Eric Syre: Unlife – Ossuary and Unlife – Unlife

eric_syre-unlifeEric Syre, a musician from French Canada, is best known perhaps for his work with TheSyre or Pohjast. However, he lives a double life. He is also an industrial/ambient musician recording under the name Unlife.

Unlife comes in two flavors. The first is a more Ministry-influenced version, while the second is almost pure Beherit Electric Doom Synthesis worship. For this reviewer, the first was actually the more intense because it is near completion as a unity of aesthetic and content. The newer material struggles with a bit of self-definition and because of this loss of familiarity, is more awkward but nonetheless compelling.

Ossuary (2005) uses guitars and vocals in a more traditional industrial-metal hybrid atmosphere and shows an influence not only of Ministry, but the generation before (Killing Joke) and lighter influence from the generation after (Godflesh). Songs emphasize heavy, mechanical beats over which Syre loosens up his pipes to give a melodic underpinning to what is otherwise purely “industrial” in the old sense, meaning it sounds like a cross between a factory and a war set to post-punk music.

Unlife (2007) on the other hand is all electronic. There is no attempt to fit songs into a traditional rock framework or imitation of its instrumentation, and cut free, the music experiments a great deal more with song form and texture. Clearly the largest influence here is Electric Doom Synthesis, which also gets alluded to if not outright quoted in a few of the songs, but this is in loving tribute and not some attempt to ride coattails. This longer work seems too simple at first, but suspends belief over time, and introduces a ritual trance mindset in the listener.

It’s our hope here at DeathMetal.org that Mr. Syre continues to develop these projects or at least the direction he was pursuing with both of these releases. His work on Ossuary more captures the power of his singing and sense of dynamics than TheSyre was able to, and Unlife shows us the potential of his composition as a viral stream of ideas alone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IOZSWBy9BI

Interview with Paul Speckmann as Master releases The Witchhunt

paul_speckmann-master_abomination_deathstrike_funeral_bitch_speckmann_projectAs the old joke in Hollywood goes, any time you say “This person needs no introduction,” you must immediately follow that with a lengthy introduction. So it is with Paul Speckmann, who both needs no introduction and also needs a more in-depth introduction because he’s done so much for metal that it’s easy to lose sight of it all.

We are fortunate to be able to interview Mr. Speckmann on the eve of his tenth album, The Witchhunt, which will see release later this year and is a faithful and sped-up version of Master’s characteristic style.

In this interview, we ask Mr. Speckmann about his songwriting style, the changes in master over the years, the meaning of his music and where Master fits in the death metal family tree. His answers are as always thoughtful and honest, with a few surprises that we could never have guessed were coming.

Please show your appreciation for Mr. Speckmann by reading and commenting with your favorite “Speckmann stories”: how you discovered Master et al., what influence it had on you, where you think it fits in metal, and how you think his art has changed the outlook of the extreme metal populace.

Here’s the interview. Ladies and gents, Mr. Paul Speckmann, of Master, Abomination, Deathstrike, Funeral Bitch, War Cry, Speckmann Project and many more!

Interview with Paul Speckmann (Master, Deathstrike, Abomination)

paul_speckmann-master_abomination_deathstrike_funeral_bitch_speckmann_projectPaul Speckmann’s contributions to metal are often mentioned but rarely fully assessed. To scan metal history, we see Speckmann leaving War Cry in 1983 to go off and create something else and coming out with a punkish proto-death metal hybrid somewhere between in the early- to mid-1980s.

The criticial mass and terminal velocity was reached with Deathstrike’s Fuckin’ Death in its second and wider release, melding with Seven Churches, Abominations of Desolation, Divus de Mortuus, Bestial Devastation and Morbid Tales as part of the definition of a new genre. While formed of a proto-metal style that still showed the oil-on-water punk and heavy metal in a pre-emulsion state, Fuckin’ Death helped establish many of the songwriting conventions of the new hybrid.

Since that time, Speckmann has continued his work in metal with bands such as Master, Abomination, Funeral Bitch, Speckmann Project and numerous other collaborations. He was worked with musicians from Cynic and Krabathor and managed to keep his sound consistent across a dozen or more albums, many of which successively re-work earlier songs into more “death metal” versions.

We are very fortunate to be able to interview Mr. Speckmann again, having interviewed him before, as he’s one of our favorite metal personalities.

Your new album The Witchhunt builds on a huge legacy of past Master (and related Speckmann projects) work. How is it different, and how is it consistent with what you’ve done before?

Well that’s just it: I have been doing things the same way on every album since Faith is in Season. I write and record riffs on the acoustic guitar along with a micro-cassette recorder and when the time comes for a new album, I sift through the riffs and hopefully find half a dozen to work with. Most of the time I think that there is much junk on the recorder, but strangely enough sometimes I go back years later and find a killer set of riffs that I missed somehow.

So basically what I am trying to say here is that I did nothing different than before. The album was recorded very quickly after about a month of on and off rehearsals. Ervery time we go into the studio with the intention of making a great album, sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. As for consistency, every Speckmann album has this. If something isn’t broken, then there is no need to fix it!

Have there been any lineup changes since the last album?

Nejezchleba, Pradlovsky and myself have been recording together since the Spirit of the West.

Are your lyrics still as radical, less radical, or more radical than early Master releases?

The lyrics speak for themselves. I suppose you don’t have an actual copy of the CD in your hands. The world around us always dictates dictates the themes on all Master recordings. We as a people are living in turmoil as the power mongers continue to take control of the oil and all the wealth in the world. America the big bully is still at work trying to control all aspects of everyone’s lives across the globe. The world has become a quite more difficult place since the origins of Master so the latter proves true when it comes to the themes I suppose.

Some of us refer to early Master as “proto-death metal” because while it’s a lot like death metal, it has feet in other worlds as well. How do you think of your early music?

You know, when this all began we were merely experimenting with the styles we liked as a formula in our music. Today things really haven’t changed. I still listen to early Rock and Heavy Metal and this keeps my mind clear to write my own crazy musical renditions of what I want to hear. I still listen to GBH, the Exploited, MDC, Minor Threat and Discharge from time to time as they genuinely speak to me in tongues. Good one for sure. I certainly like the old Punk stuff. I have always composed the same way, watching murders on “48 Hours” and playing guitar along the way.

What are the roots of the death metal style? Does it have a core set of influences, or was it an idea?

I never considered Master to be a Death Metal band this tag came several years later. The original fellas and I were just playing Metal, period. After hearing bands like Venom, Slayer and Hellhammer as well as Venom, I left the Doom band as they have tagged it now and wanted to get heavier. Master and Deathstrike were much more aggressive and on the right track so too speak.

I was amazed by, despite lineup changes and some stylistic changes and many years, this album still sounds very much like a Speckmann album. How do you maintain your distinctive style?

The reason the album sounds like Speckmetal is that of course I wrote 10 of the 11 songs but more importantly the band Master always stays true to itself. We play to audiences for example of all sizes from 75-5000 people, and people always understand that we live for the music and you can feel this live as well as on the albums. Many of today’s originators only play for money; this is not the only motivation for Master. We genuinely enjoy touring and sharing the new as well as the old songs with audiences across the globe.

Will you tour the USA with this release, or are you Europe-based for now?

We will tour the USA once again from April 18th until May 9th; I am waiting for information on this very soon. This will once again be an American lineup.

The news says the USA is about to go to war with Syria. Do you have some words about that?

The bully is always ready to go for war; the American economy sucks and people need jobs. This sounds like a great time to bomb Syria. With all the arms, bullets, tanks, etc. the economy will certainly improve. The US likes to fight for sure. Loss of life is of no consequence in the end for the mighty USA. Soon the draft will start up again so you too can fight for your country.

When you started out, I believe, you were working a day job moving furniture and making metal at night, and seemed quite happy doing that.

Actually the day job moving furniture came after my day job selling marihuana was put to a stop by the police. I was forced to borrow money from a truckdriver friend and became a fulltime mover instead of ending up in jail. The band was barely alive in those days so I must have lied in an earlier interview or maybe our first one. Looking back, I do not miss the everyday shit of moving other assholes homesteads.

Now you’ve moved to the Czech Republic and music is your full-time gig. How has the transition been for you?

The transition was a natural thing, for the first few years I travelled the globe with Krabathor summers and then worked moving furniture from September to until March for the first several years. Then in 2004 I was offered a merch job for a German company called Bruchstein Tours and stayed in the Czech Republic permanently. I did this for several years until Master became too busy and this is where I am now, just playing shows.

If a fan listens to The Witchhunt and really likes it, what do you recommend that fan does in terms of exploring more Master material? Should he/she go find a copy of Fuckin’ Death or Speckmann Project or start with more recent material?

I think the entire back catalogue has something to offer and many of the original releases are being re-issued. Fans can contact me directly if need be.

Impaled re-records debut album as The Dead Still Dead Remain

impaled-the_dead_still_dead_remainThirteen years ago, gore-grind band Impaled released their first album, The Dead Shall Dead Remain. Since that initial pressing, the album has been unavailable to fans because of legal disputes over ownership. The only chance to hear it was to buy an original copy.

To work around that problem, Impaled have re-recorded their debut album as The Dead Still Dead Remain. This does away with legal hurdles and allows the band to improve on the performance and production of the original. Recorded and mixed by Vinnie Wojno (Testament), the new recording “simply sounds better” according to guitarist Jason Kocol.

The Dead Still Dead Remain stays musically faithful to the original and also features the return of vocalist Leon del Muerte, who says, “it was like the last thirteen years of backstabbing and spitefulness never happened!” With updated cover artwork in the spirit of the original, The Dead Still Dead Remain resurrects a long lost work of the gore-grind genre.

Impaled’s The Dead Still Dead Remain can be pre-ordered at WillowTip Records.

Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces

albert_mudrian-precious_metal_decibel_presents_the_stories_behind_25_extreme_metal_masterpiecesIn our heavy metal books section today, there’s a review of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces, by Albert Mudrian.

This lengthy exploration of heavy metal classics collects the highlights of interviews with bands about classic albums and assembles them into a single Q&A session. In doing so, the writers of Decibel have assembled a formidable amount of information and answered many of the hanging questions about these metal epics.

Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces covers twenty-five band/album pairings and, while not all will be enjoyed by everyone, the wizardry of its selection is that just about everyone can find at least a dozen that will interest them. It brings the classics to life in a new form.

Read our review of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces, by Albert Mudrian.

Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces, by Albert Mudrian


Precious Metal:
Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces
edited by Albert Mudrian
365 pages, Da Capo Press, $14

The 25 Masterpieces
Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell
Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations
Celtic Frost – Morbid Tales
Slayer – Reign in Blood
Napalm Death – Scum
Repulsion – Horrified
Morbid Angel – Altars of Madness
Obituary – Cause of Death
Entombed – Left Hand Path
Paradise Lost – Gothic
Carcass – Necroticism — Descanting the Insalubrious
Cannibal Corpse – Tomb of the Mutilated
Darkthrone – Transilvanian Hunger
Kyuss – Welcome to Sky Valley
Meshuggah – Destroy Erase Improve
Monster Magnet – Dopes to Infinity
At the Gates – Slaughter of the Soul
Opeth – Orchid
Down – NOLA
Emperor – In the Nightside Eclipse
Sleep – Jerusalem
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Calculating Infinity
Botch – We Are the Romans
Converge – Jane Doe
Eyehategod – Take as Needed for Pain

 

albert_mudrian-precious_metal_decibel_presents_the_stories_behind_25_extreme_metal_masterpiecesRock journalism challenges even the bravest writer. Musicians are not known for being articulate, nor is it easy to pin them down, and lore snowballs in that vacuum. For this reason it’s great to see the series of in-depth explorations that have come about recently regarding many classic events of metal. As musicians age, given that musicians have a shorter life-span than average, this is also a race against time in many cases.

Albert Mudrian’s Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces presents a welcome addition to the genre of historical metal journalism. Combing through archives, the writers of each piece compiled band statements about the album and put them together in linear form, like a conversation. The result is a whole lot of information delivered in a very digestible form, with the extraneous confusion of live interviews edited right out of the picture. It’s a good starting point for anyone looking into these historical nodal points in the evolution of metal.

Mudrian seems aware how easily a book like this could become repetitive. Not just in the answers, where musicians might make roughly similar statements about touring, band formation, the troubles of collaboration and so forth, but in the similarity of bands. If for example he added another three Swedish death metal bands, it might start to get a little bit stuffy in the virtual room he’s created. Instead, he gives us space between acts and a wide variety of acts, but avoids the really awful nu-metal and tek-deth. However, the price of that spaciousness is that he includes bands like Monster Magnet and Kyuss which really aren’t metal at all.

There are some shockers in content, too. Some of these bands, despite their professions of various depraved behaviors, are insanely business-like in how they go about getting recorded and published. Sleep, Cannibal Corpse, Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch and Converge really had their act together. For a few moments, it was more like reading Forbes than Decibel, but it’s really gratifying to see this side of the business portrayed honestly. If you want your music heard, there’s a certain amount of business activity that must precede that event.

On the whole, these chapters are extremely well edited including the choice of material. They are in question-answer form, where the questions are usually prompts about historical events or general questions applied to specific moments or activities. When an incidental or minor character is cited, he or she speaks up for a few questions and then fades out. The bulk of the material favors the most articulate band members and major actors, but the writers shoehorn in as many diverse perspectives as they can. This makes reading Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces feel like being in a comfortable pub with these bands, on a rainy day, with a tape recorder next to the ashtray.

Each chapter corresponds to a classic album and comes with an intro paragraph. If anything, here’s where the book could benefit from some uniformity and toning down the “rock journalism” aspects. Perhaps not a just-the-facts-ma’am approach, but more of an assessment of where the band fits into history and why people like them, and leave it at that. Some of these were over the top for the actual function they serve. However, among the bombast is a lot of good information.

At that point the interview(s) compiled into a single form take over. Most of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces is the bands speaking, and that is the power of Mudrian’s editing and the work of his colleagues. They’ve trimmed out the transient stuff, the window dressing and repetition, and left us with clear statements from the bands that show them in their own voices and approaching the situation at their own angle. This also helps create an epic feel to the epic interviews because it’s a compilation of the best moments of the band commenting on this album, put into one form that flows naturally.

Was the intro, “Human,” something you had conceived of before you went into the studio?
Ain: Yes, we had the idea before we went into the studio — we wanted to loop a scream and make it perpetual. We also wanted to use it as an intro for the live shows. A regular human scream would never last that long, so we wanted to loop it and make it sound like a scream from hell, like how you would scream if the pain was everlasting.
Warrior: We had talked about it, but we were basically still laymen, so we had no idea how we could put it together. So we told Horst what we wanted to do, and he proposed how to do it. But as I said, we only had six days to do everything. If one thing failed, we would’ve gone over budget or had to go home. So, in hindsight, it’s a miracle that tracks like “Human” or “Danse Macabre” came out the way we wanted them to. We couldn’t rehearse some of those parts, you know? I have no idea how we did that in just a few days, especially given our lack of experience. But therein lies one of the strengths of Celtic Frost to this day: Martin and I usually visualize certain pieces of music down to the last detail without even touching an instrument.

This excerpt reveals the power of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces. In the midst of the mundane description of studio struggles, Tom Warrior articulates part of the essence of his band. Many such moments of insight, casually and offhandedly mentioned in describing some rather ordinary thing, flesh out this book and make it more than a fan’s quest but a resource for musicians and anyone else curious about the origins and process of creating extreme metal.

Not everyone will agree on certain aspects of this book and naturally any choices made along these lines are divisive. However, the book has enough to offer just about anyone who loves metal so that the purchase will not be regretted, even if there are chapters you skipped. In fact, I recommend skipping those chapters and approaching this book as a buffet. No matter what sub-genres you adore, you’re going to have at least five you’re dying to read, another five you’re very excited to read, and another five you’re curious about, and the rest will be uncertain but you might find some interesting information there, as I did.

It is impossible to find just 25 to represent metal. Some of these choices are nods to the music industry and mainstream fanbase, like Dillinger Escape Plan, or to history, like Botch, who were the vanguard of the metalcore movement. Some are near-misses like the apologetic At the Gates treatment of their best-seller, but this interview also confirms a lot that reviewers said about this album, namely that it was retro to the past generation of metal and somewhat hasty. Some others, like Converge and Eyehategod, seem marginal in that these bands spent a lot of time disclaiming metal back in the day.

On the whole however Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces offers a good pan-and-scan perspective of what was going on in metal at the time, and by showing us the fly-over accumulation of variety, Mudrian and Decibel show us not only what these bands were doing, but the forces against which they were struggling to define themselves. The result is a treasure hunt of a book, bristling with secrets and previously undiscovered pathways, for those who enjoy extreme heavy metal.

Nocturno Culto’s Gift of Gods to release Receive

gift_of_gods-receiveNocturno Culto, who forms one-half of the nefarious duo known as Darkthrone, has a long history of side projects. Among other contributions, he worked out the intricate riffcraft behind Satyricon’s Nemesis Divina, making it a favorite in that band’s catalog.

Now he has embarked on a new side project which is a pure traditional heavy metal band called Gift of Gods. Gift of Gods will release its debut mini-album Receive on Peaceville Records on November 5, 2013.

Commented Nocturno Culto, “Finally, the mini-album is done. Gift Of Gods has been a great ride for me. I don’t want this to end now, so I will most likely work on new material. Thanks to my partner in crime, K.A. Hubred, we got to rehearse during the last two years. What to expect? I have no idea how to describe this, but it’s metal for sure.”

Receive was performed and recorded by Culto and Hubred at Culto’s home studio, and mixed and mastered by Jack Control at Enormous Door, who recently worked with Nocturno on Darkthrone’s The Underground Resistance.

So far the only reports tell us this will be traditional heavy metal with a wide range of influences and that it will lead toward the melodic side of things. This EP/mini-album will be a half-hour of material including a cover of “Looking For an Answer” originally by obscure Swedish 80s band Universe.

  1. Intro
  2. Enlightning Strikes
  3. Receive
  4. Looking For An Answer
  5. Last Solstice
  6. Outro

Krieg announces release of Transient in 2014

imperial-kriegThe next Krieg full length will be titled Transient and will be recorded in 2014, according to Krieg frontman Imperial. The new album will be 40-50 minutes long, “with some return to the old Krieg style in the sense that there will be a lot of very aggressive parts and a fair amount of samples.”

Transient will also blend in more influences from strange industrial projects, nothing you can dance to obviously, but the feeling you get from certain Coil, Whitehouse, and Controlled Bleeding recordings as well as a strong push into the more crusty rock n roll moments from the last three records.

Active since the middle 1990s, Krieg pioneered a unique sound of semi-improvisational and chaotic New World black metal that took many influences from violent and disoriented punk music and merged them with the minimalistic black metal of Darkthrone and Havohej. Recently, Krieg has been incorporating more post-metal influences in their music with The Isolationist, the record releases in 2010.

“It’s going to be a strange beast for sure, as always uncomfortable and hopefully challenging to the listener. We will be recording the majority at a different studio than we’ve used previously as to try to bring a newer feeling to the overall recording,” said Imperial.

Glorious Times team producing benefit show for Jill Funerus

jill_funerus-funerusFirst, a quick update on Jill Funerus and her health challenges. She had 100% blockage in one artery and less in another, but the damage was still extensive enough to cause a heart attack and kidney problems.

She went into surgery about 22 hours ago. However, she does not have health insurance and neither does her husband. Thus, she’s going to face some heft medical bills when this is all over.

To counter those bills, the Glorious Times team have partnered with death metal bands across the world to throw a fundraiser. Bands will donate items for a raffle, and perform, with the proceeds going to Jill for payment of her medical bills.

If you, dear reader, wish to help her out in this time of need, you can send funds via PayPal to info@funerus.com. Here’s the list of bands who have pledged donations for the Jill Funerus benefit:

  • Cardiac Arrest
  • Gravehill
  • Repulsion
  • Rottrevore
  • Insanity
  • Embalmer
  • Mike Browning (Incubus)
  • Cianide
  • Druid Lord
  • Impetigo
  • Wehrmacht
  • Master

If you are a band, label or distro and want to help out with the Jill Funerus benefit, please send an email to glorioustimesdeathbook@gmail.com.

Otherwise, check back here or on the Glorious Times Facebook.

Glorious Times team releases Nuclear Death profile

glorious_times_coverThe book Glorious Times portrayed the experience of being involved in the early metal underground in a way that no one else has attempted before or since. It awakened in many of us a desire for such times again, when truth mattered more than commerce and popularity.

Despite being initially scoffed at by publishers, Glorious Times exceeded all expectations and became a metal institution. The publishers, Alan Moses and Brian Pattison, have stayed active in the underground by promoting shows, writing reviews, and pushing forward bands that seem to have that sense of connection to reality that defined the early underground.

As part of their continued activity, Moses and Pattison have released a profile of longstanding band Nuclear Death. According to Pattison, the material had been slated to be part of the first printing of Glorious Times, but for scheduling reasons was never part of that issue.

Instead, it’s now available for free download thanks to the Glorious Times team wanting to update Facebook friends with a reward for their loyalty and continued attention to both Glorious Times and the underground.

This multi-page spread features a unique story by Lori Bravo of Nuclear Death, previously undiscovered pictures from the era, and the classic zine-style layout which made Glorious Times a hit with the oldschooler crowd as well as new generations looking for an alternative to corporate media.