May 31, 2010

The Mourning Dimension - Has Opened

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The Mourning Dimension is the creation of Napalm Dave who my readers would know from the incredible work he did with the Within The Torn Apart project, better known by most as W.T.T.A. While W.T.T.A was like a imprisoned droning beast, The Mourning Dimension is the same beast but this time, freed from the shackles to explore and wander into new dimensions of aural, sonic sound-scapes. This new album titled "Has Opened" is being released on the fairly new "Barren Meadows Recordings" label which has already got some stimulating releases on the horizon. "Has Opened" is a monster of a recording, a colossal epic of extended musical sonic indulgence that contains some 90 minutes or more of atmospheric dirges, sound-scapes, thematic ambiance and also some titanic heavy-laden noise. Just like a movie with a complicated story-line, various ever-changing sub-plots and landscape changes, listening to "Has Opened" gives you a similar experience. Its not for the feeble minded or the short attention span, its a album that is best listened to in full but either strap on some good headphones or turn up loud for full effect.

The journey begins with a intro piece called "The Woods At Night", anyone who has ever spent time camping in a wolf-infested forest will know the vibe and the mood being portrayed here. Nightmarish but more to the point, the feeling something is lurking and ready to make you their next meal. The amount of tension and apprehension on this track re-appears many times throughout the album and this intro prepares you for that. Title track, "Has Opened" is a chilling soundtrack to all our fears. This is music to put you on edge and keep you watching over your shoulder, just like the best of horror soundtracks, its made to create a mood of tension or nervousness and its mastered here perfectly. The music has a macabre kind of ambiance which is unsettling even at its most pleasant and mainstream. Nothing sums that up better than the third track, "In the Dark Residence of Evil". The track puts you the edge of the cliff hanging by a tree branch and basically leaves you hanging there, don't expect some relief in this time of stress as this piece of music offers you none at all. "Sanity Lost" is up next and the title describes it all, the multi-layered keys, synth's and ambient bottom-ended noises create a over-whelming sense of suffocating, isolation and tension verging on crippling.

Multi-dimensional and yet subtle is the albums strong point, as in the fifth track "Broken Doorway" which offers up something different with every spin. The amount of dynamics is also kept in check, unlike other drone / ambient bands that seem to think this genre of music is based in noise and not much more, The Mourning Dimension actually takes the time to create various moods. The loneliness and the sheer maddening tension on "Broken Doorway" is further enhanced by dripping water sounds and while it might not seem that complex to the casual listener, the depth and rich complexity's that lie within the many layers of the pieces opens up the gateway to your deepest imagination. "Blood Dripping Down Part 1" conjures the feelings of desolate wastelands and more sustained tension that builds in intensity even though its a slow and pain-filled process. It takes time to fully absorb the musical thought-processes that must have gone into this but its worth the effort but it may give you some nightmares along the way. One of the best examples of this is "Drying Inside(Blood Is Gone)Part 2", taking cues from what must be horror soundtracks, the track is as colorful as it is threatening in mood but it requires attention from the listener. "The Day I Died" takes that threatening ambiance to its ultimate conclusion, again the feelings of fear and apprehension of something menacing approaching is enough to captivate or equally enough to make you run and hide.

"And Then Comes Suffering" begins with warm, spacey keys and for a short time, a certain peace is maintained. Meditative and soothing for the first half but the track takes a nasty turn to more hellish atmospheres in the second half with buzzing distorted noises. Track 10 is called "Thank God, Its Over", i wonder if Napalm Dave is trying to predict how people will feel by this point in the album, after all this is a rather punishing journey in the realms of extended, droning horror-filled soundtracks. The truth is though, "Thank God, Its Over" is one of the strongest passages of music on "Has Opened". The waves of larger than life sounds engulf and fill your room with almost symphonic 3D sounds that even sound gigantic even on small stereo speakers. Believe me, i have tried it but the depths and ranges of frequencies might prove too much so go easy on the volume. The final track "Green Walls of Glass" is also a dazzling display of classic, well polished atmospheric sound textures that crush the senses and expand the doors of perception. By the time this track runs through its 10 or so minutes, you have a feeling of being dragged through the mud by a madman, taken to hell and back or simply had the most chilling experience of your life (maybe a combination of all three even).

The conclusion is this a thrilling listening experience but to be fair, not a easy one. I don't know if humans were made to endure such pensive music for such a extended period of time but still this is a album best suited to listening from start to finish. It can be listened to like a movie soundtrack or as a ambient journey into a dark, unforgiving place but i guess its up to your own imagination or musical tastes at what angle you approach to listening to a such a mesmerizing, engaging piece of work like this. It takes a step away from his previous project( W.T.T.A) and is less drone-heavy and more ambient overall but its also the best produced and well mixed recording this man has ever put together. While its lighter on the droning qualities of his previous recordings, it still crushes with sonic, over-powering sound that has so much depth it has a "surround sound" vibe about it even through a small 2 speaker system. Its a monumental recording that will excite the drone / ambient music fan the most but will also appeal to soundtrack lovers, especially the hardcore horror type. Highly recommend you take the time to check this one out, its certainly one of the best albums of its kind i have ever heard. 9.5/10
Barren Meadows Recordings

What Part Of No More Spam Don't You Understand ?

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Well i was forced to have a four day break while i moved house and come back here to find the site bombarded with SPAM comments and petty criticism's. I know this is a waste of time saying this but no more SPAM, no more links to your home business, get rich quick money making schemes. No more links to sites that have nothing to do with music either. I don't mind criticism's at all but as i have pointed out many times before, the older posts are mostly crap. Nobody knows this better than me so i don't need to be reminded of it everyday. I am also not about to go through some 200 posts and re-write or re-edit all of them. Thank you.

May 27, 2010

The Wizar'd - Pathways Into Darkness

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Hailing from Hobart, Australia you couldn't live in a more un-doom type situation but that is exactly where the band "The Wizar'd live which gives them more reason to play Stoner-Doom and piss people off with their musical monolithic rumblings. The story is that they are regarded as crap by the majority of the "metal" fans in the area and are completely at odds with all other Metal bands and fans in the entire state of Tasmania. How true this is, i really don't know but if it is true it shows the real dedication and passion they must have for this type of music. That passion is obvious in their new album "Pathways Into Darkness" which is a step up in quality after the last album they did called "Infernal Wizardry" which was a pretty good release anyway. A large part Stoner and Traditional Doom and smaller but significant part "New Wave Of British Heavy Metal", they have their influences displayed proudly in the grooves on this recording. Add to that some cheesy "Hammer Horror" for inspiration and you get a sound that could be classed as Australia's version of The Lamp Of Thoth. The only real bummer about the album is the running length, only 33 minutes which is pretty disappointing for a full length release.

There is very little in the way of originality on this release but from what i know about the members, they couldn't really give a s**t. They play because they enjoy the music and really don't care what anybody thinks and that also comes out in the songs, they really sound like they are having a blast making this music. The album starts with the title track "Pathways Into Darkness" which is a slow, crushingly heavy slab of groovy Stoner Doom with memorable riffing, even though you get the feeling you have heard the riffs before, it still makes you think this band could be huge in the underground one day (just maybe). The big step i mentioned comes in the actual song-writing, the title track and others don't rely so much on droning riffs like the previous album did. It's more concise, catchy but very heavy songwriting on these songs and "Pathways Into Darkness" is up there with the best tracks on the album. "Disease From The East" is the perfect follower to the opening track continuing in a similar vein while the next track "Rainbow's End" is where the album really reaches a peak and stays there till right up the final seconds of the album. Its a prefect hybrid of Traditional Doom and early 80's metal sounds that mesh together in a inspirational track. The musicianship has also taken a giant step forward, everything seems tighter than it ever was before.

"Frankie's Dungeon" is the albums apex, the top of the mountain you could say. A mini epic at 6 minutes, the song is total mournful heaviness and the solo from O'l Rusty is blistering. "Living Dead" is short, straight to the point with a punchy, infectious riff. If there was to ever be a single lifted of the album, it would be this one. "Some Like It Dead" on the other hand is just crushing, plain and simple again with riffs that sound familiar but killer at the same time. The song is a little long for the limited musical ideas but still very effective. The final track "Agents Of Misfortune" is too short for its own good and i mean that in a good way. When you have something cool happening, you should keep it going longer than this but oh well, who am i to complain anyway. "Pathways Into Darkness" is a simple enough album to be called basic but played with a passion and a feel of a band that knows how to put together a good tune. The nasally vocals of Ol Rusty will still put some people off the band, i dig his voice myself but it is obvious some folks may find it a little grating to the nerves. The Wizar'd have mastered the old-school approach to heaviness and if you dig Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Candlemass and the before mentioned The Lamp Of Thoth, you will dig this album. They mix good old heavy music with a quirky sense of humor not to mention the obvious taste for a beer or ten. Its too short for a album but i guess that just means you have to play it even more. This is only their second full length album but their ninth recording overall so they obviously have no shortage of ideas and riffs in their black metallic blood. Worth investigating. 8/10

The Wizar'd@Myspace
Official Page

The Doommantia Forum Is Open For Business

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A forum has been created for us Doom fans. Talk about your favorite bands, post a album review, promote your band or next live show. The board is still under construction but its up and working now. Please register, you will need to click the activation link once it is sent your email. Once activated, read the rules before posting. I will be adding a lot more to the site in the coming weeks. Click the banner or link below to register.


May 25, 2010

Briton Rites - For Mircalla

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If you thought 2010 couldn't get any better for Doom Metal releases, think again. I present to you a review of one of the best Heavy/Doom Metal albums of the year and one of the most classic albums ever made in the Traditional Old-School Doom Metal genre. The line up of Phil Swanson(vocals) from Hour of 13 fame, Howie Bentley(guitar and bass) and Corbin King(drums) have put together a monumental piece of work to rival anything else released in the genre in recent years. The mastermind behind most of the music is Howie Bentley who also played with Cauldron Born but its been 8 long years since we have been treated of his magical approach to riff-making. This is a album of real Traditional Heavy Doom, not the growling Death-Doom kind or the depressive Funeral doom kind. This is balls-out, heads down and banging all the way, slow head-banging but headbanging just the same. This is music based on tales of the occult, lovecraftian gods, vampires, know the good old stuff that the forefathers of Doom wrote about. Black Sabbath, Witchfinder General and their kind are obvious influences but Briton Rites takes that blueprint and not only nails the style but breathes new life into it at the same time.

What makes this riff-fest so irresistible is the incredibly delicious thick, distorted guitar sound that has a incredibly warm tone. There is also Swanson's limited but charismatic vocals, a bass sound that Geezer Butler would be proud of and then you have a thunderous drum sound that is huge but still with the finesse and feel of the very best of the 70's era Hard Rock. Its not all about fuzzy guitar though, "For Mircalla" is packed full of magical hooks, atmosphere and great crushing, suffocating heaviness that doesn't quit throughout the entire 66 minute album. The catchy irresistible hooks begin in the opening track "Carmilla", so infectious that you feel immediately that you are listening to something already within the realms of timeless classic metal. The 8 minutes seems more like 8 seconds because of the incredible nature of the riffing and melody lines and its only the first track. You have nearly a hour of monster riffs to go yet. The second track "A Meeting in the Woods" is darker, creepier but with more subtle but effective musical hooks. While the band wont win any awards for originality, it makes up for it by just delivering classic riff after classic riff. So good is the riffs, its like the feeling you got hearing "Volume 4" for the first time. The lyrics are a little cliche, a song about doing some devil worshiping in the woods is hardly breaking down any barriers but when its deliver by Phil Swanson's Ozzy-esque vocals, it has a certain timeless character about it that is golden. "Vampire Hunter, 1600" continues the onslaught of earth shattering dense riffs but it also features a bass line to die for. The blend of chugging Sabbathian riffs, Hammer horror movie type themes and the deadly atmospheric sound could be considered cheesy but hell, Witchfinder General were cheesy but awesome anyway.

"The Right Hand Of Doom" is the shortest track and its still over 6 minutes of churning, chugging riffs and blistering solo's that send you into a uncontrollable state of hypnotic neck movements. It is all served up in a bubbling cauldron with more catchy riffage and entertaining story-telling. The ten minute "The Exorcism of Tanith" is maybe the most infectious 10 minutes i have heard in years, its real hard to stay this damn catchy for so long but somehow they manage it with ease. This track is maybe the most lively track on the album but still fits in more killer, crushing, chugging riffing and majestic solos than most bands fit on a entire album. Where as a lot of Doom bands find a good riff and dragged it out for the entire length of a song, Brition Rites has so many unstoppable ideas that each monumental passage has its place and is used to perfection, no riff outstays its welcome. "All-Hallowed Vengeance" is more Sabbath worship that builds from a poetic dirge at the beginning to a indestructible up-tempo kick ass section at the end. This monster of a track is based around Richard L. Tierney’s poem of the same name. If you think if you have heard it all wait till the last installment of majestic Doom Metal which is the 13 minute final track "Karnstein Castle". This track features the vocals of Howie Bentley and they sound great, its a pity his voice wasn't used more on this album but that is a small gripe. "Karnstein Castle" is epic, majestic, enchanting and monolithic and includes some of the most massive riffing to be found on "For Mircalla". The vocals of Bentley are full of charm, deep and clean all at the same time, he has a perfect voice for Doom Metal. Like all the tracks on the disc, it has a irresistible flow that never dulls despite the extended running time. When the tune comes to a abrupt stop, you are left shattered but thrilled at hearing such a amazing album. I listen to this disc 6 hours straight when i first got it and it still left me wanting more.

This is the work of a band that understands the technical aspects of Heavy Metal songwriting but even more important they know how to structure a good tune. There is a endless amount of killer riffs but the songs themselves are epic in every conceivable way. Its also unique in blending intelligence with off-beat, quirky themes. I am guessing if criticisms do occur when people review this album, they will mostly be pointing the finger at Phil Swanson's vocals. Its true he hasn't got the most exciting vocal range in the business of Doom Metal but i dig his charismatic Doom rantings. When compared to other bands in the business of old-school Doom Metal, i think Briton Rites wins on all counts, its not a landslide but i can't think of another band who has made a such flawless album like this one. This is music that will bring a smile to the face, a musical hard-on in the pants and over a hour of pure head-banging enjoyment. Load your bong and fill the fridge with beer when you first sit down with "Briton Rites's For Mircalla" because you wont be able to turn this one off for a long time. In the field of old-school Doom Metal, this is best album I’ve heard this year so far. 10/10

Briton Rites
Briton Rites MySpace
Echoes Of Crom Records

Zoroaster - Matador

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Zoroaster are a band to never been content with sticking with one sound or a certain formula, 2007’s Dog Magic and 2009’s Voice of Saturn saw the band pushing in different directions and now with their new album "Matador" about to be released on the E1 Music label, they are again trying something different. While the band still remains within the realms of Psychedelic Doom, Matador does show hints at a more assessable approach to the way they write songs. Don't worry though, this is still very much in the Doom mold but with more and shorter songs this time around, the album does sound like it was made for a wider audience. Just like High On Fire made some subtle but noticeable changes in direction with their latest effort also on the E1 label, Zoroaster have followed a similar route. I'm not trying to bring up some kind of conspiracy angle here but the change is obvious from one spin of the disc.

From the opening track, "D.N.R" you get a good taste of the changes made as its less avant-garde than previous works and more typical of what you hear in the Doom Metal genre. There is still some heavy-duty Stoner Rock riffing but the overall feel is much more spacious and traditional for the want of a better word but with a very spacey vibe. While the opener is good, the second track "Ancient Ones" is even better. Based around heavy rhythms and a classic Zoroaster approach to songwriting, its a good track but the short running time is a bit of a let-down. After all the band has made their name by creating long, slow building pieces rather than ones straight to the point like this tune. "Odyssey" is more on the space-rock end of the Zoroaster spectrum but to be perfectly honest, even after about 10 times of listening to the track i still can't remember much about it. "Trident" has some killer solo work from guitarist/vocalist Will Fiore and is surprisingly infectious for a Zoroaster song. The sudden rush of energy the song delivers is a breath of fresh air at this point of the album and i wish the album had more songs like this one. At the halfway point on Matador you get "Firewater" and this time, the band has created a total keeper. Full of groove, mind-bending solo's, guitar noise and feedback, its a short but powerful piece. "Old World" takes the band to spacier Doom vibes and its also more of a throw-back to the sounds of early Om, its still Zoroaster but the feel of the song is more in-tune with sounds from many years ago.

"Black Hole" is next and it brings the album back to the aggressive approach like what is heard in the song "Trident". It also features one of the best riffs on Matador and yet again Will Fiore delivers some great solo work but in the great tradition of trying something different each time, he uses a echo unit of some kind to great effect. By the time the second to last track "Odyssey II" comes along, you have given up on trying to compare Matador with previous albums, its no "Dog Magic" but its trying hard not to be. "Odyssey II" is basically a interlude setting the mood for the closing and title track "Matador". Again the mood is shifted and the style takes another direction and a life of its own. After a very slow and long build up, the song finally takes off into the realms of dramatic, prog-doom which only gets heavier as the songs progresses. Even though the track is based around a lot of ambiance, the overall mood is dark, menacing and eerie. The final section of Matador sees Zoroaster setting up a killer grooves, sound effects that engulf the senses and feedback. The feeling you get after hearing this track is one of pure exhaustion and i am sure that is the exact effect they were after when recording the song. "Matador" sounds like a album made to destroy minds but impress the more mainstream metal media all at the same time. They should achieve both those goals with this album. How this stands up against previous work, is totally up to you, the listener. Personally, i find it to have a few gray areas but a lot of highlights too. Its also a album that demands several listens to fully appreciate and don't fall into the trap of comparing it to earlier albums. Zoroaster have again made a great album in its own right and one that deserves to stand out on its own in your Doom Metal collection.

Conclusion time - I can already hear some old Zoroaster fans bitching about its the not the same as "Dog Magic" or "Voice of Saturn". I can also hear the elitist types crying about "they are on E1 music" so now they have sold out just like High On Fire". This is of course completely untrue because like High On Fire, Zoroaster have taken another step forward in becoming the music legends they already are but the more mainstream media is still yet to accept. "Matador" is a powerful, ambitious piece of work that is full of surprises and it gets better with every spin so i will rate this album but ignore my scorecard because its likely to change. 8/10

Zopticon - Promo EP

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Formed in 2008 in Nashville by brothers Miketrain(guitar) and Jeremiah(guitar) along with drummer Chris Vondrakula, Zopticon are one of the best kept secrets in the underground metal scene. I didn't know a thing about them till a beautifully put together promo-package arrived at my door and this is a shout out to all bands out there sending me promos, presentation does make a difference but back to Zopticon. The band became at full strength when they recruited Brandt Cooley on vocals and bassist Extrude 2.0 and quickly got to work on creating something a little different from the norm in metal. Zopticon blends Thrash Metal, Stoner Metal, Progressive elements and Sludge Metal riffs into a sound that is both thunderous as it musically challenging. This four track shows great potential for the future and i will tell you why.

The EP kicks off with "The Judgment Drive" and its a swirling, twisting turning mass of sludgy riffage, complex guitar runs, stops and starts but they also find the time to insert some great vocal melody lines. At first the band "Mastodon" comes to mind as a reference point but in my opinion Zopticon deliver where as Mastodon fails and that is the field of arrangement. "The Judgment Drive" keeps you guessing throughout and even at the end of the track, a second play is needed just to absorb all the musical trickery that has gone into the song. Its a brilliant piece of sonic musical fury that is intense and from a musicianship standpoint, jaw-dropping! "Artificial Control" is less hectic than the opener but has more Psychedelic groove and swagger. Its also has more infectious melodies and the guitar work is bordering on spectacular, the lead guitar soars with a majestic tone and while its not as "in your face" as "The Judgment Drive", it succeeds through some incredible musicianship. "Requiem For A Mute-Bot" is a mid-tempo groover with more unpredictable time signatures and beat changes and the vocal melody in the chorus is also unique in its delivery. The songs are keep pretty short which keeps the impact at a high level but i wish some of their riffs were a little more repetitive. "Requiem For A Mute-Bot" features a couple of killer riffs but they come and go so fast that its hard to get into a vibe listening to them.

The final track "Glass Image" is another eclectic mix of different genres all rolled into one. The main highlight of the song is the ominous sounds coming from the guitars, at times its scary, other times its haunting and melancholic. The diversity of the arrangement and the different musical textures contained within ensure its real hard to get bored by all this. "Glass Image" is a great track and a fitting way to end this short but exciting EP. A couple of points i must make however, the production for my tastes is a little too polished. I love big drum sounds just as much as the next metal-head but they sound a little too machine-like at times for me and the songs don't hook into a solid groove too often. It has nothing to do with the musical skills of Zopticon, their expertise is breath-taking in the extreme but the songs would be better served by longer sections of the great riffs as here the killer passages of music come and go in a blink of a eye. However, this is band is real good and most likely to appeal to fans of more Progressive Metal meets Sludge Metal type of bands like Mastodon and Baroness. Give them a listen, you will be impressed by their sonic ability. 8.5/10

New Releases From Solitude Productions

As Light Dies – Ars Subtilior From Within The Cage

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The second full-length album from Spanish band. The band fuses death metal, dark metal, folk and gothic metal in their music combining growl with clean male and female vocals and adorning it with enchanting violin solos. The result would become a discovery for fans of heavy and beautiful music. Mixed and mastered during the spring of 2009 by Dan Swano in Unisound studios (Edge of Sanity, Novembre, Opeth, Katatonia, Theatre Of Tragedy)!

Fading Waves / Starchitect "Split CD"

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The first release of post rock/metal label Slow Burn Records is a split of two young bands Fading Waves and Starchitect. This CD demonstrates to a listener two side of post-metal genre: airiness and reverie by Russian band Fading Waves on the one hand and on the other hand, - hardness and severity mixed with refinement by Ukranian band Starchitect. This CD will become a gem in every collection: the booklet is embossed with gold, and the CD has pit-art and is gold-plated.

The activity of Slow Burn Records label is aimed for promotion of the actual post-rock, post-metal and post-hardcore music. Until now there existed no label oriented to such genres in Russia, and now the time has come! Slow Burn Records starts to act with the split-album of two young and perspective bands.
Label's site -

The Howling Void "Shadows Over The Cosmos"

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The second album of project of the talented musician Ryan reveals new masterpiece of symphonic funeral doom metal!

"Shadows Over The Cosmos" has a potential to become a master form of the genre along with best pieces of such bands as Colosseum and Ea: five endless tracks of majestic funeral doom filled with cold enigma and infinity of Cosmos. This sincere music will capture the listener until the very last second opening the beauty of Creation before him. Additional sense is brought by a picture called “Thaw” by a Russian painter of 19th century Feodor Vasilyev used in the artwork:. The CD is printed with pit-art and gold plated.

Ophis "Withered Shades"

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The second full-length album of German band. New material, even more harsh and gloomy is professionally produced and ready both to bring joy to old fans of traditional doom-death metal and to attract interest of those who just has started to get familiar with the genre. "Withered Shades" accumulated heavy riffs and acoustic passages, combined dynamic parts and atmospheric interludes.

The new album of Ophis is a new precious book in the world library of doom.

The Sullen Route "Madness Of My Own Design"

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The debut album of young Russian band from Volgograd continues traditions of death/doom metal and represents the band as talented professional musicians. String material created without keyboards and other trend features will suit the tastes of fans of uncompromising death/doom in the vein of Mourning Beloveth, Process Of Guilt and Ataraxie.

Mournful Gust "She’s My Grief… Decade"
(release date 06.06.2010)

Mournful Gust "She’s My Grief… Decade"

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Re-issue of the legendary album of Ukrainian gothic doom death metal band! The album material is fully remastered and is supplemented with a bonus CD containing demo of 2006 "The Frankness Eve", cover versions of Mournful Gust songs by invited musicians and "With Every Suffering" video from the actual album. Enforced by new power "She's My Grief" album proves to be still state-of-the-art piece of music.

You can listen preview of all our releases at our Site, Last.FM pages and MySpace

Web store -

Solitude Prod - Russian Doom Metal Label

Reviews for all these releases will published over the next month

May 24, 2010

Vinum Sabbatum - Songs from the Convent

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For the last few years the late 60's and early 70's Hard Rock experience has been getting revisited by literally hundreds of bands, most of them have created some real quality music while a few have been doing nothing much more than simply jumping upon some kind of Psychedelic bandwagon. Another band that has seemed to hitched its wagon to the Psychedelic era is Finnish retro-rockers Vinum Sabbatum who have signed a 3 album deal with Eyes Like Snow Records which has made a name for themselves by specializing in various fields of Doom, Classic Heavy Rock/Metal and Psychedelic Rock. This limited edition digipak release is a 5 track demo but with the production of a official release and overall its a good 26 minutes of Psyched out Doomy Rock in the late 60's/early 70's vein. They have already been given the Doom Metal tag by some which to me seems a bit misleading as for the most part this band is more in-tune with the sounds of Atomic Rooster than Black Sabbath not that there is anything wrong with that.

"Demon Dance" does have a heavy dose of flattened notes in the classic Tony Iommi style but the bulk of the song is made up with late 60's Progressive Rock meets Psyche Rock vibes. Chugging riffs give out a doomy vibe in parts but the song mostly bubbles along in boogie mode that is not too far removed from the first Warhorse album recorded in 1970. Its all pretty good stuff however and the licks coming from the guitar solo really capture the essence of classic early proto-metal sounds. The second track is stronger than the first, its called "Witch Woman" and it features some great vocal lines from singer Janne Salo. Keyboards are a little too loud and annoying in parts but the feel of the song is one of pure moody Psychedelia and its a grower, i didn't like the tune too much at first but it gets better with every spin of the disc. "Angel of Mourning" is the closet thing to real Doom Metal on "Songs from the Convent". Kicking off the song is a classic organ tone creating a slightly ominous mood but as the track progresses it gets even darker and certainly more doomy. "Angel Of Mourning" has more depth in the song-writing than the rest of the songs which a little bit on the simplistic side of the Retro-Rock spectrum. "Angel Of Mourning" stands out in my opinion as the best offering on the EP.

"Ramblin Dues" is also a great tune, it stomps along like a poor-mans Deep Purple with plenty of early 70's gusto. Its a spirited performance on this track that is a automatic winner with a classic, infectious groove. The final track is also good, titled "Sunrise of Tomorrow" it comes close to "Angel Of Mourning" for being instantly memorable. Blessed with a great attempt at capturing the Black Sabbath vibe, it grooves and pulsates for all of its 6 minutes. The last half of the track is especially awesome as they let the Black Sabbathisms take full control. To sum up i will have to say the second half is much better than the first but overall it has a classic vibe about it. I am not too sure how much they have to offer the Doom fan or even the Metal fan for that matter but i also have a hunch that they have much better material than these five tracks in the works. One thing is certain however, they have managed to capture the feel and the essence of late 60's/early 70's Progressive/Hard Rock and have done it better than a lot of other bands. I will be looking forward to future releases from this band because i get the feeling "Songs from the Convent" is only the beginning and there is much better things to come. 7/10

Grand Magus - Hammer Of The North Promo Video

With the new album to be unleashed very soon, i give you a teaser with this new Grand Magus Promo Video for the title track, "Hammer Of The North". I will have a review up as soon as i can get my sweaty palms on a copy. Till then enjoy this video.

Grand Magus
Grand Magus @ MySpace

Get In The Void - A Interview With Iron Void's Steve & Sealey

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In order to play Traditional Doom Metal, there is several key ingredients that are needed and Iron Void has all of them so if you are looking to discover what real Trad-Doom sounds like, look no further than this band from the UK. Since starting out in 1998, Iron Void have built up a steady following and reputation in the UK and around the world in underground Doom Metal circles as one of the leading bands in the genre. They play with a real love and passion for Doom Metal and it comes out in their songs that are rich in a quality that only a Traditional Doom band can have. A lot has happened in the last year or so including the release of the excellent "Spell Of Ruin" EP and a new label "Doomanoid Records. In this interview with Steve (Guitar & Vocals) and Sealey (Bass & Vocals), we get a insight into both subjects as well as exciting plans for the future. Doom On.

1. Well it was a surprise to me our last interview was way back in 2008, it didn't seem that long ago. A lot must have happened with Iron Void since then. Apart from the EP which i will get to shortly, what has been the highlights and low-lights for the band during that time?

Sealey: It doesn't seem that long ago for me either! I would say the highlights would have to be the Doomsday All-Dayers which i created to celebrate my birthday. We had Pagan Altar headline the 1st one and The Prophecy headlined the last one in February this year. Awesome line ups for both gigs and plenty of beer was consumed by all in attendance! We've also played a lot of shows the length and breadth of the UK and met a lot of new friends and supporters along the way. The low lights would be Steve's father passing away last year and my van breaking down recently, which meant we had to cancel our Birmingham gig with Grimpen Mire and Pombagira - it's been off the road for 2 months and it's still not fixed!

Steve : When I see 2008 written down, it does seem a while back. Sealey is quite right though - my Dad's illness was very difficult. I probably won't be the same again after that. The van seems to develop new problems every time it's looked at. I still have the hope that it will start up again soon. So they were the low-lights. The highlight has been getting the first copies of the EP and the Doomsday all dayers - Especially the last one when Misty Morning came over from Italy and did two shows with us. Lord Vicar are lined up for the next one in September. I hope it being on a Sunday doesn't harm the turn out too much. People should get the Monday off. It's worth it!

2. Do you think the UK Doom Metal scene has changed in any way since our last interview, is it any better or worse?

Sealey: Well, we've lost a few quality bands such as Misericorde, Warning and Nord, which is a real shame, but our good friends, The Lamp of Thoth and Witchsorrow are still going strong and there are some fantastic new bands coming up such as Groan, who will be releasing their debut album later this year through Steve's label, Doomanoid Records and Serpent Venom from London are also ace, so the British scene is still alive and well!

Steve : There seem to be more new bands than then. That might just be because we've been out gigging and started meeting them all. From what I've been told, we should really get over to Europe and play, particularly Germany. The Lamp of Thoth get over there as often as they can. I think we should try and do the same. But day to day gigs are hit and miss as far as the turnout goes. We went to see Cathedral in Manchester the other week and the venue was packed, so it may just be the smaller gigs that are suffering. People do tend to buy drink at home and spend less on gigs. The Snooty Fox has kept us going recently. We stopped playing the Leopard (where LIVE 2008 was recorded) as the turnout was getting poor (sometimes 3 or 4 people!). It could have lead us to think no one liked the band. But that's obviously not true. There's always been a different culture in South Yorkshire, and much less oriented towards metal and doom, as opposed to West Yorks who have produced some classic bands such as Solstice and TLOT (and now us I hope).

3. The "Spell Of Ruin" EP was a long time coming, what was the hardest part about getting the EP released?

Sealey: In a word, money! We're not very well off, we kinda live from day to day and raising the funds to release and record the CD was definitely hard work. Steve had to finance pressing the CD's himself cos me and Diz were in a bad financial situation. We do this shit cos we love it, we never make any money really and i know a load of other ace bands that are in the same situation, but fuck it, we'd go mad if we didn't do this!

Steve : We recorded it in January and it wasn't released 'til April. It was mainly the money that delayed us. We were going to pay an equal share but we didn't all have the money. Luckily I'd saved enough for the first 100. I've made it back already from sales online and a few at gigs so it was worth the risk. There's still some left I'll be repressing more soon. In the end it worked out because it gave us more time to fine tune the cover design and get it looking as we wanted it. It was going to be released as a demo but in the end we went for the label so it would get more reviews and a better packaging for fans.

4. Now when you sit back to listen to it, would you like to change anything about it or are you pretty happy about the way it turned out?

Sealey: I'm very happy with the way the EP sounds, we mastered it quite loud, so it blasts out of the speakers, that was intentional, but a few people have complained that the vocals sound a bit distant and you can't hear the snare very well, but overall, I'm very pleased with it and feel a great sense of pride to finally release it cos it's been 10 years coming since the original Iron Void lineup planned to release it as a demo recording. However, if we can improve on what we've done already I'm sure our future recordings will be even better.

Steve : The loud master came about because we were worried about getting a low-volume sound, kind of a demo sound. Steve offered to master it for us for no extra cost, so we went with it. Sound-wise I think it sounds like a real record, which is a big step up from 2008's makeshift live demo. Dare I say it's too loud? Depends how loud you turn it up! The snare is audible, depends on how you've EQ'd the stereo.

5. Would it be fair to say, the tracks on the EP are all pretty old songs and would you say they were the obvious picks for the EP?

Sealey: 'Spell of Ruin' was written 10 years ago and the lyrics were written by our original vocalist, Paul Whale, who is now in an acoustic folk band, Beneath The Oak with ex- Cathedral guitarist, Adam Lehan. The other 3 songs have been written in the last 3 years and we just picked the songs that we thought would go well together as an EP in terms of mood and style. We have plenty of other songs which have yet to have been recorded properly.

Steve : I remember Spell of Ruin from the original Iron Void lineup. I could still remember it in 2007 when Sealey started teaching it to me. I thought it would be worth using if I could still remember it after all that time. We chose Conflict Inside and Demon Drink because we knew what we wanted them to sound like with a full production. They came out exactly as we imagined, every part we wrote has made it on there, along with some extra guitar ideas from Simon.

6. How is all your equipment standing up to all the gigs you have been doing, have you had many blown amps or large repair bills?

Sealey: Our amps and guitars are fine really, i hardly ever use my own bass amps at gigs cos there's always one already there, the thing that's cost us is my van and Steve's car, so if anyone out there fancies being our driver/roadie, then please do not hesitate to get in touch! (Laughs).

Steve : My guitar is being held together with gaffer tape but it plays 100%. I only got my Laney stack last summer, so it's still like new. I do have an old 1964 Carlsbro head that needs some looking after. I need it changing down to 4ohms to work with my new cab - til then I can't test it really. My spare guitar cab was ruined by some unknown band at a rehearsal room in Doncaster and needs repairs. We've been lucky from gigs though. Only item I've replaced is my Cry baby wah, which I dropped at a gig in Bolton! It was cheaper to get a new one. I might get a spare soon as it is part of my sound and I don't want to go without it for ages as I had to when I broke the other one. Diz's gear is lasting well too, but stuff will wear out.

7. Since our last interview, what has been the best or most memorable shows you have done?

Sealey: The Doomsday shows were awesome, but i also really enjoyed playing with Iron Hearse and Leather Nun America in London recently and the Re-Animator show in Wolverhampton last year was great too, they were amongst my faves, as well as every time we play at our local, The Snooty Fox, great atmosphere, great people and cheap beer!

Steve : Wolverhampton was great. A long day though. It was the first time I've seen Dark Forest and they blew the crowd away. As I mentioned earlier, the last Doomsday gig with Misty Morning was another highlight and the Leather Nun gig too of course. I think the best shows are still to come.

8. You are also putting together the Doomsday Fest bi-annually now. Can you tell the readers about the event?

Sealey: Yeah, I decided to put it on twice a year due to the amount of bands wanting to play and the next one, Doomsday III will be on Sunday 5th September at The Snooty Fox, Wakefield (watch it online, see for details), the lineup is as follows - Lord Vicar (Headliners), The Lamp of Thoth, Iron Void, Dark Forest, Serpent Venom, Asomvel, Dead Existence & End Times. This lineup is a bit more varied than previous ones with the inclusion of NWOBHM and Sludge bands as well as the usual assortment of trad -Doom bands. Tickets are £5 advance, or £8 on the door available from the venue or via Doomanoid Records & Distribution - Established 2009or by emailing
I'm also planning Doomsday IV, which will take place at the same venue on Saturday 12th February 2011. The bands confirmed so far include Nomad Son (Malta), The Prophecy, Iron Void, Arkham Witch and Iron Hearse, with more tbc very soon!

Steve : I'll have a merch table at the September one, with all the current CD's and I should have the Iron Void patch done by then too. These must be the cheapest ticket prices you'll find anywhere too.

9. I am also putting together a Doom Festival myself in Seattle in August and have been a bit stressed about the amount of work involved. Do these shows come together easily for you because i really admire now the people that organized these shows, its much harder than it looks.

Sealey: It's a lot of hard work and financially taxing, but the end result is always worth it! I'm fortunate that i have a lot of contacts, but I'm always looking out for other Doom bands to play. The best thing about it is that i can promote bands that i like that most people haven't heard of and also classic bands that rightfully deserve the opportunity to headline the event.

Steve : Sealey puts a lot of hours in emailing and phoning all the bands and organizing the set times etc. as well as everything else. I've taken some of the work and expense out of it for him by designing the posters. It's all done by us which is how we manage to keep the price low.

10. Do you think the average Doom fan gives much thought to the work that goes into these shows? I get the feeling most just take it for granted.

Sealey: Probably not, i didn't realize till i started promoting shows how much work is involved. I think more people should get involved in promoting shows though, it's not that difficult and i work full time as well, so there's no excuse why anybody else shouldn't do it as well!

Steve : They don't really see the behind the scenes work. It is harder than it looks.

11. Now that the EP is out there, what is the plans for a full length album? You must be dying to get one released.

Sealey: We certainly have enough material to release a full length album, it's just raising the necessary funds to record and release it. It'll be a year or two before it is done unless some label is willing to finance the recording in the meantime. We also have grand plans for a 2nd album, which will be a concept album based on the Arthurian legends.

Steve : Because we have enough songs already written, we should be able to write the 2nd one while getting the first ready. The concept album is quite ambitious. We've been talking of getting some guest musicians in and additional vocals on some parts too. We best get the first one done yet before getting too deep into it though.

12. Has the "Spell Of Ruin" EP had much in the way of reviews so far and what has the reaction been like so far to the EP?

Sealey: We've only had a couple of reviews so far, they have been generally very positive, but we have had some comments about the snare sound being weak and a dig at the lyrics being a bit juvenile! I don't mind, I don't write this shit for other people, i write it to keep myself sane!

Steve : I have to say it keeps me busty, don't know about sane. The lyrics thing surprised me. I always thought we were one of the few bands with interesting lyrics. Some people are looking for a different thing though.

13. How would you recommend people go about buying the EP?

Sealey: You can buy it online at Doomanoid Records & Distribution - Established 2009 or by emailing

Steve : Yep, go to the label website and there's a PayPal button.

14. I was talking to a friend in the music business a couple of days ago and he suggested the US metal scene is in a state of free- fall. There is more bands than ever before but less venues and even less support for underground metal music. What is your opinion on the current state of the underground scene, not only from a music standpoint but also from a business point of view?

Sealey: It is tough out there at the moment, people have been suffering financially for a long time and most people are staying in and can't be bothered or can't afford to go out and watch live bands at present. It's sad, but what can we do? People need Doom Metal more than ever in this day and age! We don't make much money from playing shows, usually just enough to cover our fuel costs if anything! I have to say though, there are plenty of venues in the UK that support underground Metal, which is great!

Steve : We're mainly a live band, so I can see where Sealey is coming from. On the label side of things, I've had a lot of orders from Europe and Scandinavia, mainly Germany, Sweden and Norway. I've even had a couple of orders from Australia. There are fans out there but they're quite scattered with the exception of Europe.

15. Obviously you enjoy playing live so i was wondering will there ever be a point where playing in the same country or city would become a bit tedious for you? Also is there any plans for a widespread tour?

Sealey: We are just about to go on a short mini-tour with our good friends, Pilgrim Fathers & Between Two Thieves for a 4 date trek around the UK. We would love to play play some European shows though, so if any promoters out there wish to book us, please get in touch!

Steve : Europe is our next goal. We'll be looking towards that now the EP is out.

16. So what is in the water or beer in the UK? I haven't heard a bad band from the British Metal scene in years. Do you ever sit back and think how lucky you are to be surrounded by so many killer and influential bands?

Sealey: I feel very proud to have been born and raised in the same city that gave birth to Metal legends such as Black Sabbath & Judas Priest - Birmingham!

Steve : I do sometimes. The Doomsday bill is usually all British. The bands are of a very high standard usually. I'm sure there are some terrible ones but they probably don't last long! I think it's the combination of the weather, the economy and the society that cause this sort of will to make heavy metal. It started off as a way to release frustration and stress and I think it will always have that. Coming from the home of Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Sabbath, even The Beatles (which led to Sabbath) must have an effect. There's a lot of musical heritage here.

17. In our last interview, you said the band gets more support on the Internet than you do at home which doesn't surprise me really. It seems harder than ever to get people away from their computers and actually get to a show. Do you share my view that computers and technology is destroying interaction between humans these days, most people would rather text-message someone than actually talk to them.

Sealey: I totally agree with you Ed, it's such a sad state of affairs. I would much rather go out and have a blast with my friends than sitting at home on my laptop, any-day! Shame there's so many many people who feel more comfortable sitting behind their computer screen, rather than interacting with people in the real world!

Steve : It has good and bad points. The 'net helps us to keep in touch with people from all over the world without spending a fortune on phone calls or writing to people. This interview is online for one thing. If there was no internet, we'd have to spend money on a magazine advert and hope people ordered the EP. There would be no myspace page for people to listen to either which would lessen our chance of making new fans. The other side is it has the potential to make us into a stay at home society rather than face to face communication. I've had facebook messages from people who walk past me in real life. It can get a bit weird.

18. From that negative, rather depressing question to a more positive one. What is the rest of the year looking like for Iron Void?

Sealey: It's looking pretty good, we've got more shows coming up and we should be re-entering the recording studio in the next few months to record a new and an old track for a vinyl split release if all goes well.

Steve : One of the two tracks will go on Planet Doom Volume Two which should be ready by the end of August. We'll look for a label to release the other new track as a split vinyl if they can find the right band. I don't have the money to make it myself this side of next year.

19. Do you think a band can do too many gigs and do you think over exposure from too many live shows kills a interest in the band?

Sealey: You may be right Ed, we've been getting on each others nerves a bit recently with the amount of shows we've been playing (laughs), but i live to play live, so I'm not gonna stop anytime soon! If people can make the effort to show up and support underground Metal, then that's great, if they can't then i don't wanna know! I think people are spoiled for choice these days with gigs though, there's a lot of shows these days and people can't afford to go to every one like they used to.

Steve : We might ease off playing locally for a while and do a few out of town gigs while we finish off some new songs. We were talking of doing a stretch of gigs then taking a break (just doing the odd one) then doing another long stretch. We haven't tried that method yet. It might help us avoid burning out and over exposing the band in the same places.

20. Ok, that is enough questions for now, damn 20 questions already! Any last words for the readers?

Sealey: Just wanna say thanks to you Ed for the interview, always a pleasure, and i hope you guys out there enjoy 'Spell of Ruin', Doom on!!! See ya on the Road to Ruin!!!

Steve : Thanks for the interview. I've promoted the label enough in this one I think. I hope you enjoy our music and we will be back with more very soon.
Doomanoid Records & Distribution - Established 2009

May 23, 2010

Black Sabbath - Paranoid ( Classic Albums DVD )

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The making of Black Sabbath's Paranoid is the latest in the Classic Albums DVD series put out by Eagle Vision. Its been available for some time now on import, search sites like Amazon and you can find yourself a copy i am sure but for some reason, the American release is not till June 29th. It might have something to do with VH1 airing the documentary but i wish these releases could be released the same time everywhere, it would at least save me some dollars. Anyway do i really have to tell you about the "Paranoid" album, i hope not and if you don't know about the Sabs "Paranoid" album, why the hell are you reading my reviews anyway. Its Black Sabbath and therefore it rules, we all know Black Sabbath was the greatest band ever and if you disagree, i couldn't care less. It goes without saying that Black Sabbath's music is the musical touchstone for all things Doom Metal and a large chunk of Heavy music in general and every song on the "Paranoid" gets a mention via a track by track history lesson by Iommi, Geezer, Ozzy and Bill Ward but done in separate interviews and at very different times judging by haircuts and the general appearance of the four original members.

As well as input from the original band members, you get some input from the producer, Rodger Bain who makes a very rare appearance. You get the usual critics that put in their 2 cents worth, if you a regular viewer of these type of documentaries, you will know what i mean. The editor of Kerrang is there along with Henry Rollins who is a huge fan of Sabbath but his extended time on the screen is a little annoying, i think he is in the DVD more than most of Black Sabbath themselves. However its interesting to hear how they made the tracks for the album even though the story behind every song is basically Tony Iommi coming up with a killer riff and that is the end of the story. Any decent Sabbath fan would have heard these stories a zillion times before so no surprises there, the usual stuff is mention, the drugs, Iommi's severed fingers and growing up in a working class, depressing city.

The downside is its a little predictable from the perspective of a Sabbath freak like myself of 37 years or more, i would have liked to have seen some discussion from someone different from the editor of Kerrang yet again for example. But its Sabbath and really that is all that matters and needless to say i will have this watched 200 times by the end of the year. Black Sabbath's Paranoid album is a timeless classic, a essential Metal masterpiece, a landmark moment in Heavy Metal history and what's remarkable about it, its not their best work in my opinion. This shows the power of Black Sabbath and the way they were writing music back in 1970, you get the impression while watching this that is was so easy for them at the time that songs, riffs and ideas were in endless quantities. Just watching Tony Iommi play the opening of "Fairies Wear Boots" on solo guitar is worth the purchase price alone. You also get archival performance footage but nothing any "real" Black Sabbath fan would not have seen a million times already. The story of the making of the album is not as exciting, amusing or dramatic as some other albums in the classic albums series but its a essential story that needed to be told and Eagle Vision should be ashamed to have taken so long getting this one out there. All we need now is a definitive Black Sabbath story DVD movie to be made where all the albums can get their individual history told, that one will have to be at least 4 hours long in a 2 DVD set to give their respective stories what they really deserve.

Without a doubt this will be one of the biggest selling DVD's in the classic album series because for one thing, its really good and the other thing is, its Black Sabbath. Essential for any Black Sabbath fan, essential for Heavy Metal fans and important viewing for anyone wanting to get some background on how one of the most important albums in Heavy Metal history was made. As i previously mentioned, i don't think its their best work but its godly anyway. With a track-list that reads, War Pigs, Paranoid, Planet Caravan, Iron Man, Electric Funeral, Hand Of Doom, Rat Salad and Fairies Wear Boots and they are all classics in their own right, the "Paranoid" album will be played and worshiped for centuries to come. Timeless. 9.5/10

May 20, 2010

Until Death Overtakes Me - Days Without Hope

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Days Without Hope is the sixth album by the Belgian one-person band Until Death Overtakes Me and the man behind this monolith of depressing sounds is Stijn van Cauter who plays Guitar, Bass, Keyboard, Timpani, Electric Violin and also handles the vocals. The man's previous work and current work load is incredible, Cold Aeon, Dance Nihil, Beyond Black Void, Fall of the Grey-Winged One, The Ethereal , In the Mist , Organium, Forbidden Fields, Dreams of Dying Stars, I Dream No More, Tear Your Soul Apart, Pantheist, The Sad Sun, Solicide, In Somnis, Wijlen Wij and there is even a couple of more bands he has taken part in at one time or another. He even has his own record label called Nulll Records. The band's name is taken from the My Dying Bride song "Black God". The music on this album was between 2001-2008 and was recorded over a space of a year starting in 2008. If you have never heard any of the man's previous recordings (and there is 5 others including a split album with I Dream No More who i have never heard), its a depressing journey into the darkest, bleakest realms of Funeral, Ambient Doom that frankly have proven to be too dark for even most fans of the genre.

The album is the final part of the the Monolith concept which was started back in 2003 with a album called "Prelude To Monolith" although when listening to this album, its only the the instrumental opener "Cruel" which seems to have anything to do with the original concept. I am not even going to attempt analyzing every track on this album because the whole thing plays out as one continues piece of the darkest of dark music, the lowest of deep dirge music and simply put, it is a harrowing ordeal just to sit through the 73 minutes of this bleakness. At least it offers a little more variation in sounds than the last album, "Symphony III - Monolith" especially in the fifth track "Departure" that shows signs of that he was trying some experimenting with different sounds. "Departure" is the easiest track to sit through at only 7 minutes which is real short for this one man band. "They Never Hope", "Careless, Painless, Far Away" and "This Dark Day" are all recorded versions of songs from the Symphony I and Symphony II albums and they sound much better here but if you can sit through the 19 minutes of "This Dark Day" without the feeling of bugs crawling over your skin, you must be a real avid fan of this genre.

"Until Death Overtakes Me" has been called the most depressing Funeral Doom ever created and this album wont change those feelings, this is about as dark and moody as anything you will ever hear in the genre of Funeral Doom. For the extreme dark music fan, this album will be a essential "must buy", for everybody else it will seem boring and repetitive. I am sitting on the fence when it comes to this album, its too long and one-dimensional for me to sit through for 73 minutes but taken 2 or 3 tracks at a time, its a great piece of work. If you like your music to be all about sorrow and misery, then you will want to check this out but don't expect your friends to hang around for long if you decide a slab of Funeral Doom is what they need to hear. You will need a wide attention span for this album and maybe some "happy pills" once its over, like i said good in small doses but overall its too much of the same thing with not enough musical ideas to keep me interested for more than 15 minutes at a time. Worth investigating though. 6/10

Until Death Overtakes Me
Until Death Overtakes Me @ Firebox Records
Stijn Van Cauter Interview

May 19, 2010

Mortalicum - Progress Of Doom

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From the northern part of Sweden, Mortalicum was formed early 2006 by bassist Patrick Backlund. Starting out originally as a studio project, the band slowly took shape over the course of a couple of years with various line-up changes. Maybe the most important of these line-up changes was when Henrik Högl took over the lead vocal duties as well as the lead guitar role. The current line-up of Patrick Backlund (bass), Mikael Engström (guitar) and Andreas Häggström (drums) and Henrik Högl (vocals, lead guitar) is indeed a very professional unit. Mortalicum made the unusual decision of making their debut album a live recording, this to me shows the confidence the band already had even at this early stage in the band's existence. At the end of 2009 they started the recording of their debut album "Progress of Doom" and it was released on April 23 on the Metal On Metal label. The band doesn't fit into one particular genre of Heavy Metal, elements of Doom, Stoner, Classic Metal and 70's Hard Rock all interweaves within their songs but maybe they can be best compared with bands like Sesta Marconi, Spiritual Beggars, Grand Magus and other bands that mix the elements of Doom and Stoner with classic 70's hard rock sounds.

The album kicks off with "Guiding Star" and its obvious within the first minute, Mortalicum are big fans of 70's Hard Rock legends. Sounding very much in the vein of Deep Purple and Rainbow with the lead solo's and wide-reaching vocal melodies to match the rich, organic production. "Into The Night" is pure Swedish Stoner Rock, so much so the vocals sound very similar to the great vocals of Spiritual Beggars. A killer, chugging rhythm keeps driving the song along to neck-snapping levels and the solo is pure class as well. This is classic rock done by musicians who really know how to perfect jaw-dropping melodies and breath-taking solos that are enough to send a chill up the spine. "Progress Of Doom" is also rich in its 70's Hard Rock sensibilities, the infectious riff matched only by the deliciously well crafted vocals of Henrik Högl is as catchy as it is just a kick ass piece of old school metal. "A Darker Power" is a powerhouse mid-tempo doom rock track with a dark menacing riff line while "Power And Control" sets the speakers alight with pure energetic melodies and some thundering drum pattens in the finest tradition of drummers like Cozy Powell(R.I.P). This song has more blistering guitar lead work that scream and wail while remaining melodic. "The Voyager" is a masterpiece of a tune, its true if you grew up in the 70's or early 80's you would have this heard before but boys and girls, this is solid stuff right here.

"Revolution In Vain" has a great driving feel, chugging and twisting guitar lines and more of that 70's vocal gymnastics and "Darkness All Around" has a slower groove than the rest of the tunes but is one of the most infectious tunes on the disc. "Inner Peace" is more chunky 70's grooves interspersed with dramatic vocal melodies and the final cut is one of the real highlights of the "Progress Of Doom" album. Titled "Damnation Of The Soul", this 9 minute epic encompasses everything that made the 70's such a influential time in Hard Rock history with a emphasis on melody and dramatic song arrangement. Constantly climbing and building, the song is rich in contemporary but timeless beauty. The song only gets even more atmospheric after the 6 minute mark of the track, the lead playing in those last few minutes are magical. After the 40 or so minutes of listening to "Progress Of Doom" you are left with a feeling you have just met up with a old friend. Something about this is so familiar and yet so fresh. This Swedish quartet have proven once again, the swedes have a quality of musicianship all of their own. It used to exist in large numbers in the UK and to a lesser degree here in the US but these days it seems the Swedes are the leaders in taking a well used formula and making it sound new again. If Spiritual Beggars, Grand Magus, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy and Montrose can still raise those hairs on the back of your neck and send a shiver down the spine then Mortalicum should be the next band on your CD shopping list. This is quality Hard Rock that is more generic than the regular Stoner Rock or Doom Rock but so classy in its delivery that its a no-brainer. You must check out Mortalicum's Progress Of Doom. 9/10

Mortalicum @ MySpace
Also check out some great metal at Metal on Metal Records

Miss Lava - Blues For The Dangerous Miles

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Miss Lava's "Blues For The Dangerous Miles" takes me back to that golden era of fuzzed out Stoner Rock when bands played riff rock with passion and energy. It has become a little watered down these days, thanks god bands like Portugal's Miss Lava are here to give it some credibility again. With Stoner Rock, i am not referring to the down-tuned drug-hazed dirge's of Stoner Doom, i am talking about kick-ass, mid-tempo riffing. The press release describes them as a "powerful rock 'n roll disaster", i wouldn't be so negative as there is nothing too negative to be said for "Blues For The Dangerous Miles". Its a explosive dose of fuzz-rock ear candy. "Don't Tell A Soul" gets the party going in a balls out display of heavy duty, heads down boogie rock and roll. The sound is fuzzy but controlled and well-balanced and there is a strong emphasis on ear-catching melodies, not in the commercial sense but from the point of view of old-school arena rock. "Revolt" has a kind of rebellious heaviness swagger about it while on "Black Rainbows", they inject so many hooks in little over 3 minutes, its no wonder that this is the current single. The sleaze factor is pretty high on this album as is the "in your face attitude" that Miss Lava delivers on every track.

A irresistible riff shows up in "Ain't Got Time", the kind that now split-up UK rockers Josiah had at their peak of their powers. Kind of bluesy while remaining heavy, the hard pumping sound is a force on this track not to mention the buzzing, psychedelic lead solo which is blistering. The title track, "Blues For The Dangerous Miles" is up next and the energy level gets taken down a gear. The twisting riff line is great though as is the wailing lead guitar lines. A little more commercial compared to the rest of the album but still a solid track. "Shine On" gets the pace going again, the intense level of energy gives this song and others a presence of undying anthemic (fists in the air quality) of rock. "The Wait" is the album's first trip into a more dramatic song-structure, switching between Kyuss style rhythm's and varied tempos and vocal styles. "Blind Dog" is a pounding hard rock monster that is catchy as hell while the next tune "Second Chance" is a pure groove-based number with swirling, twisting, turning riffing.

"Birth, Copulation And Death" gets off to a punky start and turns the sleaze controls up yet again with cheeky female background vocals. I must admit this track strikes me as being a little weak compared with the rest of the album, maybe its the pop-punk element in the song or something but it doesn't attack like the rest of the songs. "Scorpio" is the final cut and its one of the strongest tracks on offer here. Blending psychedelic, atmospheric sounds with hammering stoner riffage, its the most varied and multidimensional tune on Blues For The Dangerous Miles". Its also the hardest track to get into at first but it has actually became my favorite track on the album. The huge huge production, mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren may not be to everyone's taste, at times i must admit i felt it needed a little more grit but that's me so don't let that turn you off the disc. The vocals from Johnny Lee are great, melodic and extremely tuneful and catchy while the guitar work from K.Raffah is blistering and sometimes shredding. The back line of bassist S.Rebelo and drummer J.Garcia is tight as you will find anywhere and the sound coming from said instruments are rich, loud and powerful. What is hard to describe about Miss Lava is where exactly they fit in within the Stoner Rock landscape but you can figure out that for yourselves. I dig this album a lot even though its a little more commercial that what i normally listen to, the infectious melodies and the highly fueled energetic approach got me sucked in right away so it may give you the same result. 8/10

Age of Taurus - In The Days Of The Taurean Empire

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Age Of Taurus is a two piece band which Toby W. Wright on vocals, guitars and bass, together with Sam 'Shredder' Thredder on drums and this is a big HEADS UP for the doomsters reading this. This UK band will be playing the "Born To Be Doomed Fest" on July 2nd and the next day as well as far as i know. You won't want to miss them because this 4 track demo is a awesome slice of classic traditional Doom Metal. Influenced by the likes of Candlemass, Penance, Mercy, Stillborn, Pagan Altar, Revelation, Orodruin, Saxon, Count Raven, Brocas Helm, Dark Quarterer and Black Sabbath, Age Of Taurus have the skills to give you the doom thrills! While there is nothing new here or original, the band have a timeless, classic sound that should make them favorites among fans of the Doom Metal underground.

"Unto The Hour Of The Dead" starts off with a gargantuan riff that is like being hit repeatedly with a sledgehammer, the sound is amazingly thick and full for a demo. In fact its a bigger sound than you get on most albums released on major labels. If the opening riff doesn't knock you in the dirt, the mid-tempo switch that occurs around halfway through will. This is pulverizing, infectious kick ass Doom Rock And Roll. If your tastes revolve around big, solid chunky riffing then this is a tune that will satisfy all your headbanging needs. The vocals of Toby W Wright also have quality written all over them, a generic approach to singing but such a strong, charismatic voice that is getting harder to find these days. "Unto The Hour Of The Dead" is a monster, unforgettable slab of sonic musical brilliance. "Unborn Destroyer" is another powerful expression of crushing Doom Metal rifferama, the production on this track is so good that you can literally hear fingers sliding across the strings and most likely tearing the skin. The sinister riffs that are matched by pounding drums and Wright's clear and melodic vocal lines create a atmosphere that is impossible to get out of your head. This is Doom Metal to bang your head to but more importantly, the song-writing excellence is only further enhance by some incredibly tight and solid playing, not to mention the outstanding production.

"Barren" attacks from the opening seconds with a classic top-shelf riff that gallops and bubbles along in more of the infectious style that Age Of Taurus have seemed to have mastered. There is not much at all in the way of lead solo's, this band is all about the riff and really its all they need when you have riffs that are this good. The final track, "The Age Of Taurus" is the longest tune at 7 minutes and its another monumental piece of Doom Metal. Another gargantuan riff starts the proceedings backed up with some fine bass lines till at the 2 minute mark of the song where a powerhouse of a crushing riff is unleashed. The vocals again create a sinister atmosphere for the song which never stops in its building of epic intensity till the last couple of minutes where it gets a dose of adrenalin with a mid-tempo boost to take the tune till its conclusion. At only 23 minutes long, the shortness of the demo is a cruel way to treat the listener, you will want more instantly after hearing this. Age Of Taurus needs a full-length album out ASAP, i will have this demo destroyed at the rate i am spinning this beast. Its in limited supply but you can click here Demo for purchase @ Shadow Kingdom Records or order through their Myspace page. This is easily one of the greatest demo's ever recorded by a Doom Rock band and one of the releases of the year so far. Its a pity its so painfully short though, bring on a album soon please. 10/10

Age of Taurus @ MySpace

May 18, 2010

Sanctus Bellum - Return To Dust

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Sanctus Bellum are from the great home of Doom Metal, Texas. Seeing as there has been so many killer Doom bands from there over the last 20 years, my first impression about Sanctus Bellum is that they too must be another Doom Metal monster in the making. After all they have seemed to been given the "doom" tag already by some sections of the underground media. When i first heard this album however, it didn't sound like Doom Metal much at all to me apart some obvious Sabbath inspired riffing. Maybe its just me but i sometimes think people don't listen to albums enough before reviewing them but that is the end of that rant from me. Sanctus Bellum is made up of Mr.Plow vocalist Justin Waggoner, guitarist Jan Kimmel, bassist Ben Yaker and drummer Cory Cousins. Being a fan of the writing of H.P. Lovecraft, i noticed straight away that every song on Return To Dust seems to make some connection to his work so i was automatically intrigued by this disc.

Opening track, "Shoggoth’s Ascent" gets the Lovecraftian themes going with a ominous bass line which in-turn leads into guitar squealing before the main riff takes over. Kind of groovy at first before they hit the gas into a mid-tempo burst of energetic sludgy metal. The guitar sound isn't all that heavy but still has a good sound, musically it is closer to the likes of Las Cruces who are another band that gets the "doom" tag without really being Doom Metal. There is great but short solo's, melodic sections and powerful vocals that make this opening tune a all round winner. Next up is "Dagon’s Bride" and its the most groove-based track overall but also the most predictable. Something about it sounds very generic in the Stoner Rock sense of the word but it is still a solid track with a strong element of fun about it. The lyric, "that fish eyed girl’s gonna rule my world" got stuck in my head immediately. The guitar soloing in this tune is the main feature but take it out and you are left with a pretty average track. Next is "Curwen" and its bring a aggressive twist to the album, the main riff is like being thrown around in a drunken mosh-pit while still keeping it in the vein of a sludgy, gritty rock band. "God’s Own Warrior" on the other hand starts off with some bluesy type guitar licks before taking off into a mid-tempo sludge-fest with gnarling riffs and strong vocal melodies. The vocals of Waggoner switch from clean to rough without ever resorting to growling and he manages to keep a strong element of melody all the way.

"The Reddening West" which seems to be about the character in Lovecraft’s “Herbert West: Reanimator" didn't empress me too much. Its not bad at all but lacking something i can't quite put my finger on right now, its another mid-tempo Sludgy, Stoner groover but seems to be missing a vital ingredient somewhere. "White Cat" ends the disc with a galloping rhythm, some great solo's and some chunky metallic riffing. A pretty solid way to end the album which is hurt by rough and raw production, personally i think the guitar sound is way too low in the mix and the drums are also lacking punch. However for the most part, the songwriting qualities of the band are very good. This is your typical Stoner Rock stuff in some ways but they a little heavier, grittier and raw than your average Stoner band. They also have some dark riffs but not enough to be called Doom Metal so they are a hybrid of influences and sounds so it is really up to the listener what tag you choose to put on them. I hate to use the word "potential" when it comes to this band but i will, this band has potential for the future but for now "Return To Dust" sounds a little half-baked and the production doesn't help that either. Check them out though, there is some great moments on this disc. 6/10

Interview With Jochen From Mirror Of Deception

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Mirror Of Deception got together back in 1990, making them one of the oldest, longest-surviving Doom Metal bands from Europe. Originally when started out, they were firmly stuck in the mold of classic Doom like Trouble and Candlemass but over time they developed a sound all of their own. It took a while and a lot of hard work to get the Mirror Of Deception name around the word, they had to wait over 10 years before the debut full length album "Mirrorsoil" finally saw the light of day but it has been a steady stream of releases ever since starting with "Foregone" in 2004, "Shards" in 2007, a great split album with Garden Of Worm in 2009. The new album "A Smoldering Fire" should be out soon and it promises to be their best album yet. This interview with guitarist Jochen was conducted just a couple of days ago by Aleks and can also be seen at

-Well, Jochen, you started Mirror of Deception 20 years ago, am I right? So 2010 is an anniversary of the band. How do you feel knowing that such a long part of your life you spent being guitarist of one of the oldest traditional doom bands?
-It feels surreal that 2 decades have passed since we started this band. I would have never dared to expect that but as long as we enjoy it and have new music in us we will carry on. It makes me proud that we made it that far.

-And you never ever wanted to finish your career in Mirror of Deception?
-I've actually left the band once for a couple of months. That was back in 1999. I had some personal problems back then but I soon realized that I'm missing something important. Of course there are a lot of other things I spend my spare time on but the band and making music means a lot to me. If Mirror of Deception disbands one day I guess I will continue to play in a band in one way or another.

-Most of people tell about "good old days" when "grass was greener and sun was brighter". What do you remember about days when you started Mirror of Deception? From which point did you start this band?
-I just wanted to play music in a real band and create our own interpretation of Doom. Me and Siffi were big Candlemass and Sanctuary fans back then so we started to write our first songs with just 2 guitars. A few months later we found our first drummer and in spring 1992 we finally had a full line-up together. Everything was fresh and exciting back then: the first gig, the first demo recordings, the first fan letter. We were young and naive but full of enthusiasm.

-There were not too many doom-metal bands in that time - do you remember those with whom you begun your exploration of doom realms? Your colleagues Dreaming said that they loved in doom-metal one thing (not only one indeed but now we talk about this one) - the feeling of brotherhood amongst bands.
-Gerrit from Dawn of Winter was and is a very good friend and he introduced me to many great bands. He taped me Revelation, Pentagram, Death Row and also Autopsy (I love their "Mental Funeral" album). The Dreaming guys are good friends too and they share the same spirit and love for Doom. And yes, the brotherhood thing is important to us too.

-Mirror of Deception plays doom or traditional doom if you wish but do you remember when death-doom appeared first? For example much newbie doom-heads think that doom is death-doom, that's all.
-I bought the Paradise Lost debut album when it was released in 1990 and I loved it. But bands like Candlemass, Black Sabbath, Count Raven, Saint Vitus, Revelation and others made a much bigger and lasting impression on us. It was totally out of question we would go for death metal vocals. Too one dimensional for our taste. I've noticed that many younger folks think it all started with doom death. Well, historically it didn't but for them personally it probably did. Maybe some of the newbies will start exploring other doom styles at some point.

-Why did you do only demos for a long period - from very beginning till 1997? Was a music just a hobby for you or Mirror of Deception was a "regular" band in that time?
-The band has always been a hobby and it will never become a full-time job. We did not search for a label in the early years as we thought it's better not to rush things and to give the band time to develop. But since the release of the debut album in 2001 (which was originally planned for a 1997 release) everything has become a bit more focused and professional.

-With which bands did you communicate during earlier years of band's existence? How did you do it? There was no internet, there were not mp3.
-Dawn of Winter (back then called Cemetery), Dreaming, Solitude Aeturnus and Revelation were amongst the first bands we got in touch with. Instead of emails and MP3s there were handwritten letters and cassette tapes. Getting an answer could take weeks or months and most of my money went into stamps but it was cool when you finally received a letter and a special tape. It had more value and a more personal touch than an email, a MP3 file or a CD-R. Of course modern day communication is easier, faster and more convenient.

-Hey! Do you keep these letters and tapes? :-) If it's so you must have a huge collection of rare things!
-Sure, I've kept them all and it's fun to go through them every once in a while and listen to some old tapes.

- Jochen, can you say that there was another relationship to underground music? Were magazines more active than now? How did you promote the band?
-When I discovered Doom that opened the doors to the underground scene for me. There were some cool fanzines around like Reflections of Doom, Psyhedelic, Endtime and others. It was a different atmosphere and mentality back then. People knew and appreciated how much work and dedication went into a demo tape or a fanzine and as a fan you had to become active to get your hands on these things. Today it doesn't take much effort. Most things are just a few mouse clicks away and a lot of people seem to expect everything for free. We promoted the band by sending flyers and demo tapes around the world, doing interviews in fanzines. Airplay on radio shows and word of mouth propaganda helped too. I'm still in touch with some people who ordered our first demo back then.

-But now instead of this you have such good e-zines like "Deutschland's Doomed"! I saw their on-line magazine and free mp3 compilation - they did really a great work!
-That's a great magazine for sure and the sampler are a good thing, too. Of course you can't like every band on there but it's a great way to get a free and detailed overview over Doom scenes in different countries. After Germany and France I'm looking forward to what country comes next.

-What is Mirror of Deception for you nowadays? How can you assess your creative and concert activity now? What is relationship between band's members? Markus Baumhauer left the band in 2002 because he had not enough of free time for it. Don't you fear that you can find yourself in same situation?
-It helped me through rough times, sometimes it caused rough times but a lot of joy too. My life would have been much more boring without the band and all the experiences and encounters it brought along. It gets harder to find time for band activities besides our jobs and families as we get older but we do our best. We are friends (with the former band members too) but don't meet each other very often apart from rehearsals and gigs.

-You played damned lot of shows all over Europe - which ones do you remember the most and why? Which countries would you like to visit again?
-The highlights so far were our trips to Finland and Ireland. We had great times there, met some cool people and had enough time for a bit of sightseeing too. There are so many places we would like to visit again or for the first time. Our friends in Mourning Beloveth told us very good things about the Moscow Doom Festival. It would be an honor to play there one day.

-Do you have now any measure of band's success? What is it for you?
-Success for me is first of all that we are still an active and creative band. Success is also that we have been able to play shows in many different countries with a lot of excellent bands, that we get the chance to release new albums every few years and that there are some people out there who like what we do and support us.

-Are all of these years you played doom-metal based on such strong emotions as anger, sorrow and etc. But to sing such lyrics or play such songs mean you have to live through all of this, though it could be some sort of art - just some kind of fiction fiction. What is your variant, Jochen?
-If the lyrics are dealing with personal emotions and experiences it does sometimes bring back memories. But it's good to bring these emotions to paper. Then it can be like a catharsis, it lifts the burden from you and make you feel better. On the other hand many lyrics are just entertaining stories - true or fictional - inspired by books, movies or newspaper reports.

-Even newspaper reports?! Though it's understandable… And which certain reports did impress you so much to become a subject of your lyrics?
-Too many to mention. There is enough doom and misery out there in the real world.

-Can you trace back your development as guitarist? How did your skills change with the lapse of time and what drive you to improve these skills? When did you understand that you can make something that you couldn't do before?
-I started playing guitar not long before we formed the band. The first real success was when I was finally able to bring ideas inside my head to guitar and they transformed into real songs. By playing together with other people for so many years you improve your own skills automatically but I don't consider myself a technically skilled guitarist. Progression comes with what the songs demand.

-Which song of Mirror of Deception makes you be proud as it's author? Dare I guess there is not just one song, so can you can name any of last ones…
-"Vanished" is a very special and personal song for me. I wrote it when a close person disappeared out of my sight but fortunately this person has returned into my life. "Der Student von Ulm" is a special one too. We had a lot of fun writing the lyrics and music. It was an experiment and it turned into our most epic song to date. Another important track is "Mirror of Deception", the first song we wrote as a band and which defined our style. There are many more but these 3 stick out for me.

-Mirror of Deception sounds much stronger then before with the last full-length album "Shards", what can you say about this CD? Was it some kind of evolution for the band? There are more different and strong vocal-lines, there are a lot of catchy melodies and whole album just sounds great!
-Thank you, I'm glad you like it. We learn from each album and try to make the next one better. With a bit of distance we realize what works well and what could have been better. It's a simple and natural evolution. "Shards" was the next step after "Foregone" and the best we came up with in 2006. "A Smoldering Fire" will represent where we are in 2010.

-Most of musicians say that their "last album is the best one for this moment" but how must "A Smoldering Fire", your next CD, sound to excel "Shards"?
-I'm sure we will think so too when the album is finished because then everything is fresh and new and the songs are still very close. Time will show it's place amongst the other albums. The songs we are recording for the new album right now are the ones we believe are really strong. But an album is more than a collection of songs to me. The sound, atmosphere and flow are important factors too.

-You already entered Soundmann Studio to start record session of "A Smoldering Fire", do you have some ideas about how new album will sound? What is your view of new Mirror of Deception?
-It's hard to say as we are still recording and usually many details change in the studio especially in the vocal department. The sound itself will be related to our previous two albums. That's why we're recording in the same studio and with the same sound engineers for the third time. The musical style hasn't changed that much. There are many typical Mirror of Deception trademarks and melodies as well as some new ingredients and influences which where already present but not so obvious in the past. Just wait and hear.

-You released split album with Garden of Worm in 2009 and it has very impressive songs - "Der Student von Ulm" and "The Falls". I like both of them and I just would like to ask you to comment these songs.
-Thanks again. We were asked if we want to participate in a split album. We said yes and thought this is the right release for some experiments. We had songs with German lyrics in the past and people were constantly asking when will do it again. This time we wanted to do it in our own dialect which is called Swabian and even most Germans don't understand it. The lyrics are based on a local legend, a tragic story about love, betrayal, death and insanity and it demanded an epic soundtrack. That's how "Der Student von Ulm" was created. "The falls" is a song I wrote at home and it has a bit of a Katatonia touch but it's still typical Mirror of Deception. We did also record a Bathory cover for that release, "Ode" from the "Destroyer of Worlds" album. We're fans of Bathory and it was also meant as a tribute to Quorthon.

-Oh, I see not certain signs of Katatonia presence in "The falls", it's a good sign in itself :-) How did Garden of Worm appear on this split? This band is fresh enough if I do not err, so we can say that Mirror of Deception helped them a bit with this collaboration, can we?
-They're a great and original band and nice guys. If it helped them to get more recognition that's fine. We've both profited from this collaboration.

-Who is an author of songs' lyrics? Do you usually discuss what will be a song's text be about?
-We are all writing lyrics. Mostly it's me or Andi, but Siffi (vocals & guitar) and Josef (drums & vocals) are contributing lyrics too. Whoever has the best idea for a song. Sometimes we discuss the lyrics but most of the time it simply fits.

-Will you include songs with German lyrics into "Smoldering Fire" LP? It sounds really expressive and doomy in "Der Student von Ulm", so it would be bloody great to hear another one…
-Yes, there will be a song with German lyrics. Your wish has been heard.

-Mirror of Deception's bass player Andy has started a new project - Mountain Throne, what is it? There are only 2 songs into their MySpace page, so we can not figure out any certain impressions.
-Andy had a lot of ideas which are more classic Heavy Metal but still with a doomy touch and he wanted to start a band with some of his friends and play guitar. I'm sure we'll hear a lot more from them in the future. All Mirror band members are involved in other projects like cover bands or bands with own material. Mirror of Deception is the main priority though.

-Jochen, thank you for patience. That's all for this time! I hope to see "A Smoldering Fire" out soon, so let me grant my best wishes to your and the other men from Mirror of Deception! Do you have something to add?
-Thanks for the interview and support. Stay slow!
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