VIBRATIONS OF DOOM MAGAZINE
After many many delays, and almost a year since the last issue, here it is.
My apologies to all who eagerly awaited this issue, hope you enjoy it and hope
you find this issue as enjoyable as many others. The interviews are a bit
longer on some bands, and there's more CD's reviewed this time around.
We tried like hell to at least have three issues out before the end of 2008.
The delays between issue #46 and #47 were numerous, way too numerous for my
tastes. The delays between #47 and #48 even worse.
Address to send stuff to, blah, blah blah:
Vibrations of Doom Magazine
c/o Steven Cannon
P.O. Box 1258
Suwanee, GA 3024-0963 USA
ALLTHENIKO 'Devasterpiece' (My Graveyard) SCORE: 83/100
This is a rather interesting release from a band who obviously is trying to
create music like the 80's greats such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and even
Accept! The album title is a little odd, but I must admit the iron beast
picture on the front cover is cool! The CD starts out with the cut 'Erased,'
and it doesn't take long to figure out there's some blazing riffs from a guy
who is obviously quite skilled. The vocals are rough edged, which is a good
thing as it keeps a somewhat gritty feeling to the metal. Not a bad way to
start the disc, especially since there's some headbanging pieces. Still don't
know about the semi acoustic passages here along with the clean sung vocals,
but so far I don't feel a need to complain. 'The Evil Forces' follows and is
DEFINITELY a standout piece, complete with slower but thrashy stop/start riffs
and catchy choruses to boot. The energetic vocal work definitely provides extra
incentive to bang your head to this one. 'Thunder And Steel' follows with
somewhat melodic sung vocals, though the vocals soar into the high range with
the choruses. It's not too bad a piece! 'Law Of The Stronger' I thought was one
of the weakest cuts on the album, and it's wierd to see that this song was the
one they picked to do their video for ('The Evil Forces' would have been a much
better choice). The prechoruses are very awkward, especially on the sung parts,
and the choruses are weak as well. 'Devasterpiece,' the song, follows, and is a
surprising instrumental, utilizing some Spanish sounding acoustic guitar work;
it was a nice change of pace before finishing the album. 'Metal Unchained' was
a decent tune as well. Followup 'Rise And Fall' wasn't a bad cut, though the
choruses could have been better written; still, the heavy guitar work keeps you
interested, and the last half of the song definitely picks up. 'I'm A Fuckin'
Zombie' was an interesting instrumental, well, mostly instrumental, with a few
vocals in it. There's quite a bit of variation for a rather short (3.5 minutes)
piece! 'Feel The Power' is another standout cut, and headbangers will most
definitely dig the "Die for metal!" sreams throughout the track. It's a raging
fast tune, folks, and proves the lead singer can hit some really high notes!
'When This Demon's Coming' and 'The Godfather' finish off the album in somewhat
weak fashion, however, though 'When This Demon's Coming' is definitely the more
enjoyable of the two, with some melodic choruses and nice dark acoustics. The
last track was quite annoying, as the choruses were very weak, and the spoken
parts were rather goofy; it seems like this track kinda aimlessly drifts off
into space! It's not a masterpiece, but the flag of metal is held high, and
there's plenty of enjoyable tunes. This CD comes from an Italian record label
that currently holds the newest releases from 80's metal bands Dark Quarterer,
Feline Melinda, Taramis, and Sabotage, so look for more reviews from them in
the next and upcoming issues!
Contact: My Graveyard Productions.
ARKONA "Ot Serdca K Nebu" (Napalm) SCORE: 94/100
This is my first exposure to Russian folk/metal unit Arkona, and I must say
this hit me right off the bat! It does tend to run a little long at 14 songs
and a playing time of a little over an hour, but there's so much to digest I
dare say you won't do it all at once. Once the prologue is out of the way, you
are immediately dropped into some vicious death metal instrumentation and a
female vocalist that sounds very vicious! Some say there's a black metal slant
to Masha's vocals, but it sounds more along the lines of death metal. She can
definitely growl with the best of them, but oftentimes you'll hear her clean
sung vocals soar! 'Pokrovy Nebesnogo Startsa' is one of the heaviest tunes on
the disc, though there are others. You will hear flutes, hurdy-gurdys, and
bagpipes on nearly EVERY song, and they really add a folk feel, especially when
the instrumentation is blazing away at a fast pace (though the blackened style
pace doesn't happen too often; mainly on songs like 'Sva' and 'Nad Propastiu
Let'). There are a few instrumentals, like 'Gutsulka' which does a nice mix of
flutes and bagpipes, and 'Tsygular.' There was an interesting doomy approach to
the instrumentation found on 'Strela,' which utilized slower guitar riffs and
some slow, tribal drumming... So here we have folkish doom! And when you get to
the death vocals on 'Sva,' it's more like folkish doom/death! And yes, this is
the SAME song that starts off with the blackened guitar work and a speedier
pace. Though you will hear MUCH variety and diversity (which is needed since at
least 3 songs break the 6 minute mark), there are tendencies when you hear some
vocal melodies or instrumental passages you've heard on earlier parts, and this
obviously means it was tough to be completely original and diverse throughout
not only 14 tracks, but an hour long disc. There were a few odd moments on the
record, mainly with some of the odd spoken male vocals at the 'Epilogue'
(which, save for the ending synth only ambience, could have been dropped due to
it's similarity to the 'Prologue'), and some of the female vocals tend to get a
bit odd on the preceding track 'Katitsia Kolo' (though it could have been more
due to the unusual pronunciation of her language which I am not completely
fluent in). All in all, though, this is a stunning disc, one that showcases an
amazing amount of diversity mixing Russian folk music with extreme metal. If
you think everything that can be done with music HAS been done, then this disc
is DEFINITELY going to change the way you approach folk oriented metal. HIGHLY
Contact: Napalm Records.
COLOSSEUM "Chapter 2: Numquam" (Firebox) SCORE: 98/100
Even though 2009 JUST got started when I received this disc, I knew it would be
one of the top 5 doom metal releases for 2009. AMAZING orchestration utilizing
violins, cellos, and flutes (like Shape Of Despair) and also... Ready?
TRUMPETS! More on that later. It's of the slow, doomy variety, akin to funereal
doom/death, but so rich in instrumentation that it stands above and beyond the
rest of what the doom/death world is doing right now. You have 7 tracks (one of
which is useless, more on THAT later) and most run 7 and 9 minutes, so length
is a bit shorter on songs than their last release. The most amazing thing about
Colosseum is how flawlessly and effortlessly they go from light and melodic to
dark and heavy all in the space of one song; what makes the transitions seem
near perfect is the ultra heavy percussion on every song; it's rather a
thunderous affair. 'Numquam' starts the disc off with some dark acoustic guitar
work before utilizing some epic high ended guitar work. Such crushing heaviness
is not to be ignored. The violins and cellos on 'Towards The Infinite' add a
unique sorrowful feeling, making this one of the standout tracks on the record.
Flutes are heard clearly for the first time on 'Demons Swarm By My Side,' and
this is a track that DEFINITELY reminds me of Shape Of Despair via their
"Shades Of..." release. You get some beautiful acoustic guitars opening up 'The
River,' which is one of the best examples of back and forth emotional content
between heavy and dark and light and dreamy ambient landscapes. The 6th track
'Prosperity' to me should have ended the CD, as it had some VERY epic trumpets
closing out the song, and they were amazing to hear alongside the crushing slow
and heavy percussion and guitar work. This song is 11 minutes long; the longest
here but worth EVERY DAMN SECOND. Even the 3 minute solo synth passage stuck
near the end was worth it to hear beautiful acoustic guitars and high ended
heavier lead solo work. The ambient synth passages here will remind one almost
instantly of Vinterriket, earliest Mortiis' or even Uruk-Hai in their more
melodic moments. ONE MAJOR COMPLAINT comes with the CD ender which is not
listed on the CD itself, but is referred to as the "outro." This is 5 minutes
and 30 seconds of almost worthless noise; Heavy one hit percussion to be sure,
but some odd notes and noises from the guitar and strange sound effects tells
me that this should have been left OFF the CD. Since it's not listed on the CD
anywhere, and some have even hinted that this track was removed, I assume it
might have been only on the promotional copies, even though Firebox sent the
full packaging along with this. Despite this, the CD is HIGHLY recommended to
all doom fans and fans of well orchestrated doom/death (or funereal doom/death,
whatever your genre tag of preference), and one of the best doom releases to
come out in 2009! BUY IT! NO EXCUSES!!!
Contact: Firebox Records.
DESTROYER 666 "Defiance" (Season Of Mist) SCORE: 98/100
What a sick record! I had been dying for some time to hear this band, hailing
from Australia, and with Season Of Mist now setting up shop here in the States,
I finally get to hear what cult followers of this band have been talking about.
The CD starts off with a bang in 'Weapons Of Conquest,' which is easily one of
the catchiest tunes on the record, especially chorus wise, and once you hear
the vicious riffing and powerful, in your face blackened vocals, you're hooked!
The guitar work is INSANE on this record; many of the lead solos blaze along at
a furious pace but are crafted in a rather unique way. 'I Am Not Deceived'
follows things along with some high end guitar riffs, and thunderous percussion
work to boot. 'Blood For Blood' starts things off in a bit slower fashion,
proving that Destroyer 666 can craft slower instrumentation that crushes just
as much as the speedier tunes. The guitars are rather haunting, and there's
some dark melodies to be found within. This 5 minute piece retains a slower
pacce for the duration. 'The Barricades Are Breaking' will remind one a bit of
Marduk with their blitzkrieg speed attack, but with tons of insane lead solos.
Slower once again is 'A Stand Defiant,' which by the song name alone sums up
the lyrical stance. And though followup tune 'A Path To Conflict' starts out
at a slower pace, it soon kicks things into high gear with some intricate
drum work and good variety on the mainline guitar riffs. There's lots of
varying tempos and structure patterns here as well, proving that this is NOT
a band stuck in high speed mode. 'A Thousand Plagues' conveys, with forceful
viciousness and multivocal parts, their hatred and defiance of religion, which
proves their black metal stance once and for all. 'Human All Too Human'
reminded me of the mighty English heathen metal band Forefather with the
amazingly majestic guitar riffs, and you'll hear some shouted/yelled vocal
work which contrasts nicely with the more blackened variety. Slow though it
is, you'll get a speedier ending to this cut, and finally the CD ends on a
rather epic note with the slower and majestic paced 'A Sermon To The Dead,'
complete with very well done sung, almost chanted vocals and retaining an
interesting folkish feeling that wouldn't be out of place on a Forefather
release. A great way to end this CD, and a CD that surprised me and kicked me
square in the ass from start to finish! Here's to hoping for a proper U.S.
tour sometime soon, and I'm ready now to start checking out their back catalog!
Contact: Season Of Mist Records.
DESTRUCTION "D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N." (Candlelight) SCORE: 60/100
This is a VERY frustrating record to listen to, and an even harder one to
"score." First of all, the songs are ALL over the place. Half the time the
mainline vocals and instrumentation are hard to listen to, the other half of
the time you've gotta put up with weak choruses and prechoruses. Only a handful
of songs are listenable all the way through; the other half force you to sit
through some real oddball stuff. The biggest problem on this CD is with the
guitar work; they're seemingly trying too hard to throw some melody into the
mix, and it doesn't seem to suit them well. The opening cut 'Devolution' is a
prime example of what you'll sit through for 10 tracks; a wierd dark acoustic
intro, followed by a sudden burst of speed and then vicious prechoruses and
choruses follow. The stop and go thrash riffs starting out 'Elevator To Hell'
perked my ears before the opening instrumentation and vocal mix lost me.
Many songs that I didn't care for seemed to pick up steam before their endings,
however, leaving me with some hope. The CD's ending tracks had the most
potential, however, 'No One Shall Survive' and 'Odyssey Of Frustration' were
among the CD's best cuts, and both feature some wicked thrash guitar work that
sounds MORE like Destruction than some of the other cuts. Also noteworthy were
songs 'Vicious Circle,' the somewhat anthemic 'Last Desperate Scream' (though
some of the lyrics could have been improved), and 'The Violation Of Morality.'
When Destruction sticks to the thrashy and crunchy guitar work, all is well.
More often than not, however, this is a frustrating listening exercise and one
that will see me completely bypassing this for other records with a more
consistent structure from song to song.
Contact: Candlelight Records.
ELFFOR "Son Of The Shades" (Northern Silence) SCORE: 95/100
Another quality release from our friends at Northern Silence Productions!
First off, I must say that unlike many bands who utilize an ambient theme,
Elffor KNOWS how to creatively construct lush and epic landscapes with multiple
instruments on each track, not just some nut plinking a few notes here and
there on a keyboard and daring to call it "ambience." These are exquisite
soundscapes, folks! The intro didn't sit too well with me, mainly due to the
excessive repetitive clean sung chanting, though things did pick up for a
minute with the addition of some blackened vocals to the mix. The
instrumentation is RARELY ever at fault. One small complaint I do have is with
the transition in some structures, especially where the lighter passages are
suddenly replaced with ominous or dark passages. This occurs very infrequently,
however, so it's not really a huge problem (although, to be honest, the cut
'The Nocturnal Moon' almost was ruined by the weird wooden clock sounds and odd
bagpipe sounds). There are so many different moods and structures going on in
each and every song, which is a MUST considering that (for this reissue anyway)
of the 8 original tracks, 5 are instrumentals, and the intro has a very small
vocal part near the end. Speaking of vocals, the tracks that do have them are
done quite well, though on 'Son Of The Shades' and 'Unholy Gleam,' there's only
FOUR lines of actual lyrics! So my biggest complaint with this CD is that I
wanna hear more black metal vocals! That being said, though, the epic
soundscapes are phenomenal. 'Infernal Woods' reminds me a bit of Summoning, and
at times I thought a few of the instrumentals were a bit too long, like CD
ender (and exclusive bonus track for this reissue) 'Endless Dark Flames'
clocking in at over 9 minutes, and 'The Nocturnal Moon' at over 7 minutes.
Really, though, for the score of this review, I'm somewhat nitpicking, because
these are wonderful tracks and nary an odd bit of instrumentation in the bunch.
I did think putting three instrumentals together in a row might have been a bit
much, but two of them are right around the 4 minute mark. Some may even find
some similarities in the structures of a few tracks, but really, this is music
you can SO easily get lost in. Northern Silence signs music of the highest
quality, and the fact that they saw fit to reissue MANY of the earliest works
of Elffor tells you ALL you need to know. DEFINITELY for fans of Summoning and
Mortis' earliest ambient works!
Contact: Northern Silence Productions.
ELITE "We Own The Mountains" (Folter) SCORE: 92/100
This is Norwegian black metal done properly, and viciously I might add. Folter
Records is a somewhat small label out of Germany that produces many bands that,
while not "superstars," are indeed of good quality. And so we have the
Norwegian 5 piece that definitely retains the old feel of black metal, while
adding a few elements like dark acoustics and a few soundscapes. The CD starts
off with 'Volvens Vinter Seid,' and right off the bat there's some fast and
vicious speed involved, which is true of nearly all the cuts on this record.
The blackened vocals are in your face, up front and VERY emotional, which
means this guy is usually screaming his lungs out it seems! The high ended
guitar work is quite nice, and really gives the impression of an icy landscape
(thus, the "mountains" part of the album title). Many of the tunes clock in at
around 4 or 5 minutes, giving enough time to adequately convey the overall tone
of the track, while giving much room for the varying tempos and riffing.
'Amanita Musicaria' has some nice dark acoustic work, though I thought the
choruses were a bit weak. One of my favorite tracks is the tune 'Winter Moon
King,' and this cut has some fast but majestic guitar riffs, and it's such a
crushing tune! Really, most all the cuts here have great guitar work mixed with
vicious blackened guitar work, but now and then there are a few odd riffs or
melodies that don't sit well with me (like on the ending few riffs on
'Likmyren,' a few more odd leads on the followup 'Rovnatt,' and the unusual
low toned sung vocals AND guitar work towards the end of 'Fra Askens Kilde.')
It was even unusual to hear a few clean sung passages on 'Rovnatt,' which added
a rather folkish feel to the track. There's some vicious black metal going on
here, folks, and the formula works very well, especially given the fact that
many songs vary the tempo and guitar structure quite a bit in the space of each
song; an almost important fact when you have a track like 'Fra Askens Kilde'
that tops out the 7 minute mark! CD ender 'Odal' (not listed on the back of my
wonderful cardboard sleeve promo) is interesting in and of itself, utilizing
nothing more than acoustical guitar work. This is a band definitely NOT afraid
of utilizing melody to achieve icy effect, I am reminded a LOT of older era
Tulus on the slower passages, and overall though many of the riff structures
tend to sound familiar over the course of a 10 track CD, it remains that this
band is definitely creating a vicious, old school black metal vibe that is
Contact: Folter Records.
FEJD "Storm" (Napalm) SCORE: 98/100
This is billed as Nordic Medieval Folk, and I can't say I disagree with the
genre description! The band hails from Sweden, and utilizes a TON of different
instruments not commonly found in metal; the keyed fiddle, a Swedish bagpipe,
something called a Bouzouki (which seems to resemble a mandolin), a hurdy
gurdy, willow pipe, recorder and of course the Jew's harp. What you WILL notice
is the absence of any guitar work, relying mostly on heavier, almost tribal
percussion, to provide any heaviness to the atmosphere. The CD starts off with
pretty much what you'll hear throughout the CD, and the fiddles do a nice job
of conveying melody and atmosphere. The sung male vocals are a little on the
rough side, though quite clear, and adds the right touch to the proceedings. My
biggest complaint was the addition of female vocals on the tune 'Alvorna
Dansar,' as they were a bit too light hearted for what is going on in the song.
They should have left this out. The female vocals are quite mellow and nice,
they just seem to change the overall tone that is going on throughout the disc.
'Vid Jore A' has some of their best choruses on the record, especially since
they are of the soaring variety, and many times Fejd utilizes multitracked
vocals for added effect. There is a definite Nordic feeling in these tracks,
most noted on 'Egils Polska,' where you have tribal percussion and the recorder
starting things off. 'Varg I Veum' had an almost waltz like quality, and the
fiddle even gets a little solo time! 'Aril' had some heavy piano notes opening
the proceedings up, and an interesting use of minimal instrumentation going
along with the vocals, as if to emphasize the atmosphere and the vocal content.
'Skuld' is probably their fastest and heaviest piece, once again considering
the fact that there are no guitars utilized to achieve this effect, making the
result even more amazing. Though I could have sworn there was an acoustic
guitar somewhere in the proceedings of this tune. The last two tracks are
remastered versions from their "Eld" EP, though the band states emphatically
that they are NOT re-recorded. They make a nice addition to the disc,
especially noting the fiddle work. When people talk about true Scandinavian
folk music, this is probably about as close as you can get to the actual thing
without adding heavy guitars and a more "metal" element. No death/black vocals,
and pure Nordic class shines through. A highly recommended disc, and very
enjoyable from start to finish.
Contact: Napalm Records.
FORSAKEN "After The Fall" (I Hate) SCORE: 48/100
This band is REALLY a lot better than this score would reflect. (Damn, how many
times have I uttered those words?) This doom metal band from Malta has quite a
few release out already, and I can see the strengths of this band in the few
songs that are of great quality. (And thus, why I Hate took a chance on them).
Right off the bat, we see the CD has 9 tracks, and the intro (with the rather
banal raining fire and people screaming sounds) can immediately be tossed out
the window. IE, it's useless. Also, the dark acoustic pieces of track 4, The
Lord Sayeth,' were nice, but the vocals and acoustics only piece was another
track to be skipped. 9 tracks, we're already down to 7. Right off the bat,
'Aiden Falls' showcases the strengths of this band. Slow, heavy and dark
guitar work and the soaring sung vocals of Leo Stivala are immediate
highlights. The choruses utilize a bit more melody than the menacing tones of
the mainlines suggest, adding a nice touch. And those blazing lead solos craft
melody and passion rather than just flying along at a hundred miles per hour.
So far, we've got one great track. Followup 'Sins Of The Tempter' prove what
the overlying problem with this band is. For heavy doomy material, this tune
really just plods along for it's 6 minutes in length. Granted, we have cool
lead solos again, and the vocals aren't too bad, but something's missing. The
instrumentation and vocal interaction is just weak. The choruses picked things
up a bit, but we're still not buying. 'Vanguards Of The Void' has more heavy
and dark moments, but once again it plods along almost lifelessly, although
the sung vocals (singing the song name) at the track's end were nice. It's over
8 minutes long though, folks. And the vocals sound a bit strained near the
beginning, leaving me to think he was rather at a loss to figure out how to
properly convey the emotion of the song. Once again, the solo instrumentation
proved to be a better highlight. The next great song is 'Armida's Kiss,' and
this time the tune starts out differently, with some rather melodic guitar work
and a tempo and pace that isn't slow doom. THIS is really where the band
shines, when they inject melody into the heaviness and aren't content to play
at a mere 1 mile an hour. Don't despair, though, there's still some crushingly
heavy guitar work to be found, and the slower passages convey a rather epic
feeling, which a vocalist of this caliber is fully able to pull off. These
guitar riffs rock, people, and the vocal/instrumentation mix is written very
well. 'The Sage' is a track I'm still not too sure about: on the one hand, it's
got a rather ballad like effect with the dark acoustics and sung vocals, but it
soon trades off with some dark and rather dirty guitar riffs, doing that back
and forth thing. Another 9 minute piece that seemingly ends around the last
minute or so only to add solo acoustic guitars to nice effect. CD ender
'Metatron And The Mibor Mythos' is the third best song on the record, and has
probably some of the most rockin' guitar work on the album. The vocals really
shine and soar here, and the choruses are kick ass, just what you'd expect in a
song of this nature. The crushing doomy riffs add an extra weight, and it's a
shame that Forsaken couldn't write more songs like this. It is indeed a shame
that out of 9 tracks on this, I will only ever want to hear 3 of them again,
with one still undecided. I expect better things from this doom metal band from
Malta, and I suspect that if things are fine tuned, then the next Forsaken
record could become indeed a top 5 doom metal release for the year. WATCHING
THIS BAND CLOSELY, am I.
Contact: I Hate Records.
FRAILTY "Lost Lifeless Lights" (Solitude) SCORE: 70/100
The Russian doom/death scene is quite vivid and alive, and Solitude Productions
is just one of a handful of labels that gives blazing support to the scene.
However, the mighty Russian label doesn't just sign acts in their backyard;
they also venture abroad for bands that convey the doom spirit. Going to Latvia
for the band Frailty was a case in point, and for the most part it's doom/death
of good quality, with some flaws. The vocal work is primarily death metal, what
you would hear in many bands in this genre, but there are also some black metal
styled vocals added here and there. The biggest flaw with this CD is the clean
sung vocals. They are obviously used to add a somewhat gothic flair to the
music without being overtly sappy, somewhat like Cultus Sanguine, but like that
band, they are just poorly done. They make many tracks unlistenable, even when
the instrumentation is right on key. Case in point: 'A Summer To Die,' which
has almost thrashy and heavy guitar work and the right kind of dark atmosphere,
but the clean sung vocals threaten to ruin it all. And on tracks like 'Ariadne'
and 'Graphics In Ebony,' you'll hear the sung vocals mixed right in with the
death vocals, somewhat masking their ugliness, but they still bleed through. So
really, only 4 songs here are listenable all the way through, while the rest
are full of potential but ruined by a really bad set of clean styled vocals.
Bonus points are added for the bonus track 'Lugsana,' which is a cover of a
band called Monro, who I've never heard of but assume is a popular Latvian
group. This cover is very interesting, as all the vocal work is of the black
metal variety, and it's a unique approach to the doom genre. Lots of nice
acoustic guitar work and lush synth arrangements help the band to create good,
doomy soundscapes, in fact fans of My Dying Bride will especially appreciate
the mood created on 'I Know Your Pain.' Just short of being a solid keeper,
this one will require some patience and an ability to tolerate a rather quirky
clean singer. As for me, I definitely enjoy the 4 tracks that are devoid of
clean vox (and I'll pass on the opening instrumental intro), but for the most
part I'll be passing this CD by on my way to more solid releases.
Contact: Solitude Productions.
GULLOTINE "Blood Money" (Pulverised) SCORE: 94/100
The thrash revival, in case anyone forgot to tell you, is in full swing. That
being said, however, Guillotine is not by any means a new band; their last
release was brought to the world's attention almost ten years ago, so it seems
a rather odd coincidence that this new record is being released now. Stranger
still, considering Guillotine features within it's ranks two founding members
of Nocturnal Rites. Regardless of that fact, Guillotine is most noted for
playing some vicious and crunchy thrash, reminiscent at times of some of the
heavier Exodus riffing (see the vicious strings on 'Insanity' for a great
example). Though Guillotine's main tempo is speed, they realized early on that
a CD of nothing but lightning fast paces would get old quickly, especially
considering this is a 12 track affair. 'Insanity,' for instance, starts out
slow enough, and is probably one of their best tunes. Gang chant styled vocals
add a nice touch too (on 'Welcome To Dying' and 'Skeleton City') and aren't
overused. 'Skeleton City' is a pretty powerful track in its own right I must
say. There's a break with track 7, a somewhat dark acoustical piece, before you
get right back to headbanging speed. The vocal work has to be commended, it's a
rough edged affair with plenty of long winded screams to further drive the
point home. Percussion wise the double bass keeps pounding away, and adds an
extra burst of heaviness to the affair. Lead solos are ALL over the place; in
fact you can hear hints of the duo's time in Nocturnal Rites, especially on the
melodic leads found within 'Welcome To Dying' and 'Dying World.' You can hear
some similarities on later tracks, which makes me think (since I'm not a guitar
player or expert) some of the riffs are built around similar chords or
structures, but there's enough variety going on to keep you interested.
Although I have to admit, I thought 12 tracks might have been a bit much for
this particular CD; still, there's not a bad track on the disc. Guillotine play
thrash viciously and fast, which makes me surprised this isn't on Earache
alongside Evile, Municipal Waste and Gama Bomb. Great stuff!
Contact: Pulverised Records.
HOLY MOSES "Agony Of Death" (SPV/Wacken Records) SCORE: 93/100
This record is a MUCH heavier followup to their "Disorder Of The Order" full
length (which is the last album from them we heard, and incidentally the last
album they released through Century Media). Despite Century Media's rather poor
handling of that particular release (IE, no U.S. coverage), Holy Moses has been
doing the aggressive female fronted thrash thing for over 20 years now, a fact
that Angela and Arch Enemy should be taking CAREFUL notes on. This record is
probably one of their heaviest, due to the sick and twisted thrash guitars
which are ALL over the disc. My major complaint is due to the overabundance of
"intros" and "outros" on nearly every track. The synth work is nice at first,
and quite dark, however it begins to sound a bit repetitive after awhile,
especially since it seems to often times break up the viciousness that many of
the songs are portraying. There's guest spots all over the record too,
including the most notable (and my favorite) singing parts found on the tune
'Schizophrenia,' done up by none other than Henning Basse from Metalium! It
adds an otherwise interesting note to a CD full of heavy and snarling riffage;
most noteworthy too to hear the somewhat power metal styled guitar work found
ONLY on this particular track! There are some odd lead guitar parts in spots;
most notably the beginning leads on 'Dissociative Disorder' and a few solos on
'Bloodbound Of The Damned,' but the tracks themselves DO pick up rather quicky,
and are enjoyable all the way through. One of my favorite tunes was 'World In
Darkness,' for it's somewhat catchier chorus work, and some rockin' lead guitar
work to boot! Headbanging paces abound, and many of the songs are fast and
furious; though I thought the disc MAY have been a bit too long at an hour and
9 minutes: this considering the fact that two songs clock in at over 8 minutes
and of course the many synth intros and outros throughout the disc. Holy Moses
are back with what is considered by many to be the best of their career, and
Sabina Classen's vocals have never been sicker, darker or more twisted. I'll
take the 20 year career of Sabina and pals over any Arch Enemy records anyday!
Contact: Wacken Records.
ICED EARTH "The Crucible Of Man" (Steamhammer) SCORE: 65/100
All the hype and controversy surrounding this album has made me wonder if I
should even have tried to tackle this album. I am one of those who appreciate
all that Iced Earth means to the metal community, but I have NEVER been a huge
fan. Those who remember my review of the first Demons And Wizards album may
remember my comments as some of the heavier tracks being a bit forced and not
fleshed out well, losing some of the catchiness and dynamics that make a track
stand out. And from what people are saying, the move on THIS record seems to
show Jon writing in a bit more epic and dare we say melodic style. Which at
first is alright with me. The CD starts out with a nice intro and then one of
the best songs on the album 'Behold The Wicked Child.' A track like THIS is why
I found the second Demons And Wizards album so much more enjoyable than the
first. And with a storyline so detailed and fantastic, epic is truly what this
album calls for. The atmosphere on 'Behold...' is what the entire album should
have been like. Great use of male/female sung vocals, and the vocal work on
this disc is mostly stellar. 'Minions Of The Watch' is a heavier track, and one
that I suspect most will find sounds more like earlier Iced Earth material.
Catchy choruses abound here, and the heaviness is utilized well. Followup 'The
Revealing' has lots of dark and heavy sung vocals, something the returning Matt
Barlow is quite good at. I did have a small problem with some of the riffing
here, and for a short song there's probably too much emphasis on solo
instrumentation. From there, it kinda goes downhill; 'A Gift Or A Curse' is a
ballad like piece that really detracts from what Iced Earth is really about;
it's definitely not as good a ballad as 'Fiddler On The Green' or 'Wicked
Witch' from either Demons And Wizards albums (the fact that Blind Guardian's
vocalist is more suited to the true melodic ballad also bears notice). 'Crown
Of The Fallen' fails to grab me either, though there's some decent heavy guitar
work going on. I think the ultra melodic choruses kill this one. 'The Dimension
Gauntlet' is a track most people seem to dig, and it's more of a speed metal
piece that is decent. 'I Walk Alone' contains great use of alternating heavy
and melodic passages, and definitely has an epic feel. I've got complaints with
'Harbinger Of Fate' and 'Crucify The King,' as both definitely have a lack of
feeling in the vocal work, though both ALSO have interesting things going on
(the latter track definitely ends well). "Sacrifical Kingdoms' has some odd
vocal work going on, though one trademark of many of the tracks is the care and
attention paid to the choruses, which often outshine the rest of the track. The
next best track is the 7 minute piece 'Come What May,' and it was nice to hear
strings utilized and what sounds like a flute midway. This track has the epic
feeling to it that this storyline so desperately needed. The outro would
normally be skipped over, but the strings and tribal drumming were definitely
movie soundtrack like, and was a surprise hit! Folks, I'm not expert on Iced
Earth, but it seems to me that with 15 tracks, the CD was WAY too overburdened
with needless filler, and the epic scope of this story is lost behind tracks
that quite simply fail to grab you and make a long lasting impression. If the
rest of the songs were as good as the few mentioned, this would be an
outstanding disc, and true to Iced Earth's credit this is nowhere near a
horrible CD, but I'm just not getting it. With alternating fast and slow tempos
all the way through, the consistency is just not there.
Contact: Steamhammer U.S.
KAUAN "Tietajan Laulu" (Bad Mood Man) SCORE: 97/100
I eagerly awaited the newest full length from the Russian band who took their
name from the title of Tenhi's great longplayer. This album definitely goes in
more of a melodic direction, this time toning down the blackened vocals (to
only a few instances on the tune 'Prozrachni Cvetok' and a bit more on the
previous track 'Aidin Laulu.') and adding more interaction with violins, piano
notes and a few other interesting instruments. The violins, I must say, are
done surprisingly well, and on a track like 'Kyynelten Sijaan' induce a very
melancholic and atmospheric structure; indeed I do think the violins are
utilized in a post rock fashion! My BIGGEST complaint is with the opening of
the CD, with this wierd digeridoo sounding vocal thing, which really detracts
from the mood and atmosphere of the disc. The tribal drumming isn't bad, but I
think the instrument is called a duda, or a buben (both are credited in the
liner notes). It seems to be used in conjunction with the throat, and makes for
a wierd sound. This wouldn't be a big deal if it was limited to the opening of
the first track, but we have to hear it AGAIN to open the third track ('Pesnja
Materi') and yet again on the opening of track 5 ('Prozrachni Cvetok.') This is
a 6 track CD, though, and the shortest tracks (2 of them) run 6 minutes a
piece, while the longest runs 12 minutes, and not a dull moment in the bunch.
Taking a drastic turn from their previous effort, these are very relaxing and
atmospheric tracks, and all are excellent. 'Prozrachni Cvetok,' however, does
contain some of the darkest instrumentation on the record, right down to the
rather chilling low toned sung vocals. Most of the vocal work here is of the
clean sung variety, as mentioned before, and I sincerely hope that we get more
blackened styled vocals on a future release (you have to wait until track 4
before you even hear the first extreme vocal!) The traks sound rather
minimalistic instrumentation wise, but that is an illusion you soon will see
(especially when the duelling piano notes share space with the violins and the
ocassional heavy guitar). All in all, a very good release, and one that shows a
great variety of depth and structure, especially when the songs run for longer
lengths of time. I find the disc very relaxing, however I do hope the band will
return to the harsh vocal work a lot more in the future. Hopefully we haven't
seen the last of it!
Contact: Bad Mood Man Music.
KREATOR "Hordes Of Chaos" (Steamhammer) SCORE: 95/100
Wow! This CD bludgeons you from the opening notes and doesn't stop 'till damn
near the end of the disc! The title track is up first, and of course the first
few opening notes showcase a more melodic side of Kreator that doesn't detract
from the viciousness of this record! Were these guys on crack when they
recorded this disc? I'm dying to see how this goes down in a live setting,
especially since older (but newer styled Kreator) cuts like 'Reconquering The
Throne,' 'Enemy Of God' and 'Violent Revolution' sounded a LOT more brutal than
I remembered upon first hearing them on record! The percussion is up front and
in your face the whole way, which really helps when there's some melodic
riffing going down! The vocals and drums NEVER let up; in fact I'd say that
even though the majority of this disc is blazing thrashy speed, you can always
count on the somewhat yelled vocals to carry any intensity that the music might
be lacking. You have some acoustic "intros" too on tunes like 'Escalation,'
proving there's lots of diversity on this disc. I read a review that complained
the choruses were too simplistic on many tracks, especially where he's just
basically repeating the song name, but they keep the catchy choruses simple and
to the point: for this 38 minute affair, it's all about crushing you with
power. A few nitpicks, however: 'Amok Run' sounds strange when repeated in a
chorus setting, though it's probably one of the fastest on the disc. I did hear
a few odd riffs on 'Absolute Misanthropy,' which brought the track down a
little, and that's pretty much all there is to complain about. One of my
favorite tracks is the sheer intensity of 'Destroy What Destroys You,'
especially those sick, almost melodic leads right before the screams come.
There's some sung vocals too in a few spots (VERY few, and I forgot to mention
that, since I didn't care for them too much in the opening of 'To The
Afterborn.') 'Demon Prince' was seemingly the most "experimental" tune for
Kreator to, ahem, "Kreate," since the opening melodic leads sounded more like
something Running Wild or even Alestorm would come up with! Lots of variety and
vicious headbanging to a disc with SO many sick and vicious thrash riffs, all
over the damn place, that by the time this disc is over you will DEFINITELY run
out of steam! Thrash 'till the death, the awakening of the gods has commenced!
Contact: Steamhammer U.S.
LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR "War Metal Battle Master" (Southern Lord) SCORE: 89/100
War metal. The title of the album sells it all right there, and you can bet
this is one juggernaut of a record. It has some very interesting concepts to be
found within; first of all many of the vocals resemble a somewhat hardcore
approach, while other times you'll hear sick black and death metal styled vocal
work. The sound is quite simply massive; those riffs have a rather dirty touch
to them... folks, these guys ain't fucking around! From the semi fast start of
CD opener 'Horde Of Undead Vengeance,' the tone is set, and it's a bit thrashy
for those into the current "revival" phase. You got your swords clashing sound
effects to start off the title track. And here we see a hint of an almost
plodding doom metal delivery, something they utilize infrequently, but to good
effect. Your warlike percussion kicks off track 3, 'When The Ice Giants Slayed
All,' complete with TONS of varying tempos. Let this be a forewarning to ya,
the structure of these songs is NOT constant, which for some might make these
collections sound a bit like a stack of riffs and drum fills, but it's crushing
material none the less (hint: I don't subscribe to that philosophy). 'Black
Viper Barbarian Clan' was one of my least favorite tracks: the overall tune has
some good stuff, but those lead riffs opening up the tune annoyed the hell out
of me! And you'll hear them pop off a few times more before the song ends!
'Doomtrooper' is the one everyone's talking about: the 9 minute plus length,
the crushingly slow doom metal riffing that is peppered here and there, but
take note: this is NOT a doom metal piece! The blackened vocals make sure you
know what's going on! CD ender 'Hades Unleashed' closes out the assault with
speed and fury that are going to leave you quite senseless, and it was nice to
hear a bit of middle eastern guitar work on the opening leads. People are
saying this isn't highly original, true, but for a disc that gives you three
different and distinct vocal patterns, plus a thrashy almost death metal
assault mixed with some sludgy and doomy passages, I'd say this outfit manages
to mix up a variety of sounds and styles to make for one kick ass album! Can't
wait to hear what this sounds and looks like LIVE!!! (I'm afraid a live show
might not stack up to the fury and intensity of the disc).
Contact: Southern Lord Recordings.
MENDOZZA "White Rhino" (Reversed) SCORE: 96/100
I just recently heard about this band, since they released "White Rhino" in
2007, and if their past two albums are anything like this crushing mix of
stoner rock and sludgy, fuzzed out Doom, then I'll be buying these post haste!
The guitar work is mostly downtuned and dirty, making for some crushing riffs!
The CD starts off with an "intro" that's mostly feedback and distortion, so I
skip this and get right to the next tune 'Illuminairus,' which right from the
get go crushes anything in it's path! The vocal work especially is gravelly and
quite rough, which makes for the perfect mix. There's definitely a heavy stoner
rock vibe going on here. 'Otzi The Wanderer' follows down the path with some
cool slightly high-ended riffs that retain a fuzzed out dirty heaviness to
them, man you gotta hear these angry riffs! There's lots of solo
instrumentation here for a 6 minute track, before taking the last minute to
repeat a one note guitar riff and crashing one hit percussion to the song's
end. By now one of the things that you'll notice is many songs are very thin on
instrumental variation, choosing instead to focus on BEING focused on a single
pattern of crushing heaviness. As in, the baseball bat is repeatedly pounding
you until there's nothing left to hit!! The title track has some rockin' guitar
work that is very catchy, and this song has a bit more variety to the
structure, especially with the drums and bass taking their turns shining solo
in the spotlight, and *gasp* a lead solo!! 'The Rise Of The Piscean' follows
things by utilizing some VERY stoner rock like guitar work (think earliest
Orange Goblin, or Abdullah on their 'Now Is The Winter' track from their self
titled Meteor City release), and a very heavy and catchy vibe. One thing that's
most noteworthy is this band chooses not to stick to one speed/tempo for very
long, which makes for a nice touch when the vocals and instrumentation slow
things waaay down for a brief moment only to suddenly pick the pace right back
up. The acoustic interlude had very nice acoustic guitar notes, but I didn't
care much for the female vocal chants, so I'll probably skip this piece. Now,
the band employs a female drummer, most notable because the female vocals back
up the harsh throat work of our lead man on the cut 'Halo Of Crows,' and the
opening guitar riffs and fuckin' dirty and downright mean! The repetitive
ending thing goes on again, and I'm reminded of the old Beatles classic 'I Want
You (She's So Heavy)' where that repeated guitar loop sounds so cool you could
listen to it all day! 'Pink Slips,' despite the rather fruity title, is not
only one of the shortest, but also the meanest, fastest, and must alcohol
fueled, raging shit kicker of a tune you'll ever hear from this crew, and it's
a raging classic! Yeah, they even throw the words 'Satan' and 'Weed' in there,
so ya know this tune has all the makings of a "best song ever!" The final
"track" consists of the following: 4 minutes of silence, followed by about 5
minutes of some of the wierdest and godawful noises and silly dialogue ever,
followed by an actual "song" of about 3 minutes (said to be a Melvins cover),
which in and of itself is pretty kick ass. So there ya go, one of the heaviest
stoner rock/doom metal/sludge things you'll hear in quite some time, like a
bastard child of Water Dragon Records band Rite, Sleep and catchier parts of
outfits like Sparzanza and Kyuss. GRAB THIS FUCKIN' DISC!!!
METAL CHURCH "This Present Wasteland" (Steamhammer) SCORE: 36/100
GOD, this record is Soooo boring!! Just to give you an idea, I had trouble just
writing out the review! In my final listen of the album, I got through about 6
tracks before I had to go do something else, it was that bad... Don't get me
wrong, these songs aren't absolutely horrible, but the passion and fire is
totally thrown out the window on this record! I think Vanderhoof needs to go
back and LISTEN to real heavy metal to remember what the metal is about! These
songs just scream lackluster, boring, and totally restrained. Now, as for the
guitar work, even some of the lead solos sound restrained (like on 'The Perfect
Crime,') and I don't know what's wrong with the record, if the production is
just substandard, or the guitars aren't crunchy enough (maybe they're TOO clean
I dunno), or the mix of Munroe and this material doesn't work well, but
something is WAY off. The heavier guitars are mostly suspect; I think they
needed some crunch or extra distortion or something. The best tune here is
without a doubt 'The Perfect Crime,' and even this is weak even by Metal Church
standards (that is, if you only regard the first few Metal Church albums as
even worth a damn). Munroe sounds rather silly when he's trying to sing
aggressively; this comes out as PAINFULLY obvious on 'Mass Hysteria,' and then
again on the album's absolute WORST track 'Meet Your Maker.' (Well, one of the
worst anyway.) CD ender 'Congregation' picked my ears up a bit; it's more
rooted in the traditional 80's metal sound, and rather anthemic at that. This
is really where Metal Church should head back to, and try and capture the
energy and passion David Wayne brought to the table with "The Dark" and their
self titled debut. This band just sounds lifeless and dead, and nothing Munroe
can do vocal wise will ever seem to change that. Vanderhoof, if he is guilty of
writing such substandard material, needs to give it up and give this once proud
name to someone who can actually light a fire under the weight of sheer
mediocrity. Points given for actual interesting instrumentation ideas sprinkled
throughout the disc (though they're given rather begrudgingly; personally I'd
drop the score down even further).
Contact: SPV/Steamhammer Records.
MYSTERIARCH "The Majestic Fall" (Ophiucus) SCORE: 93/100
I was first introduced to this band a few months ago when I saw them open up
for Norway's Mayhem in Spartanburg, and was immediately impressed. The guitar
work live reminded me a LOT of the English heathen metal band Forefather, and
upon talking to the vocalist/guitarist afterwards they informed me that on THAT
particular night, they were without their keyboardist. Upon receiving their
2007 release "The Majestic Fall," I instantly realized just how vital a role
the synths play in the definition of their sound. Great instrumentation is to
be found within, however my one complaint is that sometimes the keys tend to
drown out the majestic guitar playing. In fact, it's funny that they use the
word "majestic" in their album title, for that's exactly what this collection
of 9 tracks will remind you of. From the starting title track, the lead
guitars and synths hit you all at once. There's definitely lots and lots of
high ended guitar work, and the sick blackened vocals are mixed right into the
madness (though sometimes I wish the vocal work was a bit more upfront instead
of just being mixed level with everything else). This track is a 7 minute
piece, and you don't hear any vocals until about a minute and a half into the
cut. 'Beneath The Emerald Clouds Of Niburu' follows, an almost 7 minute piece,
and of course I really dig how the drumming is so intense, in fact in some
places the double bass kicks are flying, tending to make this song sound much
faster than it actually is. There's a nice instrumental passage in 'Blood Of
Vanquished Heroes Part 1,' opening up with some battle sounds and a familiar
synth pattern. It's a short, two minute piece but definitely demands your
attention. For a 9 song affair, there's three instrumentals, which may seem a
bit much to some, but they're spaced out well in the tracklisting, so it might
not bother some. 'Empyreal Legion' was another fast track, showing off some
intricate drum patterns going solo to open the track. Once the track gets into
high gear, though, the drums tend to sound a bit lost in the mix; I'm assuming
it's because there's an unending volley of double bass drumming utilized to
keep up the fast tempo. These are fast tracks, folks, but they definitely know
how to vary things up. Someone needs to sign this band, pronto, because the
talent is DEFINITELY there and the songwriting is strong. No need to fear this
band as a Dimmu Borgir clone, as they remind me more of acts like Forefather,
Summoning, Elffor, and the like, so they're regarded in very high company!
Contact: Ophiucus Records.
NAE'BLIS "Sketches Of Reality" (Northern Silence) SCORE: 94/100
This is a 4 track, 52 minute affair. I thought I would get that out of the way
now, because if song length determines your interest in a CD regardless of
genre or mood, this one will tax your stamina! The shortest song here is 11
minutes, the longest 15, and of course everything else falls in between (hint:
another 11 and a 13 minute piece). That being said, it's one of my favorite
hybrid genres at work here, the blackened doom metal variety. And Nae'Blis
KNOWS how to vary things up and keep it interesting, ESPECIALLY on CD opener
'Distorted Mind.' You know, the 15 minute piece? You'll hear first some dark
landscape sounds, and considering the album artwork featuring a rather bleak
and desolate building (is THIS the famed "Dungeon" where this album was
recorded?), one tends to think the chain draggin and creaking door sounds came
from such a place of dwelling. Surprise, surprise, the first thing you hear
here are somewhat sorrowful acoustic guitars. This track has some great guitar
work on it, and is probably one of the best tracks. The sick blackened vocals
are somewhat echo effected, which adds to the "haunting dwelling" feeling. The
song stops about three or four times to change things up a bit, making for a
bit of variety, and the "breaks" occur on every song (though not as numerous on
the beginning piece). You're going to hear acoustic guitars, pianos, and even
a church organ, sometimes all at once, (especially on the title track, where
the acoustic guitars mix really well with the somewhat horror movie themed
church like organ). At times the instrumentation seems a bit too light hearted,
especially around the 6 minute mark on 'The Curse Of Evolution' (track 2), when
you have the faster paced instrumentation backed by these highkeyed piano
notes. Also, the piano notes clashed with the odd almost deathlike vocals and
guitars on the CD opener, but all in all there's very little to complain about,
except for when you listen to the CD ender and notice some similar passages to
the ones heard before, but all in all it's a very diverse piece of work, and a
rather bold move to add almost unorthodox instruments to the framework. There's
fast and slow passages on the tracks; though to be honest the percussion kinda
muddies up the mix a bit to where you can't really tell how fast the guitars
are actually going, so it might be just the percussion speeding up the mix.
Still, everything is pretty much up front and in your face, and this
interesting mix of blackened doom metal throws many different types of emotions
at you, sometimes all at once making for a melancholic and somewhat haunting
experience, while not being afraid to throw in some melodic passages. If you're
a fan of suicidal, blackened doom, you just might find much to offer on this
disc. Just make sure you spin it several times to be able to take it all in;
it's not the 10 minutes of over-repetitive layers on every song!
Contact: Northern Silence Productions.
SACRED OATH "Sacred Oath" (Angel Thorne) SCORE: 88/100
It's been a loooong time since I heard "A Crystal Vision," the 'Oath record
from 1987, and yes, I'm aware that I've missed a few releases in between. CD
opener 'Paradise Lost' is a scathing attack on the Bush administration, and
proves that power metal can have a singer that still knows how to be HEAVY. At
first I wasn't sure if I liked this track, though I did definitely like the
thrashy guitar work. 'Blood Storm' follows, and wasn't too bad but wasn't quite
as good as other tunes on this disc; in fact, the heaviness on this cut sounds
rather forced and almost un-Sacred Oath like. 'Buried Alive' has nice melodic
leads to start and killer riffs found within, in addition to energetic sung
vocals and catchy choruses, which are key in this style of music. 'Voodoo
Dolls' continues things in fine fashion; note the rather long winded sung vocal
patterns on the choruses! 'Counting Zeros' was one of my favorite tracks on the
disc, complete with amazing soaring vocal work, and emotional sung vocals of
near ballad status opening the track up, only to hammer in heavier guitar work
and more sung vocals on the choruses. So far we're seeing that Sacred Oath
STILL knows how to write heavy material. 'Caught In The Arc' is next, once
again supplying us with heavy guitar riffs and energetic choruses. There's lots
of solo instrumentation found on this track, a few pieces not so good, but it's
quite varied for it's short length. 'Mistress Of The Setting Sun' didn't sit
well with me; for one the industrialized style sung vocals didn't seem to work
well for this cut, and there's a bit of awkward vocal patterns following the
vicious aggressive vocals on the choruses, making it hard to get into the track
fully. 'High And Mighty' was another of my favorites, and yes it's one of the
more melodic tracks on the disc, though not without it's share of heaviness and
catchy choruses once again. I love how the opening instrumentation fools you
into thinking you're getting an instrumental! 'Wings Of Salvation' to me just
seemed to plod along, though the dark guitars starting the track off were
rather dirgy and somewhat interesting. The choruses are the best part but once
again, not extremely energetic like their other tracks. It does do a double
take near the end with some shouted vocal work and more interesting axe work.
Finally, the crown jewel in this CD's track list is obviously 'Order Of The
System Lords,' and it's amazing how much this sounds like a Bruce Hall era
Agent Steel track; it's punishingly heavy! The dark and ominous guitar work
does not betray what is about to come. The ripping thrashy guitars sound like
some of the heaviest from 80's thrash bands, and the multivocal shouted parts
on the choruses were quite surprising. There's still some melody and sung parts
but this track blew me away! The discrepancy in this disc comes from the fact
that there's 14 tracks, when some places list just 10. This is obviously the
deluxe edition which I got. Tracks 11 and 12 were good, in fact the 11th track
'Sacred Oath' is the best of the 4, and followup 'What The Dark Will Undo' is a
more traditional ballad like piece. It's decent but nothing overtly special.
The last two tracks seem a bit directionless ('Scourge Of Sin' and 'Hunt For
The Fallen Angel,' respectively), and they really failed to bring anything
catchy and memorable to the table. There's good guitar work found on these two
tracks, to be sure, and even the CD ender 'Hunt For The Fallen Angel' had some
nice "whooah" chants and lead solo work, but overall I feel the CD was about
3 tracks too long. Still, for the value, it's a damn good disc, and proves that
80's metal bands (especially of the power metal style) can still write heavy
material that culls influences from their early days, while still not sounding
like a rehash or retro band. The band should be proud of their efforts.
Contact: Angel Thorne Music.
SANCTUS INFERNUM "Sanctus Infernum" (Bad Mood Man) SCORE: 93/100
The world of music never seems to get any less stranger. A metal band, from
Kansas of all places, having to sign a contract with a Russian record label.
Only in the realm of heavy metal! This band seems like the only other act I
know hailing from Kansas. And though I didn't think about it at first, that
"other band" has been around for a LOOOONG time. That band is Manilla Road, who
saw their ex guitar player head over to Sanctus Infernum! Right off the bat,
the lead guitar work is exceptional. Quite moving in fact. The band does a very
unique and interesting take on death/black and doom metal. Yes, all at once.
Many of the songs (at least the first 4) fall under the same framework, and
it's a rather doomy affair. The vocal work is quite unique in and of itself;
some heady distortion and a slight guttural affair without sounding like either
death or black metal, all the while still retaining a hint of brutality and
sickness. The nice thing is that the singer at least makes a wholehearted
attempt at being understood. Some dark instrumentation is found within, and
you hear a quite doomy framework. Now it's understandable why Solitude
Productions out of Russia picked up on this (even though this appears on their
sublabel). My biggest gripe with the album is quite possibly the order of the
songs, as the first 4 cuts seem to have slightly different variations on the
same musical theme, though 'God Unto Myself' is clearly the best of the 4. The
last 4 tracks are quite a bit different in their approach (for instance,
'Waking The Dead' has a stoner rock set of guitar riffs, almost southern styled
in fact, while 'Suffer' is a rather short piece that does some heavy, thrash
riffing set to a somewhat slower framework). This leads me to think the band
should have mixed the first 4 tracks up in the running order a bit more. That
being said, I didn't care for most of the lead work on the mainlines of the
song 'What Calm Is Without Storm,' but without a doubt this disc is one that
will go down as a rather different experience from the usual norm. Lyrically
too the band explores some different thematics, especially in the area of man
discovering his own power and divinity; it seems like EVERYTHING was given
special attention to create a unique and rather unusual metal experience. Too
bad they couldn't have secured a bigger label deal. LOVE those lead solos!
Contact: Solitude Productions.
SIG:AR:TYR "Beyond The North Winds" (Morbid Winter) SCORE: 100/100
Obviously the pick hit of this issue, and even more amazing than Daemonskald's
"Sailing The Seas Of Fate" release reviewed last issue. Sadly, as late as this
particular issue is going to be, this is easily a top 5 release for 2008. Let's
start by mentioning how well written the guitar parts are. This record sees a
more metallic slant to the songs; however there's still a TON of well executed
classical acoustic guitar work, often dual layered and sometimes blending
atmospheres with the heavier guitar work. Opener 'King Of The World' starts off
with some dark synths, and with the militaristic/tribal like percussion, you
can tell these tracks will take on epic proportions. The almost Egyptian like
guitar work on this track was rather surprising, and it was cool to hear some
vicious blackened like vocal work. You end up waiting so long for the vocals on
this one, that when they hit it's like "Fuck yeah!" This track definitely
reminds one of Bathory. 'Beyond The North Winds' follows, with some wind sounds
naturally, and some nice mellow acoustic guitar work opening up. The most
amazing thing about the guitar work is that sometimes the notes are so simple,
yet you can feel they were crafted with thought and care rather than just
trying to find "the cool note." More blackened vocal work abounds, and then
it's off to 'Pale Autumnal Moon,' which is one of three instrumentals (and very
well done I must say; once again it's more exquisite classical guitar picking,
though my most minor complaint is that sometimes the blazing speed of the
classical picking tends to leave the notes sounding rather blurred together, to
somewhat dull the effect). 'Under The Mountain' shows that Daemonskald has a
rather interesting singing voice as well; in fact you'll hear some soaring high
ended vocal work on 'The Way,' which will send a chill down your spine when you
hear the emotion in his voice. Some of the songs are long and it will seem with
most that there is very little vocal work (some tracks it sounds like vocals
are at the beginning and end of tunes, with a LOT of solo instrumentation in
the middle; though the synths help bridge the gap with some atmospherics and
ambience), but the highlight here is definitely on the well crafted
soundscapes! The last track 'Far Away' is a VERY fitting way to close the album
and it's ballad like all the way, with some nice acoustic guitar work and some
rather distant sounding clean sung vocals, making a nice way to end the CD and
this gem of a masterpiece! It's all about atmosphere, and this disc easily
transcends a mere title like "folk metal," or "ambient/folk/black metal" or any
titles you can throw at it. THIS my friends, is a work of art that goes above
and beyond anything else you think you have heard in music today.
Contact: Morbid Winter Records.
THE GATES OF SLUMBER "Conqueror" (I Hate) SCORE: 78/100
This band has been on I Hate Records for a few releases now, and I was eagerly
awaiting this full length release. For the most part, the Indiana based doom
band has put out a mighty album, with a few chinks in the hefty armor. The CD
starts out with the cut 'Trapped In The Web,' which showcases a tempo that is a
bit faster paced than what you'd normally expect out of a band like this. The
guitar work is kick ass and very heavy, including some Sabbath like melodic
lead solos. The title track kicks in next, and it's cool to hear the heavy and
slow bass guitar rumblings. There's some sick guitar work going on here, folks,
and it's definitely a dark and doomy piece for it's 8 minutes in length. 'Ice
Worm' starts a trend of very catchy choruses, and of course the kickass guitar
work rears it's monstrous head again. You can kinda hear the dark atmosphere
and feel the creepiness of the Worm's lair! The first real complaint about this
disc opens up with track 4, 'Eyes Of The Liar.' There wasn't much here that
really caught me, especially given the rather odd fuzzed out guitars that open
the track. There are some cool heavy parts though, but overall I wasn't into
this tune. Cool crazy lead solos near the end though. After the rather wierd
synths die down, what has to be their best track on the record in 'Children Of
Satan' blasts through, once again at a heavier but faster pace than the norm.
The mainline vocals are sung to a slower pace though, and of course the catchy
choruses rebound in your mind, having you sing this one quite a bit! 'To Kill
And Be King' was another downer, unfortunately, though the instrumentation is a
bit heavy. It's slow and heavy, but this track proves darker is not ALWAYS
better! This band really shines when they're writing catchier material that
isn't plodding along at half a mile an hour. The vocal effects kinda threw me
off on this one as well, though the second half of this track features a lot of
improvement. 'The Machine' is almost like a stoner rock piece, and it
DEFINITELY kicks serious ass. Though it has a slow start, it picks up the pace
quite nicely, and has an almost punk attitude with it. CD ender 'Dark Valley
Suite' is a 16 minute piece that really should have cut out the middle section;
it's a sung ballad like piece over dark acoustics, and the opening part seemed
to plod along for a few minutes. I know it's in three parts but it really
seemed way too long. Still, this disc is worth having for some scorching songs,
and it seems to me like doom metal bands are cranking up the tempo quite a bit
in an effort to distance themselves from the funereal pace of their peers (see
November's Doom and even the newest Candlemass disc). Good damn CD that almost
lost "keeper" status due to three tracks out of 8 that I usually skip.
Contact: I Hate Records.
THOU "Peasant" (Autopsy Kitchen) SCORE: 88/100
This is some sick, sludgy and drugged out DOOM!!! The vocals are rather sick,
reminding me of Johnny Morrow from the late, great Iron Monkey. And the riffs,
man these are some downtuned and SICK sludgy riffs. Something that doesn't
always work, especially in spots here and there when the guitar riffs sound a
bit odd. There's also an interesting use of high ended melodic riffing, making
the tune 'Burning Black Coals And Dark Memories' one of the standout tracks on
the album. There are 6 songs and they vary in length as well as structure and
tempo, proving that Thou is able to work with ANY tempo and speed structure
within the framework of each song. 'Burning Black Coals...' is most notable
for having such beautiful melodic guitar work while the screeching vocals add
an extra dimension in sound to this outfit. There's an 11 minute piece, which
may have been a bit too long ('An Age Imprisoned'), but you'll also find three
5 minute pieces and two 7 minute tracks. This means that time and structure
mean nothing to these guys. It's definitely a mash of feedback, echoed string
loops, and sick vocal work, making for one ultra heavy and brutal experience!
If you're into drugged out stoner/doom/death, then this is definitely right up
your alley! HEAVY points for being signed to one of the coolest names for a
record label EVER.
Contact: Autopsy Kitchen Records.
VIKING SKULL "Doom, Gloom, Hearache And Whiskey" (Powerage) SCORE: 90/100
I'm a little late to the party, but THIS party involves lots of drinking,
gambling, and kick ass heavy rock. HEAVY rock that is, with a metal edge to it.
Viking Skull has a good album here that knows how to make some kick ass heavy
music. 'Start A War' is a rather aggressive piece that starts the CD off with a
bang, with a fast pace and pounding percussion, yelled out vocals that have a
very rough edge to them, making this delve deep into metal territory. The title
track contains some choppy guitar riffs, and there's some killer lead solo work
going on all throughout the disc. It's obvious the band members have spent lots
of time honing and perfecting their craft! The CD seems to follow the pattern
of going from faster pace to slower pace via each track; however, by slower I
do mean a bit more midtempo than anything doom metal related. So your first 4
tracks kick ass and rock, including 'Hair Of The Dog' which I thought might
have been a reference to the Nazareth track of old. 'Shot Down,' track 5,
starts out with an odd acoustic intro, reminiscent of an Old Western saloon
piece, before bringing in the heavy guitars to mimick the acoustic parts, only
at a heavier pace. It's still heavy but a bit odd. 'Double Or Quits' had some
unusual lead work to start off as well, but picks up the rockin' tone. '19
Swords' seems like their battle tune, with a bit slower pace and lyrics that
wouldn't be out of place on a Manowar album. CD ender 'Drink' sounds like
something straight out of a drunken saloon, utilizing pianos and what sounds
like a tambourine only, and the rough edged vocals seem VERY out of place here.
This track's quite horrible folks. Sorry. And I have to say, from the lyrics,
if you are into the idea of "drinking until you shit your pants," well folks,
it's time to get in touch with Alcoholics Anonymous. Shitting your pants ain't
cool... Other than that, it's a kick ass metal disc that you can bang your head
to and down a few beers with some good friends, preferrably ones that LOVE
Contact: Powerage Records.(Released through Candlelight Records).
WINO "Punctuated Equilibrium" (Southern Lord) SCORE: 38/100
This is an utter disaster. Wino finally decided to strike out on his own, and
can't seem to write a decent song to his credit on this 10 song nightmare. It's
pretty much a mix and match affair, with almost NOTHING matching up. The riffs
and guitar work seem thrown together, and half the time it's "punctuated" with
noisy grating sound effects, robotic vocal samples, and guitars that sound like
they're doing nothing more than trying to prove they can be played at 100 miles
per hour. Gone are the simplistic, catchy songs that made Spirit Caravan and
The Obsessed albums so great, in fact only 3 "songs" are even remotely
listenable. There's quite a few instrumental passages as well, in fact 'Wild
Blue Yonder' is the longest of these. I mean come on! An instrumental that
clocks in at over 6 minutes?! 'Smilin' Road' is the closest thing you'll get
to a decent catchy tune, with some interesting, almost jazzy instrumentation
found midway. And the ULTIMATE insult to me was reading over the interview I
did where Wino complained about Sherman adding a death metal vibe to some of
the Spirit Caravan material; then he goes and writes a song like the title
track, which is rather embarassing in it's speed and exaggerated heaviness in
the guitars. This is really embarassing coming from someone who is supposed to
be a legend in the stoner rock scene! Leave the extreme metal to the masters of
the genre who've been doing it longer... Okay, so what else. Well, let's be a
bit positive here: short instrumental 'Water Crane' was nice, with the Egyptian
ambience throughout the guitar work; one of the few times the guitars are
actually well structured and written with some sort of melody and structure in
mind. That's the main complaint with this album; directionless writing and
nothing remotely resembling strong, catchy songs that you'll want to hear
again. One of the worst records of Wino's career. (points were given because
you HEAR his potential, and there's good solos in many a spot.)
Contact: Southern Lord Records.
COLOSSEUM. Interview with Juhani via email.
What an amazing start to 2009 for doom metal; in particular the brand of
Funereal Doom/Death that Colosseum has perfected. "Numquam" so far gets my vote
as one of the best doom releases of 2009, and though their previous album was
good, it was nothing like this! Get ready to meet the mastermind behind a band
everyone SHOULD be talking about for years to come, and learn why trumpets in
doom metal are a GOOD thing...
The new record Numquam is absolutely amazing, but I'm curious why
Firebox decided to make this release a limited edition? I was told only so many
copies would be made.
Yes, 2000 copies were made and there should be also a second pressing of our
debut "Chapter 1: Delirium." I'm not sure of the motives, but this is quite
marginal music anyway despite the quality of the music.
Speaking of the record, I'm curious as to why you decided to name
the album "Numquam?" I know it is a Latin phrase, but am unsure how you mean to
use the title in your collective works.
Numquam translates to "Never" and has to do with the finality of death. Whoever
passes the gates will never come back.
How do you see the new record's development compared to "Chapter
One: Delirium?" It seems like the sound is more dramatic and emotional than the
last record. What would you say is the major difference between the two?
The actual style remains the same, but this time the songs are a bit more
accessible and with a better production. We've tried to make rich
orchestrations and massive soundscapes; that was also a case with the debut,
but this time there's real classical instruments instead of keyboards and a few
shorter songs. There's also a bit more variation between the songs and that
makes this album more interesting. Chapter 2 has no more breaks between songs,
'cause there's these ambient soundscapes between each track and thus the album
is on the whole like an entity that's interesting to listen to.
It was interesting to hear trumpets, especially on the next to last
track 'Prosperity.' It's almost like the track ends on a somewhat positive note
compared to what most would think of doom/death metal.
The trumpets were a right choice. There's real violin, cello, flute and trumpet
on these tracks performed by session players. Trumpets and cellos work together
well for example on the track 'Towards The Infinite' and 'Prosperity' you
mentioned. The ending of 'Prosperity' is inspired by the second part of
Beethovens 7th symphony. It's very massive and is indeed more positive than the
usual Colosseum song. It's like a Grande Finale and fits like a hand in the
I know you are also in a band called Yearning, which existed before
Colosseum, so I'm curious to know if Colosseum was created to express musical
viewpoints you felt were too extreme for Yearning?
I had to change my ways and find a new style and I found it with Colosseum.
Yearning has a certain concept and so has Colosseum. Colosseum takes darkness
into extremes blending catatonic stillness and slowness into symphonic and
Speaking of the band, what prompted you to choose the band name
Colosseum? I can somewhat picture an ancient monolithic structure that is
filled with sadness by it's age and decaying ruins, but majestic and proud in
it's history and purpose. Yes, I am indeed referring to Rome's Colosseum.
Colosseum as a name is quite majestic and death lurks behind every corner.
(The) Band's music is very massive, so it fits to the concept very well.
Except for the next to last track 'Prosperity,' the running times
of many of the songs are shorter than on your first full length. Was that a
conscious decision; I know some people have made comments in the past about how
long many funereal doom/death songs have become in recent days.
This was no conscious decision at all. The songs just came out naturally and
this time there's also these "shorter" songs, meaning 7 minutes instead of the
12 for example. The length is not relevant as long as you can say everything
you wanted with a song. I myself enjoy long and epic songs, but this time it
just happened this way. Bands like Esoteric and Comatose Vigil are very
pleasant to listen 'though the songs are reaaally long.
We've seen Chapter One and Chapter Two in your album's history: Any
chance we will see a Chapter Three? And while on the subject, is this all part
of a greater storyline or just simply another "chapter" in the band's career?
The future is not set. There's a few songs ready for Colosseum that are not
rehearsed yet. There's no storyline between the albums and each album is a
It's interesting to me that you are involved with two bands that
are signed to different record labels; why not just have both bands on ONE
label? Are there any stipulations in either recording contract (from both Holy
and Firedoom) about what can and cannot be done with the other band signed to
the other label?
Well, Holy Records were not interested in Colosseum and Firebox were not
interested in Yearning, so I made 1 album deal with Holy for Yearnings' 5th
album and with Colosseum we wrote a separate agreement for each album. This is
no problem and everything has worked out fine. If all the members in these two
bands were the same it wouldn't be possible, but with Yearning there was only
me and session musicians in the studio, so it was no problem.
Early on in your history there was a band known as Flegeton. Tell us
a bit more about this outfit and how it differs from either Yearning or
Colosseum. I noticed it is somewhat of a doom/death outfit with only one 4
track demo released. Any chance that demo will ever be properly released, and
were there ever any other songs done by Flegeton that didn't get recorded or
released? Why did you decide not to continue on with Flegeton?
Flegeton had a '94 demo called "Through a desolate lands" that wasn't
distributed at all. I don't own it myself, so it's rare indeed. The style was
Death Metal in the vein of early Amorphis/Rotting Christ etc. Second '95 demo
"The Temple of Sagal" had a better production and different style and 2 of the
4 songs ended up on Yearnings debut after a name change. At the time we were
pleased with this new Doomy style, so there was no reason to continue with the
So far I'd have to say that even though we're early into 2009, I
see the "Numquam" album becoming one of the top doom metal releases of the
year. Have you gotten any press from this release yet, and what are some of the
press people saying?
I've read some reviews and the response has been very positive.
What inspires you to write lyrics? The Encyclopedia Metallum notes
your lyrical topics deal with Lovecraft and Sumerian Myths, but I'd like to get
a bit more in depth. You can provide song examples if you wish, but a general
overall picture is fine.
Music itself inspires to write lyrics and everything else can serve as an
influence. Lovecraftian influences were present with our debut, but this time
there's subjects such as death, paranoia, depression, suicide and escapism.
Lyrics illustrate the mood of the music and form an entity. Very dark and heavy
atmosphere in this case.
If you're into Lovecraft, what are some of your favorite stories?
Personally, I enjoyed "Dreams In The Witch House" and of course I think
everyone refers to the Chtulhu stories in general. Have you seen any of the
movie adaptations of his work, like the movie Dagon, and the silent film
adaptation "Call Of Chthulhu" which was made to look like a 1930's black and
white silent film?
"The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward" has been inspirational and all his shorter
novels also. I read those a lot in my youth, but these stories are still
captivating. There's some cosmic horror in there. Unfortunately I haven't seen
those films, but should have. Maybe someday.
Any chance we might see Colosseum playing live here in the States?
I know there are always events like the Stoner Hands Of Doom Festival, and here
and there doom metal shows pop up around the world. What is a Colosseum show
like live? Do you ever have to shorten the lengths of some of your songs for
the live show?
Colosseum's sound is much more powerful and heavy on stage and there's some
ugly people playing it. We haven't done many gigs live, but this music seems to
be working on stage as well. There's not much demand for Funeral Doom anywhere,
but luckily there's some happenings now and then. This far we have played all
the songs in their whole length, so the listeners can really suffer and get
bored. Coming to the States would be nice, but would cost alot I guess.
I was always curious why Firebox records decided to start Firedoom
Records strictly for the doom/death stuff? What are some of your favorite bands
on Firebox/Firedoom? I really like the Doom:VS stuff, and Withering's "Gospel
Of Madness" is a great album as well.
I guess Firebox have got their reasons for spreading this kind of music. I
haven't heard all the bands on Firedoom, but Doom:Vs for example is very good.
Ablaze in Hatred and My Shameful are some of the Finnish quality bands in this
Anything else you want to talk about that we missed, feel free to
do so here. Thanks again for your time, help and support; know that we are
playing Colosseum cuts on our radio show!!!
Check out Chapter 2: Numquam and Doom on. Cheers, thanks and bye!
DESTRUCTION. Interview with Schmier...
I remember seeing you some time ago when you were with a pretty
diverse selection of bands, like Kataklysm, Vader, and Gravewurm.
We were kind of complaining because of being put on too early and what not. But
it was a good step to come back after that break we had, from 2002-2006, like 4
years when we hadn't toured the States. For us it was just good to catch up
again and come back on the road. We returned in 2007 again to the States, and
it was a good tour. Vader treated us very well, and Kataklysm are very good
friends of ours. So we didn't really care about things, like us going on too
You know, a LOT of people have talked about this dream German
thrash tour; with Destruction, Kreator and Sodom.
That was something we wanted to do this year. We had meetings with the guys,
and basically Kreator has this management in the States; Sodom were not
satisfied with the money, so the tour didn't happen. I was very sad about that;
I really wanted this to happen. I don't want to say anything bad about my
friends, but I was REALLY disappointed this didn't take place. I guess it's
I was really sad to hear about Sodom's drummer Chris (Witchhunter)
He was going through rough times, and I didn't see him for many years. In 2005
we were touring with Deicide in Europe. It was a great tour, this was back when
the Hoffman brothers were in the band. Chris came to the show and I hadn't seen
him for almost 10 years. I was really happy to see him, so we brought him to
our tour bus to drink some beers, and he killed an entire bottle of Vodka in
about 10 minutes! The whole bottle! And we were like holy fuck, he was drinking
harder than ever! And the other night after a show we were looking for him to
drink with us again and he was laying in the dirt totally drunk. Even last year
he was so drunk he couldn't even talk anymore; I mean he tried to talk to me
but I couldn't understand him. He was very depressed and didn't sound very
good. He was drinking too much; it's a problem that we all have when we're
touring and playing rock and roll. He was playing with Destruction on tour and
helped us out when our drummer left. It's a bad thing because he was such a
funny guy. He was homeless and living with his mother I think. We're gonna play
a concert in April (which has no doubt already passed - Ed), it's Sodom,
Destruction, and some old bands from the 80's like Darkness, Assassin, and
we're gonna do a tribute show and save up some money to help his mother get him
a real headstone. Chris didn't ever really want any help from anyone; Tom from
Sodom told me that Chris didn't want help from anyone; he said "I'm fine, and I
live my life the way I want it to be." He never seemed to get over not being in
Sodom anymore I think.
What really surprised me is your first two albums being on
Steamhammer; it surprised me that with Sodom and Kreator BOTH signing to
Steamhammer that you guys didn't sign to the label; signing instead with
Candlelight.... I just thought you guys should all have ended up on the
Steamhammer label together, it would have been cool!
Well, Kreator was signed to Noise Records, but their first albums were with
Metal Blade here in the States I think. Sodom went back to Steamhammer. The
problem with Steamhammer/SPV and us, we had a lot of trouble with royalties
and what not. That's why we left the label. Right now, actually, talking about
this case, I'm still waiting for my paycheck for the last two years for the old
records. They're still selling the reissues and stuff! We tried to talk to them
about releasing the old albums with liner notes, remastered sound and liner
notes. They had no booklet with the reissues; it's real cheap quality!
Well, I have the reissue of your first two records, and I can't
remember right offhand, but I know when they did the first two Sodom titles,
they got the tracks out of order and some of the track numbers didn't go with
the actual song names they were supposed to represent, so they kinda screwed
Well, we redid all that; with the lyrics and the pictures, but they weren't
interested. They just used what they had and it was a rather cheap way to
reissue it. They would have had to repress the booklet and remaster the album.
But we're in talks now, so maybe the proper reissues will happen.
The new album "D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N.," I'm curious what challenges
you had as far as making this record? Obviously you didn't try to re-create the
sound of the 80's... How do you see Destruction in the year 2000 and beyond as
opposed to the way you did things in the early days?
Destruction is like a bunch of pissed off guys, living in the countryside and
we didn't want to go into the mainstream, didn't want to be part of the 9 to 5
thing; we didn't want to be a boring part of normal life. We tried to break out
of that and that's something that's still similar with us to this day. We're
still kinda angry! We're grown up but we still look at the world and see things
that are fucked up, that are crazy! All that anger is going into the music, but
the way we do it now, it's more focused, and thrash metal is more of an
established musical direction now. We still try to have something to say: we
don't try to repeat our basic riffs and our basic ideas. The new album is not
just a thrash album; it has progressive elements and lots of details; hopefully
it's still original, and I think that's what is an important part of the band's
success. You don't want to sound like anybody else and even if we're using a
production that's on a top notch, modern level, it's still important. If you
want to compete with the young bands you definitely have to have a powerful
It definitely has to make you feel good that thrash has gotten
popular once again; like over in England you had Deathwish, Atomkraft and a
band like Onslaught who have reformed, but you have newer bands like Evile and
Municipal Waste that are coming out. And they're sounding just as vicious and
sick as the bands that were around in the 80's! It's gotta make you feel good
to hear these young bands go "Yeah, man, we listened to "Sentence Of Death" and
"Infernal Overkill" and we were just blown away!"
Well, we're gonna come back to the States, and we hope to be touring with
Krisiun and hopefully Evile from the U.K. It's gonna be a good lineup! First of
all, young bands are indeed getting back into thrash, but some people are just
getting with the newest trend. They did the same thing with Swedish and death
metal too. Now we have all this pagan metal stuff from Scandinavia too. It's a
whole new scene however, and it's exciting to see.
Some metalheads think I'm wierd for saying this, but I always
thought that thrash metal died out WAAAAY too soon. To me thrash kinda peaked
with Metallica's "Master Of Puppets," but then it just kinda died!
Well, at that time, metal was moving so fast that people were waiting for the
new extreme. Then in the beginning of the 90's death metal was getting big, and
you know how people are, they were looking to the media and the young kids were
jumping on the bandwagon quickly. And now it's of course all the black metal
bands. And of course Venom, Slayer, Destruction, Sodom and Kreator were all
major influences on the kids and they just kinda wanted to see where all this
stuff came from.
Now I gotta be honest with you, and I hate to say this, but when
you came out with the album "All Hell Breaks Loose," I wasn't too crazy about
I mean, well, how difficult is it to come back after such a big break, when we
were trying to rehearse every day and bring back the band in a serious way. It
was really difficult to come back. And then all those expectations people had.
Some people still say that it's a great album and they love it. Now I do
understand it was a different approach. 'The Butcher Strikes Back' from that
album is definitely a great anthem that we wrote.
The song 'Tears Of Blood' off that record was great too.
That also will be in our set list in 10 years. That's already fair enough. It's
important that an album has standout songs. It's not the best Destruction
album, but "The Antichrist" was definitely a much better album. (I agree - Ed.)
It was a decent comeback album. But the other thing is that we were under a lot
of pressure the last years and doing a lot of touring. It was good that this
time around we didn't have so much pressure; the new album I think is a very
strong release that can hopefully compare with the "Antichrist" album. A
classic album is not a classic when it's first released; it will take some time
to see if these newer releases are considered classics.
Now when you do touring these days, you've got over 20 years of
songs; how do you pick what tracks you play live? That's got to be difficult!
It's tough. Now after 10 years, we're experimenting with the set list, and we
know pretty well what's to be in there. And we have contacts on the website,
where you can vote for what songs you want to hear. We can also sometimes tell
by the crowd's reaction at shows. The setlist is pretty much fixed, like 2/3 of
the songs are already set. And there's some songs that HAVE to be in the
setlist, like 'Mad Butcher,' 'Curse The Gods,' 'Bestial Invasion,' 'Total
Desaster,' etc. We try to have some from every album. We do one or two medleys
that include 2 or 3 songs that are kinda meshed alltogether. When we headline
we try to play for at least an hour and a half.
As we wrap this up, I'm curious how you feel about our current
president Obama, who has just started his term in the office (at the time of
this interview anyway)? It seems like almost the whole of Europe was behind him
after his speeches and meeting in Europe.
Obama gets a very, very positive response here in Germany. Everyone in Europe
wanted Obama to be president in America. But everybody knows that not so much
will change, because the people that are behind the scenes usually are all the
same. Not so much will change, but America's face outside of the world will
change again, because Obama is having better relationships with other
countries. Obama was here in Berlin awhile ago, and he had a speech like
Kennedy had in front of some thousand people here in Berlin. I mean he wasn't
even president yet but he was drawing the interest of a lot of people. He's got
charisma, and I think he can put the angry face of America away. The only thing
that really helped Bush was his father and the weapons industry in America that
made a lot of money on the Iraq war. Now the people in the States have had big
problems with the crashing economy and oil.
HOLY MOSES. Interview with Sabina via email...
Metal has certainly seen it's share of tragedies over the years: the closing
doors of Metal Maniacs magazine, many of our heroes passed away, the arrival of
grunge in the early 90's, etc. etc. etc. One of the biggest tragedies is a band
like Holy Moses who have been doing vicious female fronted thrash for over 20
years, long through the grunge era and STILL active today. While Arch Enemy may
get huge accolades for being vicious and featuring an extreme vocalist who is
female, I think Century Media should have hyped up Holy Moses A LOT more,
considering "Disorder Of The Order" came out on THEIR label, but never got
worked here in the States. All that aside, Sabina Claussen has one of the most
vicious set of vocals you'll hear from a woman; all the more reason to give her
the space she so rightly deserves. Armed with a new record deal in Steamhammer,
it's time for Sabina to spin her tale....
First of all, it's good to see the band going for so long, over 20
years now is it? What would you say is your secret for doing music so long?
This I can tell you in 4 words: strength, power, will, passion...
One thing that really upset me, when "Disorder Of The Order" came
out, I got the Century Media version, but this CD wasn't released or supported
by Century Media U.S. I suppose they were more interested in pushing Arch
Enemy, even though you'd been doing female fronted aggressive vocals since the
80's! How do you feel about that collaboration with Century Media; obviously it
wasn't a very supportive relationship. I always had a problem with Century
Media U.S. not releasing things the European branch was working on.
You are speaking out the words which are deep in my soul. And I hope now with
SPV US we did the right choice and looking into a better future.
Speaking of "Disorder Of The Order," I wasn't too happy with the
record overall, your latest release "Agony Of Death" is definitely heavier and
more aggressive. How do you feel about the "Disorder" record; I'm pretty sure
you feel your new release is better.
Yes, you are again totally right. "Agony Of Death" is now the result of a long
process and shows Holy Moses like Holy Moses has to be. The Disorder Album was
a first step to be back but not written with Michael Hankel. If you look to the
album "Strength Power Will Passion," which was released after the Disorder
album; in 2005, you could already see the evolution of the new Holy Moses
century. So step by step we got back into the old power and aggression of Holy
Moses. With "Agony Of Death" we are on the way we want to be.
The band has been around for over 20 years; when you put together a
set list for your concerts, what records do you focus on and what songs are
what you would call "fan favorites?" Do you focus more on the older material or
the newer stuff?
It is always hard to do. Mostly we are doing the choices of our fans. I can see
that the fans like to have the focus on songs from "Finished With The Dogs,"
"New Machine Of Liechtenstein," "World Chaos," "Terminal Terror" and the new
albums like "Strength Power Will Passion" and "Agony Of Death."
There has been a "thrash metal revival" going on here recently,
especially with the newly reformed Hallows Eve (which I was a part of for a
short time), then you have bands like Evile, Municipal Waste and even the newly
reformed Onslaught. How do you see all of this, especially considering you were
one of the first ones and are still going today?
I think, if the new ones are finding their own style and mystique it's always
fine for me. Also with newly reformed bands; if they find their ways to go on
and make really great new songs, I love to listen to it. But it scares me
sometimes, if bands are coming back without the old passion and without a new
I was reading where you took 6 months to record your vocals for the
new album! Why did you feel so much time needed to be taken to doing your vocal
I was not singing every day. This time we did the recordings like that, that we
worked in 6 months on the songs in the studio. We did drums, guitars, bass and
vocals together. And not doing first the drums, then guitars etc – so I had the
chance to be in the right mood to do my vocals. I could say, today I do not
want to sing, I don't feel like that, I feel more to write some more lyrics and
so on. Also between the recordings we went on tour with Obituary for 30 days on
a European tour. We worked also on the album and ideas during the tour. So all
in all we worked for 6 months, but not in one part.
When you do extreme vocals, do you have any special tips or
techniques that you use to either prepare for the aggressive singing or to
extend that style for a long period of time? I know many people talk about
singing from your gut instead of the throat, but those types of vocals (I
practice with black metal styled vocals myself) tend to have an effect on the
throat after awhile.
It is coming from the beginning deep from my inner feelings. I think I have a
kind of technique, but I do not do it on purpose. It's a natural feeling. I do
not work in the studio or live with any effects. It's just me and I coached
myself all over the years. I think the most important fact is, why it sounds so
real, is the reason that I feel it; that these growls are in my body and soul.
The new record seems to focus on themes of death quite a bit; in
fact it seems many bands are preoccupied with the death theme these days. What
are your views on death; do you believe there's something after death, or a
place that we go when we die? Me, I'm not sure I believe in the whole christian
concept of heaven and hell... Hell to me is really just a scare tactic to keep
people in line!
The lyrics are dealing with different types of death. Especially I am working
here with the mental kind of death. Thoughts about suicide because of mental
disorders etc. – I am also not sure about what is going on after our physical
death. So I am more into the psyche and the mystic behind the soul. My lyrics
are a method (by which) I am able to recover the ways of natural instinctive
psyche and through its personification in the wild women archetype. I am able
to discern the ways and means of woman's deepest nature.
You were on Aaarrg! Records for your first two releases, do you
remember much about the record label at the time? Did you like any of the other
releases on that label, like Mekong Delta, Living Death, Siren, Target, etc?
We were knowing really nothing about record labels and the business, hahahaha.
It was an unbelievable time to come into all these things. Holy Moses was real
greenhorns in that, hahahaha. We did not know any of these bands before, but
during being on this label, we met all these guys. So Atomic Steiff the
drummer of Living Death played for Holy Moses and is now back in Holy Moses.
What are your thoughts on Angela Gossow, who now fronts Arch Enemy?
I feel she definitely has one sick set of death styled vocals, and sounds more
vicious than most guys!
Angela is doing great with Arch Enemy and I wish her all the best to go on with
the band for more than 20 years, like I do with Holy Moses now.
I rather liked the cover of the new album; I'm assuming the artist
did a somewhat sci-fi charicature of you? Tell us a bit about the artist, and
how you came drawn to this artists' work? I know your "Disorder Of The Order"
album saw you utilizing a somewhat cartoon, or comic book, style.
The cover artwork is done by Kai Swillus. He is a good friend of ours, and he
understood me very fast, when I gave to him the songs and lyrics and my inner
concept. We work really close together. He got each part of the songs, when
something was ready, also same with the lyrics. So we worked hand in hand, from
the beginning, when we started up to write the material. We talked with him
about my future visions, the story and my kind of vision about the past, the
mental disorders.. and importantly the strength, power, will and passion of the
wolf women in the agony of death.
Finally, if there's anything else you want to talk about, do so
here, and thanks again!
I wish we can come to tour the US after such a long time for the first time in
2009. I want to thank you all, promoting and loving Holy Moses in the US. Hope
to see you all soon!!!! Thanks so much.
SACRED OATH. Interview with Rob Thorne, founder and guitar/vocals...
Anyone remember "A Crystal Vision," from waaaay back in 1987? The band are
still around, heavier than ever, but still writing catchy and great songs. This
latest record, self titled, shows how an 80's metal band writes music in
today's era, while still sounding heavy, catchy and writing memorable songs all
at the same time. Read on with the vocalist/guitarist AND founder of the band,
I know you had an album in 2007 entitled "Darkness Visible," which
I never got to hear, but what would you say were the challenges recording new
releases in the last few years as opposed to the way you recorded and wrote "A
Crystal Vision?" Besides not utilizing the higher notes as much on the new
record, did you have things you did and did not want to repeat from the
Actually Steven, making a record was much more challenging for us back in 1987.
Being 17 years old at the time (and not at the craft for more than a couple
years) it wasn't easy to make "A Crystal Vision." We had no idea what we were
doing. We were able to bring decades of experience into the new Sacred Oath
recordings, and that has allowed us to be very much in control of the final
result. But regardless of this, we do what we feel like on a record. I have
never made any decision to sing higher or lower, but only what the songs
require of me. There are plenty of high notes spread across "Darkness Visible"
and the new album, and certainly on the live album. But it's not like I walk
into the studio with a list of things I feel are expected of me and then set
about checking them off. The music would come across as phony, and we are all
about honest recordings. Wow, I can't believe you haven't heard "Darkness!"
You're missing a huge chunk of the Sacred Oath chronology.
While we're speaking of "Darkness Visible," since I haven't heard
it yet, how does it fit into the lineup of the three albums? Is it heavier, a
bit more melodic or somewhere in between?
"Darkness Visible" is a heavy album. All of the songs on it were written back
in the mid and late 80's as the intended follow-up to "A Crystal Vision." The
strength of those songs is the main reason Sacred Oath is back together today!
Kenny and I always felt it was a damned shame that they had never been recorded
and released, so we set about doing just that, with no immediate plans to make
the band active again. But when "Darkness Visible" was finished, the result was
something special, and the fans' reaction encouraged us to launch ourselves
back into the Oath full-time. It's craziness. But I have to say it was fate. I
cannot explain it any other way. And that is what makes "Darkness Visible" so
With the new record, some might say that the heaviness of the riffs
is just another 80's metal band trying to change their sound to be heavier in
the Y2k era, but I know from listening to the very first release there's always
been heavy guitar work and even the heavier and rougher vocals, like on tracks
'The Omen,' 'A Crystal Vision,' and 'Shadow Out Of Time.'
Ha! Have you heard most of the "metal" that's out there today? We sound like a
classic rock band compared to some of that shit. No, I think you'll find that
our sound has been very consistent over the last twenty five years.
Since we've never had the opportunity to interview you before, tell
us a bit about what the 80's metal scene was like for you in Connecticut? Did
you play a lot of shows around the U.S. and maybe make it over to Europe for
some dates? The U.S. band Legend released an album called "From The Fjords" in
1979, did you ever hear of this band or get to know them? Tell us about bands
you toured or played with, magazines that you may have spoken with or anything
from that time you think is noteworthy.
It was awesome to be a part of that scene back then, especially as young as we
were. We did play around the US in Chicago, New York, Detroit, Hartford,
Philadelphia, etc. Not much out west, and we never did get to Europe back
then. We did some shows with Fates Warning on their Awaken the Guardian tour.
They were real mentors to us. We looked up to them as heroes. We played some
with Warlock. But it was all over pretty quickly. By 1988 we had broken up,
after only a few years, and I was just 18, so for me I was still at the
beginning and it was pretty easy to just move on. We were definitely a part of
the New York/Connecticut scene though, and I can remember talking with MARS
magazine, Powerline, Grey Matter, and countless other 'zines, as well as Metal
Maniacs and Metal Forces. WNHU, WRTN – those were some great local college
radio stations back then, spinning metal all the time. The radio and
underground 'zines were vital parts of a real scene back then. They were all
special and unique, and there weren't quite as many because there was no
internet. And on top of all that, it was a constant party. We were fucked up
all the time, but maybe that's part of being a teenager. I never heard of
Legend, but in '79 I was only 10 and not yet listening to metal. I didn't get
into the scene until around '84.
It seems like nowadays the shift is from signing with major labels
to gain tour support and a wider audience, to artists releasing the music
themselves, starting their own labels and even pushing their name through the
internet. The times have definitely changed, and I see that you also have
released your latest disc on your own label. Do you have other artists planned
for Angel Thorne music, or is this just a vehicle for your band?
Angel Thorne Music is and has always been a vehicle for my music. I've released
all of the Sacred Oath catalog, plus two Soundscape albums and at least three
solo albums. But it has always been my music. Now I have licensed the Oath
catalog to WorldSound Label Group, so fans will begin to see all of our titles
popping up in national retail outlets like FYE, Borders, Best Buy, and Hot
Topic. This was a good move for us, because it has been hard for metal fans to
find our stuff. So on August 25th, our new album plus the rest of our albums
(repackaged with bonus photos and art) will be available everywhere for the
first time ever. We're very excited about this, because the recent support
we've been getting from MTV can actually translate into something if our CD's
are actually available.
I noticed you recorded a live album from the Keep It True festival
over in Germany. Tell me about that, because as a former member of Hallows Eve,
I almost got the chance to participate in that famous of events, though it was
not to be.
Again, fate Steven. We never anticipated making a live album on the very first
night of our first European tour, and at a famous traditional metal festival in
Germany no less. But it worked out that way, and for that reason 'Till Death Do
Us Part is a special album for us. It was awesome to be there in Germany, and
the fans had come from all over Europe. Many of them had been following Sacred
Oath since the first album, and so the energy in that room was very very high.
Plus, we were unaware it was being recorded, so we played freely without that
self-consciousness that can happen when you know you're being recorded. Lots of
energy on that album, from us and especially from the crowd.
How has press been for the new record so far? I haven't seen much,
which makes me wonder if the disc is getting the attention it deserves!
The press has been great. The reviewers all seem to really love the CD, which
is gratifying after all the hard work that goes into making an album. We had a
TON of press back in March and April when we released the album exclusively on
iTunes. And now that the CD is being released in stores I expect we'll see
another push. I just saw the album got Heavy Metal Addiction's Album of the
Month, and over in Germany Heavy Magazine gave it 12/12 points. But most
importantly, the Oathbangers love it. And that feels great. There is no better
feeling than getting an email from a fan that has followed you since "A Crystal
Vision" and they tell you that the new album is your best yet.
When looking back on your discography, I noticed you had three
demos before getting "A Crystal Vision" released on Mercenary Records. Were the
demos used to garner label support, or were you just releasing demos to get the
music to the fans? I'm also curious about why songs like 'Battle Cry,'
'The End,' and 'Queen Of The Night' weren't released on your first full length?
Actually, we only recorded 2 demos before signing with Mercenary Records. And
we were recording those to get our music to the fans. But as things began to
catch on, we started to hear from labels. It all happened pretty quickly, all
within a couple of years. And at the time we were writing music so quickly! So
when we went into the studio we decided to record what we were playing the most
at the time. 'Queen Of The Night' was one of the first songs I had ever
written, and back then seemed old news to me. Who could have known it would be
one of the highlight recordings Sacred Oath would ever do on "Darkness
When you go back to your "Crystal Vision" release, are you still
happy with it? I know there was a lot of high pitched vocal work on the record,
are you still able to hit those highest of notes easily? You made it seem like
you could hold a note forever in those days!!
There was definitely a period of time in the 90's when I could not listen to "A
Crystal Vision." There were many things I wanted to do differently. But now I
appreciate that album so much for what it is. Every album is a snapshot in time
of where a band is at, and that album perfectly represents Sacred Oath in 1987.
I love that about it. And I am deeply honored that fans out there love that
album so much. It is amazing to me that the strength of that album was able to
keep Sacred Oath alive in the underground all those dark years and see us
through to a true rebirth. The songs on that record are still among the most
popular in our live show, which forces me to really stay in shape! Yes, I still
hit all of those high notes live. It's quite a workout.
What does a live set for Sacred Oath these days consist of? How do
you go about choosing a set list of songs, and what albums do you prefer to
play more off of?
We just played a two-hour show in Connecticut, which is a bit longer than we
typically play, but it allowed us to really cover everything we wanted to do.
The set list was:
Words Upon The Stone
The Ferryman’s Lair
Queen Of The Night
A Crystal Vision
Message To The Children
Caught In The Arc
Hunt For The Fallen Angel
So as you can see, we spread it out as best we can. Of course, we're most
excited about playing new stuff because its fresh and that is the record we are
pushing, but we give plenty of stage time to our debut.
It seems like the only member left from the earliest of days is
your drummer Kenny. What happened to the other guys, and how did you go about
finding the new members?
God bless Kenny, my right-hand man. We have a great time together. Pete and
Glen were not able to commit to the intense scheduling demands that the Oath
puts on our lives so it was a mutual agreement that Kenny and I would move on
without them. We're still all very good friends and stay in touch often. Bill
(22) and Brendan (20) have been a perfect addition to the ranks. They believe
in what Sacred Oath is 100%, and they are great players. Both are former
students of mine (I privately teach guitar, voice, bass, drums) so I knew them
already, knew what they were about. Plus, they bring a ferocious youthful
energy to the band that Kenny and I demand.
I'm curious about the choice of artwork you used for the new album,
especially since given the lyrics of the opening song 'Paradise Lost,' it seems
like you have a bit of disdain for our last president (which I don't blame you
one bit for!) The artwork also seems to be a bit of a departure from your
previous releases as well...
Yeah, disdain is an understatement. Lyrically, I was inspired by what's been
going on around me for this album. And I wanted to address issues that have
disillusioned a new generation of metal fans. The artwork we had commissioned
from Ioannis, who has done landmark covers for Fates Warning, Deep Purple,
Yngwie, Allman Brothers, and many many more big artists. (And, incidentally,
for the band Legend for their 1979 release "From The Fjords - Ed.) He came
highly recommended to us, and he connected with our vision right away. We're so
pleased with what he delivered, both in the concept and in the modern look of
it. We wanted something new this time around.
I remember when Sentinel Steel reissued your "Crystal Vision"
release, were you happy with the way it turned out? I was always under the
opinion that when doing reissues, the original artwork should be preserved
somewhere in the booklet, and the recording should be left as intact as
possible; save to bring it up to modern day standards (IE, bring out the bass
and treble more, boost up the volume a little bit, etc) so that we can hear
almost exactly how this piece of history was done. I also noticed that you
re-recorded the album later on.
Denis Gulbey and Sentinel Steel have always done a fantastic job with pressings
of our albums, and the re-issue of A Crystal Vision is no exception. He is a
real fan, so he puts in that little extra that can make a package special. The
re-issue was certainly a better package than the original that Mercenary
Records offered! When he first approached us on this in 1998, he asked for a
few bonus tracks. We all got together to record 'The End' and 'The Invocation'
and ended up burning through the entire album! We were having a great time
being together again after ten years apart. Denis chose his bonus tracks, and
we shelved the rest. But in 2005 when I started work on Darkness Visible, I
released those recordings as A Crystal Revision to get the fans appetites for
new Sacred Oath whetted. It really is a bootleg, and not what I would consider
a formal part of our catalog, but still very worthwhile having in your
As we wrap this up, I wanted to know what some of your favorite
80's metal bands were, and what albums you cranked quite frequently. Were there
any bands who maybe dropped off the face of the earth; do you have any ultra
rare metal titles you enjoyed listening to?
Oh man! Fates Warning, Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Metallica, Megadeth,
Queensryche, Hallows Eve (yes!), Helloween, Anthrax, Exodus, Slayer, Twisted
Sister, Dio, Ozzy, there were tons of them! And of course I've always been a
huge fan of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Rainbow, Deep Purple,
AC/DC. I was not much of an obscure metal hunter, so not many bands I listened
to have dropped off the face of the earth. Ultra Rare? Remember Witchkiller
"Day of the Saxons?" I loved that song. That was one of the first songs Sacred
Oath ever covered.
THE GATES OF SLUMBER. Interview with Karl via phone.
It's fucking doom, man! What more do you need to know? The Gates Of Slumber are
a rather curious beast; and with many artists involved in making doom metal
these days, the emphasis is not ALWAYS on the slow, 1 mile per hour tempos that
many critics of the genre endlessly slag these bands for. We had a chance to
chat with Karl about a LOT of things, especially the state of the recording
industry and how labels are meeting the challenges of the ever changing media
format in the Y2K era. An interesting read is this...
I got the new record "Conqueror," and the first thing I look at is
the cover, looking like something from Conan The Barbarian. So... Do you know
what is best in life? (laughing).
Uh, yeah... There's a lot of things that are pretty good in life. Crushing
enemies, seeing them driven before you, that's pretty cool. A nice cold beer
doesn't hurt either! The cover is actually done by a guy named Vebjorn Stroman
from Norway, who does Conan comic book covers. I think he does some issues over
there. For our "Suffer No Guilt" record, we licensed Ken Kelly's "Revenge Of
The Viking," and that was a pretty hefty price tag we paid for that one. We
didn't have a lot of rights with it, because it is such an iconic picture; it's
the one with the Viking dude cleaving that guy with an axe. It's been used in a
bunch of places, but we actually paid for it. And we had no rights for t-shirts
or anything like that; that was a completely separate licensing deal. And to
get an original piece of art from Ken was way out of our price range. So when
it came time to do the artwork for "Conqueror" we knew we wanted something that
would be in the same vein. I always thought those Molly Hatchet covers were
amazing. I remember buying the first Molly Hatchet with the death dealer on it,
thinking this would be some HEAVY fucking metal, and it ends up being southern
rock (laughs). We found Vebjorn's "Headhunter" and contacted him; he was real
agreeable to it, and came up with some terms where we could make t-shirts from
it. He definitely has good skills and his stuff doesn't look like a bunch of
other people's. I'm really happy. He's doing the art for our new record.
I LOVE I Hate as a record label, there's some great bands on that
label. I had this issue with Sanctus Inferum, who is a Kansas band signed to a
Russian Record label; the band has ties to Manilla Road even! And here you guys
are an American band signed to a Scandinavian label; I'm sitting here going
"didn't ANY American record labels take an interest in you guys? It's just
wierd to me that you have to go all the way to Scandinavia just to get a record
It's always been that way with us. "Conqueror" is our third record; our first
album was on a Belgian Record label, and they folded (I'm laughing here). So we
went to I Hate. "Conqueror" is available as a U.S. record through Profound Lore
which is a Canadian label. We had a split licensing deal where Profound Lore
would handle the U.S. and Canada, and I Hate would handle the rest of the
world. Chris Barnes from Hellride Music does one-off vinyl presses, and he did
a CD for us back a few years ago. So actually, technically, "Conqueror" is like
our 4th CD, because the "Plague Upon The Land" is like a full length. It's
basically two EP's back to back; (including) our last demo sessions with our
first drummer. We ended up parting ways with our drummer in the middle of it!
Profound Lore actually gave us a boost as far as our name recognition here in
the States; I'd say we're now doing about as well as an Icarus Witch, or some
of these larger bands! We had a video on MTV for a month!
Wow, I didn't know about that!
You can go on youtube to see it, it's for the 'Trapped In The Web' song. We
talked I Hate and Profoud Lore into splitting the bill on a camera crew to come
out. We filmed the video and submitted it to MTV2's Headgivers Ball... (I'm
laughing my ass off at this - Ed.) I'll be goddamned if they didn't play it;
they played it every weekend for a month straight! It was really cool; I mean
seeing our old, ugly asses on TV next to these fucking kid bands was great.
Predictably though, we got our shit ripped apart by those little dickheads on
MTV.com and stuff, talking about "What are these old men doing," but I mean,
what are you gonna do?
Well, the music usually speaks volumes. Did you ever see the Lair
Of The Minotaur video? That was outrageous!
Yeah, I saw that! Our video is nothing like that, it's just us playing on a
stage; the guy set up a lighting rig. It's got an early 90's feel, kinda like
what American records did for the songs 'War Ensemble' and Danzig's 'Mother.'
It looks a lot like that the way it's backlit and the way it's shot. I'm really
pleased with how it came out.
Well, now I hear you might be working with Rise Above Records?
Yeah, we JUST got signed to Rise Above. We knew that after all the attention we
got here in the States for "Conqueror," it was a press darling thing; we were
right behind Nachtmystium for most important album of all time in some magazine
so we definitely got a LOT of attention. It was very cool to get it, and kinda
mind blowing for a band like us who is rooted in old school doom and heavy
metal to have the tastemakers saying this is awesome stuff!! I'm not gonna
argue with it! (laughs).
Well, it's wierd with that thrash revival, it's like everything's
coming back full circle. When you think about it, it's like is there anything
brand new and totally original left to do in music? So I guess the next step
forward is backward.
Originality is one of the things that kinda got overrated at some point in time
I think. There's only so many notes on a guitar, you know, there's only so much
you can do on a guitar before you just start running into riffs that don't make
sense. You can look at almost ANY band and trace it back to Black Sabbath, as
far as what they're doing. And if they didn't do it, you can throw freakin'
Thin Lizzy or U.F.O. in there, and there you go. I think it's more important to
try and make good music that comes from the heart than worrying about "Well,
someone's heard this riff before;" it's like, okay, so what?! People have heard
an E-note drone before too! If people are gonna be like that, then....
...Why listen to music, right?
Right, they're not giving you a chance. No one would listen to ANYTHING if that
is all they're looking for. I think a lot of people just like stuff because
they're SUPPOSED to like it.
Now with this Rise Above deal, are you off of I Hate alltogether?
Because I know that Rise Above is based out of the U.K.
They were handled through Candlelight; I know they're seeking out a new U.S.
distributor (That position has been filled; Rise Above releases are now handled
through Metal Blade - Ed.) It will be a licensing kind of thing, but we are no
longer working with I Hate. After Ola left (publicist for I Hate), we didn't
really do as well without him; he was our champion so to speak at I Hate. He
had to leave for family reason, and Peter has other priorities so we weren't at
the top of that list. And we knew like I said with all the attention we got
that we could move up a little bit. If we were gonna try to "take it to the
next level" and do some serious touring and stuff, now was our chance to do it,
so we just threw the dice. Rise Above came back with the most favorable
contract! It's a really, REALLY good deal they cut us, and I'm really excited
to be working with them!
Yeah, a lot of labels nowadays are kinda getting away from the
whole "Okay, you have 7 albums you have to do for us, and we get half your
merchandise and touring and stuff..." A lot of people have been talking about a
label like Cruz Del Sur music, where it's album to album, it's an open ended
contract, we can end the partnership at any time, and I've heard people talking
about I Hate Records in the same regard. I mean, look at Isole, which was one
of my favorite bands on I Hate; they did two albums with them and now they are
on Napalm Records.
A lot of people are doing that. It's a pretty standard thing; Rise Above is
doing a similar thing with us. We go album to album and see how it goes; if
everyone's feeling the same way. That seems to be the way of the future. Not
that there's a LOT of money in this buisness (laughs). People don't want to
end up being stuck with a band or a label that's a bad fit. We've never had
anyone that wanted to take any of our money, as far as our merch rates and
stuff like that. This is the first time we've ever had a contract that had
provisions in it to help us get out on the road really!
What sort of provisions, just out of curiosity....
Like tour support basically; the ability, if it makes sense, to buy us onto a
bigger package tour. Like if Mercyful Fate and Motorhead tour the U.S. and
there's an opening slot that's gonna cost X number of dollars; if we're selling
enough records they'll in theory pay that amount to put us on tour. That's
kinda wishful thinking though! (laughs)
Well, it's wierd because a lot of people, they listen to the music,
they read the lyrics and they understand a band's philosophy; but behind the
scenes, there's very few people who are actually privvy to the actual workings
of the music industry. And the music industry has changed tremendously in the
last 5 or 10 years. Bands are like, "fuck the labels, we can release our stuff
on the internet," and labels are starting to realize that they HAVE to vary
their contracts to keep these guys around. I think things are somewhat coming
back full circle where the old bands are coming back, and developing an actual
artists' career, that's coming back. We used to always complain that you'll
never have artists like The Beatles and Bob Dylan that put 20 and 30 albums out
with ONE label. The business model has burned itself out.
It's definitely changed. I mean, it's changing year to year! CD sales are a
different kind of thing, and now you're looking at a band that goes silver...
That's a huge selling record now! Of course you have like Metallica going
platinum, but they (Metallica's CD's) don't go as fast as they used to now.
Well, that's because they SUCK now!! (laughing)
Well... I agree, but I don't wanna go there.... But you can't argue that
they're huge; they're one of the biggest bands in the world. Even super huge
groups like U2 and stuff; these are phenomenal bands that tour nothing but
stadiums, and employ 100,000 people all on their own, doing festival size
crowds all on their own. THEY'RE not going platinum as quick as they used to
either. They're getting there but sales are down, and everyone's trying to find
a new way to do things. It's good that everyone's taking things one at a time.
I don't feel like we've been inhibited one bit as far as the amount of music we
can do. In the last 4 years we've done 4 CD's. We keep going along. I think the
labels STILL have an important part to play because they have the ability to
promote. Doing it all yourself on the internet is very well and good, but can
be very time consuming, especially if you're working a day job already. And you
get home, you gotta do 2 or 3 hours of emails, you have to pack orders for
people who are buying your records from you directly! And you find yourself
going "Wow, we haven't had practice in two or three weeks!" (Labels) are like
taking the burden off of you. We'll see how it goes; it could all fall apart
and then we'll all be just buying home recording equipment! (laughs)
I work 40 hours a week, and then I come home to try and put
together 2 radio shows, a music magazine, and then I try and have a social
life; there's sleep involved and plus I have an 8 year old who I hardly see
anymore. Things have changed a LOT. One thing I noticed, especially with me:
Gone are the days when I have enough time to sit down with a record, listen to
it, digest the lyrics and listen to it 4 or 5 times... I have bands I really
love, that I... know the melodies and stuff in my head but I don't really know
all the lyrics man!
Life moves really fast these days, I know man! As people, everyone's life is
just accelerated to an unhealthy level! That's one of the benefits; some people
are like "Why did you sign to Rise Above, why didn't you stay with a smaller
label," hell some are saying "Why didn't you just do it yourself!" It's like,
because I don't WANT to run my own label. I want to have the luxury to sit at
home and take my time developing a song... Or not! I get no pleasure out of
answering emails about "oh, the pressing plant is late." Some people are into
that, and those are the people that do labels. You want to write your magazine,
you want to do your radio shows. You don't want to sit there and listen to
people telling you "oh, your server space is running low and you gotta update."
The business side of doing the things you love, really sucks the fucking love
out of what you're doing! That's my attitude (laughing).
Well, let's talk about the new record now. One of my favorite tunes
off the "Conqueror" record is 'Children Of Satan.' THAT one I actually paid
attention to, and I don't have the full packaging; I have the stupid little
cardboard sleeves. It's another thing I hate about the record industry! But
anyway, I'm listening to this song, and I'm like "ooh, this sounds like a song
about the Muslim terrorists!!"
Actually, that song is about the genocide in Sudan, in the Darfor region of the
Sudan. In brief, there's an Arab population that runs the government, and it's
sort of like the upper class of that society who are waging genocidal warfare
against the mostly black African population, trying to drive them out. It's
over a lot of different things; it's over water rights, and rights to farmland.
And there's also a religious element to it: the black population is mostly
christian, whereas the arab population is muslim. Jason actually wrote the
lyrics and I kinda added a few things here and helped with the construction.
People are living in a primitively poor state; they don't have water,
electricity or cars. These people are driving into town, and killing all the
women and children, even the able bodied men, raping all the women, killing
their animals. And no one's talking about it. Well, not no one, but it's
certainly not on the front page.
You know, people don't realize that maybe the muslim religion has
evolved and become more civilized today; but in it's earliest days it was just
as bloodthirsty and ruthless as anything else, like the early viking raids and
what not. It was NO tolerance for anyone else, religions or cultures otherwise.
To a great extent I think ALL religions are like that. I mean, well, I can't
really say that about Christianity (I'm forced to make a laugh here, as we ALL
know the truth about this!), I've done a bit of theological studying and stuff
like that. In Islam, hell, even in Judaism... People don't talk about this a
lot, but you had people like King Saul and David; these are people that waged
wars that eliminated entire nations of people in the old testament. This is
what they're talking about; a lot of religions are about excluding people who
are different from you, and getting RID of people who are different from you.
Well, once again, that's if you buy into this stuff....
Yeah, if you do. I mean, I'm an atheist, you know, and I've never been baptized
and stuff, but I've read a lot about it. It is pretty interesting that there's
this thing, you know... For me, growing up, there was this imaginary stuff that
everybody else believed in, but millions of people are being killed over it!
And I've done a bit of reading about it. On our last record, we had a song
called 'God Wills It,' which deals a little bit more with the questions like
"Who owns the Middle East, who owns these places, where did this clash of
civilizations really start?" I don't have the answers, man, I just play guitar
and try to think up some thought provoking lyrics. I am NOBODY'S philosopher or
politician. If someone thinks about things, or is just made aware of the fact
that, for example, little kids are getting hacked apart by machetes. And that's
not cool! It's kind of a tough thing for a band like us, because we DO try to
keep our lyrics generally based in cool fantasy stuff. I like to try to keep it
like Candlemass used to; about sorcerors, dragons and stuff like that. Real
life is hard enough! I work a job, you work a job, and not everyday do you
wanna come home and you know, you just wanna hear some music and you put
something on that's just gonna fill you up on how evil the world is; you just
wanna escape. I think people try to downplay that, but we try to keep a little
bit of social conscience about us, trying to stir people out of a little bit of
You guys aren't exactly a traditional doom metal band, like you're
listed in the Encyclopedia Metallium. Okay, yeah, you have like 'Dark Valley
Suite' which was 16 and a half minutes, though no offense I thought it was a
little overkill on the running time! I mean, listen to 'Children Of Satan,'
it's got a bit of a dark overtone, but it's not a traditional doom metal piece!
Don't take this the wrong way, but I kinda lump you in with Lair Of The
Minotaur. And Lair Of The Minotaur is not even what you'd call traditional
"battle" metal, I mean they even have some black metal styled vocals in their
It's funny you mention black metal, because a lot of the guitar tones we used
on "Conqueror" were like a hybrid of late era Trouble and then Destroyer 666.
I think in the beginning we were very strong in keeping this, pattern, for the
lack of a better word, in doom metal. And I think as time has gone by and we've
grown as players, and writers, I think it's opened up to the point where we're
not doom metal, or thrash metal; we're a hevay metal band, we're the Gates Of
Slumber, and we create music that sounds like US. You hear 'Kill Or Be King'
and 'The Machine,' and you can still hear US in the music. Even with the very
early days of the template my ideas of what real doom metal was very different
from what other people's were. Like, I've never been a huge Sleep fan; Sleep is
not an influence of mine. I'm way more influenced by the first Pentagram
record, early St. Vitus; even back then I was getting super turned on to bands
like Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road, and stuff like that and trying to infuse more
The EPIC stuff...
Yeah.. UNIQUE epic. That's how I would coin bands like Manilla Road or Cirith
Ungol. They weren't playing thrash, they weren't playing Doom. They were
playing epic, but there was a lot of rock and roll in there. They were their
own creation, and I think that's what a lot of the genre stuff... And I'm as
guilty as anyone of going "Oh, this is speed metal, this is thrash metal..."
But there's really only two types of music in the world, good and bad. There's
the stuff you like and there's the stuff you DON'T like.
So you mentioned Cirith Ungol, what other 80's metal bands were you
into; did you have any rare releases you got into? I know I was, and still am,
TOTALLY amazed by the Legend album "From The Fjords," I mean they were doing
the Viking themes well before Bathory came out with "Hammerheart!"
Let's see... Some 80's metal rarities. I really like the Wizard mini LP a lot.
There's a CD reissue I picked up a few years ago in Germany.
That was "Knights Of Metal," right?
Yeah, that was it! Then there was Axe Witch... What was the one?
Aww, I LOVE Axe Witch... It was probably either "Pray For Metal"
or "Lord Of The Flies."
"Pray For Metal." That was an awesome record.
I bought that when I lived down in Savannah from Mark at Graveyard
Records, I have it on green vinyl! I paid like 8 or 9 bucks for it and now it's
worth about 60 or 70 bucks!
That's a very expensive record. Let's see who else, Phantom Lord....
That's cool.. The guys from Pentagram!
Yeah, Joe Hasselvander. I think Jack Starr was in that too wasn't he?
I'm not too sure actually. It's a shame that Hasselvander isn't
playing with Pentagram anymore, because those two records he was on "Sub
Basement" and "Review Your Choices" were amazing, and very heavy.
I actually like his Hounds Of Hasselvander record. It's missing some of the
Pentagram charm but it's got a lot of brutal heaviness to it. I LOVE Oz, and
Mercy was a great band. To be honest, though, 99 percent of the time you're
gonna catch me listening to Judas Priest! (laughs). And that's hardly a rarity!
I NEVER get tired of the classics as far as that goes. That's my shit right
there. My favorite Priest albums are probably "Sad Wings Of Destiny," then "
"Rocka-Rolla," then "Stained Class." My first Judas Priest album EVER was
"Beyond Metal." You remember, that, it was a gas station sampler!! I can't even
remember what year it was, but it was probably a total bootleg! I was on the
Pennsylvania turnpike one time, and I had like 8 bucks in my pocket, and the
tape was like 4, and that was my introduction to Judas Priest. And since then,
it's been all Priest, Motorhead, Sabbath, and Dio.
It's a real shame that Pentagram didn't get the recognition they
deserved, having been around almost as long as Black Sabbath!
It just comes down to, for me I think they had other priorities in their lives.
Joe's talked about it, Victor's talked about it... I think Bobby just sank his
own ship as far as being a real casualty of the drug scene. It sucks to say it,
but if you have to point a finger at why didn't this band make it... Hell, he
met Gene Simmons before Gene even took the makeup off! He was one of the elite
people to meet and sit down with Gene and Paul and talk about buying songs!
I don't know how much stock there is in this, but I've done
interviews with Bobby, and everyone knows that sometimes in music there are one
second deals that forge the entire course of music history. And the one story
that always stood out in MY mind was the opening for Blue Oyster Cult I believe
in 1974, and they had a falling out with management which resulted in Judas
Priest playing that show and signing to CBS Records. And the rest is like a
LOOONG fucking history. Just think the course of music history could have been
changed had Pentagram played that show.
You gotta be ready for it. You can never tell, hindsight's always 20/20, and at
the time Bobby's probably like "I'm not gonna sell 'Star Lady,' I'm not gonna
sell my songs to these fucking guys, who are they? I'm better than they are!"
Well, I support that, I mean he could have sold both of those songs
for 10 grand a piece, but he wouldn't have gotten any credit for writing those
songs! I respect him for sticking to his artistic integrity.
Well, I agree, that's a very respectable thing. But in hindsight, later on down
the road, he's broke! And he's like "Man, I wish I could sell those fucking
songs!" You never can tell what's gonna happen. The only thing you can do, and
this is in life, not just in music, but all you can do is be ready for every
opportunity that comes along, and don't cry foul if it goes against you.
Now I must say, I was very, VERY impressed to see some of your past
members. I am a HUGE Abdullah fan, and I was surprised to see that Jamie
Walters played drums for you guys!
He actually played drums on our very first demo. He was playing bass in a band
called Boulder, I funno if you're familiar with them or not.
Yeah, I've heard of Boulder, I'm not a big fan of their; I do know
who they are.
I can tell why you don't like them; it's the screamy vocals! (we both are
laughing). A lot of people get turned off by that, but to me it's like... I
just love that U.F.O. meets old Metallica wrestling in a Texas Death match
kind of thing with Motorhead. It's just a massive, powerful thing, and Jamie's
vocals never bothered me, and you had that guy just shredding these Schenker
leads all over the place! Just stunning! But I met Jamie when I lived in
Cleveland, and I was really trying to get the band off the ground back then. I
had only been playing for a few years and I wasn't exactly tearing it up as far
as recruiting members for the band. People at that point in time were not into
playing the kind of music I wanted to play. People would come over to the
house, or we'd get a rehearsal space, and they'd wanna jam fucking Kyuss songs
or whatever and I'm jamming 'Victims Of Changes.' It's like we were in two
completely different worlds. And Jamie is a music FREAK but he loves heavy
metal. And we got this guy who is a tripped out character to come in and play
bass for us.
Was that Dr. Phibes?
Yeah. He's just a piece of work character from Cleveland. He actually plays
in Jamie's new band Midnight. This is like classic... one part Motorhead, one
part Saxon. But it's like black metal. It's a really good band, an awesome
group! They have a couple of records I think on Nuclear War Now. We just laid
down the tracks in Jamie's basement one day, and put the vocals to it, and that
was the "Blood Encrusted Death Axe" demo! Those were fun days. But neither one
of those guys could commit to the band full time. He went on to play drums for
Abdullah a little bit later.
Finally, I wanted to ask about your first release "The Awakening,"
it's REALLY hard to get; is there any chance that will ever be reissued?
That's impossible to get. It was supposed to come out on a Chilean label, but
that guy dropped the ball in a terminal fashion. Right now it's still open for
licensing. We've severed ties with that guy down there. He basically paid for
new cover art for it, and we put the thing together; Iron Codex records out of
Germany did a vinyl imprint of it. This is after 6 months of no contact with
that dude, and we finally talked to him; he was all pissed off that we did this
vinyl issue with Iron Codex , but we told him, "You were like the grey ghost!"
So if you ever get your shit together and you wanna press this on CD... He's
actually got the video of our performance of Doom Shall Rise that's supposed to
be bonus footage for the disc! It's the lineup that did that record, and it's a
really good show if I do say so myself; we didn't fuck up too bad that night,
you know what I mean (we're both laughing here - Ed.) It's one of my proudest
moments. If he ever gets his shit together, there'll be a CD of it; but as far
as exclusivity goes, you can't do this, it's like we're trying to keep things
moving here; you gotta work out things with us.... I don't even think I have a
copy of the original pressing! And I'm not like that; I always give away like,
rehearsal demos of stuff I did. People are like "Hey I like your band, blah
blah blah," and I'm like, hey, here's some stuff... I figure I know how to play
the damn songs!!! (laughs).....
WRATH. Interview with Scott through Myspace...
The fourth and final interview with a band having it's roots in the 80's, Wrath
have always been a love it or hate it band, and mostly centering around the
vocals of one Gary Golwitzer, who DEFINITELY had a unique style on albums like
"Nothing To Fear" and "Fit Of Anger." They are currently working on new
material, and have recently welcomed Kurt Grayson back into the fold; this was
the man who sang on their last ever full length release "Insane Society" (not
to mention their self released EP in 2008). Read how it all started and where
the band is at now.
After listening to "Fit Of Anger," the debut album, and "Nothing To
Fear," it's obvious that your original lead singer changed his vocal style from
the first album to the next. What prompted the vocal style change; I know some
have said that they didn't prefer Gary's singing on "Nothing To Fear," but
personally I didn't have a problem with it. In fact, it made him rather unique!
I know that some songs on the debut album you could hear that singing style
start to surface.
Gary's vocal style started to change during our time we were playing live shows
promoting the first album. It wasn't intentional, and yes it was unique. We
believe it was one part of the band that Ronnie Montrose wanted to hear more of
when we signed on to do Nothing To Fear. As a band, we loved bands like Accept,
Krokus, and AD-Dc. The influence definitely derived from those vocalists.
Just out of curiosity, after 18 years you guys got back together
and did an EP. Was there ever any consideration for getting Gary back into the
band? Why did he leave the band after those first two albums; was it just over
a direction of the music?
We never seriously considered Gary for the reunion, because originally, Kurt
Grayson (Insane Society vocalist) was still in the band; he just lived in
Texas, where as we were in Illinois. We would bring in Kurt for occasional
shows, and it wasn't until late 2005 that we decided to just find someone here
who was fresh, could commit to regular shows, and would put a new face on the
band. Gary has not sung in any band I'm aware of in many years, so I'm not sure
if he would even be interested. Gary originally was asked to leave because we
felt the direction of what he was coming up with was not up to the standards we
had set for ourselves. Looking back, I think he was in a tough spot in his
personal life, and just was not 100% as we knew he could be. We are friends.
There's no hard feelings I'm aware of.
How do you feel about those earliest of albums? Personally, I found
"Nothing To Fear" a better album, but I still enjoy songs from "Fit Of Anger."
I unfortunately never got to hear later releases.
Nothing To Fear is looked at as our best album by many people. I personally
like the album, but it is not really a portrait of what we truly were even at
that time. In a way, we tried so hard to set ourselves apart: you have to
remember, this was the late eighties, there were hundreds of great bands out,
many who simply sounded the same. You had to really dig deep for something that
stood out or you got lost. This album was experimental, different than anything
we had ever done, and in many ways, an album we could never possibly repeat.
People have a weird love/hate thing for the vocals. We think it could have been
better with a bit more actual production on the vocals. Montrose was a musical
genius, and that shows, but I think the vocal production fell short... No fault
I would love to hear about your earliest of days. What bands did
you tour with and enjoy touring with? Tell us about some of your favorite
shows, and did you ever get the chance to play Europe at all?
Touring was fun. We played shows with Testament, Death, Overkill, Dr. Know,
Jackyl (then unknown), Pantera (then new), Biohazard (then unknown), and Raven.
There were many more, but you get the picture. We had the time of our lives
touring the states, but regrettably, never got a chance to tour the legendary
European metal stages.
You spent a bit of time on Medusa Records. Besides having a pretty
cool name for a label, can you tell us a bit about what your contract was like
and how long things lasted? You spent a bit more time on this label than most
80's metal bands spend on one label. How did it all fall apart?
Our contract was great with Medusa by today's standards. We got a great
recording budget, tour support, and promotion. Three albums worth. As a young
band, we were treated very well. Bands today just seem to have to record on
their own, then hustle a deal with someone who promises to distribute the album
worldwide; only to find out it's some kid working out of his basement, and it
ends up costing them money and they never get a chance to even tour. Things now
are different. We were fortunate to work with people who believed in what we
were doing. Medusa eventually folded because they failed to build upon the
momentum they started as a new label. There were some bad signings in their
later years, but we just signed at the right time.
What made you decide to reform Wrath again after so many years? And
how do you feel about the current resurgence of thrash metal, with bands like
Municipal Waste, Evile, newly reformed Onslaught, Warbringer and the like
currently touring and releasing albums?
Wrath reformed as a working band because we never really broke up. Some of us
left, returned, and such, but the nucleus of the band always stayed intact. We
are a working band again, because we enjoy doing this, we like each other (I
think!), and we still get off on playing and recording music. I think any band
that finds it's way back together currently is right on for doing it. Why not?
Bands like Testament, Exodus, Kreator, Warbringer, and many more are great
bands because they are doing it for the love of music. Period. It can't be for
the money, so it's gotta be the love!!!!
What were some of your favorite bands from the 80's? Did you ever
get into record collecting and checking out rare and obscure bands from around
the globe? How about fanzines and the whole demo tape trading thing?
We have a lot of favorite bands from the eighties. I personally remember
listening to bands like Anvil, Mercyful Fate, Saxon, Motorhead, Accept, Armored
Saint; and the other guys would probably include Suicidal, Sepultura, Slayer,
Anthrax, Laaz Rockit, Megadeth, and such. There were a lot of obscure bands
back then, but some have faded long ago. We did get into some fanzines. I
remember The Crucible, Metal Militia, and others; in fact, King Klassic, our
first label, started as Midwest Metal Militia, a fanzine Dennis and Phil had
started way back in like '83.
I'm assuming the reformed Wrath will be playing live gigs in the
near future. What sort of songs will you play live, and how does your current
vocalist handle the older stuff Gary used to sing?
As far as the live shows now, we are doing mostly "Insane Society" stuff and
new material due to the fact that it would be hard to do Gary's vocals. We are
thinking about bringing in a few oldies, though. 'Abuse It,' 'RIP,' and
'Mutants' have all come up in discussions. We'll see. We wanted to really
concentrate on John's vocals for the time because we were re-introducing
ourselves as new WRATH. We will see how thing shape up. Maybe a medley?
Did you ever get to check out Gary's other project Stygian? I
didn't get to hear it yet, but I heard it was heavier thrash; in fact it's
funny because on a song like 'Fanatics' from the first album, Gary does an
almost death metal style vocal pattern!
We heard Stygian when it was released, and we all thought it was very good. We
knew the early version of the band, and this was quite a change from that. Gary
added a vocal style that strangely ended up sounding unlike anything like
"Nothing To Fear." We recorded 'Fanatics' after "Nothing To Fear," and I guess
you could hear some of that style on the Stygian stuff. I recently heard some
of it on a web site, and it's quite good.
How do you feel metal will continue on in this day and age? Lots of
people are complaining that MP3 trading and filesharing is to be the demise of
the music business; did these people ALSO forget that demo tape trading was how
a lot of bands got their start?
I think the current state of the music business is in trouble not from file
sharing, but the repercussions of many, many, many, many years of the wrong
people getting rich from the blood, sweat, and tears of many bands whose music
was bled, and squeezed out to feed the money machine; and I think file sharing
is just a current way for people to get to hear cool new music they cannot find
at the corporate record store giants who have killed almost all of the small,
obscure, cool record stores. Another difference is back in the day, if you
forked over ten bucks for an album, you read the liner notes, you listened to
it start to finish for weeks, and you knew everything possible about the band,
plus you got killer album cover art work!! You were loyal to a band back then.
You would go to a show, and you would know all the lyrics, all the air guitar
moves, and you were in metal heaven!! Today, too many people want the flavor of
the month, and could care less about cover art. They have no clue what they are
missing out on!
Being from Chicago, were there any cool bands back in the 80's that
you associated with? Maybe there were some cool up and coming bands from the
area back then that we didn't hear about. What were shows and the scene like in
Chicago in the 80's?
Chicago had a scene in the eighties. Zoetrope, Mortar, Trouble, War Cry,
Tyrants Reign, Sharon Tate's Baby, Daggoth, Znowhite, Stonehenge, and many,
many more. Clubs like The Thirsty Whale, Exit, Medusa's, Chances R were all
havens for metal acts, and we had the pleasure of playing with all the bands
above. Some good people there. There were some assholes, but that was mostly
Finally, tell us about plans for a new record. Do you have any song
titles or lyrics available, anything you can tell us about work in progress...
As far as song titles and the such, our new EP features four killer new songs:
'What You Live For,' 'Fingers Up,' 'Another Day,' and 'Keep'Em In Line.' We
play all of these songs live, and they all go over great every night. There are
always songs in the works, but if I tell you, I'd have to kill you! Seriously,
if you'd like, send us an address, we will mail you a copy of the new EP on the
condition that you review it, and print that it's available through cdbaby.com,
itunes, amazon. com, and more. It's been a pleasure, hope all is well in your
world. Keep in touch!
This issue is, undoubtedly, extremely late. Almost 9 months too late, and an
issue that almost never happened. We witnessed the demise of Metal Maniacs
early this year, and of course many of our metal heroes have passed on, from
Bathory's Quorthon, Exodus' Paul Baloff, even the "mainstream" music world was
hit hard with the senseless shooting death of Dimebag Darrel from Pantera. On
top of that, the site itself kept getting corrupted with an iframe script that
seemed like it wouldn't go away and general exhaustion and depression left me
to consider pulling the plug on this long running project. On a positive note,
though (which is what I like to end on), Chromium Dioxide was FINALLY launched,
and of course the fact they chose me to interview for their very first issue
was touching and inspirational. SO, hopefully the next issue will be out a lot
sooner than this one was, and these long delays will never happen again.
HOPEFULLY... Being the operative word. In an age where record labels and bands
BOTH have had to rethink the whole business model, in a time when labels no
longer send out actual, physical CD"s to press, in an age where if you're not
Slayer, Metallica, or even Megadeth, you have a hard time playing shows and god
forbid the gas expenses, it's all seemingly going downhill. The economy tanked
here in the States, jobs and houses were hard to find, let alone hold on to,
but yet somehow the music still survived. Labels still released products, and
people still made a living. Happy times still found a way to break through the
madness. The overall positivity of the human race has yet to be decimated...
Keep that in mind. Some months later, and things are picking up again. We of
course are having to change our strategies for this new age, and hopefully we
will be able to keep running the radio shows and magazine. Our collaboration
with WREK FM here in Atlanta is an important one, especially since now I have
opportunities to actually man the board and dominate a portion of the night's
Special thanks go out to quite a few of you out there... A BIG horns and hails
to Dave Brenner, who is unquestionably and undoubtedly the HARDEST working PR
guy in the music business; this guy handles about 14 or 15 different labels!!
Thanks to labels like I Hate, Solitude Productions, Northern Silence
Productions, My Graveyard Productions, Black Widow Records, Firebox Records,
Undercover Records and many many others who spend enormous amounts of postage
to make sure I get actual CD's to review and play in the magazine. Thanks also
to the crews at Candlelight U.S., Napalm Records, Metal Blade, Prosthetic
Records, and the rest of the stateside crew for their help and support, and
last but certainly not least, to Jodi Davis and April Smith, two of the most
important women in my life for standing by me, believing in me and helping me
to forge ahead with my ideas and dreams. Until next issue, always try and stay
positive and focused, and don't be afraid when someone kicks the ladder out
from under you, because there's ALWAYS another path to the top....
Now, CLICK HERE to return to the homepage!!!