Chicago was sort of closing
down all the rock clubs, and the few places that had them, local promoters were
actually making bands BUY tickets off them. We had promoters offering us to
play shows, and we just said fuck you to all of them. At the same time there
were a lot of bands that were coming out, basically your typical death/grind
bands, ones that didn't have much substance that were just buying into this.
These promoters to put up posters and flyers and stuff, saying "oh yeah,
Chicago's most loved band," and we just thought it was kinda funny, all these
people bragging about how great they were, meanwhile they're buying all these
tickets. So we figured we'd just be, instead, Chicago's most hated band.
Because we weren't kissing anyone's ass or taking any crap from anyone. The
press then just kinda picked up the ball and ran with it. Of course, it doesn't
even mean anything now.
It's really a shame, with as many albums as you have out, that it's
taken such a long time for you to get tours down.
No question about it. We've been to Europe a couple of times, and those were
pretty good tours. We just got back from Los Angeles, played a big festival out
there, but we haven't really been on a full, like 5 week U.S. tour, we just do
sections. We did a west coast tour at one point, did some east coast dates and
some Canadian dates, but it's never really been this cohesive tour. It's just
what we get offered, because Usurper's still just an underground band where if
we try and go out to headline, the impact level is not going to be as high. We
have to team up with somebody who's a bit bigger.
Well, I do remember you did a tour with Manowar.
Yeah, that was a good tour. Havoc Hate opened up the tour. The bands all got
along, which is always important; With Manowar, they're such an established act
that you don't know what you're getting yourself into. They might not give you
a soundcheck, you might not get enough stage space: what can you do? But they
were REALLY cool about that; they made sure we got a soundcheck, had enough
lights, and were always kinda there for us for whatever we needed. They treated
us well, paid us well for it, and we have no complaints.
WHILE HEAVEN WEPT. Interview via email with Tom Phillips.
Absolutely amazing. As many of you have seen, when we cover bands of the doom
metal genre, few and far between they may be but fantastic they usually are.
And this is one that came out of nowhere and hit me on the head! An excellent
rendition of a Candlemass tune included, their latest CD "Of Empires Forlorn"
was one of the highlights of this issue and we HAD to have them in here.
I must admit I had not heard of you guys until one of the members
of Arghoslent thought I had covered you in my publication. Are the guys in
Arghoslent in your area, and how do you all know each other? I must admit I
love their latest CD "Incorrigible Bigotry!"
I've known Agrhoslent for more than a decade now. Not only do we come from the
same Virginian extreme metal scene (which was very much inter-supportive at one
time before being divided in the mid 90's by a lot of backstabbing, shit
talking and jealousies), I've also been in a couple of other bands with some
past and present Arghoslent members such as Grand Belial's Key and Twisted
Tower Dire, plus a couple of us were involved with the Sinistrari Records label
(who released our first MCD "Lovesongs Of The Forsaken" in 1994). We still live
in the same general vicinity and remain in semi-regular contact, although both
bands tend to do their own thing these days, having little interaction with the
other D.C. area groups. Musically, Arghoslent is one of my favorite bands still
to this day; I think they are one of the best Death Metal bands of all time,
primarily because of Halac's unique riffing and the overall distinctive
songwriting. I agree that "Incorrigible Bigotry" has some amazing moments, but
"Galloping Through The Battle Ruins" is just as killer in my opinion.
Arghoslent is the epitome of battle metal: epic, brutal and glorious, and
probably the only band locally that exerts an influence on me.
Now, you mentioned something about not subscribing to Arghoslent's
politics or philosophies, maybe you could elaborate on that? Even I'm not quite
sure what they are!
They've received quite a bit of criticism for their extreme political and
philosophies - I appreciate the strength of their convictions, but ultimately,
I really don't care about anything besides the music personally. People are
entitled to embrace whatever political, social, and religious views they
believe in, but like I said, I don't subscribe to ANY school of thought in
those respects; though I may occasionally exert an opinion on specific
subjects, generally it is irrelevant to me. I do appreciate and agree with
their musical philosophies however: maintaining integrity and the underground
aesthetic as well as true expression without compromise.
This album seems to be the result of several older songs and I
suppose some newer tracks. How different are songs like 'Sorrow Of The Angels'
and 'The Drowning Years' from their earlier counterparts?
What's interesting about your question is the fact that 'Sorrow Of The Angels'
is actually an older song that first appeared on the aforementioned (and out of
print) "Lovesongs Of The Forsaken" MCD in 1994, so that should give you some
indication of where we come from. The songwriting process has been the same for
years: the basic structures develop strictly through revelation usually via an
emotional catalyst, they are never contrived or forced into being. Once I feel
the skeleton of a song is complete, only then do I take the composition to the
table to flesh out the arrangements. Musically, the primary influences remain
intact (Candlemass, early Fates Warning, viking era Bathory, Kitaro/Klaus
Schulze, classical music, etc.) and for simplicity's sake it could be said that
While Heaven Wept has always been an Epic Doom Metal band; although personally
we feel we are more diverse than that, I proudly hold high that banner. There
is no question that we have diversified within our own parameters (which have
expanded slightly over the years) considering the vast differences between
songs like 'Voice In The Wind' and 'Of Empires Forlorn' for example, but
ultimately this album is essentially an evolution, not a departure. Probably
the main quality that distinguishes some of the newer compositions from earlier
works for many people is this "aural paradox" that some of the songs exert,
where feelings of deep tragedy and glorious triumph are evoked simultaneously,
whereas everything else in the back catalog is completely bleak, depressive and
And of course I would like to know how you feel about some of your
My opinion of our earlier releases is that everything from the first decade was
strictly developmental when compared to the "Of Empires Forlorn" album, where
we have truly come into our own, having developed a distinct, signature sound;
not so much in musical style, but the quality of the production and the density
of the arrangements.
So what of the songs that didn't make the latest album "Of Empires
Forlorn?" Will they be resurrected later on in some fashion?
Originally, "Of Empires Forlorn" was going to be a MCD released on the
Miskatonic Foundation before we opted to release it through Eibon Records, who
also released our 1998 album "Sorrow Of The Angels." Rich Walker (TMF label
head/Solstice mastermind) kept insisting we include more and more new songs,
which we tried to oblige him with, but I also always intended to include some
older compositions that had evolved as well (and initially appeared on long out
of print releases) which led to an impasse. I've always maintained a very clear
vision of what I want to do with While Heaven Wept, and my personal
satisfaction overrules any other opinions or logic. So I discussed the
situation with Mauro of Eibon, who has always supported my ambitions regardless
of how irrational they may be (laughing), and he subsequently agreed to release
"Of Empires Forlorn" (which had by then evolved into a full length release)
exactly the way I had envisioned it. When it comes to While Heaven Wept, I know
exactly how I want every release to be arranged long before it is realized. A
Anyway, aside from a few surplus tracks recorded during the sessions for "Of
Empires Forlorn," there really weren't any songs leftover that "belong" to this
particular era; these bonus tracks are being released on different pressings of
the album (which is being licensed to various labels for different regions) as
well as on forthcoming vinyl singles. We actually had most of the next album
"Vast Oceans Lachrymose" written by the time we began recordings "Of
Empires..." but I knew none of those songs were meant for the current release.
Of course, there are plenty of songs "in the archives" considering our 14 year
existence, but whether or not any of those will ever be recorded or released is
another story altogether.
I'm curious how the deal with Eibon came about, and is it difficult
being a U.S. based band dealing with a somewhat small, Italian record label?
I've been in touch with Mauro since his old band Ras Algethi released their
first demo (which in fact came out about the same time as ours), and over the
years we developed a very strong bond and lasting friendship. So when he
decided to start Eibon Records with the release of Canaan's "Blue Fire" (his
band that had evolved from Ras Algethi), While Heaven Wept signed on
immediately without hesitation. It was an obvious choice considering the
premise of the label, the fact there was so much trust and empathy between us,
and because we adore each other's music. Eibon is really an "Anti-label" in
that the focus is strictly on art and expression, not profit; Mauro only
releases music he believes in and likes, with no concern for financial gain. In
the beginning Eibon never advertised or pressed promos, as all the music was
very dear to heart and not meant for every shit wearing a Cradle Of Filth
shrit, so the whole approach was very much anti industry. Although recently
Eibon has begun pressing promos, the values are still the same, and I
appreciate the fact that Mauro continues to defy this industry that is
impregnated with greedy, jaded and apathetic corporations. Around the time of
"Sorrow Of The Angels," some of the band members cajoled me into pressing for
more promotion and such, which went against my instincts, and I regret that
brief period, but otherwise I've always been 100% satisfied with Eibon. After
all, who could complain about having your heartfelt creations being realized as
a true work of art (Eibon is known for its extraordinary graphics as well as
extravagant digipacks and other unique packagings)?
I must admit I was very impressed with the Candlemass cover
'Epistle No. 81,' though it seems to be (to me) a bit shorter than the
original! What made you decide on this more obscure track than, say, something
off of "Nightfall" or even "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus?"
I've never been one to opt for the obvious path, and covering 'Solitude' or
'Samarithan' would have been just that. That aside, I'd wanted to do an
arrangement of 'Epistle No. 81' for the last 6-7 years because I felt that it
is a very beautiful and moving composition. Of course it should be noted that
it's not actually a Candlemass song to begin with, it's a traditional Swedish
hymn composed by Carl Michael Bellman. Our arrangement was done with the utmost
respect and reverence for the Swedish people, so hopefully we did 'Epistle No.
81' justice. The reason it seems faster than the Candlemass version is because
unlike them, we did not use a click track when we recorded it so the momentum
shifts throughout the song, as if we're rushing to the grave (laughing)! I
personally think it feels more natural this way, but I don't know what Leif
Edling thinks of it; however I am curious since he hates their version of it,
which is admittedly more rigid in comparison. Either way, I certainly have even
more respect for Messiah, as it was extremely challenging for me to sing.
By the way, the way you did vocals on that song, if Messiah hadn't
rejoined Candlemass, I dare say you would have been a killer replacement! Had
you ever considered this?
Well thanks man! I don't really consider myself to be in the same league as
Messiah personally (or Geoff Tate, John Arch and Steve Perry for that matter),
but I do know all of the songs from the "classic era" intimately. I don't think
I would be very comfortable stepping into those shoes however, as I prefer to
sing my own lyrics to my own songs. And even then, only because I lived through
what I sing about, thus able to convey things better than just about anyone
else. I really only started singing for While Heaven Wept by default since we
could never find the appropriate vocalist locally; I am a guitarist first and
foremost (been playing for about 20 years), but even there I think our other
guitarist first into that role more proficiently. I really consider myself more
of a songwriter/arranger these days than anything else. Anyway, taking the
vocalist position in Solstice was about as far as I'd go in terms of singing
someone else's lyrics, as they never had a particularly distinctive or
"signature" singer and all of the vocalists have had similar ranges to mine. I
don't think I could ever join Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus as they just
would not be the same without Messiah, Johan or Rob respectively, but I would
not mind a guest spot!
So what did you think of the Candlemass stuff that was released
after Messiah left?
The Candlemass that existed after Messiah left was a completely different band
really; the neo-classicism and gothic imagery was replaced by more of a bluesy,
Sabbathy vibe not that far removed from Leif's other projects like Abstrakt
Algebra, Krux, or even some early Nemesis. While I really do like those albums,
generally I don't perceive them as Candlemass proper, so I was elated when the
classic lineup reunited, and even had the honor of hanging out with them and
seeing them live again at the Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles Six Pack weekend
in Cleevland this year. Fucking killer show indeed (especially when you factor
in the reunited Trouble, who performed a nearly show stealing set just before
them). As a footnote, I actually prefer the session vocalist on "Epicus
Doomicus Metallicus" Johan Lanquist to even Messiah, as I think his performance
was very soulful and bereft of the operatic histrionics that sometimes
overshadowed some of the Candlemass songs.
It was absolutely amazing to me to hear that you had once played
with the mighty U.K. band Solstice. I still listen to their "New Dark Age"
album quite frequently, and even interviewed them once. Sad to hear they broke
up, but how did you get involved with them?
Well, first of all I'd like to inform you and your readers that Solstice is
back together again, and we'll be releasing a new EP called "To Sol A Thane"
sometime in 2004 I imagine. That's right, I've rejoined the band and we'll be
returning to the pure epic doon metal of the "Lamentations" era. The new lineup
is a veritable supergroup consisting of members of While Heaven Wept, Twisted
Tower Dire, and The Lord Wierd Slough Feg along with main man Rich Walker.
(Fucking-A! Can't wait! - Ed.) Anyway, to answer your question, I first became
acquainted with Solstice through our mutual friend John Perez (Solitude
Aeternus/Brainticket Records); he sent me a dub of the "Lamentations" album in
1995 because I kept getting told how much WHW and Solstice sounded alike, which
I did not believe because I'd only heard the Dutch and Floridian bands with
that name, neither of which sounded anything like us. Needless to say, I was
blown away by the similarities and the amazing songs on that album, and then I
contacted Rich immediately, who also realized recently our parallels. I
happened to be heading over to the U.K. with my college's choir to perform
there, and subsequently ditched them to travel up to West Yorkshire, meeting up
with Rich and the rest of the band. We got on very well immediately, and I
jokingly said, "hey if you ever need a singer, just let me know" after Rich
expressed concerns about Simon Matravers' performances.
Did you write any material with Solstice or do any tours with them?
Well, just days afterwards in London where the band was playing, Rich told me
Somon had quit and offered me the job. I accepted immediately, as I loved the
album and recently recorded "Halcyon" EP. I returned to the States for a couple
of months to get my affairs in order, then returned to the U.K. in early 1996,
whereupon I moved into the Solstice stronghold. We ended up drinking more beer
than rehearsing or writing, but we were already blueprinting material for "New
Dark Age." We did a handful of shows that were lackluster at best, partially
because I wasn't really comfortable at the time being that it was my first time
that far away from home, and my my general inexperience as a frontman proper.
Plus we were undergoing lineup changes as well. This was all further
complicated by financial problems, record labels going under, and the fact that
the new WHW album "Sorrow Of The Angels" was still pending. Once I returned to
the States in midsummer 1996, WHW began recording "Sorrow Of The Angels" and it
just seemed less and less likely that I'd be able to regroup with Solstice any
time in the near future (especially considering my transatlantic flights would
be paid for with their recording budgets, which I definitely did not want to
do), so they carried on with Moz and I finished off the WHW album. Fast forward
to 2002, after Solstice called it a day, and Rich decided he had more to say,
and wanted to regroup with musicians he knew he could rely on, that believed in
the music as much as he did, so I was once again asked to join and that's what
The blackened vocals near the end of 'Of Empires Forlorn' really
surprised me; it was such a crushing thing to add! Did you do those vocals
yourself, and why not do more black metal vocals on tracks in the future?
Yes, I did the black metal vocals too, only because that particular passage
really called for them, being the riff was something you'd hear on an old
Slayer album or maybe even the first Deicide. When I first started doing the
vocals in 1991 after our original singer Brendan Galvan left, it was somewhere
between Paradise Lost and Emperor, with the extremely low, guttural approach
intermingled with the caustic Black Metal screams because I had not developed
my clean vocals at all during that time. That was only a brief experiment, as
we went right back to clean vocals when Kenny Thomas joined on guitar and
vocals later that year. Although I had always been a fan of thrash, death and
black metal, I decided relatively swiftly that those vocal styles totally
obscured the emotion in the vocals and lyrics, which are important facets in
While Heaven Wept, so we went back to the Queensryche/Fates Warning clean
approach. It's entirely possible that we'll incorporate more aggressive vocals
if the music calls for it, but generally the same realization I had some 12
years ago still rings true: when it comes to music of sadness and despair,
you'd be hard pressed to get the right emotion from the music if you are
screaming and grunting. However, for something more violent or aggressive, I'm
definitely not averse to screaming bloody gore!
Speaking of black metal vocals in doomier styles of music, are you
familiar at all with Forest Stream? They are an incredible band on Earache
Records, but they aren't strictly doom metal. They DO use a lot of atmospheric
keyboards and stuff though.
Aside from the Lunaris album I haven't bought an Earache release since Morbid
Angel's "Blessed Are The Sick." I've heard of Forest Stream, but I don't
actually own any of their music. What is funny about you mentioning them is for
as much as the true doom bands differentiate themselves from doom/death, they
in turn differentiate themselves from bands like Forest Stream! As a listener,
I don't care about what categories a band falls in; if it's good music and
makes me feel something, then I'll listen to it, which is what I suggest to
everyone. The whole issue of categorization is more of a personal thing for the
musicians and militants directly involved than anything else - it affects
marketing and promotional strategies as well as solidarity, but when all is
said and done, good music is good music. The only reason I even bother to
discuss these issues at all is because my friends and I have been directly
affected by the ludicrous amount of misinformation spread through the media
and Internet. I'd certainly be interested in checking out Forest Stream
nonetheless, but I have to be honest with you, after 7 years working for Tower
Records, and 15+ in the underground metal scene, I have become a bit jaded, and
it takes a particularly innovative sound or a group with obviously strong
convictions to hold my attention for more than 30 seconds.
So much for the 13th being a good number for me... Maybe I should change the
release date yet again... Regardless of that fact, thanks to everyone who gave
me support during this trying of times. You'll no doubt notice that there
aren't as many CD reviews this time around, well, the job situation isn't 100%
conducive to doing reviews, but I still get to play the 'tunes while at work,
so it's not as bad as it could have been. Gonna work immediately on the next
issue and try and make it a better one!
While we're on the subject, (what subject?) I just wanted to see if anyone had
any ideas about getting shows booked in the Southeast U.S. I am apalled at the
lack of good shows here in Atlanta, seems like all the high profile shows never
make it this far south. Unless it's death metal. :< Let's see, Usurper has
never played here, neither has Cradle Of Filth, well, at least until Ozzfest
rolls around. Ozzfest IS coming here, but I'm not really interested in paying
money to see Ozzy and Voivod. (Not a Cradle of Filth fan). And besides that,
after the dismal failure that was Voivod's brand new release, I'm afraid they
might not be playing much live I'd like to hear. I actually thought about
trying to get the booking job at the Masquerade here in Atlanta when the
position was available... Maybe it's still up for grabs, I dunno... I could
promise that better shows would be coming to Georgia.
Before I forget, in case any of you haven't noticed... With the Forest Stream
CD we reviewed this issue, we went ahead and added an extra minute of length to
the digitzed sound files, since this was the highlight of the issue (easily).
We have thought about 4 minute files instead of 3 minutes, but with all the
space the classic albums section is taking up, I need to conserve space when
and where I can. I am looking at new homes for the web site, one of the
conditions however is the amount of storage space we have. Currently I have 4
gigs, which, once the classic albums section hits about 600 or 700 albums, it
will be time to find a new home. So I'm currently looking, and hoping that good
web providers will drop their prices over time. I still have at least a year or
two before this becomes a serious problem...
Finally, the band I'm (ahem) managing, Ground:Xero, has a new CD getting ready
to be released. With this new set of songs, I am almost assuredly going to have
this band signed to SOME damn record label! Given that good press all the way
around has been given (even some nods of praise from Andreas at The End
Records, plus a VERY nice demo review in Metal Maniacs), I see no reason why
the next Ground:Xero effort shouldn't be either on The End or a few other
labels which I am not at liberty to name yet... And while we're talking about
The End, I have to give mention of great praise for Andreas going outside the
roster of his own label to bring promotion for labels all over the globe. He's
worked records from Osmose, Black Lotus, AFM, Moonfog, and quite a few others.
Some stuff I would have never gotten to hear had it not been for Andreas.
Thanks as always goes out to all the labels, especially the overseas labels,
that have continually supported me. Labels like Adipocere, ISO666, Folter,
Spinefarm/Spikefarm, Eibon, and too many others to name.
Well, that's about it for this issue. Special hello goes out to Beverly Jones,
don't know if you'll be reading this but definitely appreciate all the love and
support. It's about the only thing keeping me sane these days. That, and my
son William... Everyone else, keep checking out the newest stuff the music
scene has to offer, and remember, if it ain't on MTV or popular radio, then it
HAS to be good!
Now, CLICK HERE to return to the main menu!