Apr 30, 2010

Decayor - Recurring Times Of Grief

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On first impressions, Decayor appear to be a total Death Metal band with the band's name and the artwork on this EP but this band from Ireland for the most part is slowed down Death Metal played with the intensity of depressive Doom Metal. Previous releases were just a couple of demo's but real good ones so i was excited to get a copy of this brand new EP called "Recurring Times Of Grief". The band play straight out, old-school Death Doom, no keyboards, no romantic interludes, no spacey sound effects, just straight out crushing Doom Metal with a Deathly twist. The EP begins with a short, ambient intro that is not very interesting and kind of pointless really but thankfully the rest of the EP makes up for it. The first real track named "Veil Of Despair" has all the dynamic ingredients you would expect from a Death/Doom band, deep growls, lead guitar that seems to cry out at you and crushing riffing of course. Right from the start its becomes clear that these Irish dudes have spent a lot of time on these songs. Dynamic riffing that is always changing, shifting mood changes and a sense of true musicianship. Vocals offer a surprise at every turn as they change frequently and the drumming is spectacular. They have a slightly unorthodox way of constructing their epic tales of insanity and depression, the music itself isn't anything original but the way the songs are arranged sound fresh and interesting.

"The Sacred Heart Is Bleeding" is my pick for best track on the EP, a classic melodic guitar line that shifts into a more up-tempo, chugging rhythm one minute before descending into a glorious, ominous, atmospheric section based around acoustic guitar. Some clean vocals come in that is pure, spine-chilling stuff and then it turns into a monster of a Doom track again spiraling down to a climatic ending. The other track on the album, "Weeping Willows" has more great riffs, remarkable vocals that include some breath-taking screams, tempo changes that excite and mind-bending lead breaks. The main man who writes most if not all the material is guitarist, vocalist Pauric Gallagher, better known for his work in Mourning Beloveth. The EP is just a bit over 30 minutes long so its just a sample of what the band is capable of in the future and while they are not re-inventing anything, they are not recycling anything either. What stands out is the skilled musicianship and the songs that are extremely well thought-out. Without a doubt, Decayor are a band to watch out for. 8/10

Decayor @ MySpace.com

Doomkvlt - Seattle Doom Festival August 1st

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Apr 29, 2010

Doom Metal Alliance Looking For Bands For Sampler Volume 12

Bands are still needed for the next Doom Metal Alliance Sampler. Bands can send a Mp3 of their choice to doommantia69@yahoo.com. Currently the sampler's have a download count of well over 10,000 so they have been successful. Its a free download with artwork, track-listing and website information for all bands included. Bands that have submitted tracks in the past include Nomad Son, Elliott's Keep, Apehanger, Dread, Raven Head, Yidhra, Crowned By Fire, Arise Within, Hounds Of Hasselvander, Sons Of Otis, Bretus, Alunah, Hyperion Blast to name just a few.

Speedblow - Fields Of Doom

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Speedblow from Athens, Greece are back with the follow up to their excellent self-titled EP released last year. "Fields Of Doom" should have enough grooves and old-school Heavy Metal energy to keep both the Stoner Rock and old-school Heavy Metal community entertained. If you are unaware of the band up to now, they haven't been around too long but in a short time built up a loyal but underground following. Speedblow combine the galloping Stoner/Sludge style of High On Fire, the Stoner/Doom riffing of The Sword and Down,the old-school Metal sound of Black Sabbath and throw in some Motorhead as well into the mix. There is even times when the old-school Speed Metal style of Slayer and early Metallica comes into play, Speedblow certainty cast a wide net when it comes to influences. The first thing that hits you between the eyes is the massive production and chunky guitar sound that is warm, rich and thick without sounding over produced in any way. Then comes the various timings and riff changes which seems to be the trademark of the band's sound.

The album starts off with "Visions Of Demise", a subtle acoustic intro kicks the track off before it descends into a mid-tempo, galloping riff-fest similar to what High On Fire are doing right now. "Silence Is Breaking" begins with a sledgehammer riff before breaking into another mid-tempo burner complete with twisting and turning riff changes. "Black Sky" charges out of the gate next with a grinding riff at first before its changes into a melodic section that echoes the sounds of early Iron Maiden. A classic, wailing solo in the middle of "Black Sky" harks back to the guitar shredders of the early 80's. "Last Of The Fools" is one of the more Doom Metal sounding cuts on "Fields Of Doom", the riffing is a perfect hybrid of Sabbath, Maiden and The Sword. "Lower Ahead" is a epic of old-school Heavy Metal headbashing, a killer riff again is the main feature of the tune as is the classically inspired guitar solo work that takes a large part of the last half of the track. "As Night Becomes Day" and "Evil Spirits" are up next, the former is perhaps the weakest track on the album but "Evil Spirits" is one of the highlights on this slab. Heavy, shredding riffing sits comfortably with the melodic chorus section and the whole track comes off like a kick in the nuts, simply punishing to the last seconds. "Blood Of The Innocent" keeps the mid-tempo riffery going but by this stage of the album you may get the feeling it is getting a little samey, still a great track all the same. "Food For The Wolves" sounds a little too much like The Sword for my liking, its done well but with even putting in the sample of Wolves howling is a little too close to a Sword rip-off.

"Along The Mindfields" is the first track on "Fields Of Doom" to take any sort of musical detour at least from a riffing standpoint. Its more of a straight-forward groove based rock and roll track but even then it still has the mid-tempo driving energy that the whole album is full of. The final track "Doors To Redemption" is a instrumental that begins with a mellow but dramatic intro before it heads into the most diverse track on here. With a flanged guitar effect in one part and a groovy bass interlude in another, its a colorful chunk of Heavy Metal to close the album. Despite being a real good album overall, i find a couple of negative aspects with "Fields Of Doom". One is the vocals which are alright but extremely one-dimensional, every tune is sung the exactly the same way. The other problem i see that some people will have is the album running time which is 11 tracks taking up to around 54 minutes of the basically the same thing over and over. Being such a old-school sounding band, maybe cutting it back to 40 minutes might have been more appropriate. The first half of the album is awesome but during the second half the tendency to want to skip tracks becomes a issue. Regardless of all that, Speedblow have a delivered a solid, heavy album of killer energy, high-octane guitar riff workouts that will excite many of the more old fashioned headbangers out there but lovers of the more mainstream Stoner Doom bands should find something here to get their rocks off to. As far as i know while writing this, is Fields Of Doom along with their EP are up for free download from http://speedblow.bandcamp.com/. Its also available on vinyl with a high quality gatefold sleeve. Fields Of Doom is not exactly original, not exactly mind-blowing but still a hell of a good riff-rock album, for that i can't really complain too much. Check them out. 7.5/10

www.myspace.com/speedblow

Mona De Bo – Nekavējies, Šīs ir Spēles ar Tevi

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Mona De Bo are an experimental rock duo from Riga, Latvia who use other various musicians and instruments including organ, trombone and french horn on "Nekave-jies, Ši-s ir Spe-les ar Tevi" which is their second full length release. This is a dark, atmospheric album that ranges from the ambient to the very noisy and will most likely appeal to fans of bands like Earth but Mona De Bo take a very different approach while still retaining the dark, brooding, droning elements. The album is a emotionally draining and a challenging album to listen, complex in terms of the various atmospheres it creates. First track, "Vini Aiziet Saule" starts with spiritual guitar work, french horns and spacey organ work which gradually builds to a fuzz-drenched wall of sounds complete with some over-powering drum work. A great way to start the album and one that sums up the whole album really, combining light and total dark atmospheres that seamlessly melt together. At times it sounds like a drone version of Pink Floyd while at other times it shifts into a Mahavishnu Orchestra type of Jazz Fusion vibe and yet at the same time, the mood is kept very doomy.

Second track "Priekspedejais" pushes the drone come noise factor up a notch, the moods on this track switch from being haunted to the more reflective and this is a great piece of masterful, ambient song-writing. "Speles Ar Tevi" is a bit un-eventful at first but soon builds into a epic, ever changing emotional draining soundscape that seems much shorter than its extended running time. "Dejosim" is the heaviest, most Doom Metal sounding track on the album. It starts off with low-end drones and soon mutates itself into a cavalcade of ambient noise that is both suffocating and spine-chilling. Its also a very long track that seems much shorter than it is due to the ever changing sound textures and moods, the track basically conjures up feelings of a claustrophobic nature. "Vestijums" is a more uplifting track that blends together a Jazz Fusion improvisation style with low-end drones, totally original in every way but that is pretty much the nature of the entire album.

On "Un Dienas Istums Neizdziest" again you can hear Mona De Bo perfectly blending light with shade, happiness with extreme sadness into a musical portrait of intense, ever-changing moods which is like life itself. The final track pulls out all the stops, "Lielo Koku Ena" is a 20 minute plus titanic battle of sounds. From light ambient sections to intense droning passages, this track is a album in itself. Dense, thick orchestrated type of drone sections move into free-flowing jammy passages and its all multi-layered to perfection. Sitting through the entire 20 minutes is a effort but worth it in the long run. "Nekave-jies, Ši-s ir Spe-les ar Tevi" is a highly involved, complex journey into a different kind of Droning Doom that hasn't been done quite like this before, the incredibly high production values and the mind-blowing musicianship come together to make the album a essential listen for fans of Sunn O))), Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine and Earth. Better still the album is up for free download, see their page for details but strap on the headphones for full effect. 8/10

www.myspace.com/monadebo

Fireball Ministry - S/T

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Fireball Ministry have always been a band not afraid to try more commercial, accessible ways of songwriting. After all as far back as 2003’s "The Second Great Awakening", there was hints at a more mainstream approach to their music but now with their new self-titled album, they seem to have dropped 99% of their more Stoner Rock roots for a album that is mostly pop-rock. I personally think this a gigantic step in the wrong direction and really can't understand their motives at all. Old songs like "Maidens of Venus" and "King" is what made me a fan many years ago but there is nothing like those tunes on this new album.

On this album they worked with with producer Andrew Alekel who has worked with Fu Manchu and The Company Band and here has created a album that is super slick, especially in the vocal area of singer James A. Rota. Songs like "Thought it Out" kick off with the potential of being a good kick ass dose of Fuzz Rock but end up being nothing more than a pop-punk hybrid. "Fallen Believers" kind of rocks along but no sense of dynamics at all and "Sleeping with Angels" is verging on being a power ballad and a really bad one at that. On the plus side there is "Followed by a Fall" and "Butcher, Faker, Policy Maker" which at least offer up something catchy even though its still very much in the pop-rock mold. The rest of the album is just downright forgettable and rather than me tearing the album apart song by song, i will just forget i even heard the album in the first place. These reviews are never easy, hearing a band you used to love give in to such outright commerciality is disappointing. I am sure some of these songs will have more kick to them in a live situation but this album sounds bland, lifeless and too polished for its own good. I don't know if i should say rest in peace Fireball Ministry just yet but if fame and fortune is the motivation behind this recording, this isn't the way to do it. 2/10

www.myspace.com/fireballministry

Give Doom A Chance - Interview With Dreaming

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Dreaming are one of Germany's oldest Doom Metal bands but are still seen as a obscure band outside of their own country. This needs to change as of right now because Dreaming have played some of the most classic Doom Metal tunes since forming way back in 1993. Formed by Thomas (drums), Thomas (bass, vocals) and Sandro (guitar, vocals) in Motor City Zschopau, Saxony. Their first concert was played in February 1994 with Mirror of Deception and Dawn of Winter and in summer 1994 they released a demo tape called "Smirten Prøben". A bunch of major shows followed including one with Solitude Aeturnus, finally in 1999 the debut album was released on their own Slow Fox Music label. In 2003 they played at the Doom Shall Rise Festival in Crailsheim/Triensbach and in 2004 at the Autumn of Doom Festival at Die Eiche/Obereuerheim together with Reverend Bizarre, Officium Triste, Rise And Shine and others. The second album "II" was released on PsycheDoomelic Records in 2006 which proved to be one of the strongest Doom Metal releases ever. Since then, more big shows followed in 2007 and 2008 but things have gone quiet for Dreaming ever since. Luckily my comrade in all things Doom (Aleks) just caught up with the entire band for this interview.

-Salut gentlemen! What's new in Dreaming life? I understand that playing slow music doesn't necessary mean to be "slow" in ordinary life but you have only released two albums… to say the least of it… not to often.

S: Salut Aleks! Yeah, you're right, unfortunately. But there are some reasons for that: On the one hand, Dreaming was in the first years since our foundation in 1993 only a side project to myself, 'cause my main band at that time were Subversion. This doesn't mean Dreaming was not important to me but with Subversion we're playing more shows and writing more material and so … Subversion split off in 2004 but the reason for that is also the problem for Dreaming on the other hand: I lived since 2000 in Leipzig, the others Thomas Becker and Thomas Schulz lived in Zschopau a town that is about two hours away if you it drive by car. That's not too much but if you have a job and a family but it isn't possible to get in the rehearsal room once a week and to play shows every weekend. So this is not the best situation for a band (and for fans too) but we're trying get together as much as possible.

-Dreaming always was a trio, do You feel really comfort to remain in such membership? Though it's simple question without any tricks because I see that three is enough (especially considering Dreaming LP "II").

S: Yes, we do. The three piece formation was planned from the beginning, but I remember that we've had a session with a possible second guitar player once a time too but it didn't works out. So we decided to play as a trio. Despite a separate vocalist, in my opinion the classically drums, bass and guitar lineup is always good enough for playing powerful, traditional doom-rock.

-I'm sure that it would be right to introduce each Dreaming member to our readers!

S: I'm 35 years old and playing guitar since 1992, when I started with my first band Subversion. Music was and is always the comfort in my life, the beauty that let me cry and laugh, understand and doubt, the one who set me free. Actually I'm working as a Librarian here in Leipzig, where I live with my Family.
TB: 42 years old mustache- fanatic, torturing drums for 20 years. First noises in a punk rock band, co-founder of the DREAMING trinity in 1993.
TS: I´m 40 years old now but not the oldest in the band, ha ha. I play the bass and sometimes i´m the singer, but only if Sandro isn't willing to do the job. My first Band was/is Dreaming, it was the reason to play the bass. Besides I played in several bands, I did Noise Core and Rock´n´Roll.

-You've released last CD "II" four years ago, of course there were eight long years between "Tý Volœý" and "II" but what did Dreaming do during this period?

TB: Playing some shows, making new songs, recording the "Warstarter" for a never released St. Vitus tribute, …
TS: Writing songs, throwing it in the garbage can, writing new songs…we did nothing special I think.

-How do You think - what is a main component of Dreaming music? What does distinguish Dreaming from other bands?

S: I think the people should decide for themselves what does us distinguish from other bands. The main component in our music is maybe the fact that we make this music together since 1993 and that we try to put it out with a lot of fun by ourselves and with the same difference as the people do that played these style of music long before us - Cream, Black Sabbath, Zeppelin, Saint Vitus, Hendrix, … You know.
TB: Yeah, maybe our sometimes unusual interpretation of doom and the influences from lots of old bands beside the doom scene are typical for that sound.

-How did You come to record of "II"? When have You decided to go in studio and record it?

S: Before we decided to go in the studio there was a long period between 2003 and 2004 we didn't do anything as band because I have written my master thesis for my final exam. In summer/autumn 2004 we was doing songs like "The orgies of sorrow", "Birth means defeat" or "Creeping forward" first in the rehearsal room and in the beginning of 2005 we decided to go in the BlankMan-Studio in our Hometown Zschopau to record the stuff. It was the studio of Mike (singer of Subversion) and we had good and relaxt sessions with him on a couple of weekends.

-Dreaming has certainly got good lyrics so can we suppose what part of your songs is important for You too? Good vocal-lines need good lyrics…

S: That's a problem of this kind of view: If I write lyrics I mostly go out from the point, that I haven't written shitty words, but the beauty lies in the eye of the viewer, you know. So I don't know what others think about my words (excluded Thomas and Thomas, because we often talk about those things). To me, our lyrics are very important because only the connection between music and words describes the whole feeling of a song.
TB: It's not even the main part, but you should not have to be ashamed for your lyrics. Maybe someone understands our saxonian mumbling.

-Is it hard to compose such catchy melodies as You wrote for "II"?

S: Aleks, thank you, but I can't answer this question objectively. In my opinion it isn't hard. It is more a thing of the good and the right feeling at the right time and place. I often have some melodies and themes for songs in my mind but not all of these things will become a new Dreaming Song. But sometimes it happens and then we go …

-Which song is Your favorite one onto this album and why?

TB: Birth Means Defeat - I simply like it.
S: That's my favorite song on the album, too and it is because of the lyrics. The night I've written those lines I really was depressed by the realization of the case the song deal with. The idea that everyone thinks he can go out of life through suicide if he wants, was turned around to me through the idea that the problem of everyone's life is just the beginning, our birth. The case is: if you are alive you can decide if you wanna go or not, but about your birth you have no chance, you will be come alive and have to live that life. And that's the real point of no return.
TS: Blurred Truth - for the same reason like Thomas.

-Which period of Dreaming's existence was most successful for You?

S: I think there were a lot of good moments with Thomas and Thomas and with good friends and fans.
TB: We had lots of ups and downs, some good shows and lazy times too. The first years were very powerful with lots of club gigs, the increasing publicity with "II" and shows like DSR V were also very exciting. And of course we will have great times with the new album…

-Don't You think that Dreaming could be more popular if You spend a little bit more time promoting the band through Internet, through gigs? Are You satisfied with current band's state?

TS: More popular in the Doom scene of course but it is very comfortable to be a hidden secret. You need a lot more time if you are popular, you have to write a lot more letters or e-mails, you have to say a lot more "No" to gig offers. We don´t have so much time cause of jobs and families.

-What did happened with Subversion? And well what does Weeds in the Head of Thomas Schulz do?

S: Subversion split off in 2004, because I had a lot to do with my studies at that time and I could not spend enough time and power to handle two bands with a real perspective for both. It was a hard step for me to quite my musical relation with Mike, Micha and Oli, because we have played together since 1992 and especially in the 90's we did a lot of shows, had done some demos, a single and two records … Actually the three others played together once again, named as Warped Cross. It sounds really cool and more fucked up-noisy than the Subversion thing. You should listen to them via http://www.myspace.com/warpedcross
TS: Weed In The Head is dead since 2004 cause one of our guitar players has had a job at Spain, and the next year too. It was a good chance to stop the band, personal I wasn't satisfied with the band name, not satisfied with the most newer songs, the discipline at rehearsals bores me… We started new under the name Petrified. For more information's you can check http://www.petrified.de.vu

-What kinds of associations bring up following doom sub-genres in You?
-doom metal (traditional doom);

TS: This is Doom, nothing else, all the other genres are Doom Metal related.
S: Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Candlemass.

-doom-death;

TS: Can be called Slow Death Metal too, there are some good bands like Officium Triste or old Cianide and, like in every genre here are a lot of not so good bands. But if you like it…
S: Autopsy!

-stoner-doom;

TS: My first association is Electric Wizard, their old records are monuments. Good music for using herbs, like the name says.
S: Sleep.

-funeral doom;

TS: Not my cup of tea, but it seems it´s popular these days, think in the early days it was the same like Doom Death or Gothic.
S: ?

-sludge;

TS: Grief, Versus The Stillborn-Minded are good examples, popular too, a lot of bands around the globe. I like some, like the mentioned, but I´m not really interested in most of these bands cause there are too many.
S: EyeHateGod.

-drone.

TS: Experimental music, has nothing to do with Doom Metal, more with soundscapes and sounds.
S: I agree, bands like SunnO))) has nothing really to do with doom or doom metal.


-Which unspecified manifestations of doom music would You like to mention? If there're some exist… Is the "doom" term important for You at all?

TS: Taka Tuka Doom, haha. It´s war promoting Ultra Doom with pacifistic lyrics. Very dangerous…and about flowers. Is the "Doom" term important, hmm, we play Doom Metal, but the term isn't really important, maybe people which don´t know about Doom Metal would say Heavy Metal, Hard Rock or Rock Music.

-What do You like in doom-metal?

TS: I love the brotherhood between the bands and the people which are listen to it, it´s really familiar. I love the relaxed atmosphere at concerts and festivals. Doom Metal is the smallest genre in Heavy Metal but most of the people are honest, the bands are playing this style cause they like it and not for commercial reasons ( which would be stupid, cause Doom Metal doesn't sell).


-PsycheDOOMelic Records were ones who published Your CD in 2006. So what do You think about doom's "psychedelic" or drug's influences?

TB: Well, herbal teas are always good for you, especially thyme in case of cough.
S: We've all said about Dreamings drug influences on our first demo-tape "Smirten pr?ben". Listen to "The Candlesmoker"!
TS: Drugs are forbidden in Germany so we know nothing about. Except candles, which are legal. And about psychedelic influences you should ask Márk from PsycheDOOMelic Records, he created the term.

-What do you think about latest doom tendencies and trends? Is it interesting for you to watch the doom-scene changes from inside?

TS: Trends are coming and going, it´s a general "problem" in the music scene, at the moment it seems Drone, Funeral and Sludge are trendy. The tendencies are going to more extreme stuff, it´s like it was with Heavy Metal, first Heavy Metal, then Speed/ Thrash Metal, then Black/ Death Metal and later this Electro Noise Stuff. In my eyes this development is a two sided sword, at the one side the audience for Doom Metal is wider than ever, on the other side most of the "newbies" know nothing about the basics, about where Doom Metal come from. They think My Dying Bride or Ahab are typical Doom bands.

-What is a best example for you of the doom-metal scene?

S: I guess, I don't understand your question in the right way … the best example? As Thomas said, trends are coming and going and so, the doom metal scene is changing occasionally and an example for the whole scene I cannot see seriously.

-What are You Dreaming about?

TS: Dreaming about Death, Doom and Destruction. No, not serious. I don´t know, maybe you have the answer.
TB: Sometimes I'm dreaming of having no more mustache … I'm afraid!
S: Sometimes I'm dreaming about … so many things I can't tell you!

-This is the last question for now so let me thank You for this interview and Your patience! I'm glad that we used a chance to do this interview. Do You have something to add?

TB: Aleks, thank you very much for interest and support!
S: Thank you. We have written some new stuff and try to record it in autumn of these year. Look out!
TS: Give Doom a chance.

Interview By Aleks Evdokimov
metallibrary.ru
www.myspace.com/dreamingdoom

Apr 28, 2010

Josiah - Procession

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I must admit listening to this, the final ever release from UK rockers Josiah was a very emotional experience. I knew of course it was all over for the band a couple of years ago but hearing these tunes really brought home the realization that Josiah are sadly no more. One of the best straight-forward bands to ever emerge out of the British hard rock scene, Josiah gave us some classic, no frills riff-rock over their time together including the monumental "No Time" album released back in 2007. "Procession" is the 4th and final album released on Elektrohasch Records. The album itself is a compilation of 5 previously unreleased tracks recorded between 2006 and 2008, along with 5 other live tracks recorded at The Scharinska, Sweden in 2007. A lot of these type of releases can be a cheap, last minute effort by a record company to scrape a few extra dollars before people forget the band and move on to something else. This is however a great compilation with only one average track and nine killer tracks of Josiah at their best.

The first 4 tracks recorded in 2006 with the exception of the title track "Procession" are all classic examples of Josiah's highly charged Sabbath inspired riffery. If you have already had the pleasure of hearing the band's high octane bluesy Stoner Rock then you will know what to expect. These songs are so good, its a mystery why they were never released before. The only dud is "Procession" which seems a bit underdone and a bit weak and its the opening track on the album but once you get past that, its all smooth sailing. The fifth track comes from 2008, "Dead Forever" is Josiah at their loosest and their most jammiest best. Interesting to hear vocalist Matt more experimental type of vocal approach because its pretty much the same style he uses for his current work with the band "Cherry Choke". Maybe the demise of Josiah was already in the works when "Dead Forever" was recorded hence the different type of vocal take.

Moving on the live tracks and they are all 100% Josiah classics, "Looking At The Mountain", Time To Kill", "Silas Brainchild", "Maldaso" and "I Cant Seem To Find It" are all given the full kick you in the balls treatment. The energetic Josiah live performance comes through on this recording with every member of the band pushing themselves to the limit, they stretch the songs to their respective breaking points. Out of the unreleased tracks, "Broken Doll" and "Dying Day" stick in my head the most while the live version presented here of "I Cant Seem To Find It" takes the song to a whole other level of intensity not found on the original studio recording. To sum up, a fitting end for Josiah and a essential purchase for Josiah fans. If you have never bought a Josiah CD, i would recommend starting with "No Time" but failing that this is the next best thing. All i can say is R.I.P Josiah, you will be missed. 8.5/10

www.myspace.com/josiahukrockers

Interview With Esoteric's Greg Chandler

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Esoteric is a British Doom Metal band from Birmingham founded in 1992 that incorporates some highly complex musical structures to droning guitars and have always been a technical force within the world of Doom Metal. They always been a band to push their own musical boundaries, their first ever demo Esoteric Emotions - The Death of Ignorance, contained 82 minutes of material with a total of eight tracks. Since then a few albums and several line-up changes later, the band are a even more unique Doom Metal band. The music has become even more atmospheric over the years and even more complex. The last album "The Maniacal Vale" is the British band’s 5th full length, and is a unrelenting and torturous album that is 100 minutes plus of Funeral Doom spread over two discs. Esoteric has always got the balance that is sought by all Funeral Doom bands, maintaining slow tempos without becoming monotonous. Here is a interview with guitarist, vocalist Greg Chandler.

-Salut, Greg! How are you? What do you feel knowing that you'll visit Russia once again with Esoteric? Do you have any plans beside demonstration of your skills as a musician and front-man?

Hi Aleks! I am fine thank you. We are very much looking forward to returning to Russia and playing the Moscow Doom Fest V. We were overwhelmed by such a warm welcome last time in 2008 and very appreciative of our good hosts and organizers, Sepulture Union! Our plans are simply to come to Moscow and put on as good a show as we can. If we get time, we'd like to see some of the city too and catch up with some of the people we know there.

-Greg, I even do not know - is it really necessary to ask you about new guitarist of Esoteric? You and Gordon are ones who play in band from very beginning, do you tyrannize other guys through last years so intensive that they leave the band and even dare not speak about these times of torments? ;-) I just hope that there will not be any problems with your visit for such cases.

Yes, it has been Gordon and myself from the beginning. Steve was also fundamental as a guitarist in the band between 1994 and 2007 when he left the band. Hehe, no, we don't tyrannize other guitarists, it's just simply been the case that since Steve left we hadn't found anyone suitable as a permanent replacement, either due to them not being local to Birmingham where we live, or for other reasons. We have quite strict requirements for musicians looking to join Esoteric, in order to include them as a permanent part of the band, but I think this is usual for most bands. We are lucky to have found Jim, who also lives in Birmingham, as he is a good musician and worthy addition to the band!

-What may the Russian public expect from your visit? I'm meaning not only the show but also merchandise.

Well, we have stock of all 5 albums that we will be bringing with us and a new t-shirt design that we are getting printed this week specifically for the upcoming shows in Poland, Russia and the UK. We'll also have girlies, long-sleeves and hoodies with us, and a few remaining shirts from the album cover artwork.

-And what do you expect from forthcoming Moscow Doom Fest and from your second visit to Russia in itself?

Well, we don't really have any expectations as such, but it would be good if we can find some time to see some of the sights in Moscow and get to see a bit of the city itself also. We visited Red Square last time, which was interesting!

-You planned vinyl edition of all Esoteric records some time ago, I'm sorry but I do not remember how did this enterprise end - did you release it?

No, unfortunately not yet. This project is quite difficult logistically, because it is very hard to design in a cost-effective way and because the UK pound is so weak now against the euro, production costs have increased by 50% since the idea was first initiated. We have also been waiting a long time for Stu from Aesthetic Death to get the project conception into the production stages until now, but I can disclose that we have very recently come up with a plan that will enable the project to get underway and start production in the coming weeks.

-If I'm not mistaken You begun record session of your next album 3 or 4 months ago, so what is your progress now?

Ah, I think there is some misunderstanding there. We were aiming to start recording this year, sure, but not this early. We had intended on recording throughout the year, to make it easier on my studio schedule, but we are finding that we need more time in rehearsal to experiment and mature the songs further. Currently we are working on 7 songs for the sixth album, though it is too early to give more information than that. At a guess, I think we will start recording some of the songs during the summer and hopefully have all the writing and at least some of the recording completed by the end of the year. If we can get a move on we may get the recording finished by 2011.

-Why do you decide to record album in few steps? Don't you fear what it will not sound complete?

No, not at all, as we take note of recording settings, mics/preamps, etc, used for sounds we need to remain consistent, and regarding most of the instruments, we all change sounds so frequently during each song that they would not sound too similar no matter how methodically we approach the recording. It's a lot easier for me to break the recording up over time as the studio is also my business, so if I book out too much time for Esoteric's recording I would lose too much money and go bankrupt in the meantime. We do not have a big enough budget to use as much time as we need in the studio. So I have to have other work coming in and use as much spare time as possible for the Esoteric recordings. I usually only book the studio time out for Esoteric as we approach the end of the recording and for the mixing.

-And do you already have completed the vision of a new album, it's whole conception? How did you decide when it's time to record new material?

Our albums are always a collection of diverse material I think, a collection of songs from the period of time they represent. It's not so much a case of having one concept or vision for the whole album, it's more like a sum of many different parts. Hopefully this brings diversity and variety to each album, rather than having one concept that runs throughout each release. We decide depending on a number of factors. Usually it is due to inspiration and simply feeling ready to move into that phase where we can get the music written, rehearsed and recorded.

-Does the process of Esoteric record-sessions differ from sessions which you spent with another bands? If I do not mistake, Kostas (Pantheist) and Ilya (Pantheist/Indesinence) told me about hard and laborious work which you did with them in Priory studio. Do you ever give your clients chance to relax there?

Yes, the Esoteric recordings are a little different to time spent with other bands as most bands take a block booking to get their albums done in one period of time. Most metal or underground bands that use the studio are on quite a limited budget, so we try and get the best work done in the time that we have available. Usually this means working long hours and working hard to get the best performances from the musicians and keeping a close ear on the quality. The studio is a relaxing environment, as it is in a nice environment and my approach to working is to keep things cool, yet at the same time, maintaining a good level of focus and concentration in order to get the best out of the session. We relax more after the session is complete at the end of each day!

With Esoteric, we work very intensively and much longer days than most bands would want to work I think, between 12 and 18 hours, sometimes. Partly because time and money are tight so we have to make the best use of our resources while we can. The last day of the Maniacal Vale, we were fighting to meet our label deadline (which we chose ourselves in order to make the album available for our European tour in May 2008) and I actually worked almost 30 hours continuously to finish the mixing and mastering. With this album, we want to be able to have some time to listen to and approve the final stages, instead of rushing them as we did last time. The final mixes and mastering could have been quite a bit better if I'd not had to rush.


-Greg, it's not a secret that you work in Priory Recordings Studio and you do really a great job for different bands such as Pantheist or The Prophecy for example. Tell us the truth :-) Do You ever feel temptation to use someone's musical ideas for Esoteric? Don't get me wrong - I know your answer but I would like to hear it from yourself.

Ha ha, no, never!!! The idea of taking someone's music or ideas is quite alien to me. I prefer the music I write to come directly from within my own mind, so that it is totally personal to me and has a much stronger link to my own heart and emotions. That way, the music I create has more depth and passion for me, when I play or listen to it myself.

-Oh, can you tell me about how did record-session of last Pantheist's album "Journey through land unknown" go?

Sure, the session went well. Pantheist incorporated some interesting ideas and instrumentation within that album and I was happy to be a part of the recording and mixing process. Time was quite tight as there was a lot of material to record in a short space of time, but we got through it okay and I think the end result was as good as it could have been considering the time we had. In hindsight, there are always many things we can improve in our work, but as with most things, it's a case of doing what you can within the limitations you have. If we aim for perfection each time, we would never complete anything. I enjoyed working with the guys very much as they are good friends of mine and are a pleasure to be around.

-Your treatment to music is very serious, you're very serious in questions of recruiting new musicians into the band, you're very serious in deals of recording. So what is music for you?

Music is the reason for my existence. Without Esoteric, without music, my life would be rather empty. I am very passionate about music, whether it is playing, writing, rehearsing or recording, it is something that occupies my daily life and I have no intention of changing that. Music is food for the soul.

-You mastered album of Russian band Inter Arbores, am I right? What do you think about this band? How can you value the result of your and their work?

Yes, that is correct. Oleg contacted me some time ago and asked if I could do the mastering for their album. I liked what I heard, so I was keen to do it. The music is quite varied and interesting and not something typical that you can hear easily elsewhere. With mastering, I always try to keep the original feel of the mix and the music as it seems to be intended, but using my own ears to try to enhance the overall sound and bring the mix to life.

-"Maniacal Vale" released as 2CDs issue, but it's not absolute record - for example Reverend Bizarre's last album was published in 2 CDs too. I do not try to drive you to beat any records but don't you ever think to record 3CDs album? What do you need for it?

Well, it's a lot of work to release a 2CD, so releasing a 3CD would be even more work. A 2CD takes twice as long in the studio, twice as long to write, rehearse, etc, and comes with higher production/pressing costs also, yet is sold at pretty much the same price as a single CD. So it is hard enough with a 2CD for a band like Esoteric that doesn't sell so many albums. We would certainly lose a lot of money I think if we attempted to release a 3CD! Having said that, I guess it is something we would consider if we were in a highly productive phase of song writing and were producing too many songs to fit onto a 2CD. But I think that's something beyond our reach right now and would be even harder to find a label that would support that idea!

-Sometimes I asked musicians to comment their songs - and it would be too long top if we try to start discuss Esoteric lyrics, so I prepared another but similar question instead: please, Greg, give us your comments for each of Esoteric cover-arts for they are amazing and simply bloody expressive.

Okay, with Epistemological Despondency and The Pernicious Enigma, our guitarist at the time, Simon (1992 to 1997) created the artwork for the album covers. It was all hand drawn, using various techniques to create visual, optical art. The cover for The Pernicious Enigma was a mixture of optical art and airbrush paints. These were hand made and then scanned for the album cover. With Metamorphogenesis and Subconscious Dissolution the artwork was created by Chris Peters, brother of Steve Peters (guitar 1994-2007) and were created in the digital domain. And for The Maniacal Vale, we used an artist called Kati Astraeir, a great polish artist living in the USA. She created all of the artwork for that album by hand and then took high quality photos, which were then compiled and arranged by Mauro Berchi (from Eibon Records and the band Canaan in Italy). All of the artists had the difficult task of taking our music and lyrics and creating visual art to be expressive of and evocative to the content of our creation. To my mind they have done a good job in mirroring, through their visual creation, what lies within our music and lyrics.

-Greg, once you told that songs of "Maniacal Vale" are "psychedelic" ones, but most (not all) of "psychedelic doom" bands which I heard sound quite positive. So maybe you and that guys just smoke the grass growing on different fields? :-)

Ha ha. Yes, maybe. To our minds, psychedelic doesn't have to be positive. We use sounds to enhance the moods within the music, so if the music is dark then the sounds are also dark. If the music is tranquil or haunting, then the sounds should reflect this also. Sometimes we create sounds to enhance the music and sometimes, we create sounds that then inspire us to write in a certain way. It all varies. We have no set formulas for writing music or creating sounds.

-We can label Esoteric as some kind of doom phenomena, and in such cases authors of such projects get titles such as Gods of Doom or Monsters of Doom - I'm sure that you've read something like that into reviews. So who are you - gods or monsters in that case?

Yes, we've seen such comments in reviews and promotional material. We do not really get involved with how we are promoted or advertised by record labels or the media, it is up to them how they want to label it. We just do our own thing, create the music and live our lives. We are neither gods nor monsters, we are just people who think and create for ourselves, creating our own paths in life. We are gods only of ourselves, and are usually modest, quiet individuals.

-And your last album named "Maniacal Vale", so I can suppose that the one who speaks about anything "maniacal" has something "maniacal" in himself. So what kind of maniac you are, Greg?

Ha ha! I am the kind of maniac that channels as much of my dark thoughts, emotions, and experiences as possible into what I create, in order to try and maintain some kind of equilibrium of the mind.

-Thank you for this interview, Greg! My best wishes, have you few words for our readers?

Thank you very much for this interview Aleks! Your support is much appreciated! We look forward to coming back to Moscow very soon!

Interview By Aleks Evdokimov
metallibrary.ru
www.myspace.com/esotericuk

Apr 27, 2010

Aquilonian / Sollubi - Split Album

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If you are looking for a value for your money release then its hard to pass by this split album by Aquilonian and Sollubi. Both bands offer up a 30+ minute song each so its almost like buying two albums in one awesome package. Aquilonian will be of interest for a lot of doomsters because its the new project by ex-Bongzilla members guitarist/vocalist Michael Makela and drummer/vocalist Michael Henry. Sollubi are the Ohio based Sludge Metal monsters who should be huge in the underground Stoner/Doom community by now but sadly are not. While most split albums seem like a cheaply thrown-together deal, this is exceptionally good not only in terms of the musical value within but also in terms of production and packaging.

I will start with Aquilonian, people have been waiting for what seems like a eternity for this after the demise or the extended holiday Bongzilla have been having. Nothing is 100% certain as to what the future holds for Bongzilla so Aquilonian is here to fill the smokey void left by the band. The track they deliver here is called "Symphonica de Levita" and its a hypnotic, churning dose of Psychedelic, repetitive riffing. Of course, Bongzilla were big on repetitious riffing too but Aquilonian is a different animal in every shape or form. Similar in the way its constructed to the work of Sleep, "Symphonica de Levita" is a prefect example of how to create a hypnotic, repetitive groove and take it as far as possible without it turning into a total bore-fest. The groove they create is a simple but effective one and despite its long running time, it holds your attention. Not as Sludgy as Bongzilla but still very much in the weedian mode, Aquilonian have put together a essential track in the history of this genre of music but be warned, don't expect many twists in the music. In fact its not till you get some 25 minutes into "Symphonica de Levita" till you hear the first major shift in the song. By this stage you will digging this track or would have already hit the "skip" button. To sum up, this is a masterful display of guitar/drum interplay that is a little long for its own good but still essential listening.

Sollubi's track "The Struggle" is a slow anger-filled 36 minutes that is almost the total opposite to Aquilonian's epic. There is a change in sound/production values between the two bands that takes a little to get used to but its a minor complaint that you soon forget about. The Sollubi line up of Jesse Kling (vocals), Chris Griffith (guitar), Scott “Wizard” Stearns (bass) and Corey Bing (drums) are hellbent on getting their point across in this track, which becomes very clear from the way the vocals are delivered. But the main focus of "The Struggle" is in the instrumental passages which are long but self-absorbing. This is a piece of music you can get yourself lost in, like Aquilonian, its very hypnotic, repetitive and not big on changes. The track does fall apart towards to the end as the last 10-12 minutes or there about is nothing more than feedback and noise. A couple of minutes would have been a fitting end to the track but i cant see anybody sitting through this for anymore than 5 minutes at the most. Despite all that, the split album is a worthy addition for all you people out there. Whether its your curiosity about Aquilonian from a Bongzilla's fan perspective or just simply wanting to hear something heavy and unique, this split album will satisfy your craving. Apart from the last 10 minutes of Sollubi's track, this is one of the best split albums ever released. Both bands have done essential recordings that you wont want to miss out on. Released on Choking Hazard Records...check it!! 9/10

www.myspace.com/aquilonian
www.myspace.com/sollubi

NOTE: Sorry to Sollubi for not putting up their part of the album artwork, i just couldn't get a copy of it at the time of publishing this review ( ed ).

Serpent Venom - Demo (2010)

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Some bands remain in obscurity for a long time and then suddenly something clicks and they are launched into the minds of people by a sudden rush of Internet reviews and articles. This seems to be the case with Serpent Venom from London, England. When i first got this 3 track Ep or is a demo, (i don't really know what it is) information about the band was scarce and now within the last month, their name is everywhere i go. The buzz surrounding the band is warranted though because this a killer release that needs to heard before they explode into the minds and ears of the Doom/Stoner underground everywhere. Serpent Venom was formed by members of bands such as Blood Island Raiders and Sloth but apart from that, i really know little about them. The band is classic Stoner/Doom in the vein of Candlemass, Count Raven, Penance, St Vitus, Pentagram, The Obsessed, Electric Wizard, Black Sabbath and especially Cathedral but they are hardly a recycled version of any of these bands. Serpent Venom has a everything going for them, a warm, rich sound from guitarist Pete. Drummer Paul has a pulverizing, powerful groove while vocalist Gaz has a commanding voice that sits somewhere in the middle of Wino and Eric Wagner(ex-Trouble).

The first time you hear "Four Walls of Solitude", you know you are in for a special treat, this track is crawling mass of bombastic Doom Metal. The low-end fuzz ridden sound is propelled by drumming that accents every chord stroke of the guitar creating a sound that is beyond heavy in places. The bass player Nick has a full, throbbing sound that blends in perfectly with the monster of a drum sound, meanwhile the vocals wail out in a old-school classic style. Vocalist Gaz isn't the greatest singer on earth but he has a vocal sound that is distinctive enough to make him stand out amongst other vocalists. He has a perfect combination of melody and rawness and i don't even like singers that much but this dude made me take some note. "Four Walls Of Solitude" stumbles along for close to 10 minutes, never losing any of its over-powering sonic pleasures along the way. The solo in the middle of the track sounds weird at first, its distorted and kind of buried within the mix but it strangely gives off a very unusual effect that works. "Under The Compass" sounds like Witchcraft if they dropped their hippie musical values and played total true doom, its about as old-school as you can get. Classic riffing twists and turns in true Sabbath worshiping style, played with a slow bluesy groove. "Under The Compass" is pure Doom Metal gold and its the weakest track on the EP which shows you how strong this recording is.

Just when you think, it can't get anymore crushing along comes "The Outsider". This is where its at, forget all that Goth-Doom fairytale crap, this is 100% Doom Metal, the way its meant to be. No gimmicks or pathetic stabs at being melodramatic, this is a blues-driven slab of Retro-Doom but without sounding cheesy like a lot of other 70's wannabe bands. "The Outsider" is such a seizure-inducing Doom track, so heavy that it almost gets crushed by the weight of its own delivery. The guitar and bass tones are very much in the classic mold of early 70's Sabbath, warm, rich and throbbing and without a doubt the best sound i have heard from a new band in the last year. The mid-paced time changes send a shiver up the spine and are enough to give you the musical equivalent of a hard-on!! Throw in some down tuned wah-wah fuzzy guitar sections and you get something that is purely monolithic. This is a band where using clichés is the only way of describing them and sure, there is nothing new here but when its this good, who the hell cares. I can't say enough good things about Serpent Venom, but this EP just maybe is the doom release of 2010. Time will tell but beating this chunk of sonic bliss will be a challenge for any band. If Serpent Venom doesn't become the next Stoner/Doom super-group from the UK, then i might as well give up on life itself. Please torture us no longer, deliver a full length album ASAP!! This EP is amazing. 10/10

www.myspace.com/serpentvenom

Apr 26, 2010

Sanctus Infernum - Martyr

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The doom/death metal band Sanctus Infernum was formed in Wichita, Kansas, USA by Mark Anderson and Ricky Vannatta in October 2006. Their debut album was one of the best debut albums of 2008 and now this album follows in a similar style and sound, not breaking any new ground but why should they anyway. Bands in the Death/Doom genre have always been a source for debate among Death Metal fans and Doom Metal fans alike. The style has got its fair share of supporters but a lot of people are divided in their opinions on whether this mixing of sub-genres is actually a good thing or not. If there was ever a band to take that mixing of styles to the extreme is Sanctus Infernum. Too Death Metal for some Doom heads and too Doom for some Death Metal fans, the new album called "Martyr" won't change those feelings. As much as i think this is a OK album, one thing is very obvious, every song sounds the same. The debut was pretty much the same but this album is even more repetitive, so much so that in describing one song, you are describing most of the album. What is classic though about this band is they take the plodding nature of bands like Saint Vitus, give it a total Death Metal guitar sound and blood gurgling vocals which gives Sanctus Infernum a very unique vibe.

After a strike of a large gong, the album heads off in its deathly, plodding journey. Album opener "Essence Remains" has slow to mid paced riffing with a killer guitar sound, double bass kicks and vocals like someone gargling bits of shattered glass. The vocals are in the style of early Carcass etc etc which gives them a very old-school Death Metal edge which is different to Hooded Menace and other Death/Doom types who have that horror-monster sound. Like the first album the guitar solo's have inflections of Psychedelia, Classical and just plain old Heavy Metal shredding which give the songs some much needed color. The title track kicks off with a riff in the vein of Solitude Aeturnus with plodding, churning twists and turns and then never changes. The constant repetitive riffing can be hypnotic or it can drive you mad depending on your mood but at least the riffs are real good otherwise the album would be a total disaster. One of the best riffs is the main ingredient in the third song "Empty Heaven", a churning twisted song with a melody line that is totally sick but also catchy. "The Becoming Of Me" is the first detour of the album with a clean, melodic vocal and acoustic guitar in the beginning, that soon mutates itself into another demented slab of tormented Death Metal. The stop/start crunching rhythm is a bone-snapper and one of the more infectious parts of the album but by this stage of the album, the vocals can start sounding recycled as the vocal delivery is almost identical in every song.

When you get to the second half of the album especially, it all starts to get a little stale but to be fair, a lot of bands in this genre suffer the same problem. "Pulse" and "Stand For Nothing" are typical examples of recycling the same musical ideas over and over again. They are very well played but the never ending repetition begins to take its toll. Even the solo's all seem to have the same structure. "Hollow" kicks off with a bass line before the deathly riffing again takes hold but there is a sense of strong melody within the track which makes it stand out among the other songs on "Martyr". The solo is also one of the best on the album, beautifully executed wailing notes scream over the top of the main hellish riff. The final track, "As Silence Breaks" has a very atmospheric intro that sets the mood for the darkest, most diverse track on the album. There is clean, acoustic breaks complete with clean vocals. The album could have used more breaks like this, "As Silence Breaks" is the best track on "Martyr" simply because it does away the usual song structure they used on the rest of the album. The song nicely builds in intensity and has a multi-dimensional vibe about it, the album then ends the way it started with a big hit on a gong. Overall "Martyr" is a very predictable, one-dimensional album but on a technical level, it works very well. The production is top-notch, the solo's while also very predictable have exciting bursts of fine guitar wizardry. Where the album fails is in the constant repetition of riffs that are hardly varied at all, great for a song or two but a whole album's worth is overkill. So i have mixed feelings about "Martyr", the debut was a stronger release overall but this will still please the fans of the band. One thing is certain, they have developed a sound that is unique to them even though they have obvious influences. A little uninspired in parts but "Martyr" will still please a lot of people out there, i have a feeling though that its the Death Metal fan that will most likely pick this one up and dig it. 5.5/10

www.myspace.com/sanctusinfernum

Apr 23, 2010

Devil To Pay - Heavily Ever After

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From the beginnings of what was a fairly generic sounding band in the Stoner rock scene, Indianapolis' Devil To Pay have created their own sound over the course of three mighty albums. "Heavily Ever After" is the third album from a band that should be much bigger in the scene than they currently are, i guess some bands are destined to remain underground legends and with the pathetic state of the current music industry, great bands like Devil To Pay properly can't do much about it. Sad really because Devil To Pay are masters of catchy riff-rock and their latest album is a example of how good and exciting this musical genre can be if done right and with passion. The band are amazing in their musical scope within a musical style that for the most part if fairly limited. Within the 13 classic songs on the album, you can hear sounds that remind you of everything from Fu Manchu, C.O.C, Black Sabbath, Dozer to Crowbar to Soundgarden to name just a few. The wide variety of different approaches to the mighty riff gives Devil To Pay a unique, timeless vibe that very few other bands come close to getting. Devil to Pay has always delivered the goods in the form of kick ass riffing, catchy anthemic type melody lines, tighter than a duck's ass drumming and unrelenting energy. Devil To Pay get better with each album and Heavily Ever After is simply a irresistible collection of hard rock songs that will stand the test of time.

From the ass-kicking stomper that is the opening track "Distemper", you know you are in for a good time. Its a full-speed, hang on tight bruiser with catchier than hell riffing but they also know how to get a heavy slow groove happening as well. "When All Is Said and Done" and "Troglodyte Jive" are delivered with crushing intensity, you couldn't call any of this Doom but it comes close in stages. "Megistotherium" is a song that i figure is about a dinosaur( no lyric sheet comes with the album) and this tune is about as heavy as as one of those prehistoric creatures. "Morningstar" is so damn catchy that is will set up house in your brain and live there for weeks even after just one spin of the track. If mainstream radio wasn't so behind the times, tunes like this one would be on constant rotation. The instrumental track "Grimoires" sounds very much like the classic Diamond Head tune "Am I Evil", remember Metallica didn't write that song duh!! This merges perfectly into "Thinning The Herd" which is full of neck-snapping energetic riff work from Steve Janiak and Rob Hough. "Snake Charmer" and "High Horse" are both economical straight up rockers, Devil To Pay don't waste a nano second anywhere on the album. Even the worse track in my opinion which is "Mancuerda" has more charm than most bands in the genre. Not since the classic days of Fu Manchu and Kyuss has there been a band with such groove that is so automatically infectious and addictive.

"Goat Leaves" has a classic drum intro from Chad Prifogle, his playing on the album is incredibly powerful, tight and precise. The sound of his kit is also excellent as is all the instruments on "Heavily Ever After", the production is clear but still powerful enough to remove wallpaper. The final two tracks are two of the best on the album, "Dead Wrong" has a darkened groove while "Zealots" is one of the best examples of Devil To Pay's rhythmic wall of solid grooving sound. The one guy i haven't mentioned yet is bassist Matt Stokes who is remarkably solid throughout every track providing a perfect backbone to the crunchy rhythms. Its been a rocky road for Devil To Pay though, guitarist and vocalist Steve Janiak almost had his life cut short by a blood clot that formed after intestinal surgery. Maybe that is one of the reasons the band plays like there is no tomorrow, they have really delivered a passionate, hard driving rock album with "Heavily Ever After". Bands like this are a dying breed, so buy this and play it loud. 9.5/10

www.myspace.com/deviltopay

It Is Still A Guessing Game For Cathedral

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Since 1989 when Lee Dorrian became disenchanted with the Punk scene and the Death Metal direction, his former band Napalm Death was taking he took what was a rather eccentric step at the time of starting a Doom Metal band. The "In Memoriam" demo surfaced in 1990 followed by another demo known as the "Forest of Equilibrium sessions". When "Forest of Equilibrium" was eventually released in 1991, it was greeted by cries of "what the f..k is this". A completely different beast to Napalm Death in every way but what they achieved was creating a sound linking traditional old school Doom Metal with a extreme metal aesthetic. The album stands up to this day as one of the most important Doom albums of all time. Since then Cathedral have always been a band to push boundaries and have never stuck to the conventional approach to making metal music. The back catalog of albums is one of the widest, diverse collection of recordings ever produced from a band in the Metal genre. From extreme Doom, Progressive Rock, Stoner Rock, Psychedelic, Traditional Heavy Metal to Jazz, Folk and everything in-between, they have always been unpredictable. The new album "The Guessing Game is no exception, its a ambitious monster of a album spanning two discs of eccentric musical themes, while there is still the faints sounds of their doomy beginnings, the album is the weirdest, most Progressive recording to date. I was lucky enough to track down Garry "Gaz" Jennings for this interview, hope you enjoy it.


1. Hello from Seattle, first up i must say i am a long time fan after first hearing you for the first time when "Forest of Equilibrium" was released in 91. Like most fans would be wondering, why was there such a long break between "The Garden Of Unearthly Delights" and the new album for the band?

The reason for such a long period of inactivity was due to whether we wanted to carry on as a band. When we did the garden we seriously considered it to be our last album. We toured after the albums release but took time out to see if we wanted to do another record. After a year or so break lee and myself got together to write and see what kind off stuff i could come up with and to see if the material was any good so we just took it from there.

2. Hearing the new album for the first time, my first impression was the album seems to sum up the band's career by combining all the sounds and styles the band has ever done into the one album. Was this just a accident or the plan all along?

I agree. We just tried to be cathedral and do whatever came to us really and luckily it turned out good. There's all elements of what we've tried to do throughout our career.

3. Cathedral has always experimented with progressive rock elements but this album seems to be more progressive than any album before it. I know the band has always been big fans of obscure 70's rock but was there a particular inspiration that pushed the band in that direction for this album?

Lee and myself were listening to a lot of euro crime soundtracks so a lot of influence came from that plus a lot of the cool bands we both dig. There was a lot more emphasis on more prog and less of the heavy stuff.

4. Cathedral has become a huge influence on the doom metal scene and people still rate the first album as a major turning point in the history of doom metal, how do you feel about this?

I'd like to think that we've played a part in making doom more popular but then again bands like Candlemass,Trouble,St Vitus were there before us and are a major influence on most doom bands that are just starting out. As for our forest album I'm glad that after 19 years people still dig it.

5. I read the band had excess material for the recording sessions that led to the new album. Was it material that has been around for a while or did you go into the recording with totally brand new ideas in mind?

We had more material written but a lot of it never got to the rehearsal stage. The material was out and out doom in the vein of Trouble, Revelation, Celtic frost, Dream death etc...Hopefully we'll get round to using this stuff in the future.

6. How do you rate the back catalog when you hear them now? What do you personally rate as the high-points of Cathedral's recording output?

Some of the stuff we've recorded is pretty good and some not so good. Supernatural sounded good when we were rehearsing the songs but the sound of the album ain't too good. I really liked caravan when we were rehearsing the songs cos it was a real band effort with everybody contributing with writing and arrangements but the material is too much of a mish mash of styles like freedom and heavy load etc....In saying that heavy load is probably my favorite song. Fave album is probably the garden. i think some of the production on the albums haven't been that great, in saying that the production on carnival ain't brilliant but the album has got a great vibe and a lot of energy. I enjoyed making that album

7. Picking songs for your live-set must be a nightmare, how does the band come to a mutual agreement on what to play?

We don't. ha ha ! Some songs we have to play live like hopkins but as for picking the set, it's a nightmare. I always want to play more obscure songs but Brian always wants to play the more obvious songs, so me and him have debates over that which can be quite heated but we come to some sort of compromise, where as Leo will just pick an obscure song we've never played in years and just shout it out and everybody kinda looks at each other lost for words.

8. "The Garden Of Unearthly Delights" got some amazing reviews when it was released, probably the best reviews i personally have ever read for a Cathedral album . Is that something you thought about when making the new album and does critical success mean much to the band?

We never give it much thought really. Of course getting great reviews is great cos it helps when people read them and it they read its a good album. We have been quite lucky cos we have never had any major bad reviews.


9. Is it a challenge keeping the band sounding fresh after all these years and was there any point in the past where you thought about splitting up?

Of course it's a challenge we don't wanna keep doing the same stuff over and over. We have to challenge ourselves to keep it interesting. As i said in the first question, we were near to calling it a day after the last album.

10. Moving away from Cathedral for the time being, i have to ask about your passion for 70's rock especially the obscure variety. The 70's was a incredibly fertile time for music, what has happened to music these days apart from the obvious, computers, internet etc and why was the 70's so experimental and musical in your opinion compared to today's mainstream?

Lee and myself just dig music from the seventies. Simple as that really. More freedom to experiment without commercial restrictions.

11. To celebrate the release of the new album, The Guessing Game, you have announced 6 live shows in late April / early May 2010. Taking in England, Scotland and both Southern and Northern Ireland, it seems like it is going to be one of the all time great doom tours. Is there anymore news on that ?

Hopefully should be a good tour cos the two bands who are supporting us are both killer. In fact along with Hellfueled, The Gates Of Slumber are one of my fave bands at the moment.

12. On the new album you have no other than Alison O`Donnell from Mellow Candle singing on "Funeral Of Dreams". How did that come about and with all due respect to Alison, are these 70's rock musicians still easy to find these days?

I don't really know how it came about really. Lee got in touch with her and asked if she'd like to sing on the album and she agree which is like the coolest thing ever.

13. I must also make mention of the lyrics to "Journey Into Jade" where the band celebrate the band in song. They are great lyrics and one of the many highlights on the album, where and how did you come up with the concept for the track?

Again Lee came up with the idea which i thought was a real good idea. I think they sum up whats been before and if there's any future left for us.????????

14. Cathedral has always had very visual lyrics that conjure up many different themes and images and you even have the artwork to match the music with the great work of Dave Patchett. Has Cathedral ever thought about doing a movie, say like Pink Floyd's The Wall with the animation and involve some of that art?

I don't know that one you'd have to ask him yourself I'm afraid. I very much doubt it.

15. Has the US got any chance of seeing the band perform in the near future? We are all dying to see the band live. Personally i haven't seen the band live since 1992 so its been a long time between drinks.

I think the idea of a tour is out of the question as three of us all have regular jobs but if the chance came to play a couple of festivals we'd love to do it.

16. Thanks for the interview, its been a honor to interview you. Is there any final words or thoughts for the Cathedral faithful out there?

Cheers for the interview to all the people who have supported us thank you for being there throughout the last 20 years stay heavy and be true to what you believe in and dont follow trends.

Cheers
Gaz Jennings.

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www.myspace.com/cathedral
www.cathedralcoven.com

Apr 22, 2010

Thunderstorm - Nero Enigma

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The epic Italian Doom band are back again with a new album called "Nero Enigma". Still a very underground band despite starting way back in 1992 under the name "Sad Symphony". If you are a old school Doom Metal fan and never heard the band, you have missed out on some good tunes over the years. Fans of Candlemass, Sabbath, Trouble, Solitude Aeturnus and Count Raven should like most of this band's material. However, Thunderstorm have always been far from the perfect band and i still have some issues with them that i will bore you with later. Now onto this, their fifth album and their most well balanced album to date. The concept of the album is based on what the Italians call "giallo" which is nothing more than what is widely known as "crime fiction" or "mystery" literature, a movement that is popular in Italian classic cinema with directors like Dario Argento among others. So basically the lyrics describe a crime scene mystery and its up to the listener to solve that mystery or that is what i understand it all to mean.

The album begins with "Nero Enigma (The Beginning)" and "When April Dies", both these tracks contain some classic old school riffing and melody lines. Its good stuff but very generic and predictable, almost too predictable at times but the third track really hits the mark. Its a 8 minute mini-epic called "Ophrys". Classic spine chilling riffing that is very similar to Solitude Aeturnus best work runs throughout the track and the extra sublime riffing in the middle section is the stuff to give you goose bumps. The album needs more tracks like this but sadly it doesn't happen really. The next track, "5o25" is more upbeat and almost like a happy form of Doom Metal. "Shallow" is a odd track compared with the rest, the melodic middle section sounds strangely like new wave band Visage from the 80's, beats me how but it does. "The Trial Of Life" features one of the strong points of the album and that is the bass playing from Omar Roncalli. This guy has a remarkable warm, organic sound, so much so that i always find myself listening to his bass lines more than the rest of the band. On "The Trail Of Life", that bass playing and sound is totally mesmerizing and the rest of the track is good too but the bass guitar steals the show. The last three tracks, "Mechanical Delights", "Monologue" and "Modus Operandi" are all by the numbers Doom Metal, all of which are good but also instantly forgettable.

The good side of this band is the guitar work of Fabio "Thunder" Bellan and the incredible style and sound of the bassist. The drumming is also very solid and this band is a well-oiled, super tight machine. The negative side for me is still the vocals from Fabio which sound powerful one minute and weak the next, there is times where it sounds like his vocal chords are about to fall apart completely. Having said that, this album is the best recording that Thunderstorm have ever done, it shows the band is forever moving forward in technical ability and song-writing prowess. Its a very easy album to listen to, nothing gets too annoying or monotonous but its hardly ground-breaking or original but there is enough tempo-changes and versatile guitar breaks to keep it listenable throughout its 50+ minutes. Try it out. 7.5/10

www.myspace.com/thunderstormlair

Apr 21, 2010

Drone Throne Demo / Split Album w/ Toad

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Holy S..T, where has this band been hiding? The band is Drone Throne and they are a weed worshiping, angry, flithy, Stoner Doom band from Phoenix, Arizona. They were kind enough to send me their demo and a split album with another band called Toad. The demo was recorded in 2008 and has been spinning in my CD player ever since it was delivered. Fuzz guitars, distorted angry vocals and songs about Satan and smoking weed, this band is obviously in the mold of bands like Sleep, Grief, Eyehategod etc etc but instead of just recycling the same old format, this demo delivers 5 tunes of raw, pulsating Stoner Doom that sounds quite fresh. The band is made up of three guys, Garrett Ranous - Guitar, Vocals, Brian Bank Rollins - Bass and
Alex Bank Rollins - Drums and vocals. First track on the demo is "Getting High At The Gates Of Hell", the fuzzing, buzzing guitar is dirty and raw but the vocals are delivered with even more aggressive attack. I will quote Maximum Rock And Roll who wrote "This does not sound like a band producing their first demo but well seasoned veterans", couldn't have put it better myself. Track two, "Skatin With Satan" begins with a spoken word sample about a murder before it begins on a plodding journey of Stoner rifftastic grooves. What is cool about is the various time/riff changes they blend together, they never over do a riff, they let the riffs do their damage and then move onto something else equally as bombastic.

Next up comes "Green Lung", more plodding riffing in the style of Holy Mountain era Sleep with a viscous screaming vocal attack. Middle of the song has a short but tormented, twisted solo before a mid-tempo change enters the arrangement. They pack at least 5 indestructible riffs into the five minutes and each of them are brutal to the core then along comes "Resin Head". More of the same but equally as intense in its delivery, the main riff in the tune has got all the elements that made Sleep such a monumental force back in the day but once again and i stress this point, this somehow sounds fresh. The demo ends with the appropriately titled "Dirge" even though it actually starts off quite mellow and musical. The next thing you know, the hollering vocals come in and it turns into a apocalyptic Doom-fest. It churns and spews out some real filthy riff-age that build in intensity, gyrating till the tune returns its way back to the Psychedelic sounding intro section. Seeing as this was recorded back in 2008, it makes me wonder how they have manage to keep such a low profile in the Stoner, Doom community. A must have for worshipers of the weed inspired brand of Doom. 9/10


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The split album has four tracks from Drone Throne and five from a band called Toad. Much better produced than the demo, the first track, "Headtrip Highway" has all the anger that was present on their demo but the guitar work sounds more refined but at the same time, just as heavy. Typical of sounds on their demo, "Headtrip Highway" has got its fair share of twists and tempo changes, the crunchy riff that comes in towards the end of the track is pure Sabbath and its solid and catchy. "Sludge Flood" is more solid work from Drone Throne with endless chunky riffing, the drum sound is also much better produced on this split compared with the demo. There is even some hints at melodic guitar lines on here that wasn't present on the demo, certainly not commercial but a little more assessable for the more mainstream listener. "Astro Binge" is a raunchy, headbanging track with more of a traditional edge to the guitar work. Still very much in the Stoner Doom mold, it is instantly recognizable and yet doesn't sound like anything else. It ends a little too soon for my liking however, at only a bit over three minutes long, another section or two of those killer rhythms and "Astro Bridge" would have been my pick for favorite track on this split album. The final track, "Comotose" is even shorter and sounds a little underdone and rushed. Not a bad track but too short to leave any lasting memory. Then Drone Throne's part of the split is over, Headtrip Highway" and "Sludge Flood" are both essential tunes for the band but the other two failed to live up to the same standard.

The other band is also from Arizona, but they sound totally out of place after listening to Drone Throne. I wont get into details about them because i am only really interested in what Drone Throne delivers. Toad basically sounds like a Indie-Punk band with a pop edge, very out of context after hearing Drone Throne. Because of this its very hard to rate the split too highly, Toad doesn't do anything for me at all and Drone Throne deliver two great songs and two average ones on here. Therefore i can only honestly give this split album 4/10.

Having said all that, Drone Throne are a band to watch out for. As i mentioned in the review for the 2008 demo, its a mystery as to why they are not getting widespread publicity in the underground. Check out their Myspace page, listen to the songs and hunt down a copy of the demo, it will be worth your time.

www.myspace.com/dronethrone

1000 Mods - Liquid Sleep 7 "

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Liquid Sleep is the second EP from Greek Stoner/Doom band 1000 Mods. Their name doesn't exactly sound like a typical Doom or Stoner band but that is exactly what they are and even though there is nothing new or original on offer on this 7", its a short and sweet burst of great groove-ridden tunes. The 7" comes beautifully packaged in a full cardboard sleeve cover with awesome looking green vinyl. There is only 2 tracks on "Liquid Sleep" but they are both very good. The first is "Burnt Sleep" which starts off like a total riff fest, sounding a little like classic Acrimony. Great buzzing guitars and organic sounding drums even though the production sounds very modern. It sounds very familiar but without ripping anyone off, it all moves along with a nice groove till the second half of the track where 1000 Mods heads off into a Psychedelic jam section. Things get mellow and more Acid-Rock influenced, once again not sounding like anyone but i am guessing Pink Floyd might have provided some inspiration.

Turn the 7" over and you get the instrumental title track "Liquid Sleep". Not as catchy as the A side but more interesting with great guitar echo effects, it is a rolling, tumbling Stoner / Doom burner. There is some cool grooves along the way and then a mere 12 minutes later the 7" is over. What is cool about this release and a little intriguing is the production which sounds modern but with a old-school feel about it. A lot of bands strive to get this sound and most of them fail, 1000 Mods obtain that sound though and it sounds great. Similar to early Sabbath and Purple production sounds but with the crunch that comes along with modern recordings. Its very fitting therefore that this is on vinyl, when the needle hits the grooves, its the mid 70's all over again. They are hardly going to change the world of retro-rock but at the same time, they are real good at what they do. Also its very hard to judge a band on just 2 songs but i dig what i hear so far. They should appeal to fans of Black Sabbath, Kyuss, Acrimony and the more Psychedelic Orange Goblin stuff they did on their earlier albums. Good grooves. 7/10

www.myspace.com/1000mods

Interview With Rob From Jack Frost

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I guess some bands are born in stay in the underground and that seems to be the way for Jack Frost. After releasing about 8 albums since 1995, they are still largely unknown for their brand of gloomy music but with some big shows lined up including the Moscow Doom Festival, that might change. Here is another great interview from Aleks with guitarist Rob "Mournful Morales" Hackl.

Salut comrade! Rob is it you? How is Jack Frost's guitarist doing?

Great, thank you! I am not much of a guitarist right at the moment, I haven't even touched a guitar for 7 months now. But that's a different story..

-Wait, why didn't you touch guitar for 7 months?

-We have played our latest show 7 months ago and we kind of parted ways since then - so no rehearsal, no touching a guitar...

-First and main question of our interview is participation of Jack Frost in Moscow Doom Fest V. Tell us please how were you invited there?

That's a simple story. The guys from Moscow Doom Fest got in touch with our agency and we confirmed. We were asked to do a short tour in Finland and some Baltic nations around that date but unfortunately we are not available for more than one show.

-How long did you think before giving your agreement? And why did you agree to take a part in that gig? Did you hear good responses of your colleagues about MDF III or IV? There were few of really good bands - Esoteric, Mourning Beloveth, The Prophecy and Saturnus for example.

Our agency is quite enthusiastic about the fest, Mourning Beloveth, Saturnus and The Prophecy are in their roster. Essential for Jack Frost was to cover traveling expenses; we didn't demand any payment except our flights. We have never been to Russia before, let alone play there, so we were quick confirming the gig.

-What do you expect from visit to Russia?

Unfortunately we only have 3 days which is not much for a city like Moscow. We hope to get at least a glimpse of what is Russian culture and get to know some interesting people.

-I check Jack Frost's MySpace page time after time and see that you play live not too often - what are the reasons? You live in Europe, there are some big doom fests happen each year but as I saw you mostly play in Austria and mostly with not too popular (but I'm sure - good) bands. Jack Frost has gotten really great status for years of existence, so don't you think that you can reach much more with a little bit of effort?

I think our status is a bit overrated from your point of view. We have played most of our live concerts in Germany, including big festivals like Summer Breeze and Wave Gotik Treffen and also smaller but not less important ones like Doom Shall Rise, Dutch Doom Day and more. But you're right: we do not put much effort into booking shows. If promoters drop us a line it is very likely that we will show up to play. However, as I mentioned before: Jack Frost is not at all a huge band and has never been. We've only been fishing the swamps of deep underground through all those years - and that can be very exhausting from time to time.
Today we're at a point where we don't expect anything at all. If people want to hear us play live, we play. And if not, we'll hang around in Austria and have a lot of drinks.

-And do you feel that your band's popular amidst doom-metal fans and labels? After all of these years do you care about finding a label for new album or how many public in a club where you play?

I'm not sure. And we don't care about it much. We will definitely not be on the knocker of labels to get another contract but we like it when people show up at our rare live performances.

-Do you really dwell in such deep underground as you say?!

-From my point of view JF is an underground band. Of course we have had features in all big magazines in Germany but there has never been a big following.

-You've released live-CD "Live in Novosibirsk" two years ago. Why was it named "in Novosibirsk"? Is it a name of a club? And why don't you place any live-videos into YouTube or MySpace?! It would be good present for your fans because I was searching in YouTube here and there and found only clip "Me and Dark and You" and live video of this song.

-"Live in Novosibirsk" is pretending to have taken place in Novosibirsk, that's the story. And a lot of people believe it. We just wanted to catch the dirty atmosphere of what we would expect in a club in Novosibirsk.

The only reason why we don't place any live videos on youtube or myspace is that we almost have none! But there is a professional live video of "Days Never End" live at Summer Breeze 2008 on youtube since a few months.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKrNpaI-nBA
"Days Never End"


-What kind of merchandise will you take to Russia?

We'll take everything that is left: some t-shirts, CDs, buttons, JF guitar picks.

-Do you have any new songs for this gig? I understand that you have a damned lot of amazing songs to fill your set but it's always interesting when such band as yours will record new album.

The only new song we have is a cover version of Duran Duran's Wild Boys. We have not written any new songs because there won't be another album for the next 2 years at least.

-By the way, what were responses about "My Own Private Hell"? It seems that you surpassed yourself with such great release. Truly to say I wonder how will your next album sound for you now - Jack Frost raises your qualification standards higher with each album.

"My Own Private Hell" was a commercially meaningless output. That's why we won't record a follow-up in the near future, maybe we'll not record another one at all. We'll see.

-Why do you say that "My Own Private Hell" was a commercially meaningless output? It is stronger than "Wannadie Songs" and there are really few balls-breaking songs at least. And it's not only my mention.

-I tell it like it is: MOPH has been our worst selling record since "Glow Dying Sun"...

-At the same time there is another logical question, how long did you record "My Own Private Hell"? And how do your usually record-sessions go?

-We have recorded "My Own Private Hell" within 4 weeks. I remember that we were a bit running out of time finally because our label wanted us to release at the same time with End Of Green. It should turn out that this was not at our advantage - promotion of our album was far beyond the effort they put into End Of Green.
But usually we do our albums within a month's time.

-I'm sorry if this stereotype doesn't work with Jack Frost nowadays but what are your favorite sorts of alcohol? And what are most positive and negative memories associated with some hard drinking bout?

-Most of us prefer beer and - later in the evening - liquor such as whiskey, vodka or tequila. We've been into hard drinking from time to time but we are getting more and more sensible with growing age, haha. It's characteristic for our drinking habits that we don't have any memories after waking up again - neither positive nor negative ones.

-Would you like to produce your own alcoholic drinks? Which qualities must it satisfied? Jack Frost against Jack Daniels, what do you think? :-) Who would be a winner?

-If I would produce my own alcoholic drink it would be a sophisticated single malt whisky. Jack Frost would sound good as a name for it. I like it! No question Jack Frost would beat Jack Daniels being a sugar-colored corn rotgut.

-What did happened with Phred a year ago? Is he totally got well after that accident?

-Well, he went home drunk as fuck - which is a quite common behavior for him - and dumped into a pit. He broke some ribs but he's all well again. If he ever was….

-Are you satisfied with your own self - as a musician, simply as a man? How do you deal with your inner demons nowadays?

-Yes I am. I couldn't say that in every state of my life but I arranged with life quite well I guess. I left much of my bad habits, of which heavy drinking was one behind and enjoy life. Cutting band activities down to a minimum has something to do with it, too, I have to admit.

-What are most good and bad responses did Jack Frost receive from public and critics? Are there people who still try to compare your band with other ones?

-We've got a lot of response in 17 years of band history and I hardly remember any details. The good responses were those that identified Jack Frost as a shamefully underrated band. The bad ones had a lot to do with comparing us to bands we don't even like, or worse, imputing plagiarism. I am absolutely fed up with critics saying Jack Frost sound like Type O Negative.

- Jack Frost never sounded like Type O Negative, even Phred's voice differ from P.Steele's voice. You just have similar stage impersonation, as I said in my questions. That's all. I can affirm this fact for I listened all of albums of JF and ToN as well.

-Well, I wasn't referring to your Type O question! It's just a lot of critics that say JF is a cool band but has obviously listened to Type O a bit too much.... I don't even own any record of Type O and I have to admit: I don't like the band...

-So truly to say I was watching Type O Negative video (after failing to find any of yours ;-) - and as I said - found what their image and image of Jack Frost are bit similar, same irony, similar gloom and similar not serious self-flagellation. Man, I can't understand when you're serious in your songs and when you are not… Though it doesn't matter as it seems… Is there a line, a boundary? How much of your own life is in Jack Frost's songs? Are they enough autobiographic? This question excites most of your listeners as I think.

-Your question tells me we have done everything the right way, haha. Indeed, there is a lot of autobiographical stuff in our songs but I would never tell you what is real and what is fiction. You're right if you detect some irony in our image - that's what determines us as persons. We don't take things - even the painful ones - too serious.

-Jack Frost are Phred Phinster, Mournful Morales, Gary Gloom, Collossos Rossos. But how do these characters differ from Manfred Klahre, Robert Hackl, Christoph Schmid and Martin Kollross?

-They don't differ at all. Those are no artificial characters, those names simply match our personalities better than our given names.

-That's all! Thank you for this interview, and for what you do as band! See you in Moscow Doom Fest!

-Thank you, we're looking forward to playing Moscow!

Interview By Aleks Evdokimov
metallibrary.ru
www.myspace.com/gloomrockcity

Interview With Miguel From A Dream Of Poe

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A Dream Of Poe is the brainchild of Miguel "Spell" Santos who uses different musicians for live and studio work. The music is a earthy form of Gothic Doom blending various other rock styles to produce something unique in the world of Doom Metal. A demo in 2006 called "Delirium Tremens" was the first to surface followed by a live CD and then last years magical "Sorrow For The Lost Lenore" EP. This is a truly powerful but still very underrated band, hopefully its only a matter of time before that get some worldwide attention. Here is a interview that Aleks did with the brains behind the band, Miguel.

Salut Miguel! What's going with A Dream Of Poe? You're preparing new EP "Lady of Shalott" and it will be available on May. But, man, you released EP "Sorrow for the Lost Lenore" not so long ago - don't you think that it is time for new LP?

-A Dream of Poe is finishing the EP "Lady of Shalott" and still recording the Album which will be released this year, there are no dates set but as the instrumental are pretty much finished it will come out somewhere in Autumn.

-Which songs will be concluded in this EP? As I see there will be "Whispers of Osiris", if you ask me then I can say that this is really great song but I've already heard it on "Sorrows of Lost Lenore"

-"Lady of Shalott" feature two versions of the song Lady of Shalott, the album version and a short version that will be used in my first video clip. Besides that it features a cover from The Cure, If only tonight we could sleep and two songs from the last EP. The reason why I decided to include those was because I wasn't happy with the sound quality on those songs, specially the drums and the guitars on Laudanum, to give them more life I decide to remix those two songs, while Whispers of Osiris only got a small remix where I've replaced the old drum sound and add some touches here and there, Laudanum had a completely new guitar work, a new drum sound and everything was mixed again from ground 0, it almost looks like a completely different song.
This EP works as a preview for the upcoming album, it's a way to start promoting the new album earlier….

-Where did you find art-work for "Sorrows…"? Who is it's author? Very expressive, very picturesque, and quite unusual.

-The art-work for "SFTLL" was done by a good friend of mine, Velvet Ravyn (http://velvetravyn.deviantart.com/). She is very talented, enjoys and understand the songs made by A Dream of Poe. For me it was the obvious choice and gladly she accepted on doing the "SFTLL" art-work. Due to some commitments in her personal and professional life she wasn't able to do the art-work for the new EP but I hope when everything is settled down for her we can work together once again.

-"Lady of Shalott" will be available as a free download. Why did you decide to share your music for free? Is it for better band's promotion?

-I believe that sharing my music in the internet for free is a great way to promote A Dream of Poe, that way I can reach even more places and people, SFTLL was downloaded about 1000 times, if it was only for sale I don't think I would have sold that much, besides that we all have to start to somewhere, for me, and as a solo project, it was easier and less expensive this way.
With SFTLL I got many requests for a physic edition, with that in mind "Lady of Shalott" will be released as a free download but for those who wants to support A Dream of Poe I will have the EP available in a Cardboard Sleeve for only 4,50€+post costs.
I will promote the EP though Myspace, which is a great promotion tool, also by sending the EP for reviews to as many Zines/fan-zines/Ezines/blogs I can find. Also I'll try to join compilations which are another great way to promote my songs.

-A Dream of Poe bases in Azores Islands, and its not a too vast a place. Are there a lot of studios for doom-metal bands. How do you record materials for your albums? Is it a problem for you?

-When I first started A Dream of Poe, one of my main concerns was about how to record my songs. Spending a lot of money in one of our few studios was out of options simple because I would be the only one to pay the bill. With that in mind I started my own studio, have learn the basic, bought the hardware and equipment needed to start recording. Since then and despite the learning curve, I've been recording my works and also I've been recording other Azorean bands.
As this is now a part-time business I find it difficult to have time to record myself, that is because I'm always recording local bands and with that I really struggle to get some time for A Dream of Poe, it was because of this that it was delayed countless times.

-I saw live videos of your band on your MySpace page (http://www.myspace.com/dreamofpoe) - where did you play this gigs?
I'm sorry for maybe too not original way of thinking but don't you
feel yourself isolated from other world and metal-scene in itself?

-Those videos were recorded at "October Loud" (2007 and 2008) which I run it with a friend of mine. As Doom isn't the most loved genre here in Azores I never got any invitation or opportunity to play live, that way the only option for me was to create a festival where I could play, I immediately start working on it and invited a good friend of mine to start the festival with me.
In some way I do feel myself isolated from the rest of the world and from the doom metal-scene, but fortunately the internet make it easier this days.

-What kind of underground music is more popular in Ponta Delgada? What can you tell us about this place?

-In Ponta Delgada (capital of São Miguel Islands), and mainly in all Azores, the most popular metal genre is Math Metal, Screamo, bands in the vein of Mnemic, Lamb of God and so on. As you can see it is far, far away from Doom Metal.
Azores have a lot of great things, it's a very good place to live, it's calm, you can breathe pure air something you can't do in major cities, but it lacks in opportunities regarding to Heavy Metal. We have many underground festivals, some of them with great conditions (sound, stage) but that's all, and as São Miguel is a small place the audience it's always the same (most of them have bands too), because of that it's hard to sell merchandise and so on. It's a very, very small market.

-Why did you choose literature of Edgar Poe as your main influence?
You're living in the middle of Atlantic Ocean so it would be logically to pick out stories of Lovecraft and his oceanic fish-like friends.

-I've always been into E.A. Poe literature, so it was a natural choice for me.

-Why don't you use Portuguese lyrics in your songs? Do you think that it would be hard to understand your songs?

-In fact I would like to use Portuguese lyrics in my songs, it just hasn't happen yet, but sure I will do it in the future. It would be harder to understand yes (for those who don't speak Portuguese) but to me that's not a problem. For example, I enjoy some German bands that only sings in German, I know almost nothing about German and I still enjoy those songs.

-Don't you think that it's hard to discover something new in such genre as doom or gothic doom? Most of songs' themes become boring and most of musical solutions are standard ones.

-Yes that's true, but that's true for other genres too not only for doom and gothic doom…

-I've checked the page of In Peccatum, another your band, and I would like to ask you about current state of this project for its quiet interesting one, but you know - there always must be practice in studio record-sessions, during gigs… But it's in a case when music became your life in itself.

-With In Peccatum we are promoting our last EP "MDLXIII". While that we are rehearsing and writing new songs for our first Album, which will be recorded next year.

-Sorry for my curiosity but what is your occupation?

-I have a regular job in telecommunications, besides that I run my own studio and an online Gothic Store with my girlfriend.

-Azores Islands are sunny place as I understand how did you come in doom-realm? It's usually when Finnish bands play slow sorrowful music or some stoner-bands take their guitars after smoking of some bad grass.

-Not that sunny! Azores isn't really a "beach destination" like Canarias and so on, Azores is a place where you have beautiful landscapes like Sete Cidades lake and where you can really enjoy the nature. Our roots and tradition are evolved in pain, sadness and loss. In the past we had many volcanic eruption which killed many families, earthquakes that destroyed everything, also the fact of being isolated from the rest of the world… imagine living in a place where you are surrounded by water and the mainland is about 1500km away, all this in the year 1500 or 1600… It's pretty a doomed scenario.

-What can make you happy nowadays?

-In those days, being healthy and enjoying the company of my beloved ones.

-That's all for this time. Thank you for answers. Have you something to say for our readers?

-I would like to thank this opportunity to speak a little bit more about A Dream of Poe and his works; I hope you (the reader) have enjoyed this interview and have a look at my works.
Cheers!

Interview By Aleks Evdokimov
metallibrary.ru
www.myspace.com/dreamofpoe
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