the underground music magazine    

issue #6 December, 2001

 


Untitled Document

Hello, readers and welcome to the latest installment of Maelstrom, the Underground Music Zine. This issue sees Maelstrom moving more firmly into covering other genres of non-mainstream music. While we love metal, we have been commited since the beginning to promote other genres in the underground. Look out for reviews of various ambient, experimental, goth and other genres in this and future issues. Already in the issue you have before your eyes you will find interviews with black ambient project Kerovnian and goth rockers Entwine.

If issue #5 saw more activity from Maelstrom's staff, this current issue is a virtual party. I'm very happy to welcome three new contributors to the Maelstrom family. From England come Jeremy "Jez" Andrews, who contributed the excellent photos of the Marduk live show at Dorenreich in issue #3, and the man known only as ~Eternus~. From the West Coast of the United States, we are proud to feature the work of Laurent Martini. We would also like to thank Cassie Walker for her assistance in this new issue. Thank you all and I hope writing for Maelstrom will be as fun for you as it is for me.Our staff will be growing even more with next issue, as we have recruited the services of the mysterious Condor.

We are indeed proud to offer to you a fine lineup of artists in our interview section. This is headed up by black metal legends Marduk. Our own ~Vargscarr~ may be the biggest Marduk fan in existence, so he was the perfect choice to speak to Legion, the band's vocalist. ~Vargscarr~ also contributes another in depth interview with American black metal project Krieg. US power metal virtuosos Jag Panzer and cult Finnish black metal band Azaghal round out our rounded menu.

In our live review pages you will be able to read about the God Dethroned/Night in Gales/ Mistletein show that went through Northern England, as well as a review of the Godspeed You Black Emperor!/ Califone/ Telefon Tel Aviv tour. This is of course in addition to our album reviews and From the Vault sections.

Get reading!

- Roberto Martinelli                            

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interview by: ~Vargscarr~

Exemplifying extremity and brutality with technical precision in their Black Metal as opposed to the other various styles prevalent in the genre, Marduk have long been one of my favourite bands. Always staying true to their roots in terms of both their music and their image; they've progressed through a total of seven full-length studio albums slowly evolving yet never disappointing by going down the loathsome paths of falsehood that have seduced so many other bands of their vintage. Spreading Pure Satanic Overkill across the globe for a decade, Panzer Division Marduk shows no sign of grinding to a halt any time soon; whether the attack spews forth from a new album or from the stage; as I found out when I spoke to Legion about the upcoming plans for the Black Metal War Machine.

Maelstrom: First of all I'll get straight in by asking you about your beliefs - you've said in the past you're a Satanist...

Legion: Yes.

Maelstrom: I'd like to ask you a little bit more about that. What exactly do you believe in; do you see Marduk as a way of expressing that spiritualism...?

Legion (left): Yeah, it's been always - since I was a kid, pretty much. You know, I've just sensed that there was something more to everything. I've been always interested in the occult and all that shit; and I just started to question stuff. Just looking up what I could and one thing led to another and it was just like, yeah, Satanism - or whatever you want to call it - became pretty much a natural thing. I just realised what I was, or what I was labeled as when I was a mid-teenager; and I've stuck to it ever since. I really like the way I am, or what I've become. But yeah - ha ha, it's always a topic. It's really strange that it should be, what should you say, a strange or kind of taboo religion, you know? Because if you're confessing to be in one of the major, established religions it's "cool, blah blah blah, whatever," you know?

Maelstrom: Because it's kind of seen as being 'evil,' I mean this is the whole thing about Satanism is that it represents the opposition...

Legion: Yeah, but anyway, what is evil really?

Maelstrom: Exactly, yes.

Legion:...Look at the current conflict between the white western world and Afghanistan, and maybe more countries in the long run, who knows? Anyway, I don't think any of the sides would do anything if they were thinking they did anything wrong. For instance, just look at the civil war in the States - I don't think any of the sides went, "Ha ha ha - now we're gonna be bad guys." Or the German soldiers who got so much shit in World War II. They fought for something they believed in and then after that they've been the scapegoats for all bad shit that's been going on in the world ever since by doing their duties for their country. Look at the American soldiers in Vietnam. They just did their duty like men, got home and then got called fucking child molesters, you know? Or take a tribe of cannibals in some freaking jungle. They don't look upon it as being evil in any kind of way, being a cannibal. They're like "hey buddy, we're gonna eat you because you're not in our tribe." You know?

Maelstrom: Yeah, I agree - I think it's interesting the way the Americans have labeled the terrorists as being evil. You know, slapping that label on them just because they killed what the Americans believe to be innocent people. On their terms that's correct, but to the guys who are doing it - they have a cause; they have a reason behind their actions. Good and evil doesn't come into it. It's their own personal, individual and group mentality or view about what it [the terrorist act] is.

Legion: Yeah really, I mean evil is just something that is really good to describe a thing that when you want to talk to your people as a leader you can point out who's the bad guys: "evil!" You know? But I mean, since we have always been rebelling against Christianity; we like sinister stuff - things that are macabre or sombre. I have a thing for that; a soft spot.

Maelstrom: It kind of strikes a chord in your soul.

Legion: Yeah...But if people want to label me as evil then fine, go ahead. I just do what I do according to myself. I don't have a problem with my personality, it's just people that have a problem with it.

Maelstrom: So do you have a general misanthropic view of humanity in general? Do you look at the majority of people as being less than worthwhile?

Legion: No, I am just kind of surprised that man can be pleased with so little. Up here in Sweden it's pretty ridiculous because you're just...you're growing up and you getting your stupid job, your Volvo and your dog, and your villa and that's it. Shut up. Pay tax. But I don't know if that has got to do with anything more than like, "I'm a die hard carreerist". My sister's the same - she's a lawyer, and she dumps every freaking boyfriend she's getting; like its fun for a couple months and then "Fuck off, I've got work to do." So I mean she's nothing like me; so I don't think that it's so much ideology based as just like "I want to get ahead." I mean I just get on and do what I want, I don't care who's standing in my way and what people are telling me because I'm not backing down anyway. So I just do what I want to do. And of course part of my ideology is just like "fuck the world - I do what I want to do" but I mean, then that might be labeled as something...All this misanthropy that all those Scandinavian bands are screaming about - it's become a poor excuse not to play live. They are not that skilled musicians and all of a sudden they are so misanthropic so they cannot go out and play live, yet still they can sell albums to all those people they claim to hate. Most people when they discuss stuff, I find them pretty stupid, but it's nothing that I go around talking about or thinking about. If someone approached me and he's a cool guy then he's a cool guy - if he's an asshole he's an asshole.

Maelstrom: Yeah...okay. Because what I wondered was that as a band who's sung about a lot of war in the past - pro-war, pro-destruction, pro-death in general - whether you think the events in America are a positive thing; just the fact that conflict is once again raising its head in the world...Whether that's going to inspire you to write more music; or whether you view the deaths as a tragedy like the majority of the people - especially over there - do. Whether you see it as...there are too many people anyway, you don't know them; and the destruction is a powerful thing that you can relate to and that inspires you to write more?

Legion: No...I mean, I'm not taking the deaths of those guys personally; but I just think it was such a freaking coward act to do. I mean...that was just gay bullshit from some guys that are not skilled or strong enough to start a war. They are just these cheesy little back-stabbers that are just scum, and that should be wiped away, I think. But all Roman empires have to face such stuff. I think that the US should just go ahead and do what the Romans did with their garbage - you know what they did?

Maelstrom: Yeah - you mean go straight over there and mash the opposition?

Legion: Yeah, I mean, not only did they kill everybody and burn the city and smash it...they then burned the soil so that it was just ashes; and then poured so much salt on it that it was like...heh...I doubt there was something growing there today, you know...after [what happened] 2000 years ago. So that's what the US should do. Because those guys hate our way of living up here, in the wide western world.

Maelstrom: Capitalism and freedom.

Legion: Yeah, because they did the same thing here over in Europe, but the German security police arrested them before they did it. In February they tried to gas all our top politicians who are head of the European union...

Maelstrom: Really?

Legion:...and they had a meeting in Strasbourg...in France...where that European Union headquarters is at they were gonna gas it, but the German police arrested them before that happened. So it's just chicken shit idiots who's got a problem with our way of life up here; so I say just attack them with all that we got. All the countries that are allied in this way. Just show them what happens when you fuck with us.

Maelstrom: We're the most powerful, in the west - especially America; you realise that if the moral climate had been different and people didn't care...If people saw it as the country as the threat rather than some people in that country as the threat; they would just go over there and erase it, because they have the power to do that. But they try and be diplomatic about it and just take out the people who matter. The respect for innocent life makes it a slower process. Now, I'd like to ask you about the recent album La Grande Danse Macabre. It has a different sound to it - the general perception is that its a slower album, which is of course nonsense, since if you listen to any of the older Marduk stuff you can hear influences...Those of the Unlight was the album I thought of when listening to the new one. But it's a lot more Deathy, or there's more Death Metal influences to it; and I was wondering if you guys had reigned in the creativity to stay closer to the traditional Marduk sound, and whether next time you were planning on doing something wilder and more distant to that traditional Marduk sound?

Legion: No, I mean we will always sound like Marduk. We're taking a step at a time. So many great bands, especially the big ones of the late 80s they all got lost pretty much because they tried to be something they were not. They were all "Hey, we're on the wrong track!" and then they didn't find their way back. And they all perished. The next album will be a natural progression of this one, and this one came about because after Panzer Division Marduk we had nowhere to go. We'd done a 30-minute long Grind album - if we wanted to do that again that would be getting boxed in. We couldn't go anywhere from there as we saw it. So we just played what we wanted to play. And we had this idea when we started to write Nightwing that we should do a trilogy of loosely based concept albums about blood, fire, death - not necessarily as a hail to Quorthon or anything, but we wanted to do something that was our vision of what the Metal scene is all about. So we said Nightwing is the blood album; and the fire album came out as Panzer Division Marduk; and then when it was time for the Death album we thought we should try a little more diverse, sombre approach and all the lyrics on La Grande Danse Macabre is based on death in one way or another. "Azrael" is the Arabian angel of death; and then you've got "Obedience Until Death" which is about sacrificing yourself for your beliefs if you're determined enough - die with your boots on, you know? "Funeral Bitch" is about a girl who gets off when she goes to funerals...And "Jesus Christ Sodomized" speaks for itself. Anyway, they're all written on a loosely based concept about death so we thought we should incorporate that in the music: some slower parts, more sombre atmospheres that Panzer Division Marduk totally lacked. So the next album; we're writing it right now. We have a couple of titles but I doubt we'll use any of those. We're starting to get ready with some material, and it's a natural progression from La Grande Danse Macabre; but its going to be even more diverse. Some songs are going to be a minute fifty-two long and totally hysterical, so fucking brutal; and then some songs...We're doing this really long epic song; if you know about the Teutonian knighthood?

Maelstrom: I don't...

Legion: It's a German...Well, it's really ancient so you can't really call it German because Germany used to be split into many small kingdoms; but they had their high seat in what's Poland today, and they were a Christian die-hard knighthood. They were really brutal. They had a lot of battles against Russians...It's just something that really fascinates us. I've been reading a lot about it and I'll begin with the lyrics very soon. But apart from that it's going to be songs that are even more diverse - fast and slow...all kinds of shit involved in each song. And also, during next year or maybe the beginning of 2003 there is going to be the release of a "Panzer" mini-CD. We're going to do four new "Panzer tracks"

Maelstrom: Fantastic!

Legion:...You know? Like tututututututututut [he imitates a machine-gun blastbeat] Even more hysterical than ever. The riffing is gonna be so insane; and we're recording it pretty much the same time as the next album. So we'll release the album to begin with, maybe next October, and after that we'll wait a couple of months and go on tour; and then we'll put out the "Panzer" album. So that's [he laughs] that's something we felt we really needed to do! Just to grind the shit out of us again... (drummer Fredrik Andersson at right.)

Maelstrom: You guys never stop touring, do you? I saw you when you played Bradford over here a few months ago, and you did shows in Europe...you got food poisoning didn't you?

Legion: Yeah! Exactly...

Maelstrom: I think it was the night before that you played the show I saw [we laugh]...You couldn't tell; the set was outstanding, but it was what I heard afterward...

Legion: Yeah, fuck that shit! It was...when was it?... I think it was really on the boat from Ireland to Scotland I had some weird food, and after that I just felt kinda peculiar. But later on I start to feel so fucking strange...And the next day we got to Scotland and at the venue I just started to puke like a fucking dog; I puked all day long; and then I puked over my clothes five minutes before we were supposed to go onstage, and I was like, "Fuck this shit!" And then the promoter came in and he was like, "Hey, are you gonna be alright? Are you gonna be able to play?" And I was just like, "Fuck it, let's get it on!" And we went up there and I did nine songs, and then I started to puke on stage in the tenth song...Then I collapsed on the stage because I was so dehydrated. My joints just locked. That sucked so bad. So we just did those ten songs and went on; and the next day it was Bradford, and it was like playing with a major hangover. It really sucked.

Maelstrom: [laughs] You couldn't tell. It was a killer show - I've seen you guys twice; I'll see you again when you come down to Bradford in December; but I saw you play Wacken back in 2000. That was outstanding...

Legion: Allright, thank you very much! [we laugh]

Maelstrom: But it must take it out of you a lot. Having to come over here and play all the European shows; go back to America - because you did the tour with Deicide - then you came back...And I think took a short break, and then you did the Graspop festival...It's not much of a break before coming back for this tour now - you have those festival dates around Christmas time in Europe...

Legion: Exactly, yes...

Maelstrom:...and you're in America again now, so when do you take a break?

Legion: (laughs) We don't! This is all that we want to do. We've come this far by having this fuck-off approach; that we won't give up until we die - then we're home free; we don't really have to care. Until then we'll go at it as hard as possible during tours. For instance we had our bus window in the back broken - shattered - in Holland by some crazy guy. It was on the Panzer... tour, so it was November 1999; and we were on the road in Poland, in Germany with the frost inside the bus because we only had some pieces of wood to seal it up with that didn't work at all...So I bought this alpha bomber jacket with a collar and everything, and each night when I went to sleep I was lying there shaking and I saw my breath. But still we didn't want to cancel because to cancel shows sucks. We just go ahead because it gives us energy to...to be Marduk. What else should I do? Get a job in some stupid factory? This is what I want to do. We're prepared to do whatever it takes. It was the same thing at the end of the European tour - then I caught pneumonia and I felt like shit; the last two days I was really in bad shape. Then I got home and I had four days to see a doctor, which I did, and he gave me some vibromycin. I started to eat that and just kick back; and then we flew down to Texas and continued touring. My voice sounded kind of crappy the first couple of gigs, I can tell you; but it was good that it was in the south of the States because the warm air was really good for me. When we got to LA I started to feel that I was getting better and then when we toured the West Coast...I got better and better. When I came home to Sweden again, we'd been out on the road almost constantly for three months - I was pretty goddamn beat, I tell can you that! So for two weeks it was hard to do anything that was worth mentioning as 'proper work' so we just took it easy. Just do some correspondence and work with our record label...Business instead of actually rehearsing or singing for my part. Then we went down to Belgium and everything was great, and after that we just kept on going. I'm planning on taking maybe two weeks vacation in January or something, but after that I'll be at it again relentlessly. You just gotta love what you do enough, and then you're prepared to do pretty much everything.

Maelstrom: Yeah, and on top of that a lot of guys in the band have side projects as well - I know Fredrick plays drums in Triumphator - he's got a few things going...so has Morgan. I wondered if you had any side projects yourself, or if you're planning on getting into that?

Legion: Well no, not really. I would like to save all I've got for Marduk, which is the main priority. I wouldn't find it really interesting to just stand there and scream in the same way in a different band. I mean I cheat on guitar and come up with some ideas, but that is pretty much everything - I wouldn't stand on the stage playing because I'm not that good. It's not for me. And those other guys really don't spend any time on it at all - Morgan and Roger - B.War - that Devil's Whorehouse thing they've got where they play Samhain sounding music? They rehearse two weeks a year tops; then they go and make an album and that is it. It's just side stuff. Especially Roger (at left), he loves to play. This is his reason to be on this earth: to play guitar and bass. If we are having a day off from the band which we do once in a while; me and Morgan might take the car and go over to his place because he lives in the next town and he'll be sitting at home playing bass to Bach or something. He's pretty much always into playing. So that's why they do it - they want to do something else as musicians.

Maelstrom: Yeah, it makes sense to me - if you're getting all that you want from the band that you're in there's no need to branch out. I also noticed you've been contributing more lyrically recently, I don't know about musically at all - I don't mean musically; instrumentally - but I've always thought the lyrics of Marduk are perfectly suited to the music. You get the pure Satanic side of it, but it's never cliché - a lot of the bands you hear, especially the 80s bands, you can listen to a Satanic lyric and it's like, "That's kind of cool, but pffffft...!" You're laughing at it. But you get the lyrics to create this emotion that suits the songs so perfectly; and it was always Morgan that used to write the lyrics wasn't it, but on the recent couple of albums; I don't know about Panzer…, but I know with the new one you've written a lot of them...

Legion: Yeah, I've been writing everything since I started, so on Heaven Shall Burn everything except one song is mine

Maelstrom: Oh really? I wasn't aware of that...

Legion: Then on Nightwing I wrote one riff, and Morgan (at right) did one line [laughs] so that was how we shared it...Apart from that I did all the lyrics and he did all the music; and then on Panzer Division Marduk Morgan did half a lyric and I did the rest. On the new one we kind of shared it because he had so many great ideas. It was like, "Ahhhh, I came up with another one!" And all the band just loved it so we incorporated it into that as well. So half of it is mine and half of it is his.

Maelstrom: Okay, so I should ask you this question then: was the song title "Fistfucking God's Planet" inspired by the Al Pacino line in the film "Devil's Advocate"?

Legion: Yes! Ha ha!

Maelstrom: Yes! Fuck, I thought so, because I was watching the movie recently, and he said the line and I could just imagine you sitting there watching that thinking, "Fuck - that's just so great! I'm gonna use that as a song title!"

Legion: [laughing] Yeah it's true, I love that movie. I've seen it so many times. That was just such a perfect song title...

Maelstrom: It so is!

Legion: I thought so! Ha ha! yeah, it's true...

Maelstrom: So are there any bands that you're aware of in the underground, in Sweden or anywhere else, who you'd like to mention that we might not know about?

Legion: Uh...No not really. It's really such a long time since I came across anything that really blew me away, to be honest. I guess it's just that we're getting old; not keeping track of stuff so much as maybe we should nowadays. I'm still pretty much stuck with my favourites. (pic at left taken from www.marduk.nu)

Maelstrom: What are you listening to?

Legion: I listen to a lot of diverse stuff, especially all the old British heroes like Black Sabbath, later on Ozzy's solo career; Iron Maiden is one of the most important bands of all time for me. I've been a major fan since I was seven years old...And also Slayer - I love Slayer, Possessed, Exodus...Then some of the newer stuff. Immortal for instance. Darkthrone I still like because they are so freaking charming, you know like Pu-ka Pu-ka Pu-ka Pu-ka...[this is Legion doing a generic Darkthrone impression that cracked me up] And apart from that everything like Johnny Cash, Mike Oldfield and Glen Danzig...stuff like that. I pretty much judge if it's bad music or good music. I don't really know what's happening to the scene. I found the brutal Metal scene way more interesting back in the days...Maybe that was because you were so turned on by it and you wanted to read every fanzine and get all the demos and everything. It's not really the same thing anymore I don't think.

Maelstrom: Being there around the birth of a genre - Black Metal in Norway and Sweden - if it's there and you can get into it right from the start it's going to be a really special thing. Now you've got this New Wave Black Metal, much more Deathy, much more clinical - it sounds very manufactured: the new Mayhem, new Zyklon...What do you think of bands like that? The bands that bring in the Techno influences and things...It does nothing for me; it leaves me cold.

Legion: Yeah, it's not really what I want to listen to. I don't mind if what is what; because there's always this choir of complainers who just judge everything like, "Blah blah blah, this isn't True, this stinks," but I don't care at all. People can go ahead and do what the fuck they want; but it doesn't do anything for me. Music is all about touching someone's emotions. Those Metal/Techno/Neo-Classical, whatever you want to call it, all the branches where the Black Metal scene has gone...It doesn't touch anything or reach anything within me so to me it's 'pointless' music. I'd rather stick to those bands that can really create something magic with just Metal music.

Maelstrom: Now I think my time is running out, but I'd like to ask you about the forthcoming box set. Have you got a release date for that yet?

Legion: Yeah, at first it was Halloween, but we had to re-schedule for sometime November because it's being pressed - the box is being pressed in Sweden, and then some of the CDs down in Germany or Austria; and the video tape is being pressed somewhere else - it's too much to co-ordinate so we can't have it out by Halloween unfortunately; but definitely sometime November. In the beginning we thought of releasing a book with all the Marduk lyrics because on some albums the lyrics were not included, and people had been asking so much about it; but then we thought why not add up that book - a really classy booklet with all kinds of information that people could desire. Some photos from our personal collection...We have so much grabs laying around - all kinds of shit; TV shows we have appeared on, live clips, backstage clips. Also we've got a couple of unreleased tracks and some freaky old versions of songs. A whole bunch of shit, so we figured we should pile it all up and release it in a box. So the booklet with the lyrics and all that other shit; two CDs packed with all kind of songs, covers and unreleased tracks, pre-production stuff, rehearsals...Everything that can be interesting.

Maelstrom: I heard you were doing some re-recording of some of the older songs from the first few albums with the current line-up...

Legion: We were up in the studio and we were recording this song for Brian Deegan who's this extreme motocross star in the United States - one of these guys who does backflips with the motorcycle while jumping over a car. He wanted a Marduk song for his next jump video; and we were like, "Yeah, fuck, cool!" so we went up there and we recorded the song for him, and that went so quickly we had one day left in the studio and we just recorded two songs from Dark Endless, two songs from Those of The Unlight and two songs from Opus Nocturne that we knew by heart, so we just went in and recorded it to add even more material to the box set; so that's gonna be on there...Also the video is going to be an hour and a half, something like that most likely; with all kinds of shit - pretty much everything that we could muster which could be interesting we put on there.

Maelstrom: That's fantastic - I can't wait for it because I've been a pretty long-time fan of the band, I have all the studio albums, live albums and the odd bootleg recording; so it'll be really interesting to me to hear all the unreleased stuff and read all the lyrics as well. Okay, so that pretty much wraps it up...I'll see you when you come down to Bradford...Now I have to ask, would you consider adding "Bloodtide" to the set list? That's never appeared on any of the live albums that you put out, and I have a couple of bootlegs and it's not on any of them...Do you ever play that song live?

Legion: Heh heh...No we haven't up to date; we have not played that one because it's a really long song...We've just never done it. We've been discussing several times to do "Nightwing" and we have had "Nightwing" rehearsed for tours; and then just dropped it in the last minute. I don't know, maybe next time! We're starting to feel like Maiden or something like that having to pick songs for a tour, "What the fuck are we gonna play?"

Maelstrom: Yeah, having so much material must be so difficult to choose from...Mixing it up properly...

Legion: At least one rehearsal we're just bitching between all the members what to play before we even get started when we start to rehearse for a tour. It's always kind of a hassle.

Maelstrom: Legion, thanks for the interview; good luck with the rest of the tour.

Legion: Thank you.

Contact Marduk at http://www.marduk.nu

photo 1, 6 by: Jez Andrews all other photos taken from www.marduk.nu

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interview by: Roberto Martinelli

Jag Panzer sets the standard in terms of musicianship and originality for contemporary American power metal. The band first made its mark in the mid-80s with the album Ample Destruction, but then largely disappeared. Although some albums were released in the early/mid 90s, it wasn't until 1997's The Age of Mastery that the band re-established itself as a group to watch. Since then, the band released 1999's Thane to the Throne, a concept album about Shakespeare's "MacBeth." 2001 sees the band pushing to include more musical variety with the release of Mechanized Warfare. I spoke to founding member Mark Briody on the phone from his home in Colorado to discuss what it's like being in a true metal band in the year 2001. Briody, with his Jimmy Stewart-like voice and obviously warm and laid back demeanor, sounds like your cool uncle who just happens to be in a kick ass metal band.

photo credits: Ted Banks

Maelstrom: One of the things I find noteworthy of your Mechanized Warfare album is the variety of songs. This is in stark contrast to many of the power metal bands coming out of Europe. Stratovarius, for example, keeps making album after album of essentially two types of song (not that I or any of their fans mind). What do you think of these approaches? Does your approach put you at an advantage or disadvantage?

Mark Briody: Creatively I think it puts us at an advantage. Sales-wise, I'm not sure (laugh). A lot of the bands that I think do the same album over and over again, a lot of them sell more than we do! (laugh). Creatively, from our point of view, all of us [in Jag Panzer] grew up buying albums since we were 10 years old. Back then bands would do a different mix each song, and eventually bands started keepin' the same mix, but then maybe each song is different. Nowadays, God, I hear so many bands that have got the same song, the same mix. It's something we grew up with: to try to make everything different from song to song. We do make a conscious effort: we look at key signatures; we look at tempo. We look at the mix and really try to change things up.

Maelstrom: That's an interesting point about how bands that do the same album over and over again make more sales. What does that say about fans? A build up on that: What differences do you see between European power metal and American power metal?

Mark Briody: To me that shows there's definitely a media influence in the underground. The underground metal scene I grew up with in the early 80s was purely to get good music. I didn't buy any albums because I saw an ad anyplace. Nowadays, particularly in certain European markets, a lot of sales are driven by huge ad campaigns. It's really how much money the label can throw into advertising. There's a lot of great European power metal bands, but I don't necessarily think they should be selling more records than us. (Mark pictured at left)

Maelstrom: Do you think [the success] can be explained culturally? It's pretty obvious that power metal is a lot more successful in Europe - metal in general! Is there anything that you can see that makes metal more popular (if you agree)? And if you do, is there something cultural that happens?

Mark Briody: Yeah, I think so. One thing you can definitely look at: you take some of the bands in Finland: Nightwish, Children of Bodom, or you take Stratovarius, or you take Hammerfall in Sweden… Those countries really, really support their bands. So when bands like that release an album, they go to #1 on the charts over there.

Maelstrom: It's unheard of, isn't it?

Mark Briody: Right. Whereas American bands… I mean, I'd think it was great if Iced Earth broke the Hot 100 over here! There's a lot of benefits over there to going #1. You could have photographers wanting to work with you; companies wanting to do endorsements; you get a lot of major coverage. I think, although it doesn't translate to huge sales to be #1 on the Finnish charts, I think the other fringe benefits really, really help those bands. I think it puts the US bands at a disadvantage.

Maelstrom: Jag Panzer played Metalfest this summer.

Mark Briody: Right.

Maelstrom: Looking at the lineup for Metalfest, as opposed to Wacken in Germany; there's a lot less melodic metal (at Metalfest).

Mark Briody: Yes.

Maelstrom: How does that affect you and what you're writing, your drive?

Mark Briody: You know, it doesn't really affect me at all. I sort of just try to write the metal that I want to listen to. You know, of course it would be nice to be able to do huge crowds at shows here, but I don't really ever want that to influence my writing. Because the next step from that is "maybe I should write to get on the radio," or "maybe I should write to sell a bunch of records." I don't even want to go there.

Maelstrom: The [guitar] solos on Mechanized Warfare are exhilarating, yet tastefully done. It's clear that you could go off on the kind of thing that Yngwie Malmsteen is famous for, but don't. Why not?

Mark Briody: We have a lot of people fighting for the spotlight! (Laugh). Not literally, everybody gets along great, but we have a very good talented and determined lead vocalist. I don't think it would work well with him to have lead guitar all the time. By the same token we have a great lead guitar player, so I think they both realize that there has to be a sort of a balance there. Unlike in Yngwie, and he's clearly in charge of the project: his name's on the record, people are buying it to hear him. We stress the team effort much more.

Maelstrom: On your Thane to the Throne album, are the acoustic guitar tracks played by members of the band? That (the acoustic guitar) was really impressive for me.

Mark Briody: All permanent members. The only session musicians are the string players.

Maelstrom: The inclusion of Gregorian chant was one of my favorite bits on Mechanized Warfare. Will we be hearing more such choral singing in the future?

Mark Briody: I think so. It was an interesting story behind that. I initially had limited samples of Gregorian choir, and I played them for the band members. And I think our vocalist assumed that we could do anything Gregorian in my studio. I don't think he really understood that I was playing a limited sample. So he wrote the vocal part in the song; he wrote all these intricate Latin parts. We get to the studio, and I said "how are we gonna do these?" So we had to invent our own little Gregorian choir on the spot.

Maelstrom: You have a whole list of people [in the liner notes to the album] who did the Gregorian chants.

Mark Briody: It's actually our producer, our lead vocalist, and myself. (laugh)

Maelstrom: Wow!

Mark Briody: And we called ourselves "the Monks of St. Hubbins," which is a joke from "(This is) Spinal Tap."

Maelstrom: That's amazing, because you guys sound fantastic!

Mark Briody: It took us about 30 overdubs of the three of us to get that sound.

Maelstrom: Yeah, sure. It sounds like more than three people. I keep getting amazed at how well you guys play the guitar (and at the musicianship across the board.) What is your musical background, Mark? How did you learn how to play?

Mark Briody: I started taking lessons - picked up the guitar - when I was 15. Our singer, Harry (Conklin), lived four houses up from me. He taught me a Kiss song. Well, my parents made me a deal. They said: "if you want our support and you want to keep playing guitar, you've got to take lessons." So they signed me up at a jazz studio, and I'm not the biggest jazz fan. It was a studio owned by Johnny Smith, who was Bing Crosby's guitar player. So I had to do four years of really strict jazz playing, which really made me a disciplined player. Our other guitar player (our lead guitar player), Chris, has got a music degree from Denver University, with a concentration on classical guitar, so he put in years of serious guitar study also.

Maelstrom: Is it your experience that people aren't as inclined to take you seriously when you tell them you're in a metal band? I'm not sure if you'll be taken seriously as a musician. I don't know if you agree or disagree with that.

Mark Briody: Oh, I agree completely. We see prejudice on a lot of levels. I see people saying we can't be serious because we're playing metal. I get people in music stores who think "these guys are playing that old style of music. What a bunch of losers." But I think every time I get someone who thinks we're not serious musicians, if I can play them one minute of [our] music, and they'll listen, I can usually change their mind. I mean, the string players that we have play on our albums are professional musicians; that's what they do for a living. Professional symphony musicians, and even they're impressed with what we do, which is a great compliment to me. (guitarist Chris Broderick at left)

Maelstrom: A friend of mine wrote in his zine: "The mainstream market undervalues musicianship more than ever. The persistence of hip-hop at the present commercial forefront also substantiates this, because that is a musical style wherein musicianship and traditional performance value is irrelevant to its performers, as well as its audience." How do you feel about that?

Mark Briody: I would agree. There's mainstream hip-hop and even mainstream heavy rock [where] there's really no emphasis on musicianship at all. If you're looking for it, you can probably find some stuff that Dr. Dre produces [that] probably has some substance to it musically, but most of the stuff you hear on the radio is just…crap. It's guys who know three chords on the guitar. I guess they got a cool look and look good on MTV is why they're rock stars; it's certainly not their musical ability.

Maelstrom: So how does that make you feel as a musician who takes his musicianship seriously?

Mark Briody: It's kinda disheartening. The only thing to do is hope that things will turn around and people will start to see the light.

Maelstrom: Do you think that metal belongs in the underground?

Mark Briody: I think, particularly here in the United States, a lot of people would really enjoy it if there was exposure to it. I don't want it mainstream to the point where you're seein' bands on cereal covers, or, I don't want Jag Panzer action figures. That has no interest to me whatsoever. But, if our music could be presented to the average person and they could make up their own mind whether they like it or not, that would be great.

Maelstrom: Is it harder to write the music for a concept album? I'm asking because a great many concept albums that I review are terrible, but terrible in a way that distinctly says: "This is a concept album."

Mark Briody: Hahaha!…

Maelstrom: I'm asking because I think Thane to the Throne is a good album, although it does sound like a concept album, but it doesn't sound terrible, like so many of them do. Is there a certain process where you feel, "oh, I have to write this song, but I'm limited in how I can do it, because I have to stay within the context of the story"?

Mark Briody: Yeah, that's the way we did it. We imposed limitation on key signature, we imposed limitation on tempo; we put ourselves in a position like we were composing a soundtrack to Mac Beth. So we set a bunch of limits. Now, having set those limits means the songs you write better be good. If you impose and you can't write within your own structure - I've heard a lot of concept albums [that were bad] - then it's gonna be a bad album.

Maelstrom: What to you is a great concept album?

Mark Briody: Pink Floyd The Wall. Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle Earth is a more recent, excellent concept album.

Maelstrom: What makes it work? Aside from what you already explained.

Mark Briody: There's sort of an atmosphere and a flow from song to song. And they don't work if you…I can't pick up Nightfall in Middle Earth and listen to one song in the middle; it demands that you listen to the whole thing through. To me, that's the sign of a good concept album, something that holds my interest all the way through.

Maelstrom: Speaking of Thane to the Throne, it's curious how your band went from a high brow album (a concept piece about Mac Beth) and then followed it with a lower brow concept and presentation called Mechanized Warfare. Why did you name the album that?

Mark Briody: We named it Mechanized Warfare because we wanted an off-the-wall name. The two words "mechanized" and "warfare" had both been used previously to describe our live set. Our drummer (Rikard Stjernquist, right) plays to a click track in the studio and live, so the live set tends to be very tight, so we're called mechanized. So we kept that word in our mind. And somebody ata a later show said the gig was like audio warfare. So we said, oh, "mechanized warfare." We knew that was a military term, so we thought "this might be cool for the next album."

Maelstrom: It looks like some sort of pseudo-Japanese cartoon mecha stuff on the front.

Mark Briody: Yeah, we sort of gave the artist free reign. The only thing we wanted were elements of different time periods in there. We didn't want it to be obvious: "oh, it's a medieval cover," "oh, that's futuristic." We wanted lots of different elements in there.

Maelstrom: Do you imagine that the events involving the terrorist attacks on the US will inspire you to write more music or not?

Mark Briody: I think it will, 'cause that's what I like to do. It's sort of therapy for me for anything. I think it's motivation. So, yeah…it's hard to explain, but I think it will.

Maelstrom: How is Jag Panzer dealing with that, or are you dealing with that at all?

Mark Briody: You know, there's a lot of anger when you turn on the news and see people in Afghanistan rippin' down the American emblem from an embassy. I'm thinkin' "we haven't attacked anybody yet." What is this all about? So, really there's a lot of anger. It has an effect on my daily life. I used to ride my bike through these trails by my house, but unfortunately they all run through the Air Force Academy, which is a military base, so it's closed now. I can't go jog on this other trail now, 'cause it's closed. It sort of makes me mad there, also.

Maelstrom: Are you in the age range to be drafted, Mark?

Mark Briody: No, just out of it.

Maelstrom: How old are you?

Mark Briody: I'm 36.

Maelstrom: How does the last track on Mechanized Warfare fit in to the rest of the album? That's the one that sounds like it's on an old record.

Mark Briody: Oh! Hahaha…

Maelstrom: Why did you put that in there, and how does it fit in?

Mark Briody: We were mixing the song "The Scarlet Letter," which I think is song #5, and we heard just the vocal tracks. They didn't sound metal at all. So our guitar player, Chris, went over to the piano in the corner and started playing this ragtime piano part to match the chorus. We thought: "let's just turn on the recorder and record this." We put it at the end of this album because we wanted this album to be so different from Thane to the Throne, so if we can throw a little tongue in cheek humor in there, that's great, because there's absolutely none on Thane to the Throne.

Maelstrom: Could you expound on that a little more? How is Mechanized Warfare different from Thane to the Throne? Aside from the humor part…obviously it's not a concept album.

Mark Briody: Right. Much more variation in tempo; much more variation in key signature. Like the song "Cold is the Blade" has a completely major chorus but doesn't sound happy. It was sort of a chore to get that to work. Things like that: there's no big, major choruses on Thane to the Throne anywhere.

Maelstrom: Speaking of the happy stuff. Is there some sort of taboo in American metal that happy is not metal?

Mark Briody: Hahahaha!

Maelstrom: Because, again, you go to the European bands, and it's so happy, it's so major chord-y.

Mark Briody: Oh, right.

Maelstrom: What is the basis of this sort of difference in philosophy?

Mark Briody: You know, you're right. The American bands don't go there. You don't hear Iced Earth do it; we don't do it. I think that growing up, for me certainly, there was a distinction between metal and hard rock. I didn't listen to Van Halen a lot, aside for the great guitar playing. I would much prefer Deep Purple or something. The happiness to me was more of a hard rock thing, and something I didn't want to write.

Maelstrom: When are we going to be able to readily find your first album from the 80s? Why aren't we able to find it now?

Mark Briody: (laugh) (Bassist John Tetley below)

Maelstrom: They keep mentioning it in the press releases, but I'm like: "well, where can we get it?"

Mark Briody: It's somebody's fault between Century Media and our ex-band members. Every month the story changes. Last month I got a call from both band members who said: "hey, look, we're ready to do the deal. It's Century Media's fault."

Maelstrom: Who owns the rights to it?

Mark Briody: The band members who played on it collectively. The month before, I talked to Century Media and they said: "We can't get the old band members to agree on a deal." You know, I don't know what's going on. I'mhearing two different stories, and I'm hearing it all the time.

Maelstrom: You are an original band member?

Mark Briody: Uh-huh.

Maelstrom: Your band goes back to what, '84?

Mark Briody: Uh, no…'82. We were still in school.

Maelstrom: Harry Conklin (current singer) was in the band at that time, right?

Mark Briody: Uh-huh.

Maelstrom: Now, refresh my memory. He left in the early 90s?

Mark Briody: He left in '86, and then came back in '96.

Maelstrom: Compared to your vocals and vocal syntax on your previous album, Thane to the Throne, Harry Conklin's (pictured at right) vocal melodies and syntax are - I don't know quite how to put this to you, this is how the way I think of it: they sound more committed; it's like they fit the music more coherently. Can you kind of see what I'm saying?

Mark Briody: Yeah, he's a little more free-flow on the new album. Because, you know, it's much more open structured lyrically and musically for the vocals. So I think it's a little less rigid and a little more…you, know, it would make for a more committed sound, because it's certainly easier to pull off vocally.

Maelstrom: I think that may be something that people don't necessarily understand, is that what he does is really hard to do. I've noticed with your band, that with the singer, (again, you can compare with European power metal) his vocal melodies aren't really catchy.

Mark Briody: Right.

Maelstrom: You don't hum 'em to yourself. And it kind of sounds like he's singing narrative.

Mark Briody: Yeah.

Maelstrom: Why do you do (write) that? How hard is it to do that?

Mark Briody: To me, it means a little more obscure melody. Some of the happy European metal tends to sound a little sing-song to me (laugh). "La-da-da-da-da-da…" It's catchy at first, but I know it's something that personally I get tired of after a lot of listens. I think our vocal melodies are a little harder to catch on to at first, but they're something I think you can really grow with, and it stands up to a lot of listens. It's a much more subtle vocal line.

Maelstrom: Now that Jag Panzer has firmly established its style over the last three albums, what do you do think when you look at (previous albums) Dissident Alliance, or even The Fourth Judgement?

Mark Briody: Dissident Alliance has abysmal production. It's awful sounding. I can't even listen to it. That album prompted me to build my own home studio because it sounded so terrible. I think that, coupled with the completely different vocal styling of Daniel Conca versus Harry Conklin, I think those two reasons is why everyone hates the album so much.

Maelstrom: What were you trying to do on that album?

Mark Briody: We were trying to make music. There was no interest at the time in the band, anywhere. We were just jamming in the basement. Just 'cause that's what we like to do, regardless of whether we have a deal or not. It was just jamming, and having fun with my friends, when a little records company said, "you wanna come out with some of these songs?" We said, "sure." In retrospect, it was a terrible idea, but at the time, it was just making music.

Maelstrom: It's a lot different than your power metal style now. It's more of a power metal style in the sense of Pantera. It's very hard; it's not melodic; it's more tough guy.

Mark Briody: When Harry sings some of the songs sometimes, just messin' around, it really makes them sound quite different.

Maelstrom: I bet it does.

Mark Briody: The Fourth Judgement, I really like it a lot. It's actually one of my favorite Jag Panzer albums. It doesn't sound as good as the later ones, but it still sounds pretty good.

Maelstrom: Is there something in particular that you like about it?

Mark Briody: The egotistical reason is that I wrote every note on the album! (laugh) It's more like a Mark Briody solo record! (laugh) I hate to say that, but I think subconsciously that's why I like it so much.

Maelstrom: Mark, have you managed to have this as a full-time job yet?

Mark Briody: No. We're starting to make money now, but it would be, you know, livin' off of ramen noodles if this was my full-time job.

Maelstrom: What do you do?

Mark Briody: I'm a senior software engineer for a legal research company.

Maelstrom: How does that job allow you to be in a band?

Mark Briody: They're totally cool. I've been here 13 years. I have a ton of vacation time; they're very flexible about everything. Totally cool; I have no problem with it.

Maelstrom: I think the last question I have for you is: how did you get into metal?

Mark Briody: A way to get girls. I'm not the best looking guy, and I'm bad at athletics, so I had to come up with some kinda angle. (laugh) That's for being a musician. I liked metal since my older sister's boyfriend played me "Smoke on the Water." I must have been, like, 10.

Maelstrom: Do you think that metal is really what girls like, or is it what they liked back then?

Mark Briody: Well, they liked it in the 80s a lot! Hahaha!

Maelstrom: Did you ever have big hair?

Mark Briody: Uhhh, yeah, I guess so…The other guys in the band had bigger.

Maelstrom: Hahaha! In terms of what, vertical inches?

Mark Briody: Yeah, you know, you hang upside down with a can of hair spray.

contact Jag Panzer at www.jagpanzer.com

From left to right: Chris Broderick (g), Mark Briody (g), John Tetley (b), Harry Conklin (v), Rikard Stjernquist (d)

photos by: Ted Banks

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interview by: ~Vargscarr~

Krieg. Chaotic waves of sonic pain spew forth from my speakers as I write these questions; and I recall the first time I heard the band. I'd read an interview with Krieg's sole constant member (others generally being session musicians these days), vocalist/guitarist Lord Imperial in Wormgear Zine and realised this was a band I needed to check out. The first Krieg track I heard was "End of Time"; and I can honestly say that it gave me the same kick in the stomach as the first time I heard Burzum's "Feeble Screams from Forests Unknown." This is raw, primitive Black Metal; with a distinct Abruptum/ Burzum/ Darkthrone feel to it; and yet musically cannot be compared to any of those bands. Guitar is improvised - and consists of speed-picking in the main - which is recorded in a single take; and then drums, vocals, and occasionally appropriate clips and synth work are added to create nothing less than tortured aural despair. This is music created by someone who truly understands the nature of Black Metal and lives his life by it; rather than a human musician writing Black Metal style music. The distinction is important; and is undoubtedly noticeable in the final result. Having a finger in numerous Black Metal pies, Lord Imperial has played live with Judas Iscariot on guitar; and performs vocals for Weltmacht.

Maelstrom: Krieg stands for the uncompromising doctrine of suicide, war and depopulation of the planet. Is this an accurate assessment of your opinion regarding humankind? If not or if there's anything you'd like to add please elaborate...

Imperial: I've never been quiet as far as my opinions and world views go; I believe in a world free of humanity and social morality where the beast in man could be allowed to thrive and be set upon the weaker species. This ideal goes greatly with the new lyric concepts of Weltmacht's second album, which is in the recording process currently.

Maelstrom: Many people in the Black Metal scene share a similar standpoint; but few express it with such clarity; and of course for many it's just an image thing and goes hand in hand with playing music in this genre (rather like the swastika is becoming: meaningless and without the ideology to back it up). However, I've been impressed with the way you've outlined your philosophy in the past. How would you say this stance came about - have you always felt this way?

Imperial: I can't say that I've felt very differently since Krieg's inception. We've never been about the usual Satanic black metal subjects, but rather a despondent vision of morbid nihilism. I've had too much interest in the subjects I've outlined with Krieg to grow tired of them.

Maelstrom: If you were given carte blanche to re-shape the world as you see fit; what would you change? Would you choose to keep anyone alive, given that you would have no fear of undesirable repercussions such as the prison sentences which keep people who share this mentality from slaying any who cross our paths from day-to-day?

Imperial: More so I would bring back the old systems that allowed man to be a lawless wanderer, shaping his own world to fit his own desires. Man prospered and became more intertwined with his beast form during nomadic times. Freedom from want, freedom from need. And if that didn't work then unleash the missiles...

Maelstrom: Would you say anything in this world is valuable, or worthy of our respect and pride?

Imperial: Nothing in the modern world is worth saving. Our history and ancient cultures/traditions from which we all come from. Every race should be proud of its heritage and maintain this pride in their daily functional lives. The old ways, before the plagues of modern life and religion, were best suited for man's needs. A world turned to ash so that it may be reborn like the Phoenix is the only way for us to reach the true potential that we are born with. Cleanse the races and creeds and allow the weak to be devoured by the wolves instead of giving them a crutch to lean on.

Maelstrom: You've said in response to the classic "are you a Satanist?" question that you borrow from many dark philosophies and religions while subscribing to none. Do you consider yourself a spiritual person or have any beliefs or theories about that which is beyond conventional reality?

Imperial: I am constantly in thought regarding my place and position in the world. Trying to figure out my individual purpose is an all encompassing ordeal and when combined with rational logic can weaken a person's "spiritual" side. I like the idea of an all enveloping void of knowledge and experiences which we leave when we die, the ultimate library of thought. That's a good way to look at spirituality.

Maelstrom: In the past you have been involved with Black Metal organisations (such as Akhenaten's NTF); and have mentioned a desire to bring worthy bands together. Is this purely for the sake of strengthening the underground to promote the music and ideology of Black Metal; or would you like a psuedo-terrorist organisation to eventually emerge in the vein of the Norwegian Black Circle?

Imperial: This is something I have no interest in anymore for several reasons. Every band has its own diverse way of looking at their philosophy and purpose and that diversity would be impossible to combine into one working organic movement. The time for such trivial nonsense is far over. Also, I don't work well with others; I get very bored very quickly of other people's nonsense.

Maelstrom: Do you have any desire to initiate any direct anti-human action in the fullness of time? Do you seek to achieve anything practical to further your ambitions through your music?

Imperial: My fights are for myself. I am practicing anti-humanity through my daily lifestyle and need nothing from the music of Krieg in that respect. I've always been anti-social and that would have remained regardless of my involvement with music.

Maelstrom: What are your views on the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center? I particularly wanted to ask you this, since you're based not so far from New York; and are both an American and a misanthrope...

Imperial: How our government did not see it coming is beyond me. America's involvement with foreign nations, especially the more barbaric Arab nations, has always been revoltingly bad for ourselves and counter productive, as over 6000 people now know. The ensuing war is entertaining since practically every citizen in this country feels we are invulnerable. The enemy is all around us, we've let them in and given them homes, jobs and funding. The enemy pumped my fucking gas this evening and he'll wash the dishes when I go to get breakfast before my classes tomorrow. It is time for every American to re-evaluate their world views and begin training for the coming battles within their own country.

Maelstrom: Now, Black Metal...The USBM scene always, bizarrely, seems the most patriotic: often very supportive of its home-grown bands and very disdainful of the various bands/scenes in the rest of the world in a way no other country's scene seems to be. This may well be because a lot of its best bands have been largely ignored in the past because of a lack of distribution and publicity; but what strikes me is the way the US seems to ready to forget that this music started in Europe - specifically Scandinavia; whether you're talking about the first wave or the second. I agree that most of the original greats have strayed too far from their roots to be of much consequence to us now; but music is ageless and remorseless. Terms like "Norgay" are often bandied about as if it was the source of all that is False BM and had given us nothing. Over here no one really gives a fuck where a band comes from; since there are so many posers and over-produced, piss-weak false bands emerging globally that we take what we can get, wherever it comes from. You acknowledge Antaeus as a great European band, but there are many more (Horna, Tsjuder, Anaal Nathrakh, Nargaroth, Nokturnal Mortum - almost anything released by Drakkar) - I'd say at least the same ratio of quality music against false crap that you have over there in the US. And I'm sure as Hell not being patriotic - it's an embarrassing fact that you can count the number of decent English Black Metal bands on the fingers of one badly mutilated hand...Would you say the US wants to establish itself as the new Norway; and wants a reputation as the country which produces the best Black Metal? If so, why - is there an element of jealousy that Europe is seen as the continent which dominates this genre?

Imperial: It's of no concern to me anymore, I support whom I support but you will not hear me claim the greatness of USBM any longer. There is a great deal of embarrassing bands and people in this country, as in any scene, and I'm too burned out on them to see very much greatness in "my" scene. I support bands which carry the torch of black metal to this day. The scenes in Finland, Austrailia and Canada are excellent these days, producing some of the finest crops of new blood the world could wish for. And I could not go without mentioning the fine works of Antaeus, Judas Iscariot, Nargaroth, Svartsyn, Pest (Fin) and Triumphator as far as the European front goes.

Maelstrom: I agree that the US is a largely untapped source of great bands, but would you say that any of the bands it has given the global scene are the equals of the original European greats?

Imperial: In the old days Profanatica, VON, Order from Chaos and a few others were able to match the greatness of European black metal. Right now Black Witchery, Open Grave, Demoncy and many others are aspiring to might in the world scene and having excellent rates of success with their strong music and personalities. But few could ever match the strength of bands like Darkthrone, Beherit, Burzum or Archgoat; these bands hold special meaning for me.

Maelstrom: For the great uninformed in Europe, can you name some of the best American bands we should check out?

Imperial: Black Witchery, Kult ov Azazel, Thornspawn, Noctuary, Open grave, Cult of Daath, Sarcophagus, Perverseraph, Absu (of course) and many others. It's very much trial and error as far as individual taste in concerned. Maelstrom: What are you listening to at the moment? Imperial: As I finish this interview I have listened to Selbstmord Some Day... CD and am listening to Pest's Black Imperial Hornsign demo. I will probably finish it up with something non metal as various ambient styled projects are keeping my interests easier than most new metal.

Maelstrom: Krieg's most recent releases have been less ambient than the older material; and yet you've hinted that you may return to that older style in the future. Do you have any interest in creating purely Black Ambient music at all?

Imperial: I will be recording a black ambient album titled World Funeral upon my return from Germany this December. Very similar to the later Havohej works. Also I am in the process of recording an album under the Nest moniker titled The Black House which is very similar to the ambient tracks on the new Krieg full length Destruction Ritual on Red Stream Records. This is such an easy medium to work with as far as constructing textures and despondent musical form as opposed to the more organic guitar/drum driven black metal. Both have their positives and I will not give up guitar oriented black metal with Krieg but will juggle the two styles in each session I work on.

Maelstrom: What can you tell us about the next Krieg full-length? Do you have any other forthcoming releases in the works?

Imperial: It's bass less, very abrasive and fucking fast. It's the polar opposite of The Church MCD in sound and I have re-recorded those tracks with new sections and sounds to give them a more "perfect vision." This is very important work for me and I spent literally years on this recording. It will be out on Red Stream Records this winter. Also in the works is a vinyl only full length titled Nemesis, which has more of a feel that the older Forgotten Woods/Burzum material held. This is to be released on Realms of Darkness Records. Also out soon are splits with Nachtmystium (on Vinland Winds) Lust (Profanation) and Open grave (on some label I'm not in contact with, God Vomit from OG is handling this end of the work) and the aforementioned World Funeral recording.

Maelstrom: You've said in the Rise of the Imperial Hordes booklet that you hate this recording. I think I read you were also unhappy with the way the material on the Kult of Azazel split was released. Which Krieg release would you say turned out the best, looking back on all you've recorded, or are you dissatisfied with them all?

Imperial: The new album is great in my eyes and I also very much enjoy the work on the SpikeKult four way split CD. But of course I am dissatisfied with parts of everything, I am overly critical of my work.

Maelstrom: I've read that most of the clips used in Rise of the Imperial Hordes are from the "Highlander" TV series; but what is that excellent clip at the beginning of "Coronation" from?

Imperial: "Transformers the Movie," this came about during a rehearsal session myself and Soth (my old comrade in arms) were having and this movie came on TV during the drunken aftermath. It just stuck with us and fits the song well.

Maelstrom: Are there any future plans for more Krieg live shows? How about other live performances with other bands (like Judas Iscariot or perhaps a Weltmacht gig)?

Imperial: We're touring Germany this December with Godless North, Inquisition and Secrets of the Moon and also playing this year's Sacrifice of the Nazarene Child fest in Texas. Expect Weltmacht to play somewhere in Europe next summer.

Maelstrom: Do you draw inspiration from any sources other than your own hatred and the bands that inspire you?

Imperial: Just living every day gives me new ideas and aesthetic values to add to Krieg. I take everything in, every injury and experience, and turn them into audial ideas which are realized through Krieg.

Maelstrom: Thank you for answering these questions - the last words are yours...

Imperial: The path to enlightenment lies only in your own self destruction....

visit Krieg on the web at http://www.angelfire.com/nj3/krieg/

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interview by: Steppenvvolf

Shortly after I got Entwine's superb album Gone to review, I got the chance to interview frontman Mika Tauriainen on their latest recording.

Maelstrom: I got your album Gone to review and the first thing that struck me when I looked at the cover was the name of your band. "Entwine" immediately made me think of The Lord of the Rings...

Mika: My favourite book. I've read it many times.

Maelstrom: Well, I've read it once only, but I immediately had to think of the Ents, the giant treelike people who protect the forests in middle-earth.

Mika (pictured at left): That's what I thought when I came to the [band] about two years ago.

Maelstrom: I thought it's very fittingly chosen for a Gothic Metal band, since Ents have a timeless attitude, speak slowly, think in terms of hundreds of years...

Mika: Yes, but it's not at all related to The Lord of the Rings.

Maelstrom: You didn't even think of adding something related to it to future albums?

Mika: I don't know, because I think I am the only band member who read that book.

Maelstrom: Speaking of forests, Finland has a lot of nature...

Mika: Yes, actually J.R.R. Tolkien studied the Northern languages and was in part inspired by the Nordic myths.

Maelstrom: Which region in Finland are you from?

Mika: From Lahti, it's 120km from Helsinki.

Maelstrom: Did you sing in other bands before you came to Entwine?

Mika: Yes, one other band, we played kind of a metal and rock'n'roll mix.

Maelstrom: Doesn't sound like you were very ambitious at that time.

Mika (at right): Ahm, no. You know, when I started singing, I knew: "one day I am going to be a fucking rock star!" (laughs).

Maelstrom: I see... So by now the band occupies most of your time?

Mika: Yes, it's an almost 24 hour job.

Maelstrom: What happened, that P.Willman, the previous singer of the band, left?

Mika: That's something I don't know. When Panel left and Aki asked me "Do you want to come and sing?" I just said "Yes, let's give it a try." It was love on the first sight...

Maelstrom: How nice!

Mika: Yes, it kicked me in!

Maelstrom: Who writes the melody for your songs?

Mika: Our guitarist, Tompa (pictured at left).

Maelstrom: I found his style of mixing different instruments from guitar over violin to cello is very interesting. Is he into classical music?

Mika: No, the violin sections were arranged by our producer, Anssi Kippo. Tompa does the whole arrangement for drums, guitars and so on. Except for the vocal melody; I am doing that on my own.

Maelstrom: He can play all those instruments?

Mika (at left on stage): Yes, but not in the studio of course.

Maelstrom: Who writes the lyrics then?

Mika (pictured on stage at Woodoo, Oulu, Finland 01/06/01): Me.

Maelstrom: Without exception?

Mika: No, actually two of the songs' lyrics are not...

Maelstrom: May I guess which ones?

Mika: Please do.

Maelstrom: "Snow White Suicide" and "Thru The Darkness."

Mika: Yes, that's right. They're not mine. How do you know?

Maelstrom: It's the content of the songs. Yours deal with unfulfilled love and breaking up relationships... How come?

Mika: Mmmh, I don't know. The Gone album is my relief from the past three years, you know.

Maelstrom: A bad experience?

Mika: One big bad experience, but it's also mixed with things I've heard from other people. Yet there's a lot of myself in the songs, very personal lyrics. This is what made my relief. If you write about those things, you understand better what you have done. When you understand something that has happened, you can look forward to new things again, if you know what I mean.

Maelstrom: You used the lyrics to reflect what happened. Speaking of myself. Isn't it sometimes like that one's pondering a problem all day long and then one day you wake up and you can put the answer into one simple sentence?

Mika: Yes, that's strange. Something old dies, something new is born.

Maelstrom: Personally, I like the song "Closer my Love" best. It sounds like an eternal sunset to me.

Mika: Yes, that's true. After all it's not a sad song...Something about closer, it's very personal, because when the melody… I suddenly had no words. And I had a vision already. It's been 13 years since my grandmother died. The songs are dedicated to my grandfather. What I thought is the closer is the things that my grandfather could have thought just before my grandmother died. For example, "The Last Breath." He can feel the last breath and when her breathing ceases, he's there. But when death comes, he's there and says: "Come on, there's no worries. This is relief for you."

Maelstrom: The association with an ongoing sunset seems to be not too far-fetched. A sunset too brings a day to the close and has this connotation of serenity. The sun is setting, her sun is setting...

Mika: Whatever happens. Death is part of living.

Maelstrom: It's probably even characteristic to Entwine's style: melancholic, but not sinister.

Mika: Yes, that's true. I remember one interview when the guy said: "You've got some suicidal things here, because you have "Snow White Suicide"…" And I said: "No fucking way. It's not a suicidal song. It's about fake, it's not about taking it too literally.

Maelstrom: What is "Snow White Suicide" exactly about?

Mika: Hard to explain. Tompa wrote it. It's like we got to find our peace before it goes too far. Our living...people kill themselves, because they're too "damned." They don't speak, they're too introverted. They can't come out before they die. Everything fades...

Maelstrom: Why did "New Dawn" climb to the single charts and not "Closer my Love"?

Mika: Because it's on the same single. Because there's an edit of the cml. It's like 4:33 and in the album it's 6 or 7 minutes.

Maelstrom: errh, yes, bad preparation of mine (*embarrased looks*). Where did I have my eyes....

Mika: Ok, I am not punishing you... this time.

Maelstrom: Yesterday I interviewed Kalmah. Do you know them?

Mika: I know the band's name, not the people.

Maelstrom: They too played US Death Metal at first, just as Entwine did, according to the band history.

Mika: You can listen to Paradise lost like it was in the 90s and how it is nowadays. Then, it was like *growls*.

Maelstrom: Do you think Finnish bands have this melody in their blood?

Mika: Basically, I am a pop listener. I think there's a misunderstanding in the band biography. It was in 93/94 when Aki and Tompa started playing together. I think Tompa wanted to go a lighter way and so they changed the style, but while being Entwine it never was US Death Metal. The earlier part of the band biography should be read rather separately from the younger history of Entwine.

Maelstrom: On your web page I discovered links to Nightwish, Sentenced and Children of Bodom. Does that express the favorite music styles of the band members?

Mika: No, I don't think so. But they were in the same company, Spikefarm Records. (keyboardist Riitta Heikkonen at left)

Maelstrom: Imagine Cristina from Nightwish would offer to sing in duo. Which song or which lyrics would you chose?

Mika: Aaahm... "Closer my Love."

Maelstrom: The answer to all my questions seems to be "Closer my Love"...

Mika: Mh, yeah, that's the thing. It's about forgetting, it's about leaving, having something new, dying, living, it's about everything. All in that one song. Whatever happens, you have to kick your ass and keep going forward. And I hate when everybody who is playing metal is like "oooh life is like suicide, I want to kill myself, I die. I am not buying that, that's bullshit. Pathetic shit. You've got to learn how to live.

(The following accompanied by bursts of laughter....)

Maelstrom: I AM SO EVIL!

Mika: YEAH!

Maelstrom: GROOWLL. MY BAND IS MORE EVIL THAN YOURS.

Mika: AND I WILL DIE BEFORE YOU DIE!

Maelstrom: YEEES!

Mika: AND I AM FROM NORWAY!

Maelstrom: Norwegians are more evil than Finns?

Mika: Yes, by far! They are living in the woods and I think they are very, very weird *laughs*. No, just kidding... That's rather stereotypes, made up by a few people.

Maelstrom: Ok, let's get half-way serious again. "New Dawn" has gone to the charts in Finland. Is it usual for Metal Music to go to Charts in Finland?

Mika: No, but there's a small niche for metal music nowadays in Finland. I don't know where it started, but there's a lot of good metal from Finland.

Maelstrom: Better than from Norway? (laughs)

Mika: Well it's different. They have the black metal thing. (so does Finland! See the next interview, below - Roberto)

Maelstrom: When are you going to release your next album?

Mika: I don't know the exact date, but we're going to the studio in January. We're going to pull it out in March or April. But there's no fixed release date yet. (bassist Joni Miettinen, left)

Maelstrom: Do you think your style is going to change again?

Mika: I think the next one is going to be better. What I think about our first album is: there's some good songs, but there's too much the same kind of songs. I don't get kicks from my own album. Then it's bad.

Maelstrom: Probably it's because you have worked on the things and you have done them. So they're just done for you. It doesn't mean that the album's bad.

Mika: No, no, it's like I have done songs to which I can listen nowadays. It's like I have kind of a shit-limiter in my head (laughs). It's like if you listen to Led Zeppelin nowadays it's still good, you never got bored of that band. I want our music to have the same feeling. You have to have more space. The next one is going to be more spacious and rock. It's going to kick you in the nuts.

Maelstrom: Nothing more like "Closer my Love"?

Mika: Well, no. That big song, we don't have that yet...but I think it's coming.

Maelstrom: Well, the long Finnish winter is still ahead...

Mika: (laughs) Yeah, we will wait. We'll put ten or eleven songs into the next album and we've got six or seven written already. It's a little bit more Pop, but it's not like H.I.M.

Maelstrom: A friend came in when I was listening to Gone and he said Entwine reminded him of H.I.M.

Mika: We've heard that from every corner. "You're just a cheap copy of H.I.M.," but those guys don't know what they are talking about. We've been doing this style before H.I.M became popular, but it's a shitty situation. In addition, I think our sound is more elaborate, not so "Pop." (drummer Aki Hanttu, left)

Maelstrom: Anything you do together with the other band members ?...except for drinking and making music I mean...

Mika: Yes, we do, tennis and badminton for example. In winter, sometimes ice hockey. So we are not drinking all the time...

Maelstrom: Can we expect any tours that will take you out of Finland?

Mika: Of course we'd like to, but we have no appointments yet.

Maelstrom: Anything you'd like to say to our readers?

Mika: Last bitch and then you die.

Maelstrom: So be it. Thanks for the interview.

visit Entwine on the web at http://www.entwine.cjb.net

                      

from left to right: Aki Hanttu (d), Riitta Heikkonen (k), Mika Taurainen (v), Joni Miettinen (b), Tom Mikkola (g)

All pictures taken from www.entwine.cjb.net

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interview by: Roberto Martinelli

Azaghal is sure to appeal to those who enjoy black metal whose substance lies in its apparent abscence of such. This three-man band from Finland has released two full length albums, the slower Mustamaa and the Immortal-like Helvetin Yhdeksän Piiriä, in addition to a demo compilation. Most recently, Azaghal released a split album with Beheaded Lamb. The material on the split sees Azaghal moving in more of a European death-influenced rock and roll flavored black metal. I contacted guitarist Narqath to speak to him about Azaghal's various approaches and future.

Maelstrom: Your style changed noticeably from Mustamaa to Helvetin Yhdeksän Piiriä. Please tell us about the difference in the way you approached both those albums. (I should tell you I much prefer Helvetin.)

Narqath (left): I had all the material composed for both of those albums when we started recording Mustamaa and we made a decision to split the stuff in half. We put all of the more primitive stuff to the Mustamaa album and put all the faster material to Helvetin Yhdeksän Piiriä album. We could have just as well made two more variable albums just as well. This is also the reason why these albums where both released in '99. They are sort of "companion" releases.

Maelstrom: The first song on Mustamaa has a riff whose guitar part and bass line sound exactly like the third song on Ulver's Bergtatt. Were you listening to that a lot at the time?

Narqath: No, not really. I didn't realize that it sounded THAT much like Ulver when I composed the song, but when our bass player added the bass line in the studio (we hadn't rehearsed the track with bass beforehand) I noticed that it was pretty similar to the Ulver track. It was not intended in any way, more of a subconscious thing I suppose.

Maelstrom: Who did the artwork for the interior of the Helvetin album?

Narqath: I don't know exactly; Evil Horde [label] handled all the artwork and layout stuff.

Maelstrom: What does Azaghal mean? Where did you get your band member names?

Narqath: Azaghal is from the Tolkien mythology, which I confess is not exactly the best source for a black metal band name, but at the time when we started the band we were highly (and of course still are) influenced by the early 90s Norwegian black metal scene where many bands had taken their names from Tolkien. I really don't know where the other members got their warnames, mine is just a name with no specific meaning behind it.

Maelstrom: The United States black metal scene likes to promote itself as being a return to the true essence of black metal. Bands here are known for their desire to embrace the raw and dirty aspects of the genre. I see a similar, less publicized trend happening in Finland with bands like Azaghal or Clandestine Blaze. What is your opinion of the quality of the black metal scene in Finland? What are your opinions, if any, of the US scene?

Narqath: I don't follow the Finnish bm scene too closely, here everybody just keeps to themselves and does their own thing so there really isn't a big bm scene in Finland so to speak. Couple of good Finnish bm bands are Zygote and Kingdom of Agony. USA for sure has a good BM scene at the moment with bands like Krieg, Cult of Daath, Inquisition, Misanthropy, Azrael and of course the mighty Havohej.

Maelstrom: How does a Finnish band end up on a Brazilian label?

Narqath: They offered us a good deal, simple as that. Besides, I have a lot of respect for Agathodaimon and his own band Murder Rape. Some bigger labels approached us after the Helvetin Yhdeksän Piiriä album but we have no intentions to sign with a big label. Black Metal is supposed to be extreme music for extreme people and not available in every goddamn supermarket. I think Evil Horde is one of the most dedicated black metal labels around.

Maelstrom: Your latest recording, the CD split with Beheaded Lamb, sees Azaghal moving in more of a rock 'n roll direction, especially on tracks "Suicide Anthem 2001" and "Kill Yourself." Please comment on the difference in approach to the new material.

Narqath: We are not moving into a new direction, this split CD was kind of a special release where we put all the tracks that didn't fit to our new albums concept (but which we still considered as being good material). So this split CD was a good opportunity to release something a bit different from our usual stuff. The next full-length Of Beasts and Vultures will be more direct continuation of Helvetin Yhdeksän Piiriä CD, altough still introducing new dimensions to our sound.

Maelstrom: Why did you choose the suicide theme? From what I've read, Finland apparently has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and the second in Europe. The country with the highest suicide rate in Europe is apparently Hungary. It was interesting to read an author's hypothesis that since the Finnish and Hungarian languages are like cousins, that aspects (like suicide) are mirrored between the two cultures.

Narqath: Well, suicide is a subject that everyone can relate to I think, I guess everyone has had their times of depression etc. And as this split CD was a different kind of Azaghal release in music aspect I also wanted to make it a bit different lyric wise. Well, I don't know if this suicide thing has anything to do with the fact that both Finnish and Hungarian are Finno-Ugrian languages, but it's still funny that you mentioned the relation between Finland and Hungary since I just started a new project which features an Hungarian vocalist.

Maelstrom: Do you also play bass, Narqath?

Narqath: On some of the recordings, yes.

Maelstrom: What does playing your music bring to you?

Narqath: It's like a "primal need" to me. Like eating, drinking and fucking. It's also an excellent forum to express my views to more people.

Maelstrom: Are you satisfied with the results of your albums? In a genre like the black metal that you play, in which lo-fi production is valued, is there nonetheless a "how to" way to produce albums?

Narqath: I am satisfied with our albums. Of course there are things that I would do differently nowadays but considering the circumstances of each recording session the results are OK I think. We have never planned what kind of production we want before we have started recording, I don't like to spend weeks thinking about sounds and mixing an album over and over again. I like working more spontaneously.

Maelstrom: When I went to Helsinki, I was surprised to see how much Swedish and Swedish culture plays a part in everyday Finnish life. I saw that all the street signs are in Finnish and then in Swedish underneath. Why is this still the case? How does this make you feel?

Narqath: Well, Swedish is the second official language in Finland so I think it's only natural that the signs etc. Are also in Swedish. This is only the case in the cities on the coast (like Helsinki, Turku, Vaasa). In inner Finland there are signs or anything in Swedish. (Azaghal vocalist Varjoherra, at right)

Maelstrom: I read in my guidebook to Finland that Finns culturally value those who can endure. The book made Finns seem quite strong, determined, and grim. Do you agree with what this person wrote? Are any of these cultural traits reflected in your black metal?

Narqath: I agree that description fits the Finns quite well, I think it's because of the climate when over half of the year there are only couple of hours of sunlight each day and the winter is long and cold. I also think these traits can be seen (or heard) in Finnish black metal as most of Finnish bm bands prefer the more raw and cruel black metal style.

Maelstrom: We hail and thank you for your time, Narqath. Please tell us what we can expect from next from Azaghal.

Narqath: The 3rd full-length CD Of Beasts and Vultures should be out by the end of this year. Also there is a new 7" coming (through Norwegian Aftermath Music) late this year. Also, our material from the 2 split CD's (the one with Mustan Kuun Lapset and the one with Beheaded Lamb) will be released on 12" vinyl (limited to 300) called Ihmisivha. It will also feature one exclusive track. We have also a new drummer in our ranks who is among the best and fastest drummers in Finland, so things are looking better than ever for Azaghal. Thanks for the intie & HAIL KING SATAN!

- no contact address!-

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interview by: Roberto Martinelli

This dark ambient project from England was creepy enough to scare off a potential writer to Maelstrom who claimed she liked ambient music. Haha! Certainly, to the uninitiated, Kerovnian could indeed be unsettling, but to fans of dark sounds it's cavernous depths are conforting. Thankfully, Kerovnian's sounds are devoid of the weedy keyboard sounds that plague many of the projects in this genre. Imagine the aural equivalent to the kind of "cyclopean" landscapes descibed in H.P. Lovecraft's works, and you've got a pretty good idea of what Kerovnian sounds like. 2001 sees the release of this projects latest, From the Depths of Haron, a sort of concept album that centers around the river Styx. I contacted Vlad K. to discuss the eerie world in which Kerovnian resides.

Maelstrom: Hello, Kerovnian! Your new album, From the Depths of Haron, has been described by one of Maelstrom's writers as "the audio equivalent of taking a walk by moonlight in some remote graveyard and been ravaged by a deranged beast, which then drags you into some deep sewer before consuming you slowly and painfully and enjoying every last strip of flesh and drop of blood." What do you think of that description?

Vlad: I cannot comment this exact description since we all have our own daemons and nightmares that are easily awaken by any kind of black/dark ambience. Personally, I can say that the (i)magery enveloped around Kerovnian is not based on standard cliché such as moonlit graveyards and werebeast howlings. Also, I do not perceive Kerovnian daemons to be some flesh-ripping deranged miscreants, but rather I consider them to be portions of our sub-consciousness, "materialised" in various forms of demonic manifestations, that eventually take the soul to a trip of darkness, and expose it to infinite oblivion and void that Kerovnian music strives to conjure. The abovementioned description is close enough to such experience, and definitely a mirror image of writer's own subconscious desires, hehe. But, after all, that is the nature of Chaos: we perceive only what we wish to perceive, and eventually what we think we wish to perceive, until we are consumed by our own desires and illusions. But isn't that the ultimate goal of the big Joke our Universe is?

Maelstrom: Track three is officially called "The Worm of the Broken Urn," but the long, drawn-out atrocious squishy sounds have caused me to unofficially dub it "the bout with evil diarrhea." What on earth is going on on this track?

Vlad: Yes, well, unfortunately I have read descriptions about this song, and I must admit, I am sad no one actually received what I intended. See, the Worm is again a projection of our subconscious symbolism, this time the symbolism of death and decay, in form that after years and years of trying to be "good persons who live by the book" we finally realise that our own purpose is to serve the infernal Entropy. Yes, the lovely Entropy that slowly but definitely eats a portion of each of us, each day, each month, each year. With each dream we have, a portion of ourselves dies. Since we are actually soulless symbiose of millions of our thoughts and emotions, the True Death is that of Mind, not of Body. And then the Worm is here to remind us of the fact. And what about the Urn? Obviously, it is the Primal Egg, the Prima Materia (some even consider it to be the Pandora's Box, but then, again, they are insane) of the Uncreation, where the Worm intentionally escaped to unmake us (once again). Perhaps that is the reason you consider it to be evil. Why, there is even a scientific support for this. They recently labeled a force as the Dark Force (or Dark Energy), which strives to push galaxies far away from each. Well, that is our lovely Worm. The Entropy, which will finally isolate entire galaxies to be eaten by their gigantic black holes in their centres (again a manifestation of the Entropy Worm), until there's nothing left to devour, leading to death of the black holes in screaming agony of their own event horizons slowly crushing upon the Singularity of their unexistence. And, isn't that one hell of a joke?

Maelstrom: In comparison to your previous album, Far Beyond, Before the Time, From the Depths of Haron takes a more minimal approach. Was there anything in particular that led you to doing this? What was your objective by making the sounds more sparse?

Vlad: For one thing, I don't like to repeat previous workings (although I think I have failed). And there is the complete symbolism of the album! The journey along Styx, along the regions of ... ? undocumented in any mythology. Conjuring such events in minds of the listeners can only be accomplished if you leave them space for the work of their own imagination. I tried to have the sounds as cues for their own perception of Negation, that lurks in the deepest parts of Stygian underworlds. On the other hand, I feel this is the right combination of sounds. I tried to add some more only to find that it was too much. The whole concept was then collapsed.

Maelstrom: Is Kerovnian a solo project? What kinds of instruments do you use (like, what makes the Worm noises?)?

Vlad: Yes, Kerovnian is my solo project. There are three more people who were supposed to help me out (and they did) with some concepts and sounds, but I prefer working alone. Regarding to the instruments, I use completely keyboards for most melodical parts, and self-made sampled sounds for the rest of melodical parts and sounds (like the Worm)... If I told you exactly what I do, it wouldn't be so fun to listen, now, would it? Hehe.

Maelstrom: What are your national origins?

Vlad: I am Croatian.

Maelstrom: Vocals are used to a greater and relatively more clear extent on the new album. The opening track, "Dripping in the Form of Styx," features a looped, hollow spoken part that seems to act more as a rhythmic device, as the voice is not speaking any coherent language. Or is it?

Vlad: I don't know about the language. After all, all this stupidity with some dark angelic language is driving me insane. It seems as if the Universe played another trick on me. So I responded with the cursing words, that the poor undead thing is repeating on the first track. Surely, back then it was a form of Greek/ Persian morphology; but that alone! It was all as false as the reflection of darkness in the mirror. (Until someone turns on the light). But, I lie to myself that it is all magick: the thought, the word. It is actually an array of symbols unperceived by the awaken mind, so that the sleeping mind can absorb it and manifest wonderful events in the quantum flow of our own existence. Or, in that case, stupidity. Oh, yes, my own stupidity and I ask you all to forgive me, as it was all illusion to my mind. Nevermore, as dear Poe would say. But, then again, yes, the language is coherent. As coherent as a cursing words towards the infernal faces that laugh insanely on the walls of our Universe. And why not use such pleasant curse as a rhythm device? Does it all have to be drums, guitars, strings, keyboards? Why, I can show you that a human being is polyphony of sounds, its thoughts concerting in plethora of tunes and rhythms. And, eventually, the word itself is a sound, so why not use it as an instrument? If I used any known language, then the meaning of words would shatter the exquisite sound that (undead) voice can produce. Take choirs for example. Wasting energy to sing written songs. Instead they should vibrate their own thoughts in forms of unheard languages and perceive thousands of hidden vocals and tunes in a single vibration of, for example, vocal 'O', where their lungs produce even more sounds as they exhaust the last bits of air left in them, and the oxygen depleted mind starts hallucinating. Until they collapse and feel joy for they have just produced a sound-shape entity.

Maelstrom: The lyrics provided in the booklet for From the Depths of Haron are not featured on the album itself, but seem to follow the tracks fairly closely. What kind of story are you aiming to tell? What are we to learn from the episodes?

Vlad: Well, as I said before, I wanted it to be a journey to the undocumented regions of, well, something, where Styx finally goes. Tartaros has been quite many times a spiritus movens for many stories. Well, me and Charon agreed I should perhaps tell a tale of what lays beyond. (don't you get tired of 'beyond' things?) And there are some tales about the Lady Death, about the Kronos (not the one from Greek mythology, but rather a symbol for the unexisting time) and death of whole space-time dimensions, then there is the mortuary of the sanity, the hunt for Worm and the escaped Shadows, etc... Finally, there is the sad spirit, crying in the maze. Crying? I don't think so. I would rather say laughing at us, and we just perceive its laughter as a cry. Once more the Universe tricked us, because that little thing is actually the Entropy Worm, in one of many of his manifestations. Don't you just wish to obliterate it? I once tried, and found that the battleaxe I used suddenly turned into a decayed worm's tail.... It is impossible to kill it. "The Worm is Us, We are the Worm...". And killing yourself won't actually kill the Worm. It will eventually find a way to trick us again, and will perish into another form of (un)existence as long as the Entropy is satisfied.

Maelstrom: Is Haron an alternate name for Charon, the boatman of the Styx?

Vlad: Yes, it is the real name, written in Latin letters. But he ain't no boatman, that is a lie.

Maelstrom: Who is the narrator in the story?

Vlad: I would say it is me. Or at least some manifestation of myself.

Maelstrom: How do you approach laying down the framework for a track? One would imagine traditional arrangements to be out the window.

Vlad: It depends of what do you think traditional arrangements to be? No, I have an image first, a concept in my mind. And with the concept come the emotions and sounds, and I simply try to imitate the (heard) sounds as best as I can. Some tunes and sounds come later purely as ornaments to the main thought.

Maelstrom: Please run us through the recording of a give track from your discography. What comes first? How long do you know how to play? What kind of timing is involved?

Vlad: For one thing, there is no timing, nor tempo. I hate it. I hate to structure the music through frames and boundaries. It is almost impossible to write my music with standard notation. I tried once, and then gave up. What is important is the first thought, the first complex of sounds I get with the vision (imagination) of a concept, and I simply add layers of sounds and tunes I find appropriate to the concept. Many times I have to change the upper layers or even change the complete soundwork. I hate when that happens. But eventually, the timing comes by itself. I sometimes have to cut it so that the tracks aren't boring.

Maelstrom: How do you feel about the genre you are classified as being in overlapping with the underground metal scene?

Vlad: Well, I came from black metal scene so I don't mind. Actually it would be very interesting to try to combine black metal and black ambient into a single project. I think that would be a new genre of its own, which will be liked both by black metal fans and black/dark ambience fans. It would surely be fun!

Maelstrom: Could you tell us what you were involved in?

Vlad: Well I was in two black metal bands (Haethen Mysticism and Dungeon), playing bass guitar and vocals. We were mostly having concerts, and worked on a serious album project, but I left to concentrate on Kerovnian and the bands continued on their own.

Maelstrom: Speaking of which, when you tell someone what kind of music you play, how do you describe it?

Vlad: It depends on how much that person understands music genres. I simply answer dark/black ambience, and they will either understand it or not. If they do, there is no need to describe any further unless they wish; if they don't there is no need to describe any further because they wouldn't understand it anyway. Fortunately there are not many people asking what kind of music I play, hehe.

Maelstrom: The booklet for From the Depths of Haron has a melty picture of what looks like a tragedy mask. The caption says "the Kerovnian." What is a Kerovnian?

Vlad: It is not a tragedy mask. Actually, when I think of it, yes, it is! It is a single face, torn to two parts, neither good nor evil. I would say painful. And that is Kerovnian. That is me. It represents the duality of multitudity (damn this!), that is the polymorphic nature of Kerovnian philosophy. It represents the insanity. Why? Because there is no difference between sanity and insanity. One face is sane, and the other is insane, but how can you tell which is which? You can't. It is all subject to perception and suggestion. I can shape my perception as I wish, and I try to share that perception with others through my music. And I think I somehow failed.

Maelstrom: What pleasure do you get from being involved in a project such as Kerovnian?

Vlad: I establish my presence in the space-time continuum?

Maelstrom: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Vlad: Mostly from the demons and miscreants of my corrupted imagination, although Obliveon has become a real entity now!

Maelstrom: How does Kerovnian measure success?

Vlad: I don't know. I never thought about it. I think answering to this interview is one form of success, don't you agree? My music is perceived, recognised, and people want to learn more about it. It think it is a form of success.

Maelstrom: Where does/can Kerovnian go from here? Do you see a point where staying in this style would stagnate?

Vlad: Yes, definitely. Kerovnian has to evolve, but perhaps this evolving will probably, along with other bands, bring dark/black ambience to new spheres? What I mean is the genre will evolve by itself, as many bands continually improve their music. And perhaps I will try to intersect genres into something new, and hopefully darker than this. Is it possible? I don't know, but I sure wish to find out.

Maelstrom: Thank you for your time and for your interesting work. We wish you luck.

Vlad: Thank you for your interest! Visit Kerovnian at www.angelfire.com/band/Kerovnian

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ANDROMEDA - Extension of the Wish - CD - Century Media Records

review by: Steppenvvolf

Andromeda's Extension of the Wish has been out for some time already but only now has found its way to our reviews. The band was introduced as playing progressive power metal, but actually I can't agree on this all too clear-cut definition of their style.

Songs such as "Star Shooter Supreme," being stylistically rather grungy in its character, will certainly disconcert anyone expecting a straight power metal album. To make matters worse, the keyboard interludes in that song won't find a big audience otherwise as well. The songs often miss a certain conciseness in rhythm and melody and stumble on and on from riff to riff.

The album indeed contains a bunch of nice riffs (especially the introductory one to the first song !) and songs ("Star Shooter Supreme," "Extension of the Wish"), but all in all, Andromeda has neither managed to give those riffs a voice in neither traditional nor in a new style.

 

 

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II=I (issue No 13)  

 

 

 

APHEX TWIN - Drukgs - CD - Warp Records

review by: Matt Smith

Richard D. James has done it again. The man who pioneered "intelligent techno" (and, as far as I know, is still its only practitioner) has come out with one more great release.

Drukgs as a whole is much mellower than many of the other things James has come out with. It is like a synthesis of the ambient sessions and his traditional "broken beats." Although he leaves the beats out of most of the two-CD set, he's included a couple of great examples with "Vordhosbn," "54 Cymrv Beats," and others.

Most of Drukgs is relatively slow. There are a few synth solos that really set the mood of the album - slow, melodic, and a bit sad. James has continually impressed me with his incredible musical ability and I've never been disappointed by anything he's ever done, really. This album is no different. He's got some interesting beats and beautiful harmonies as well as some discord and crazy use of sampling that makes you remember exactly whose work you're listening to. Nobody else could sound like Aphex Twin, and James' genius along with this originality is exactly what makes Drukgs an outstanding work.

 

 

 

 

 

BENEDICTION - Organized Chaos - CD - Nuclear Blast Records

review by: Matt Smith

The newest album from one of the most prolific death metal bands of the day was worth the three-year wait. Although many may remember Benediction for Napalm Death's Mark "Barney" Greenway, Benediction is prospering without him. Dave Hunt has a decent vocal style. Rough and gritty, but comprehensible. Death metal could use more vocalists who can be understood without liner notes. Not that every word is clear, but it's not hard to figure out if you listen really closely.

The production on Organized Chaos is great as well, with every voice sitting exactly where it should. Neil Hutton plays some tight drums, laying down a perfect beat every time and adding some impressive fills. Great guitar riffs add to the sound to make this album the epitome of all death should be. It's not all hard, though, and Benediction shows that they can do slower, softer stuff with "Easy Way to Die." Melodic guitars set the song up, and it stays downtempo through its entirety. This is one of the best songs on the album, and is a welcome intermission from the rest of the DEATH. Organized Chaos makes it clear that Benediction has not gotten too comfortable with their almost legendary status. They've used their decade of metal experience to stay on top of the game, producing one more great CD to add to the collection.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAOS AS SHELTER - Midnight Prayer/ Illusion - CD - Crowd Control Records

review by: Roberto Martinelli

Chaos as Shelter is a one man ambient project from Israel. The material on this double album can be described as dark, but not evil sounding like projects like Herbst9 or Kerovnian.

Sighing, sultry horns mix with the sounds of wading into a pool of electric water, a shower of metallic drops, acoustic guitar, and some harmonic chants contribute to but a small bit of the plethora or sounds to be enjoyed on Midnight Prayer/ Illusion. Now imagine these elements if they were all recorded in some sort of cavernous aluminum air duct, and you've got a pretty good idea of what you can expect.

Vadim Gusis, the force behind Chaos as Shelter, has said that his material is best enjoyed in utter silence at around 4 or 5 A.M. This seems to be quite a fitting recommendation, as the sounds on Midnight Prayer/Illusion are soothing and etheral; they enter the brain smoothly - as if imbibed with a unique melody. Although the music is produced almost entirely with electronic equipment, it almost makes one think of some kind of alternate natural world, albeit one encapsulated in pliable metal.

The agreeable mix of ambient, electronics, voice, acoustics and Israeli folk music influences make this album highly recommended to fans of dark ambient and dilletantes alike.

 

 

 

 

 

DARKTHRONE - Plague Wielder - CD - Moonfog Records

review by: Roberto Martinelli

Darkthrone returns. Is their new album, Plague Wielder, better than Ravishing Grimness, the one before it? Yes, thank evil. As much as we regret it, Ravishing Grimness was a yawner. It was like the (now two) members of Darkthrone were playing their minimal black metal sipping true Nordic beer from under their respective favorite evil, shady trees: it was just too laid back, and the quality of the riffs didn't warrant the length of the songs.

Plague Wielder
sees this most seminal of Norwegian black metal bands getting angry again. But don't expect a return to Transilvanian Hunger. The days of the one-chord riff and evil lawn sprinkler percussion seem to have ended with Panzerfaust. The structures for the last two albums have been more rock n' roll, snare on 2 and 4. Whereas Darkthrone once made it a point to release anti-everything albums; albums to which no one could possibly dance to, you can actually bang your head to Plague Wielder. Fenriz' drumming is much more prominent, and he uses a lot of double kick on this one. Also present are more drum fills than we're used to. The production, while still fitting to the Darkthrone ideal, is no longer necro. This factor may or may not contribute to what Nocturno Culto's vocals now sound like, but the end result is that Culto's vocals are nowhere near the stark frigidness that was achieved on the likes of Goatlord.

Track one, "Weakling Avenger," opens up with the kind of satisfyingly cheesy and nonsensical lyrical stuff we expect from Darkthrone, and then launches into a buzzing, evil riff that tells us this is going to be a pretty good album. The level of quality stays pretty high through the first four tracks, but track five (the curiously titled "I, Voidhanger") suffers from the same problem that most of the material on Ravishing Grimness did. In other words, the main riff ain't all that great, but it keeps getting repeated. Track six ("Wreak") is better, but isn't quite as good as the first four cuts. Like Ravishing Grimness, there are but six songs on this 42-minute album.

With the introduction of the first instance of color ever seen on a Darkthrone release, it seems that the band has ceased to go for the cold and minimal approach that it once embraced. Rest assured that the new version of Darkthrone will still be identifiable to you, although if you've got your heart set on hearing something cult and necro, you'd better go look for one of the many bands that Darkthrone has spawned.

 

 

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Preparing for War (issue No 2)  
Evil Past (issue No 5)  
Hate Them (issue No 13)  

 

 

 

DARK FORTRESS - Tales from Eternal Dusk - CD - Red Stream Records

review by: Roberto Martinelli

After an excellent, cavernous Gregorian chant intro track, Dark Fortress' music seems to signal that Tales from Eternal Dusk is going to be a snoozer. Thankfully, it only takes a couple of minutes of listening to this German melodic black/death band to realize that this is a quality album. The sense of mediocrity is soon replaced with the established black metal style of amorphous and speedy melodies and harmonies. While the melodies presented on Tales from Eternal Dusk aren't groundbreaking for the genre, they are quite good and will certainly appeal to fans of extreme Swedish metal bands such as Dawn and Thy Primordial. Fans of Dissection are especially encouraged to check this album out.

The only real, lingering criticism of this disk is how tracks that run over into the next track don't segue smoothly. Rather, the sound cuts out as the track changes, only to resume a second later, like the album has the hiccups. Although sloppy and somewhat annoying, this is really a minor flaw in an otherwise good album.

 

 

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DARK FUNERAL - Diabolis Interium - CD - No Fashion Records

review by: Jez Andrews

No Fashion At last! I was jumping through hoops when I first heard that Dark Funeral were about to release their third full-length album. Let me say that this by no means picks up where Vobiscum Satanas left off, nor was Teach Children to Worship Satan any kind of taste for things to come. Diabolis Interium is an altogether more crushing (and varied) Dark Funeral album.

The rasping vocals of Magus Caligula are quite simply wonderful, as is the trademark Tagtgren sound. Without question, this is their finest work since the self-titled debut mini CD. One thing that interests me about Diabolis Interium is the changes in tempo, particularly the slow-paced thunder of "Goddess Of Sodomy," and the deep-throated scream along chorus of "Hail Murder." The blastbeats are a lot more pronounced than before, and there is also a more violent edge to the lyrics. Each track stands out on its own, in a way that the tracks on Vobiscum Satanas (despite their excellence) simply didn't.

Earlier songs, such as "Open the Gates" and "My Dark Desires" (both Dark Funeral classics in my book) were a tough act to follow, but the ineffable kings of darkness have, yet again, delivered the goods. Say what you will, but I believe the future of black metal is safe...

 

 

 

 

 

DEATH - Live in L.A. - CD - Nuclear Blast Records

review by: Jez Andrews

As I know so little of Death's studio work, this is being judged purely on its own merits as a live album. I think I should point out that this album was made to test the limits of hi-fi speakers everywhere. When I first played it at a low volume, all I could think was 'Hmmmm....something wrong here...'. As tight a live act as I could ever wish for, Death come through in fine style, with Chuck screaming his heart out for the occasion. It's a fantastic piece of work that really reminds us what metal is all about. Very difficult to call the stand-out tracks on this one, although "Zero Tolerance" and "Together As One" were my personal favourites. Great sound too, not only the mix, but the sound of a great live band giving it their all.

Make no mistake, this is a bastard good album, and for me, a proper introduction to a band which shows the biggest and baddest of them how it's done. Go get it. That's an order.

 

 

 

 

 

DESTROYER 666 - Phoenix Rising - CD - Renegade Records

review by: Jez Andrews

As I was none too impressed with Destroyer 666's live performance at Wacken, I initially greeted the CD material with scepticism. It isn't often that I'm caught off guard like this, but I have to admit that Phoenix Rising was quite a nice surprise. No...actually, I take that back. It fucking ruled. A glorious blend of old school thrash and black metal. I preferred not to compare it to bands from either genre, as I was too busy headbanging to think of any. "I Am The Wargod (Ode To The Battle Slain)" is an anthem for true metal if ever I heard one. So metal that it hurts, with some delightfully evil vocals to boot.

"Lone Wolf Winter" also ranks as one of the best tracks on the album. It's also nice to hear all the members of the band having a chance to display their individual skills. What can I say? Phoenix Rising has the attitude, the aggression, and it just gives the listener that special kind of rush. Mark my words, albums like this are few and far between.

 

 

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ENTWINE - Gone - CD - Century Media Records

review by: Steppenvvolf

Sometimes you put a CD into the player, press "play" and straight after the first minute you realize that this is the band you've been waiting for. Contrary to other Gothic Metal bands, Entwine's style is melancholic, but not sinister; for the most part slow and yet intense; sorrowful, but not bleak.

Their songs are largely led by the basic line-up of guitar, keyboard, bass and drums, but in contrast to bands such as Crematory or Theatre of Tragedy, their song lines are much more creative. Moments of unaccompanied dulcet keyboard harmonies change for intense, sustained guitar chords, which in turn give the offset for violin and cello interplays. They allow the respective instruments to colorfully accentuate the songs without resorting to the simple verse-refrain-solo setting. In this respect they have continued the path they had taken on with their previous material.

Aficionados will certainly agree that the band has considerably benefited from Mika Tauriainen (interviewed in this issue), who replaced old singer P. Willman after their debut album The Treasures within Hearts. Gone are the times when you were anxiously expecting the entry of the vocals (and only the vocals!), the worst example being probably "Unveiled Woman" from the aforementioned album. Mika in contrast comes over with a distinct and plaintive voice, which certainly meets the air of the songs.

I am always suspicious of metal bands which made it to the top on the mainstream hit parade, but Entwine has taught me to know better: "New Dawn" in its single release made it to No.10 on the Finnish Single charts. In this case it is probably more apt to attribute this success to their ability to span a wide audience instead of assuming genuflection to the masses. All in all Entwine managed to bring together the full potential of every instrument and fit it into a finely-chiseled overall work. Buy!

 

 

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Time of Despair (issue No 11)  

 

 

 

FINNTROLL - Jaktens Tid - CD - Century Media Records

review by: ~Vargscarr~

As a fan of Finntroll's debut release, I had high hopes for this follow up. Their music was Blackish Metal, very folky and quite mysterious. It was shady moss-covered forest groves and weird stone circles covered in phosphorescent fungus glowing in the moonlight. It also tempered this ethereal mood with a good amount of Thrashy, extreme Metal.

If Finntroll had wanted, they could have gone in a more raw direction and ended up not so very far from Nokturnal Mortum's Nechrist in terms of their sound; though they'd never come close to capturing Nokturnal Mortem's evil in their music. Sadly they've gone the opposite route with Jaktens Tid; turning up the commercial appeal and becoming more of a novelty band. I can see this CD being sold in the same Scandinavian tourist shops that are stacked with cute little plastic trolls, postcards and overpriced stainless steel sword-like objects.

The music is far less extreme, and though extremity was never really what Finntroll seemed to be about, it nevertheless gave the first album more integrity - which is very much lacking here. Though the song structure is more complex, it now has that heard-it-before-and-better feel that accompanies too many Folky-Metal albums that rely too heavily on keyboards and give them precedence over guitar arrangements.

It's less mysterious, less genuinely weird, perhaps because the synths feel more grandiose this time around; and though the first album couldn't be described as raw, it was certainly cooked for much less time than this. It was a concentration of good ideas and seemed like it was knocked out easily and more quickly than this album; which feels like its been worked over far too much. If you think Black Metal is Ancient, Old Man's Child and Dimmu Borgir; pick it up. If you're enamoured with the first album, listen first.

 

 

 

 

 

GAMMA RAY - No World Order - CD - Noise Records

review by: Roberto Martinelli

There is no doubt that Gamma Ray is one of the most popular and successful power metal bands in the world. What's astounding is that considering this, Gamma Ray doesn't have its own signature sound. It's incredible. Whereas critics of Stratovarius will point out that that band has been remaking the same album over and over again for the past six years, at least you can clearly identify a Stratovarius album when you hear one.

And then there is Gamma Ray, this baffling entity. The band's last album, Powerplant, received much critical acclaim, despite being nothing but a compilation of riffs and signatures stolen from other well-known (and lesser well-known) bands. The best song on that album was ironically the Pet Shop Boys' "It's a Sin," which we suppose worked because we knew coming in that, being a cover, Gamma Ray wasn't expecting us to hope for any original ideas.

And so we are presented with No World Order, which is a remake of Powerplant, except not as fun. At least Powerplant had hilarious choruses that were cheesy but catchy ("Anywhere!…in the galaxy! (backup singer) IN THE GA-LA-XIIIIIIIE!!!") to go along with the shocking void of originality factor. But it's worse than that. There is very little effort to cover up the cut out pieces of previous bands' ideas. "The Heart of the Unicorn" is a Judas Priest song under another name. On this song, and at least two others, I couldn't help but sing "He.Is.The Pain-Killah!" to myself during the choruses. "Solid" may just as well have been named "Rapid Fire 2."

"Damn the Machine" not only is an obvious Metallica clone, but Kai Hansen even adopts a James Hetfield-like vocal punctuation. What gives? Gamma Ray will go from a part that sounds like Manowar, to a part that sounds like Judas Priest, to a part that sounds like Metallica, to a part that sounds like Helloween (not to mention all the other riffs that reminded me of other bands which I can't immediately place), all in one song. We should at least excuse the Helloween similarities, as Hansen did found that band. But come on; "Fire Below" features a chorus that sounds like a reworking of the chorus from "Out of the Silent Planet" from Iron Maiden's latest album.

There is no question regarding Gamma Ray's musical talents. Kai Hansen can play guitar well, and he's a gifted singer. Dan Zimmermann is a great drummer, and Henjo Richter and Dirk Schlächter are unquestionably in the band because of their ability, but how can the end result be this lame? Are we being more severe with Gamma Ray than a lesser-known band? Certainly, but Kai Hansen and Gamma Ray should be expected to live up to the hype and find their own voice rather than releasing album after album of blatant riff recycle.

 

 

 

 

 

HEAVENLY - Sign of the Winner - CD - Noise Records

review by: Roberto Martinelli

This French power metal band sounds a great deal like Stratovarius. Even vocalist Ben Sotto's delivery often sounds like Timo Koltipelto's signature yelps. During some of the guitar solos, Heavenly show some chops that Iron Maiden (most specifically, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son) immortalized in the 80s. Later on in the disk, blatant Angra worship is made clear: the opening to the last track, "Until the End," sounds EXACTLY like Angra's "Evil Warning" from the Angels Cry album; I initially thought it was a cover. Sotto even does that slide-whistle thing with his voice that Andre Matos does.

This all means you can expect run-of-the mill melodic, happy, double bass overkill-driven power metal. If you're at all on the fence about this genre, steer clear. What Heavenly have got going for them is excellent musicianship, good energy, and a talented singer.

Like just about all of the power metal put out by Noise (and on any label featuring power metal bands coming out of Europe). However, Heavenly is little more than a gifted copycat band. If this is something you can live with, then you may enjoy this. Hell, if you're a Stratovarius fan (I'm guilty), you accept getting the same album over and over again (that's why you like it), so you probably won't much mind the minor technicality that this isn't actually Stratovarius. This isn't a bad album by any means; in fact there was only one insufferably dodgy track, the ballad "The Angel."

All things considered, we would recommend you waiting for Sign of the Winner (it turned out to be impossible to get through this review without pointing out the dorkiness of the title) to turn up used.

 

 

 

 

 

HOLLENTHON - With Vilest of Worms to Dwell - CD - Napalm Records

review by: Roberto Martinelli

If there are any Imperial Tie Fighter pilots out there who are into metal (the Dark Side = metal. What else would they be into?), then Hollenthon's With Vilest of Worms to Dwell is what they play through their helmet headphones while dogfighting with rebel forces.

We can't help but be reminded of Star Wars when listening to this album. It's mostly because of the horns. When they kick in on "Y Darig Goch," the first thing that jumps to mind is "ooh, the Imperials are attacking a rebel outpost." The Star Wars imagery comes back again and again throughout the disk.

Don't think for an instant that this album is a joke. Ok, those who think stuff like Pan-Thy-Monium is "gay" will say the same about this, but we don't need those people. The fact is that what at least sounds like violins and horns (it seems that the instruments are synthesized, but you won't be able to tell) are used brilliantly, and energetically infuses the music with a dramatic splendor.

Horns and stuff aside, With Vilest of Worms is top-notch in every respect. Our personal favorite, "Woe to the Defeated," starts of with an Irish sounding violin part before shifting gears to an aggressive, At the Gates-like riff and rhythm. The song trades of vocally with verses in a growled style with a clean-sung chorus. The contrast works excellently. You'll really enjoy the exhilarating dynamics as the song takes off on a couple of occasions as the double bass rips behind an outstanding and fresh guitar solo.

The vocal arrangements and styles are one of the key elements in Hollenthon's knack to keep things interesting. In "The Calm Before the Storm," the clean male vocals make another appearance, and sound a little like the vocals on Falconer's debut album (review in issue #4), except Martin Shirence, Hollenthon's singer, is more talented. Clean female vocals also are featured on a track or two, and also simply add to the album's hooks.

Aside from the excellent production, exquisite riffs and arrangements, and godly musicianship, Hollenthon's greatest asset is having been able to assemble an eight-song album in which each song is very distinct and yet all of them fucking rule. This is indeed uncommon in the metal world, where more often than not songs on an album will sound pretty similar. This is fine with us, as if we like a song by a band, we won't especially mind hearing similar songs. Call it "The Bolt Thrower Theory." It's ironically the bands that try to go for something totally different who stand the most chance to fail, but not in this case. If you want some metal that kicks ass but is a lot of fun at the same time, then get this before you get anything else.

 

 

 

 

 

ICED EARTH - Horror Show - CD - Century Media Records

review by: Jez Andrews

Iced Earth is, without question, one of the finest power metal acts around. America's modern day answer to Iron Maiden? Possibly. But there is something about the music that is totally their own, and a kind of elegance somewhat hard to find in today's metal scene. Horror Show turned out to a very listenable album. It doesn't have the instantly loveable hooks of their landmark Something Wicked This Way Comes, but maybe that's a good thing. It brings new life to an old style, with the help of producer Jim Morris.

The soaring vocal combination of Matthew Barlow and founding member Jon Schaffer is used to wonderful effect. Backed up by Larry Tarnowski and Schaffer's blistering guitar work, with bassist Steve DiGorgio (Death, Testament, Sadus), and the frankly phenomenal drumming of Richard Christy (Death, Control Denied) driving it forward.

Each track is based on a different villain or monster ("Wolf," "Damien," "Dracula," and so on). As an album, I wouldn't say it surpasses its predecessor, but it most certainly doesn't live in its shadow. The sheer excellence of "Jekyll & Hyde" and "Frankenstein," as well as a very worthy cover of Maiden's "Transylvania," take Iced Earth into new realms of metal supremacy.

Although Horror Show may take a couple of listens for some to get into it, the album itself has too many virtues to be ignored. And is it a world in which to hide virtues? It's loud, proud, heavy, inspiring, and it's...well....it's Iced Earth.

 

 

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IRON FIRE - On the Edge - CD - Noise Records

review by: Laurent Martini

All of Iron Fire's promos describe the band as Power Metal and unfortunately the Danish quintet tries too hard to live up to that image. On The Edge's best tracks are more Pop Metal (think Europe) and it is when the band decides not to fight their obvious musical direction that the album truly shines.

The album starts out a bit too over the top and melodramatic with ominously sounding bells and hollow winds and with titles like "Prince of Agony," "Into The Abyss" and "Forever Evil," one can tell that the band is trying too hard to be dark and malicious. On those songs, the music is not only flat but also sounds like a bland cover of musical styles successfully accomplished better by less talented bands. It is only when Iron Fire accepts what they are, Pop Metal, that the album takes off. On tracks like Thunderspirit" and "Miracle" all of the elements of great musicianship, focused lyrics, memorable melodies, and originality come together perfectly. These are songs that you'll not only remember but want to listen to again and again until you figure out how to play them in order to impress your friends.

The most frustrating part of the whole album is that throughout most of the songs the musicianship is quite good yet come the chorus, the band seems to revert back to two chords, heavy grunts, and silly rhymes. Let's admit it kids, rhyming "true and you," "rain and pain," and "fun and run" is something that Wilson Phillips was proud to do.

All around, the music is definitely polished. With guitarists Kristian Hegelund and Martin Slott feeding off each other perfectly with original licks and almost pop catchy melodies and with lead singer Martin Steene's voice a cross between Sebastian Bach at his best and Joe Belladonna at his fiercest, Iron Fire has all the tools needed to rock and rock hard. I only hope that the band matures enough to disregard what the ad department at Noise Records has decided to market them as.

 

 

 

 

 

IRON SAVIOR - Dark Assault - CD - Noise Records

review by: Roberto Martinelli

Totally generic and tedious power metal is what Iron Savior offers on Dark Assault. My previous exposure to this band was with its self-titled debut album in 1997. That one featured Blind Guardian's drummer and sounded in fact like second rate Blind Guardian. Members of other prominent German power metal bands, like drummer Dan Zimmerman (of Gamma Ray and the hilarious Freedom Call) and Kai Hansen (also of Gamma Ray, which, come to think of it, is also pretty hilarious in its own right) are part of the current lineup.

The biggest problem this album has is a complete lack of a soul. It's true that the more tangible, empirical elements such as production and musicianship are beyond criticism, but it sounds like Iron Savior just isn't trying, like this album was slapped together in a hurry in the hopes that the members' names and instrument playing skills would be able to carry the band. They don't.

The first song barely ekes by its end, but whatever favorable elements that it might present to the listener are quickly erased by the barrage of boring riffs, uninteresting vocals and bland drum work in the songs that follow. We don't think this album could even be recommended to Gamma Ray fans, because at least that band's Powerplant album is a catchy scream in its being cheesy and generic. Dark Assault is just dull, dull, dull.

 

 

 

 

 

KALMAH - Swamplord - CD - Century Media Records

review by: Steppenvvolf

Don't be deluded into thinking of Kalmah as some Gothic metal band as the tranquil cover with the swamplord might suggest. Eight tracks of solid melodic death metal in tradition with the style of bands such as Children of Bodom, In Flames or Dark Tranquillity give the cover creature little time to rest its trident.

The line is hard to draw, but unlike Childre of Bodom, Kalmah has cut back in keyboard coloration and added more pace to its songs than In Flames. The pace is not really an effect of stepping up on drumming though. In Flames' recordings often give me the impression of being obscured too much by dominant vocals, Kalmah's assets are the melody-carrying instruments in full force. An exception to this general impression is the finish of the first song "Evil in You," which fades smoothly into Bach-style classical keyboard.

Technically perfect solos and an especially catchy intro to "Hades" earn a recommendation to peek into Kalmah's debut album. In particular if you're a die-hard fan of the aformentioned bands of the genre. See their website for samples.

 

 

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They Will Return (issue No 10)  
Swampsong (issue No 14)  

 

 

 

KAMELOT - Karma - CD - Noise Records

review by: Jez Andrews

Ah, Kamelot. As power metal bands go, you could do a lot worse. Right from the opening blast of 'Forever', this one is both catchy and well executed. The musicianship and production (courtesy of Rhapsody producers Sascha Paeth and Miro) are damn near flawless. That said, there is something about Karma that just fails to hit the spot. Despite some nice heavy riffing, Kamelot somehow don't pack the kind of punch found in the music of Rhapsody, Iced Earth, or Nightwish. This, I suspect, has a lot to do with the sickly romantic overtones throughout the album. Vocalist Khan should honestly have left the likes of "Don't You Cry" and "Temples of Gold" for serenading his lady love. But it's the French translation of 'Don't You Cry' on track 13 that just takes the fucking biscuit. I feel my stomach turn just thinking about it.

Karma still has its charms though. "Wings of Despair" and the title track provide the album with some of its stronger moments, and the song arrangements throughout can't really be faulted. It's a mixed bag with its heart in the right place, but fiery, punchy power metal it certainly ain't.

 

 

 

 

 

KATAKLYSM - Epic: The Poetry of War - CD - Nuclear Blast Records

review by: Roberto Martinelli

The old Kataklysm is back…sort of. This French Canadian band caused the equivalent of a scandal in the death metal world by completely abandoning their established style when they released 1998's Victims of this Fallen World after the departure of their most influencial member, vocalist Sylvain Houde. The album just about ruined the band's cred. Kataklysm was quick to try to regain the faith of their fans, and have since made two albums, the most recent of which is Epic: The Poetry of War.

Indeed Kataklysm continues to produce blast beat-laden death metal. However, the days of the material like that on Kataklysm's finest release, 1996' The Temple of Knowledge, seem to be over. While that one was an exhilarating din of progressive technicality that really challenged your ear, Epic sees the band going in a much simpler direction. This is by far the most melodic album I've heard from this band. While their pre Victims albums (such as The Mystical Gate of Reincarnation, Sorcery and The Temple) basically had no melody, Epic employs quite a lot of riffs whose melodies and harmonies remind us of Swedish melodic death.

The higher pitched, raspier vocals are also a bit reminiscent of the kind of sound that comes from the throats of vocalists from bands such as In Flames. However, Kataklysm's vocal delivery and variety is far superior to the abysmal likes of Arch Enemy or In Flames, as Maurizio Iacono's vocals are multi-tracked into effectively three different ranges: a death/hardcore voice that reminds us of Cryptopsy's Mike DiSalvo, the aforementioned sort-of Swedish style, and a gut-vomiting almost black metal whisper/rasp. The vocals themselves are pretty well done, except for on track six, where the boring solo vocal intro and banal phrasings make the song a skipper.

Unlike the set that Kataklysm put on at the Milwaukee Metalfest (see last issue), the bands drums are working on all cylinders on Epic. The blasts are well done and the drums at least sound organic. Unfortunately, the material, while good, isn't strong enough to carry the listener through all nine tracks. The first few tracks are entertaining and the riffs interesting, but around the fifth track, things start to get old. Kataklysm provide well produced and played death metal, but the relative lack in technicality and song variety make Epic less than an album that you should feel compelled to buy.

 

 

Related reviews:
 
Shadows and Dust (issue No 10)  

 

 

 

KRISIUN - Ageless Venemous - CD - Century Media Records

review by: Roberto Martinelli

Have you ever taken a long car trip? You know, the kind that sees you driving on long stretches of freeway that is straight as an arrow, with little or no cars around you? Perhaps you're listening to music or whatever it is that dulls your attention from your driving, look down at the speedometer, and see that you're going 100 miles per hour. Funny, but it doesn't seem that fast. The absence of acceleration/deceleration and turns in the road has kept you from noticing how fast you really are traveling. This is what listening to Krisiun is like.

Yes, Krisiun play fast, and are flawlessly tight, but they are a criminal bore, as they steadfastly refuse to incorporate dynamics into their music. To make matters worse on this particular album are the drums, which we immediately notice are too loud. This problem would be lessened if only a kick drum sound that resembles anything found in acoustic drum nature had been chosen instead of the crap triggered job that has been opted for. In terms of all time rankings, the sound of the never wavering kick drum cadence on Ageless Venemous rivals that found on Cradle of Filth's Cruelty and the Beast in regards to how garbage it is. The woody thwack of the computer generated sound reminds us of an amplified woodpecker on overdrive.

Krisiun doesn't do too much to pique our interest with the riffs they write, either, as most are quite banal and almost sing-songey in a death metal way. The area of the album that does provide for some exhilaration comes from the blazing guitar solos. Unfortunately, these solos play a role that is entirely too short in the makeup of the songs to make much difference in the final impact of the music. Even if the solos were longer, we can't help but wonder how soon the unsurprisingly mechanical and direct approach would grow tiresome.

Ageless Venemous works best as a CD you would throw on while doing something that would prevent you from scrutinizing the music too closely. The album would work well as a sonic background to playing video games, as the never varying tempos and vocals of the material makes for good filler.

This is the strange truth about the duality of Krisiun's Jekyll and Hyde persona: I may never have seen a more killer live show than Krisiun's performance at Metalfest 2001, despite having heard their material on CD before and largely feeling the same as I do about Ageless Venemous. While the jaw dropping guitar leads and overall energy work very well in a live setting, the very same elements fall flat on CD. It's ironic that while this album was obviously produced with the object in mind of being totally brutal, Ageless Venemous instead comes off as anything but.

 

 

 

 

 

LACERATION - Demo - CD - www.geocities.com/laceration6/index.html

review by: Matt Smith

Laceration, despite poor production quality, managed to impress me quite a bit. They've got a mainly traditional death metal sound, with a clear, and admitted, thrash (specifically Slayer) influence. Matt Hebert has a much more raspy-sounding voice than Tom Araya however, and Laceration is grittier as a whole.

Laceration's website lists many death influences, but not much else. Interestingly, "Before My Eyes" uses some melodic guitars and an accompanying singing-growl that are reminiscent of some sort of black metal. The rest is death, plain and simple. Jake Snover's drumming is completely frantic - parts of the album contain some of the fastest fills I remember hearing from any death metal group. Not all of it is completely accurate, but most tends to keep the beat pretty well. Blastbeats abound as well, making Laceration's sound even more like other death bands.

Deep guitar chords encourage head-banging. The lead guitar tends to have some high, whining solos that are relatively slow and uncomplicated. These solos aren't awful, but they're not particularly good, either. Simplistic solos may have something to do with the rough texture of Laceration's sound, but more complex ones would be desirable. Laceration could definitely go places with some practice and a better-sounding release, production-wise. Their album is worth a listen, but I bet they'd be better live.

 

 

 

 

 

LEVIATHAN - Ten - Cassette - Wrest, 404 Ashbury St. #2, San Francisco, CA 94117

review by: Roberto Martinelli

One-man project Leviathan rolls on to yet another release with the self-intuitively named Ten. If you haven't read about Leviathan, please check out our previous issues section to see the reviews we've written about this phenomenal black metal project.

Ten is by far the most heavy metal work that sole band member Wrest has done to date. Ever since Leviathan's seventh album, Wrest's material has been getting less atmospheric and more musical. Second track "Shrapnel" is made up entirely of infectious traditional chugging metal riffs. The high processed vocal rasp that was largely absent from previous record Nine (Inclement Derision) is back to our delight.

The manipulation and inclusion of new sounds continues to be explored, as on the intro to opening track "Heiress of Worms," which includes bells and big, booming toms. The dark, mellow intro makes way to a blistering blast beat attack and flesh ripping black metal call. The direction of the riffs then goes again in a bouncy and more traditional Black Sabbath meets Metallica direction. Elsewhere on the album, Wrest's admiration for heavy math rockers The Fucking Champs is made clear.

Although the material is overall less straight-up black metal, Ten sees the heaviest inclusion of blast beats of any album in the Leviathan library to date. Wrest is starting to feel quite comfortable with this rhythmic staple of black metal.

On the mathy instrumental track "Somnolent," Wrest plays with his vault of drum sounds to include some electronic beats with excellent results. In another new development, the last track, "Descent through the Womb of the Moon," is a noisy, ambient industrial piece filled with ambulating screams that are unique to the variety of vocal ranges that have been used in Leviathan thus far. This is the first such total ambient track Wrest has released under the Leviathan name since the project's third album. As with all the other material this man puts together, you can't go wrong with Ten.

 

 

Related reviews:
 
Misanthropic Necro Blasphemy (issue No 3)  
Shadow of No Light (issue No 3)  
Seven + Slaveship (issue No 5)  
Nine (Inclement Derision) (issue No 5)  
Intolerance (Eleven) (issue No 7)  
Howl Mockery at the Cross (issue No 8)  
White Devil, Black Metal (issue No 8)  
The Tenth SubLevel of Suicide (issue No 11)  
Verräter (issue No 11)  

 

 

 

MURDER RAPE - Evil Shall Burn Inside Me Forever - CD - Evil Horde Records

review by: Jez Andrews

Extreme metal has become an increasingly competetive field. For a band in that field to be seen as truly individual, there must be something in the material that grabs the listener by the throat and never lets go. This Murder Rape offering unfortunately falls short. It's a harsh thing to say, as they have obviously put some real effort into their sound, but Evil Shall Burn Inside Me Forever just doesn't stand out enough from the rest of the herd.

That said, this album still has its fair share of merits. They are a very capable black metal act, of that there is no question. "Hunters Of Christian Souls" is a definite highlight of the preceedings, though this does little to compensate for the lack of excitement, which is nothing if not intensely annoying.

It's clear from the first listen that if Murder Rape utilised their talents to the full, this could be quite a special piece of work.

But alas, it was not to be.

 

 

 

 

 

NAGELFAR - Virus West - CD - Ars Metalli

review by: Roberto Martinelli

We may have been a little too hasty in giving out the (ahem!) coveted title of "Maelstrom's black metal album of the year" to Nargaroth's Black Metal ist Krieg (review in issue #4). We're afraid we're going to have to go back on our word and announce a new winner, for Nagelfar's Virus West is an awesome thing.

We can just barely get this straight. Naglfar is a black metal band from Sweden. They are NOT to be confused with NagElfar, (our proud recipient) which is a black metal band from Germany, the same land that has spawned our now second place winner. We used to laugh at present day metal Germany and its scores of inane bands like Primal Fear and Gamma Ray. We have been silenced.

Nagelfar's previous album, Strontgorrth, was pretty killer in its own right, with a Weakling-like five songs spanning 70+ minutes. However, Nagelfar made a curious decision to include techno beats and elements into their epics, despite having one mean drummer. It still worked pretty well.

Well, maybe not. On Virus West, gone are the techno elements. Instead, Nagelfar has refined the positive elements on Strontgorrth, like the band's aptitude to meld melody, speed and brutality, and have added elements that provide Virus West with a zesty dynamism.

Such is the case on the song "Hetzjagd in Palästina," which is the best black metal song of the year. It kicks off with a blast beat driven riff that will sear its way into your brain. After a clean guitar lull, Nagelfar go at it slow and heavy with an angry stoner doom-like riff. It is here especially that the drum talents of Alexander Von Meilenwald provide the music with so much punch, as his powerfully crisp snare technique is perfectly offset by the organic clarity of the bass drum and the well-produced cymbal tones. This gives way to a furious double bass, two-chord progression, harmonic riff that solidly reminds us of the godly Aeturnus. This leads to a melodic progression that goes higher and higher in pitch and intensity, instilling the same heart-rending melancholic awe that Thy Primordial or Taake are capable of. The furious black metal growls ideally complement the progressions and further lend to the music's passion. Nagelfar then throw in a well-placed break of bass and drums with a fresh little three-note keyboard melody, before taking off again with the double-bass riff. The whole song is about 10 minutes long, but the finesse with which it is arranged makes it seem much shorter.

The following track, "Westwall," is sort of a keyboard ambient piece that reminds us of the work by Rure on Abigor's Verwüstung/Invoke the Dark Age, or the Puissance cover on …And Oceans' The Symmetry of I, the Circle O. Again, it's an excellently placed break before the more dissonant and blast beat intensive "Fäden des Schnicksals."

The comparisons to Taake (which produced one of the least talked about, yet finest works in all of black metal) come up several times, such as on the song "Sturm der Katharsis," where the Taake-like Viking pride melodies make the listeners heart swell with emotion. However, where Taake's masterpiece Nattestid is a scathing whirlwind of trebly melodic beauty, Nagelfar's delivery is stronger on the low end and is far more muscular.

Track six, "Protokoll einer Folter," stands out due to its militaristic march elements. The final track, "Meuterei," has the highest concentration of thundering Aeturnus-like double bass riffs, and would be the best track on the album if it weren't for "Hetzjagd…"

Everything about Nagelfar's presentation exudes class, from the serious and well-crafted songs to the art pictured throughout the album. In addition to one of the most curious album covers we've ever seen, the booklet features Gustave Doré's depictions of Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Passion, intensity, emotion, dynamics, riffs that all fucking rule, Doré… Can it get any better? The answer is no.

 

 

 

 

 

RENFIELD - Renfield - Cassette - Wrest, 404 Ashbury St. #2, San Francisco, CA 94117

review by: Roberto Martinelli

From the home studio of Leviathan comes Renfield, an entirely instrumental side project named after the character in Dracula who eats bugs and goes mental during storms. Compared to Wrest's main project, Renfield is far more mellow and laid back, with the evil vibe found on Leviathan largely absent. The music found on Renfield is basically divided into two major styles, the ambient and the non-ambient.

The non-ambient material ranges from music with slight pop influences, like on "2", which features a bass line reminiscent of U2, but with ambient drifts and clean guitar melodies. On a track that uses techno/industrial-like drum sounds on top of moody, drifting music, those who are familiar with the Wrest's main project's sound will be able to hear the similarities to Leviathan's ambient breakdowns.

Some heavy The (Fucking) Champs influence is easily apparent on some tracks as Wrest travels further into math rock territory that he began to explore on Leviathan's Nine. "6" mixes the Champs sound with a strong stoner doom vibe with excellent effect.

There are essentially two ambient pieces. The first, about eight minutes in length, is a sort of soothing drift through cold space as cosmic matter floats by. It's very reminiscent of Brian Eno's seminal ambient work from the late 70s/early 80s. The second ambient track is twice the length of the first, and conjures up images of sinister foghorns traveling through multi layered sonic planes. Guitar tones are allowed to draw themselves out, making for an extremely soothing, if dark, listening experience. A recommended disk with a couple of highly recommended ambient pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

ROYAL HUNT - The Mission - CD - Century Media Records

review by: Steppenvvolf

Royal hunt adds another stone to the ever ravages-of-time-defying bulwark of 80s metal. Let's get it straight: we're not talking about a MILE stone, which for sure could have earned merits from me.

The Mission is supposed to be a concept album (which of course, would never occur to anyone listening to the album without this information given), derived from Ray Bradbury's sci-fi novel "The Martian Chronicles." This fact seems to allow for mixing in some more artificial sounds. I cite from their web site: "The combination of the 'traditional' rock instruments with some 'techno', 'computerized' sounds creates some strange, 'sci-fi' sound landscapes, which is a bit unusual in hard rock music today."

Uhm, yes, as for the extremely "unusual sci-fi sound landscapes," their keyboardist is worth mentioning since he adds in fact some nice lines to the tracks, but honestly: if I want to listen to classical piano music, Daniel Barenboim's interpretation of Chopin's Nocturnes is likely to be the better choice.

This leaves me with hardly anything more to say, probably only, that Royal Hunt has played as an opener for Talisman and Saga. If your taste is on track with the latter bands, there's a slight chance you might enjoy "The Mission", otherwise plainly avoid.

 

 

 

 

 

SHADOW - Shadow - CD - Spikefarm / Century Media Records

review by: Steppenvvolf

What do German Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks made in Taiwan have in common with Shadow, the melodic Gothenburg-styled death metal act from Japan? They're both copies and they're both technically better than the original, but...that's about all. The songs of the self-titled album of Shadow can without doubt be mentioned alongside other melodic death metal acts such as Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquility or In Flames. Add some more pace and solos to In Flames and you arrive about at what Shadow has to offer.

At any rate remarkable is their vocalist, Tokiko-san, who sounds like In Flames' singer in his darkest emotional hours. Even more so, if you know that Tokiko-san is a woman! Admittedly, my whole picture of Japan was heavily shattered when learning this fact. Until now, thinking of Japanese women made me imagine those cute, giggly, kawaii-type, short-skirted (even in winter) babes that you see everywhere in Tokyo. Now my memories are slightly "perturbed": I imagined myself waiting for the train in Shibuya (part of Tokyo) sedatedly watching the kawaii-type sort rushing by when suddenly Tokiko-san, wholly dressed in black and with wild restless eyes approaches me, gripping my arm and shouting in her Shadow-style voice "Anta !!! Nanji desu kaaaa ?" (="Hey you !! What time is it ?"). I hope I will get over this psycho-vision someday....Remembering that Shadow is from Osaka and not from Tokyo might help.

A successful, if in its content not surprising, addition to the genre from Japan.

 

 

 

 

 

SISTHEMA - The Fourth Discontinuity - CD - Noise Records

review by: Roberto Martinelli

"DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN. Wheeow. Chung chung chung chung" You don't need actual sound to be able to hear Sisthema's The Fourth Discontinuity. Every song is made up of the same uselessly heavy, single note rhythmic riff. We'll be damned if we're wrong, but it sure seems that way. Yes, folks, we're dealing with the dreaded genre of new metal.

After a few more DUNs, Sisthema likes to throw in a "wheeow" guitar screech. Not that this doesn't get old, either. None of what Sisthema does is in key. Unfortunately, while this approach works for some death metal bands by making them sound evil, for Sisthema it's just another simpleton gimmick.

The songs are mostly made up of generic start-stop riffs and the vocals are uninteresting hardcore yells. The vocals keep the exact rhythm as all the other elements of the music, which never even has a chance to get old as it was never interesting to begin with. The songs are falsely technical, as the band tries to give this illusion by including chuggy breakdowns between yells.

We can't help but think of Beavis and Butthead when listening to The Fourth Discontinuity. We imagine the two putting on the album and saying (with little grunts): "DUN-DUN-DUN…hm! hm! Yeah! DUN-DUN-DUN…this rules!" You don't need to spend any money on this album; in fact, you'll get what we suspect to be even more enjoyment by instead imagining what it sounds like and by doing your best Beavis impression.

 

 

 

 

 

SONATA ARCTICA - Silence - CD - Century Media Records

review by: ~Vargscarr~

This makes me angry. After being so impressed by this band at Wacken Open Air (see ~Vargscarr~'s review in issue 5! - Roberto) this year I was eager to check them out on CD; but disappointment was to rear its syphilitic head and spit its noxious juices back in my face. Sonata Arctica aren't just disappointing on CD; they're actually bad. I want to take their eyes.

Decent enough musicians, but so hopelessly human; and it shows. First of all, their chosen subject matter: the lyrics deal with such mundane subjects as the internet, the singer stalking some ex-girlfriend who broke his heart, and a fragile girl who turns to drug abuse. Fair enough, most people aren't as turned off by reality as I am, but they're not reviewing this album.

The music itself can be described as relatively proficient in its execution; but it's a case of technical skill over songwriting ability. The songs are poorly conceived and constructed - I can only assume their live set consisted mostly of old material which I hope for their sake is better than the music on this album.

Far too many of the tracks are power ballads; which are always hit and miss. Power Metal bands generally experiment with one or two per album; no big deal. We're often treated with a real gem through this experimentation. Silence features far too many, most of which are deeply shallow and unsatisfactory; and the album lacks the bombast too carry them off.

As for fast, galloping songs; the songs I loved so much live...sadly, they lose much of their punch on CD. There's the odd decent enough example of this style of song on the album, but I'm not going to listen to it when I have Children of Bodom's Tokyo Warhearts or Rhapsody's Triumph of Steel.

There are many, many bands out there playing better music than Sonata Arctica - there are those who will get something out of this CD; but most would do better to look elsewhere for their Power Metal.

 

 

 

 

 

SUNN 0))) - 00 Void - CD - Maelstrom Zine

review by: Roberto Martinelli

The genre known as drone has increasingly become interesting to me, but somehow I haven't been able to unlock this album yet. Sunn 0))) is an Earth tribute band. That should sum it up for some of you. For the rest of you scratching your heads, Earth was a two man group who's endless instrumental music consisted entirely of guitar and bass feedback. This made for some truly hibernation-inducing ambient.

Production-wise, 00 Void is much heavier than the likes of Earth's 2 but somehow has less impact. There's something about Earth's uniform amorphousness and lack of any direction that somehow is superior to Sunn 0)))'s uniform amorphousness and lack of any direction. Go figure.

Much like Earth, Sunn 0))) seems like the kind of album you throw on not to actively listen to, but rather be affected by. It's kind of like those CDs of ocean waves they sell at holistic healing stores. Also like the ocean wave CD, I can't imagine why you would need more than one such album in your collection. If you're curious, I'd say go for Earth. If you're reading this and are shaking your head, thinking, "dude, you don't get it," then you should probably log off and get yourself down to the nearest independent record store.

 

 

Related reviews:
 
White 1 (issue No 13)  

 

 

 

SUPERSILENT - 5 - CD - Rune Grammofon

review by: Roberto Martinelli

This may be the best CD ever. Ok, that's an exaggeration. However, if one measures CD greatness in terms of emotive power, then Supersilent's 5 is pretty high up there.

5 is the third release by this Norwegian ambient/improv jazz quartet. It is by far the most ambient and calm. The album's most notable power is to be able to reach out and draw the listener into its lethargic yet riveting world. It's like being on some sort of energizing tranquilizers: it grips you and puts you in a trance, not a dark and evil, but rather sleepy and comfortable one as the low end comes right at you and the rest of the stereo field floats above your head.

Musically, the mission is to explore textures, like on "5.2," where sounds like light sandpaper with misty, minimal nighttime urban flute and sax sounds mix with sustained notes that remind you of early scary movies. The sandpaper waves of sound and gentle sand shaker percussion give way to subterranean rumblings and shiftings. The result is so mood altering that the silence in-between the sounds become a sonic texture in themselves.

"5.3" is more jazzy and percussive at first, then enters a more ambient place as the instruments ebb and flow as they seamlessly enter and leave the sonic field. The leaky balloon alien sax noises from Karaboudjan (issue #4) back up a short drum solo, letting way to a cyclical, draining fade and picked bass. Ambient and improvised as this project is, there is nonetheless reason and construction to the sounds.

"5.1" is the mother of all the five tracks on 5, and is also the longest. Throughout the piece's 20 odd minutes, the music takes you on a dynamic journey that begins with a distant piano melody and brief harmonizing vocals, and takes you into an increasingly swelling wall of sound. If you're at all familiar with Corrupted's more ambient works, imagine some of the feel on Llenandose de Gusanos, but mix in jazz elements and you've got a fair idea of what to expect on 5.

Make no mistake, this is not the kind of fare you'd find on a so-called dark ambient release. The music is indeed dark and ambient, but it lives in a realm entirely detached from the likes of what Cold Spring label puts out. 5 is a must have for any ambient or experimental fan, and should be seriously considered by anyone looking to get a foothold in the experimental music genre.

 

 

 

 

 

TO/DIE/FOR - Epilogue - CD - Nuclear Blast Records

review by: Laurent Martini

Sometimes late at night when I can't sleep, I get up and watch the telly. As everyone does, I have my set of channels that I go through first to see if anything can lull me to sleep. One of my favourite secret little passions is the show "Where Are They Now?" on VH1. The fall from stardom and grace tales are just so interesting, most likely because I will never know fame as big as these one hit wonders, past druggies. fat rock stars, etc.

Anyway, a game I like to play is to imagine what a super band of "Where Are They Now?" participants would sound like. What would happen if they toured together? Jammed together? Imagine a reunion tour featuring Dokken, Flock of Seagulls, Wendy O' Williams (dead I know but this is my fantasy!) and Corey Hart (see prior explanation). What would a jam sound like? Are you closing your eyes? Are you hearing it?...

Yup...sounds like shit, doesn't it? A collage that just doesn't fit. A synthesizer mixed with a hard riff, some guttural shrieks, a violin. You get the point. Well that's what listening to To/Die/For's Epilogue is like. This album makes no sense. The first problem is the total lack of musical direction. This band needs to pick a style and stick with it. No matter how postmodern it may be to throw every instrument and musical cliché on an album, it does not make for enjoyable music. Secondly, the "goth like" lyrics are all over the place. Just because one sings: "Sun has gone down. Left me alone. Enter cold" does not make one goth. Neither does the use of minor keys on a piano. This band is not goth. With less heavy guitars, Epilogue would make a great 80s synth pop album and if that's what you're looking for (i.e. Erasure with a hard edge) then you're in luck. Otherwise, avoid it. Trust me.

 

 

 

 

 

V/A - Destruction of the Heavenly Realms - CD - Deathgasm Records

review by: Matt Smith

This label promo is pretty standard. Some of it is good, some bad, most somewhere in the middle. A few of the highlighted bands are really impressive, though.

Abominant's "Pinnacle of Hate" is one of the better songs on the album. Fast, accurate, drums and guitars fit perfectly behind deep and evil-sounding vocals for a great example of what death sounds like.

Avenger, Vore, and Deeds of Flesh also had good tracks on this CD. Vastion and Inner War were the most impressive, though. Vastion's "Bring to Pass" is the thirteenth track on the album, which is automatically a good sign. The title makes it sound like Vastion is holding a particularly evil pot-luck, and since a lyric sheet wasn't included, this may be the case. Joking aside, this song is great. It starts fast and brutal, with some technically impressive drum and guitar work, then moves to a slow bridge with a Cradle of Filth-type screech taking the lead. Then back into the fast stuff. Then slow. "Bring To Pass" sounds like five or six great songs all condensed and put together to make one really great song.

Inner War's "Each Day Lost" is also a favorite. This one starts with an interesting guitar harmony and moves into a "yo-ho" death-metal-pirate-sounding theme. Then the guitars get crunchy and the beat sounds really laborious. It changes several more times and remains interesting and listenable throughout. The only part of Deathgasm's promo I really didn't like was a portion of Mad Cow's "Theory of Conspiracy." They have a strange, high whine in a couple parts of it that, due to poor production, is ear-piercing and impossible to ignore. Overall, though, Destruction of the Heavenly Realms shows just what good taste Deathgasm has as a label. It highlights some impressive songs by some impressive-sounding artists. And any album with a song called "Repulsive Genital Disfigurement" is okay in my book. (By the way, this song by Regurgitation is actually pretty good)

 

 

 

 

 

WITCHERY - Symphony For The Devil - CD - Maelstrom Zine

review by: Jez Andrews

Ah, an intro of howling wind. What follows is surprisingly upbeat to begin with. Just when I'm getting comfortable with the thrashy death metal onslaught of "The Storm," it's over. No fair. The next song on Witchery's new offering, "Unholy Wars," is equally short, and bares an uncanny resemblance to modern-day Entombed. And so it goes on. A very mixed vocal style, darting between God Dethroned, Dismember, and other elements that I can't quite put my finger on.

One thing is for sure. It rocks. It's frustrating to listen to at times, but it definitely rocks. There are some intriguing hints of power metal on occasion, despite the dark leanings of both image and subject matter. The riffing in places is, in fact, startlingly reminiscent of Megadeth. There are many different metal bands that one could use for comparison, but Witchery seem to have done a great job putting this stuff together in their own style. I say "frustrating," because despite this being a pretty raging piece of work, it just doesn't hook me in as much as I would wish. A worthwhile listen, even so.

 

 

 

 

 

WURDULAK/ GORELORD - Creature Feature - CD - Red Stream Records

review by: Roberto Martinelli

Each band on this 15-minute MCD gets two tracks. Wurdulak features Necrophagia vocalist Killjoy (who's also involved in numerous other projects) and Mayhem screamer Maniac. Bass guitar duties are handled by current Immortal member Iscariah. "Chosen Below" sounds a lot like Beneath the Remains-era Sepultura. Think "Inner Self," but slower. The pace picks up with blasts, then back to the slower plod.

Wurdulak sound fairly close to Necrophagia, but are less noisy and more chuggy. "Burning Eyes Upon Eden" is an infectiously simple tune that chugs along, driven by the tasty bass guitar. Cool.

Two-man Gorelord features members from Wurdulak plus Killjoy who does a bit of vocals. In contrast, Gorelord is more evil sounding as it churns and chugs along. The atmosphere is boosted by the echoing, low vocals and production. The music is also faster, featuring spells of ripping double bass that punctuate the seething chugs. An enjoyable disk.

 

 

 

 

 

KEROVNIAN - From the Depths of Haron - CD - Cold Spring

review by: ~Eternus~

If the excellent Sleep Research Facility is the natural remedy for sleeping difficulties, Kerovnian is the rabid animal that pounces upon you, ripping and biting at your flesh until you die a bloody brutal death. The second release following on in a similar dark/black ambient style as what was to be heard on 1999`s Far Beyond, Before the Time. From the Depths of Haron is eight tracks of some of the most evil, ambient music I have heard along with Aghast.

This is a fine example of how effective dark/black ambient can be. This album is the audio equivalent of taking a walk by moonlight in some remote graveyard and been ravaged by some deranged beast, which then drags you into some deep sewer before consuming you slowly and painfully and enjoying every last strip of flesh and drop of blood. A truly great album with a more sparse arrangement than the debut, and even some female vocals being utilized for the first time, which work well alongside the whisperings and the cold male vocals.

Come take a walk into the void and let evil taunt you for all eternity...

 

 

 

 

KRIEG - Destruction Ritual - CD - Red Stream Records

review by: ~Eternus~

Krieg is an American one-man band fronted by Lord Imperial. The band has been around for many years but seems to have never got that much recognition compared with the other America one-man act, Judas Iscariot, which puzzles me as I find Krieg infinitely more interesting. This release is not new material, but rather a collection of various different recordings all from over a six-year period. What I love about this release is the hatred and atmosphere which comes from the primitive riffs, production and of course the vocals. Lord Imperial has some fantastic vocals that rip and shred through the raw buzz of guitar; 18 tracks, all of which vary in quality of sound and also quality of songwriting... But all retain a menacing, evil and occasionally depressive atmosphere. At times I am reminded of the earlier works of Burzum and Darkthrone.

But don't just think this is yet another clone band for this would be a wrong assumption. Krieg certainly has its on style blending acoustic guitar, strange monk-like chanting and various different but always harsh vocals. The one bit of slight annoyance for me is the drum sound on a few of earlier tracks. Luckily this doesn't spoil songs like "Snowfall" too much, and sound improves as the CD goes on. Tracks like "A Crumbling Shrine" and also "Maelstrom" remain my favorite tracks on this release. One thing to point out is that there are limited (666) copies worldwide so find it if you can!

To sum up if you like the early primitive sounds of Burzum, Darkthrone and Abruptum, I think this will be within your liking. I just wish more black metal was like this.

 

Related reviews:
 
Destruction Ritual (issue No 8)  

 

 

 

LEVIATHAN - Sacrifice Love at Altar of War - Cassette - Wrest, 404 Ashbury St. #2, San Francisco, CA 94117

review by: ~Eternus~

This release is not an album but rather a compilation which has ten tracks taken from three separate recordings (Seven, Nine and Ten) and is my first proper chance to hear Leviathan, a project done by an American who does everything on this recording. There are many good things about this release, some pretty good (effective rather than technical) guitar work, which is utilized through many decent riffs found on tracks 2, 3 and 9.

 The vocals have an effect on them which reminds me of some of the vocal effects to be found on Dimmu Borgir`s recent album Puritanical Euphoric Mysanthropia, and like those annoy me intensely, which is unfortunate as take the vocal effect away and I'm sure I'd have liked this release a lot more. I also feel that with the vocal effect there seems to be a lack of an appropriate atmosphere (be it evil or even aggressive),which frustrates me greatly.

However if you can look past the vocal effect you may just like this and it's certainly better than a lot of black metal released these days.

 

Related reviews:
 
Misanthropic Necro Blasphemy (issue No 3)  
Shadow of No Light (issue No 3)  
Seven + Slaveship (issue No 5)  
Nine (Inclement Derision) (issue No 5)  
Ten (issue No 6)  
Intolerance (Eleven) (issue No 7)  
Howl Mockery at the Cross (issue No 8)  
White Devil, Black Metal (issue No 8)  
The Tenth SubLevel of Suicide (issue No 11)  
Verräter (issue No 11)  

 

 

 

LULLACRY - Be My God - CD - Century Media Records

review by: Cassie Walker

Pain doesn’t walk, it consumes bitter metal vixen Tanya, the damned dominatrix of Finnish heavy metal band Lullacry’s second full-length album Be My God.

The self-described Queen of the night is many-layered, crooning demurely at introductions of such songs as "Thorn of the Rose" and "Into Your Heart," then launching into marauding hooks in no time (hence the band name). When she’s at her best, it’s broken to bitch in less than 10 seconds, spirited by building guitar chords by guitarists Sami Vauhkonen and Sauli Kivilahti, band founders. The formula works on songs like "Without the Dreamer" but is a little too predictable by "I Don’t Mind."

The melancholy builds, synergized with her powerful voice and strong guitar, is fused with a dominant bass line for an energetic and dramatic album to make some great songs. Tanya isn’t just a queen, she’s a drama queen, and powerful musicians lend her voice credo.

Lyrics, however, sap Lullacry of a memorable album. All that energy and juxtaposition of fury and feeling, from squealing guitar solos to sweet sorrow to the height of anger, are lost on third-grade rhymes like "Trapped inside this void/of hopes and dreams/I gave everything to you/And you know that it’s true."

Lullacry is supposed to be a great live act, a reputation is secured while touring with The Gathering. Currently touring through Europe, the band has been performing on Finnish TV and radio stations.

 

Related reviews:
 
Crucify My Heart (issue No 13)  

 

 

 

ORDOG - Two - CD - 6 Tulliallan place, East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, G74 2EG, Scotland, UK

review by: ~Eternus~

I picked this album up after reading an interesting sounding review in a distribution catalogue, and on first listen I thought I had made a major mistake in buying the album, but on further listens I found Ordog to be a very unique and innovative band, a release like many others that seems to grow on the listener.

Firstly the history of Ordog of which there is little known to speak of. The band is from Scotland and has two members. This is Ordog`s first release on CD format having previously only released a highly limited (to 200) LP which is called Position One. Both releases are released on the relatively unknown label and distro Aphelion Productions, which is run by one of the band members.

On to the CD itself. The album is unique with cello, clarinet, flute along with narration in places, and almost tribal-like drum parts throughout. Although quite difficult to pick out on first listen I can find elements of Eld-era Enslaved noticeable in some of the riffs, which carry a majestic and proud atmosphere. I can also compare this to Burzum with some of the tracks having the same monotony, with repeating riffs, simplistically done- the difference being that Ordog hasn't utilized this in quite as effective a way as Varg Vikernes once famously did.

The packaging is minimal overall, with the cover being a rather blurry photograph of a frozen harbour scene; a cover which I am fond of. The back of the CD has a band logo that is done in a similar "old english text" way that Burzum used. There is also a strange looking blurry picture, which to me looks like a person holding a spear in front of an unspecified ocean. This picture is reminiscent of Theador Kittelson`s artwork (as seen on the covers of the Burzum albums Filosofem and Hvis Lyset Tar Oss).

There is no track listing, no band photos, no lyrics and the inner sleeve notes just briefly comment on where the album was recorded and when.

Overall I'd say tread carefully, for me it disappoints in that it's nowhere near as "black metal" as I thought it would be, mainly due to the lack of enough black metal vocals and also because none of the songs seem to get fast enough, which irritated me. The problem with Ordog is that with it being experimental it isolates itself and therefore they have taken a risk that doesn't pay off as well as it could have done. For most parts it seems to me to wallow in tedium and make me want to listen to better things like Burzum, Enslaved or maybe early Ulver.

 

 

 

 

PHARAOH OVERLORD - Pharaoh Overlord - CD - tUMULt Records

review by: Liam Deely

Pharoah Overlord has no vocals and uses absolutely the bare minimum of drums. They never hit more than three or four notes per song, but thanks to a wealth of soothing guitar noise, cool new sounds arise with every listen.

To some, Pharoah Overlord may succeed at being little more than background music, but listeners with the patience (or the right, er, state of mind) to drill deeper into six eight-plus-minute songs will be rewarded with hand-picked, nicely textured guitars.

Sometimes donning a pleasant fuzz, sometime screaming with feedback, the guitars weave in and out of each other in layers. The drums, however, thrist for a more live, more open and airy feel to better complement the prominent guitars.

Overall, a strange, ambient yet worthwhile listening experience.

 

 

 

 

SLEEP RESEARCH FACILITY - Nostromo - CD - Cold Spring

review by: ~Eternus~

This is an interesting one! A dark ambient release, which is based on the first eight minutes of the movie "Alien." Basically, Sleep Research Facility have created an aural rendition of being on board the deep space haulage vessel as it moves ever so slowly through space, beckoning you deeper and deeper still into unknown depths and territory. This album does this by five pretty long tracks that all blend into each other, and correspond to the decks A-E on the ship itself. 

A very absorbing and sometimes dangerously hypnotic album, I am a big fan of this. I also find that it is a natural remedy for sleeping difficulties. I mean that in a good way, of course! I love the menacing feeling that Nostromo creates, as it drags you further into the void ever so innocently; lulling you into a false sense of security, leaving you teetering on the edge of madness.

Great stuff!!!!

 

 

 

 

WATAIN - Rabid Death's Curse - CD - Drakkar Records

review by: ~Eternus~

This Swedish band's comes from a Von song (Von being an early American band which influenced Euronymous). This is (as far as I know) the band's first full-length album. A mixture of black and death metal styles weave together to make a pretty damn intense album with some excellent riffs and tight drumming. I can hear many musical inspirations, mainly Marduk.

I can also hear an early Mayhem influence. This is mainly due to the dark atmosphere both bands possess (or maybe I should say Mayhem *used* to possess!). This release is not an essential purchase though, and it lacks the necessary sledgehammer to the stomach which both Krieg and Tsjuder and to an extent Unlord gave me this year, which is a shame as Watain obviously have some great talent on display here. Good but could be better!

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

HELLOWEEN - Helloween EP/ Walls of Jericho - CD - Noise Records - 1984

review by: Roberto Martinelli

We feel so bad about having ripped on Kai Hansen (not on one, but two albums that feature him) in this issue that we thought it would be only fair to say something nice about the man.

At least at some point in Hansen's metal career, he was writing some fantastic music. It all begins with Helloween's first album, Walls of Jericho, which is packaged on CD with the five tracks from the Helloween EP. The material found on this album is largely different from the kind of sound that is more commonly associated with Helloween (the oft-copied melodic Euro double bass riffs with happy, sing-songy choruses.) Rather, the style here is of rough, yet melodic 80s style heavy metal.

Think of the kind of busting-at-the-seams thrash energy found on Metallica's first album, but add power metal flamboyance in the form of more caloric guitar solos and drum work, then throw in the kind of energy largely found on Iron Maiden's first two albums and you've got in a nutshell what Walls of Jericho sounds like.

In the days before the phenomenal voice of Michael Kiske joined the band, Kai Hansen doubled as singer and guitartist. Hansen's high-pitched vocals often seem to be on the verge of going out of control, but he somehow holds it all together with a performance that aptly complements the gangbusters approach of the music.

There is no doubt that there's a great deal of cheesiness to be found on this album, like the melody of "London Bridge is Falling Down" serving as the intro to a song, and a whole bunch of tunes which are simply about how great metal is (like the live cut of "Heavy Metal (Is the Law)" in which the crowd really gets into it, singing along in its pride). However, this brand of cheesiness is not of the wussy, contemporary Euro power metal band variety, but rather of the kind that simply goes with the territory of being "true" metal, and in fact makes it all the more cool.

Walls of Jericho is certainly a lock for one of the 10 best heavy metal albums of all time. Considering this in light of Gamma Ray's latest albums, what on Earth has happened to Kai Hansen?

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

GOD DETHRONED/ NIGHT IN GALES/ MISTLETEIN
October 16, 2001 - Trillians, Newcastle, England

review by: Jez Andrews

Well, here I am in the middle of town, on a typically freezing Newcastle evening. For those of you unfamiliar with the place, Trillians is a small, low-lit rock bar that has played host to many touring bands over the years, and is something of a sanctuary for the weary metaller.

Having arrived just at the end of Mistletein's set (left), I couldn't really comment on the opening band of the evening, though 'melodic, chug-chug black metal' seemed to be the general consensus.

(The following is ~Eternus~' account of the Mistletein set - Roberto) Mistletein is the first band to play tonight in support of the mighty God Dethroned. The band started early and pretty abruptly at 8 PM. We were expecting and told by the doorman that it would start at 8:30 PM, but anyhow I am not complaining. Mistletein features high-pitched screamy vocals, which sound like any other black metal band, combined with some pretty tight drumming and time changes a-plenty, which at least adds some depth and interest to this pretty bland affair. Still, live they are certainly adequate enough as a support band, and although the band members themselves look a tad disinterested and mannequin-like they still manage to pull of a pretty brutal show. - ~Eternus~

we return to Jez Andrews's review... I couldn't help feeling that Night In Gales (right) were a little out of place tonight. Having recruited a couple of session musicians for touring purposes, with limited rehearsal time, they were unable to respond to the crowd's requests (but why the hell shout out for "Black Velvet" anyway?). To their credit, the thrashier numbers made for some nice entertainment, and the band was very enthusiastic. A tight live act, it has to be said, and I'm sure that on a different bill, it could all fall into place. But not tonight.

And so to the headliners. Having already seen God Dethroned (left and bottom) at Dynamo 99, it was a little strange to now see them in such a small venue. I knew, however, that I wouldn't be disappointed. True to form, the Dutch metallers came out with all guns blazing. "The Grand Grimoire" opened the set, and prompted some furious headbanging (as much as could be done in the tiny space in front of the Trillians stage). When this was followed up by "Boiling Blood," it was clear that these guys weren't about to let up for anyone. Great sound, great songs, an evil death metal assault that raised both smiles and devil horns. I was glad to hear some of the other highlights from the Bloody Blasphemy album, including "Serpent King" and "Firebreath." The more recent material from Ravenous also came through well in a live setting. Very little in the way of stage banter, but you could tell by the looks on their faces that the band were having a great time. When the set came to an end, 'sheer perfection' was the phrase that came to mind. A good night was had by all.

It was God Dethroned's first time in England, and I sincerely hope it won't be their last. Great stuff!

 

 

 

 

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GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR!/ CALIFONE/ TELEFON TEL AVIV
October 2, 2001 - Centrum Hall, Chicago, Illinois, USA

review by: Roberto Martinelli

I was sure I'd be sick the next day, but damn it, I couldn't miss Godspeed You Black Emperor! I got there into the first act, and discovered that the original opener, Mick Turner (of the Dirty Three) cancelled, and was replaced by Telefon Tel Aviv, which played a form of ambient music with techno beats. As I'm not a fan (yet) of ambient music with canned beats, I can't say I was particularly taken with this three-man group as a whole, but I do think the ambient music was quite good and that this project definitely has something to offer those who are more fans of this genre.

Next up was Califone, a band made up primarily of acoustic instruments. You can get a good idea of the vibe of this band by knowing that they all played sitting down. The music was ok, I guess, but not solid enough in any genre to make them stand out by merely seeing them live for the first time.

The venue offered some decent eats in the back of the room where the bands played. The large area had a distinct rundown amateur theater feel to it. A little balcony overlooked the space. From the ceiling hung large, elaborate, faux expensive looking chandeliers. It felt like a set had just been struck and that normally the props and costumes that were stored in front of the stage had been moved in a hurry to make room for Godspeed You Black Emperor! and co.

Godspeed You Black Emperor! came on with an undetermined amount of band members. There must have been at least six of them. This was mostly due to the fact that my vision was obstructed by other concert goers and by the now beyond vile hanky that was constantly present in front of my face, but as I discovered 15 minutes into the set, my view of one guy was obstructed by the stage, and at least two of the members were playing kneeling down. One guy played what I think was xylophone.

The room was now quite dark. This was essential to the slide show that Godspeed You Black Emperor! had going while the music played. The images were mostly of an ugly/industrial cityscape. Not entirely depressing, as smiling people and footage of a ride on a streetcar made appearances. The amount of footage of bleak high rises and skyscrapers seemed ominous and a little scary, especially in light of the terrorist attacks.

The band opened with their best material, "Moya," from their Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada album. The gripping melodic theme really set the mood for the show. Godspeed wisely opted not to use the spoken word/ interview clips that are present on all their albums. The band could stand to lose the spoken clips altogether.

By the end of "Moya," many of the spectators found that they could enjoy the show more by sitting on the floor with their arms around their knees, sort of rocking melancholically to the powerful orchestrations coming from the stage. At one point someone in the audience either spoke or kicked a bottle that was on the ground, eliciting annoyed shooshes from the audience around them. What a contrast from the noise overkill shows that I'm used to attending!

About half an hour into the set Godspeed started playing more rhythmic material that I assume was off of their newest album, Raise Your Skinny Fists like Antennae to Heaven, as I didn't recognize it.

Although my now-screaming common sense forced me to leave 50 minutes into the set in order to get whatever sleep possible before having to wake up seven hours later to class and pretend to be a business journalist, I left the club feeling very satisfied with what Godspeed You Black Emperor! had to offer. It was a beautifully powerful show. If the band comes through your town, be sure to check it out.

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