Oct 31, 2010

Lesbian - Stratospheria Cubensis

Every once in a while along comes an album that almost can't be reviewed because some albums project a vibe that is going to be completely different to whoever listens to it making individual thoughts or opinions irrelevant and unique only to the person doing the reviewing. Such is the case with Lesbian's "Stratospheria Cubensis", this is a recording so complex and multi-layered it is really difficult to understand what they are trying to do. This band from Seattle, Washington has always been an interesting band that has always gone against the grain when to comes to Stoner Metal, Doom Metal, Sludge and Progressive Rock. Lesbian are all these genres rolled into one but "Stratospheria Cubensis" is certainly more proggy than anything they have done before. The album "Power Hor" released in 2007 displayed a knack for slowly building momentum and atmosphere in their songs but also a gifted musical strength of intricate ideas that leave you mesmerized and they have showed that especially during live performances. "Stratospheria Cubensis" however they might have out-done themselves in some respects, it might be too intricate and overblown for the average listener. At first I found myself lost for words with this album, how in the hell can you describe this music ?

This album was produced and mixed by Randall Dunn who has worked with Sunn O))) and Earth and the first thing to grab you by the throat is the sound of the disc, it is huge, sonically bombastic tidal-waves of sounds. The next striking element is the vocals, there has been major improvements there over earlier recordings. Again just like recordings from their past, the songs are long, 5 tracks stretching 71 minutes so it is a challenging listening experience. The album starts with the most conventional track on the album, "Poisonous Witchball" which is the shortest most direct tune but it still carries on for over 8 minutes. Layered vocals and a pulverizing riff that pauses briefly now and then only to come back at you heavier than it was before. It is the most traditional in the "doom metal" sense and it is not far removed from bands like Sleep but after this track the album goes through some very dramatic and diverse changes. The band slow down and the songs become more progressive, psychedelic and hypnotically complex. Some of this wouldn't sound out-of-place on a 70's prog rock album as large sections of music float in different directions from uplifting melodies one minute to passages of dark blackened fury the next. Vocalist Dorando Hodous makes the most out of these blackened sections with his hellish throaty and very angry growl. However too often I found myself a little bored but I will focus on the good and there is plenty of captivating moments.

The first one comes a few minutes into "Raging Arcania" when the sound becomes wide-opened and spacey and then becomes very thick and dense, great atmospheric sound to this track but it takes a while to get going in the right direction for me. "Stropharia Cubensis" has a great brooding atmosphere and gets very grandiose with a twisting, turning riff 11 minutes into its complicated journey. The best track overall though is the last tune, "Black Stygian" that goes from early 90's Stoner Metal to Funk to Death Metal To Progressive Rock to Grunge all within the one monster track. The bad news however is while "Black Stygian" stands out as the best tune here, it is also lacking anything holding it together and the album suffers the same fate all the way through. The album is like a schizophrenic musical attack with ideas being thrown together at random, there is no questioning their musical ability as most of this is jaw-dropping musicianship but the songs don't flow too well for me, it seems clunky and clumsy at times. The album does include many elements that could have easily turned this into a masterpiece but when the band moves from Sludge to Prog, it doesn't seem to fit. I might be missing something here however and I am sure some folks will hear this and be floored by its musical scope. Don't take my words too seriously here, I urge you to hear it for yourself and make up your own mind.........6/10
Official Website
Lesbian on Bandcamp

Oct 30, 2010

Drop Out And Kill - A Interview With Blut

Blut the two-man drone doom from the UK are not to be confused with the Swedish band of the same name, Blut play a low-fi, grotesque kind of blackened drone doom that makes Sunn O))) seem melodic. Their "F**K Everything" attitude comes across in their music, it is unrelenting and ugly but also captivating and atmospheric. The album "Ritual and Ceremony" is one of the best recordings of its kind made in recent years and listening to it takes on you on a journey that isn't pleasant but it is totally mesmerizing. Fans of Buried At Sea and Moss need to check out this band. I did this interview with the two guys from Blut simply known as S.M (Drums,Guitar,Voice,Noise)  and N.B (Bass,Noise,Tapes).

1. Thanks for this interview and sorry for the delay but life sucks sometimes. I guess a good place to start is on the band and its history. Can you tell the readers a bit about your musical backgrounds and the formation of the band Blut ?

S.M - Well the both of us were in black metal and as they dissolved we started  BLUT as an experimental outlet, but it soon became clear to us that this was the direction we wanted to head in , there is no pressure in this band to stick to set out formulas  ,where as in Black Metal you shouldn’t really deviate too much from the standard sound. We also had vintage valve amps at our disposal so what better way to use them than with drone doom.

2. The band plays a kind of blackened droning doom that is small passages is more in-line with some black metal acts in terms of atmosphere. How and who from the black metal scene influences the band and why ?
S.M – I suppose some elements from playing Black Metal have stayed with us, especially in the high vocals and the overall lo-fi sound which we create  .We,  like many Doom and Black Metal musicians are not really looking for a polished sound,  its more the atmosphere we want to achieve, in fact we have even been known to record onto old cassette recorders and Dictaphones just to acquire heavy tape saturation and hiss in our sound. We also record everything ourselves with no outside help, other musicians and studio people would not understand our methods and we do not appreciate  outside interference in what we do. Bands like BURZUM,BLASPHEMOUS CRUCIFIXION, HELVINTR, TENEBROUS,  MOONBLOOD, MALVEILLANCE, JUDAS ISCARIOT, SADOMATOR, NASTROND, GRAVELAND(early), HEARTLESS(China) and ISTIDRAJ have been a big influence on our sound but also bands like NIGHTSTICK, EARTH, 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS, JOHN FAHEY, TROUBLE, WARNING and BLACK SABBATH.


3. Do you feel limited by playing this style of music and by being a just a two piece ?

S.M - No, it's never been a problem. We can experiment with this style and the possibilities are vast. As far as being a two piece goes, well its fewer people to have to rely on, and really we don’t know of anyone else in our area who wants to play this stuff with us, it turns out that most people don’t want to play the same three riffs for twenty minutes.

N.B - I don’t feel limited at all in fact I was more limited when I had a conventional band format if you can call it that. I like fucking around with noise and doing something that doesn’t have to stick to a formula.

4. The music you create, dare I say is pretty sick and twisted stuff, the kind of music that would go good with LSD. Are you a drug influenced band ?

S.M – Well I am a heavy drinker and I can think of nothing better than smashing down a bottle of Vodka or Spiced Rum and listening to Doom and Black Metal for hours on end, fuck it,  no I don’t do drugs anymore but I can see why someone would want to get high and listen to BLUT  it can be some psychedelic shit, when I was heavily into weed smoking I used to listen to NIGHTSTICK “Blotter” and MOONBLOOD rehearsal cassettes over and over  and I think those times have influenced my part in BLUT massively.

N.B - I no longer take part in drugs as I had massive issues with anxiety and O.C.D., so I stick to booze and the occasionally prescribed NHS standard chill pills. But if someone else wants to get twisted and rock out I am there with them in spirit.

5. Most people who have heard you would have heard you from the Ritual and Ceremony album but you have actually done several recordings in a short space of time. Can you fill us in on all this activity ?

S.M - Yeh, we recorded three demo cassettes before our album and we released them through the now deceased Wolfs Hook Records. THIS BURDEN was the first demo consisting of two tracks over thirty minutes or so, the second demo was DEAD.SOLSTICE released on Summer solstice 2009 again two tracks with a more black metal ambience hanging over the guitar drones, the third demo was a split cassette with Italian doom band TOD this was called HOLOCAUST DOOM ASSUALT and we played two tracks on this Throne2 and Throne Ritual which later were re-recorded and appeared as the first track on Ritual and Ceremony, these two tracks are were we really began to define our style.
6. Seriously what do you get out of playing this kind of music ? This may seem like a negative question but some people just don't get it do they ?

S.M - Well I understand why some people don’t get this music, its outsider music it isn’t for everyone, but the few people who like to get fucked up and listen to ritualised doom and lo-fi black metal, they will dig it. As far as what we get out of it, lets put it like this, when we rehearse and we have the valve amps as loud as we can and  we are half drunk on cheap Vodka locked  into a fuzzed out wall of guitar distortion it can become all-consuming, I would say almost cathartic for us. Thus releasing our negativity through this shit and hopefully poisoning the lives of our listeners in the process, we want to take all you fucks down with us!

N.B - I get to rock out with a fucking massive  bass amp stack and get hammered.

7. What have the live shows been like ? Can you tell us about some of those performances ?

S.M – We haven’t played live yet but the rehearsals sound promising and hopefully we can get on a show or two next year, but I couldn’t care much about playing this music live. So yeah if we play it wont be around here and it isn’t going to be very often. We enjoy playing this shit live for ourselves to much, I guess we’re selfish.

N.B. - I am happy to do shows if they come up and to be fair we could play at very short notice, we know our shit, that being said I never want it get to the point where playing shows becomes important.

8. Have you got a method or formula to writing the songs ? How did the songs for Ritual And Ceremony come together for example ?

S.M – I just would get an idea for a riff or two, go into the studio and record it, then I will keep going back to said riffs over the next few weeks or months and keep changing them and adding on them, but there’s no real formula its pretty loose and relaxed its important not to force songs like this, they will take on their own form if you leave them and work on them over time. We also record improvised noise from dubbed tapes played through effects pedals at our rehearsals, and then take them into the studio and add them over the more Drone and ambient arrangements. Ritual and Ceremony was recorded over the space of about two months, it was cool just getting drunk and going back over the songs, stripping them down adding new sounds trying out different recording techniques and layering sounds. We were also rehearsing the songs at excessive volume throughout the whole recording , so we could iron out bits that didn’t sit right.

9. People tend to automatically compare bands like Blut to Sunn O))) when most of the time the bands sound nothing like them really. Does this make you mad or do you take it as a compliment ?

S.M – It doesn’t bother me, I mean we play slow, use similar sounds and don’t have a great deal of drums compared to most Doom bands so the comparison is going to be inevitable, and fuck it SUNN O))) are a good band man, they will never beat Earth2 though, I listened to that record flat out for a year once, ha!!!!

N.B. - Who are SUNN O)))?

10. As a reviewer I stay clear of reading other people's reviews for bands to keep my thoughts fresh so what have the reviews been like for your work ?

S.M – We’ve had nothing but positive reviews, and that’s good, Ritual and Ceremony is fucking heavy man, people should get drunk and zoned out on amitriptyline, listen to it, then go out and desecrate some graves, maybe get into some fuckers tomb and steal a skull.

11. What are the musical requirements for making this kind of blackened apocalyptic music do you think ?

S.M – You don’t have to be an amazing musician to play these songs but it takes a certain attitude and dedication to do so, like I said earlier people don’t want to play the same notes and riffs for too long they can get bored and think the song is going nowhere, I can't think of anything worse than say a technical death metal band, that to me definitely goes nowhere I mean some of these fucking bands rarely play the same riff twice on any given song, we are more about getting hold of a riff and hypnotizing the listener with it then ritually abusing and murdering them with psychedelic Black Metal hate. A love for noise and repetition is also required, this is the ritual element of the music and has to be worshipped then defiled beneath an altar of feedback and amplifier static. Misanthropic hatred towards this miserable cunt planet and its inhabitants also helps, and you could probably do with getting a 70,s amplifier and a big muff .

12. What is your honest opinion on the UK underground scene, I personally have always love the British doom and drone scenes but you guys actually live it so is it as good as it seems to be ?

S.M – Yes there is some good Doom bands here, but we are not very active in the scene at all, I don’t know anyone in other bands and I’m not really in communication with other fans of Doom or Black Metal we are on the outside of it all and to be honest I’m happy not to get involved in scenes and shows at the moment.

N.B -  Black Sabbath invented doom and despite that twat Sharon Osbourne ruining Ozzy I.E -  not letting him die of alcohol and drug addiction before he did those shit solo albums, I would say that’s one up for English doom, also I don’t know if you have come across them but Electric Wizard are a pretty good doom band from my home town.

13. Who do you hate ? I ask this because there is a certain level of hatred that comes out in the bands material ?

S.M – The sample we used at the end of the second track on Ritual and Ceremony “And Death shall flee from them” pretty much sums it up for me, forty hour week wage slaves man,  and TV addicted robots, fuck that, I never want to be a part of that shit again, I dropped out a long time ago and I urge others to do so, and people that show off about being in a band, you know what no one gives a shit about your fucking crappy music and what guitar you got, I never tell anyone I play music anymore, the average man on the street couldn’t give a fuck about underground music so why brag about it? You just end up sounding like a cock and annoying people like me.  Also greedy bastards and deceitful rip off scum should go die, you know who you are.


14. So what is the future for Blut  for future albums & tours ?

S.M – We are in the process of finishing a forty minute track for an upcoming cassette release, the new track has a more over driven bass guitar sound and again massive expanses of droning noise and psyched out Black Metal puncture wounds, with some nightmare inducing ambient guitar loops. We are looking for a label also, but we can self release, a label isn’t everything, also there was talk with an American Doom band for a split cassette next year.

N.B. - what he said, but also I intend on starting a stadium rock band kind of like KISS, I got bills to pay.

15. Thanks again for the interview, any last words for the readers ?


N.B - If you buy Ritual and Ceremony and you find it’s not your thing, I can suggest an awesome band called Steel Panther, thanks for reading fuckers.
Blut @ Myspace
Blut Blogspot

Oct 29, 2010

Mournful Congregation - Attending Your Own Funeral ( Welcome Adam To Doommantia )

Please welcome another writer to the Doommantia team, Adam Drzewucki from The We Wither Blog, this new website is going to be essential reading for not just doom metal fans but metal-heads in general. Concentrating on interviews only, it will be an important place to stop by in the future. Adam has kindly agree to collaborate with Doommantia.Com and you will be able to read some impressive interviews from him in the coming months and hopefully years. Adam is a fine music journalist and a great dude so show him some support by visiting his site (which is in English by the way) and leave him some comments here on Doommantia. Here is his first interview for us, an interview with Australian Doom Metal legends, Mournful Congregation......Take it away Adam.

While most bands take part in speed racing, these Aussie funeral doom merchants took the advice given by Saint Vitus and Thergothon to insanely slow the fuck down and captured the essence of heaviness. Their 2009 long-player, “The June Frost”, together with Evoken's “A Caress of the Void” and Esoteric's “The Maniacal Vale”, is the top effort in the doom business from the last five years. Drummer Adrian Bickle answers the questions.

You started the band in 1993. What took you so long to actually start playing some live gigs a little more often in 2009 and 2010?
Adrian: We’ve basically always operated as a two or three-piece band in terms of the studio but we knew we’d require a five member line-up if we were going to transform Mournful Congregation into a live machine and authenticate the sounds. There was an attitude among us that we were only going to do this if there were significant incentives to play live. It just didn’t seem worth the time and effort training up two new members and developing a live set to only play some shows in Australia. However, by about 2008 it was obvious that there was a lot of interest in us playing abroad and some solid opportunities so we recruited Ben Newsome on bass and original Mournful Congregation member Ben Petch joined us on guitar and we just took it from there.

As you say „Doom is for those whose hearts beat slower”. While most metal bands pursue speed and blastbeat records, you are one big fuck off to all that. To all the trends, all the fashion, all the competition. Is doom metal a different state of mind? I love to look at it through the lyrics of the Saint Vitus song „Born too late”, which could be sort of an anthem or a doom manifesto. What do you think of that?
Adrian: There are so many people out there who measure heaviness simply through the speed of a blast beat or how fast the riff can be played where as our focus has always been more on the heaviness conveyed in an emotional or atmospheric capacity. You’re correct, as a collective we are completely indifferent to whatever is fashionable and in vogue so I guess, to some extent, our indifference is in itself a negation of whatever trends surround us.
As far as doom metal being a different state of mind... I think that comes down to the individual, to whatever their impression of doom is and how that manifests within them. And yes, if there was to be a doom anthem then Saint Vitus, Candlemass... these are good places to look.

You came to Europe with Mourning Beloveth and Longing For Dawn in 2009. Bands from Ireland, Canada, and you from Australia. What an extraordinary tour! What could you say about the whole thing?
Adrian: We made some lifelong friends out of that tour – the guys from Mourning Beloveth and Longing For Dawn were just such awesome people to tour with so we really couldn’t have asked for anything more. We stayed in some crazy places, met plenty of crazy people… so there wasn’t a dull moment. I think when you travel through a different country every day you end up in an almost constant state of surprise and awe at the architecture, the environment, and everything that varies from what you’ve come to know as ‘normal’ in your homeland. Nothing was disappointing though, it was a brilliant experience.

You went to Japan in July 2010. Played three shows in Nagoya, Tokyo and Osaka with Corrupted. Most bands that go there say it's crazy, fans are out of their minds, etc. Can you confirm that?
Adrian: There’s definitely a lot of fanatics in Japan – they are passionate about the music they enjoy but also the most respectful people I’ve ever encountered. And Corrupted.. damn, that was one of the heaviest things I’ve witnessed!

Your label Weird Truth is Japanese. What made you to coöperate with them?
Adrian: We’ve had a cooperation going on with Makoto & Weird Truth for about ten years now. I believe originally they contacted us about re-releasing the first couple of demos on CD and that eventually became what is now “The Dawning of Mournful Hymns” double CD. Over the years Makoto has proven to be a completely reliable and dedicated guy so we were very happy to carry on the working relationship with Weird Truth.
Your lyrics are quite poetic and metaphoric. Could you mention the most important and main themes and thoughts of them?
Adrian: Damon has written the vast majority of the lyrics for the band throughout our history and the themes include depression, transcendental meditation, the occult, suicide, loss, nature and that which encompasses the pursuit of universal knowledge and mystery.

I really love “The June Frost” layout. Who is Pat Di Palo and what does the triple cross with serpent stand for?
Adrian: The triple cross is in fact the Tree of Life (Kabbalah) and the snake draped around it is the Kundalini Serpent. The concepts behind this symbology are quite detailed but we’d certainly encourage those inclined to explore the more esoteric aspects of life. As individuals we consider there to be more to the universe and to the purpose of our being than zoning out watching television and drinking beer whilst checking Facebook on a phone. Unfortunately, in our dumbed-down and consumption obsessed societies most people have lost the inclination to explore the real mysteries or expand their thinking to embrace greater truths.
Pat Di Palo is a great friend and an extremely gifted photographer and graphic designer. His skills can also be seen on recent related releases such as the new Cauldron Black Ram and StarGazer albums.

Where did you take “The June Frost” promo photos?
Adrian: The photos were taken on a property in the hills outside of Adelaide. The road from this region carries on to the Riverland which is the area from which the band first originated.

Adelaide is a pretty huge city. Do you actually live in the city? What's the vibe like?
Adrian: Yes, we all live in Adelaide although I wouldn’t exactly class it as a huge city. There’s about a million people here but it’s only about the fifth largest city in Australia. It’s quite a nice place and I’d say the people here are generally rather friendly. The vibe is pretty relaxed, definitely more relaxed than the larger Australian cities like Melbourne and Sydney.

You seem to be really aware of all the aspects of the band. The whole sound and song structure, the lyrics, album art. It's all perfected and so carefully worked out that it's not much of a surprise that it takes you five years to complete the record. You like to take your time, don't you?
Adrian: Yes, we tend to be fairly meticulous with all the details and we’d definitely prefer to take our time with the whole process and be very satisfied with a release than rush things and end up regretting one part or another. Having said that, the five years or so between “The Monad of Creation” and “The June Frost” was also partly due to our busy schedules with music and the other things going on in our lives. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into Mournful Congregation in the last few years and we are just about to enter the studio once more – so there will only be about two years between “The June Frost” and what will follow it in 2011.

Tell me about the new material.
Adrian: We’ll be in the studio by December 2010 and should have the next album out by mid 2011. I’m confident this will be the most bleak and epic release thus far.

Do you have a working title for the next album? Will you re-record any of the older songs for it?
Adrian: We have some ideas for the next album title but nothing is certain yet. There will be no re-recordings on it, all of the material is fresh.
Let's say metal in general is underground music. But taking a closer look, Mournful Congregation is an underground of that underground. Nine out of ten of Sepultura or Dimmu Borgir fans wouldn't possibly make it through your album. How narrow is what you are doing?
Adrian: One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that there are plenty of metal fans who simply don’t get where we’re coming from but there are also plenty of people who generally have zero interest in metal that really enjoy what we do – on some levels we’re not particularly genre specific. What we do may be narrow in some ways, especially in the context of the metal scene. We don’t write music for people to mosh to, it’s not aggressive in any conventional sense, and we’re not trying to be more evil than the clowns in the next village. This isn’t music designed for simple digestion – it will never be mainstream, it will never be compromised and if that means nine out of ten Sepultura fans never understand us… well, we’re absolutely fine with that.

How does Australia affect your music? I can imagine some vast landscapes, loads of space, an impression of loneliness, alienation, melancholy. Are you inspired by the nature, Australian soil much?
Adrian: I find it difficult to imagine growing up in a place as vast and epic as Australia and not being influenced by it or drawing any form of inspiration from all that surrounds us. This environment would inspire each of us in our own way and in the end that inspiration can find a musical voice. As you mentioned though, there is a sense of isolation that prevails when you live on an island at the end of the Earth and this isolation can lead to states of melancholy and detachment. It’s natural, we’re used to it.

All of you play in other bands as well. Are they your side bands or is rather Mournful Congregation something you only do from time to time?
Adrian: No, I think I can safely say that Mournful Congregation is as important to us as any other bands we’re involved with. It’s definitely not looked upon as a side project. We’ve put much time into it and it’s becoming increasingly demanding.
What particular records made Mournful Congregation what it is? Who is responsible for the doom metal genre?
Adrian: In the beginning the members were inspired by records such as “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus” by Candlemass, “Forest of Equilibrium” by Cathedral, “Stream From the Heavens” by Thergothon etc. We were influenced by these types of albums but wanted to take it all to a more extreme, darker place. As for the origins of doom metal – to me it goes back to Black Sabbath, although that’s just my opinion.

Damon played with Portal – one bloody disturbing metal commando from Brisbane. It's one of those bands that is almost unlistenable. Are those guys total necro death-obsessed freaks?
Adrian: Aha, Damon assisted the Portal demons a few years ago now. Your description of them is fairly accurate although they’re more extreme than that.

Is your drumming style influenced by any other drummer? Did you ever hear anyone drumming as slow before yourself?
Adrian: If we’re talking about my drumming in Mournful Congregation then I’d have to say no, I didn’t base any of my playing on anyone else. I just tried to develop a trademark but minimalistic approach that would complement the feel of the music. I actually find it more difficult to play this extreme doom than most other styles because you have to try to make it powerful but insanely slow and tight at the same time. Generally speaking, the drummers that influenced me most were guys like Sean Reinert of Cynic, Terry Bozzio of UK, Virgil Donati – to name a few.
There were definitely guys playing ultra slow before me – Thergothon is just one example.

You have done a cover song of Thergothon for the "Rising Of Yog-Sothoth" tribute album. Are you considering doing any other covers in the future?
Adrian: It’s not something we ever really discuss. In all these years that is the only cover we’ve ever done so unless there was a really good reason it’s difficult to imagine doing another one.

What was the set-list of your last gig?
Adrian: That was in Tokyo: “Descent of the Flames” – “Suicide Choir” – “The Epitome of Gods & Men Alike” – “A Slow March to the Burial” – “Mother-Water, The Great Sea Wept” – “Suffer the Storms”.

One of your other bands, Chalice, is no more, but there is Tzun Tzu. You seem to like Japanese history and culture. Did it start with Kurosawa movies?
Adrian: Chalice disbanded quite a while ago but several of the members still play together in Black Orchid, including Justin from Mournful Congregation. I don’t actually play in Tzun Tzu, I just did some session drums on a couple of tracks in the studio and live when they performed with Dismember. Tzun Tzu is really the brainchild of Don Taylor who’s a death metal legend here in Australia and so even though I do possess a deep respect and interest in Japanese culture that band is in fact a reflection of the interest of Don in the Asian cultures.

What albums have impressed you so far in 2010?
Adrian: Burzum “Belus”, Watain “Lawless Darkness” and StarGazer “A Great Work Of Ages”. There’s probably a bunch of others, I just can’t think of them right now!

The Australian scene isn't too well-known in Europe. Well, there is AC/DC, but I mean more underground. Could you name some significant bands in the history of Aussie metal?
Adrian: When I was growing up there were bands like Sadistik Exekution that were taking things to a pretty extreme level. Nowadays there is a lot of talent and diversity within the metal scene here – sadly, our isolated location means that only a handful of the talent here gets seen abroad. If I was going to recommend some quality bands I’d probably say Psycroptic, StarGazer, Neath, Virgin Black, Nazxul, Tzun Tzu, Black Orchid, Portal, Altars, Austere, Cauldron Black Ram. That’d be a solid start.

I cannot resist asking this one. Chopper – legendary man. A few books, a great movie and loads of myths. How much of a public person is he in Australia and do Aussies actually give a toss about him?
Adrian: Haha, yeah, Chop Chop is a real cult legend in Australia. Some people love him, some loathe him – but everyone knows who Chopper is! He has quite a solid place in Australian folklore because he managed to take humour and intelligence and cleverly reflect on a life as a career criminal.
Interview By Adam Drzewucki ( We Wither Blogspot - Exclusive Metal Interviews )
Mournful Congregation @ Myspace

Amebix - Redux

Amebix was initially formed by Rob Miller  along with his brother Stig, Andy Billy Jug and Clive while in school in Devon in 1978. Initially referring to themselves as "The Band with No Name" the band played  around their local area, during which time they recorded a six-track demo tape. Using his role as part-time writer in a local paper Rob Miller gave a tape to Crass when they played in Plymouth. The track "University Challenged" from this demo was then featured on the first Crass Records Bullshit Detector compilation LP and this was the first time Amebix made it to vinyl. Some line-up changes occurred including one guy being removed from the band after being diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. They went on to record a couple of 7" singles and a 12" before being signed to Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label. They recorded the first album "Arise" with them and then move on to the Heavy Metal Records label for the "Monolith" album in 1987. That is where their story becomes interesting, known as a crust-punk band by some and a filthy, sleazy metal band by others, Amebix didn't seem to fit into either scene particularly well. After all they were influenced by Motorhead, Hawkwind and Black Sabbath but also had a deep appreciation for the punk and gothic scene at the same time, especially bands like Killing Joke. They were even quoted on one occasion as saying they liked the music of Venom but it has been denied since then. So Amebix were in an odd place musically, too punk for most metal heads and too metal for most punks, this made them one of the very first crossover punk-metal bands.

However the band self-destructed in the late 80's but it got a rebirth after The Baron and Stig reformed Amebix with Nausea/Soulfly drummer Roy Mayorga in 2008. They went out on a small tour and were stunned to learn how much of a following they still had and how much of an influence they had on people from many genres of music. They decided to head back into the studio after the success of the tour and record new versions of 3 classic Amebix tracks, "Arise!", "Winter" and "Chain Reaction". This has cause cries of "cash-in" from some critics and while it may seem like a unnecessary step to take, their effort has been worthwhile because it has put Amebix back into the minds of many. These versions of these classics sound cleaner and at first I was a bit put off by that, at first I thought the songs lacked the bite of the originals and in a way I still think they do but after a few spins I began to dig these new recordings. "Arise" is of course still a killer tune but lacks the energy of the original, "Winter" comes off a little better showing a bit more gusto and "Chain Reaction", one of the most black-metal sounding tracks from the band sounds as evil as ever as is my favorite re-recording of the three on "Redux".  Any Amebix fan will want to buy this but for casual listeners I would stick with the originals. The big question is how are the new recordings going to stand up, the news is they are tentatively working on a new album. There is also a live album and DVD release in the works, now that will be essential. "Redux" is out now on Profane Existence Records...............7/10
Official Amebix Site
Official Amebix @ Myspace
Profane Excisence Records
Buy It Here
or here - Hellride Music Superstore

Windhand – Practice Space Demo 2010

I got to know this very young US band about two months ago through an advice of a British blog friend, Sabbathian, who is always giving me some cool hints.

Well, Windhand is from Richmond, Virginia, but these guys sound soooo British! Why?

Because they play a very charming, dirty and groovy blend of vintage psychedelia and heavy doom metal/rock which evokes, in me at least, opium parlours, obscure hippie-styled sabbath rituals in foggy, mossy places, mushrooms all over, and so on.

The band includes four members: Ryan Wolfe on drums, Nathan Hilbish on bass, Garrett Morris and Asechiah Bogdan on guitars and, last but absolutely not least, Dorthia Cottrell on vocals.

My statement about singer Dorthia Cottrel is not much related to feminist sense of support but for the fact that Dorthia is what makes, for me, the difference.

If you go on sites like Last.Fm and type Windhand, you'll see a very long list of bands that share "super similarities" with these Richmond doomsters.

That's normal, as these guys + gal are adepts of the room-shaking heaviness typical of classic doom à-la-Pentagram and Saint Vitus. But Windhand is female-fronted, and Dorthia's vocals is so charming!

I'm generally not fond of female vocalists in metal, in particular of the performances in sugary symphonic or gothic metal. But I like the performance of female singers in doom, such as in Blood Ceremony, Jex Thoth or Devil's Blood. Neither nightingale voices nor wild hardcore screams: in doom female vocalists are able to give a great sense of melody without taking away a single bit of the sinister, creepy atmospheres and of the filth and oppression created by heavy distortion and by the stone heavy riffs. And, I don't know why, they add a certain vintage touch as well to the sound. Maybe because they recall the occult psychedelic aura of the seminal band Coven ...

On blog Morbid Rupture a reviewer wrote that the vocals of Dorthia Cottrell “have a very Devil's Blood-y feel to them, almost like Glen Danzig if he were a woman". In spite of the "gentle" female touch, Windhand is heavy as f***: guitars and bass are "so drenched in fuzz that you can't even make out the white noise associated with heavy distortion".

Of course Windhand's Virginian origin seeps through the tunes, as some riffs possess an unmistakable sludgy-southern flavour.

So if you like the mysterious and morbid atmospheres evoked by the charming witches as in Blood Ceremony, Devil's Blood, Jex Thoth, Mourn or Hands Of Orlac, high distortion in classic heavy doom (you add a list ...) with an American touch à-la-Acid King, Windhand is for you.

The band has so far released a self-produced two-track demo (Black Candles and the +10 minutes-long Winter Sun) and there's a third track on myspace (Heap Wolves, dating back to 2009) that guitarist Garrett was so kind to send me on request. They also have some cool t-shirts.

So, three songs are not much, it's just a first step, but this doomy folks are doing live activity and are exposing themselves. I am confident that quality will pay and that this promising bud will be soon into blossom.

I've got my own demo and my t-shirt. Now I'm waiting for a full-length ...  
Windhand @ Myspace

Review Writeen By Marilena Moroni

Oct 28, 2010

Solitude Aeturnus - Through The Darkest Hour ( Review Request )

Solitude Aeturnus are American doom metal legends that was started back the in spring of 1987 as Solitude, in Arlington, Texas. In their 23 years in existence, they have only ever released 6 studio albums which is properly the biggest tragedy in the history of doom metal. While they have been incredibly slow at releasing albums, they have been consistently brilliant as every album is an undisputed classic. Even their weakest album, "Downfall" which was marred by production woes more than anything else still wipes the floor with most other doom metal albums. I would even go as far as to say, they are the most consistent doom metal ever put on this earth, not in quantity but in sheer quality. When you consider that Solitude Aeturnus vocalist Robert Lowe's other band, "Candlemass" (who?) is thought of by many as being the worlds premier doom metal act and yet have done some very average albums in my opinion. The album, "Through The Darkest Hour" follows two other monumental releases, "Into the Depths of Sorrow" and "Beyond the Crimson Horizon" which all recorded within a 4 year period which brings me back to my opening comments, 3 albums by 1994 and only another 3 recordings since is a poor effort that can't really be excused, label problems or not it is a sad situation. However there is no denying how great all their albums are and "Through The Darkest Hour" and their last album, "Alone" released in 2006 stand out in my book as their two best albums and their most doom. Solitude Aeturnus were on a roll by 1994 and I blame the band along with Saint Vitus and the first Cathedral album for my total and utter addiction to doom metal.

Perfection is a word that gets thrown around pretty loosely these days by fans and critics but this album is really about as good as it will ever get within the doom metal genre. The line-up of the band back then was much different to what it is now but they were as equally exceptional musicians as the current members. Recorded May 1994 at Rhythm Studios, Bidford on Avon, Warwickshire, England and produced by the band and Paul Johnston, the sound on this album was a monster unleashed. What happened musically is they took the style of the first two albums and perfected it, added more Sabbathian elements, slow things down even further and increased the gloomy atmosphere making it one hell of a dark record. The main 2 men of the band, John Perez and Robert Lowe both hit their peak as songwriters and they have stayed there ever since. From the opener, "Falling" with its heavy groove and compelling lead breaks to the closing "Shattered My Spirit" with its epic doom balladry complete with acoustic intro and outro, this album is back to back captivating classic metal. John Perez said in the interview on their "Hour Of Despair" DVD that he wanted to make, "metal that would stand the test of time" and his wish came true with this beast. "The 8th Day: Mourning" and "The 9th Day: Awakening" add up to over 11 minutes of some of the most emotionally draining doom metal ever, "The 9th Day: Awakening" has always stood head and shoulders above most other doom metal for its use of Middle Eastern melodies and there is even sitar to back up the atmosphere. It might seem like a strange choice of instrument for a doom band but Solitude Aeturnus make it sound natural. "Haunting the Obscure" is another standout tune pushing the emotional epic doom vibe to heights most bands can only dream of.
The song "Pain" is another majestic moment in the career of SA with more amazing heavy grooves and Lowe sounding more ethereal than ever before and lyrically it is mesmerizing. "Pawns of Anger" and the ever so crushing "Eternal (Dreams Part II)" is two of the best songs they ever did and yet they are regarded as "obscure tracks", this shows the strength of this album. "Perfect Insanity" is the albums most aggressive moment especially in verses - like the lyrics, "Exhume the force conception, Bodies dead since birth, Your life is prostitution, It's payment is a curse". This album has everything you could ask for in a doom metal album, subdued to aggressive parts, incredibly captivating melodies, heavy as f**k riffs delivered from thick, warm guitars from Perez and it top it off some of the best guitar solos ever put down on tape. John doesn't over-play, he doesn't under-play nor does he go overboard at trying to show off, he records what is perfect for the song and is an expert at playing solos that don't take away or distract you from the mood of the song, sheer perfection!  The rest of the band is on fire too, the other guitarist Edgar Rivera compliments John Perez perfectly and Lyle on bass did a stellar job at supplying heavy-duty low-end bass rumble. Then of course you have the mesmerizing vocals from Robert Lowe who is without a doubt the premier front-man/vocalist in doom metal history, no one comes close in my book of doom. The control he has on this vocal range is hypnotic, reaching for high wails one minute only to take it down to subdued melodicism the next.

Fans of all forms of doom should own every Solitude Aeturnus album by now but for newbies to the genre and SA, this is an ideal place to start. While this album is indeed dark and depressing, it is also a powerful example of how dramatic and artistic you can get within the doom metal genre but it is more than just that, it is classic metal that traditional heavy metal fans can adore for decades to come. 1990-1994 was a magical time for doom metal and Solitude Aeturnus were one of the bands that made it that way. While that era is sadly dead and gone, albums like "Through The Darkest Hour" will live on forever and it just keeps on getting better with age. It was re-released in 2008 by Metal Mind Productions in digipack format with bonus live tracks and that is a great version to get if you can find it as it was limited to just 2000 copies at the time of release. Whatever format you buy, this is essential doom metal.......10/10
Solitude Aeturnus @ Myspace
John Perez @ Myspace
Robert Lowe @ Myspace
Solitude Aeturnus Official Forum

And for a bit of trivia, Solitude Aeturnus has recorded several cover versions on tribute albums including, "No More Tears" - Legend of a Madman - A Tribute to Ozzy Osbourne (1998),  "Hallowed Be Thy Name" - A Call to Irons: A Tribute to Iron Maiden (1998), "Shame on the Night" - Holy Dio: A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio (2000) and they have also recorded a cover of "The Well Of Souls" by Candlemass.

The Joe Hasselvander Interview Revisited

Way back in 2008 I interviewed Joe Hasselvander and I thought it was time we revisted the little chat we had. This interview is out of date now as Joe has done a lot since this interview took place but I thought it was worth bringing out of hiding once more.

Not many people have done what Joe has done in his career which started all the way back in 1966.He has played Jazz Fusion,Doom and Metal.He has played with total legends like Mountain and even played with Cathedral supporting Black Sabbath.He was a key figure in Pentagram's career and has been a major force with Raven.With a impressive resume like this not much more has to be said.Here is a interview I did with Joe Hasselvander.

Q: Your life in music goes all the way back to 1966.Did you have any real musical ambition when you first started out?

My older brother was a very popular surf guitarist in the 1960's and like all little brothers I aspired to do the things that my older brother did especially witnessing his success in the Washington, D.C. area where we grew up! Our parents really marveled at our birth given abilities and encouraged both of us to choose music as a career! Of course in those days you could make a beautiful dollar in that business unlike today! I was a natural at the drums and already new how to play as good as any adult professional at age 8! You also have to remember that the music scene was full of bands actually creating the genre of hard rock and inventing everything we know today as the basic formulas used in pop music! These were highly exciting and stimulating times for musicians everywhere! My ambition was on 10!

Q: You played in a jazz fusion band called Ra Notra Sextet.Did this have any affect on how you play the hard rock/metal stuff?

Yeah! I got heavily in to Jazz fusion in 1972 after hearing albums by Mahavishnu Orchestra and later seeing them at D.C.'s Constitution Hall with Billy Cobham ! This guy was a complete dynamo on the drums as was Lenny White of Chick Corea's Return to Forever! This stuff just knocked me out and inspired me to put together my own fusion group with some ex-Berkley students who had some great material with bizarre beat patterns and plenty of featured drum fill spots! It takes a certain mentality to play this stuff and a lot of dedication and rehearsal! So in hind sight I would say for sure  I had a proper leg up on other drummers when I went back in to heavy rock! Oddly enough most younger modern day Heavy Metal bands have a drummer with these same fusion sensibilities!

Q: You played with one of my all time musical heroes Leslie West,what was that experience like?

That was a dream come true for me! That was around the time Leslie recorded "The Great Fatsby" !  Probably around 1976. I think I was 19 years old.  I got a call from my agent who at the time was handling Leslie in the area. He told me that Leslie's band had left him high and dry with a bag full of local shows and wanted to know if I would play drums for him and could I also get a bassist? I got my oldest friend Steve Angel involved as he had been in a very successful D.C. band with me called The Boyz and he like me , knew all the Mountain  material by heart! We played the first gig with him, Mississippi Queen and all! I remember that he couldn't believe that such young cats could do the Mountain stuff so authentic to the original band! He kept asking us, "How did you learn those songs?" We told him that we were weaned on Mountain! We asked him what his next project would be and he confided that he wanted to work with a symphony orchestra! Unfortunately he was sick with diabetes and didn't know it at the time and was having some health issues attributed to it and we kind of noticed. So he cut the tour short and flew back to New York to check in to a hospital! Of course nowadays Leslie's got it all under control and is reasonably healthy and equally as ornery!

Q: What was it like getting involved with Pentagram, those first batch of songs have such a timeless feel to them.

I joined Pentagram after meeting up with Bobby Liebling in 1977 when the original Pentagram left him and my band The Boyz left me to form a new "Super Group" called Sex! They were more like a "Super Mistake"!  As everybody knows Bobby and I ran in to each other at their miserable debut and I asked him to come down and hear the new band I had formed! Everything clicked and I built the band and a show around Bobby's stage antics that for the first time gave him some real local celebrity! All he had to do was show up and sing! So in 1978 this became the High Voltage era Pentagram which produced one single "Living In A Ram's Head" b/w "When The Screams Come"! That was the band that was the greatest fun in the world for me because there was no metal scene anywhere at the time and we were bringing in record crowds to the clubs just on sheer curiosity and word of mouth about our highly strange show and ghoulish heavy music! We were beating the odds in a big way!

But I think you're referring to Death Row which ultimately became Pentagram revisited 3 years later and yes, Victor Griffin's sound and song writing skills fit right in line with what Bobby and I were writing, which gave us a huge catalogue of songs! Victor's material by far was the deepest and heaviest along the lines of Witchfinder General and "Master Of Reality" era Sabbath! I loved helping him tool in these classics along with Marty Swaney! This band was totally self motivated with zero management! But Bobby and Victor suddenly pulled a power play on me by threatening my standing with the band as Bobby  was doing his usual manipulation game except this time with a 20 year old Victor Griffin who wanted success no matter how he got it! I guess Bobby had convinced him that I should just shut up and be the drummer or else! That really cut me to the bone considering that I booked all the gigs, rented the trucks, supplied the light and sound, roadied their gear and provided the rehearsal space all free of charge! People who know me know that I don't put up with unprofessional ego mania  bullshit! So that was the end of that until I moved to New York and hooked up with Dutch East Records to do  "Phantom Lord", "Devil Childe" and my solo album "Lady-Killer"!
I went in to their office to discuss album cover art for these records when the owner, Barry asked me if I had ever been in Pentagram? I told him yes and he informed me that he had just received master tapes from them to review for signing! He asked if I was on it! I told him that I was and he said "Good, we'll release it along with the other albums that you've done!" I don't think he even listened to it! He just gave the OK and handed it to an employee to mail off for pressing! I found out then the music business is indeed a small world!
Q: What was it in your opinion that held Pentagram back from making it big. To me they sounded just as good as anything else around but for some reason it never took off the way it should have.

This is a big question that deserves a big answer! Pentagram has a long history of failing right before their greatest successes! That would be due to Bobby's Liebling substance abuse which is  no secret ! People in the industry have known about this for years! These problems has been around a long , long time! With that sort of life style always comes a flurry of bad judgments, arrests, jail time and a criminal record which makes it impossible to get through immigration to play outside of the country in foreign markets that are receptive to the band, further blowing out it's success!! There is also a babysitting issue for anyone involved with a person like this! As grown men we just couldn't roll like that for long with him! When I was in my early 20's I was able to wear blinders and pretend there wasn't a problem but when I wised up and went elsewhere that became Victor Griffin's Job and almost his demise! He also got smart and started his own band Place Of Skulls and hasn't looked back since! In the late "90's up until 2001, I helped Bobby once again as everyone else had long given up on him and recorded "Review Your Choices" and "Sub-Basement" ! I stood by him as long as I could until he and a promoter pressured me in to a show using an under rehearsed band  and headlining a festival where Bobby pulled a classic no-show leaving me hanging out to dry with 200 angry Pentagram fans! He managed to show up for the last two vocal lines of the last song in the set! For years I could hardly forgive myself for actually playing that God awful gig and trusting my good name to such a dim wit! He also went on to tear apart his next incarnation of Pentagram by falling out on stage without  singing a single note in front of 1000 people! I think it's strange that the world's perception of Bobby Liebling as being responsible for the band's successes whatever  the version of the band! The truth is he has always done the minimum as opposed to everyone else giving their maximum, to the group! I've learned long ago not to feel sorry for career substance abusers, or you could find yourself falling into their web of lies! None of us were angels but when it came down to brass tacks it was time to work and not party but Bobby didn't grasp that concept! As far as the man's song writing ability and vocal style are concerned , he is somewhat of a genius and that can't be denied! The sad part is I've always loved the great music that was achieved by the band! That is the constant downward spiraling paradox that is Pentagram!

Q: You and Victor Griffin were asked to fill in the guitar and drum slots for Cathedral as support band on the tour for Black Sabbath and their "Cross Purposes" album in the spring of 1994.How did that come about?

Lee Dorian came out to a small Western Maryland club in 1993 on Halloween night to see a Pentagram show! I think he was in the country doing business for Cathedral's 'Ethereal Mirror" album. He apparently had been a big fan for years as he claimed he had waited his whole life for that moment! We later played a few co-headlining gigs with Cathedral in D.C and New York! After that Victor stayed in touch with Lee after they flew back to England. One day during a Pentagram rehearsal Lee called and told us of the departure of their 2nd guitarist and drummer! He explained that they had booked a tour with Black Sabbath in Europe and that Cathedral were special guests on the tour!
He then asked if we would fill the empty spots left by their drummer and guitarist! We agreed and off we went!

Q: On so much stuff that Pentagram have released that you play all the drum and guitar parts on, do you like having so much work to do?

I did those albums partly out of loving a challenge and partly out of necessity! I always heard a certain type of sound in my head for Pentagram and agreeably Victor Griffin had come the closest to finding that sound in a 4 piece band! But I still heard something a little more grandiose like a horror movie soundtrack feel! I had already done albums by myself and new how to get just about every kind of sound or feel and it was also cost effective for one person to do the work as it eliminates all the cooks in the kitchen that bog down production. Besides, we weren't  receiving giant budgets from our label! But the two albums I did as Pentagram proved to be the biggest challenges and also the most fun to do even though I was working against the clock! It was painstaking work!
I had always wanted to put the perfect music around Bobby's unique vocal style and I think I did that on "Review Your Choices" and "Sub-Basement". It gave Bobby more freedom to experiment with his voice which he so loves to do!

Q: You officially joined Raven in 88.I have been into the band since Wiped Out.They seem to be totally over the top guys and performers.What was it like joining them on stage for the first time?

Quite frankly I took to them like a fish to water! I finally found musicians that were as wound up inside as me and also musically equal! This is where my jazz fusion drumming paid off as Raven has so many time changes , turn- arounds and manic double bass requirements! I've always felt like I've known them since birth and they feel the same about me! There's a kind of E.S.P. thing going on there between us on stage and off! I'm also proud to say we've never had a major disagreement in the 20 some years I've worked with them! I love all the albums we've recorded together!

Q: Raven seem to me one of those bands that could be around forever,do you feel the same?

I agree 100%! High energy Rock & Roll is infectious and can survive many stylistic changes in the music business! We survived Thrash, We survived Death Metal, We survived Grunge and we've survived rap and Hip Hop! We've always kept our Rock & Roll roots and our Priest and Sabbath sensibilities! That equals –TIMELESS!
Q: Your solo band Hounds Of Hasselvander have got some awesome reviews.How do the solo tours compare to the other bands you have play with and still play with?Do you feel a lot more free musically?

In The Hounds Of Hasselvander I get to be the guitarist and front man which is something in my musical life I've neglected doing and now's the time! I love the guitar especially my "69 Gibson SG ! It truly has a voice of it's own and sometimes completely surprises me with it's droning overtones! I always feel free playing my own music with my own arrangements and that has made  some people  accuse me of being a control freak, but I know what that meter in my head says, "It's either heavy, or it's not!"

Q: What are your plans for the next year,you seem to be busier now than ever before.

The Hounds Of Hasselvander are going on tour in late April-May! We are bringing a doom metal circus to the people of Italy with openers Doomraiser and my old friends from New Jersey, Solace! This package is going to kick  major ass!

Q: You also played with Blue Cheer, that must have been a incredible experience.

It really was! Anyone who knows me knows that I am one of the world's biggest fans of that band and have been since I was 13 years old! They are truly the fathers of Metal! My good friend Duck MacDonald joined them in the mid '90's and was aware of my fondness of the band so when Paul Whaley couldn't make it to the states from Germany for health reasons. Duck called me and asked if I would like to play drums for them on a few come back dates  to promote the re-release of Vincebus Eruptum on Universal Records and possibly record a new album! Needless to say , that was a done deal! The gigs were monstrously heavy and as authentic to the group's original sound as possible and later "What Doesn't Kill You…"was recorded and later had extra tracks added as a bonus with the return of Paul Whaley! So I got the best of both worlds playing live and sharing the spotlight with my drumming mentor Paul Whaley on the new album!

Q: How has the Doom scene progressed in your eyes.There is some great bands out there but the scene is full of copy-cat bands. Do you agree?

The Doom scene still hasn't reached it's zenith and I'm hopeful for a lot of new Doom, Stoner Rock and Retro-'70's bands to finally take it into the mainstream! The world needs a good dose of some old medicine!

Q: Out of all you have done,what has been the most satisfying for you.

Out of all the albums I've done, 5 really stand out and show what I've got! That would be :
"Architect Of Fear"(Raven),  "Relentless" (Pentagram),  "Sub-Basement" (Pentagram),  "Under Savage Skies" (Jack Starr's Guardians Of The Flame),  "The Hounds Of Hasselvander"(Self Titled) and   "Walk Through Fire" (Raven) release date- early 2009

Out of all the memorable tours I've done 4 stand out more than the others:  Kreator/Raven – 1989,  Running Wild/Raven – Europe 1990,  Cross Purposes Black Sabbath/Cathedral – Europe 1994,   Raven/Hammerfall/Tank -  Europe 1996

The most memorable single gigs were:  Raven  -  Tokyo, Japan (Live Album "Destroy All Monsters" is recorded and concert video is made) 1995
Raven  -  San Didros Festival in Madrid , Spain (We played to 40,000 concert goers!) 1989
Raven - Show in Athens, Greece 1990
Raven  - Bang Your Head Festival 2006(Raven kicked up a storm with the likes of White Snake, Foreigner and Y&T and stole the day!)

Q: You  were just on tour with Raven again, any plans on slowing down and how do you keep going?

Yeah! We just did a tour of the U.K. and even though the state of touring is slow over there at present we managed to pack a few places and make a lot of people happy! Classic Metal is becoming hard to come by and the fans really appreciate you coming to their hometown!
On the thought of slowing down, There is enough time to rest in the grave!!!!!
Joe Hasselvander Myspace
Joe Hasselvander's Blog Of Doom
Raven Official Website

Bison B.C. - Dark Ages

It is very rare when I hear anything from the Metal Blade label that I like but every label has a jewel in the rough and with Metal Blade it is Bison b.c. When first hearing this my first thoughts were, damn I hope Matt Pike knows what he has done as in the last year or so there has been an incredible influx of bands that sound like High On Fire, some more than others but the influence is there. Bison b.c are another band that have the stoner, sludge, doom, thrash, hardcore, metal crossover thing going on and they are one of the best I have heard at doing it. When you think of Canada you think of 70's icons like Rush and Heart, you don't really think of stoner, sludge and certainly not doom but Canada has its fair share of killer acts in those genres, it just takes some effort on your part to seek them out. Along with High On Fire, Bison b.c also have strong elements that remind me of Baroness, Mastodon and Kylesa but they also have their own thing going. Bison b.c have a great combination of anger, power, energy and downright sludgy grooves on this album, more so than on the past releases, "Earthbound" and "Quiet Earth" which were solid efforts but this sounds a bit more complete all the way through.

The album opener, "Stressed Elephant," throws gigantic sludge-filled riffs in all directions while drummer Brad MacKinnon brutally assaults his kit. Guitarist and vocalist James Gnarwell screams to where his voice seems to be at a breaking point but what drives this 8 minutes is the combination of killer riffs that blend together making it sound almost effortless, nothing sounds forced and everything flows with controlled intensity. "Fear Cave" however brings in more a doom element with a plodding atmosphere and crippling breaks and outro's. "Melody, This is for You" begins with nearly 4 minutes of instrumental of stoner doom riffery before heading into a fierce metal assault for the rest of the tune. Changes within the song are seamless and the variations come and go constantly keeping things moving so it never gets stale. Bison b.c like to stretch their songs out to past the 6 minute mark with nearly every tune but they have almost songs within songs and you have to admire their ability to blend infectious hooks with inventive metal arrangements. "Two-Day Booze" picks up the pace and is thunderous and is aggressive, it also has a live atmosphere, something that sets this album apart from High On Fire, Baroness and Mastodon albums. "Die of Devotion" is the first and only time the album presents anything that could be heard as filler, this track always seems instantly forgettable to me and even now I can't think of a single word to say about it.

"Take the Next Exit" has some interesting time changes but soon runs off the rails but the first couple of minutes slay. The album closer however is a major highlight, "Wendigo Pt. 3 (Let Him Burn)" drops down a gear, raises the groove level a notch and burns along for over 7 impeccable minutes of doom-laced stoner-metal. One thing that always screws me over with the "Dark Ages" is it only has 7 songs but every time I listen to it I always think I have just listened to at least 12. The seamless way they bring in tempo changes and riff variations gives off the impression there is much more going on than there actually is. The album from a production point of view is awesome, it has a live vibe about that puts you front row and center. Bison’s sound is straightforward and primal but with a great amount of taste and energetic inventiveness but if there is a problem it would be the album lacks consistency with the first half sounding stronger than the second. Bands quite often put their better songs up first on an album and it seems to have happen here as well but there is still some great riffs and grooves and should appeal to a range of metal listeners. They come from Canada but with a sound like this, they would feel right at home down south of the U.S.A. Check this album out, it rocks and is also a great fun album to sink a few beers with.........8/10
Bison B.C. @ Facebook
Metal Blade artist's page
Metal Blade Records

Electric Wizard - Black Mass Video Teaser

Seeing as Rise Above and Metal Blade are doing such a piss-poor job of promoting the new Electric Wizard album, I feel it's my duty to take up a tiny bit of the slack. I have already posted "Venus In Furs" and here is another tasty little nugget, the title track, "Black Mass". Reports about the actual release date have been all over the place especially when it comes to the vinyl edition. The last I heard was November 15th so lets hope it gets no later.

Oct 27, 2010

Acid Witch - Midnight Mass 7"

Beware....Lovers of the loathsome those ghouls of horror and doom Acid Witch have a new 7" out titled "Midnight Mass". Seeing as the classic debut "Witchtanic Hellucinations" came out just before Halloween in 2008 and there has only been one EP since called "Witch House" so Acid Witch have been pretty slow at delivering more tales of horror. Earlier this year it was announced a new full length album titled "Stoned" will manifest itself this year but it looks like they have missed the Halloween deadline this time around. Acid Witch have received some positive reviews in the past and some absolute shockers but my favorite quote from a review read "The general idea of the band is to bring back simplistic death/doom with classic doom touches. They also attempt to resurrect the horror/occult based themes of bands past, which in their case takes the form of cartoon witches, goofy humour and the kind of B-movie aesthetic one should expect from a band affiliated with the goof-balls at Razorback Records" and the review was titled " a piss-poor attempt at classic doom". My reason bringing up this negativity from the past is just to highlight how people more often than not miss the point of Acid Witch and must have a weak sense of humor or maybe they just don't like cheesy horror movies. Acid Witch are like a cheesy horror movie set to doom metal music and they have perfected the art. Creepy and downright old-school head banging fun, Acid Witch bring some fun back to the Doom Metal genre which is mostly full of musicians that take themselves very seriously indeed but they are not just a novelty act, Acid Witch is made of some very good musicians that are out to entertain and crush audiences with sheer heaviness and groove.
So they might have missed out on a full length for Halloween this year but they have this 7" instead and thankfully these two songs will not appear on the upcoming album so this is an essential purchase. Adding to the incentive value is the packaging which comes in two different versions (pictured here). The Putrid Edition is in yellow, red and black while the Geyer Edition is in purple, orange and black. For true collectors they have a reduced price offer if you buy both editions and you can find all the details at the Hells Headbangers Shop. The first track "Midnight Mass" begins after a suitably ghoulish intro and this is classic Acid Witch with heavy down tuned death doom riffs, hellish guttural growls and a psychedelic organ adding to the twisted horror doom vibe. Turn it over for "To Magic, Sex and Gore" and it is more cinematic but equally as deadly with vintage sounding riffs but played with the lethal crushing intensity of death doom. Acid Witch will appeal to fans of Hooded Menace, Autopsy, Coffins, Winter and Witchfinder General but even fans of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath will find their 70's elements stimulating. I will leave you with some Acid Witch lyrics which still crack me up every time I hear them - "Covered in boils and sores, Crusted over popped pimples, Discharging pus, With warts for nipples".....Gotta love Acid Witch.....9/10
Acid Witch @ MySpace
Official Acid Witch Store
Hells Headbangers Records
Buy It Here

Lords of Bukkake - Desorden Y Rencor

Bukkake is a sexual practice originated in Japan in which many men masturbate on  a woman's face so "Lords Of Bukkake" is a charming name for a band is it not? This crazy band from Spain got together in 2003 and their début self-titled album released in 2008 delighted Sludge, Doom and Drone fans almost everywhere, I say almost as Lords Of Bukkake may be too extreme for timid listeners of doom. The Lords are on the seriously good Total Rust Music label, a label that always delivers the goods and this new album from this band is one of the labels best releases thus far. Trying to describe the sound of Lord Of Bukkake is not easy as even if you took Khanate, Eyehategod, Godflesh, Buzzov-en, Iron Monkey and Swans and threw them in a blender of sludge, you still wouldn't be close to the noise of this band but you would be close. This album sees the band going from a four piece down to three but you wouldn't know it but the sound of this beast, the band sounds even more lethal than ever before.

Llagas (English Translation-Wounds) is the first song on the album and it begins with  terrifying low-end hum and buzzes pushing you into a state of restless tension but that tension is soon shattered by menacing guitar and aggressive diligent drumming. The discord soon takes hold before the first big doom riff is unleashed along with vocalist Toni López Querol vicious raspy style. The song flows beautifully in its nasty glory and the spacey lead work of Jaume Pantaleón is off-center as usual. His adventurous psychedelic style and Lords Of Bukkake heavy emotional and musical weight is their trademark and its wonderfully brutal in this song. What sets Lords Of Bukkake from most other bands in this sub-genres of sub-genres is the varied tempos as they never stay in one gear for too long. Second track  "Alucarda" is 10 minutes of throbbing psychedelic doom that is similar to Khanate's disjointed style. There is a lot of crushing, smashing noise to the track but they also deliver a traditional doom riff or two along the way. "Alucarda" is fairly traditional by Lords Of Bukkake standards but still is mainly based around screaming, tortured droning doom metal and the last section of this track is particularly ear-damaging.

"Asco Deseperado" adds more tempo changes to the mix on the album with driving, pummeling Sabbathian riffs but with many twists included. One of those twists comes in the form of demented sound effects and the use of delay-laden guitar from Pantaleon which only adds to its drug-induced schizoid vibe.  The switching between noise to psychedelic passages to solid, chunky riffs keeps the tune flowing exceptionally well but Pantaleon is again the star at work on this track. The last track up "Magia Necia" sounds like "Asco Desperado Part Two" as it uses almost the same riff but with a more layered guitar track this time. The phaser's are set to kill on this tune and like other tracks it features a seriously crazed breakdown, these sections offer up a highlight on each track on the album. Usually it is the guitar stealing the limelight but drummer Sergio Linares proves it is equally up to the challenge and on this track he is totally off the rails but also locks into a killer groove. This track takes you into outer-space only to drop you down to earth with a deadly thud. "Desorden Y Rencor" is an explosive dose of acid-fueled sludge and is their best but most diverse album yet. This album succeeds on all levels and deserves your attention now...........8.5/10
Odio Sonoro Official Website
Lords Of Bukkake @ Myspace
Total Rust

Mountain Throne - Serpent's Heathland

Mountain Throne from Germany came to me from a friend who said "you want to hear some classic metal, check this out". He was right, this is pure classic and pure old-school traditional Heavy Metal, air-guitars and all. I have not heard of the band before hearing this EP titled "Serpent’s Heathland" and I haven't done research on the band either so I went in fresh with this and me and my turntable are digging it. Mountain Throne play a blend of 70's Hard Rock, 80's Heavy Metal and traditional Doom Metal along the lines of Witchfinder General and Saint Vitus. This 12" is short and sweet but it is a satisfying head banging experience that kicks off with the sinister and ominous riff of "Altar Of Reason". It quickly builds into a melodic, mid-tempo smoking hot metal number with tasty guitar solos and infectious melodies. It is like a long-lost gem from the 80's for the most part but most important it is an exciting slab of good old-fashioned classy Heavy Rock complete with all the musicianship required of such a time-honored tradition.

They raise the tempo for "Endtime", a high-octane busy number with hyperactive riffing and explosive yet controlled vocals. The mixture of raw energy with an element of class and finesse is top-notch throughout the song and while its been done a million times before they still bring an element of freshness to the style. Like the opener, it ends way before it should like they were short on studio time and had to compress the songs somehow. That is most likely wrong but these songs would have benefitted greatly by extending the arrangements just that bit more. The title track is an atmospheric instrumental again cut short in its prime but turn it over and you discover the real goods on side two. These two monsters are the best two tunes on the EP. "The Forest" is seriously old school but fresh in its approach avoiding recycling tired old clichés while still remaining within the realm of traditional metal. This song is like 80's prog-metal colliding head on with raw doom and has a anthemic quality that would have people head-banging madly in a live setting.

The last track with the happy title "The Merry Men" is actually the most doom-driven song on "Serpent’s Heathland". It is a very dark and brooding tune they unleashed here and musically the band always seem to be stretching themselves but still keeping it "total classic". From the sound of the guitar to the vocals, everything sounds like a lost gem from the past and if this had have been released in 83, Mountain Throne would be considered legends of metal by now. Yes, not really original or ground-breaking and they are not the greatest band on earth but this is great metal written and performed by musicians that sound like they truly care about providing the world with quality Heavy Metal. It sounds passionate and honest but this EP is painfully short so I await a full-length album, I hope I don't have to wait too long......8/10
Mountain Throne@Myspace
Cyclone Empire
Buy It @ The Hellride Music Superstore

Oct 26, 2010

Iron Witch - Demo 2010

Iron Witch were conceived, in the time-honoured fashion, sat about on a Friday night with a few drinks, by Chris (vocals) and Rick (bass) jamming with each other. Once the songs started to take shape, they were joined by Dan (guitar), Will (drums), and as soon as they hit the rehearsal room, by Sam (lead guitar) to fill out the sound.

The foundation of their rotten sludge, is the riff worship of bands like Black Sabbath, Sleep and St Vitus, but with the influence of Black Flag sitting underneath to give that nihilistic air that permeates most of Eyehategod’s output. This is the soundtrack to alligator wrestling in a Louisiana swamp, cheered on by a rowdy mob of whisky-fuelled reprobates.

These 2 tracks, 'Hyper Vixen' and 'Booze Blues' are taste of things to come from this Liverpool bunch, with the ‘Single Malt’ EP due to land in early 2010 on Witch Hunter Records. (Bio written by Hopkins - Thee Big Black Forum)

It's pretty hard to get a good feeling about a band in just 2 songs especially when those two songs take up a whopping 6 minutes but Iron Witch have already sold me with this demo that is up for free download via their Iron Witch Myspace Page. This band from Liverpool in the UK have been around a very short time and their very first live shows planned for the 29th and 31st of October and I wish them all the best of luck for the event. The first song here, "Hyper-Vixen" gets off to screeching start with feed-backing squeals before barreling into a rolling, pummeling distorted sludgy burner. With angry, pissed off vocals and some nice and beefy stops and starts, Hyper-Vixen is an high-octane sludge metal assault that reminds me somewhat of the now defunct Ol Scratch but a more hardcore punk edge. They deliver an incendiary performance on the tune that ends much too quickly and while the production is far from perfect, it still highlights the intensity within the grooves.

The other tune, "Booze Blues" has almost the same playing time but double the menace of "Hyper-Vixen". The blues reference is fitting as it does have a bluesy vibe but this is like Grief trying to play Dazed And Confused. It is an ugly, screeching, squealing drunken blues thrown into the Sludge-Metal melting pot. The song is compelling and crushing but like the other track ends just as the groove is becoming hypnotic so you do get the feeling these songs are half-baked or haven't been given the arrangement treatment they deserve. However these songs are smoking so if this a taste of things to come, count me in. The potential is there for a killer Sludge-Doom-Droning band to emerge into the minds of not only UK audiences but also the worldwide Doom Metal community will want to keep one eye out for this band. Without a doubt a full-length album is needed and soon, Iron Witch are the real deal folks........8/10
Iron Witch @ Myspace
Witchhunter Records

Roadburn Festival 2011 Tickets To Go On Sale Saturday, November 27th

To all Roadburn acolytes: tickets for Roadburn 2011 will go on sale Saturday, November 27th, 10:00 Central European Time.
3-day passes will cost € 155 (215 USD), plus services fees. Single day tickets will not be available. Experience shows that an overwhelming majority of people want to enjoy the entire Roadburn Festival experience instead of limiting their visit to Thursday, Friday or Saturday only.
In the wake of the ticket mayhem prior to Roadburn 2009, we explored several possibilities for avoiding secondary ticketing. Unfortunately, we cannot prevent it from happening. We also noticed that all ticket outlets in the Netherlands cannot prevent scalpers from reselling tickets. A personal registration system for selling tickets was ultimately rejected. To do so would have required raising the ticket price even more, which simply was not an option.
Secondly, as much as we recognize the negative impact of scalping and strongly oppose the practice, it is not against the law to resell tickets in the Netherlands. The Dutch government has been dragging its heels on the ticket scalping issue for years. However, in an attempt to prevent unscrupulous brokers from interfering with Roadburn, we have set a two ticket limit per buyer for 3-day passes.
VIA: http://www.roadburn.com

Nevertanezra - Nevertanezra

Finally at last something that sounds new and fresh but hang on these songs are old!! Nevertanezra pronounced Never-ta-nez-ra is the work of Michael Ventura, a guitar player and songwriter of considerable talent. This EP is made up of just 3 songs that have been over 10 years in the making, 2 of the tracks were written in 2004 and the other way back in 1998. This D.I.Y effort is not only sounds fresh but also has some of the most soul-stirring metal I have heard in a long time. Why this wasn't recorded a long time ago is a mystery to me at the moment but an interview with Michael is in the works so I hope to find out very soon. Over the course of just 21 minutes you get a wonderful array of styles from Epic Traditional Doom, Death Metal to Progressive Metal and even perhaps one of the greatest Gothic Doom tunes ever recorded in track two titled "Seduction/Suicide".
The production on the EP is crisp and clear but with a very beefy guitar sound but the vocals cross over varied styles as each tune is vastly different from each other.

The first song, "Bleak" is in the vein of Paradise Lost with an extra touch of Solitude Aeturnus. The guitar work is diverse blending Death Metal to Jazz and classical elements but what sets this EP apart from most other metal is the vocals. The death growling vocals are sung here by Rick McCoy ((Avernus, Infecting the Soul) while Michael Ventura handles the clean vocal sections, nothing new in itself but it is delivered here with a huge amount of class and finesse. "Bleak" is the most standard metal track here though and the best is yet to come. Track two, "Seduction/Suicide" brings in another different vocal element into the picture and that is the breath-taking, mesmerizing vocals of Devon Angulo. This woman's voice is truly majestic evoking a haunting sadness and despair with her melodic soprano vocals. It is a captivating vocal take but it is also matched with atmospheric guitar parts and incredible solo work. Blending Sabbath with Novembers Doom but with also a hint of progressive rock, this tune is my pick for the highlight of the EP.

The last track, "My Angel Of The Night" is different again. This one takes on a melodic Prog Rock meets old-school thrash 80's style. With the combination of death and clean vocals, this track was over-shadowed by the majestic qualities of the other 2 tracks in my mind but still stands up as a good track in its own right. So it is really something for everyone who likes quality Heavy Metal played with style and taste but the old-school metal freaks would be the ones most likely to gravitate to this EP. I hope I don't have to wait another 10 years or more to hear more from this band, this is some exciting Heavy Metal made for purists everywhere. Congratulations to Michael Ventura for finally getting this out. They are in the middle of mixing their début album titled "NTNR" and I for one can't wait to hear it. In the meantime check out this great EP.
Nevertanezra @ MySpace

You can now buy this here and in the DMA Store -

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