Sanctifier – Daemoncraft

sanctifier-daemoncraftSanctifier craft fine quality vintage-sounding Brazilian death metal, straight forward and without the desire to pander to the elitist shit contingent wanting the next trend. These death metal maniacs have been kicking around since they were teenagers in the 80s and are not children of the tape-trading phenomenon but instigators of it.

For that reason, while Daemoncraft displays its Brazilian sound right off the bat with a warped rhythm weaving through opening track “Demon Ov Lava” (which is also added as a bonus track with Portuguese vocals at the end of this CD) they’re also influenced by their peers of the time such as Immolation and latter-era Morbid Angel (i.e. during Rutan’s relocation from Redbank to Tampa). To my ears at least, this mid-period death metal influence shows up musically on this recording and appears more prevalent than other pioneering influences the band naturally does have.

Getting robbed at gunpoint and thus losing his equipment didn’t hold sole song writer Alexandre Emerson back from creating some wicked songs yet again in the name of worshiping the ancient ones, even before it was a fashion with the young whipper snappers after this sort of music became available at the mall. The cult of Cthulhu remains central to the driving force behind the writing of this music. Lyrical content avoids any crypto-punk subject matter which was par for the course when this band were teenagers and is consistently so now that they’re seasoned elders of the genre.

Daemoncraft emerges as a compact album with some amazing guitar work that has just the right amount of more modern (i.e. early 90s style) feel meshed with the primitive proto-death metal of the 80s from which this band is forged. “The Enchanter” is a good example of this layering of feeling between the two realms. However, the song is consistently deliberate throughout and makes for an excellently paced album.

I agree with executive producer Everton De Castro of Dying Music when he says Daemoncraft is a work for metal brothers of the death metal old school; for those who aren’t just here for a trend, is there any other kind?

Sanctifier – Daemoncraft: $12 (BR) / $10 (US)

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Robots play their first metal gigs

robotThe robotic cover band Compressorhead recently played their first ever shows in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, and Melbourne. Their mission statement is to overtake the world of meatbag (human) metal. These metal purists cover Motorhead and Led Zeppelin more precise than some of their human cover band counterparts.

Compressorhead consists of the guitarist Fingers with 78 hydraulic actuated appendages, bassist Bones, and four-armed drummer Stickboy.

According to their website there are no more shows on their schedule, but the novelty of this band will most likely continue. I would personally like to see them play some Nocturnus songs.

Perhaps we can envision a day when lackluster cover bands are replaced by robots.

 

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Sammath signs to Hammerheart Records for “Godless Arrogance”

sammath-godless_arroganceDutch-German blazing black metal act Sammath, who are preparing to unleash their fifth album, Godless Arrogance, have signed to worldwide metal music label Hammerheart Records for the release of that album.

“I’m getting emails and telephone calls from people all over the world,” said Sammath guitarist/composer Jan Kruitwagen on the change that catapults them from a smaller metal label to worldwide distribution on par with Relapse and Nuclear Blast. The band is leaving its label of sixteen years, Folter Records, on amicable terms. “Joerg from Folter was actualy proud as fuck that we got signed to these guys and only wishes us well. It wasn’t easy telling him after 16 years on his label, but he understands.”

According to Kruitwagen, Hammerheart sought Sammath after hearing the demo tracks from the upcoming album and knowing the band for a long time. “The new tracks will destroy! Guido from Hammerheart knows what’s good,” he said. Believed by many to be the boldest step of the band’s career, Godless Arrogance combines the elegant melodies of Sammath‘s first album, Strijd, with the aggressive ripping death metal approach of their most popular work, Dodengang.

The band doesn’t plan to change a thing about their approach, which is old school technique and composition with an eye toward defiant independence. “We have lots of work left to do. All drums are recorded without triggers and everything is recorded live. Getting this all sounding like we want takes time. We do everything ourselves, no hands but ours will finnish this CD, except Peter Neuber for the master (Necrophobic, Revenge, Severe Torture),” Kruitwagen added.

Godless Arrogance will see release in “a couple of months at least,” but will not change its approach. “We need to make sure it all sounds up to mark, without losing the intense sound it already has,” said Kruitwagen. He added that despite a changing music industry, the band remains committed to its approach. He added, “let the music speak for itself.”

The tracklist for Sammath‘s Godless Arrogance will be:

1. Shot in mass
2. Fear upon them
3. Thrive in arrogance
4. Death (hunt them down)
5. This world must burn (hammer of supremacy)
6. Through filth and the remains of man
7. Nineteen corpses hang in the mist

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Sadistic Metal Reviews 04-15-13

toxic_holocaust-from_the_ashesToxic Holocaust – From the Ashes of Nuclear Destruction: This is not bad music, but it’s an imitation of something in the rearview mirror, which is hard enough without a tendency to combine the worst aspects of several genres. The songs are chaotic like American thrash, but then like German speed metal, they’re very chanty with lots of chorus activity and not much deviation from that rhythm and the chord progression that carries it. In fact, this was the kind of music that back in the 1980s, drove people to Metallica and Slayer for more of a musical experience. Most of what you get with Toxic Holocaust is like a suburban rap album, which is to say that you hear the vocals and pick up their rhythm, and then there’s distracting stuff going on in the background. Whatever the chorus is gets hammered in your brain because it repeats again and again (and again, and again). Riffs are very similar, and derive from identifiable archetypes in classic speed metal songs. Like most of those bands in the 1980s, it’s hard to construct an argument against this. It isn’t musically incompetent, and it’s roughly of the same style, and it’s definitely metally as opposed to the alt-indie-nu crowd. However, really the question is what’s missing, and we can’t spot it because neither it nor an analogue is there. This band lacks purpose. Songs are there to be like other songs, not to express something unique. While nostalgia is neat and all, this puts Toxic Holocaust in the same camp as the big pop bands, who are just making songs to sound like other successful songs, be catchy and make people dance.

soen-cognitiveSoen – Cognitive: Somehow, people say they’re doing what they’re afraid they’re not doing. Soen is nu-progressive metal, which means that it’s basically a very vocals-intense, “passionate” form of indie rock — think post-1990s style drama-intense male vocalist nonsense — with occasional metal riffs. If you don’t mind the discount Morrisey style vocals, you will not be immediately set off by this album, but the grim fact is that this style of music is easy to produce and bands are a dime a dozen. These “deep” vocals end up sounding more like someone belting out over-emphatic drama, mainly because once you strip aside the technique, there’s little actual variation. The metal riffs can be surprisingly good but not original. It’s amazing how people have been making this style of music for decades and yet it doesn’t occur to each generation that maybe, just maybe, this stuff isn’t as new and revolutionary as it claims. If you like regular rock music, and want it to have more soul-searching vocals that override the other form factors, as in Coldplay, you’ll really dig this. If you’re looking for metal, you’ll end up fast-forwarding between the metal riffs and have a 2.3 minute album here.

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Arsaidh – Roots: another black metal/post-black metal hybrid. What is it? A mixture of techniques, with no purpose. It’s not bad except that since none of it connects to a greater organization scheme than designing a song based on template, it all has the same intensity and emotional level, which makes it a tedious drone. Again, look at any part: it’s well done. Zoom out, look at the whole: who cares? It’s like a fractal made of one giant circle in that anywhere you look, the end result is pointing back to the start. Nothing is learned between inception and conclusion. It’s oddly evocation of this disassociative time because it approximates the mental state of someone who is watching life go on by and realizes it’s all the same stuff, but has no energy to do better, so joins in emulation and hopes to not be noticed. Did you ever read Vaclav Havel’s “Power of the Powerless”? It’s easy to put up some token sign of assimilation, like a state slogan or an indie-metal album, and to fit in. That way, you expend almost no energy and yet are not subject to standing out and having to face criticism for having gone your own way.

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Buckshot Facelift – Elder’s Rasp: From the newer school of grindcore, which combines the frenetic and ecclectic nature of bands like Brutal Truth with the “grab bag of anything goes riffs” and tendency toward distraction rather than continuity that is a hallmark of tech-deth and other metalcore-influenced styles, Buckshot Facelift create a faithful exploration of this style. Fast and chaotic, it shifts riffs regularly and with intensity, but could use a bit more variation in the tempo shift department. Riff composition uses techniques from the last 40 years of metal, punk and rock, with a tendency toward shifts between rock and punk riffs before drifting into metal to work up tension for a change. Vocals are like a chihuahua on methamphetamine that is reading a letter to the editor from a grandmother abandoned at the bottom of a deep well by her ungrateful children. If this subgenre appeals to you, this band is better than average but middle-of-the-road stylistically.

aeon-aeons_blackAeon – Aeons Black: Sounding like later Deicide with influences from the mid-paced death metal of the last decade, Aeon creates some compelling rhythms and uses a heavy NYDM influence through harmonic guitar squeals and repetitive downstroke rhythms. The result is “heavy,” but melody is used only as an effect, and the album is assembled of many similar pieces that lacking a gestalt, flow together into catchy wall paper. The result is thankfully somewhat death metal, but has a newer metal influence, and through its lack of focus, combines different forms and styles into one giant approximation that has no really distinct point of view. It’s like a xerox of a xerox of a photograph of Silly Putty(tm) imprint of the original. While it isn’t incompetent, and has some moments of inspired musicality, it has no content that it manages to express and so it feels like a disorganized detour into the late 1990s, perhaps death metal being used to make an infomercial. I can see the juice machines, instant waffle makers, hair braders, etc. now, because that’s what this album feels like: the shelves of a death metal store, arranged in no particular order, as you walk past and then go out the door, not having found anything worthy of permanent acquisition.

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Sophicide – Perdition of the Sublime: The modern style of metal throws a whole bunch of metal styles into a salad shooter and gives it a spin. What tumbles out is properly called metalcore because its songs are in the “variety show” form of late hardcore, but its riffs come from random metal genres. Sophicide does a better job of it than most by using rhythm to arrange riffs in roughly verse-chorus positions, meaning that you can easily follow what’s going on without much mental stress. However, the result is like most later hardcore designed around the concept of having lots of options that are incompatible with one another. They think this makes you avoid boredom, but because there’s no plan, each song devolves to the lowest common denominator. As a result, there’s not much listening to be had here unless you really fanatically love metalcore. This band is more interesting than your average metalcore, but still conveys that basic antipathy to organized expression that comes from confused times, and doesn’t help us resolve that confusion. In fact, the tendency of the listener here is to pay less attention the less organized the music gets, which is why people who hear metalcore frequently are unable to express an opinion about it. “It was there,” is all they can say, and in this style, that’s all we’re left with.

tormented-death_awaitsTormented – Death Awaits: In 1992, the average death metal fan would walk 30 miles through the snow uphill both ways to hear a new Swedish death metal album. Sometime in the 2000s, Daniel Ekeroth made a handy video about how to get the Swedish guitar sound, and at least 4,096 hipster bands suddenly became Entombed-worship acts. The problem is that they don’t understand why Entombed did what Entombed did, so they’re imitating the appearance of Entombed and then injecting their own motivations into the art. Unforunately for them, their motivations are often what hipster bands want, which is ironic acclaim and something to brag about as they make coffees at the day job. Tormented is a perfect case in point. It’s competent, the riffs are gently melodic at times, and songs hold together thanks to a riff-chorus assembly with transitional riffs worked in. The problem is that these riffs express nothing, so they’re based on existing forms in a “pick one from column A, one from column B, one from column C” approach. This misses the point of death metal, which is to stich riffs together so that they tell a story that expands as the song goes on, then revert to a simplest possible reduction. What is revealed at the center of this music is an obsession with repetitive catchy vocals, and hard rock style relatively immobile riffs, instead of the soaring tremolo architectures that made Swedish death metal great. On the surface, this is pure Swede-worship; underneath, it has more in common with Wolfmother than Entombed.

agrimonia-rites_of_separationAgrimonia – Rites of Separation: It’s time we admit that post-metal is not metal, but new age metal. Or rather, it’s new age rock that wants to be metal so it can be “rebellious.” Officially rebellious, that is, so that if anyone claims they’re worshipping Satan or extremists, they can point to their soft juicy fruity core of new age everybody-kumbaya-happy. Post-metal not only takes influences from the new age movement and its desire for gentle ambience with some kind of quasi-spiritualist uplifting feeling that makes us feel like our rotting industrial dystopia encloses a paradise of personal emotional balance, positive thinking, etc. This music is like Sonic Youth throwing in some metal riffs and then droning on a note or two, with “bizarre” song structures that are actually very much in the verse-chorus with transitions style of post-punk bands. Nothing is badly done but the music has no soul. Its essence is in tossing out anything it thinks you might like, with no relationship between those parts. Thus it’s like hearing a conversation on the subway, where you pick up on juicy phrases and the rest is hubbub which fades into the ratcheting clack of the passing tracks.

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Unburied – Murder 101: Despite the prevalence of death metal vocals, these songs song more like old hardcore with a metal influence. They are extremely simple, with often only two riffs per song which repeat while vocals rant and bass pounds out a catchy rhythm. The rhythms behind these riffs are simple but compelling, and the riffs despite being digestible draw in the listener with a sense of an asymmetrical response in formation. Comparisons to a punchier version of old Master, Mortician or even Psychomancer would be appropriate. While the music is compelling in a very primitive sense, it requires a patience for things which do not change over prolonged periods of time, and a love for the gore-grind tendency to mash a rhythm down into its essence and then use its persistence as a source of power.

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Altaar – Altaar: The first track of this album presents bass-driven slow droning doom metal which is carefully put together and, while simple and somewhat predictable in terms of chord progressions, nonetheless establishes and nurtures a dark mood. After that, some kind of late model hardcore/post-metal hybrid emerges, which features predictable ranty vocals and sessile riffs. At that point, most people tune out because they’ve heard this exact same stuff from a million bands, which explains why bands like it: it’s easy to produce, thus makes for high turnover of albums, more happy fans, more sales, etc. Ideally popular music is like this because you can hire a dozen people out of the back of any bar or pool hall, channel them into a studio, and have them pump out as much of it as you can sell. This style of music rewards obedience, because you have to learn music and then memorize what others have been doing and then imitate it. That makes for something that isn’t musically bad, but has nothing to distinguish it, and because it’s not about anything, it conveys no sense of experience other than standing there listening to the random riffs.

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Helvete: A Journal of Black Metal Theory

helvete-a_journal_of_black_metal_theoryAs part of the burgeoning movement to understand metal and how it relates to the world, comes the first issue of Helvete: A Journal of Black Metal Theory. Although the title of the publication may imply that it is a technical analysis of black metal composition, this is not the case. As the back cover states, “Not to be confused with metal studies, music criticism, ethnography, or sociology, Black Metal Theory is a speculative and creative endeavor, one which seeks ways of thinking that count as Black Metal events — and indeed, to see how Black Metal might count as thinking.”

The book consists of about a half dozen short essays in a contemporary writing style, with full sourcing, complemented by some photographs of black metal musicians and landscapes. Subjects covered in the book range from suicide, ecocide, self-discovery, and more. Rather than treating black metal as both the beginning and end point of the book, it is instead the launching ground for exploration of how black metal’s spirit can find meaning in a cold and modernist world. The flaw in this is that some essays form a rather tenuous link to black metal, often distorted by what the authors want black metal to be, rather than what it actually is.

Of note for exploring this style is the essay by David Prescott-Steed with the admittedly disarming title of “Frostbite on my Feet: Representations of Walking in Black Metal Visual Culture”

Walking can be understood as a transitional practice whereby a person steps into, and through, a complex set of spatial and cognitive relationships. An example of such a theory of walking can be seen in the act of stepping through the doorway of a Gothic Cathedral (Notre Dame, for instance). Entering the westwork has long held physical and religious significance for Catholic devotees, symbolising one’s departure from a world in which a conceived God is incomprehensible and indeterminable (a transcendental space) into a space of communion with that God (an immanental space). Each step into the vast and ornate interior space of the nave, and beyond, comprises a transitional ritual that puts the walker in dialogue with the sacred.

The link to black metal given:

Truncated by the public’s engagement with the spectacle of Black Metal, the less exotic practice of walking nonetheless remains an important practice within the genre.Its significance can be seen in two recent documentaries on Black Metal: Vice Broadcasting System (VBS)’s True Norwegian Black Metal and Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell’s Until the Light Takes Us. In the first instance, Gaahl (the documentary’s leading figure and the former frontman of Gorgoroth) insists that the film crew join him on a long trek into the Norwegian tundra. The hike draws our attention to the meaningfulness of the journey and speaks to the aura of solitude and endurance, of a confrontation with the unknown and human potential. Gaahl enforces: “I become what never fails, following the footsteps behind me.” In Until the Light Takes Us, slow-motion footage of Darkthrone’s Fenriz walking along a snowy forest path seems to evoke similar notions of the shadows of former selves seeking an obscured locus of self-authenticity. Both examples illustrate the capacity of walking to communicate a deeply planted Black Metal aesthetic.

This is indicative of the book’s tendency to have a coherent and intelligent view to convey in the essay, but have the given connection to black metal be suspect. A better idea would be to focus on the music, rather than aesthetics. (What’s more solitary than Transilvanian Hunger? Reference this instead.)

Other questionable choices include analyzing the compositions of Wolves in the Throne Room as being the last gasp of nature in an increasingly concrete world, the apparently transcendent lyrics of a band calling itself Make a Change…Kill Yourself, and how a slashed black t-shirt stuck to a wall is representative of “Ornament and crime (Hvis Lyset Tar Oss)”.

These flaws aside, the content of these essays can be interesting in itself, such as the idea that portable music represents a shield between us and a decaying word; where black metal heralds its deconstruction and the triumph of the wilderness, praise of the physical action of exploration, and how all worthwhile knowledge is achieved through struggle.

For people (like this author), who were hoping for a measured and academic analysis of black metal’s original music, meaning, and spirit, you will probably be disappointed. However, if one views the book as a collection of reasonably intelligent contemporary writers exploring unpopular subjects in the shadow of an often misunderstood genre, you will perhaps find something of interest.

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Steve von Till – As The Crow Flies

steve_von_till-as_the_crow_fliesIt is one thing to become acknowledged within your genre as a leader. It is still another to reach outside that genre, and become more than an artist, but a sage.

A sage is part explainer of the past, part philosopher and part artist who makes the future seem full of interest and beauty. No matter how long someone labors in popular music, they will eventually desire to become the village sage, because that is a position above entertainer. It is a trusted voice that is a guide for culture.

Steve von Till rose to fame with Neurosis, whose music he took far beyond hardcore into the realm of psychedelic and experimental music. With this re-issue of his solo album from 2000, we can hear his voice develop from rage and ambiguity to a desire to reform culture itself. This acoustic guitar album shapes itself from simple melodies and muttered, droning vocals melded into slow atmospheric songs.

As The Crow Flies attempts to create a folk music out of the postmodern time, having let the ashes of dystopia fall. These songs are sentimental and emotional, but not in the cloyingly insistent way that pop must be. Instead, like the music of Tom Waits or Dead Can Dance, songs try to nail the feeling of a particular time in life and galvanize us toward both clarity and an amorphous desire to surpass the past.

von Till carefully paces the album so that songs appear in a varied order, using additional instruments sparsely to differentiate themselves, such that mood is not broken but slowly changes like a banner twisting in a nearly-becalmed afternoon wind. These are songs both unexpected and familiar which wring out of our decaying age a new reason to believe in the emotional power of living, and that makes As The Crow Files a success of a different color.

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Interview: Supuration

supuration-cube_3During the early 1990s, death metal was subject to criticism because people feared it. They would claim that the bands couldn’t play, or didn’t know their scales, or were otherwise incompetent.

One of the first bands to thwart this vision was France’s Supuration, a former grindcore/death metal band who gradually modified their style as they grew more proficient with their instruments. The result was a mixture of rock, pop, death metal and progressive music.

The Cube, Supuration‘s most famous work, introduced sci-fi concept album planning into the fertile mix of metal and progressive rock. Over the last 20 years, the fame of this legendary album has only increased as more people discover it and are able to understand it, now that an intervening two decades of progressive metal have made it easier.

This year, Supuration launched Cube 3, their follow-up to the original album and a means of uniting the storyline of intervening albums. We were fortunate to get to talk to Ludovic Loez, guitarist with this groundbreaking band.

You started out as a death metal or grindcore band, and then made the change to a progressive/rock/metal style; what spurred this change? Did your interests change, or did the newer style fit your interests?

After the recording of The Cube album and Still in the Sphere MCD, we decided to change our style. We didn’t want to record another The Cube in the same vein; we tried to create a more experimental music, with no limits for us. We like SUPURATION a lot but we thought that a second album in the same veins would not be cool for us, that’s why we created S.U.P.

How important do you think style is in the creation of music? Can someone make the same album in any style, or does the style fit the music? How does this relate to individual songs — does song structure need to fit the song, or is there a way to say the meaning of any song in any song structure?

I think the structure is quite important for a song; we are trying to be original, we all love death metal style in the band, but we also like new wave music and VOIVOD for example. If you listen to our three SUPURATION albums, you’ll find the same structures: each album is linked to each other; for the S.U.P albums, each album is a story, but the structures of these albums are different even if it’s the same way of writing songs for both bands.

You’ve obviously spent a lot of time listening to metal and studying its riff forms, but there’s other elements in there in addition to your own “home grown” outlook and style. You’re probably tired of people asking this, but what are your influences??

As I told you we are into new wave of the 80’s, real gothic music like THE SISTERS OF MERCY, VOIVOD, old PESTILENCE, DEPECHE MODE and sometimes electro music coming from Germany. We are also into original soundtrack, music scores…

Do you think the death metal style easily transitions to progressive rock? What do you see as the similarities between the two? Is progressive rock — most people don’t know that Tony Iommi was briefly in Jethro Tull, or that King Crimson’s first album was an influence on Sabbath — a part of metal, encoded into its DNA?

I think you’re right, in each style of music you can hear a “small” part of metal especially nowadays with the evolution of music in general…The way to the progressive rock is natural I think, except for brutal death bands like SUFFOCATION or CANNIBAL CORPSE and so on, it’s certain that they won’t turn into progressive [music]. It’s a choice, everyone have the choice especially in music.

A compilation of your early works, Back From the Crematory, was released in 2011 and seemed to spur some interest in the early years of the band. What first attracted you to grindcore and death metal?

CARCASS, NAPALM DEATH, OLD. We were quite young at that time and we were into grind core and death metal, when xtreemmusic asked us to put out our first work with ETSICROXE and early SUPURATION, we were really excited. Imagine your old demos and rotten live on a cd more than 20 years after…amazing and exciting…

You split the band into two entities, “Supuration” which was more metal, and “S.U.P.” which was more future pop/rock/progressive. Why did you make the split? Were you able to keep the two separate? How much did they converge, or become similar?

They’re sometimes similar, the voice for example. We created another the band because after the “success” we had with The Cube, we didn’t want to record a “Cube II” the year after. We wanted to create something new with music. The two bands are two different entities, but same members and same songwriter, so both are sometimes similar and different at the same time.

Have you seen interest in Supuration renewing itself recently? Why do you think this is?

I think it’s great!! With the new record company it’s quite easier. We had had a small renewal with the prequel of The Cube called Incubation in 2003. We have good reviews — I think the result is quite correct, that’s a good thing for us…

I have known relatively few albums that attract the kind of devotion that The Cube has. What do you think makes that album stand out, and what do you like about it most?

Its story, its concept, its futurist cover; this album realized in 1993 had a big success in general I can’t explain why…but it’s cool….

You’ve just released Cube 3, which alludes to the original The Cube. Do you think it’s a continuation of what was done on The Cube, a re-envisioning, or an entirely new direction using parts of the same storyline?

Cube3 is dealing with the end of the story [from] The Cube. Between these albums we recorded Incubation which is a prequel to The Cube, I mean the story before. If you want to hear the whole story you have to listen to Incubation first the reasons of the suicide of the young girl, then The Cube with the journey of the tormented soul throughout strange places and Cube3 which deals with the reincarnation of the soul of The Cube album.

Most of your albums seem to be conceptual, or united around a story or idea. Can you tell us about the storylines in your albums? Was there a consistent story idea through all of your works?

I would say, in most of our stories in our albums, the relation between the mother and is child is reccurent. You’ve got this relation in the whole story of The Cube, in “Anomaly” (S.U.P, science fiction dealing futurist machines that kills babies linked to a overpopulation in the future), “Room Seven” (S.U.P, story dealing with an autistic child and his mother), “Chronophobia” (S.U.P, twins separated at birth, mother killed in a carcrash), “Angelus” (S.U.P, quite different, dealing with the lost of faith in god and extraterrestrial life after death), “Imago” (S.U.P, also different, dealing with a futurist drug that makes a self regeneration after a serious disease or cancer, but quite dangerous if you take it twice) and “Hegemony” (S.U.P, dealing with a neovocyt, a new vegetal/human being who is trying to run away with the head of his mother throughout a searing desert somewhere in time on another planet).

Nothing sounds like Supuration — nothing! However, if I had to pick the closest, I’d point toward the first albums from Obliveon and Dead Brain Cells (DBC), and maybe mention some of the middle period Voivod material (Dimension Hatross). Do you find these bands similar? Is it odd, or perfectly rational, that they would have a similar sound to you? Does the fact that all of you are from French-speaking areas have anything to do with it?

I only know VOIVOD, I do not know DBC or OBLIVEON, I’m sorry. I don’t think we are similar, maybe we have the same way of seeing things, the same way of creating the music. You must be right — I trust you when you say that but…I don’t know if the French-speaking have anything to do with it…maybe….I don’t know maybe a similar culture somewhere…

Do you think metal’s riff style, which uses moveable chords like power chords and as a result ends up with longer phrases more like classical melodies or complex riff from prog rock, determines how you compose metal songs? Do you think this makes metal more or less like regular rock? Was it hard for you to integrate the two styles in your music?

You know, when you are used to playing in a way, it seems to be normal for you to play that way. I mean during these years metal music has changed a lot, except for some great metal bands that are staying in their metal style since the very beginning and that’s great too… There’s so many different styles in metal music, it’s quite difficult to answer this question, as far as we are concerned, we are writing songs normally, we’re trying to be original and not to disappoint our fans who are very important for us.

Some of your “S.U.P.” material, especially Room Seven, seemed to converge on a progressive alternative rock style that others were trying to achieve at the time. The use of non-standard chords, dissonance and off-time constructions in alternative rock appeared for example on Dweezil Zappa’s “Shampoo Horn” and even made it into punk with powerviolence and post-hardcore. What do you think influenced bands to move progressive in the late 1990s? What were they seeking to express, or change in the world? Did you see this as a confirmation of your direction (if you were aware of it)?

We’re not aware of it, sorry….I guess they tried to change some things in the world of music, I suppose…Every decade a new style is created in metal or death metal, it’s a kind of circle you know. We’re not into this kind of philosophy; we are trying to do our best for people who like our stuff and for our fans. I only know Dweezil Zappa because I was told that he was a very good guitarist, that’s it….

What’s coming up next for Supuration? Will you tour and/or continue releasing music? “Cube 3” seems a bit of a progression from your older material; what’s your next metamorphosis?

We’ll play some shows for Cube3, not real tour, I mean festivals, concerts, during one or two years and meanwhile I’ll star to write the new S.U.P album, we’ll see…. Thanks for the interview

Ludovic LOEZ
for SUPURATION/S.U.P
April 2013

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Soilwork – The Living Infinite

soilwork-the_living_infiniteIf you ever find yourself wondering why mainstream music produces so many professional and well-produced acts while metal seems pasted-together in comparison, worry no more: Soilwork has invented a new form of radio-friendly metal that competes with the big bands you can hear on the radio.

Much of metal’s heritage is pop. Iron Maiden, Queensryche and even easy-listening death metal like Cannibal Corpse follow the pop formula. What they are not is systematic in listening to their own material, analyzing it, following published research on effective songwriting and thus, consistent. A professional band approaches music like science. Every part of every song must be deliberate, which requires organization and to put it bluntly, work. This anti-hobbyist view threatens metalheads two ways. First, it points out that we could do better, with self-discipline; second, it points out that the world isn’t as simple as “all pop is crap” and “all underground is good.” Pop is musically competent and in many ways surpasses the underground bands.

The Living Infinite manipulates human emotions like a Hollywood mega-movie. All aspects of this work are thoroughly professional. Nothing is left to chance. Every iota is calculated to produce an effect that works together to make a greater whole. Production is also a masterpiece, creating a glassine space that resonates with guitar sound and avoids crowding of the distorted tracks. Every aspect that wants to be heard can be heard, and through the magic of ProTools or an analogue, identical parts are (literally) identical. In itself, the production makes you want to relish this release because it gives it big-radio pop gloss without truly emulsifying the product into uniformity.

The style of the music is designed based on what has become highly popular for metal over the past two decades. If you can imagine Iron Maiden, The Haunted, Rammstein and Amon Amarth in a blender, you can see where Soilwork get their influences. It mixes the sweet dual lead guitar work of NWOBHM with the bouncing riffs and “carnival music” detours of metalcore. You will hear a Blind Guardian influence in the surging choruses and sparkly bright major key vocal melodies, and you could detect later Queensryche’s hybrid of indie rock, glam metal and power metal in its use of vocal hooks and interwoven rhythm lines. There are no ballads, per se; the ballad effect has been swept up in the metal effect, which is itself subsumed in the rock effect.

Soilwork target the audience for guitar-heavy bands like Dire Straights or Rush with the appeal of melodic metal and the positivity of power metal (which has a lot in common with modern Christian rock in this respect). While The Living Infinite may not satisfy the underground or true metal palate, its goal is not to appeal to that audience, but the people out there listening to mainstream rock who are looking for something that goes a bit further without going to a truly dark place. For that purpose, this heavily guitar-oriented band serves as an introduction and baptism into what could eventually become a dangerous metal habit.

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Interview: Nokturnel

Nokturnel_7_copy_1283185558Tom Stevens has been providing technical extreme metal since the 80s. Known as a virtuoso on guitar and owning the distro/label Nokturnel Eclipse, he’s been a supporter of the old school since it began. Though Nokturnel has gone through numerous line-up changes, Stevens has defied odds and kept the flame burning with an indomitable urge to shred.

Nokturnel is what I would deem “old school technical blackened thrashy death metal” (OSTBTDM).

DeathMetal.org is proud to present an interview with Tom Stevens about his music and businesses.

Howdy Tom. Thank you for your time. What was the mentality that drove you to form Nokturnel? Was there a frustration that you had to unleash? Why did you spell “Nocturnal” as “Nokturnel”?

Nokturnel was not something I really intended to do, my first band Savage Death fell apart and black metal was “out”…. the Satanic thing took a dive and believe it or not it was considered uncool. I had only begun to take Savage Death into what was considered technical metal at the time, and when it fell apart I wanted to take technical to a new level. The drummer of Savage Death was cool with that and he went on to meet Martin O’Connor. By then I was beyond frustrated with generic sounds, so the three of us made Nokturnel as different as we could; we chose to spell it that way because we knew many other bands would appear with the same name.

What are your thoughts on religion? You have previously stated that you believe in aliens. Do you believe that aliens created the human species? How about a mutual collaboration of humans and aliens to further each other? Have you ever seen any UFOs?

Religion is too complicated for things that must be valued with “faith.” It never struck me. The song Force Fed Fear is about the fear knowing you were told there’s a price to pay for not believing in religion. I do believe in Aliens and think they have been part of Earth’s history forever…. I could accept the facts if they were proven; easy for me to have faith in believing in the existence of life other than here on this planet yet I cannot have faith in religion…. I think there will be good and evil Aliens… some will wanna help, some will want us for our worst nightmares… I have no trust in government and think it is a long established fact Aliens have already played their role in where we are now and we were are heading…

tom yelling into a mic at mdfI haven’t heard much on Nokturnel since your last recording ‘Ancestral Calling’.  What have you been up to?

I managed to get that single recorded right before we played MDF. I had a lot of fan support at the time. It was amazing and heartfelt to be in the position I was in as an independent with no label support and I took it all very seriously. I had a lot of problems I would rather not get into but my stress level was at an all time high. I made changes as best as I could for Nokturnel. It was beyond maddening to be on the verge of taking things ot the next level and not have a stable lineup. I did two more shows which were clusterfucks for me…. the last one killed my drive to be on stage again until I have whoever is playing for me sounding exactly as I intended it to sound. With that mindset I chose to go into the studio alone for the third time to record “Shadows Alive,” I used Kevin Talley this time and it is my favorite Nokturnel song. It was redemption for my self…but unfortunately it did not get half the coverage “Ancestral Calling” received.

I am so fucking fed up with what the younger generation considers metal I feel obligated to carry on…Not enough people have heard any of my music. Many who do pick it apart and have no idea what I am going for. The truth is I have never done the same song twice, and I am working on several new tracks now, far beyond anything I have ever done. I don’t know how I am ever going to complete this project, but I am glad I began a few months ago, I always give it my all but this is going to be the most shocking work of my life… mark my words. It’s 666% Nokturnel!

You’re an avid snake breeder. How profitable is this trade? What are your favorite breeds of snakes? How many do you own right now?

Being a snake breeder is a lot like being a musician. You see bands selling records and touring like crazy and they bitch about being broke as fuck. Snake guys have expensive animals listed for sale on web sites and drive fancy cars and they too swear they are broke. Snakes have been very good to me. I am a hard-ass and price ’em high and tell people my animals are too good for them if they want to haggle. Like any business it has its ups and downs. After 10+ years into the game I have a solid customer base. Some are people you would never think would pay attention to a psycho like me, I take an online bashing once in a while for being that evil metal guy. It is fuckin’ funny!

But snakes are animals that require care. It is low maintenance but I insist on them being in above average condition or they are not for sale. You have to put a lot into to get anything out of it. I think I have about 100 here now. My favorites are Southern Pine Snakes, Bull Snakes and Florida Kingsnakes… that is what I have the most of.

tom yelling into a micYou played with Incantation for a while. What was it like touring with them? Any highlights that you’d like to share?

It was like most tours bands do where a lot of it is kind of bad but as soon as you get home you cannot wait go back out. Highlight show was in Santiago Chile with Cannibal Corpse and Death… I met many cool people during my time in Incantation but it all soured for me. I did meet my wife because I toured through Texas back then so that is something I do associate with the band as of course a great thing that came of it. Musically I am not meant to play for other people. I should do my own thing. More than one Alpha in a band is bad news… it could have been something, probably should have been but fuck it all…. was not meant to be and I lost interest in that band a long time ago

I’m curious to see which genre you regard Nokturnel as. Is it Technical Metal? Thrash? Death Metal? Black Metal? Or all of the above?

I now prefer to call it death metal but I really do not care anymore. People have been trying to label me since ’85 and they are usually wrong and it is not worth my time to argue. Nothing But the Hatred era material is harder to call death metal especially due to some of the humorous lyrical content but I saw that as a mistake and left that behind. People should realize that the extra track on Fury Unleashed, “A Collision of Dimensions” was a song in between Nothing But Hatred and Fury Unleashed and it showed the direction I was heading…. more death metal. People talk so much shit… too many solos, the vocals should be this way… it is not death or black…. blah blah blah…. I have watched the “scene” turn inside out several times over the years. Very few people have my respect anymore. Therefore… I do not care what anyone calls it if they happen to like it. That is good enough for me,

Nokturnel Eclipse has been supplying metal warriors with leather and spikes for over a decade. How did you come to crafting leather? Have you always been talented in this field?

I was seeing the need for a product and had a business that could easily carry it. My wife had made herself something that we felt we could take more into a typical metal armband. Osmose/Moonfog Black Metal was everywhere and people wanted Spikes. After some trials we introduced a few designs. Nokturnel Eclipse started by selling CDs which was destroyed by the digital shit we have today and now Nokturnel Eclipse focuses on Spiked Leather and Leather Masks.

Working with leather for yourself is one thing. Being able to sell it to customer after customer and build a reputation is another. We are now well known worldwide and have taken the whole process of creating what we offer farther than we ever thought. Years of experience make a big difference but making every single order perfect for every customer means a lot of hard work on our behalf. We are extremely busy which is great but it is delaying other new items we hope to add to Nokturnel Eclipse soon. We started in 1999 but things really took off for us in the past few years.

tom at mdfPlease detail your contributions to Ripping Corpse. Are you still friends with Erik Rutan?

I became friends those guys early on in the Nokturnel demo days. We all got a long really well and were great friends, When they had shows booked out of state they did not want to miss and needed a bass player I was the go to guy. They knew I was capable of learning all their songs in a short period of time and I did just that including unrecorded new songs. They also stayed at my house during the recording of Dreaming With the Dead, I was there from the first note to final mix. I got to sing on all the backing vocals on the record and one other small part for half a second in “Glorious Depravity.”

I am friends with Rutan and consider all of them friends but it is Shaune Kelley I keep in touch with, I am a fan of almost any band any of my friends are in, of course that includes Hate Eternal but Shaune IS Ripping Corpse. The list of people I know in established bands is ridiculous. I do not speak to anyone on the phone often and do not go out of my way to keep up with any of them any more than any random person on the internet. I consider tons of people friends and we are happy to get together when they come through my area but I am a busy person and prefer the company of my family. My closest friends in bands get the invite to stay with us…. Rutan and Kelley would make that list.

You and King Fowley appear to be the best of pals. How many times have Nokturnel and Deceased played shows together? How long has your friendship been? There must be some crazy stories with you two in the early days of extreme metal.

Yes, we are. We agree on many things more so than disagree and know us older underground guys are a dying breed. I have known him and a lot of people since 1990 or earlier. Nokturnel and Deceased did quite a few shows together in the early 90s and I went to many shows down south where they were from on my own just to hang out. King and I are a lot alike but we are not by any means carbon copies of each other.

He is a unique personality and I would like to think people see me that way as well… One time I was with Deceased in Maryland we all piled into one hotel room. Long after everyone passed out I woke up to what I thought was a fucking gunshot. When I jumped out of my skin only one other person in the room woke up… I think it was King.. I looked through the curtain and saw some guy hauling ass through the parking lot, it was freezing during winter at the time. It turned out that some guy had bought a can of soda from a machine and smashed it through the window of the room next door. He was freezing out there and just had a freakout.

There’s some good babble [on this topic] in the book Glorious Times…One time in Cleveland we both played a show called Splatterfest. King misunderstood me and during their set invited the entire show to MY hotel. When I said see you there with everybody I meant Deceased… not half of Cleveland…. no fun telling carloads of people to go away that night, good times

You originally lived in New Jersey and relocated to Texas. I have noticed in previous statements that you have a disdain for your prior homeland. Why do you prefer Texas so much? Is it because Texas has the ability to secede if the US keeps twirling into nonsense?

Some people would consider leaving the area they grew up in a nightmare, for others it is a nightmare to stay. I much prefer the people of the South, not meaning metalheads…. they are the same no matter where you go, but people in general are easier to live with. NJ is a place I look back at knowing life for me got a whole lot better when I left. Some people refuse to leave and look for something better in life. I am not one of them. I moved to Florida around the time I joined Incantation which was no fun with the extra travel but even that was a massive upgrade for me.

Texas is fucking awesome. Great people, open minded and tolerant. Great weather, amazing food. When I met my wife she was living in Austin and it was a no-brainer for me to come to Texas instead of us staying in Florida. This is where we both want to stay. After living here and seeing almost everywhere you can think of…. I cannot see myself living anywhere else.

tom playing guitarHow long have you played guitar? You’re quite an amazing musician. What type of equipment, guitars, strings, etc do you use? What type of equipment would you recommend to new guitarists that are just starting out?

I began about 1980. I had experience playing piano when I was very young, which I blew off… I used to read complex sheet music and all this crap. I do not remember ANY of it. Matter of fact I only know the names of two guitar strings and one scale. All of my guitar [playing] is natural.

I took some basic lessons and was taught a few basic things before I was told I did not need any lessons and not to return. My teacher showed me “I Don’t Know” by Ozzy in the most retarded way imaginable. I showed him the right way; he was not mad. He made sure I knew how to tune the guitar and said I pick way too hard but I would be a great player some day… I was furious as I wanted to learn how to play lead. I figured it all out on my own. To these schooled modern shredders, they seem to pick me apart and explain everything I do in terms that mean nothing to me. “you don’t come all the way around on a this and don’t finish a that before you go into a….”…. I am thinking if I did that…. I would sound like you, and Nokturnel fans do NOT want that… so take your shred knowledge and tell someone who is easily impressed.

I am happy where I am in my own realm of demonic possession and appreciate others way more than they appreciate me. No sleep lost there. I am most known for using the Washburn EC29, but I currently play a Halo Inverted and having a Kahler Pro Series tremolo is mandatory. I only have one other V and am in the market for a new one now. I would appreciate it if you would link the Tremolo Torture video I did for Kahler. I talk a lot about why I need a Kahler tremolo.

I am a gain maniac. Crank a dual rectifier with active pickups and add more distortion and gain and noise and you are ready to create some noise, I think the two things a new player needs to help them gain confidence is proper reverb and a little delay effect. Best advice I can give anyone who wants to learn how to play… begin with Iron Maiden Piece of Mind, learn the riffs, learn the solos… you are now metal

tom playing guitar at mdfHow well was the single “Ancestral Calling” received? What inspired you to write it? The riffs don’t seem to differentiate much, but the technical ability is amazing. How did you approach this song? What was your mindset? How will Nokturnel top this song in the future?

Overwhelmed with it really. It was incredible for me. I set out to do something I had not done in 20 years. A song based off only a few simple parts like Savage Death did in the 80s. I also wanted a song where the vocals and storyline dominate and that it did, Playing that song at Maryland Death Fest was the greatest moment for me in all of Nokturnel history. Seeing the crowd respond and even sing the words with me was just unbelievable. I was worried I kept it too simple, had feared Nokturnel fans would just not be into it. I was wrong, they fuckin’ flipped over it and I gained a ton of new fans. I feel I did top it.

The followup was “Shadows Alive” which is completely different. It is also based on real life paranormal experiences I was cautious about sharing with anyone. It is a very personal song for me and also much more furious than “Ancestral Calling.” Finding myself standing alone again after the last show I played and passing on other opportunities I chose to turn my back on everything and go back into the studio.

That song for me is a personal triumph. Not content with the few offers I got to play in 2013 and all the hassle to get the line up going I am now doing the same thing. Back in the studio alone, writing. “Shadows Alive” surpassed “Ancestral Calling.’ The new stuff I am working on now is way beyond that material, and believe me when I say I love all my music. This is why there are only so many Nokturnel songs as opposed to 10+ CDs worth. I am striving to make the best music…. not the most.. Every song counts.

Thank you for your time. If you have anything else that you’d like our readers to know, please share.

I think you did a great job with these questions. I managed to keep it short for a change, Thanks for that! I do intend to play shows again but I have a lot going on and much more work to do on new material. This band means more to me than anyone could understand, I have a lot more to offer and will fight to the death to make it happen.

Feel free to check out Tom’s businesses and music:

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Album covers: In the Nightside Eclipse

emperor-in_the_nightside_eclipse

Inspired by Bosch, Dürer and Caspar David Friedrich, Kristian “Necrolord” Wåhlin has painted album covers for shiploads of underground bands since the early 90s (Therion and Dissection among others), but his most important and most striking contribution is probably the cover of Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse (1994).

altdorfer-battle_of_issusSome of its style and composition takes me back to Albrecht Altdorfer’s anachronistic oil painting The Battle of Alexander at Issus (1529), but true to the bleak genre of black metal the cover of ItNE is practically monochrome, which is rather typical of Wåhlin’s paintings at large (as seen in his paintings for Sacramentum’s Far Away From the Sun and Dark Funeral’s The Secrets of the Black Arts).

Wåhlin nevertheless manages to capture much of the grandeur sought by Emperor in those days. He allows us to delve in a detailed landscape of rugged forests, cold mountains and an army of monsters seemingly popping out of the ground in a setting of strange angles and charmingly inconsistent perspectives. High above, emanating from a crack in the clouds, Death sweeps his scythe across the sky, resonating the lofty keyboard phrases in the music of this album. The whole scene is awash in the light of the moon, gazing at us like a gate to eternity (try to outstare it during the finale of Inno a Satana …). The incorporation of Death seems to have been a way of providing a sense of iconic continuation, referring back to Emperor’s début EP which depicted a section of Gustave Doré’s engraving Death on a Pale Horse (Revelation). (The use of old engravings – especially those of Doré – seems a favourite means of visual expression in the universe of Emperor.)

kupka_resistanceI always assumed that the otherworldly castle and the winding path leading to it were reminiscent of that of a certain bloodsucking count. This is probably no coincidence: have a look at the lyrics of the song Beyond the Great Vast Forest. Not only does it refer to Werner Herzog’s film Nosferatu (1979); parts of the story of the over-the-top film Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) – which was immensely popular around the time of ItNE’s inception – had also found its way into the lyrics, and the solitary structure of that film’s castle and its inspiration, František Kupka’s The Black Idol (1903), somewhat parallels the idea of the castle on display here.

Ultimately, the cover of In the Nightside Eclipse confirms the nature of its music as slightly cheesy yet chillingly sincere, a satisfying visual representation of one of the best albums of the genre.

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