Tunnel of No Light has a foot in both the funeral doom world and the post-metal world, revealing that October Tide were way ahead of their time in predicting trends in music. These are lush, beautiful chord progressions with an ethereal sadness about them but a churning power-pop resurgence that gives you a sense of enjoying the process of survival in a dystopic world of sadness.
In metal as in biology, the development of an organism reveals its prior stages in evolution. In the case of post-metal, it seems to me it owes more of its heritage to great 1980s dark pop bands like Sisters of Mercy and Joy Division. The same stygian Gothic moods prevail, but it has the same sense of discovering a lightness in the midst of the storm which made those bands so compelling for high school cigarette breaks in the parking lot.
Unlike most funeral doom, October Tide changes the blueprint frequently, bouncing between churning Skepticism-esque doom metal riffs and open-chorded, nearly hopeful dark pop riffs that have the kind of proud doomed independence that made 1980s music so defiant and great. In addition, October Tide are comfortable with silences and spaces where melody alone carries the tune.
This is not an album for people who need constant distraction or guitar fireworks to hit them over the head, but is more of an album best listened to alone on an isolated island or when driving interstate after the death of everyone you know. Its moods vary and are not all hopeless, instead balancing each other in similar proportions to create a bittersweet sense of determination in the face of the void.
With searing death vocals chanting and rasping over this contemplative music, a listener might be tempted to lump this in with the death metal, but more reasonably it shows a continuation of what My Dying Bride was doing in the 1990s, with the added post-metal twist that brings in the best of 1980s dark pop and its lovely melancholic atmosphere.
The pounding drums and blaring riffs of Kommandant ring loud throughout the world. While they appear to be becoming a prominent force in the underground and beyond, Kommandant have defied standards and brought upon themselves a most unique take on black metal.
Here in the United States, Kommandant have bewildered those who have witnessed their live shows. They’ve brought rather good compositions into the fold, as well as throwing a live experience that would make Stalin’s mustache fall off.
Totalitarian Black Metal, War Metal, or whatever you want to call Kommandant… We present an exclusive interview to pick their brains:
Why was Kommandant formed and what do you want to express?
Kommandant was formed to record the music that we wanted to hear, to be the band that we would want to see.
There are members that have been involved with other bands such as Sarcophagus, Forest of Impaled, Nachtmystium, Demonic Christ, and so forth. How have all of these resumes meshed? Is Kommandant the next generation of the ideas in these other bands?
I don’t think that Kommandant is an extension of any of those bands. Each members’ individual experiences are their own, it is the expression of those individual influences in congress that create Kommandant. Even if one person did bring something to the table that was directly influenced by one of their past projects, by the time the rest of us got done with it, it would sound like Kommandant, not whatever it came from originally.
What are your thoughts on the book “1984”? How would you place in juxtaposition the despotic similarities between your music and totalitarian mindset? If you’ve read both, how do you compare the dystopian societies in “1984” and “Brave New World”?
Orwell’s vision of constant, total war and constant, total surveillance certainly rings true today, but I feel that our society is closer in mindset to Huxley’s interpretation. Orwell’s world was one of strict rationing and information restriction. Ours is closer to Brave New World where people are placated not by direct oppression, but by distraction. Orwell cautioned that what we fear will control us, Huxley postulated that what we love will control us. Not to say that fear isn’t a strong driving factor in our lives (our “war on terror” is certainly analogous to the Huxley’s description of the war on Eurasia/Eastasia), but mindless entertainment and an overload of triviality is our soma.
Kommandant often uses atonal technique. What other techniques do you use in song compositions? Do you compose by starting with a riff, an image, an idea, or some other method?
Every song is different. We write collaboratively, so one person may have one idea and someone else takes it and builds on it, or warps it into something completely different. We’ve started with nothing more than a turn of phrase or a vague idea and it takes on a life of its own.
I’m embarrassed to ask this, but metal’s genres proliferate like bunnies. Are you war metal? Black metal? Is it all nonsense? Or are these not genre terms, but simply descriptive terms?
We’ve been called a great many things. We don’t really think of ourselves in terms of genre; we don’t write strictly about war, so we’re not really a war metal band. We’re certainly more black metal than death metal (lyrically, visually and philosophically). Some even say they hear an industrial influence in our music.
All in all, it is all nonsense, but it’s human nature to categorize things.
Much like Gwar, Kommandant is known for live theatrics almost more than the music itself. What initiated this dystopic theme? How has this brought Kommandant to a higher podium?
We set out with a clear vision to be the band that we would want to see live. We felt that too many good bands are not visually exciting live. Corpse paint and spikes do not a live show make. If you’re going to go out to see a band, you want to be enthralled, caught up in the momentum, suspending your disbelief until the band leaves the stage. The best shows are the ones where you forget that those people on stage are mortals like the people standing there watching. You want to feel like you’re witness to something extraordinary.
It does seem to cause people to stop and take notice, but it is also very polarizing. People either love it or hate it, there is no middle ground.
What ideologies or beliefs motivate Kommandant? The word ‘Kommandant’ is German for ‘commander’ and the band uses the maxim ‘Hate is Strength.’ Is there a political ideology here? What about another ideology? What meaning do you derive and hope to communicate through using authoritarian imagery?
Kommandant is art imitating life. We are a reflection of the direction that we see the world moving in. Notice that I say reflection, not condemnation or commendation. We do not have a political ideology. Our philosophy is that one should embrace the traditional virtues of direct action, uncompromising speech, and reverence for knowledge.
Do you worry that you’re going to mislead anyone with your use of 1940s era uniforms, German language and war imagery?
What people take mistakenly away from our imagery is more telling of who they are than what we are.
North Korea is in the news a lot lately. How do they compare to your ideal warlike society?
We’ve never said anything about a warlike society being ideal. If anything, direct action and clear intent prevents more wars than they start. There are more mentions of war in the questions asked to us than in our own writings.
What books, magazines and websites do you read for information? Do you seek information that reinforces your outlook, or “broadens” it?
We strive to have a well-rounded and accurately-informed view of the world around us. To only view the world through the scope of our previously-formed outlook would be intellectually dishonest.
What influences shaped the formation of Kommandant and its music, and what type of music do you see yourself making in the future?
We bring a lot of individual influences to the table in our creative process. We can find inspiration in film, literature,architecture, current events, personal experiences or individual philosophies.
Are you working on new material now, or touring? What’s ahead in the next year or so for Kommandant?
Both. Our next show is going to be our first trip overseas, to Kings of Black Metal Festival in April. After that we are playing Maryland Deathfest XI and then heading into the studio to record material for a split 7” we have coming up. We will be returning in July to New York City to play Martyrdoom Festival again. After that we plan to finish writing and start recording our next as-yet-unnamed album.
Birth A.D., the “continuation thrash” band that picked up where DRI’s Four of a Kind and SOD’s Speak English Or Die left off and then took the style to new levels of insanity, will unleash its full-length album I Blame You on April 1, 2013.
However, you can make sure you get it as soon as possible by placing a pre-order ($10) with Dark Descent’s sub-label, Unspeakable Axe records, who will be sending this slab of vigilant virulence out to the stores and distros that get it into your sweaty hand.
In other words, get it from the source. Produced by legendary 80s metal and crossover producer Alex Perialas, this disc showcases the best of Birth A.D.‘s work to date, including some tracks from their killer EP Stillbirth of a Nation as well as new material.
Expect this to be out the door very quickly and taking over the world of metal-punk crossover music. Unlike the “retro” musicians who re-live the past by imitating it from a distance, Birth A.D. lives the past by bringing its spirit and technique into the future. The result is heartening for anyone who wanted metal to recover its intestinal fortitude and sense of honest humor.
The second album from Warbeast meets metalhead speakers with great expectations because the personnel involved have such a history of metal on the edge of mainstream that still retains the intensity of the underground. Destroy fulfills all of that promise.
Rigor Mortis vocalist Bruce Corbitt joins with four local musicians of renown to create a band that upholds the ideals of the past but modernizes its sound. On 2010’s Krush the Enemy, the band ventured more into a modern metal sound that verged on deathcore at times, but Destroy goes back to the roots and makes speed metal with the added pummeling technique of later death metal.
Destroy sounds more like Exodus crossed with Slayer and a few instances of the classic Rigor Mortis high-speed melodic sound. The choruses are dominated by the chanting aggressive voice of Corbitt, who sounds like the vocalist Philip Anselmo (who produced this album) wanted to be for Pantera. Choruses are less “spoken” and closer to death growls.
If this album has a fault, it’s that it’s too relentless, such that after a half hour songs start to run together because they are all turned up to 11. However, the appropriately vicious and complex guitar work provides enough depth to fill out these songs and keep the listener wanting more. The good things is that unlike post-Pantera experiments, this band doesn’t rely on groove or rock-style bounce, but on pure metal cadences and ripping speed rhythms.
Where many bands have tried to modernize the 1980s speed metal sound that made Metallica, Pantera, Exodus and Prong big names, Warbeast accomplish this through going back to the roots of metal and keeping it intense instead of trying to get bouncier or groovier. The result is an album that ties together past and present into a single extreme package.
Imprecation reveals the he second song off its long-awaited debut full-length which will be released on CD and vinyl through Dark Descent Records in Spring 2013.
The new album from Imprecation, Satanae Tenebris Infinita, will continue the legacy of dark ritual death metal that has seen this band rise from obscurity not once but twice, the second time being during its 2000s-era revival.
Cover art by the legendary Chris Moyen graces this slab of untamed and relentless death metal by members of Bahimiron, Adumus, Morbus 666 and other Houston death metal ancient ones. The past joins the present, and keeps on going where it was going in 1993, but even stronger and with more experience.
Traditional and yet untraditional, doom metal band Earthen Grave plan to unleash their first album, Earthen Grave, on Ripple Music for worldwide release on July 9, 2013.
Featuring ex-Trouble member Ron Holzner and classical virtuoso Rachel Barton Pine, Earthen Grave craft 1970s style doom with the addition of progressive touches and Pine’s elegant but savage violin fretwork. On top of this, the band modernize their sound with a throbbing intensity that is unique to their interpretation of metal.
Originally released in 2012, Earthen Grave was originally released on Claude + Elmo music (and can still be purchased here) but sees re-release with four new tracks and a cover of Dio’s “Stargazer,” complete with the violin talents of Pine, who plays a new type of violin-like instrument called “the Viper.”
In addition to the new album, Earthen Grave launches on a US tour with the following dates in addition to others soon to come:
The Death Melodies Series (DMS) continues with the modernist composer Dmitri Shostakovich.
At the age of nine it became apparent that Shostakovich was a child prodigy on piano. He was also impassioned for composition. His first major musical achievement was his first symphony when he was nineteen.
He had successes and failures in the Soviet Union. In 1936, Stalin attended a premiere of Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth and was noted that he laughed at the performance. Soon after, critics insulted Shostakovich to the point that his commissions were substantially decreased and he became poor.
Shostakovich had a rather saddening life. During the Great Purge in the late 1930’s, many of the composer’s relatives and friends perished. In 1960, Shostakovich decided to join the Communist Party to become the General Secretary of the Composer’s Union. However, his health started to decline soon after. He was diagnosed with polio and encountered many falls that crippled him. Shostakovich was keen to excessively drinking vodka and smoking cigarettes, which led to his death. In 1975 he died of lung cancer.
I decided to share Shostakovich’s first violin concerto. It was written when there were severe censorships and hostilities from the Russian government. Shostakovich didn’t publish this concerto until after Stalin’s death.
If you were to combine the full military power approach of bands like Krisiun or Angelcorpse with the catchy and slightly dissonant songwriting of Master, the result might be like Pathogen. This band has its own personality however which comes out in this battle-force release.
Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberrations aims to be rhythmically compelling and to add some additional interest in its tendency to massage a maze of related riffs out of the midst of a riff salad so dense it would defy mapping. The result is like urban exploration: entering a building late at night through a forgotten basement window, and wandering in the dark with a flashlight and .45, until you find that one room that takes your breath away.
Pathogen hustle through songs that are a mix of death metal, heavy metal and war metal riffs driving toward a culmination in dissonance and chaos. Drums are mostly influenced by the speed metal bands of the mid-1980s, but vocals come from the recent school of high-speed rasp punctuated by deep gutturals. The result is very much a hybrid, but true to the spirit of its many influences and the genre.
Where this album gets confusing is that it is a riff-maze of familiar patterns and repeated types of themes, so it is best listened to as a kind of concept album formed of a snapshot in time when all of these different songs overlaid each other in concept and overlap in music. Infectious and warlike, Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberrations captures the spirit of high-speed metal and gives it a unique spin.
Forbidden Records has begun streaming the new A Transylvanian Hunger album, Gorgos Goetia, from their bandcamp website.
Combining the traditions of early-era Darkthrone and the melodic tracks from Gorgoroth, Gorgos Goetia represents a descent into the dark and restless mentality of black metal, and shows no mercy to the newer traditions which have usurped an honorable lineage.
After three years of radio silence since their last EP, Vengeful & Obstinate, Divine Eve are returning with a new full-length to be out on Dark Descent Records in 2013.
This Texas band rocketed to influence in the early 1990s by releasing a Swedish-tinged doom/death masterpiece, As the Angels Weep, which showed a band with potential among the many confused offerings created as death metal bloomed.
Equal parts raging death metal and raging roadhouse heavy metal with a darker Motorhead flair, the music of Divine Eve emphasizes both dark places and an uncanny energy emerging from confrontation with them.
Vengeful & Obstinate shows the band refining their songwriting and picking up some new themes, using this added proficiency to make the tunes have more momentum and be more memorable.
While no date has yet been set for the release of the finished product, the release of this sample track is a tantalizing hint of what is to come for all fans of doom-death and related music.