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REVIEWS: Ad Patres (France), Aum (China), Bane (Serbia), Circle II Circle (U.S.), Ensiferum (Finland), Execration (U.S.), Frosthelm (U.S.), The Gates of Slumber (U.S.), GRAI (Russia), Holy Grail (U.S.), Katana (Sweden), NettleCarrier (Norway), Nominon (Sweden), Obscenity (Germany), Offending (France), Offensor (Peru), Phobia (U.S.), Tsar Bomb (Spain), Vomitchapel (U.S.), Waylander (Northern Ireland), Zonaria (Sweden), Züül (U.S.)
Metal Bulletin zine #34
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email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.metalbulletin.blogspot.com www.myspace.com/themetalbulletin history of Metal Bulletin zine Issue 1 to 20: (2006-2009): Wisconsin Issue 21 to 26: (2009-2010): Texas Issue 27 (2010) - present; Washington State -metal on the radio/internet (Pacific Time) Metal Shop (Seattle, WA): Saturday 11pm-3am KISW 99.9fm www.kisw.com FOUR ridiculous hours of the heavy stuff! Sweet Nightmares (Houston, TX): Thursday night 9pm-midnight KPFT 90.1 fm www.kpft.org Bill The Master and his pirates take over Texas!
at lightning speed. Is there more freedom to play this way? We have started rehearsing more or less all songs just by playing bass and drums. After we set a foundation we added guitars, harmonies and vocals. I, for one, am very pleased with playing a bit slower which gives me a bit more room to add some bass lines. Since I was in charge of recording I was very keen on getting the bass up front as well as the drums. A lot of new doom records have extremely high guitars and bass and drums are very low. I think it should sound like a real band playing. Void Moon sometimes does not do guitar solos, and I have noticed that Void Moon has found another method of doing things: You do slow, simple melodies that are very memorable. Have I discovered the secret ingredient of Void Moon?! Tell us about that wonderful melody on “Cyclops” at about 1:30-2:00. Who came up with that melody, both Jonas and Erika? It is such a good melancholic melody. “Among the Dying” is depressively good song. At about 1:12-1:35 there it is again, the Void Moon secret ingredient for melancholic melody of doom. I notice that Erika is also in Cult of the Fox, a traditional heavy metal band? Yes, I think you stumbled in on our secret! Just don’t tell anybody! Since the band started without a lead guitarist we developed a solo-less sound I think (there are a few solos though). Doing short melodies is often more effective than a solo. I can’t remember who came up with the idea in “Cyclops,” but at first it was only one guitar playing. When both Jonas and Erika rehearsed it they both played that part with some variations. It sounded great and we worked how the melodies should fit together and then we kept it! Erika is, besides a good lead guitarist, excellent when it comes to melodies and harmonies. Yes, both Erika and I play in Cult of the Fox. You can hear a lot of her melodies on the coming COTF-record (out in early 2013). For you to play doom metal, what are the bands that convinced Void Moon to go for it and play doom? Do you like New Wave of British Heavy Metal doom bands like Witchfinder General or Pagan Altar? What about lesserknown Swedish bands like Stillborn from the 90s? I imagine you will be asked a million times about Candlemass. The sound of Void Moon actually came from the songs I was putting together in the beginning of the band (I’m a lazy player so I play slow). We didn’t have a fixed agenda, it is just how it happened. We couldn’t name the band until we had a few songs to know what band name would fit the music! I’m a huge fan of Pagan Altar and it was great to be able to be on the same festival as they last year at Malta Doom Metal Festival. I really enjoy Witchfinder General as well, all the classic stuff! One of my favorite NWBHM-bands is Satanic Rites, but they are not so much doom. Great that you mention Stillborn! We have actually been discussing cover songs and one candidate is “I, the Stillborn” from “Necrospirituals” (album)! We do not mind being compared to Candlemass, it is just a great honour that people think of them when they hear our music. They have influenced us both directly (like what would Leif do?) and indirectly growing up with their music. Have you considered that the legends of doom metal (Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Trouble, etc.) are now old/soon retiring, and that at some point here in the next 10-15 years, a band like Void Moon can actually be one of the top bands of
Void Moon (Sweden)
Reading reviews of Void Moon on Blabbermouth [calls the band “sloppy” and “messy”] and on Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles [says the band’s problem is “rawness” and the non“modern” production], makes me wonder if they listened to the album hurriedly to write the review. I like to give albums proper listens, be it 4 or 6 or however many, until I think I get it, and then decide how to approach the review. Void Moon is a doom metal band that plays midtempo and slow songs, with clean vocals, in the traditional doom metal sense, with a non-clicky production. Their album “On the Blackest of Nights” is melodic, melancholic honest-to-goodness doom metal. “Sloppy”? No way! “Sloppy” makes me think of some crust punk garage black death metal recordings (many of which are awesome!). I find Void Moon’s album to be fun, in a doommiserable way, and well done and I have certainly enjoyed it. As with most doom, it does take a few listens to understand the vibe, but it’s a rewarding experience. Maybe it’s time you checked them out yourself, starting with this interview, answered by Peter (bass). -According to Metal Archives, some of you have played in death or thrash bands, like Indemnity. Was it strange to get used to playing midtempo/slow? Was it difficult to convince Jonas Gustavsson to sing in a clear voice? We have all played in a lot of different bands, heavy, thrash, black, death, doom. Haha, I think especially Thomas (drums) needed some time to adjust to the tempos. He is a very skilled drummer and he loves to play fast, but he also understands that sometimes for the good of the songs he has to play slow and simple. I think we have managed a pretty good mix on the album, there are some intense drum patterns as well as some really simple ones. As for Jonas’s clean singing, he has mostly sung in a clean voice before so there wasn’t an issue really. His main focus is melodies and I’m impressed how he changed some songs just by adding a little melody to some passages. Question for Thomas Hedlund and Peter Svensson, your rhythm section. Void Moon made me think about the fact that I can hear the bass, and also that drummer is not playing
traditional doom metal? Your time is coming! Yeah, that would be great! Not that they are retiring, but to get Void Moon up in the league of legends (of course, we know that we never can match those bands really, but it’s a very nice dream!). Hopefully, by that time we have put out a couple of albums and made a good name for us in the world of metal! Our goal now is just to put out music and play as many shows as possible! How can people get in contact with you and your music and shirts? Maybe Void Moon fans can start a petition to get your band to play Wacken or Sweden Rock? Thanks for the great interview! You can find all our merchandise (T-shirts, patches, cds and 7’) at our website www.void-moon.com or just e-mail us at email@example.com. We also have facebook and myspace. All tracks from the album are available at youtube, channel “mournblade666”. We hope that the word gets around so we can play at lot of gigs in the future. For us it doesn’t matter if it’s Wacken or the local pub, anywhere people want a dose of Epic Doom Metal we’ll be there!!!! THE END. —
one of our favorite places to play (not just because it's our hometown!), but this way, we will always have something new to offer our fans there. We'd love to play Oshkosh and Oconomowoc! The last time we played up in that area was at Arbor's release show of The Plutonian Shore in Green Bay. It was a fantastic show and the crowd ruled. Did “Farewell” (about 11 minutes) have the same process of composing as the other songs? Did you write at home, together in rehearsal? Do you get together to play and write or only get together to rehearse a full song? “Farewell” did have a similar process of composing as the other songs on WFLU, but unlike the other songs, Joe had written more or less all of it before showing it to us. From there, we changed and wrote more, which really just amounted to telling Joe to do such, and thus creating what is now “Farewell.” Typically, our writing process is each one of us coming up with sections of song ideas and transcribing them onto a program (we use TuxGuitar, which is the freeware version of Guitar Pro) before putting them up online for everyone to listen to. We do that so anyone can alter and add whatever they come up with and see where it goes from there and, more importantly, have total control of what is played in the song and have an idea of the final product. After probably months of reiteration, we have a more or less complete song and will finally rehearse it together, further tweaking and refining the song. “Frost upon the Embers,” like your other songs, has what appears to be acoustic guitars? Are those acoustic guitars? Now, what about the symphonic sounds, how do you come up with that, studio samples, keyboards, etc.? I’m thinking that “Embers upon the Frost” is your best song, and then I listen to “Vengeance Pact” and I change my mind. Then again, “Shackles through Sand” and its melodies is pretty darn good, too. The reviews on Warseid have been positive, but did you have an inkling that you had done something this good? It's a classical acoustic guitar with nylon strings. Our former lead guitarist, that recorded “Fate” with us, is majoring in guitar and has become a very good classical guitarist. The symphonic sounds were programmed by Joe. And thank you for the kind words! I know that we were thinking that what we wrote for WFLU was the best we have written, but we certainly did not expect the amount of great reviews that we have received so far. It's really encouraging to read that so many people have enjoyed what we have created. I think it's more that the reviewers are surprised that our kind of music has come out of the US than anything. But even still, I think Wisconsin is more known for death metal (Putrid Pile) and melodic death (Luna Mortis) than other metal genres. How do you balance having a good sound and too much studio “magic”? If a band uses triggers, sound replacement and things like that, is it almost like using a drum machine? Are we hearing what the person played, or are we hearing not the drums (the snare, the double bass, etc.), not the sound of the drums recorded, but rather the sounds of a
Given that Warseid (Madison, Wisconsin) works with longer song structures, those who are appreciative of bands on the more brainy side of metal should find in Warseid several aspects to delve into. The progressive melodic dark symphonic metal found on “Where Fate Lies Unbound” presents a treat for the patient ear willing to find out what the musical journey entails. Sounding black metal at times, and folky at others, frequently melodic, with both harsh and clean vocals, Warseid has made an effort to produce something to be proud of, and it shows. For example, “Farewell” is 11 minutes long, so there is a lot room to explore for the listener. It is not really the type of song that can be absorbed well with the first listen, of course. For this reason, it is true that Warseid requires a bit of a patient listener, and that patience is rewarded later, with repeated listens. Warseid is not a fast food hamburger, after all. Kyle (bass) answers some questions here. Check out www.facebook.com/Warseid and Warseid.bandcamp.com -Your recording “Where Fates Lies Unbound” seems to have surprised some reviewers, who did not expect the good quality. Actually, you have four recordings so far, correct? What type of activities have you been doing since you published “Where Fate Lies Unbound”? How often do you play Madison, Wisconsin? What about Oshkosh and Oconomowoc?!! Oconomowoc needs to rock, too!! We do indeed have four releases: two demos and two EPs. The two demos were us experimenting and trying to find our sound and the prior EP was a collection of what we felt was our best songs from those two demos plus a few new songs. It wasn't until “Where Fate Lies Unbound,” however, that we found what is our niche in the metal world. Since releasing Fate, we've been trying to push out of Wisconsin and into different regions in the Midwest between our terms at college. We really do enjoy playing live, most especially for new audiences. We only play Madison once every six months or so because of school being as it is and that we travel a lot to play. Don't get me wrong, Madison is
computer program? How does Warseid view these matters of technology and ethics? Some big names in metal have used drum machines and claim that it is a real person playing drums. That's a great question. I'm actually not sure how to answer it that well. I mean, we polished the hell out of the tracks as best we could, but we do what we can to show what we can do sans "studio magic." I don't think using programs that do sound replacement for find are like using a drum machine. The drummer still played the part, still their skill, but it may not have had the best sounding kick or whatever, so the sound is replaced so that it sounds better/can be heard. We view a lot of these things as tools. We use drum machine for when we record demos for ourselves and it's much easier than going through the hassle of recording drums (which really is a pain haha) and we also use plug-ins and emulated symphonies for our recordings. I really don't think it's that much of an issue to use these tools that are available to musicians. THE END. --
Did Tak (bass) and Wai (guitars) start Cadaver in 2003? But Jason (guitars) and Sham (vocals) joined in 2009? Does Cadaver have demos from 2003-2005? Were Jason and Sham in other death metal bands in 2003? And your drummer Wil joined the band in 2011? Yes, Tak and Wai, are the only founding members left in the band now. They started the band back in 2003. I joined the band in late 2009, and at that time Tak’s brother Ming, also a founding member, was on bass and vocals. The four of us did a local metal festival in mid 2011 and Ming left the band shortly after that. By the end of the year Sean Sham and Wil Ho joined the band. There weren't any recorded demos between 2003-2005, but there is a DVD of the 2005 Cadaver playing at another local metal festival. Sham, Wil and myself were in various bands before Cadaver and I can say that we are all putting in the most effort into this band compared to our previous ones. Are your lyrics and vocals in Cantonese? On Metal Archives, it seems like your demo has three songs in Cantonese and two songs in English? Out of the five completed demos, two of them are in English, and the rest are in Mandarin. “Manslaughter” and “Moment of Massacre” were being written during the time Wil and Sham joined. At that time we hadn’t decided Mandarin lyrics was the way to go for us so these two songs were done in English. For the up-coming EP we will have “Moment of Massacre” recorded in Mandarin to match the rest of the songs. So when we wrote as a group of five, we decided to stick to Mandarin as it is easier for us to express ourselves in our mother language. We also think that Mandarin sounds more brutal because of the language’s tone and pronunciation, and that each syllable is one Chinese character gives that uniqueness compared to a set of English lyrics. The Mandarin songs are mainly about the existence and value of life. We try to pick a topic of value and metaphorize it into an issue that is commonly experienced in life. For example, we have a song titled “Poh Yung” (roughly translates to Emerge from a Pupa), we used the image of an ancient Chinese torture to metaphorize the renewal of a man that was once in greater pain than the torture itself. Normally, we throw ideas around within ourselves and when we decide on one particular theme, we will let Sham write the lyrics on his own. Some people have described your music as New York-style brutal death metal, like Suffocation, Incantation, Mortician, Immolation and Cannibal Corpse. What attracted you to playing this type of music? These are certainly bands that we look up to. Personally, it is the technicality and the sonic power of this style of music that really makes me obsessed. What really fascinates me, as a guitar player, is that a guitar can be used to play the most brutal riffs, or the tenderest melodies. This really made me want to explore the vastness of guitar based music and the deeper I dug the more extreme the bands I discovered. My taste of metal developed quite gradually. We all had our days listening to Metallica, then you would discover Pantera, Slayer, then came Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation. I remember the first time I heard “Hammer Smashed Face” I was like, what the fuck is this, but in a good way. Cannibal Corpse really
To-the-point brutal death metal is what Cadaver delivers! For those times when you want the music to get you going, that’s when Cadaver sounds on. In this interview, Jason (guitars) explains the origins of their heavy sound, their interpretation of brutal death metal, and several other happenings in their camp. Obviously, they are doing more than a few things right. In addition, they have some pretty cool plans coming up, as Jason reveals. -Hello, Jason! How are you? I heard Cadaver’s demo and I wanted to find out more. What’s going on at the present? Hey, first of all, thank you for approaching us for the interview! Currently, we are tracking guitars, bass and vocals (drum parts have been completed) for our self-produced EP which is scheduled to complete by around February or March 2013. Over the past few months we were featured on an online radio show that focuses on the underground music scene of Hong Kong, played at a metal festival locally, and featured on overseas web radio shows. And as for band merchandise, we are collaborating with a local illustrator (Tam Kwok Lun Illustrations) for band shirts, and the first design has been released and sold out, so a new design should be on its way out soon. What kind of challenges and opportunities does Cadaver as a metal band confront in Hong Kong? Hong Kong is a small city, and also one of the densest cities in the world. In my opinion, this poses two contrasting issues. First is that, we are not able to play as often as we would like to as Hong Kong is small enough for everyone who is into metal to attend a metal show, it wouldn't make sense for someone to turn up to see us, or any other band, say once a month. Unlike, say US, or EU, where cities are spanned out further apart, it makes sense for the bands to travel around for the audience, therefore more show opportunities. On the contrary, because Hong Kong is such a dense city, a band can promote themselves rather quickly. With social mediums like Facebook and YouTube, news can spread very quickly.
made me dig deeper and deeper into the roam of extreme and death metal. We don’t limit ourselves to the genre of metal or music in general that we listen to, what sounds good is good! Within the band, we spin all types of music: Pop, electronic, core, metal, jazz, fusion, whatever you show us, we will listen to it and enjoy it. There are some bands that inspire and influence Cadaver’s music and to name a few, Pantera, Decapitated, Cannibal Corpse, Gojira, Defeated Sanity, Spawn of Possession and Suffocation. What is the best way to contact you? The quickest and easiest way is to connect with us via our Facebook. We also have a YouTube channel where we upload footage of any writing or recording progress. And you can download all of our demo recordings for free on our Soundcloud. Once again, thank you for your approach and it has been a pleasure doing this interview! https://www.facebook.com/CadaverHongKong http://www.youtube.com/CadaverHK http://soundcloud.com/cadaverhk Jason THE END. --
started with nothing except some music and a rough concept and not a clue how to get this thing off the ground. We made a lot of mistakes, nearly bankrupt ourselves and had a few nervous breakdowns, but ultimately we made something great. I think the show we just finished up at the Historic Everett marks the pinnacle of our achievements thus far. Everything came together in a huge way. I was proud of our previous shows, but they don't come close to comparing to where we're at now. About the album and band. You recorded the album in 2010, correct? Do you have planned other music? I realize that recording music is a thankless task because of illegal downloading. Can you please explain a little about the members of the band? Originally, whose idea was this? Randy: We did put a version of Aeterno Elementum out in 2010, yes, but we have done a complete re-recording of that album to bring it up to date with what we do in the theatre so it has four new songs, some other extended items, the addition of the choir, and updated production. It was looking like we would be able to have it out for the last shows, but we ran in to some unfortunate snags in the production so it looks like it'll probably be ready for the shows we've got in February. Jeremiah: As for the topic of piracy and illegal downloading, it's not something that really has us concerned. If people are downloading your album for free, chances are they wouldn't be spending money on it anyway. I think most people want to support artists they really like, particularly ones that aren't on a major label. Sure, I'd love to get paid for my art, but I would rather get my music into people's hands so they can listen to it and spread the word, and possibly come to a show. Keeping a tight rein on your music just means that a lot of potential fans aren't hearing it. We've already got a story for the next show/album mostly fleshed out and scripted. I'm working on composing the music now and I'd say it's about a third completed. You'll be able to hear some of these new pieces at our Laser Dome show in February. The new music is very much in the symphonic metal vein and we're hoping to incorporate a larger string section, in addition to keeping and expanding our operatic and choral offerings. I founded Ara'Kus in 2001 as 5 piece metal band. I'm currently the only original member, though Jeremy and Randy and Rachel have been in for quite a few years now too and are pretty integral. Randy had the initial suggestion that we break out of the typical bar scene, which we'd never really fit into anyway, and try to do something that didn't involve dependence on booking agents, club owners or record labels, something where we had full control of our performance and our success or failure was ours alone. With that freedom, the natural theatrical inclination of the band drove us towards a bigger and bigger production, until before long we were putting on a full fledged opera. As far as our musicians go, they're all pretty much world class, in my opinion. Some of our music is very complicated, and so our standards are very high. Aside from that, just like everyone in our crew, they're amazing people and I consider them part of my extended family. It occurs to me that all the women in the play are only victims of murder and violence. Why are there no women with
Ara’Kus is a heavy metal opera, theater, with actors and a story to tell, with heavy metal music. When I went to see the production in November 2012, I was impressed with their dedication and work. Not knowing about Ara’Kus until shortly before the performance itself, it was a bit of a shock to learn that Ara’Kus it based out of western Washington state, right in my neck of the woods. If you are curious about the “heavy metal opera,” then do yourself a favor and take the time search out Ara’Kus. I’m certainly glad I did. Randy (guitars and vocals) and Jeremiah (vocals and guitars) reveal their heavy metal opera in this interview. FYI. They will do a performance at the Seattle Center Laser Dome on February 19th, dubbed 'Laser Ara'Kus Live': “It’s the band and chorus performing a selection of songs from Aeterno Elementum and some yet unheard pieces from the new show while the laser artists create a visual tapestry above us, helping to tell the story.” Ara’Kus will be a featured artist at the Seattle based horror convention, Crypticon 2013 May 24th 26th www.crypticonseattle.com -I recently saw your performance in Everett, Washington. However, Ara’kus really is a theatrical performance better experienced live. Where have you staged your production? I just found out about you very recently before the show. Randy: First, we're glad you found us! We're always glad to have new fans. Since we made the change from bar band to theatrical production we've only played in Everett and Seattle. The Historic Everett Theatre has kind of become a home base for us, and we played at the Broadway Performance Hall about a year ago for the first time. We'd love to expand our geographic area, but even going as far as Portland is really hard considering the size of our set, the number of people we have, and the amount of equipment it takes to do the show. Jeremiah: Our last two performances at the Broadway Performance Hall and the Historic Everett Theatre were groundbreaking for us. Believe it or not, three years ago we
speaking parts? You do have a witch, but that’s a stereotypical role, correct? The opera could use more women’s participation, since in the world of your opera that you have created, there are, in fact, many women, but they are all silenced. Have you noticed this problem? Randy: I find this question very interesting. We have been asked many times about the religious and anti-religious aspects of our production, but this is the first time that the subject of sexism has been brought to my attention. Let me assure you that the question does not offend me. I am, however, concerned because if you have thought these things, then other people probably have as well. I'll start with the speaking roles question. There was a time that the demoness did have a speech, but it just didn't really work well. Her character seems to work better, at least in my opinion, without speaking. She doesn't need to tell us what she is, she shows us, and I think that both Asraiya Deyo and Carrole Johnson, the two women who have filled the role, have done an excellent job of this. When she had a speech it seemed that it diminished the mystery and the power of the character. The story is narrated from the perspective of the priest and the four generals of the conquering armies. It is pretty common for these to be male roles. There certainly is no reason that there could not be a female general, but when you audition for a character to be a general, you don't typically get any females to try out for it. And if the role of priest were made in to that of a priestess it would throw the balance out of the interaction with the demoness. In fact, when the story was originally conceived, long before it was made into a stage production the demoness was male and we changed it because we felt that a female in this role would be more powerful and effective. Another way of looking at this is to look at the actual band. Vivian Lee, our lead soprano is, in many ways, the voice of the demoness. Plus Lauren “Razz” Palumbi, our violinist, takes a very front role, right up with the guitarists and vocalists, while John Perlic, our cellist remains static in the back throughout the show. As for the violence, yes, all of the women are killed, but, so are all of the men. That one is pretty across the board. In the song Conquered, the final scene, there are women fighting along side and against the men. Women kill men, men kill women. Everybody dies. At the end of the show there are only two people left alive. One male, one female, one elderly, one child, one destroyed, one innocent. Absolute yin and yang. Jeremiah: I want to assure you that there was no purposeful sexist agenda or intent on our part. As with Randy, this is the first time I've heard a reference to that subject. About half our cast and crew is comprised of very strong, artistic women. The co-lead character, The Demoness, is probably the most iconic, powerful, awe inspiring and prominent figure in the whole show. It was a very intentional decision to not have her speak. We tried it once and it dramatically diminished the mystery and allure to her character. We have only 6 speaking roles in the whole show, the Priest, the four generals and the Arch Bishop, and you are correct, none of those roles are women. The presence or lack of dialogue does not make the character more or less important to the story as a whole,
however. Dialogue is very minimal in this show, with the exception of the Priest, who serves as narrator. How can people support Ara’kus? Jeremiah: The first and best way you can support Ara'Kus (short of coming to the shows) is to come over to our FaceBook page and participate there (www.FaceBook.com/ArakusProductions). Our FaceBook admin, Mistress Von Gearmaster, loves conversing with new fans, as do the members of the cast and crew. We'll be putting up some new merchandise items soon, including CD's and t-shirts, so keep an eye on both the FaceBook page and our website at www.HeavyMetalOpera.com. The other thing you can do is help us to spread the word! Talk to you friends about these shows and the music. We're completely local and self funded, so we're entirely dependent on fans support to help us continue doing what we do. Randy: And if you can't come see us because you live outside of the Seattle area then do this for me, go support one of your local artists, because no matter where you are there are some great bands there. THE END. --
Ad Patres is a very competent band at precision and technicality in their low-growl death metal. There are headbanging riffs, catchy guitar solos here and there, and generally a band doing “modern death metal” skillfully. It is beautiful and fun, in particular, for the total “brutal death metal maniac” that listens to 7 to 20 death metal albums every day. Boy oh boy, do they know how to make a racket. You will love it! www.adpatres.net
Aum’s rabies-infested fugly of minimalistic black metal raises a nasty, necrotizing proposition for the enthusiast. Blazing speed, choking vocals, tremolo guitar, such as on “Temple,” the first track here: awesome energy, at one point, the vocalist sounds like he is coughing his lungs out, and it is hilariously evil funny. The coughing is a genius move. Oh, wait a minute! I just received an “electronic mail” from Darkthrone telling me that Aum is too black metal for them. Darkthrone is going keep playing punk rock instead, because they can’t hang with this. That sounds about right. To hang with Aum, you have to like ferocious, barebones black metal recorded in a cave. It is rough on the ears, just like the doctor ordered. “Place of the Skull” drives some catchy riffs, covered in a nice sheet of battery acid. On the other hand, “The Forge of Zurvan” is more than 8 minutes long and in it, Aum plays fast, slow and everything in between, including adding a tiny bit of melody served with a gallon of salt. It’s just Aum being Aum. Aum is doing something right with their black metal! They also have a 16-minute song called “Aum (Acolytes to Eldritch Dimensions)” and I’m still not sure what’s up with that track because it is trippy, spaced out number. Just you wait, Aum will set the black metal fire to the Chinese black metal fanatics. Bring it. www.facebook.com/aumofficial
(Le Crépuscule du Soir)
It would seem, that Bane loves the album “Storm of the Light’s Bane” by Dissection. Is Bane a baby Dissection? Oh, and how! Bane’s metal of death succeeds at warp speed blasting, and huge riffs that lift sleepy heads out of stupor and into motion. The strong dose of spiraling riffs, that re-work and rewind, frame songs as intense, as they are memorable and melodic. The blazing speed does allow the listener to see what Bane does, even hearing the acoustic or clean guitar parts, the guitar layers. One listen, bam!, hooked, for Dissection fanatics. www.baneband.com
The Acausal Fire
(U.S.): (Comatose Music)
The Acceptance of Zero Existence
Circle II Circle (U.S.): Seasons Will Fall
I did not like this album at first, and I wrote a draft of the review: “Circle II Circle lacks not talent nor quality production. What I do not like is the absence of the metal fire. They’re an able bunch, with the former Savatage vocalist Zak Stevens. For me, what doesn’t work is the laid-back, elevator metal. The drummer (drum machine?) sounds like he plays these songs with one hand, and eats a sandwich at the same time with his other hand. The pace is just slow and midtempo.” Then, I changed my mind. I adjusted to the slower pace after several listens. Therefore, if you listen to a lot of fast metal, just remember to switch your brain to a slower mode. The album is mellow, in the style of adult contemporary metal, and offends no one at the office (or at church). This is a bunch of middle-aged metal dudes that sound like a metal version of Journey, Matchbox 20, Boston, Heart or Rush. Great, wonderful, excellent music, and not only for the suit-and-tie, office-worker and parent-with-three-children in you; and if you are below 25 years of age, just be patient and give it time. I feel so “grown up.” I actually listened to this enough times to understand it. Am I an adult now? www.circle2circle.net
Through their total blasting, Execration sounds like they want to set fire to the idols of death metal like Krisiun and Hate Eternal. I noticed one interesting about Execration: it sounds like they use the tremolo guitar work, along with the more familiar death metal guitar riffs, so this music has a feel that is more specific to this band. Good. Next time, though, I do hope the sound quality is better because it sounds a bit muddy, I think. Anyway, go to Execration for frenzy and intensity, and give them a chance. Maybe the next album really will be a homerun. www.reverbnation.com/execrationbrutality
Frosthelm (U.S.): The Northwinds Rend Flesh
On this 4-song EP, Frosthelm positively shines and is outstanding. The songs are about 3 minutes long, and are lean, action-packed firecrackers; less than 12 minutes total time. The details: Frosthelm plays huge, hot thrashing riffs (think Immortal/Slayer), spices up the songs with licks, tremolo picking and a bit of melody in the soloing, like on the title track. “Goblindriver” (2:35) has immense, sharp thrash riffs, a quick shot of melody, blasting and brain-twisting black metal vocals. Speaking of throat destruction, “Reaping the Seeds of Corruption” uses both death and black metal vocals, but the black metal moments deserve special mention for being some of the most evil Donald Duck gremlin vocals. Awesome little EP; how are they going to top this?! What an opportunity for them to prove this was no fluke! www.reverbnation.com/frosthelm
The Gates of Slumber (U.S.): The Awakening (Abyss R.)
Ensiferum’s folk viking melodic metal is so contagious that you need exactly one listen to remember it. The first proper song “In My Sword I Trust” has everyone in Finland singing along already. Finland sent me a Morse code message and said, “It’s about time you understood.” From that first song, it’s up, up, and away we go into the realm of happy melodies and catchy tunes about swords, kings, heroes, queens and other newsworthy, current political problems of the Middle Ages. Semi-harsh (but nice) vocals and clean singing are thrown in all over the place. The melodies are sweet and sugary and the beats are friendly to the ear. The songs from this album make children, teenagers, adults and elderly people happy, so happy, so very happy. Heavy as a feather, and offensive as a puppy, Ensiferum are shamelessly melodic and catchy. www.ensiferum.com
This is a reissue of the 2004 album, which I never got to hear, actually. Metal hippies that they are, The Gates of Slumber sounds like the albums they love “Master of Reality” and “Volume 4” by Black Sabbath, and the slow-motion crawling riffs of doom, the stoner-rock vocals (a bit hippy Ozzy-ish, of course), the steady-beat drumming and 70s vibe. During the guitar solos, one clearly hears the “hole” in the song: the drums and bass take to the forefront, while the guitar noodling is taking place. How’s that for 70s style?! Sometimes the pace might pick up to an uptempo beat, but by and large the rhythm is slow or midpaced, where the riffs take center stage. The heaviness is in abundance, and the melody is kept restrained, to maintain a somewhat rougher, stoner-rock doom metal feel. This one’s for doomsters, 70s/classic rock enthusiasts, Black Sabbath/Saint Vitus/Cirith Ungol fans, and for those into stoner rock. www.slumberingsouls.com
GRAI (Russia): O Zemle Rodnoy (Vic Records)
GRAI plays a particularly catchy style of folky Oktoberfest beer hall music. The upbeat drumming (energized with double-bass in places), the constant quantity of the flute and Irina’s very clean singing makes all their songs instantly likable. GRAI has the potential to appeal to a very broad audience because it is light and upbeat and happy folky
stuff. Irina’s singing style is a pleasant melodic voice that is not too high, but very melodic. For the most part, it is not that super high Nightwish style, but more like a person singing in her own natural voice, and only on occasion going for the higher register, like on “Zimnaya Skazka (A Winter Tale).” The band utilizes the growl voice sparingly, so it is mostly a clean-singing band, with some moments of growling. This is a good decision on their part because, to these ears, the growling does not particularly fit this style of light, poppy and folk-dancy songs. I would imagine that this band will be huge in Europe, with those audiences that eat up the folky stuff, given that every song sounds like a “hit,” starting with “Pshenychnaya (The Wheat Song)” and “Pesn O Zemle Rodnoy (About Our Native Land).” The songs are not too long and vary between 3 and 5 minutes, with some going a bit longer or shorter. Investigate if you like folksy, happy songs. You will be very impressed with the vibe of the band. www.vicrecords.com
NettleCarrier (Norway): NettleCarrier (Indie Recordings)
Darkthrone’s “Transylvanian Hunger” + Satyricon’s “Now, Diabolical” = NettleCarrier. That’s what I hear, at any rate. The main words associated with black metal: tremolo riffs like there’s no tomorrow, coldness and grimness, the viciousness of the vocals—it’s all here. NettleCarrier takes the listener through the songs in which tremolo riffing rules. After a few listens the waves of tremolo picking begin to build the monuments to black metal that they are. Once they start to make sense, it turns out that it is headbanging metal music, played very well in the style of classic Norwegian black metal. Sure, there is a great 90s spirit throughout the album, and NettleCarrier excels at what they do. Of course, NettleCarrier would have to be huge fans of classic 90s black metal. If you are too, then NettleCarrier is definitely for you. www.facebook.com/Nettlecarrier.satan
Holy Grail (U.S.): Ride the Void
Nominon (Sweden): The Cleansing (Deathgasm Records)
Finally! Holy guacamole, Holy Grail, I have been reading about this band for a while, that they have a single out, that a new album was on the way, blah, blah….But where is it? And here it is, and it is much, much better than my expectations. I expected a solid, rocking heavy metal album, and instead got an 11-song album (with 2 brief intro/interludes), with the heart of a lion. Holy Grail is traditional heavy metal. The riffs march forward, like magnets for metalheads, song-centered drumming with an extra punch of energy, and heavy-metal-to-the-bone choruses that take exactly one listen to land and make contact. Some interesting details: the band uses the occasional growled part. That, along with the heavier guitar tone, suggests that the band has listened to some heavier music, and has incorporated a bit of that heaviness. In turn, this contrasts very nicely with the melodic guitar soloing and harmonies. www.holygrailofficial.com
Katana loves old, traditional heavy metal, the style of bands of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, like Raven and Angel Witch. The singer goes for the high notes a lot to emphasize the end of the verse, line or chorus. This is air raid siren heavy metal, without apologies. If you listen to a lot of traditional heavy metal, the songs will sound familiar to your subconscious. These songs are made especially for you. Segments or brief parts will remind you of Saxon, Iron Maiden, Accept, Judas Priest, Scorpions and those beloved bands from the NWOBHM. Really, you can’t fault Katana for playing what they love. Some people might complain about the high vocals or that this is not “original.” Cynics will be cynics. Good for Katana for playing what they like. They will be better in the future, sound more Katana-ish, but right now they do a competent job of rocking out. This is all the more reason for the band to keep at it undeterred. www.reverbnation.com/Katana
Storms of War
In the world of the martial arts of metal, Nominon have been steadily working towards a black belt in death metal, since their 1993 demo. Is this band the champions of rotten death metal in Sweden? Nominon keeps making slight changes to their putrid death metal, and now on “The Cleansing” they have tightened up the bolts and screws, and can take on all maggot-infested death metal lunatics everywhere. What a nasty little ditty this is, I tell you. The drumming is ridiculously blasting, the guitars just pile riff after riff of carpeltunnel-inducing speed. If you think about the riffs too much you might get arthritis. The vocalist follows the furious pace and manages to make everything more rotten. As Nominon has reached master-level craftsmanship in death metal, they have opted to bring an ever-sobalanced amount of memorability in the songs. This decision has been a good one because Nominon has become a force in death metal. Entombed was great, but that was a long time ago. Dismember is gone. Death metal moves on regardless. Here we are, 2013. Nominon is a bad, bad band. Little old Nominon has become a beast. Sweden already knows. The coffins are ready. www.nominon.com
Obscenity (Germany): Atrophied in Anguish
Obscenity is the kind of death metal band that simply succeeds at everything they do on the album. The songs have a tight coherence, and are compact (often last 3 minutes and 30 seconds, more or less), waste no time, and for that reason, they grab the ears quickly. There are ten songs, and each of them functions within a frame of memorable intensity, frequent use of blasting and generally energetic drumming, riffs that are clear and can be remembered, good soloing (with restrained and well-placed moments of melody). Obscenity has classicstyle death metal riffs, while some tremolo picking adds to the distinctiveness of the songs. In short, the album is very impressive and delightful, worth listening to many times over, and to come back to later. Obscenity has some 8 full-length albums, going to back
to the 1992 debut. However, “Atrophied in Anguish” is an excellent place to start! The quality of the songwriting is undeniable, the sound quality is solid and the overall effort shows that Obscenity deserves to be heard. Here’s a band that is not that well known in the U.S., but once you hear the album, you might wonder why. Can’t get tired or bored with these songs, if you like death metal, I think. At the same time, Obscenity has made something that stands out in quality. It’s not the speed and brutality, which are also present here plenty, it’s the knack for making it all sound so good. Don’t be fooled by the name of the band, they are way better than the immature gore music you might think they play. www.myspace.com/obscenitydeathmetal www.facebook.com/Obscenity.Official www.apostasyrecords.com
--4--lastly, and most importantly, the songs get the job done in a good, energetic way. Nothing wrong with that at all. www.facebook.com/Offensor
With such a skill arsenal in their chosen art form, and the meticulous execution of the compositions that comprise “Age of Perversion, Offending can certainly carve for themselves a niche with the audience that appreciates quality and dexterous death metal of the brutal and technical variety. Ultimately, though, it’s about the songs, and Offending keeps the standard high. Moreover, although blasting speed and technicality are part of the equation, it’s done in a balanced way. In a word, even I, with no musical skill, can enter and understand the fortress of death metal that is Offending. As everyone knows, Nile is the gold standard of death metal, but it’s good to remember that there are seriously good bands that will give Nile a run for their money. After having heard this album more than a few times, it’s patently clear that Offending doesn’t only have a few good songs, the complete album plays at a high level of death metal. It’s not easy playing technical/brutal music and making it memorable, but Offending makes sure to bring in a tasteful guitar solo, a tremolo lick, a catchy riff or an otherwise semi-melodic part into the songs. This is a huge strength. Offending needs more death metal fanatics to check them out. www.offending.fr
Age of Perversion
Phobia just melted my precious computer from 1988 (my floppy disks, aaargh!), so I have “permanently borrowed” a computer from my neighbor Tom Brady (an athlete of some sort, says that he plays “professionally” hockey or football or something). Wow, 18 songs of crust grind punk that runs under 20 minutes, recommended for fans of Napalm Death, Nasum, Rotten Sound, Wormrot: short, fast and obnoxious. This has to be one of the best sounding grind albums of the last couple of years, too. Nice and clear. Angry, very angry, Phobia destroys stages and musical equipment. Carry on screaming, Phobia, carry on screaming. www.facebook.com/phobiagrindcore
Remnants of Filth
Drum-machined brutal black metal monotony of speed and fury is Tsar Bomb’s goal in life. Raw and hideous is the music, but in comparison with straight death metal, Tsar Bomb’s guitar clearer and easier to hear. The songs rely on speed to make their point. There is no variety, nothing to remember and only chaos will remain in the mind after the music stops. FYI, this does not have a garage sound quality, but rather sounds pretty good. www.myspace.com/tsarbomb666
The House of the Lord Despoiled
This recording is alive, unpolished, with a bite, where one can hear the rawness, brutality and grimness well. Here are 4 things that I noticed. --1--hard-hitting drumming, fast drumming: Offensor has those moments of total death metal brutality where the hitting sounds so strong. These Mike Smith/Suffocation moments sound great in this context. According to Metal Archives, there is no drummer listed. Could this be a drum machine? It’s difficult to believe it, it sounds creative, in a human way. --2--the vocals sound like brutal death black metal, but enunciated well (not cupped microphone); the enunciation of words is done with such a venomous tongue of black metal grimness. --3--the riffs are sometimes very death metal, then black metal, and also with a recurring feel of classic 80s sickness. These three features make up this bundle of sound.
According to Metal Archives, Vomitchapel is a one-person entity by Justin Blake Stubbs, whose other bands include Lilitu, Father Befouled, Festered, Chasm of Nis, amongst others. Vomitchapel is garage rehearsal death metal, as hideously magnificent as sound quality of the demos by Sodom, Hellhammer and Mantas/Death. Everything is difficult to hear. The guitars are a rumbling murmur, the drums (machine?) sounds like Animal from The Muppets banging away on one drum and one cymbal. Speaking of Animal, he appears to be a football field away from the microphone in the basement of the sewage treatment plant where this was recorded. Archgoat fan, you are hereby summoned to the court of Vomitchapel. You are to present yourself at www.vomitchapel.fatherbefouled.com for the enjoyment of possibly the fugliest recording that Metal Bulletin zine has heard in months and months.
Waylander’s thrashing stands apart because the band incorporates the constant use of the folk instrument called the whistle, creating the sound of “Celtic growl thrash.” Their hard-hitting thrash is consistently intense, appealing to those wanting to hear upfront guitar riffing, not too different from the energy found in recent Exodus and Kreator. Clearly, Waylander is not “folky” music, but rather energetic thrashing with growling (and no clean singing). I would think that thrashers and deathsters that like bands that
Kindred Spirits (Listenable R.)
“get to the point,” would be a good target audience. As a thrashing band, Waylander has these huge, heavy riffs with rhythms that sound abrasive, while at other times they take a turn towards slightly more tuneful tones, all within a thrash framework. Various elements of their sound are subsumed under the Celtic thrash, such as blasting, the somewhat more melodic/folk passages and acoustic guitars, but again: don’t confuse this band with sounds of accordion-and-flute folky rock. One song that catches my attention is “A Path Well Trodden,” for working a simple melody on the guitar, with the whistle in tow, and good vocal phrasing. Then again, “Quest for Immortality” is probably the most memorable, for the wellplaced chorus and whistle combination. The growling is remarkably death-ish, but intelligible. The fat guitar sound is the foundation that keeps this all together. For some reason, my ears notice that on “Erdath” the bass lines stand out a bit more, and that’s pretty cool. Strikingly, these mentioned songs are towards the end of the album, so Waylander maintains the quality in the first and second half of their 53-minute album. The energy level is high throughout, without long moments of space/show off/instrumental meandering and with no prolonged slow passages. That’s very good, indeed. www.listenable.net clanwaylander.com/fr_home.cfm
The description of Zonaria as “the saviors of melodic death metal” is floating around. Whatever. Decide for yourself, but do at least check them out because the material is undoubtedly well-written. www.zonaria.com
Of the ten songs on here, how many are so memorable that you need one listen only? Well, let’s start with one song that could make them stars: “Liberation Zero.” The uptempo energy and opening hooks are like crazy-glue in music form. The combination of sugary guitar work, with thrashy riffing, and the melodicthrashy growl metal results in an instant hit. The three openers grab the listener’s attention quickly: “Arrival of the Red Sun,” “Silent Holocaust,” and “Gunpoint Salvation.” These three will make even a reluctant listener nod along. Zonaria rolls up melody, energy, blasting, thrashing and growling into a compact package. In reality, it turns out that only “The Blood that Must Be Paid” and “Face My Vengeance” are midtempo songs, a bit slower, ones that will sound better live than on the recording, perhaps. The band’s strengths are in their fast and faster material, in my opinion. Given that Zonaria has good and very good songs, something becomes clear: Zonaria makes an impression quickly. While it may be true that Zonaria has some fundamental elements of Hypocrisy and Amon Amarth—the gruff vocals, the mix of heavy rhythms, in conjunction with melodic hooks—Zonaria plays at a faster speed, and has more sweeter hooks. To end, Zonaria is something a downtuned modern thrash band with growled vocals and a constant dose of background/symphonic effects/melodies. They sound like a band that utilizes the latest technology to record their music, so that the album is very ear-friendly. The drumming sounds fast/uptempo, but it is soft (like a drum machine), like a lot of metal with the hi-tech sound, not just Zonaria. I would prefer a drum sound that sounds like the drummer is hitting harder, on a more solid surface.
Arrival of the Red Sun
Züül’s vibe for traditional heavy metal sounds so devoid of trickery and gimmickry, and the songs have so much to offer that all-metal addicts shouldn’t pass them up, and especially those into “classic olde metal.” Züül appears to be musically descended from Thin Lizzy huge guitar harmonies, as well as classic metal in general. The vocals also sound Thin Lizzy-ish in the sense of a midrange, tuneful voice (no high screaming, no growling nor anything like “modern”/”angry” vocals). The main riffs for the songs are both classic metal, classic rock, with an exuberant energy, a Motorhead-ish energy, if you will. What you get are rocking metal songs, that in 2013 would appeal to fans of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, 70s classic metal, maybe with a little classic punk thrown in (energy), and classic rock. Just out of curiosity, here are some Thin Lizzy quotes by Züül. Right off the bat, on the first song, 14 seconds in, and they smack down that recognizable guitar shot that opens “Jailbreak.” Coincidence? Then, at 1:03 the guitar harmonies are winding up and down for half a minute, and then at 1:29 they directly quote a Thin Lizzy signature squeal. Or take “Skullsplitter”: out of the gates, the harmonies would make Phil Lynott smile from ear to ear. Check out 1:44-2:24, guitar fans’ delight. Then, they bring the house down at 2:56-3:37: that’s how to play harmonies and solos. Add to this, the Motorhead energy, and you got a fun metal band. I get the feeling that singer Brett Batteau is holding back a bit, that he could get down and dirtier, and let his voice explore more. At any rate, here’s a band that sounds little like anything else you may have heard in recent years. That was my experience, anyway. www.facebook.com/zuulheavymetal
To the Frontlines
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February 17, 2013
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