Jun 30, 2010

Reino Ermitaño - Brujas Del Mar

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Since forming in Lima, Peru, in late 2001, by ex-members of Melquiades and Darken, Reino Ermitano have produced some of the most inspiring and artistic Doom Metal of the last 10 years. Two recordings really stand out, one is 2008's "Rituales Interiores" and the 2006 album "Brujas del Mar" which i am going to talk about here. What makes Reino Ermitano so unique and such a interesting band is that they follow some of the rules from the Doom Metal handbook while other rules they throw away completely and put a unique twist on the genre by incorporating 70's rock influences such as a Jethro Tull kind of folk-rock sound to their albums. They also have one of the most stunning female vocalists in Tania Duarte, a vocalist that are gained quite a mix reaction from the doom community. Not everyone is mesmerized by her voice like i am, her voice was even called "infantile" in one review and in another "bland and undeveloped". Such opinions haven't hurt the band though, they are much admired for their musical ability and the creative ways they construct albums. "Brujas Del Mar" is simply a masterpiece, a timeless journey of different moods and emotions that among other things represent freedom from all of society's constrictions.

Reino Ermitano ("Hermit Kingdom") and the Brujas Del Mar' ("Witches of the Sea") is a hour of charismatic music that flows perfectly between crushing heaviness and somber moods and sometimes all within the one song. After the intro "La Corte" comes "Curandero De Una Realidad Incierta" with a riff, Saint Vitus would be proud of and add to that Tania Duarte's emotive doominess and you have a sound that is one part pure doom, another part kind of tribal. "Voragine" is as solid as any Doom song ever written with stunning guitar work from Henry Guevara who has now been replaced with Eloy Arturo who is a killer guitar player in his own right. There is other crushing doom in songs like "Crepuscular" and "Hoy, La Tarde" that take the vibe of Saint Vitus, Black Sabbath, Pentagram and give it a earthy, native feel that i am guessing comes from their Peruvian background. They also blend in other instruments that are rare for a doom band such as mandolin's and flutes, these mellow touches only make the heavier parts even more heavier and they insert these elements at just the right time to full effect. "Elipses" is one track where they blend insidious riffage with a macabre, ethereal atmosphere and if you dig horror-tinged dirges like that, then this album is for you.

Elsewhere on the album, "El Fauno", "Rosas Del Reves", "Oceania" and the closing "Magdalena Del Mar" are all outstanding moments of songwriting brilliance. There is i must admit, a couple of downtime's but those moments are short and few and far between the cavalcade of Traditional Doom riffing that is so high up on the class scale. While this is Traditional Doom Metal, they blend a songwriting ethic forged on the likes of classic rock bands from Jethro Tull to Budgie giving them a character that is Reino Ermitano and no one else. Its Doom Metal for the mature Doom Metal fan that gives you a kind of spiritual high while listening to them. It must also be noted that Marcos Coifman (bass) and Julio Almeida (drums) are a amazing duo that is only matched by Butler/Ward or Jones/Bonham for a rhythm feel that is all their own. Tania Duarte’s consistently emotive vocals paint pictures in your mind and her voice is one that is natural and expressive. While Duarte's delivers the lyrics in her Spanish tongue, if you are like me you wont even notice it. Her voice blends so well with the instrumentation that its like another instrument in itself and for those who have reservations about foreign language bands, fear not – Reino Ermitano provide English translations to their lyrics.

There is a very few bands in the Doom scene of now to compare Reino Ermitano to, it is more relevant to compare them to obscure late 60's bands like Chile's Aguaturbia for example but played with  mind numbing, minor-chord riff excursions. In conclusion, "Brujas Del Mar" is a hypnotic album played by excellent musicians creating something to stand the test of time. Dark, cerebral and mesmerizing it is their best album thus far with their other albums running a close equal second. If you have never heard them, do it soon. 9.5/10

Reino Ermitaño
Reino Ermitaño @ MySpace
Psychedoomelic Records

  

Look What Happened In June !!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Well nearly anyway, this month of June Doommantia.Com attracted 24,788 views, a monthly record for the site. Thanks to all that took the time out to view the site and read some reviews, hopefully now with new writers, Sandrijn van den Oever and A.J Djalali we will get even more traffic to the website. Big thanks to the new writers, in the short time they have been onboard they have added a new dimension and already the view count is up. What i hope is that some of you bought a CD, went to see a band perform or at least took the time to check a band's site or two. That is what its all about for Doommantia, total support for the underground metal scene but especially Doom Metal and the related genres. Cheers to all of the Doommaniacs from the Doommantia writing Team..........Ed

Jun 29, 2010

Fading Waves / Starchitect Split Album

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There is a review site on the net who's catch phrase is "we listen to all the lousy records so you don't have to" and just about sums up right now how i feel about this split from Fading Waves and Starchitect. This release comes from Slow Burn Records which is the first post-metal label from Russia who so they say. The release is being distributed by Solitude Productions also from Russia. The term "post-metal" makes me cringe every time i hear it and sometimes my fears are put to rest by some good music, sadly this is not the case here. Lets start with the best of the two bands Fading Waves.

Fading Waves is a one-man-band from some place called Rostov-on-Don in the Russian Federation, the 7 tracks on the split actually make up a EP released last year so they get a second bite of the cherry with releasing the tracks twice. Fading Waves are atmospheric Sludge mixed with what everyone calls post-rock these days, a mystifying tag if there ever was one and one of those stupid musical tags that doesn't seem to mean anything anymore. The 7 tracks are based mostly around melodic, instrumental sections supported by slightly complex arrangements and progressive rock styled guitar work. Some of this works and some of it doesn't, at their best they remind me of Cult Of Luna and at their worst, they sound like a third grade Neurosis but without any of the songwriting ability. Its not too bad, at times the tunes are very infectious but two or three tracks into the seven, i am left with the urge to hit eject and move onto something else.

Things get even worse when Starchitect make their appearance, they are a duo from Ukraine who mangle Metal with hardcore and once again get that dreaded post-rock tag. Like Fading Waves, the 5 tracks here come from a previous released EP titled "Hope". Its not my style to shit-talk about bands i have no desire to listen to ever again so i will just say, this sounds very rough musically and lacks anything to get excited about. The vocals are particularly annoying, the guitar work aims for the hardcore end of the musical spectrum and fails terribly. There only saving grace is some atmospheric elements which comes to the rescue of a couple of tunes. Again i stress this point, its not my type of music and this is only my opinion but i think this blows. 4/10

www.myspace.com/fadingwavesband
www.myspace.com/starchitect
www.slowburn.ru
www.solitude-prod.com

Born To Be Doomed Festival 2010

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Born to Be Doomed Festival
July 1, 2, and 3, 2010
The Sidebar Tavern, Baltimore, MD

Tickets: At the door only. Come early!

Thursday July 1 Festival warm-up party: Show at 9pm. $8

* Levey, Kallimon, Brown, and guests play Black Sabbath
* Soul
* Against Nature
* Special Festival Guests jam session (Eli, Dave, John, Ross, Bert, Ronnie, Josh, Tad, Steve, Eric)

Note: Come to the Thursday show and buy your weekend tickets for $50 for all three days. This will ensure you don't get left out on Guilford Avenue on Friday and Saturday while the floor inside is collapsing from the HEAVY.

Friday July 2 Show at 8pm. $15

* Age of Taurus
* Sanctus Bellum
* Electric Magma
* Yet So Far
* Iron Man

Saturday July 3 Show at 12:30pm. $30

* Black Cowgirl
* Cyrus
* Blizaro
* Admiral Browning
* Apostle of Solitude

Intermission

* Black Pyramid
* Orodruin
* Revelation
* Blood Farmers
* Earthride

Born To Be Doomed Website


Saturday's show will have a two-hour intermission so everyone can eat dinner and rest for the evening sets.

Cheers,
John James (Gallo) and John Joseph (Brenner)

Chakrun / Seas Of Stone – Split Album

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Hailing from Leipzig, Germany, Chakrun opens this split EP (2010) released on German based Cosmic Mother Records. Less than one minute into the song, you get the picture. Mindless riff after mindless riff - without any inkling, or any inspiration at all. After only three minutes, I start to mimic the stupid riff by singing la-la-la-laaa along this instrumental opener.
What's wrong with this track? It's just dumb. It does not move in any way, it even loses its focus after 5 minutes, and oh my god, is that a solo? I'm not sure. The backgrounding soundscape makes Pleurotus even more tiresome. When I want to make fun of stoner/doom/sludge, chances are big I would choose a track by Chakrun. Imagine Spinal Tap doing a stoner song because they have to. The management forced them to, so here you go. And the fun part is, the song lasts 9:35 minutes.



Then, luckily, all of a sudden a new track called Biolumineszenz. Not really looking forward to 10:16 minutes of - likely - more of the same, we hear a song maybe slightly better than the opener. But, here again the same repetitive stuff that makes post rock so utterly boring at times. Again, I can picture myself moving like a Teletubbie across a green sloping field, humming happily along a Chakrun's song with an IQ of 80. Things are not getting any better, but this second song at least sounds decent. If you're sixteen, you wouldn't feel ashamed to let your parents hear this song after one long day in the basement rehearsing. Good job son! To wrap it up, the two songs by Chakrun sound like someone actually forced them to do these songs. I can picture the guys back in their cars after a long day in the studio, enjoying a fresh Coke, and maybe listening to some Lynyrd Skynyrd on their way back home. Or maybe Eminem.



Then, a surprise. There is one evil sounding track called "-", and I'm not sure if it's by Chakrun or Seas Of Stone, but I don't really care. All I can think of is 'Neurosis!', great! This track lasts only 1:58 and morphs into one kick ass song called Inevitable The Drought by Seas Of Stone. Hailing from Dresden, Germany, this band delivers. Adrenaline kicks in, and this is plain awesome. You'll find post rock here too, but in an entirely different fashion than Chakrun. This time, these gentlemen have an idea of what they want to accomplish, and post rocky soundscapes and riffs can be a part of that. The vocals are great, it's screaming but it's singing at the same time, and visually you'll imagine landscapes filled with woods and mountains. I really dig the tempo of this song, every move into a different direction is a surprise, and I really can't name anything bad about this song. Lasting a good 7:23 minutes, I can't help but looking forward to the last song of this split EP called Errantry. Listening to this band, acts like Neurosis and Kylesa come to mind, but also Minsk.



Errantry opens up in a sad mood, slowly filling the atmosphere with thick smoke. Transforming in a Red Sparowesy song structure, I can imagine this band being supported live with great visuals. Then under three minutes into this song, the metal starts to happen, and you have another great song from this Dresden residents. In short, when you buy this EP, skip the first two songs firmly and let yourself be taken by the great last three songs of this album. They won't disappoint you. Seas Of Stone had a demo out (2009), so I guess this split makes it their first release. I'm really looking forward to hearing more from this band, so keep your eyes and ears open. As for Chakrun, well, it reminds me of an experience with a Pearl Jam album, or maybe a Smashing Pumpkins album, in the nineties. Listening to it, I couldn't help but thinking, damn, I wish I could erase this song to make the album great.



To make it even better, you can legally download three songs by Seas Of Stone for free at gimmesound.com, one of them being Inevitable The Drought. 5/10

Sea Of Stone Myspace
Chakrun Myspace
Cosmic Mother
Sea Of Stone @ Gimmie Sound.Com

Review Written By Sandrijn van den Oever

Jun 28, 2010

The Howling Void - Shadows Over The Cosmos

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Following on from the excellent "Megaliths Of The Abyss" album released last year comes the new Howling Void album "Shadows Over The Cosmos", this time released on the Russian Solitude Productions label which is gaining strength by the minute. This may actually be one of their strongest releases to date and it is stunning before you even hit play, the artwork by Russian painter of 19th century Feodor Vasilyev is incredible and is the perfect visual representation for the music contained on this disc. The Howling Void for those still not in the know is a one man project who is simply credited as R on the album although i think his name is Ryan and i apologize ahead of time if i got that wrong. R plays all the instruments and executes breath-taking vocals on the disc and while the previous album was really good, this one is even better and in some aspects even more oppressively heavy. Described as Symphonic Funeral Doom and for once the self made description fits, too often bands in this genre confuse Gothic Doom with Death Doom, Funeral Doom with Trad Doom and blah blah, i will blab no more on that subject.

"Shadows Over The Cosmos" is 5 beautifully played and crafted epic sounding Funeral Doom tracks that while are pretty close to the oppressive sounds of Ahab etc have a life blood of their own making The Howling Void more than just another Doom band churning the same dirgey riffs over again and hoping no one will notice or either fall asleep due to the slothful pace of the arrangements. From the opening "The Primordial Gloom" to the closing "Lord Of The Black Gulf", the album has a flawless flow to it as songs seamlessly move from one piece to the next. The themes on each track are majestic with weeping leads, melodic keyboard work that verges on tear-jerking at times and barren vocal parts that have that typical Funeral growl you would expect but also a instrumental quality filled with melody and feeling. It can be difficult to separate one Funeral Doom band from another at the best of times and searching for subtle variations within each band is like looking for gold. With The Howling Void you do however strike it rich, the music follows the Funeral blueprint but with elements to make this stand out among the endless stream of apocalyptic doom makers around the world. Its also worth pointing out that R is in fact from San Antonio, Texas and yet this sounds very much of the essence of European Funeral Doom. Is there a difference between countries in such a limited musical genre, i think so but it takes a trained Doom Metal ear to spot such differences.

The simplicity of Funeral Doom is often also the big "turn off" for some of the Doom Metal community but take a heads up on the Howling Void. It has a kind of multi-layed sound and is very creative especially on this album more so than the previous work. "The Primordial Gloom" and "Wanderer Of The Wastes" stand out as being highlights but the endless craftsmanship and the mesmerizing beauty of "Shadows Of The Cosmos" is unforgiving and never ending. Like a great movie you wish would never end, this is a monumental, timeless recording that should go down in the history of Doom Metal as a benchmark for other Funeral Doomsters to admire, worship and study. Do you have to like Funeral Doom to dig the album ?, well hell yeah, its bleak, cold, slow and not for the easily bored or the short attention span but sit back and let this music flow over you and you will be rewarded. A essential Funeral Doom album for 2010 from The Howling Void and Solitude Productions. 9.5/10

www.myspace.com/thehowlingvoid
Solitude Productions

Kingdom of Sorrow - Behind the Blackest Tears

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As far as I can tell, Relapse Records has their hand in that type of metal which is hipster-friendly enough to attract those PBR drinking, flannel wearing doofuses to the same shows as card-carrying A.N.U.S members, leaving both groups to fight over the rarest colored pressing of Suffocation's latest LP.   So it came as no surprise when the label added Kingdom of Sorrow (KoS) to their lineup in 2007 and subsequently released their debut, self-titled LP in 2008.  It's doubtful the sludge/metalcore band itself needs much in the way of introductions, given it is comprised of lead singer Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed, Asesino, Icepick) and lead guitarist/singer Kirk Windstein (Crowbar, Down)   Crowbar sits in most metalhead's pantheon, despite their genre of choice.  And apparently Hatebreed is lauded by someone, somewhere. I just don't know who and why.  Suffice it to say, the 'buzz' Relapse generated over the band resulted in a reasonable amount of anticipation for KoS' debut.  However, the album was met with generally mediocre reception.  Rightfully so:  each song felt like a B-side from either a Hatebreed or Crowbar record.  The band was no better than the sum of their parts (most supergroups aren't, to be fair).  Given that Jasta's presence would put any band in an initial hole (would someone sit him down and explain the absurdity of that goddamn bandana), it was an uphill battle from the get-go.  

Then there's Behind the Blackest Tears (BtBT), the group's latest June 8th release (Relapse Records).  Details aside, the album is a surprisingly solid slab of straight up riffage -- heavy on the sludge, light on the -core.  As far as I'm concerned, a little simple-minded metal goes a long way these days, given that most contemporary metal bands seem to think the recipe for success is throwing John Zorn, Brian Eno, Celtic Frost and Mayhem into a blender and seeing what falls out, however incoherent it may be.  (Anyone want to bet Yakuza's new release pulls metal album of the year by the hipster community?)  BtBT doesn't sound fundamentally different from the self-titled LP; there's nothing really new here. It's just that here KoS no longer feel disjoint, a problem their previous record never seemed to recover from.  Put simply, BtBT is a more cohesive blend of the great parts of Crowbar, and, well, the better parts of Hatebreed, assuming there exist some.  (Ultimately, I'm just thankful Jasta has given up his shitty Vulgar-era Anselmo impression this time around.)

My bullshitting aside, the opening riff to the album's leading track "Enlightened to Extinction" rivals some of Crowbar's best licks, and clearly draws inspiration from the likes of "High Rate Extinction".  Heavy stuff.   And the break-riff in "Monuments of Ash" is one of the year's best, really.  On a good pair of headphones, the baseline will grab your balls (or the equivalent thereof) and squeeze, ever so slightly.  I've never been one for metal-lyrics, but Jasta and Windstein's back and forth of "You won't find God's law in the Devil's land-You don't get mercy from a desperate man" on the album's second song is beyond brutal and should make any church-going dunce cream their pants.  Expectantly, the album suffers from its share of low points.  "From Heros to Dust" -- what has to be this genre's version of a 'ballad' -- takes almost a minute to get of the ground, and when it does, it falls flatter than a black metaler's quest for profundity.  But songs like "Envision the Divide" -- the album's best -- more than make up for a few missteps like "Salvation Denied", which unfortunately indulge Jasta's hardcore influences.  Ultimately, BtBT is diverse enough to warrant a second listen; its greatest virtue being an apparent lack of self-indulgence.  The album feels tight from start to finish, clocking in just over the forty-minute mark.  Each riff is given just enough time to breath and is gone before its overstayed its welcome.    BtBT isn't a watershed moment for the genre by any means. In no  way will you want to throw out your copies of "…At a Loss" or "Confederacy of Ruined Lives" after a listen.  However, we can finally start judging KoS on their own terms, independent of what bands each member hails from.   Frankly, it's nice to sit back with a couple of friends over a case of beer and rock the fuck out.  Recommended.

Kingdom Of Sorrow @ MySpace

Review Written By A.J Djalali

Black Tusk - Taste The Sin

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To my mind, the American South is one of the most misunderstood regions in the world.  Despite the fact that many of the stereotypes surrounding it are in fact true, the confluence of social pressures, religious tradition and a rebel spirit make for some fantastic music.  Georgia's emerging metal scene is no exception.  I suppose 'emerging' here is a misnomer.  It was over eight years ago that Mastodon's "Remission" dropped, and since then Baroness has released both the "Red Album" and the "Blue Record", a pair of records that can both stand up to any album, from any genre.  Last year, Kylesa, whose prior catalogue was nothing short of mundane, managed to catch everyone by surprise with the excellent "Static Tensions".  And while all of these groups tend to be divisive, causing metal fans to split roughly along the Appalachian line itself, I tend to look at Savannah bands as something special, comparable to those that comprise the Maryland Doom scene.  It comes as no surprise then, that I got caught up in Relapse's propaganda, err, promotion machine and pre-ordered Savannah sludge purveyors Blacktusk's newest LP, "Taste the Sin" (TtS).  Was I ever disappointed. 

Blacktusk has been a Georgia staple since 2005, with the release of their EP "When Kingdoms Fall".  The power-trio made their full-length debut "Passage Through Purgatory" (PTP) on local label Hyperrealist.  (For anyone that doesn't already have it, I highly recommend picking up Hyperrealist's pressing of the "Red Album".  Absolutely stunning.)  The album itself was nothing to write home about, but it demonstrated promise:  it was a raw slab of swamp sludge and hardcore beats that was sprinkled with that unmistakable, uniquely Georgian take on all things progressive. When Blacktusk let loose on tracks like "Falling Down", you are a better person than me if you didn't want to knock some fucking skulls around.  However, the band took a step back on their 2009 split with ASG, who outclassed Blacktusk with tracks like "Mourning of the Earth" and "Young and Innocent".  I still held hope, though, that Blacktusk would deliver on their Relapse debut.  They didn't.   

And that's what's so frustrating about TtS -- it doesn't fulfill any of PTP's promissory notes.  That's not to say the new LP is a bad, it's just, well, average.  At it's best, the record is a restatement of Blacktusk's back-catalogue.  All the aggression of PTP seeps into songs like "Twist the Knife" and "The Ride", the former being the album's standout track.  And while Blacktusk will never be mistaken for musicians a la Mastodon, their hardcore sensibilities go a long way in making up for any technical deficiencies that exist.  At its worst, though, TtS is downright derivative.  The central riff of  "Embrace the Madness", the album's first track, just is the first ten seconds of Kyuss' "Big Bikes" drawn out over three minutes.  The opening bars of "Unleash the Wrath" feel like a demo cut of Baroness' "O'Appalachia".  Neither would be bad, assuming of course TtS felt fresh, which is the last adjective I'd use to describe the record.  Maybe my hope surrounding Blacktusk was misplaced.  I bought into the hype of a scene that has exposed its vulnerabilities as of late:  Blacktusk label-mates Howl's recent debut "Full of Hell" was an utter disappointment.  And the apparent gods that comprise Mastodon are seemingly falling apart at the seams: singer/guitarist Brent Hinds walked off stage amidst "technical difficulties" during a performance at Oakland's Fox Theater (and if I were Mastodon, I would distance myself from the abortion that is "Johan Hex" ASAP).  Ultimately, I'm convinced Blacktusk will never be anything more than an opening act -- lube used to build crowds into a frenzy for far greater bands.  Given all of the excellent releases this year, I doubt you'd be sorry for skipping out on TtS.    But there's always hope for the future, right?  Hell, look at Kylesa.

Black Tusk@MySpace
Black Tusk Terror
Black Tusk @ Relapse Records

Review Written By A.J Djalali

Dreaming - II

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Here is the first of a new feature on this site and that is albums and bands that should have been huge but strangely flew under the radar. One of these bands is the criminally underrated East German trio Dreaming. Formed in 1993 which makes them one of Germany oldest Doom Metal bands, Dreaming created a masterpiece in 2006 with "II". While the debut album suffered with thin production and a couple of weak tracks, this album is a Doom monster that should be in every doomster's collection. Strictly old school in every possible way, the sound of Dreaming is rich in the vibe of Witchfinder General, The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Black Sabbath and early Masters Of Reality. How bands like this can release such monumental work and still go unnoticed by most people should be a crime. The sound on "II" is what pulls you in on the very first spin, warm fuzzy guitar sound, earthly laid back vocals and solid drumming. The second thing to grab you is the tracks themselves, they have a infectious, timeless feel about them that makes you think you have been listening to them for 20 years already.

"The Other" begins the monstrously heavy album with a riff to make speakers melt before your eyes, the warm fuzzy guitar tones and the classic riff is the stuff of gods. While its orthodox in arrangement, there is a heavy dose of originality in the actual riffing which makes tracks like this and others so great. Even when a song like "Creeping Forward" comes across like a Saint Vitus tribute, it still carries a sense of freshness to it. With Dreaming it is not just a case of recycling and the re-hatching of ideas but rather making something new out of a tried and true formula. Guitarist Sandro who shares vocals with bassist Thomas has a ear for a catchy yet inspiring riff work and the vocals are laid back, devoid of any real range but are totally infectious. "Treadmill" is a Doom Metal orgy of skilled songmanship while "The Summer Of The Horse" is a Stoner Doom anthem that sticks in your head even after the very first spin of the disc. Once again it comes down to that warm and crispy guitar sound that is original and authentic in its live atmosphere and the lyrics are pure and honest while avoiding the obvious cliches that are found in most Doom acts.

"Way Home" is more classic riffage that gives you the feeling they searched and mined for the most gloomiest, dirty riffs that could muster before recording this album. Maybe that is why there hasn't been a Dreaming III as yet, the songs are so strong on this disc that following this album would be a daunting task for any band. "Orgies Of Sorrow" and "Blurred Truth" don't disappoint either, both tracks are irresistible in the way they are delivered. The final track called "Birth Means Defeat" is the only track on the entire disc that goes slightly off the rails. Its a bit too long and all the solid ideas are packed into the first half of the tune before it falls apart a little towards the end. Despite that minor failing, this album is a essential purchase for all Doom Metal fans especially the more old-school fanatic who digs infectious grooves with ear catching riff lines and vocals. I originally picked this up on vinyl released on the Skull Records label but i recently got sent the CD version put out by PsycheDOOMelic and i must say its the essential version to own. The sound is bigger and has more depth to it that the vinyl, its also louder and that is always a bonus in my book of Doom Metal requirements. There will be many more reviews of forgotten albums and releases that should be regarded as essential but for now, hunt this one down and hail the mighty riffs of Dreaming. 9.5/10

www.myspace.com/dreamingdoom
PsycheDOOMelic Records
www.dreamingmusic.de.vu

Jun 27, 2010

Hguols - Celestial Powers Intervened To True Supremacy

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"Celestial Powers Intervened To True Supremacy" is the name of the new Hguols project. For those unfamiliar with Hguols, its a one man project band from Tom Eversole who was the drummer in a gore-grind band called Slough. While Hguols is basically a Black Metal creation, the atmospheric sounds and vibes created and very different from the norm because its 100% Midi generated. Some may say that is blasphemy in itself but it works and the previous album titled "Epitome" was proof positive that this unusual approach is not only creative but also effective in delivering a very cold, dark element to the music and surprisingly not sterile either.

"Destined To Find Sanctuary" kicks off the Black Metal bombastic soundtrack but this unlike Traditional Black Metal i have ever heard. While its retains typical Black Metal trademarks like blast beats, its very ambient, cold, bleak and haunting which is why i don't mind at reviewing it in what is essentially a Doom Metal site. "I Found The Essence of Darkness" blends haunting melodies with a almost symphonic feel even though it driven mostly by machine-gun beats that sound amazingly charismatic and earthly for a machine based sound. You could describe as a Black Metal drone but more importantly there is strong melodic elements that make this a highly listenable piece of music. "Within The Grip Of Insanity" combines odd timings, orchestral elements, crippling ambiance and more haunting melody lines. The lack of vocals actually adds to the bleakness of the project and gives this album even colder atmospherics.

"All But Life Was Lost" is a highlight with its grandiose epic vibe and the surgical- like precision of the way its arranged adds to the dramatic nature of the piece. It has a cinematic feel to it which is something you don't hear much within this genre of music. "In This Exchange Of Demise" is more of the same, equally as dramatic and challenging to the senses. "Celestial Powers Intervened" is a great dose of potent ambient music delivered with a strong essence of melody once again. The musical twists and turns are effective as they add to each preceding section, building upon layers of sound. The section just before the five minute mark is monumental in its attack but it still has time to return to a haunting melody line. These elements gives the album some real character and depth. "My Eyes Have Opened" has a ugly yet mesmerizing beauty about it while closing track "To True Supremacy" has a almost symphonic, classical vibe about it while remaining intense enough to shatter windows. The horror-filled cinematic vibe blends with crushing ambiance for over eight minutes and leaves you exhausted by the end of it. When it is all over, you are left with a essential piece of work with many different dimensions to it. Incredibly life-like considering how it was made and recorded, composer Tom Eversole has made something to be proud of.

In a world where one-man bands are a dime a dozen these days, the Hguols project stands out for its intensity and dramatic arrangements. While this will most likely fall under the Black Metal banner for most people, its pure ambient music to me and a great one at that. Available now as a digital release, it will be released on Barren Meadows Recordings in September. 9/10

www.myspace.com/hguols
hguols.com
Barren Meadows Recordings

Jun 24, 2010

Sleestak - Library Of Skulls / Skylon Express

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Formed in late 2003 with ex-members of Sixinch, Atomic Number 9, and Planet Delirium, Sleestak are one the best bands in the midwest for blending Doom Metal, Psychedelic Rock and Traditional Metal. The two releases on review here both fused these elements with a bluesy jamming, free flowing vibe. Since 2003 they have been compared with early Monster Magnet for their Psychedelic edge, Clutch for their catchiness, Black Sabbath for the doomy heavy edge but have also been likened to Pink Floyd, again for the experimental Psychedelic moods and Ten Years After for Sleestak too have a bluesy jam band kind of feel. The members are Matt Schmitz - vocals/guitar, Dan Bell - bass, Marcus Bartell - drums, Brian Gresser - guitar and Jon Landis – violin.

Library Of Skulls is brimming with classic melodic soloing, potent drumming, hollering powerful vocals and arrangements that build in intensity. No more so than on "Angela", the melodic solo work drives the song along with aggressive yet tuneful bellowing vocals from Schmitz. Not many bands anymore use a lead break to carry a entire song but Sleestak do just that and its some monster guitar work on display here. "Burnout" kicks off with dramatic doom laden riffing that is seething and plodding, the vocals are raw but without your typical growling you would expect. A killer mid-tempo riff change halfway in is infectious and designed to bang heads but with copious amounts of melodic groove, it returns to the slow grind in the latter part of the tune so you could say, it delivers the goods.

"Sleestak Wardance" has a classic twisting, turning riff line that is nice and crunchy but without sounding too generic. There is some sick and twisted voices 3 minutes in, one that sounds like a demented witch and the other comes from some equally disturbed being, possibly human but you be the judge. The title track "Library Of Skulls" is the epic of the recording and my pick as best track on the EP. It moves from Doom to Psychedelic and back to Doom again but more impressive is the magical way its all tied together by precise, atmospheric guitar passages that are constantly evolving and sometimes mutating in other musical realms. This EP was recorded way back in 2007 but sounds incredibly fresh still and the production is excellent. A great EP overall but "Skylon Express" may be even better. 8.5/10

"Skylon Express" takes on a very different approach, much much longer songs, more Psychedelic than the previous "Library Of Skulls" and also more artistic in a 70's Progressive kind of way. The vocals also take a back seat in favor on free-flowing instrumental pieces. "Enik's Lament" is one of those laid-back instrumental jam-fests made famous first by bands in the early 70's that would let the music take audiences into worlds of their own imagination. "Enik's Lament" is certainly a trippy number that never gets tied down by predictability or musical self-indulgences, rather its a musical voyage into the cosmos and the pilot is you. Sit back and let this one float over you and enjoy the ride. "Skylon Express" is even more in the Space Rock realm, almost sounding like a lost Captain Beyond track at the beginning and there is vocals in this one that range from spoken word to the aggressive.

The spoken word passages work best for me as they create a very 70's cinematic vibe. There is some great bass lines, wah-wah lead breaks that would make Hendrix proud and the whole 10 minutes bubbles along into the realms of a Psychedelic masterpiece. They pulled out all the stops for "The Marshall Plan", its a 13 minute journey complete with Pink Floyd-ish melodic passages that are made for your surround sound system. This track fills your room with sounds that move not just the air but it also takes your emotions with it. While it sounds like any number of early 70's prog-rock psychedelic tracks, its arranged and played so beautifully it really doesn't matter at all. This is classic Psychedelic Space Rock at its best and while its a little predictable from a musical perspective, i dig the vibe so much. A very different recording from the previous recording from Sleestak but that adds to the musical brilliance and eccentric nature of the band. They are a band that is flawless when it comes to musicianship but even more so when it comes to delivering those real "authentic" groovy spacey sounds and moods. Awesome. 9.5/10

www.myspace.com/sleestak

Nachtmystium - Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. 2

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UK-based Candlelight Records released this outstanding album by American (DeKalb, Illinois) blackmetallers Nachtmystium on June 8th 2010. Strongly associated by the label USBM, the band radiates a gloomy atmosphere akin to Wolves In The Throne Room. Will Lindsay (Wolves in the Throne Room, Middian) fills on bass this album. Listen for example to The End Is Eternal and you hear the clear affinity riff wise. The beauty with Wolves In The Throne Room lies in the repetitive song structures that encapsulate and comfort the listener. Wolves In The Throne Room makes listening a nocturnal activity, their songs slowly building towards catharsis. Not that far removed from Om's great albums actually, where this last band delves into a more detached, trancelike territory.

Opener Cry For Help is, well, an opener. High On Hate kicks in brutal, with typical (US)BM blast beats. Text wise, this reminds me instantly of Darkthrone's latest, Circle The Wagons (2010). The lyrics are direct, with the singer delivering the message shouting in your face. Circle The Wagons is by the way particularly awesome because of its strangely ('black') metal take on Motörhead. Nightfall, third song into Addicts, stresses the same feel as High On Hate, be it somewhat calmer. Nightfall of course offers some great sing-along quality to the album, which I like. Just think about what makes Municipal Waste so great, and other 'anthem'-based rock or metal.

Following with Funeral, the synthesizer is brought into the centre of this song. Giving it a strange poppy feel to it, it marks a difference with former releases. Assassins: Black Meddle PT 1 (2008) feels more metal, where their latest release doesn't shun the pop references. Does this pop quality do Nachtmystium any good or bad? Re-listening to Assassins, I do prefer Addicts. This discussion reminds me of Probot's great Probot (2004). Interestingly, Probot somewhat wears on you after a while, and it misses it's urgency after repeated listens. Maybe this stems from the fact that the music of Probot was put together in a non-organic way, with the different artists individually recording and mailing their parts to the others.
Then Fires is another highlight, because of its slow build and an excellent solo. Some solos on this album are by Pentagram's Russ Strahan, and the drums come by courtesy of Wrest (Leviathan, Lurker of Chalice, Twilight).

Addicts, ending with another great solo, and The End Is Eternal: what more could you want from a metal release? Blood Trance Fusion has an industrial feel to it, with great lines to sing along to. Ruined Life Continuum unfortunately doesn't add much, and ending with Every Last Drop, this sure is an album which not only sets very high standards for coming Nachtmystium albums, but also for more imaginative metal/doom. Jimmy Hubbard & Seldon's Hunt artwork makes this release stand out, and I'm really looking forward to seeing this band live. 8/10

Myspace
Nachtmystium @ Century Media

Review Written By Sandrijn van den Oever

Jun 23, 2010

Various Artists - Dirgenera Quadrivium MMIX

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This four way split from Raig Records comes with the interesting title "Dirgenera Quadrivium". Dirgenera i have found out is something of a independent promotional community from Russia focusing on Doom Metal, Black Metal, Sludge Metal and other genres of underground heavy music. The company who's official name is Dirgenera.ru produces high quality CDR's as promo products for bands so they hopefully can obtain the record deals they desire. The word "Quadrivium" is a little more complex, it's a Latin word meaning "the four ways", its also the combitation of four subjects or arts namely Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy and it was originally taught in medieval times. Quadrivium was also considered preparatory work for the study of Philosophy and Theology. These high quality CDR's are being distrubuted by R.A.I.G records which stands for "Russian Association For Independent Genres" so that is my history lesson for today boys and girls. Onto the music of these four bands on this split, VIR, Vali, Hermansyndrome and Aethyr.

Vir starts the split album with a distortion filled track called "Clay" and despite the fact it sounds like it was recorded in a cave somewhere, it is a very impressive track. It begins with waves of distortion followed by screaming vocals and all kinds of sub-sonic noises. There is a acoustic guitar in there but it is buried under the all the various noises being generated. "Clay" is a little too raw to be judged fully but its a impressive 12 minutes of "Noise Rock" that suggests Vir could be a band to watch out for in the future. Next band up is Vali with a track titled "Yggdrasil", it begins on its monolithic adventure with low rumbling bass lines followed by raw, distorted guitar work played at a snails pace and that doesn't change much at all for the entire 15 minutes. A decent track overall but very one dimensional and stagnant throughout but worth a listen. "Hermansyndrome" contains the musical theme of this split album with more distortion and feedback which extends way longer that is should in my opinion but the track explodes in a fury of Doom Laden riffing after 10 minutes but just as a groove is built, you guessed it, it changes again into romantic sounding synth's and strings. Again its not bad but sounds very much like a un-even and disjointed track.

The split concludes with Aethyr's track called "Mass" and it is the prefect name for the piece and it is indeed a mass of heavy sounds in a similar vein of the other bands but more industrial sounding. It must be noted that all the music on this split is mostly instrumental and very much at the extreme end of the musical spectrum and Aethyr's track might the hardest track of the four songs here to digest easily. All the bands are slow, noisy, sludge-filled doses of experimental noise rock and not for the casual listener. They are also not the kind of musical pieces that are instantly enjoyable, it took me some time to fully appreciate the 65 minutes of this split but after several spins i found i rate all four bands equally. They all show promise and potential so as this is just a showcase for the bands involved, i am impressed with most of what these four bands dished up here. There is only 102 numbered copies of the split available ( mine is number 32 ) so be quick if you want a copy. For the open-minded and the extreme Doom, Noise freak out there but if you are such a listener then you will want to hunt this one down as soon as you can. 8/10

www.myspace.com/dirgenera
www.raig.ru

Mirror of Deception / Garden of Worm - Split CD

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This split-album of German old-timers Mirror of Deception and new Finnish explorers Garden of Worm is more than interesting release. First of all, for Mirror of Deception it’s a link between their last album “Shards” and forthcoming CD “A Smoldering Fire”, the band demonstrates all it’s creative power in three different images as they recorded not just simple songs for some usual release but hard and catchy tracks which would do credit for full-length CD. Secondly, here I have met Garden of Worm, so a popular practice of collaboration between bands bears its fruits once again: searching for good songs of one band, previously well-known for me, I get another good one. So… what did I say about “hard and catchy tracks”?

First song of Mirror of Deception is "Der Student von Ulm (The Traitor's Son)", it’s unusually long even for these gentlemen – more than 11 minutes is enough to show the listener the multi-aspect, rich and epic musical canvas. The song is based on ancient Shvabian legend and the lyrics is on Shvabian too, that certainly gives the song a rough brilliance and expression; thank God, there’s no any doubt in skills of Michael Sifferman as a voice-man – it seems that he sings at the top of his abilities but he does it easy and natural, his vocal lines are one of strongest components of modern Mirror of Deception. The track’s rhythm changes repeatedly and melodies are severe and gloom as some medieval hymn, conception of lyrics disclose wide through the song revealing us a tragic story of love, betrayal, madness and death. The composition “The Falls” was highly appreciated since I’ve heard it for a first time, just the one of the best band’s songs indeed with tension of unearthly, magical an furious grief in a form of deadly traditional doom – you can touch it, you can inhale it for very air is filled with condensate mix of  sorrow and anger! And finally band covered Quorton’s “Ode” profiting by such occasion and completing it’s set with another strong song with doom-tunes and grand choruses. Appearance of German doom-veterans into this split-CD is eloquent and convincing act, another proof of vitality of one of most professional and old European doom bands. I do not dare even to try to foretell that they lay in store till the time when new album will be ready, if these songs catch with only first tunes then what will be next?

Finnish Garden of Worm has risen from remains of Blueprint Human Being in 2003, band is quite active but only a year ago the guys were released first full-length album. “Gardeners” is i  think in some kind of progressive way, sticking to local underground doom-traditions as they walk their dark path. Their music is full of energy, and they are addicted to composing of songs with different paces (from intensive tempo to ballad-alike tracks) and atmosphere, denying simplicity as they stabilize and split hairs over new ways of instrumental vivisection and transmutation. Anyway their three songs look like conceptual story ascending from single construction of this bold experiment. "Trampled in the Dust" is memorable with it’s prog-doom structure and powerful sound, ten minutes-length "My Search for Solace" is advance to orthodox doom as it has been seen by Reverend Bizarre for example, and though voice of SJ. Harju sounded better on first track, it is not so actual and appropriate here, in the second song, which demands stronger vocal-lines in my opinion. "This Fortress Must Stand" reminds me that voice-man of Garden played in prog-band Manifold Object with musicians of Subaudition and I must to admit that there is a much of Subaudition in this song – I do not know how it happened, but so it is. But finally this mix of doom and progressive elements makes Garden of Worms music unique and bit unusual.

As I’ve said such collaborations are useful and needful – they help to explore a scene and bands which just wait for their chance to appear, therefore split-albums is really a great possibility to spread their music over the funds of another bands and this way works! I’ve got few more fantastic songs from Mirror of Deception and was surprised finding a good and new band for me. If you’re looking for something new or just want to hear brand songs of professional doom-band with good reputation then you have to listen it. I’m serious as a bloody coffin, comrade.

Garden of Worm @ Myspace
Official Mirror of Deception website
MoD at MySpace.com
Doom Dealer - The Church Within

Review Written By Aleks Evdokimov

Jun 22, 2010

El Hijo de la Aurora - Lemuria

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El Hijo De La Aurora are a very interesting Peruvian trio who sparked my interest after reading a interview conducted by fellow Doommantia writer Aleks. I had to track down their debut album and i am glad i did but wasn't quite what i expected. That interview was with one of the key members of the band, Don Juan Matus drummer Joaquin Cuadra. Along with Joaquin, there is a grooving, riff-happy guitar player in Manolo Garfias and Arian Lora on vocals but he also spends a great deal of time on this album dishing out effects and theremin to the songs on "Lemurie". Also interesting is guest musicians from none other than Reino Ermitano who make various, lets just say unique musical additions to the tracks. Also interesting is the printed brown paper bag around the CD cover and inside you will find four symbols, anybody remember the original packaging to Led Zeppelin's "In Through The Out Door" album ? However any comparisons with this band and Zeppelin end right there as this is a very different kettle of rock all together but they do have the 70's vibe working for them in full force throughout the 40 minute disc.

The album is book-ended by "Lemuria (Parte I-IV)" and "Lemuria (Parte V - VII)", so that is where my review begins. The first part of Lemuria is broken up into 4 very different parts which basically switch between Grand Funk Railroad, Black Sabbath type sounds to The Melvins with traces of everything in-between. There is a very intense atmosphere created as guitar locks in with the drums and delivering a vibe that can only be described as threatening. When the album moves in the second track titled "Deus Sol Invictus", the band really nails a sound that works for them best in my opinion. The groove based riffing combined with the lively drum work is exciting but its all over way too quickly. The same can be said for "Portal A Venus" although this number features a guest appearance from Reino Ermitaño vocalist Tania Duarte. Her rough but yet mesmerizing style adds much intensity to the song. She is only one of many guest musicians on Lumuria but these guest spots provide some of the real highlights to the recording. Duarte also makes a less noticeable appearance in "Cuervo Negro" which features some great Hammond organ work, listening to how they present the instrument shows they must have a real love for the Hammond organ bands of the early 70's.

"Atma" is the only real happy moment on the album as it features great acoustic work from Garfias and add to that the breathy, melodic vocals of Christian Van Lacke (from Tlon) and you have a track that is something that would have been right at home on many underground 70's rock albums. That track leads you into the extended closer which is the second half of Lemuria. The band takes the album back into a Doom/Drone feel which is the style the album uses the most of despite its more straight-forward 70's rock passages that seem to be the most memorable overall. At times it pushes into Progressive Rock land especially during part six which sounds very much like King Crimson. Yet another guest vocalist, this time its Elleen Burhum. Its around this point where things get a little tough to listen to depending on your tastes in vocal styles. Nothing bad vocal wise but they just seem to go on and on and on where more musical twists and turns could have been more effective. Apart from that minor hiccup, this album packs a hell of a lot of different sounds into just 40 minutes and because of its ever changing musical sound-scapes, it never gets too tedious. This is a album that will appeal to fans of bands like Boris due to its ability not to be tied down to any one musical structure or formula. Unique and a interesting release. 8/10

El Hijo de la Aurora on MySpace
Ogro Records

The Devil’s Blood – The Time Of No Time Evermore


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Released in North America on the 25th of May 2010 (but available in Europe since September 11th 2009) by Van Records in Germany, The Time Of No Time Evermore by the Dutch Devil's Blood brings back a feeling of ghosts, of 'Das Unheimliche'. Haunted by its own beautiful ghosts, it resonances the familiar/unfamiliar groundbreaking uncanny music of bands like Black Sabbath and Coven. I don't buy into the whole occult thing on a literal level, but I love the theme of the occult in the literary sphere. Not to mention my love for acts like Blood Ceremony, Coven, etc. Being uncanny, The Time Of No Time Evermore sounds and feels familiar, yet foreign at the same time. According to Freud, this results in a feeling of 'it' being uncomfortably strange. Yet there is another aspect of the uncanny. (There are dozens by the way). It can also be linked to the mysterious possibilities of a literal dark space, for example, imagine the exciting, mysterious feeling of a night in the woods. Exactly this quality sets the record apart from the bulk of releases in the doom genre.

Exciting, eerie yet strangely comforting, its sound is 'simple' or clear, but with very intricate compositions. Listening to the album, I always skip the first song, The Time Of No Time, and I forward to the second, Evermore. I think this song could well serve as the opener. The 2nd shortest song of the album, it represents what makes The Devil's Blood so great: a strong composition, very strong vocals (rumor has it the singer was recruited without any prior experience in singing), fitting solo's and solid riffing. Moving up one step, we delve into I'll Be Your Ghost. For the record, I will not delve into the lyrics. Partly because she sounds incomprehensible, and partly because the sound of her voice (rather than the lyrics) form the essence of this ritual. Like Cocteau Twins' best albums, you can't make out what she's singing, yet the tones fit the music and enhance the whole experience.

The Yonder Beckons slows the process down beautifully, and lays the foundation for the blazing House Of 10.000 Voices. With an album as strong as this, it's hard to name favorites, but surely this is one. Building spherically towards an expanding sound of gloom, it's at the same time beautifully crafted and executed. The singer's voice is brought more to the foreground, with the guitar following the vocals. Almost like a B-side to the excellent A-side of House Of 10.000 Voices, Christ Or Cocaine brings the album into the 2nd half of the album.

Queen Of My Burning Heart resonates vintage Pentagram a little, and this far into the album I notice the clear references to Roky Erickson, another (un)familiar ghost. Skipping Angel's Prayer and moving to Feeding The Fire With Tears And Blood, this song sets the stage for the mighty Rake Your Nails Across The Firmament. Starting steady with unremitting rhythm, it beautifully melts into the epic closer The Anti-Kosmik Magick. 2nd best song on the album, and be sure to google anti cosmic satanism for a good laugh. Or a mythical cosmogony.

Having released one 7'' (The Graveyard Shuffle, 2008) and one mini cd (Come Reap, 2008) prior to The Time Of No Time Evermore, this album moves the band rapidly forward into whole new occult territories of ritualistic doom. Not to mention, you have to see The Devil's Blood live. Satanic imagery coupled to a strong live performance makes a Devil's Blood ritual a must-see. 9/10


The Devil's Blood @ Myspace
Van Records
Van Records.De

Review Written By Sandrijn van den Oever

Jun 21, 2010

Wretched - Black Ambience

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Normally i stay clear of reviewing anything more than a year old but some albums are too important to let go off and i will reviewing a bunch of those from the PsycheDOOMelic Records label over the next few weeks. One of the most important of those releases came out last year and that is Wretched's "Black Ambience" EP. It important to review this work because of the essential listening pleasure this disc offers and because shortly after its release came the death of wailing vocalist Jon Blank. Wretched were on the much under-appreciated but hugely influential Hellhound label and they were part of the Maryland scene of bands that was so top heavy with quality bands. The D.C area is one of those rare little spots in the geographical landscape that seemed to produce some of the most important bands in the whole Stoner / Doom underground scene. The D.C bands all seemed to be raised on a healthy rock diet of Black Sabbath, The Obsessed and other similar music but more importantly, most bands in the scene nailed a style and a sound that still resonates to this day.

The line-up of Jeff Parsons on guitar, Gus Basilika on drums and Louis Strachan on bass and Jon Blank(vocals) recorded this way back in 2004 but it finally got the release it deserved by the excellent PsycheDOOMelic label in 2009. "When I Was Alive" is the steamrolling first track with a Doom laden groove and some lyrics from Blank which seem to be so ironic to listen to them now. The lyrics are dark and the guitar work cuts through all of that creating a molten metal monster. The tightness and the power of the rhythm section is flawless and the production of Chris Kozlowski is perfect in every facet of the performance. The second track is just as good, titled "Together We Drown", it combines melody with intense rhythmic hammering with the band totally locked in with each other. The third and final track, "Cold As You" is equally impressive and features some impressive lead work from Jeff Parsons who is a veteran of the D.C scene and that experience shows up in his exceptional playing style.

The whole thing is over and out in 13 minutes but there is not a second wasted. Its really sad to think that this is where the Wretched story ends, if this was a precursor to a upcoming album it would be one of the most looked forward albums of the year without a doubt. The vocals of Jon Blank send a shiver up the spine with his emotional velocity and the dark irony that you can hear in the opening track. Sadly drugs took another legend and so ended the band from what i know, one thing is for sure, Jon was irreplaceable. He had a rough but soulful bluesy style of singing which was a perfect match for Jeff Parsons riffs and solo's. I think it is also fitting that the album they brought out in 1995 called "Center of the Universe" was Hellhound's penultimate release. This is a essential purchase musically and as a fitting reminder of a great band and singer that is missed by everyone within the scene. 9/10

www.myspace.com/wretchedmd
www.psychedoomelic.com

Unsilence - Under A Torn Sky ( updated review )

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Before i ever got a copy of Unsilence's, "Under A Torn Sky" album, i read somewhere that the album is merely a copy of Warning's masterpiece "Watching For A Distance" album but i was hopeful that was just some narrow-minded viewpoint from a reviewer with a axe to grind. I am happy to say that reviewer is way off, sure they are a little like Warning but whats wrong with being like a killer band anyway. Putting all that aside though, what you are left with is still a killer album despite the comparisons. The album begins with "The Last Day song" which was also on a demo they brought out some 3 years ago called "Echoes Awaken", you would think some new material would be in order but never-mind because it is still a good track. Its a mid-tempo track with vocal melodies that are very much the trademark of the album, the song has some real depth of musicianship. There is also a lot of polish in the playing and the recording of the songs, that sets them apart from Warning but its also the main stumbling block for doom fans. This amount of polish is rare for a doom album and it takes away some of the raw heaviness that this band could be capable of producing.

As the album progresses, you get a sense of mid 90's goth-metal especially in the track "The Burning Midnight" were the rhythm section really drives the song along. The song is a little like newer While Heaven Wept material in part but also has a element of freshness to it made courtesy of the stellar rhythm section. "Transfiguration" is an apocalyptic Doom track with one of the strongest songwriting moments of the album, based around guitar melodies and leads rather than riffs it has some twists and turns closer to progressive rock than traditional doom and yet still sounds very dark and heavy. "Barricade" is another track from the Echoes Awaken demo and here its given some new life, sorrowful leads, guitar melodies and some kick ass heavy riffing. "Echoes Awaken" is dark and esoteric with deep melodies that make you listen and keep you mesmerized. This song captures the true sound of Unsilence, emotional, melancholic, multi-layered and dynamic but is it really doom or even metal? At times it had me wondering. "Of What May Become" heads off into a almost jazz-rock take on doom metal with complex interplay between melodies and the rhythmic structure of the song.

"The Hour of Arrival" follows and is even more complex, it begins with a wonderful acoustic intro before a series of break-downs, various melodic themes and guitar leads. It is pretty hard to describe where this fits in within the doom metal genre as this could almost be considered pop-music with its melodic hooks. The next song is even more hard to describe, the final track "Winds of Enlightenment" is a nine minute epic where the band gets the closet to raw traditional doom metal than anywhere else on the album. There is more aggression and raw guitar passages making this worth your wait. The song is adventurous but listen to the whole track because the last minute or so is one of the most mind-blowing parts of the album, it builds to a giant crescendo and is rounded off with acoustic guitar and more great vocals. "Under A Torn Sky" can be listened to in 2 ways, you can get obsessed with superficial comparisons or you can judge it on its own merits. Personally i prefer the later approach so on that basis i hear what is a very good album. The review i read comparing them to Warning is accurate in a lot of ways but this album also stands up on its own, they push the boundaries of what is epic-doom and do a exciting job of it. The casual listener of doom metal may miss its hidden treasures but its worth checking out, so don't let this one pass you by. 8.5/10

Unsilence @ MySpace
Unsilence
PsycheDOOMelic Records

Legendary Stoner Rock Icons SLEEP Announce Fall Tour

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Legendary stoner rock band SLEEP split in 1997 after two hugely influential albums. Members went on to form underground heroes OM and High On Fire, and more recently metal supergroup Shrinebuilder. This Fall, original members Al Cisneros and Matt Pike will be joined by drummer Jason Roeder of Neurosis to perform the seminal Holy Mountain album as well as selections from Dopesmoker and more.

SLEEP debuted with 1991's Volume One album, recorded for San Francisco label Tupelo. Earache Records received the band’s next recordings in the mail as a demo. The label -- impressed by SLEEP's single-mindedness and unique vision -- immediately signed the band and released the tape exactly as it was received. Record stores worldwide stocked SLEEP’s Holy Mountain from November 1992 to this day.

The band then signed to London Records. Their debut album for the major took the form of one mammoth 63-minute leviathan of a track entitled "Jerusalem." The band resisted the label’s attempts at radio edits and bringing in their own engineer to remix the album in view of “marketability.” London baulked at the prospect of promoting what probably still is the most extreme music ever recorded for a major label, so shelved the recording and dropped the band.

SLEEP's music has been featured in films by Harmony Korine and Jim Jarmusch.

SLEEP 2010 US Tour
9/03/2010 All Tomorrow's Parties - Monticello, NY
9/07/2010 Starlight Ballroom - Philadelphia, PA
9/08/2010 Brooklyn Masonic Temple - New York, NY w/ Lichens
9/09/2010 Logan Square Auditorium - Chicago, IL w/ Lichens
9/10/2010 Mohawk - Austin, TX w/ Sub Oslo
9/11/2010 Roseland Theater/Music Fest NW - Portland, OR w/ Scott Kelly, YOB
9/12/2010 Regency Ballroom - San Francisco, CA

Ophis - Withered Shades

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This is another new addition to ever increasing, ever more monumental Solitude Productions list of releases of high quality of Doom Metal and this depressing monster is about as heavy and as morbid as you get in the genre's of Traditional Doom and Death Doom. Ophis stand out among their label mates in as much as they more Traditional than most other bands on the label especially from the perspective of a Death/Doom hybrid. What you get here is 5 really long songs, all 10 to 15 minutes or more in length, all mostly very slow and extremely crushing but they do throw in some in unexpected tempo changes in when you least expect it. If you are looking for a reference point, then Centurians Ghost, Ahab, Skepticism meets the more Traditional sounds of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus would be the obvious statement to make. The concepts on "Withered Shades" seem to center around the doomed planet we live on and the ultimate demise of that entire human race. The subject has been dealt with many times before but Ophis descriptive writing style gets the point across better than most although you will need the lyric booklet to understand it as the vocals are done in the guttural style made famous in Doom Metal by Esoteric, Skepticism and Ahab.

Even though there is 5 tracks on the album, they really don't change much at all so going into detail about each piece seems pointless but there is some surprises along the way. First track "The Halls Of Sorrow" crawls along with the weight of a German tank, seething and extremely bleak for over 15 minutes but towards the end you get a tasty thrash/death metal section when you least expected it. Other times there is some more acoustically driven sections but for the most part, it is centered around one crushing riff after another but there is a underlying deathly melody to all of it. This is much darker, colder and more harsh sounding than their 2007 debut "Stream Of Misery" and these 5 tracks can put you in a trance-like state if you let it. If you like your Doom Metal to put across a feeling of sheer pain and anguish then "Withered Shades" will satisfy that craving and if Doom Metal is about some kind of emotional pull, then they succeed at doing that too. Stand out tracks are the opener "The Halls Of Sorrow" and "Necrotic Reflection" mainly due to more light and shade than the other three beasts on this disc but those tracks are great tracks in their own right also.

If there is a downside to the album, its a bit samey throughout most of its 64 minutes and the extended running times of each cut can test your love for Funeral Doom. The vocals could also be a sticking point for some listeners, i know from emails and comments i get regularly the deathly growling vocal approach is getting a bit predictable and tiresome for some folks out there but personally i dig the vocals despite the cliched approach. The production on the album is massive, thick and heavy. The songs contained some of the most hellish riffs recorded in recent years even though the band does sound more like something from the 90's than anything new coming out now. Its heavy, melodic in small doses with enough uniqueness to make "Withered Shades" stand out as a timeless recording in the genre. I have a feeling this will be one of those albums that will be regarded as a classic in years to come. "Ophis" is Greek for "snake" and which seems fitting for a band that plays like a snake moves, slithering, mysterious but can strike with real aggression when you are not ready for it.

A couple of points to be aware of, the artwork on the album is very much in the Black Metal vain with a pentagram and a inverted cross embedded in their logo but this has nothing to do with Satanic Metal at all, so that is a little misleading. That may seem like a trivial observation but some people might be put off by that, please don't be though because this is 100% Doom Metal pure and undiluted by any other musical influences apart from the odd tempo change. The line up of Philipp Kruppa - Vocals/Guitars, Jan Baum - Guitars, Oliver Kröplin - Bass and Nils Groth - Drums are accomplished musicians as this album shows. Lets hope we don't have to wait another 3 years for the next installment from this fine German band. 8.5/10

Ophis
Ophis at myspace.com
Solitude Productions

Jun 19, 2010

Resonaut - 4 Track Demo 2010

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The band hailing from Trondheim, Norway with one of the best Stoner / Doom band names in the business is Resonaut. Tha band has played shows with Obliteration, Diskord and Faustcoven and has also done a three-date mini tour supporting Church of Misery on the Norwegian leg of their European tour. The three piece band consisting of Martin (vocals, lead guitar), Andreas (drums) and Robert (rhythm guitar/bass) are lovers of the heavy riff and this four track demo is wall to wall chunks of titanic riffing all being squeezed out of their huge backline of old tube amps. Inspired by Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Electric Wizard, Sleep and Yob, the band are not out to reinvent anything. They are here to crush you with sonic riffing and powerhouse jams and they deliver that over the four tracks on this promo recording. Keeping with the Stoner Doom traditions, the subject matter of songs ranges from Eastern Religions, Space Travel to Natural Mystery's and Disasters.

"Molten Planet" kicks off the promo with a bang, the song is built around a monolithic riff that keeps turning till you get a bluesy riff change. This maybe is best described as the old school Doom rock of Pentagram mixed with the groove based heavier than elephants sound of Electric Wizard. Its the shortest track on the promo and the songs only get longer and in some ways even heavier from here on. "I Spread" begins with a unassuming drum beat before the main riff comes in sounding a little like one of Sleep's early tunes. Repetitive and churning, it is never dull as it is constantly climbing and building. The sound is bass heavy blended with guitar work that slowly grinds with the solo passages floating in over the top creating a Psychedelic vibe. The drum sound is a bit thin but it is still crashing and pounding providing a solid back-up to the vibes that Resonaut creates. "Kailash" brings in a Eastern element in the demo especially in the introduction where the guitar work takes on a sitar kind of sound. When the track moves into top gear which is in this case is incredibly slow, thick and gloomy its a mesmerizing, meditative monster seething with stoned out malice. For the most part its again like a Sleep / Electric Wizard hybrid but the solo guitar towards the end of the 8 minutes is much more hallucinogenic that anything those 2 bands ever came up with.

The final track on the demo is a sonic, Stoner / Doom Jamming monster epic called "Kosmodrom". This takes you on a instrumental journey lasting nearly 16 minutes and its beautifully constructed and arranged so it never seems that long at all. Built around subtle riff variations, its pure jamming ear-candy made for late night bong hits. What makes it so effective is riffs climb on top each other and the solo work is forever interesting. Add to that some infectious Psychedelic melody lines that are memorable without being obvious or too predictable. This is a great demo that is flawless when it comes to tunes, the production is not perfect however with the drums sounding a little distant but apart from that, this is a killer. The live performances this band gives must sound massive with songs like this to work with and a future full length album will be a essential purchase for all fans of the bands mentioned in this review. Check out Resonaut's Myspace for info on the demo, i have a feeling they are giving this one away for free judging by the way its being spread at the moment. This is a must have. 9/10

Resonaut @ MySpace.com 

Jun 18, 2010

Any Writers Of Doom Out There ?

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The success of Doommantia.Com has got to the point where i can no longer keep up with the demand for reviews and interviews. If you have previous experience in writing reviews or think you have what it takes to write a decent review with some detail, contact me through this site or shoot a email to doommantia69@yahoo.com. Fill me in on your previous writing experience or tell me what makes you think you can fill this position. You have to really love what you are doing because there is no money to be made, just the satisfaction of sharing your thoughts with the rest of the world. I look forward to hearing from you.....Ed

The Sullen Route - Madness of My Own Design


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This is the debut of a young Russian band called The Sullen Route and once again proves that Russia not only has some of the most devastating Doom Metal bands in the world but have a sound all of their own. Apart from Britain, Russia is perhaps the only other country that produces Doom / Death bands with a totally unique sound considering most other countries produce bands with a mix of mostly American and European influences. Sadly Russian bands are largely unappreciated and most often the most abused through mass illegal downloading, this might have something to do with the very loose Internet laws in their country. The Sullen Route comes from Volgograd which is as far as i know is a very bleak environment to grow up in which may account for some of the darkness on display in this hour of brutal despairing, hollowing music. Obvious comparisons would be the likes of Mourning Beloveth, Process Of Guilt, Ataraxie, Minsk, Mouth of The Architect, Centurions Ghost, Evoken, Skepticism, Officum Triste and Esoteric.

What makes this album such a special release is the degree of sophistication for such a young band showcasing their talents on a debut album. I would also go as far to say that this might just be the best debut release ever from a Death / Doom band from not only Russia but the whole of Europe. So big cheers to Solitude Productions for getting this band signed and putting this one out there, this is a monumental piece of work. Highlighting tracks in unnecessary in this review because this is back to back full of endless great emotional Doom Metal that uses pure Guitar to get the feelings across unlike most other bands in the genre that use and abuse the symphonic approach via Keyboards. The album lets you suffocate in a sea of cold atmosphere and their is no light at the end of the tunnel on this disc, its a un-pleasant journey but a moving one that will leave you exhausted and emotionally charged with anger, despair and sadness.

The Sullen Route's take on the Death / Doom genre is one laced with classical instrumentation but its never overdone, they use some technical guitar string arpeggios but like i previously said, this is class way beyond their young years. "Dagon", "Gates", and "I Come With The Rain" set the tone for the album in the first three tracks and that heavy intense mood is never lifted. The first three tracks are all killer exercises in controlled musical torment but other stand out tracks are the title track "Madness Of My Own Design" and the 10 minute album closer "One Way For Burning". While this is a incredibly deep and menacing album, its nothing new or original and if you have heard the bands i compared them to then you will know what to expect with The Sullen Route but this is so sophisticated for a debut album, it is stunning beyond belief. The band is made of Djaspam - Guitar/Vocals, Sergey - Guitar, Alena - Bass, Aleksey - Drums and they should be very proud of this recording. The production is excellent and the playing throughout is immaculate, i took one point off for the lack of originality but apart from that, this has everything you could want from a Death / Doom release. Buy It!! 9/10

The Sullen Route @ My Space
Solitude Productions @ My Space
Solitude Productions

Jun 16, 2010

The Antiprism - S/T


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From Madison, Wisconsin comes The Antiprism and i was surprised to discover this album was released on Barbarian Records way back in September of last year so i guess this could qualify as a hidden treasure or is it too new for that? Either way, this is a pretty cool album that instantly took me back to a time when Metal bands played Doom without even knowing it. This happen of course back in the late 70's and early 80's especially in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement. Bands such as  plays Witchfynde and Grim Reaper had their elements of Doom Metal but where never ever referred to as "Doom Metal". Same can be said for Hellhammer and Celtic Frost, that is where The Antiprism come in. Not only does the sound of the band echo that of early Celtic Frost but Alex Drake - Guitar and Vocals and Kurt Johnson on Bass actually play in a Celtic Frost cover band called Morbid Tales. Alex Drake's wife Kristine Drake plays Drums and does what can only be described as "wicked vocals" in the band along with Chuck Amble on second Guitar and that makes up the line-up.

The Celtic Frost influence is highlighted in songs like "Echoes Of The Silver Star" and "Filth Be Damned" but this is more Traditional Doom Metal than anything Celtic Frost ever done. The album begins on a rather shaky note however, "The Antiprism" is also the name of the album opener and its a bit on the forgettable side, so forgettable in fact i was half tempted to hit stop right there but luckily things get much better with second track "Exorcist". Its very traditional Metal and extremely cheesy but a great tune regardless, "Echoes of the Silver Star" is up next and it sounds like the bastard child of Hellhammer and Electric Wizard but things turn magical in the extreme for the next track "Madness Eternal". Its also the first time you will hear the wonderful vocal combination of Alex and Kristine Drake. Her voice can only be described as something out of a old hammer-horror flick as she has a insane "wicked witch from the east" type of voice but its works beautifully with hubby Alex's more nasty, aggressive ramblings. "Moonlight Overdrive" sounds like pure filler, not a total dud but mediocre material but the following "Obliterate Existence" takes up the slack nicely. The old school Metal approach is highlighted with thin but groove filled Guitar riffs that could have come from any Cirith Ungol record. Its predictable but the essence of true Heavy Metal is there and its a doom-filled journey that take you on even though most of the songs are terribly short and underdone.

"Ice Song" continues in a similar vibe, too up-tempo to be called Doom Metal these days but the underlying doominess is still there. A good example is in "Filth Be Damned" which is a mid-tempo, doom drenched burner only made even more spectacular by Kristine's amazing vocals. This woman will have you mesmerized in places on this disc, they are sick, tormented and sweet all at the same time and she would have made a perfect replacement for Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath. Listen to her and i am sure you will see my point. "Eye Of Fire" sounds like a early 80's attempt at Speed Metal, so much so it will have you digging out your old vinyl from the Neat Records label(showing my age here). "Mutilated Mass" and "For Blood Red Skies" finishes up the album in under 36 minutes, again just like a early 80's slab of Metal wax. These two tracks hold no real surprises by this stage of the disc but they are both listenable and certainty will get you nodding the skull. All in all, this is a passable blend of Stoner Doom, N.W.O.B.H.M and early proto Doom Metal made unique with the use the trade-off Guitar harmonies and the male and female vocal combination that is truly amazing in parts. The sound is a little thin and raw, even by early 80's standards and the songs are mostly too short so some tunes seem incomplete but if Black Sabbath, Cirith Ungol, Pentagram, Celtic Frost, Electric Wizard and Black Metal bands like Darkthrone are regulars on your play-list, then you must check out The Antiprism. 6.5/10

The Antiprism @ Myspace
The Antiprism @ CD Baby

Jun 14, 2010

Grand Magus - Hammer Of The North

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This band should need no introduction, since forming in 1999 Grand Magus have slowly but surely turned themselves in underground superstars with killer live performances and a string of strong albums starting with the self titled album in 2001 and the awesome "Monument" in 2003. The 2005 album "Wolf's Return" broke them worldwide, in the underground at least and the last album "Iron Will" built that popularity ever further. The sound of Grand Magus has changed and developed over the years however, the first two albums were built on Stoner / Doom grooves but from 2005 onwards the band headed into a more straight-forward Heavy Metal direction. "Iron Will" was a album with some great songs but i felt the production was a little thin. This new album called "Hammer Of The North" has new, revitalized production that blows away Iron Will in terms of sound but the style of the band has gone even more into the realms of standard Heavy Metal. That is not a bad thing but don't expect any Doom grooves or fuzzy riff-rocking here, this is Heavy Metal straight-up, no Doom, Black or Thrash to be found, this is Heavy Metal pure!!

The album opener "I,The Jury" sets the tone for the rest of the album, classic riffs built upon the Judas Priest tradition complete with Janne "JB" Christoffersson's vocals that are less deep and more high-pitched and wailing. The sound is punchy, crisp and sophisticated but wait a minute, this is pretty stock-standard Heavy Metal but a extremely catchy version of it. The title track and "Black Skies" continue in a similar vein with the Nordic trio blazing a trail of more great riffs, pounding rhythms and the remarkable vocals from JB which seem to get more powerful with every release. One recurring feature of the album is every song has a infectious melody line and only three tracks in and you will already have some unforgettable hooks burying themselves in your brain, you may try hard to resist but you will lose the battle because this is one damn catchy album. "Mountains Be My Throne" is a brutal riffing assault that sits halfway between Painkiller era Priest and early Spiritual Beggars, the chunky guitar work on this tune is predictable but full of class. There is also a lot to be said for the guitar solo's, more intricate than ever before they are a highlight of each tune on Hammer Of The North. "Northern Star" begins with a thundering, hammering drum beat and never lets go, a great song that is exceptional in its musicianship.

"The Lord Of Lies" hints at being a Doom Metal track but never quite gets to that level of melancholy, rather it builds itself in tension and dramatic melodies. "At Midnight, They Will Get Wise" sounds more like Judas Priest than Priest themselves with more driving dramatic vocal melodies and wailing solo's. "Bond Of Blood" is track number eight and features classic riff number eight, each track has at least one mind-blowing riff and this one has another killer. The bass playing is also more dominant than usual too and some of the bass lines are ear-catching, great stuff! "Savage Tales" and "Ravens Guide Our Way" rounds out the disc, the former is one of the more ordinary tracks on the album but the later is a monster of driving, melodic, classic Heavy Metal. Great bass lines and the most varied arrangement on the album, its a fitting way to close the album and there you have it. All in all, i rate this album higher than Iron Will but not as good as the Monument and the classic debut album. The problem i feel is that while this is a excellent example of how Traditional Heavy Metal should sound, they have move a little too far away from their original sound. That may seem trivial and it kind of is because this is still a great album but its getting a little too predictable and cliched in parts for me. Grand Magus fans should dig it though and it will draw more legions of fans to the band due to the brilliant musicianship, the incredibly gifted vocals and the infectious melody lines. 8/10

Grand Magus
Grand Magus @ MySpace
Rise Above Records artist's page

Jun 13, 2010

Interview With Simon From The Lamp Of Thoth - Gotta Love The Lamp

The Overtly Melancholic Lord Strange - Bass and Vocals, Randolf Tiberius Reaper - Guitar, Lady Pentagram on Drums make up the wonderfully eccentric Traditional Doom Metal band known as The Lamp Of Thoth. Known as everyone's favorite Doomed Victorian occultists, the band have produced some of the most classic Doom rock tunes in recent years. The 2008 album, "Portents, Omens & Dooms" was a masterpiece of old school Heavy Metal, Doom Metal and Epic Metal with a quirky twist. The sense of humor combined with the meshing of sounds and influences from Black Sabbath, Cirith Ungol, Witchfinder General to early 80's New Wave Of British Metal isn't exactly revolutionary but they are one of the kings of the classic riff and they are not short of classic lyrics either. Aleks Evdokimov put together this interview, you can also read it at metallibrary.ru for the Russian readers of Doommantia. The interview is with the main man Simon and i think you will find this a very detail and entertaining read.

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-Salute, sir Simon! Truly to say I always try to escape such standard questions as this one, but our agents need to know - how and where was the Lamp of Thoth created?

Hello mate!

The Lamp of Thoth was created when, in around 2006, I had learned of the local legend of The Society of Dew and Light. The story kind of sparked my imagination, and I started writing songs that in my head I imagined could have been created by a coven of Victorian gentlemen, who by a series of weird events, had, under the inspiration from extra dimensional entities invented the steam driven amp and begun to write these ditties upon their new electrified guitars in order to summon the nefarious and demoniac beings they served. Little did they know as they recorded their efforts on to wax cylinders, that this kind of music would be rediscovered in twentieth century by four men from Birmingham, and that, although the steam driven amp did not catch on, the electrified guitar would come to dominate twentieth century music.
These aristocratic gentlemen had plenty of time to spare after making their monies from the mills of the local area, and under the influence of the beings whose cover would be blown forty or so years later by the Providence author Howard Phillips Lovecraft when he told the world of the things that exist not in the spaces we know, but between them.
These men had been greatly interested in the recent mathematical discovery of the fourth dimension, and they knew intimately the shape a struck e-chord makes in perpendicular space, the notes caught in right angles to frame the cities of elder things that walk serene, primal and unseen through third dimensional space.
The Overtly Melancholic Lord Strange (these are the imaginary historical figures I speak of here, not the modern members of the group), whose knowledge of the futility of all human endeavor crushes his soul like the heel of God's boot; Randolph Tiberius Reaper, mustachioed and mad, the evil glint in his eye - his only thrill the kill and sacrifice of young women at upon fey altars, his suave and educated demeanor a thinly veiled mask for the primitive brutality that lurks beneath. Emily Pentangle or Lady Pentagram as she was also known, an imperious beauty from out of the depths of time, a countenance of stone and ice, a glorious Medusa.
Can you imagine the impact that this music would have, when played at the sabbat of the new age upon us, where electricity was king? The sparks that flew from the guitar, the dials and meters a whir with the power that coursed through them, the blunt and strange whining of the crushed soul of Lord Strange, his days with the East India company of the British Empire far behind him, and, upon a set of drums carved with the finest ivory, in the esoteric robes of the convert, the sublime Lady Pentagram lets the primal beat pour through her. The people in the room move in frenzy as the music echoes across and between the spheres, and the strange many angled ones come forth to feed and dance. Old Grim Jack, sits smoking his lotus filled pipe and smiling at the carnage to come before slipping back through the silent door to his lusty and eternal abode, the true king of old London town, and bearer of the souls of England to the pagan afterlives. Fey Ray Moribund, that mysterious man of the east, basks in the screams of the dead and dying.

The amplifiers bellow steam as they change gear and the music becomes louder, and even the monoliths on the strange hillside resonate with ancient vibrations once more released and gory tentacles coil around the moss and lichen to herald a pseudopod that greedily grabs at the helpless spectators.

But, anyways - I digress! The first song I wrote I think was You Will Obey, which was an old song of mine from a previous band which I revamped. Then came Pagan Daze, Yota, They Dance, Wings of Doom, Blood on Satan's Claw and once that happened the project seemed to gain a life of its own!

-It's said that The Lamp of Thoth "were an infamous esoteric coven who operated out of Keighley back in the Victorian age", but is it truth? And if so it is then with which deeds and creeds were they famous?

Yes it is truth!
The Lamp of Thoth was an occult periodical put out group of Yorkshiremen who were caught up in the magical and spiritual revival in the late Victorian period. They went by the name The Order of Dew and Light, as well as the Rox Crux Frates, translated as Fathers of the Rosy Cross. They are famous because they managed to upset not only Madame Blavatsky of the Theosophists, but also (and more significantly) Samuel Macgregor Mathers of The Order of the Golden Dawn (probably the most famous occultist group of them all). In fact, the first ever recorded public acknowledgment that the Golden Dawn existed, was because of an argument in the pages of the Theosophical publication Lucifer, in which 'one who had been duped' accused The Order of Dew and Light of sacrificing animals in order to gain some kind of dark knowledge.
Whether this alarmed The Golden Dawn, or they were just jealously guarding their own knowledge and magical system is probably lost to history, but there is evidence to suggest that the members involved in The Lamp of Thoth were influential and important people in and around Keighley in 1888, and that they had managed to get hold of a medieval spell book once belonging to Henry Clifford of Skipton. They also were in possession of a map which showed the region around Keighley to be a mystical landscape called The Dragon Lands, which tied up all the local pagan places of worship, such as The Swastika Stones and Twelve Apostles, of Ilkley moor, into a star. The focal point of this star was the source of all the energy of this landscape and where the sect is reputed to have practiced their strange rites.
I have looked into this story, but unfortunately a lot of the evidence has gone missing. Some authors on the occult from the sixties and seventies do mention seeing a surviving copy of The Lamp of Thoth occult periodical, and I have learned of a lot of letters which mentioned the prominent people in Keighley who were involved, but these have also mysteriously gone missing. The only fellow in the group we really know about is the secretary, who defended the group in the pages of Blavatsky's Lucifer. His name was David Lund. Someone has actually made a little film about him here http://goldendawnbradford.blogspot.com/ and if you follow the links you can learn about The Golden Dawn temple and society in Bradford.

I've read Blavatskaja and most of her works look too chaotic, it's an interesting question of whom we can trust in such situations. For example you could trust some esoteric masters for their deeds are interesting, you could trust in Christian saints' biographies for you just believe or you can trust in joga practice for you experienced some of them and know it certainly. How do you choose in such cases - who is the one worthy to trust?

Well, I'm buggered if I know! I tend to trust what I know from experience and personally speaking I think the best way to gain experience is to do things the hard way! I haven't read Blavatsky in any great detail, but usually the names and attributes of esoteric masters, Christian saints, and pagan deities are just details - when you look at the essences of these things you can see that they are just masks. Odin has comparable traits to Christ; the saints of the Catholic Church perform the same function as mediators between man and god as much as the old pagan gods did - and so on. In most things in life, you should try to look at what's beneath, rather than the surface detail, and trust in your own judgment - there is an eternal story being constantly retold, and you just have to figure out your part in it. You won't get it right every time, but you may attain some consistency in your decisions which will lead you down the right path.



-Esoteric sects have its' own aims - searching of power and delights or enlightenment in some or another way. I think not that modern Lamp is a regular sect but each of us has its own way - do you practice any occult ways of spiritual development for example?

I incorporate and am influenced by the following luminaries in regards to my own personal belief system: Joseph Campbell, Alan Moore, Nietchze, Norse mythology, Dave Sim, Eric Rucker Eddision (whose Zimarvia trilogy is about as close to my own conception of the world as I have ever read), narratology, Fritz Leiber, and the sublime and extremely profound philosophies of Robert E Howard and Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

There is no occultism in the traditional sense, anymore. It can all be found in your local Waterstones or on Amazon - how esoteric is that?! The heavy metal concert is the perfect modern religious ceremony for me - it has its own rules and rites, it transforms your consciousness from the mundane to the metal, it gives you a sense of otherness as well as a sense of belonging - what more do you want? Having said that, I have been a member of The Blue Star Lodge in Keighley for some time now… the Age of Aquarius is over, a new age of repression must now begin!

-The Age of Aquarius is just begun as Kali Yuga ended somewhere in 17th century… is it another question of trust, Simon?
Sorry, I was referring to the false Age of Aqaurius promised by the sixties and espoused by the lazy hippies who got us into this mess! I think the end of Kali Yuga was 1899ish!

-With which kind of witchcraft did you seduce Randolf Tiberius Reaper to play with you in Lamp of Thoth?
I just sent him the demo cd, he liked it! He learned the songs and then we met up for a pint and the rest is history!

-How do you realize this wicked collaboration with him? He is from Hamburg, Germany and he has his own - and bloody good - band Spirit Descend, he doesn't look like inveterate heretic!
I just waved a bottle of whiskey in front of him!

-You're very careful as author of songs' lyrics, I'm meaning that these texts are enough poetic, they are very detailed, there are even rhymes and it's rare thing in modern metal-scene. England is well-known as motherland of famous poets and writers, don't you feel a weight of responsibility in that sense?
Well thanks there! I didn't realize that rhyming was a rare thing in heavy metal! I'm not that much of a poet that I feel an anxiety of influence from a long line of English poets, but I do enjoy reading the works of Coleridge, Tennyson, and Shakespeare amongst others. In a lot of the aforementioned men's works you can detect the heavy metal spirit I think! One of the most heavy metal lines occurs in Shaky's Macbeth: 'His sword smoked with bloody execution', and the witches speeches are just pure metal in themselves (that's why Hell used them!), Iron maiden know the power of Coleridge. Also that Tennyson's 'The Kraken' is an influence on the conception of Cthulhu is a popular observation.

It's not that I'm careful, I think it's just my own pretensions and stuff gleaned from the things I have read, I'll steal from Sabbath and Vitus, as much as the above!

My favorite lyrics to sing, and the best I feel I have written are to the song 'They Dance', which should be out soon on our new ep 'No Laughing Matter' by Buried in Time and Dust records. I have used a lot of alliteration in the style of the Old English poets, and this makes it so fun to sing. I wish I knew all the rules and could do it properly, but the problem is that sometimes the music dictates what can and cannot be sung! That's why we have poetry I guess!

-You speak as true educated English gentleman! I'm sorry but where did you study, comrade? And - in continue of lyrics' theme - don't you think that you use such words as "doom" too often? :-)
I studied English for a while part-time, but the money ran out!
As for the word doom - I make no secret that it is my favorite word! It is interesting in that most people use the word as a suffix without even realizing it in everyday life! Freedom, boredom, Christendom, kingdom, martyrdom, popedom, wisdom, etc! I don't know why my use of it upsets people - it's a good Anglo-Saxon word!

-You've said about forthcoming "No Laughing Matter" - which songs will be included into this CD?
'No Laughing Matter'
1. Skull Fuel - it's an oldie, but a goldie. We put this song on our first demo, and some people seem to like it. It's a bit more cosmic than we usually are, but it's fun to play live.
2. The Boggart - some people will know this from our myspace and from the POD II tape. It's a straight forward take on the Saint Vitus alienated monster type song, but from a Yorkshire angle.
3. Dark World - this is our cover of the Saint Vitus classic. It's not a straight forward cover, so I hope people will forgive us.
4. They Dance - this is a song from the early days of the band, and one which we never got around to playing. But the guys from Buried by Time and Dust really liked it, so we recorded it. We have yet to play it live, but we are working on it!

-I remember a lot of bands who composed songs about witchcraft, process of witch-burning, demon-worship and Lovecraft's or Howard's stuff (Solomon Kane, Conan, Kull). And if we gather together all of these bands then we get a great pack of professional witch-hunters… What kind of books did you like in your childhood and what kind of books do you read now?
The first book that I ever remember reading closely was a book about Robin Hood. It was an old sixties thing and chronicled his life from his birth to his death. It made quite an impression on me! The Robin Hood depicted was of the old style of the Errol Flynn movies. He wasn't a war weary man returned from the Crusades, or some pseudo pagan living an alternative lifestyle in the woods like more modern adaptations of the character, he was like the spirit of merry olde England embodied - a force of nature, blessed with a confidence and a stoicism that just made the other men in the story pale in comparison! In the scene at the end of the book he hears an elderly Marion has died in her convent, and he fires his arrow from the window and Little John buries him where it lands. It still gets me! There is a local legend in Yorkshire that this happened at Kirkstall abbey in Leeds, when Robin was tricked by some evil woman, but I prefer the other version of the tale!
The next book that had such an effect on me was when I discovered H.P. Lovecraft. I think I first read him when I was 14 or roundabouts. I didn't always understand what he was on about, but the impressions that I gleaned from those readings still live on in my head - even when I reread the stories and discover that the tales are totally different events to the ones I thought happened! I vividly remember the eeriness of The Tomb, where the fella would just sit outside the tomb for hours on end - creepy stuff. I think that's what happens with Lovecraft - if he gets you early enough you are hooked, and then people of your own age to whom you try to recommend him as an author, see the bad prose and the adjectives and look at you as if you are retarded!
Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns was another profound moment for me! My favourite version of Batman ever - that DC canceled his All Star Batman and Robin because the modern critics couldn't hack Miller's dark psychotic Batman is a tragedy! At the moment I am also hooked on Grant Morrison's run on Batman, which has invigorated my love for the character and reinstated the more science fiction orientated Batman without making him lose his edge - as classic as the Miller stuff in my opinion and I never thought I would say that.

-Well, did you see last cinematographic versions of "Robin Hood" or "Batman"? The last one is very impressive film.
I have seen 'The Dark Knight', and it is probably the best film version of Batman around, but I still feel that comics and films, rather than one being a silent and still version of the other, are very different in the way that they work. I much prefer the comics to the movies, because when stuff like Batman becomes a film, I have to sit through an origin story I already know for half of it. In the comics Batman is part of the DC universe, but in the movies he has to be part of our universe and the character suffers for it. The concept of Batman becomes a bit isolated on the screen, when you extract him from a 70 year old continuity.

-You have the song "Victorian Wizard" - so where is a difference between Victorian and simple wizard, man?
Well, the song is a riff on Alan Moore's From Hell. It's about Jack the Ripper and how he helped herald in the twentieth century through his Masonic rituals and magic! It's born of my love of that book (which is based on Steven Knight's book Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution which reveals that one William Gull surgeon to Queen Victoria is Saucy Jack. I think that book was an influence also on the Count Raven song 'In Honour' which I love! The title 'Victorian Wizard' is just a description of one way of looking at the fella - in his own head he is conducting an elaborate sacrifice for England and her future; on the other side people see him as a deranged killer! Alan Moore plays with the idea of architecture as a medium for inducing psychological responses in people, and compares it to history, asking the question of whether history also has an architecture and a shape, but one of which we are unaware; that sequences of related events can be seen as shapes in the fourth dimension. He deals with the ripper murders as a splash in a pond and traces the ripples through history - the Yorkshire Ripper, the Moors Murders, and even the conception of Adolf Hitler! All these people saw themselves as magi, prophets or even wizards in some sense!

-Your song "Blood On Satan's Claw" is one of most catchy one and you've said that it was one of your first songs - how did you compose it? Is a theme of dealings with evil so tempting for you or is it just some kind of tribute to genre?
I don't really know how that one came about, or why it came about. I just found myself singing the chorus one day - I couldn't get it out of my head, so I wrote the song around it. It is a tribute to the witch burning songs so prevalent in doom and metal. In response to this question I have sat down and tried my hardest to figure out what the lyrics are about, but for the life of me I can't pin it down! I think this was just one of those songs that kind of wrote itself and one that I didn't have to think about too much. Like all good 'evil woman' or witch burning metal songs it's probably just an expression of men's unspoken pathological hatred of womankind as the source of all their woe and pain, because secretly we believe they are all witches!
(Cue Den Dennis): 'Yeah, those are the bits that I like!'

-Do you admit that your vision of doom is quiet aesthetic? We have a lot of rough and clumsy works in this genre but you have well thought-out conception and excellent realization of your ideas in the end.

Thanks!
I don't think my aesthetic is any different to other doom or traditional metal bands, but I tend to look at what I write as a 'song' rather than a 'doom metal song'. I think that's a healthier way to do it. If the song takes me somewhere that maybe some other bands would shy away from because it may not be 'doom', I would look to the song structure for guidance rather than some preconceived doom metal aesthetic, creed or motto. It's probably a strength and a weakness like most things - a lot of people don't think we qualify under the term.

-Simon, what is your progress with Arkham Witch project? Why did you start this band? And don't you think that participant in this project can weaken The Lamp?
The Arkham Witch project is going along slowly but surely, we have a bunch of songs written now, so we just need to rehearse a bit more and then record. I started the band because I just have so many songs that I need to record, and TLOT already has so many songs written and ready to go, plus Randy Reaper is keen to be more involved in the song writing process. I am not getting any younger - need to do this stuff now whilst people seem to like it!
It won't weaken the lamp I can assure you - there is room for both bands. There are still doom elements in Arkham Witch but mostly it's more a traditional metal sound. We have a lot of heroic songs coming up! It's just organization that's required!

-Well, what's about Arkham? Is it really famous with witches, man?
Yes - 'witch haunted Arkham' as Lovecraft called it! But, having said that, I would rather be stuck in Arkham than Innsmouth - even the folks of Arkham shun that place!

-You already have 9 songs with Arkham Witch, what do you need to go in a studio and just record them all? The German heavy metal label Barbarian Wrath is signed you so what is a problem?
We need to rehearse and find a time when everyone is free. It sounds easy, but it is not as easy as that! We all work, some of us have families and it's hard to fit stuff in around that. We are really happy to be on such a great label and to have such support!

-You demonstrate high creative intensity with The Lamp of Thoth and Arkham Witch. You have a good pack of singles and Eps, what drive you to work with such haste keeping prime grade standards for your music?
Well, thanks once again for the kind words! I think it is mainly after years of being in bands that no one cares about, now finally being in a band that people take an interest in is something I don't want to end, so I want to get as much stuff out there as possible. Plus, some of these songs were written a long time ago - its stuff I have had for a while, so it's something I can draw on if needs be.

-It will be pity if agents of holy inquisition finally catch you and purge you for such blasphemy… What would you say them as you see them behind your front-door, man? What you play it just for fun? What you are just an artist?!
Well, I am not an artist, but at the same time I don't play for fun. That's not to say it isn't fun sometimes, but it's more like an addiction - something I have to do! Over the years it has cost me money, time and friends but I wouldn't want to do anything else! The holy inquisition can go and fuck themselves! They will have to take me to heavy metal rehab!

-That's all for a first time - thank you for this interview, Simon! Send my best wishes to your comrades at arms - to Emily and Randolph. Though you're heretic and as a heretic you should be purged… no, you play great music, man, just thank you for that!
Thanks for the great questions and thanks for the chance to enjoy the sound of my own voice!

The Lamp of Thoth at MySpace
The Miskatonic Foundation
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