Blaspherian interview

Blaspherian comes from Houston, Texas, and makes old school death metal with its own voice. Their music does not sound like any known band but is clearly influenced by the old school of booming, primitive, dark, introspective and alienated metal. Formed in 2004, Blaspherian arose from the collaboration of Wes Infernal — formerly of Infernal Dominion and Imprecation — and Desekrator, but rapidly branched out to include Matt Mayhem on drums and Apollyon on vocals and bass.

Interview: Blaspherian

Review: Blaspherian – Allegiance to the Will of Damnation

Full track MP3: Blaspherian “Enthroned in Blasphemous Triumph”

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Interview: Erik Lindmark (Deeds of Flesh)

A longstanding force in high-speed, atonal American death metal, DEEDS OF FLESH have deep roots in the exploration of the technical and musical limitations of these strident sounds. This has ranged from the ultra-deep, twisted morass of their earliest rumblings to the streamlined approach they have made their own within the last ten years as displayed on such late-period minor classics as Mark of the Legion. The most recent disc has shown a willingness to develop this sound — and themselves — even further, with a total enthusiasm that explains why they remain one of the most steadfast acts of quality anywhere in the genre.

How did DEEDS OF FLESH form, and what were your influences? What made you choose to be a death metal band, at a time when alternative and punk were much bigger?

Jacoby and myself started DEEDS OF FLESH in 1993. Joey was already in another band with Jacoby and that’s how he fits in the picture. At the time we thought the death/extreme metal genre could be a bit more aggressive and technical so we formed the band based on that over-the-top style of writing with odd counts and tempo changes. Our main influences were speed metal bands from the 80s and death metal from the early 90s.

Members of DEEDS OF FLESH started out in CHARLIE CHRIST, which seemed to be influenced more by DEATH and MORBID ANGEL, but with the first DEEDS OF FLESH EP, a new style — more like SUFFOCATION or Cannibal Corpse — came about. That lasted for another LP, and then a new style, more technical and weird, emerged. What was responsible for these evolutions?

With the first three CDs especially, we wanted to constantly challenge ourselves as far as writing new material goes and the technical level. In particular, Inbreeding the Anthropophagi.

What pushed you toward a longer, more streamlined approach to songwriting after Inbreeding the Anthropophagi?

With Path of the Weakening we were experimenting with a more dark sounding style songwriting with a lot of feel and emotion. This style was then used on all succeeding releases, but also combining the technicality as well.

Have the values of metal music changed from the early 90s? How and why?

Oh ya, I have seen it go from where in the 90s it was who has the fastest drummer and deepest vocals to where we are now where killer guitar work has come back around, which I like, haha.

Did learning music theory help you or slow you down in achieving your musical goals?

I actually am trying to add much more theory to my skills to bring new sounds and elements. It definitely helps and opens many new doors. Nothing more killer then falling upon a new scale or pattern.

Do you favor the use of “real” violence or that of fantastic violence when constructing lyrical concepts, and why?

All our CDs with exception of the newest CD deals with the darker side of the human condition and tragedy and all lyrics are factual. The new CD is more of a concept CD based on future events.

When HELLHAMMER said, “Only Death is Real,” it launched legions of death metal and grindcore bands who showed us the grim structure of reality hidden underneath its appearance and our social judgments that gloss over negative things. Where does metal go from there? Is metal “rebellion music” or “protest rock,” or is it trying to uncover for us new possibilities in life?

I think many bands have great ideas for lyrics and concepts and metal in all forms really is very widely open to really any subject matter. Doesn’t always have to deal with death and being bummed out, haha.

Some have said that rock music is about individualism, or escaping the rules of society and nature to do whatever the individual wants to do. However, others have pointed out that death metal seems to suggest the rules of nature triumph over both individual and society. Where is DEEDS OF FLESH on the spectrum between these extremes?

Ah, nature will always win. Reduced to Ashes hits that concept. Men are but mere cells in the big picture.

As our mother earth is a mere speck in the sunbeam in the illimitable universe, so man himself is but a tiny grain of protoplasm in the perishable framework of organic nature. [This] clearly indicates the true place of man in nature, but it dissipates the prevalent illusion of man’s supreme importance and the arrogance with which he sets himself apart from the illimitable universe and exalts himself to the position of its most valuable element.

– Ernst Haeckel, The Riddle of the Universe (1900)

It has been observed that death metal and black metal use “narrative” composition, where a series of riffs form a sort of poem that tells a story about a change in states of mind. Is this reflected in your songwriting at all?

Yes, I always try to have the songs tell a story and sound unique from each other.

After SUFFOCATION clones had their day in the early-to-mid 90s, what musical methods did DEEDS OF FLESH pursue to differentiate themselves from lesser bands?

We have always stuck with our style of songwriting since we started. We have only added new elements to make a broader sound.

Do you think death metal has a distinctive worldview different from that of “normal” people? Can people interpret that worldview from the sound of the genre, and does this make them converge on musical communities?

I don’t think the views on the world for metal fans are inspired by the music. I’m glad you don’t hear bands giving political points of view. That’s the last thing I would ever want to see happen.

Is man a noble beast or a fallen angel, and what does that say about the means he employs in pursuing his ends?

Noble beast, as on the cover for Of What’s to Come, which is actually a representation of man in the future and the challenges faced.

Is it important for death metal to be a genre of “respectable” skills, one that outsiders may not enjoy but can appreciate for its creative force?

You see so many different types of styles now mixed in with the genre. Metal is probably the most open style of music as far as experimentation. Sky’s the limit basically.

Like in the late 1970s, metal feels to many people like it has lost direction and become hollow. Is a change in direction needed, and if so, will that come from within metal?

You now you have so many variations: death, extreme, black, progressive. I remember in the 80s when progressive just meant you had a keyboard, haha. I think it should just all fall under metal.

Is there a relationship between how an artist sees the world, and the type of music he or she will then make? Do people who see the world in similar ways make similar music?

I don’t think so; the way a person writes is almost like a thumbprint, no two are alike. Everyone is unique in their own way.

Do you think it generally common for fans of death metal to be otherwise “normal” people?

Of course, I have been around plenty of metalheads who are way more sane then most humans out there.

How much guitar overdubbing and harmonization do you do in the studio? Is layering a necessity for the DEEDS formula to work properly?

We lay one track per side and leads, always have recorded this way. We are doing a lot more overwriting on the new CD compared to our previous CDs for sure. With the addition of Sean Southern, our lead guitarist, we have really gotten into the guitar work, and we can’t say enough about Erlend’s tracks on bass.

Will any lead guitar make an appearance on older tracks in a live setting now that you’ve established it as part of your vocabulary?

No, we will leave those songs as they were written, but I’ll tell you I wish I would have approached the writing style as a four piece rather then a three piece if I could turn back time.

In my view, Of What’s to Come is a masterpiece that unites your past with a future direction I can’t quite figure out. Were there additional influences or developments to your style? Where do you go from here?

I definitely agree with that, mixing the old style with the new, more guitar-oriented style. The main difference is the addition of lead work and really getting more involved on the overwriting and harmonies since we will always be a four piece from now on. We will never go back to being a three piece. Since Of What’s to Come was our first in the new concept lyrically and in showing the new direction we are headed, everyone can expect more of the same but to the next level. Thanx a lot for the interview and support from everyone reading. See you on the road!!!

What makes you think that human beings are sentient and aware? There’s no evidence for it. Human beings never think for themselves, they find it too uncomfortable. For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told — and become upset if they are exposed to any different view. The characteristic human trait is not awareness but conformity, and the characteristic result is religious warfare. Other animals fight for territory or food; but, uniquely in the animal kingdom, human beings fight for their “beliefs.” The reason is that beliefs guide behavior, which has evolutionary importance among human beings. But at a time when our behavior may well lead us to extinction, I see no reason to assume we have any awareness at all. We are stubborn, self-destructive conformists. Any other view of our species is a self-congratulatory delusion.

– Michael Crichton, The Lost World (1996)

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Eugenicizing the Scene

A metal scene can be defined as a network of people working to promote metal in a certain locality. If done properly, it can be extremely beneficial for the promotion of metal music, but it can also turn into something quite poisonous for the nurturing of great art in the genre.

I’ve seen it a thousand times, and probably you too: a new underground band comes out and if its mildly good it gets promoted to the four winds, sometimes even “deserving” cult or legendary status at only a few months of releasing the first demo. As having success with a band is easier than it has ever been, a local scene can fill itself with hordes upon hordes of new acts expecting its fifteen minutes under the sun, most of them crap because of their motivation.

Some see the amount of bands coming out nowadays as a good thing, but for the more observing, the current state of affairs is tragic: more bands don’t necessarily mean more bands of superior quality.

For those believing that metal is dead because there aren’t any good bands coming out in recent years, it must be said that is not entirely true – there are new bands releasing pretty good music considering their amateurishness, which means they are often far ahead from the herd. Not great nor classic stuff, but music with potential to become excellent, given some time, work and effort. Usually, you can catch them on MySpace and other music channels.

The problem with relentless promotion of the type already explained is that if mediocre stuff can be easily promoted nowadays, the music with potential can too, and that can be perjudicial in the long term for those bands, as an early bout of success in the scene can terminate its potential for further growth. I’ve also seen it. It’s like the scenesters, in non-violent way, clip a band’s wings before it learns to fly by giving the band what they want before they deserve it – recognition.

We at the Hessian Studies Center believe that great art can only come from struggle and difficulties. Don’t complain that there isn’t enough “support”, make it harder on the bands! Be more demanding! If something new doesn’t sound anywhere near like the best bands in the genre, then don’t bother. Many would cringe in horror at that approach, complaining that the number of bands would come crashing down dramatically if many took such a harsh view. Yes, it’s true… the amount of bands would be much less, yet the quality would also go up, as only the most determined warriors would make it to the top.

In such a struggling environment, it would take a lot more than meeting “the right people” or playing the “right style” of metal to get known in the scene, so there would be no more hipsters and poseurs… the key to win a place in the scene would (once again) be musical quality, feeling and expression.

If hessians took only those parameters and to the heart, the scene would once again breed music of quality like in its best days. Besides, such setting reminding one of “survival of the fittest” would adjust to the hessian spirit like a glove – after all, we are all obsessed with war, death and winning battles, why not translate that into our surroundings? And imagine, just imagine, having a new golden era of metal music with bands releasing music as good as the best from Burzum, At the Gates and Manilla Road. It can happen. And it’s up to us.

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USBM: trailer trash or Western mystery school?

When black metal became in popular perception “the next big thing”, around 1992, it was rightly considered an European phenomenon which contained a cultural bias based on tradition, arts and society impossible to spiritually clone in the American way of life, even in the underground which had spawned death metal. Bands like Profanatica and VON showed that it is possible to create the blasphemy spewing minimalistic barbaro-black metal in USA as well as anywhere else, but the Romanticist type of black metal bands from USA were for a decade, if not more, the laughing stock of even American BM maniacs themselves. There was something wholeheartedly absurd about Sumerian sorcerers from Texas, druids from Minnesota and vampires from California. David “Blackmoon” Parland of the insipid Dark Funeral waged verbal war in zines against Proscriptor of Absu, who cast curses and spells in return. Judas Iscariot printed Nietzschean statements in German and moustached overweight pro-wrestling fans took pictures of themselves corpsepainted in suburban woods. Whereas musical quality grew through the times, so did the amount of excess people circulating in the American BM underground, leading to the explosion of “bedroom black metal” in the turn of the millennium, while black metal messageboards became populated with people whose IQ would be statistically rather rare in Norway and Sweden.

The dilemma seems to lie in the artificial distance between the sophisticated intellectual and man of the street which characterizes also the separation between the art and entertainment of 20th century America. Whereas the Oslo or Bergen black metaller would have been raised with equal awareness of Ibsen’s plays, American movies and classical music as well as punk, the US black metaller often came from the background of very little cultural perception besides TV, baseball, horror movies and aggressive competitive values. The obsession with social standing is such that looking or behaving different would easily be seen as gay or the sign of a wimp or nerd, but what fan of black metal would want to represent normality in every piece of action? Scandinavian, Austrian or even Polish metalhead did not and does not share this pressure of having to be a regular conservative guy because there are more different roles and stereotypes available in the society to identify with. Thus most of the US youth involved in black metal came to view themselves as either depressive, perverted losers or occult maniacs oriented to conjure the otherworld dressed in robes and armed with litanies of every available ancient magick tradition and spellcasting culture.

As case studies, take for example Crimson Moon from San Diego and Night Conquers Day from New York. Both are bands with respectable instrumental skill, dedication to the black metal arts beyond the normal “scene kid” wannabe interest and an intuitive grasp of the Romantic and Faustian in black metal. Yet, both are bands hard to take seriously at face value, because there is so much absurdity, alienation from reality and bad aesthetic choices involved. Crimson Moon presented themselves as a magical collective of energy vampires but the music was often a too simplistic rip off of influences from Cradle of Filth to Ancient, damaging the beauty, while their reputation suffered a blow from public arguments on online messageboards not at all fitting for the sorceric image – even splitting the band in two factions, Gorgoroth-style. Night Conquers Day posed in full daylight near a storage building with one of the members wearing corpsepaint (and the infamous moustache!) and the personal history of the members included getting into headlines for stealing gravestones and a keyboard player who disappeared but returns now and then to play a piece over the phone (I think I would go that way too if I had to live in the American society) and the 10-15 minute epic songs quoting several eras of metal from Mercyful Fate to Burzum remained unmemorable because of sounding like too many parts had been stitched together with no spiritual theme arching to wrap up its diverse aspects into a continuous whole.

Written by Devamitra

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Madison hessian slay-in for IDoS – report and pics

Thanks to “Jim Necroslaughter” we now have photos and a full report of the hessian slay-in that took place in Madison, Wisconsin, this past June 6th for International Day of Slayer:

Saturday June 6th, 2009, was a rainy, overcast day in Madison, Wisconsin. Appropriate for the Inter-National Day of Slayer, I suppose. While the rain may have deterred some people (flaky Madison liberals) from showing up that day, the proud few stuck out the rain from 10 AM to 4 PM at Library Mall, in the heart of downtown Madison.

Within 15 minutes of setting up, a random, street-urchin type, riding a bike, stopped by and offered me a hit off the glass pipe he had hidden in his hand – “this is the green, right here,” he said. In the right situation I would partake, but I figured this wasn’t the time or the place, so I passed. I found it funny that this was the first time in my life that a complete random offered me weed – in public, no less. The IDoS brings good karma I guess.

After about an hour, a completely unassuming 20-something year old, came up and asked me, “Is it REALLY the National Day of Slayer!?” We talked for 15 minutes about the best Slayer album (I told him South of Heaven), and metal, in general. I gave him a flyer and mentioned anus.com a few times. He was extremely fun to talk to – a balding, “conservatively” dressed young man that actually knew quite a bit about metal. He was really excited about the fact that it was the National Day of Slayer, and it was clear that he wasn’t taking the holiday as a joke or with a sense of irony.

At one point, early on, I remember two University of Wisconsin campus tours being forced to walk by us – haha! These tours are essentially for high-school kids and their parents who are trying to decide on where to go to college next fall. I’m pretty sure Reign in Blood was playing at that point – perfect!

The next person I remember talking to was a very old man. He was looking at our signs and came up to me and in a thick German accent, he said “June 6th is also D-Day.” I told him we knew that, and he told me a great story about how he was 14 and living in Nazi Germany on D-Day (so I guess that would make him 79, today). He asked me, “What is this ‘metal,’ is it the music you listen to?” I confirmed that it was, and I told him I also listen to classical. He asked me, who is your favorite composer? I told him Beethoven. He seemed very pleased with my answer, and said something to the effect of: “Beethoven makes you think that the entire universe was created just so that Beethoven could exist.” The old man was a pleasure to talk to, especially with Hell Awaits blasting in the background!

Let’s see. I remember an older woman (must have been 40) coming up and taking a flyer. I remember an older couple (around 40 or 50) coming up and hanging out for about 10 minutes – the wife seemed to know her Slayer pretty well, all things considered. A group of young African-American men and women stopped by for a few minutes and chatted us up, took a few flyers, and seemed pretty amused about the whole thing. There was a church about 100 yards away and sure enough, there was a wedding that day. A few of the groomsmen walked by at one point and raised a beer. At one point, I remember explaining to a man why Slayer was the perfect spokesband for metal – they are popular, but not total sell-outs, essentially. Nat’l Day of Darkthrone is too obscure, but Nat’l Day of Metallica is too HIV positive.

The best group of people that stopped by was a German family (more Germans!). They all had accents but they essentially spoke perfect English, I gathered that they live in America or visit it a lot. Anyway, the mom and dad stood back and had huge smiles on their face. The two sons and daughter were REALLY excited about our set-up! They said this was the best thing they had seen in months, they loved our signs (the daughter especially liked the “No Hipsters” sign), and took a bunch of pictures. We talked for probably 20 minutes; the one son really knew his black metal – he opened up his wallet and showed me his old I.D. from Deutschland. He said, “this was when I was 15 and had long hair – I used to be a sinner!” Pretty good line, I thought.

All in all I was pretty surprised at how we attracted a pretty diverse crowd – men, women, black, white, German, young, old, long hair, balding, street-urchins, groomsmen. At the end of the day, I realize that some people who stopped by probably thought we were being ironic, and to some extent, I know that we attracted some hipster-types. But I know I made some contact with some authentic people who will hopefully, ultimately, check out anus.com.

Improvements for next year:

– Red dye for the fountain in the middle of Library Mall.

– A goat chained to a tree

– A bigger/louder stereo!

And some pictures of the gathering (click to enlarge):

We at the Hessian Studies Center would like to congratulate the few, but brave ones that took this initiative for activism and showed local people that hessians are a group aware of themselves and that metal is a valid subculture. We also thanks Jim for his detailed report on the gathering and extend our kudos to the old man for his profound saying on Beethoven‘s music.

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A merry and most headbangable International Day of Slayer to all!

Today, June 6th, is International Day of Slayer. Many dedicated people, among them the fearsome IDoS task force, have worked to make this event the biggest yet.

You may ask, if interested (and damn you if you’re not), what can one do to celebrate and fully enjoy this day? Easy: by incommodating your parents/neighbours/girlfriend/dog all day long, playing your favorite Slayer(s) album(s) at maximum volume.

But I feel that what’s been said is enough, and we shall preach no more. Today, blast yer speakers through the boundaries of hell!

“NO APPARENT MOTIVE, JUST KILL AND KILL AGAIN!”

Links:

mp3 and FLAC bootlegs:

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On Elective Culture and Hessians

You may have noticed in previous posts on this blog the phrase “elective culture” and its application to the definition of hessianism. Basically, our assertion is that hessianism is a culture in which you’re not born into. “Elective” implies here the power of choice, as all of us in some moment in our lives (early teenage years in most cases) chose to become die hard metalheads as we became enraptured by the power metal gives.

But what is the necessity for “elective cultures”? Did we have these in the past, or are these an exclusive phenomenon of our times? To answer these questions, we need to look at the bigger perspective.

Western peoples have for many decades been experiencing a lost of meaning. Being on the lead in expanding the universal ideals of free market, multiculturalism and relentless economic growth first sponsored by the USA, we have been for quite some time forgetting the value of the original cultures which once defined us.

The generations born after the 60s decade (that’s most of us) met with an unusual circumstance not known in previous eras: the lack of a general foundation in which to comprehend life and base one’s purpose in it. This role was previously given by one’s own culture. As the generations pass it’s becoming more and more difficult to find a meaning to life besides consumerism, hedonism and blind obedience to the system.

It’s not unusual, if one understands human nature, that at the lack of something fundamental one looks for a replacement to compensate. In the plethora of different groupings which characterize our modern pluralistic societies (meaning, not defined by a single culture, but by many sharing the same space), the replacement can only come in what is called an “elective culture”. Among them we have examples in certain neo-paganist sects, sports culture incarnated in dedication and fanaticism for a particular club, and hessianism, or metal culture.

Culture simply means any way of life, any way of being, any form of art. So ‘elective cultures’ like metal are just as much cultures as anything else. However, the question of legitimacy you raise seems to imply the question of whether elective cultures like metal are seen as legitimate in pluralistic societies. While the old ‘high-low culture’ distinction still remains in some parts of society, it is much weaker than it used to be. These days, most people who hate metal would still probably concede that it forms a unique cultural space.

International Day of Slayer asks the Experts: is this a good idea?

I shall go further: by sponsoring a world-view based on nature’s law and extreme realism, hessianism not only becomes a viable alternative to modernism, but its opposite. Metal lyrics and themes have quite an obsession with the past, and from the past it draws its values: heroism, warrior spirit, channeled aggression towards a noble end, etc. These are antagonistic to the modern view of life of comfort and materialism.

Now, in some of you may arise the question: are hessians born or made? Are the values of hessianism so different from the norm that you need to have certain innate psychological qualities, like an unusual lust for power? “I was born to play/listen to metal” is an assertion we hear many times from hessians. How “elective” is metal culture really? If the application of the EC label is more ambiguous than we believe, then, can hessian culture become at some point non-elective? We’ll try to touch the subject on another post.

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Genetics of Musical Competency and Communication

Shedding more light on our statement that artistic aptitude in metal is a rare trait, a University of HELLsinki study reveals that musicality is more of an inborn characteristic than most think:

In the study high music test scores were significantly associated with creative functions in music (p< .0001), suggesting composing, improvising and arranging music demands musical aptitude. Creativity is a multifactorial genetic trait involving a complex network made up of a number of genes and environment. Here was shown for the first time that the creative functions in music have a strong genetic component (h2 =.84; composing h2 =.40; arranging h2 =.46; improvising h2 = .62) in Finnish multigenerational families. Additionally the heritability estimates of the musical aptitude were remarkable.

To elucidate the neurobiological basis of music in human evolution and communication the researchers demonstrated an association of arginine vasopressin receptor 1A (AVPR1A) gene variants with musical aptitude. In the previous studies the AVPR1A gene and its homologies have been associated with social, emotional and behavioral traits, including pair bonding and parenting. The results suggest that the neurobiology of music perception and production is related to the pathways affecting intrinsic attachment behavior.

“Music is social communication between individuals,” says Liisa Ukkola. “Darwin proposed that singing is used to attract the opposite sex. Furthermore, lullabies are implied to attach infant to a parent and singing or playing music together may add group cohesion. Thus, it is justified to hypothesize that music perception and creativity in music are linked to the same phenotypic spectrum of human cognitive social skills, like human bonding and altruism both associated with AVPR1A. We have shown for the first time in the molecular level that music perception has an attachment creating impact.”

Science Daily, Genetic Basis Of Musical Aptitude: Neurobiology Of Musicality Related To Intrinsic Attachment Behavior

In more layman terms: ability in music, meaning not just technical skill but creativity and general talent at composing and improvising, is determined mostly by the genes. Not just that, it is also claimed that music making is intimately related with the human traits associated with bonding and communication with other human beings: we use music to transmit to each other ideas so complex that we would be unable to convey with speaking or gestures and do so because we care about communicating those ideas to the world.

All of this data makes one thinks twice about supporting each and every band that comes our way. Not everyone can be an artist and create great, transcendental works, so why should we keep encouraging participation in the metal scene when we can be more concerned about quality and not quantity?

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Unsilent Storms in the Texas Abyss

From the arid deserts infested with scorpions and snakes to the liberal cities and more conservative rural ranches, Texas carries the memory of the American frontier, the spirit of man against overwhelming odds; an age when harmony with nature determined survival. In the 80′s groundbreaking bands such as DRI, HelstarWatchtower, Ripper and Necrovore created both musical and aggressive anti-normal metal that gave foundations for genres such as progressive metal, thrash and death metal. In the 90′s, the sceptre was mostly carried by death metal influenced black metal bands Absu, Averse Sefira and Thornspawn. Just as the Texas scene seemed to have quieted down in keeping with the hipsterization of metal, the last two years have shown many new promising acts to arise: the occult metal of Dagon, the hyperactive metal/punk crossover of Birth A.D. and the demonic and subliminal Blaspherian. While all of these are formally very much crafted according to the rules of subgenres established by the previous degenerations, their no-nonsense attitude and direct, perceptual spirit in the creation of insistent, spontaneous and un-commercial metal artifacts deserves nothing but applause.

Reviews
Birth A.D. –  Stillbirth of a Nation
Blaspherian – Allegiance to the Will of Damnation

Written by Devamitra

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