Feb 28, 2011

O.68 - Elend ...

0.68, otherwise known as Odpörovät 1968 is a one man funeral doom project from Germany. Odpörovät 1968 is reference to a revolutionary occurrence that happened in the Czech Republic. Before I go any further, I must mention the excellent packaging of "Elend," it looks incredible with a matt-black, two-pocket gatefold sleeve, printed with silver ink and containing a glossy booklet. The label, Ominous Silence have done an amazing job with this and other bands and labels should take note - if you want your album to stand out, this is the kind of packaging you need. Across 8 tracks that range from 5 to 16 minutes this is a funeral dirge of the most despairing kind. This album is nearly 70 minutes of nothing but tales of pain and suffering set to dark ambient musical sections, bass-heavy distorted guitars and a dense, morbid atmosphere but I will get the negatives out-of-the-way first. Being a one-man band he uses, you guess it - a drum machine and it is a very weak drum-machine sound at that. These songs could have been so much more grand and heavy if it wasn't for this rather cheap and very artificial drum sound. It takes away a great deal of atmosphere and sounds at odds with the pummeling low-end of the guitar. The man behind the dirge is Dusan Belohlavek who is obviously very talented with a great musical vision for making doom-metal so it is a shame he couldn't have used a real drummer as this recording needs it to make it complete. There is then, a certain level of frustration while listening to this, I can imagine how these songs should sound and it is not like this. If you can ignore that however, you are left with a very good album that is dense, multi-layered and very well constructed. You can tell a hell of a lot of work has gone into these tracks as the level of precision and intelligent composition is stunning.

The album opens with the 14 minute "Mournau" that is one of the more straightforward funeral doom tracks on the disc. This track is the meaning of funeral-dirge as it is a tortured filled 14 minutes but it is overly long for my tastes with not enough ideas and variation to keep it interesting. The lyrics on this album are obsessed with death and you may wish your own death would hurry up and happen by the end of this track as it is not exactly riveting entertainment, even by funeral-doom standards. The album, however gets far more dynamic in the second cut, "Nothing But Death Remains" which is very different from the opening piece. It is rhythmically more complex with some unexpected twists like the Sabbathian riff that comes out of nowhere halfway through the track. The vocals which are a combination of croaks and sickening gurgles are not something usually admired by yours truly but they seem to suit the music here. Also unique is Odpörovät 1968 have a few stoner-doom passages with a Black Sabbath vibe and that is something you don't hear too often within funeral-doom and that gives the album a semi-original tone and feel. Third track, "Kremation" is a good example of these stoner-doom inflections as it has a groove-rock feel while still remaining firmly within the realms of funeral doom. Songs like this one have a melodic hook not normally heard in this genre of doom metal. "Abkehr" and "Mother Of Negation" continue in a similar vein with "Mother Of Negation" being one of the albums highlights. Again, it is funeral doom with a strong stoner-doom vibe so it is strangely catchy.

"Zeitgeist Nokturne" delivers more surprises with an upbeat intro before settling down into funeral dirge mode once again. The following track, "Mortal" features samples which this album has a lot of, sometimes it is great and really boosts the atmosphere but in the case of "Mortal" it is a disaster as it is nothing more than a collage of ringing church bells that is irritating to the ears. The last track is the epic "The Lowest Day" which is a breath-taking blend of crawling funeral doom, stoner grooves and dramatic ambient sections with a progressive rock edge. Even though this track is well over 15 minutes long, it flows remarkably well and is very hypnotic at times. Without a doubt one of the albums best tracks. This album is diverse, bleak, hypnotic but also has some infectious grooves that at times seemingly come out of nowhere. It is a good mixture of the simple and the complex and the atmosphere is unique, I can't think of another album that sounds like this one. The man behind all this is a visionary and an intriguing musician that has produce a very ambitious album. It is such a pity, he had to use a drum machine which quite frankly makes this recording sound more like a 'demo' than a professional release. If this album was re-recorded with a real drummer and some fine-tuning in the production, this could easily be one of the best albums of its kind ever released. As it is, it is lacks the big sound it deserves. I still urge you to take a listen as I think you will want to buy this anyway, despite its flaws......7/10
0.68 @ MySpace
Ominous Silence Records

Clamfight - Volume One ...

Clamfight are stoner metal, sludge, thrash, death and have enough metallic grooves to wipe the floor with most bands and Volume One is one of the heaviest début albums released in the last year. What is so cool about their sound is they can't be easily tagged, all I can say is this is one heavy, no-bullshit metallic band. Clamfight seem to have zero support as it is very hard to find any info on the band at all but that makes this album even more of a surprising mind-**k. The sonic intensity of the main riff in album opener "Fuck Bulldozers" coupled with a monster drum sound and its explosive groove is more than enough to break down walls. Everything is wailing in this track from the abrasive, shouting vocals of drummer/vocalist Andy Martin to the screaming guitar solo from either Joel Harris or Sean McKee that takes the tune to his punishing ending. The production on the album is huge and clear but with equal amounts of grit and it is rare when a band nails the perfect sound but Clamfight get real close on "Volume One." Even though it is tempting to compare the band with the likes of High On Fire and other metallic sludge shredders, I think they stand out on their own and don't call for such comparisons. Even their most unoriginal moments has its own groove attached to it, second track titled "Old Gravy Leg" features riffs that sound very familiar but they still deliver something that is unique to Clamfight." That track, "Old Gravy Leg" may be the albums weak-link but weak by this band standards is still above average for anybody else.

"Swordfishing is an Ancient and Noble Art" is full of southern rock meets sludge-metal grooves and is a good track but the real meat and potatoes for me lies in the albums last four tracks as every minute, every groove is simply mind-blowing, infectious ass-kickin stoner metal. "Ghosts I Have Known" is a track that offers a bit more than what you have heard on the album so far from a slower, punishing tempo to kick the song off till its thrashy final section. What you hear in-between is some brutally exciting lead work, a cleaner than usual vocal performance and stunning tight musicianship. At first I thought this has to be the best track on the album but then I was equally impressed with what follows. That track simply called "Rabbit" is one of the albums heaviest tunes and even though the track is a little meandering, it supply's an incredible dose of control musical destruction. If that track didn't knock your butt in the dirt the following "Tower of the Elephant" will with its killer guitar hooks. This track might be the most generic of the bunch but it is also one of the most immediately satisfying as this track will hooked you in on the first spin of the disc. The album ends on what I consider to be the albums best track overall - "Viking Funeral." This track is beautifully written and arranged with a vibe that sounds mature and precise but at the same time threatens to unravel itself at any moment. Lyrically the band seems obsessed with the outdoors, fishing, 4-wheeling and so on but that goes hand in hand with their swamp-metal tendencies.

The tightness of the playing with the clear, powerful production is a lethal combination but it is also the band's passionate performance that makes this a total winner. All the members of Clamfight are excellent players and the one dude I haven't mentioned yet deserves some high praise. I talk of bass player, Louis Koble. Some of his work is stunning in the way he fills out the sound and adds so much extra dimension to their sound. I first read about this band at the The Obelisk but I had no idea they would be this good. I highly recommend you check out this band and this album out ASAP.......9/10
Clamfight @ Myspace

Kyuss Lives - Enough Said ...

Feb 27, 2011

Excruciation - [t]horns ...

What is interesting about Excruciation is they have had a long career in metal that has been one huge struggle. The band was formed in Switzerland way back in 1984 and despite a succession of good demo recordings, didn't get their début full length album released till 2007. They did however released a EP in 1987 that according to the band sold over 15,000 copies so it is surprising they remained in obscurity all these years. The story goes that the band was very active in the late 80's and early 90's but due to internal differences they split just as they were getting ready to record at Morrissound Studios in Tampa, Florida. After a long break, they reappeared to release the "Arise" EP in 2005 and have been busy ever since. This album was recorded in 2009 but is only now getting noticed by the underground metal media. The band has changed a lot over the years, they started as a death-metal outfit but now have moved into a doom-death direction with the death metal grunts being replaced by a more traditional rock vocal and musically shifting into a melodic, atmospheric death-doom style. Their style now can be compared with Paradise Lost and while there is still traces of death-metal it is mostly mournful, melodic doom with droning fuzzy riffs.

The main source of atmosphere comes from the creepy, somewhat sinister guitar work and vocals plus a production job which kind of sounds like it was recorded under water. Vocals range from growls to spoken word parts with some of the vocals sounding like they are being sung in an underground tunnel. Some of it is classic, majestic death doom as in tracks like "December 12" and "Faith of the Discarded" which are two very atmospheric doom tracks that sound like they are straight out of the golden doom era of the early 90's. While the style is old, the band sounds fresh and somehow different from the norm in the death-doom scene today. "Dust (Prelude)" and the following emotional roller-coaster known as "Vultures" has a certain mysticism about it. The other album highlight is "And The Dead Start To Breathe Again" which is the albums closing piece and the guitar sound on this tune is a bit thicker than what you hear on the rest of the album. Mostly the guitar sound is a bit high and thin for playing this kind of doom-death and that takes away some of the emotional power of the tracks. Also, sadly all these highlights occur in the second half of the album. The albums first half sounds a bit lack-luster compared to the albums very strong second half and it also lacks the variation that you will hear in the second half. With all due respect, the first 4-5 songs are still decent but are not very memorable.

Traditional doom fans will like some of the grooves and heavy chugging guitar work and there is also a bluesy element that shows itself in small doses especially in "December 12." The vocal work and the effects they use are very unique and atmospheric but the albums biggest flaw is in the production. However having said that, I know some people will say the production is great as a lot of folks go nuts for this kind of mix but I am not one of those people. For me the guitar sound needs a much needed boost and lacks a certain amount of dirt but I do like the atmosphere they got on the album. This swiss band delivers a good variant of doom, death metal and progressive metal with some good ideas and it is all played with a great deal of passion so it is hard to pick too many holes in it. Without a doubt an album worth checking out especially if you still dig the death, gothic doom sounds on the early 90's.......7/10
Official Homepage
Official Myspace

Doommantia Presents R.A.I.G Records ...

It is with great pleasure I can announced today, Doommantia is the US distributor of RAIG Records. You will find 19 releases just added to the Doommantia webstore. RAIG has all the heavy genres covered - Doom, Sludge, Stoner, Psychedelic, Instrumental riff rock, Kraut rock and more. Make a purchase and support this great label and its bands.

ALL RAIG’S RELEASES ARE ORIGINAL EXCLUSIVE PRINTS, PROFESSIONALLY PRESSED CD’S – NOT ‘LOCAL’ RE-ISSUES, NOT CD-R




Aethyr / Messio (2010)


Country of origin: Russia / France

Release date: December 2010

Format: CD, cardboard folder

Number of tracks: 7 / Timing: 53 min.

File under: Instrumental / Drone-Ambient / Doom Metal / Black Metal


Debut full-length album.


http://www.raig.ru/aethyr.asp#R057


$18.00

R023


Ahkmed / Chicxulub (2007)
   

Country of origin: Australia

Release date: 2007

Format: CD, cardboard folder

Number of tracks: 10 / Timing: 65 min.

File under: Psychedelic Rock / Stoner Metal / Space Rock


The very first real CD album by Australian AHKMED (currently on Elektrohasch Records, Germany). Includes the songs from 2003-2005. Features their heaviest stuff.

http://www.raig.ru/ahkmed.asp#R023

http://www.myspace.com/ahkmedband


$18.00

R046


Dozelimit / Constructions Of The Highest Architecture (2009)


Country of origin: Russia

Release date: December 2009

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 7 / Timing: 44 min.

File under: Instrumental / Experimental / Ambient
   

DOZELIMIT are known locally as ultra-heavy sludge-doom quartet from Siberia. However, this album features just two guitarists creating atmospheric heavy music.

http://www.raig.ru/dozelimit.asp#R046

http://www.myspace.com/dozelimit
   

$16.00

R060
   

El Hijo De La Aurora / WICCA. Spells, magic and witchcraft through the ages (2011)
   

Country of origin: Peru

Release date: February 2011

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 8 / Timing: 45 min.

File under: Doom Metal / Hard Rock / Stoner Metal / Psychedelic Rock
   

The second album by this Peruvian band. Features members of DON JUAN MATUS, REINO ERMITANO, and LAGHONIA. All lyrics are in Spanish.

http://www.raig.ru/elhijodelaaurora.asp#R060

http://www.myspace.com/elhijodelaaurora
   

$16.00

R044
   

EndName / Dreams of a Cyclops (2009)
   

Country of origin: Russia

Release date: July 2009

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 6 / Timing: 55 min.

File under: Instrumental / Doom Metal / Progressive Metal
   

Debut full-length album by this instrumental art-metal band.

http://www.raig.ru/endname.asp#R044

http://www.myspace.com/endnameband
   

$16.00

R063
   

Enoch / The Hierophant (2011)
   

Country of origin: USA

Release date: February 2011

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 8 / Timing: 66 min.

File under: Doom Metal / Stoner Metal / Psychedelic Rock
   

Debut album by NC power-trio. True Cosmogonical Psyche-Doom!

http://www.raig.ru/enoch.asp#R063

http://www.myspace.com/enochnc
   

$16.00

R047
   

Mountain Of Judgement / s/t (2009)
   

Country of origin: USA

Release date: December 2009

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 8 / Timing: 65 min.

File under: Doom Metal / Psychedelic Rock / Space-Rock
   

MOJ is one of the earliest bands founded by Chad Davis (HOUR OF 13). Their first and only album.

http://www.raig.ru/moj.asp#R047

http://www.myspace.com/mountainofjudgementdoom
   

$16.00

R040
   

Psi Corps / "Tekeli-li" A Soundtrack to the Adventures of A.G.Pym (2009)
   

Country of origin: Russia / Australia

Release date: March 2009

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 6 / Timing: 53 min.

File under: Instrumental / Acid-Rock / Psychedelic Rock / Space-Rock
   

The first album by the project. The band features Alisa Coral of SPACE MIRRORS (synths, bass, drums) and Michael Blackman of ALIEN DREAM (all guitars).

http://www.raig.ru/psicorps.asp#R040

http://www.myspace.com/psicorpstekelili
   

$16.00

R056
   

Psi Corps / All Roads Lead to Amber. Parts I&II (2010)
   

Country of origin: Russia / USA

Release date: August 2009

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 9 / Timing: 61 min.

File under: Instrumental / Acid-Rock / Psychedelic Rock / Avant-Rock
   

The second album by the project. The band this time features Alisa Coral of SPACE MIRRORS (synths, bass, drums) and Charles Van de Kree of JET JAGUAR (all guitars).

http://www.raig.ru/psicorps.asp#R056

http://www.myspace.com/psicorpstekelili
   

$16.00

R059
   

Sehnsucht / Wachstum (2010)
   

Country of origin: Russia

Release date: December 2010

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 7 / Timing: 47 min.

File under: Instrumental / Kraut Rock / Acid-Rock / Psychedelic Rock
   

Debut album by Russian instrumental heavy kraut-rock revivalists.

http://www.raig.ru/sehnsucht.asp#R059

http://www.myspace.com/sehnsuchtspb
   

$16.00

R026
   

Sendelica / Spaceman Bubblegum And Other Weird Tales From The Mercury Mind (2007)
   

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Release date: 2007

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 7 / Timing: 58 min.

File under: Instrumental / Acid-Rock / Psychedelic Rock / Space-Rock
   

All SENDELICA’s official CD-albums are published exclusively by RAIG. This is their first one.

http://www.raig.ru/sendelica.asp#R026

http://www.myspace.com/sendelicapsyche
   

$16.00

R039
   

Sendelica / The Girl From The Future Who Lit Up The Sky With Golden Worlds (2009)
   

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Release date: March 2009

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 7 / Timing: 59 min.

File under: Instrumental / Acid-Rock / Psychedelic Rock / Space-Rock
   

All SENDELICA’s official CD-albums are published exclusively by RAIG. This is their second one.

http://www.raig.ru/sendelica.asp#R039

http://www.myspace.com/sendelicapsyche
   

$16.00

R052
   

Sendelica / Streamedelica, She Sighed As She Hit Rewind On The Dream Mangler Remote (2010)
   

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Release date: April 2010

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 7 / Timing: 62 min.

File under: Instrumental / Acid-Rock / Psychedelic Rock / Space-Rock
   

All SENDELICA’s official CD-albums are published exclusively by RAIG. This is their third one with some art-prog touches this time.

http://www.raig.ru/sendelica.asp#R039

http://www.myspace.com/sendelicapsyche
   

$16.00

R012
   

Seven That Spells / My Mommy Wants To Kiss Your Mamma (2005)
   

Country of origin: Croatia

Release date: 2005

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 7 / Timing: 55 min.

File under: Instrumental / Acid-Rock / Psychedelic Rock
   

Debut full-length album by the band (currently on Beta-lactam Ring Records, USA).

http://www.raig.ru/seventhatspells.asp#R012

http://www.myspace.com/seventhatspells
   

$16.00

R013
   

Seven That Spells / It Came From The Planet Of Love (2006)
   

Country of origin: Croatia

Release date: 2006

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 2 / Timing: 52 min.

File under: Instrumental / Acid-Rock / Psychedelic Rock
   

The second album by STS (currently on Beta-lactam Ring Records, USA).

http://www.raig.ru/seventhatspells.asp#R013

http://www.myspace.com/seventhatspells
   

$16.00

R053
   

The Grand Astoria / II (2010)
   

Country of origin: Russia

Release date: April 2010

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 5 / Timing: 47 min.

File under: Instrumental / Psychedelic Rock / Stoner Metal
   

The only instrumental, non-song oriented album by this stoner-punk band from Saint-Petersburg.

http://www.raig.ru/thegrandastoria.asp#R053

http://www.myspace.com/thegrandastoria
   

$16.00

R055
   

The Re-Stoned / Revealed Gravitation (2010)
   

Country of origin: Russia

Release date: August 2010

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 11 / Timing: 61 min.

File under: Instrumental / Doom Metal / Classic Rock / Psychedelic Rock
   

Debut full-length album by this instrumental power-trio from Moscow.

http://www.raig.ru/rushus.asp#R055

http://www.myspace.com/restoned
   

$16.00

R020
   

U.S. Christmas / Salt The Wound (2006)
   

Country of origin: USA

Release date: 2006

Format: CD, cardboard folder

Number of tracks: 10 / Timing: 61 min.

File under: Psychedelic Rock / Stoner Metal / Space Rock / Southern Rock
   

The very first real CD album by USX (currently on Neurot Recordings, USA). The line-up features Chad Davis (HOUR OF 13, MOUNTAIN OF JUDGEMENT). Arguably, their best effort to date. Re-released in the USA in 2010 as 2LP-vinyl (different cover) by I’mBetterThanEveryone Records.

http://www.raig.ru/uschristmas.asp#R020

http://www.myspace.com/uschristmas
   

$18.00

R062
   

Without God / Lambs to the Slaughter (2011)
   

Country of origin: Russia

Release date: February 2011

Format: CD, jewel-case

Number of tracks: 10 / Timing: 57 min.

File under: Doom Metal / Sludge Metal / Psychedelic Rock
   

Debut full-length album.

http://www.raig.ru/withoutgod.asp#R062

http://www.myspace.com/withoutgodrussia
   

$16.00

Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom – An Interview With Wartooth And Acwealde Sceot ...

I hope my previous article made some of you curious about Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom, this British, Mercian band who loves to contaminate Sabbathian doom with raw nasty metal while telling you stories right from very dark ages in the past.

As I was curious myself about some features regarding this somehow obscure band and I was eager to hear the “other bell”, I took some courage and I contacted Bretwaldas’ guys for an interview through label King Penda Productions.

I say “I took some courage” because, folks, this is my first interview ever!!!

I was lucky as Bretwaldas’ guys, Wartooth and Acwealde, are no “grumpy” Brits, but very nice and kind guys indeed. They replied widely and richly to all my questions. I am a rather shy person but  at the end, while going through their answer, well, I felt I would have liked to be near Birmingham, shake their hands and chat on with them over a pint at a pub instead of via e-mail! Cool folks indeed …

Well, here are my questions about music and what’s behind it, and their answers …

Mari  -  Hello Wartooth and Acwealde, thanks for accepting the interview!

Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom is a metal band which is not easy to be tagged, in case one feels the need of it.

Also I must say it is not terribly easy to find some detailed news about Bretwaldas on the net. So I’ll start by asking you the “same old things” to break the ice, i.e., the history of the band and what’s behind it.

How did you start and what got you the push in forging this peculiar music style?

 Acwealde  -  Well, imagine two scruffy metallers with marginalized interests coming together and that explains it. Wartooth and I had known each other for many years (I used to share a house with his older brother) but our paths only crossed as artists in 2001. Around that time the second wave of doom and stoner metal scene was very strong in Birmingham, England, where we live, so we were regularly meeting up at gigs there to see bands like Electric Wizard, Goatsnake, Sloth, and so on. At a time when everyone else was into nu-metal boy bands it was so refreshing to see these old bastards making such an old school noise, and we felt like adding something to that with our first demo ‘The Sleeping Trees Have Eyes’. Our musical style I guess was born of our interests (we both loved history and the dark ages in particular) and we made an effort to do everything the opposite to how people expected - recording everything ourselves to tape, not going for a clean sound, and using guitar effect pedals and lots of duct tape. In the end though, we didn't have to try too hard….just being ourselves made the sound, which was quite a revelation.

Wartooth  -  Our paths crossed in the late eighties, at a time when there were some interesting developments in underground music - heavy, angry, punk-metal crust (Antisect, early Napalm Death etc) exploded on our doorstep at the Mermaid pub in Birmingham, and we were both there to absorb it's ferociousness. Before that I'd been into the punk and metal that occasionally infiltrated the charts, and this seemed a natural progression and melding of both - the fact that it had zero mainstream acceptance made it even more appealing. It was years later that we got together to make music - I wasn't aware of any coherent 'heathen scene' at the time, but Acwealde’s SYMBEL project (released on fellow Englishmen FOREFATHER’s label) fascinated and inspired me. At out first rehearsal we unleashed ‘Into The Wychwood’, and haven't really looked back since.



Mari  - Your musical style seems to have experienced a bit of evolution throughout these years. My impression is that your sound as a whole became more “epic” as of late, although it didn’t loose its basic “raw” and dynamic character that, to me, is a sort of trademark of your sound. Can you tell me about how your style has been changing across the releases?

Acwealde  -  I guess you’re right - our trademark is our ‘rawness’, and that is something that is replicated throughout many doom bands, but also can be found in crust punk, black metal and so on. The challenge is similar to how you wear your clothes – it is difficult to be taken seriously if you are a ‘scruff’, no matter how talented you are. Yet, many untalented people hide behind smart clothes. Over the years we’ve never felt the need to put on a ‘clean suit’ to get our point across, so we will probably always be ‘raw’.

 Wartooth  -   From my point of view there is no conscious 'progression'. My simple aim is to create heavy, powerful and atmospheric metal. I have various and fluctuating musical inspirations, which means that things don't always sound the same, but I think as the production and especially the guitars come from Acwealde, he may be better placed to answer this.

 Acwealde  -  As for progression, it was merely changing technology that shaped our sound at first. If my four-track Portastudio hadn’t died we’d have probably recorded 2003’s ‘Droner’ the same way as the demo. As it happened, we recorded the drums at a studio with a very basic set up (to minidisc in fact) and they had all the usual overdone compression and gating that you used to get in those days. We then finished the album on a digital multi-tracker. Having unlimited tracks meant that I could spend a lot of time on the guitar work on ‘Droner’ – the first track ‘Wychwood’ has ten guitar tracks on it! It also meant that we could be more experimental, using flanging and delay effects. We were in a dark, black-metal hawkwind zone at the time - obsessed with forests, weapons, ale and battle magic. It was exactly what we wanted to do, and we’re proud of it.

On the second album ‘Battle Staffs in the Mushroom Woods’ we decided to limit ourselves to just two rhythm guitars and a lead, and some simple reverb effects. Although the songs were written with a heavy ‘St Vitus’ guitar sound in mind, we actually scrapped all of those tracks and re-recorded with a thinner, lonely tone. The drum kit had just one rack tom and a floor tom, and was recorded with four vocal microphones. We really came to like this stripped down sound, because it forces you to write interesting parts, and play in an inventive way. The album was very well received, despite us not really promoting it at all, and still sells well as more and more people get to hear it.

As for the third album Seven Bloodied Ramparts, it is perhaps worth mentioning our writing style. Wartooth writes bass lines, and I build the music around them. He has no musical training, and refuses to learn, so there is no negotiation with him. It’s a good system actually. The songs on the third album became more epic because he wrote slower songs. This changed the way we produced the album sound, so the result is a more epic release. Also, a lot of the busy guitar parts we wrote for it, I took out again. Sometimes it’s what you don’t play that’s important. We kept the same instrumentation with ‘Ramparts’ as the second album, but concentrated on getting an even more old school sound - with drums that went ‘thump’ rather than ‘tick’, a clean and low bass, and a more traditional guitar tone. There’s no right way of doing things though – it’s a good idea to change the sound with each album I think, otherwise you’re just diluting the effect of the last recording you did.



Mari  -   Wow, thanks for the details about the albums. It was exactly what I hoped to hear, i.e. some detailed, even technical insights about how your music has been growing and is done. I find it very interesting and, well, charming for those like me who love music but are not musicians themselves.

So, why didn’t Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom get involved in any live activity?

Is it a matter of logistical difficulties, e.g., looking for session musicians, or everyday’s life struggle leaving not much time left for any extra touring? Or are there other reasons?

Wartooth  -  It's a bit of both to be honest. To find one person who truly shares and enhances my ideas is amazing enough - there is little likelihood of finding any others. In some ways I would like to play live….the material is certainly strong enough, but it’s unlikely unless we can clone Acwealde to play drums and guitars at the same time.

Acwealde  -  The band was set up as a studio project so it has never really been an issue, but we do record with something of a live sound, so in that respect we will always sound like we do when we rehearse. Yes, we have been asked about playing live before and it is unfortunate that there are only two of us, as we have had to turn down what most bands would consider tempting offers.


Mari  -  I certainly would love to see you guys playing live, also because, as you said, one can get the “fresh” feeling of it right from your studio albums.

Now let’s move to the other, cultural sources of your inspiration.

Heathenism is somehow flowing through much of the underground metal scene, and especially through extreme metal. Also in Italy we have seveal metal bands lead by this type of concept and group of beliefs. In order to express your feelings and to vehicle your beliefs you adopted traditional, although “contaminated”, heavy doom metal, instead of other “usual” genres such as viking/black or power metal. Why?

Acwealde  -  The answer is simple - those genres are a symptom of heathenism, not the creators of it. We find that our music expresses those ideas just as well.

Wartooth  -  You can only play what feels right. My influences come from Amebix, Motorhead, Sabbath etc. We try and avoid any 'fantasy' type feeling in our music - I am not writing about Dungeons and Dragons, but about ancient truths and dark reality. I have nothing against power metal and the like, but it does not come from the soul.



Mari  -  How is the relationship between Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom and Acwealde’s other musical projects?

Acwealde  -  Music is full time for me, so I work on those projects with other people during quiet periods whilst I’m waiting for Wartooth to come up with his ideas.



Mari  -  Label King Penda Productions is strongly “specialized” towards heathenism. Are you involved directly in the label? If so, are you finding a good response about diffusion of heathen metal in spite of a rather limited promotional activity?

Acwealde  - We are both involved in the label, yes - it would not be ideal for us to be signed to someone else with all the control. The music we make still gets a good reception throughout the world, despite the setback of downloading and blogs, which hit a lot of small labels like King Penda hard. The role of promotion has also changed in the last couple of years. It used to be the case that if you didn't promote, you’d stay in the same place, which suited us, but nowadays if you don’t promote, you sink without a trace, as everybody has got used to things being extremely easy to get hold of. However, if you want to be a musician these days, those are the terms, and we still want to make music.



Mari  -  You have been active for basically ten years. What are the most important things that convinced you to go on with this activity?

Acwealde  -  Unlike most popular culture, which venerates youth and then leaves its adherents trying to pathetically cling to it as it slips away, our music and outlook is all about growing old and not giving a fuck...we’ll go on for another twenty, no problem.

Wartooth  -  It is the dynamic between us that makes this worthwhile, and the music is a product of that. We both know what works - there is no pressure, no egos. We take our time.



Mari  -  Well, thanks, guys! I think that, apart from its implications for your music, here you are expressing the pillars of a hell of a great philosophy of life!

Life … Someone may find this interest on the ancient past of one’s own territory a bit odd, like a hobby for people who can’t cope with present-day life and want to escape in the past which may seem almost fantastic or unreal.

I don’t know if this is the case for you, but what you and some other pagan metal bands do make me remember about some typical characters living in basically all the Italian villages, like school teachers and librarians with deep historical interest and untiringly involved in unearthing the local, variably obscure hystorical heritage.

So do you see yourselves as one of those local, but precious contributors?

Wartooth  -  When society is as sick as it is today, there is nothing wrong with trying to withdraw from it - however, that is not necessarily what we're about. Music has always been about escapism to some extent - it's just broadening one's horizons. We both live close to a big city - it has it's positives and negatives. Birmingham is the home of metal for a reason - come and live here - you would soon understand!! We are interested in culture, history etc., of our region and elsewhere, instead of just a theoretical interest in a long-dead age, the past is connected to us by a thread which cannot be severed - you can choose to study its lessons and feel its vitality or ignore it completely.

Acwealde  -  Countries and borders are somewhat artificial (although being surrounded by water helps) and I agree it is often the local cultures that tell us the most about the people living there. I know that Italy has deep and very different historical cultures across its landmass  (didn’t it only get one national language in the 1950s?). As for research, we spent a lot of time before the internet became big ordering obscure books from libraries, ringing people up and trying to interview them, and writing up reports on Iron Age hillforts etc. Wartooth used to be an archaeologist but found it difficult to make a living from it. When I get old (or rather, ‘really old’) I will probably devote myself to writing and yes, no doubt I’ll be delving into some obscure local histories.



Mari  -  Sure, Italy is a patchwork of very different cultural realities. Also, in Italy we are submerged with historical heritage, classical heritage, big things. But sometimes the local history and features of the territory are little known and most of the local people are not interested, as soon as they get diverted from the mainstream mass TV culture organizing their lives and (many) fake needs. But when they eventually happen to discover about their local past, you can really see wonder!

In this respect, I happened to read that in recent years the archaeological departments in UK have been devoting more and more efforts in applying scientific methods to uncover vestiges of the most ancient hystorical communities right on the British Isles, beside or instead of working in the “same old” classical hystorical Mediterranean locations. I think it’s very interesting and, well, a due effort to build up a more balanced view of what British and, in general, European history has been in the darkest centuries. What do you think?

Wartooth  -  For a long time there was a bias in favour of the 'classical' cultures - mainly because their imprint remains in stone, and their city grids imposed on the landscape. Less pompous northern Europeans chose to live in a more organic way, leaving less of a mess in their wake - wood and turf, flesh and bone slowly rotting back down into the earth. It is a harder job to find and interpret this evidence, but it can be done. The surviving metalwork from the 'dark ages', such as the Staffordshire Hoard, shows the technical capabilities of these peoples.


Mari  -  So I see that you are actively involved in such recover of the British culture alternative to the Roman (and then Chistian) imprint. Also I read about your interaction with non-musical cultural organizations, e.g. like the one devoted to the study and the recover of traditional martial arts, as reported on the label’s website.

Acwealde  -   I used to put a lot of effort into historical reenactment of the dark age period, but decided a few years ago that I was spreading myself too thinly, and chose to concentrate on music and writing instead. Wartooth spends more time on the historical side of things now. The traditional martial arts interviews were very interesting for us, and King Penda will interview other organizations and individuals in the future.


Mari  -  Let’s go back to the tunes, then. There are some encouraging news about you being at work on a new release. Can you reveal something more than what reported on the “news” section of the label? Will something in your style be changed?

Acwealde  -  The release ‘Looting the Barrows’ is conceptually concerned with the way in which the heritage is vanishing from our lands, as less and less people are around to care. We have altered the recording process for a slightly different sound, but what I can say is it is continues our path of mixing the dirtiness of crust punk and the sombreness and harmonic melancholy of blackened doom, all of which is informed by Wartooth’s extensive NWOBHM vinyl collection. We don’t think our fans will be disappointed!

Mari -  And I myself can’t wait for the new album to be out! Thanks so much, it was a pleasure to interact with you! All hail and doom on!



Interview by Marilena Moroni (Mari)

Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom – An Overview Of The 2002 – 2010 Discography ...

To me Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom is one of the most curious and interesting doom bands around. As I noticed this band is not yet covered at Doommantia, I decided to go through it to a certain depth and write something about.

The first time ever I saw something about them, their 2002 demo “The Sleeping Trees Have Eyes”, thought about Darkthrone playing Sabbathian traditional heavy doom … Wow!

The band’s own definition of their style is “English Heathen Blackened-Doom-Crust-Metal”.

So Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom are definitely not for purists!

Band members are Dagfari Wartooth on bass and vocals and Sceot Acwealde on drums and guitars.

Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom, or, in short, Bretwaldas, hails from Birmingham, or better from the Marcia area, in mid UK.

From Myspace you can learn that Bretwaldas formed in 2001 as a slow pagan doom act with influences from the darkest recesses of English 80’s metal and hardcore punk, in particular authentic British metal gods such as Amebix, Hawkwind and Motörhead. The music soon sped up in accordance with the stark subject matter of lyricist / bass player Wartooth. So, after the 2002 demo “The Sleeping Trees Have Eyes”, the band released three CDs: “Droner” from 2003, the well-received “Battle Staffs In The Mushroom Woods” from 2006, and “Seven Bloodied Ramparts” that was unleashed in early May 2010.

All albums were released via King Penda Productions. Label King Penda Productions is based in the British Midland, and has the following mission: “releasing music by a small group of maverick artistic collaborators working to re-establish the link between mind, land, past and future, and to drink as much beer as possible along the way!”. Cheers!

Acwealde also militates in two other pagan-black metal acts belonging to the King Penda’s roster, i.e. Herne and Symbel. The latter released their debut album in 2003 on Angelisc Enterprises, an obscure UK label interacting with heathen cultures.

The band seems to have adopted a somehow secluded, or “reserved”, attitude as, for example, they don’t take part to live gigs and they have almost zero promotion policy. Notwithstanding, the music scene discovered them and the words written about them on metal magazines and fan/webzines are basically of praise and appreciation about their peculiar musical production. But in spite of the reserved attitude towards the music scene (a feature I would like to know a bit more about …), Wartooth and Sceot Acwealde must be friendly people, as they declare their full adherence /adoption of the social, pub-oriented mission of the label, eh eh …

There’s a lot of “British” (or I should write, “Bret”), and “epic” in this band: band name, battle nicknames of the members, lyrics, atmospheres depicted in the cover arts and, of course, features in music.

Let’s start from the long and weird, epic-sounding name, Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom. This is not coming out as one of those Harry Potter’s neologisms but it’s a serious thing: as explained in short on Wikipedia, Bretwalda is a term indicating a ruler of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom from the 5th century onwards, who achieved overlordship of some or all of the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

And “Heathen”, well, is what most of pagan epic (metal) music is about.

Our Bretwaldas metal warriors proudly write and sing about stories recovered from ancient, very dark, often brutal, pre-Middle-age centuries, and inspired by the Scandinavian, pagan, Odinist religion, rituals, myths and beliefs. Inspiring stories and myths are all taken from the British heritage. The power of nature is a further source of inspiration.

British reviewers who better know the topics, surely can evaluate the themes much better than a Southern European (who, like me, studied some fine but “standard” English literature at school) and can especially appreciate the linguistic subtleties adopted by Wartooth in song-writing. As Julian Cope from the UK musical webzine Head Heritage pointed out, this duo employes Mercian Midland accent and some words or expressions either taken from Danish or stemming from how the ancient Brits named things after the Roman dominators. By the way, Julian Cope included the 2010 album Seven Bloodied Ramparts among his “albums of the month” choices.

Julian Cope duly highlights the charms and the contrasts involving this band. The archaic sound of the titles of the tracks, like ‘Paths of River, Root & Stone’, ‘Beneath the Eaves’, ‘Old Walls, Wild Woods’ and ‘Hwicce Fif Ans’, “named after the long forgotten southern territory of Mercia” cope with the images evoked by this project, i.e. visions of “damp forest temples of Woden, pungent with the wood smoke of council fires surrounded by be-helmeted tribal elders”. This happens in spite of the fact that Bretwaldas’ music is “frenetically current and is propelled by a post-punk energy and darkness that no pre-punk metal band ever felt the need to unleash”.

The cover arts are varied but are in line with the background of the band mentioned above. Images an be very catchy, as a cover art can be for a fanatic of British heavy music and of typical British gloomy fairy tale-like atmospheres: e.g., see the damp, northern forest in the cover for “Battle Staffs In The Mushroom Woods”. Or else the images adopetd can be comparably anonymous. The latter is the case for the cover art in the 2010 album: a quiet, solitary willow of the British countryside is shown with a simple pole and wire fence across with nothing happening. But this may well be a place where centuries ago strenuous bloody battles took place. That is probably a willow bearing ancestral messages from a distant past which are there to be captured and deciphered from those who want to know about their history.

The music is an original mix of styles that may be not so “epic” if taken alone, but their mix may make sense if the aim is to use extreme metal music to tell about ages when life was heavy, gloomy and rather “raw”.

My feeling is that Bretwaldas’ music style has been following an evolutionary path during the almost ten years of activity of the band. I liked the early Bretwaldas and I dig the new ones as well.

Tune-wise, the Bretwaldas, unique style in the early days can be well described by the colourful and epigrammatically sharp definition given by a blogger (Renrats): “ They play a really dirty kind of doom that sounds like Motörhead and Venom mixed with Saint Vitus and a touch of Hellhammer thrown in for good measure. It is truly unlike anything I've ever heard before or since.” Another intense description has compared Breatwaldas to a blend of Sabbathian tunes and Joy Division from the Unknown Pleasures debut LP.

The six tracks of the 2003 album Droner still retain the early rawness of the 2002 demo also by adopting the same moderate lo-fi quality of sounds that makes so much “underground”. It’s a weird type of doom, made of very heavy, distorted riffs, frequent up-tempo rhythms with a punkish attitude, catchy but gloomy melodies variably hinting to genres as stoner to traditional doom and even, rarely, gothic doom. Vocals contribute to variety as they shift from Lemmy-wise gritty to grunty and growled and occasionally even clean (and this is when a gothic feeling comes out). Insets of spoken part contribute to enhance the sense of mystery and solemnity of the archaic atmospheres and stories accounted for in the lyrics.

These first releases clearly show that the band is training solidly and is able to get cool performance in different genres.

The 2006 album “Battle Staffs In The Mushroom Woods” and the 2010 album “Seven Bloodied Ramparts” show how the band has been focusing their tunes without loosing their ability of making highly headbangable, gripping heavy tunes.

The 2006 “Battle Staffs In The Mushroom Woods”, the album with the gloomiest cover art of the band’s releases, is maybe the less doomy one as the up-tempo rhythms prevail in that mixture of raw heavy metal tinged of doom and black metal. So the sounds are not so orthodox doom, but the atmospheres and the archaic energies aroused by this heavy, raw yet modern-sounding punkish battle metal are as gloomy and epic and obscure as in heavy doom.

The new, solid 2010 “Seven Bloodied Ramparts” album is probably the most epic one, without loosing the freshness of the punkish attitude palpitating throughout the tunes. In the seven tracks of the album, mighty riffs and a gloriously audible bassline are as heavy and pounding as the ancient weapons against the Christian usurpers the duo sing about. Compared to the previous releases, the epic feeling is accompanied by moodier and more melancholic atmospheres even if vocals are still Lemmy-style gritty ansd no gothic clean vocals are employed. However the band never let their raw, old-school, high-energy punkish attitude down and this helps in avoiding monotony through excessive melancholia. 

The most recent Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom’s albums are sold via King Penda Productions on-line shop. The hard-to-find debut 2002 demo had been posted on a few blogs after the tracks were kindly donated by the band. The 2003 album Droner is out of production but the label and the band agreed in recovering it and selling a digital version of it via Bancamp.

The band is working on a new album which will bear the title “Looting the Barrows” and will come out soon. And, well, I’m among those who can’t wait for it!

As a vote is required for the reviews here, I’m proposing a comprehensive vote that takes into account how I like atmospheres, heaviness and style contamination, especially when the styles are “old-school”, “raw” and “glorious” like, for example, trve west-Midland-born, dark heavy Sabbathian doom and  Motörhead-shaped raw punk metal …… 9/10

Review by Marilena Moroni (Mari)



Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom  Myspace

Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom Webpage

Feb 26, 2011

Long Distance Calling - S/T ...

Long Distance Calling are a band from Germany that have been handed the 'post-rock' tag by some but before you run away from this review, I assure you that this band is nothing like the typical band with the 'post-rock' tag. The truth is Long Distance Calling are more within the prog-rock, psychedelic rock genre than anything else and they are indeed very good. Being a proggy kind of band you would expect a lot of odd timings and complex arrangements but Long Distance Calling manage to sound progressive while keeping things straight-forward while still dishing out some jaw-dropping musical passages. In many respects they are a modern version of bands such as Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and King Crimson with a side order of good old-fashioned hard rock but just to confuse and keep it modern, there is also a nod towards bands like Alice In Chains and even Tool. You could say the band is all over the place in terms of influence but it sure makes for an interesting album. This recording was done the old-school organic way in Hours Studios in Hannover where classic bands such as Eloy, Scorpions and The Rolling Stones recorded some of their most well-known albums. Long Distance Calling are another all-instrumental band which seems to be the 'cool thing to do' right now but what is pleasing is most of these instrumental bands are very good so who can complain anyway.

The album opener, "Into the Black Wide Open" is a totally convincing progressive rock tune complete with varied and rich sound textures but rather than trying to impress with complex time signatures and riffs, the band have a straight-forward rock approach that keep the songs slightly infectious so you can rock out as well as admire their musicianship. "Into the Black Wide Open" is nicely put together, starting out mesmerizing and then going completely off-the-deep-end before calming down for an alluring ending, in short - a great way to start an album. "The Figrin D’an Boogie" is up next and it is like Deep Purple, ELP and Pink Floyd all rolled into one, there is plenty of psychedelic stomping hard rock in the tune but also an underlying quirky prog-rock vibe similar to early Genesis. It is one part a little odd but on the other hand, it has an immediate, catchy edge to it. Moving on to "Invisible Giants" and it is back in the vein of the opening tune, it is full of warmth and captivating musicianship. Same can be said for the following tune titled "Timebends" but they pull out some extra tricks for this one like the jazz-fusion elements in the first half of the track. In the second half of the song, it heads off into heavy-prog land with tons of groove and I get the feeling this band could really kick some serious ass if they wanted to but they seem to pull back before getting too heavy which is a pity to my ears. If you want further evidence of that, listen to "Arecibo (Long Distance Calling)" which has some fine chugging riffing but just as you think they are about to let loose, they once again tighten the reins and keep things steady.

"Middleville" is the main talking point of the album for it is the only song with vocals and the vocals come from none other than ex-Anthrax frontman John Bush but I hate to say it but I feel this is the albums worst track. It just seems awfully generic compared to the rest of the album but I will say, the guitar solos are amazing. The album ends on "Beyond The Void" which is the most melodic tune on the album but also kind of forgettable for my money. There is a bit of a conundrum when it comes to describing this album, on the one hand it is progressive and psychedelic but there is also a 80's metal element kind of vibe. I couldn't help but think about Metallica when they tortured a large section of the metal community with their more progressive than usual 'And Justice for All' album and don't get me wrong, Long Distance Calling sounds nothing like Metallica but there is also something very 1980's about this album. Five tracks out of seven tracks on this album are excellent with the other two comprising one throwaway track in my mind and one average but very listenable tune so I rate this album pretty high in the prog-psychedelic instrumental hard rock stakes. This album is full of surprises without being pompous or overly complex so it is very easy to listen to and appreciate no matter what mood you might be in. Pretty damn good....8/10
Long Distance Calling @ Myspace

Murkrat - Drudging The Mire ...

Every now and then an album comes along that is so different and unique, it gives the scene a much needed kick up the butt. I feel that this album from Murkrat called "Drudging The Mire" could be one of those albums, that is if people can put up with the tortured pain that the music on this 70 plus minute album projects. Murkrat are a two-piece band from Australia and have produced this album that is deeply personal and extremely unforgiving. The bands main and maybe only songwriter is vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist and bass player, Mandy VKS Cattleprod and her voice has so much depth and variance that really makes this recording a intriguing listening experience. On "Drudging The Mire" she screams, moans, cries, whispers, chants and everything else in-between in a captivating performance that keeps you riveted till the very last note. Musically it is mostly in the funeral-doom style but there is no pretty melancholic melodies to be heard here, this is an expression of pure emotional pain and suffering. What also makes this unique is the vast influences that range from Thergothon, Esoteric, Worship to 19th century classical music and that combination is simply brutal.

It starts with a 4 minute minimalistic intro titled "Processional: Drudging The Mire" which is a perfect dark and introspective way to set up the mood of the rest of the album. After that you get 6 very long, extremely repetitive, minimalist funeral doom pieces that are based around long - open chords and painfully slow drum beats. Keyboards and piano sections are added here and there but they are never beautiful, it is more of a case of pushing the oppressiveness level even further into suicidal realms. The music is baleful, ambient, and at times extremely abstract so if you are looking for something within the realms of traditional doom metal, you would be well advised to stay clear of this album. There is no point reviewing single tracks as the album plays like one long piece of conceptual doom-art and there is no weak tracks but there is also not one track that stands out above the rest, they are all of a high standard. I have to go back to Mandy's vocals, female vocals in doom-metal are not overly common and when you do hear them, they are usually a throwback to the hippie proto-metal of the 70's as in the vocals of Blood Ceremony and Jex Thoth. What you get with Murkrat however is something far more intense, chaotic and savage although it has its calm moments too. It is really the mesmerizing yet nightmarish vocals that carry this album and gives the album its strength. I have nothing but praise for Mandy VKS Cattleprod, she is perhaps the most dynamic vocalist of her kind in doom-metal. It is also worth noting that Mandy has painted artworks used by bands such as Mournful Congregation, Stone Wings, Lycanthia and Grenade so she is very multi-talented.

Visceral, meditative, introspective, spiritual and thunderous are just a few words I can think of to describe this album by Murkrat but it wont be for everyone. This album is dark, somewhat disturbing and is also a very demanding album to sit through in one go, the level of anxiety in the grooves is overpowering at times. If you want to hear some funeral doom devoid of the usual melahcholy that funeral doom bands get into, then this album is for you. Also if you like hearing female vocals but find the usual female vocals in doom to be a bit too friendly, then check out the crusty vocals of this girl. This is a all-round winner for 2011, out on Aesthetic Death Records....9/10
Aesthetic Death Records
Aesthetic Death @ MySpace
Murkrat Fan Site

Feb 25, 2011

Thalamus - Sign Here For Nothing ...

Yes, it is true that the Swedish stoner-rock scene is a bit predictable but isn't it so damn good. Well he is another band to add to the never-ending list of retro-rock bands from Sweden and again it is another great band. Thalamus impressed nearly everyone with their "Beneath a Dying Sun début LP" released in 2007 but this EP goes one step further in terms of incredible musicianship, the bluesy feel and infectious grooves. The immediate difference between this EP and the début album is organist Håkan Danielsson who has added some extra depth and thickness to the sound of the band. The organ sound and its playing will draw comparisons to Deep Purple's Jon Lord and it would be right but it only adds to the already authentic 70's hard rock feel that the band has. However while Lord's most famous period in Deep Purple was the Mk.2 era with albums like In Rock and Machine Head, Thalamus and their new organist lean more towards the Mk.3 era of albums such as Burn and Stormbringer. They have a funky element along with the blues that gives this band a style to set themselves apart from other Swedish stoner-rockers such as Spiritual Beggars. However Kjell Bergendahl - Guitar, Vocals has a voice similar to original Spiritual Beggars frontman Spice so I guess there must be something in the water over there that keeps these bands having similar traits.

The riffs, the grooves, the feels all come from the mid 70's book of hard rock. Deep Purple, Rainbow, The Scorpions and Led Zeppelin being the more obvious influences but being modern and Swedish means they rock harder than any of those bands. Also, the sound on this disk is massive and extremely chunky with dual guitars being upfront and central to their sound. If there is a gripe to be had, is it in the bass and organ sounds which seem a little buried at times. I would have love to hear all the instruments more 'in your face' but it is a minor bug just the same as this thing is still smoking hot. There is only 5 tracks which only run a total of 19 minutes and that gets me bummed every time as these songs are so infectious, they fly past you and if you are not paying attention, you can miss songs completely. "Hope You Understand" is the opening tune and it is a doozy with a mid-tempo bluesy groove and a classic 70's rock approach - you can imagine them onstage at California Jam with flared trousers and platforms while organist Håkan Danielsson rocks the living breath out of an old Hammond. Note that Håkan Danielsson has since been replaced by Joachim Åslund or so I hear anyway. Second track up is "Breathe Easy" which brings in the funky element more into the style of the band, it even has vocals not too far away from Glenn Hughes in terms of funky vocal range. One of the best tracks comes next called "Black Day Sunday" which has the band firing on all cylinders. It is more straight-forward than the rest of the tracks but still one of the best on offer here and it also features one of the EP's best riffs.

"New Age Blues" has the band slowing down but it is not slow plodding slow blues, more of a rhythmic, dynamic heavy prog tune. It should be pointed out that bass-player Peter Johansson writes most of their music and has a natural talent for writing catchy yet interesting riffs based around the blues structure and he seems right at home with tracks like "New Age Blues." The last track on the EP is the weakest and is in my opinion, the only dud tune of the five, titled "Early Morning Leave" it features the very sexy vocals of Sara Lagerqvist but even that can't save it from sounding like a very dull song. The song from what I gather is about a man and a woman ending a relationship with Lagerqvist playing the part of the woman and Bergendahl taking on the male role. This male/female duet stuff has been done a million times in hard rock (remember that atrocious Alice Cooper song, 'Millie And Billie'?) and it very rarely works in my opinion and it doesn't work too good here either. It is saved to a point by the organ playing of Danielsson which gets the upfront production treatment in the song. The band is currently in the studio recording a new album and none of these songs will be on it so this makes this an essential pick-up if you like the band. If you have never heard the band, I recommend you check this out despite the one questionable track, Thalamus are another great Swedish band I am sure you will dig.......8/10
Thalamus on Facebook

Aethyr - Messio ...

Aethyr's Messio has been released on the great R.A.I.G records, one of my favorite labels as they are a label committed to quality releases both from the point of view of production but also musicianship. However they have often lent towards the prog/psyche rock side of music so this album is a big departure from the usual R.A.I.G records stuff. This duo from Russia play a sludged out doom laden version of blackened instrumental ambient doom that oozes along with distorted, fuzzy guitar, rumbling bass and plodding percussive rhythms. The album is unique right down to the all-black thick cardboard gatefold jacket with silver embossed lettering and symbols that is on the cover, very striking package indeed. The album kicks off with a low-down bass amp roar along with samples of 20th century occultist Aleister Crowley. The extreme buzzing guitar that churns out a simple but wicked sinister droning riff gives off the vibe of perfect background funeral music. Before you get too settled in to the Sunn O))) kind of vibe, it mutates into something different again with a free-form jam that sounds like amps decaying. Some of the drones coming from the bass are so low, it literally can make you nauseous. This is some of the most guttural music of the blackest kind that I have heard from Russia in a long, long time.

That track, "A.c.s I" is followed by "Occultus I" and yes the album is made up of part one and two song-titles and musical passages. "Occultus I" is based around a gigantic doom riff and plodding drums that slowly builds up a hypnotic, trance-like state for around 10 minutes. The sludge seems to become thicker, the longer the track plays as it builds layer upon layer of meandering fuzz-laden guitar sections. Aethyr are no masterminds when it comes to musicianship as this is pretty primitive but they squeeze the most out of every idea, every passage or riff / tempo variation. As the track progresses, ominous chanting is added which sounds like it is coming from zombie-like Gregorian monks. The track is chilling right to its last notes, great hypnotic doom track. "Mass II" continues in a similar, plodding vein but this track is actually kind of melodic. The sinister doom riffage is joined by synthesizer melodies that add a kind of 'Jesu' vibe to the track. As the track builds in atmosphere, the tempo is increased which eventually ends with the sound of more burning amps, more droning instruments and another sampled speech from Crowley.

The second half of the disk opens up with "Occultus II" which continues the metallic sludge created in "Occultus I" and there is no real surprises although 'II' does take on a more black-metal kind of atmosphere. There is the odd tremolo riff that adds something a bit more traditional to the sound of the track but as usual it always returns to the blackened sludge-doom-drone sound before the song ends. "Ave_S" is not only one of the highlights of the album but also the most different of all the songs on "Messio." Here the band get very psychedelic but also more traditional in the heavy rock sense. It isn't that far removed from a Led Zeppelin type of song or arrangement but of course it is 100 times heavier and musically twisted. The high frequency guitars that start the track drill through your brain and at loud volumes, the effect is painful but engaging. There is many psychedelic twists throughout the 12 minutes of "Ave_S" from soaring guitars to deep bass growls to moments of pure amplifier noise but what keeps it interesting is the mesmerizing, dramatic atmosphere of the track. This is the albums highpoint for me and sadly the album never reaches these majestic heights again during its last two tracks.

"Occultus III" and "A.c.s. II" close out the disc with "Occultus III" being the closest they ever get to doing a total drone track. There is nothing really about this track to get too excited about but the last track, "A.c.s" ends the album on an impressive note with more psychedelic, doom-dirge of the highest quality. While it repeats what they have already done earlier in the album, the ambient quality is outstanding and the track ends with some more words from Crowley as the band is almost pushed to the brink of destruction with amplifiers threatening to implode. The chaotic ending is appropriate for an album that is one hell of an apocalyptic soundtrack. Traditional doom fans might not like the drone elements and the ambient drone fan might hear the crushing, psychedelic doom passages as being a bit generic but if you are open to experimetal approaches in doom-metal then you should dig this album from Aethyr. Out now of R.A.I.G Records......8.5/10
Aethyr @ MySpace
Aethyr @ R.A.I.G.

Deadlock - Bizarro World ...

Let me make quite clear that from the get-go that this review is going to be ugly and the reason I am bothering to review this garbage is that maybe the label will take notice and stop sending me this crap. Deadlock is a classic example as to why most modern-metal sucks major ass, this over-produced, fake sounding banal record is metal but so incredibly watered down, I got embarrassed even listening to it. "Bizarro World" is an album that does have some interesting melodic death-metal passages of music but every single time it is ruined by insisting to add in very poppy elements via synths and overproduced female vocals. The female vocals I speak of come from Sabine Scherer who can sing but shouldn't be trying to sing in a metal band. Her voice has no more power or depth than a Miley Cyrus and the lyrics are abysmal, banal garbage like "What a brutal romance, what a brutal romance.. It always takes two to tango!" - pretty deep huh? Basically the lyrics sound like they were written by a 12-year-old and for 12-year-old female listeners and not very intelligent ones at that.

There is some good musical passages and at times the music can be heavy and complex but it is largely ruined by an incredibly fake production job that sounds sterile with no warmth whatsoever. Being so over-produced, it robs the music and vocals of all of its personality. This sounds like Iron Maiden jammin with Evanescence while trying to play death-metal with a pop vocalist, yes it is seriously that bad. I am not even going to post links to their websites as no one deserves to be subjected to this excrement......1/10

Feb 24, 2011

Sungrazer - S/T ...

Dutch rockers Sungrazer have been making waves recently with this début EP or is it an album, it might only have 5 songs but they are long and the EP always seems longer than what is actually is to me but that is my problem, I guess. Claims of mountainous fuzz and new stoner riff gods are just a couple of the things I have been reading so I was pretty excited about hearing this. I just wonder if all these clichés are now officially burned out and I will tell you why. Sungrazer do indeed have big fuzzy riffs but is that all it takes nowadays to be a 'stoner-band'? After all some of this reminded me of a amped-up Foo Fighters and most people would hardly lumped them in with Kyuss and other stoner-rock gods. The band also has a lot of pop-rock moments and if it wasn't for its extended jam sections, this could quite easily fit under the grunge-rock banner so again the stoner-rock tag is mis-directed and Sungrazer are another example of that musical tag being watered down. However all my gripes besides, Sungrazer are a good kick ass band.

Guitarist Rutger Smeets and bassist Sander Haagmans showcase their flair for cosmic instrumentation in songs like "If" that is a surprisingly mellow. Their songs provide a lot of room for spaced-out jamming and "If" is full of floating, trippy passages. At times they sound a little like a cross between Color Haze and Kyuss but with a deep theatrical edge as a lot of the music on this disk sounds like movie background music. "If" is enjoyable but sounds rather familiar but they stamp their own sound more on songs like "Zero Zero" and "Somo" which are more focused but also more diverse. Somo is laced with acoustics, psychedelic sound effects and experimental elements and this is where the band is at their best. The poppy sensibilities shows itself in "Zero Zero" that has an infectious but commercial chorus but I could have done without the hand-clap section. Note, there is still a lot of heavy fuzz in their sound so it doesn't qualified as mainstream but I wouldn't call it stoner-rock either. "Common Believer" is the most straight-forward track on the EP and the closest they ever get to a generic 'fuzz-rock' sound, this tune is not too far removed from the likes of Fu Manchu and early Dozer kind of riffarama. On "Common Believer" it sounds like they repeat themselves, something I hear a few times on this EP.

Ditto with the EP's heaviest tune, "Mountain Dusk" as while this is a great track, some of it just sounds like a repeat of ideas already heard before on the EP. They even bring back the dreaded 'hand-claps' for one last hurrah and if there is one thing I hate it is 'hand-claps,' almost as bad as whistling in a song. I have serious mixed-feelings about this EP, to me it lacks identity and depth. Also, I don't hear all this "fuzz" that people talk about it, it does have its heavy, fuzzy moments but they are just that - moments and brief ones at that. I do hear however a killer band waiting to come out, it is lurking in the background on this EP and maybe the next release will be the album where they find their own individuality and really prove themselves. This is a good band but an average EP in my book......5.5/10
Sungrazer @ Myspace

Firebird - Double Diamond ...

Firebird guitarist/vocalist and main-man Bill Steer formed the band in 1999. Steer has been in bands such as Napalm Death and Carcass which are way more heavy and a completely different style than Firebird but it doesn’t matter. From what I gather Steer basically bored with grind and death felt the need to reinvent himself and thus formed Firebird.  The band has seen many different bass players and drummers come and go but one thing that has never changed is the bands pure 70's blues-rock approach. Even all their albums play like classic vinyl from the 70's, to this day they have never produced an album over 40 minutes in length - again sticking with the authentic 70's hard rock formula for recording. Musically over the course of 6 albums, this one, 'Double Diamond' being number 6 they have stuck to the blueprint laid down by Hendrix, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Budgie, Humble Pie and Thin Lizzy to name just a few. Being such a radical departure from Steer's earlier work with grindcore pioneers Napalm Death and death metal band Carcass still confuses people to this day but when you hear Steer's playing, it becomes obvious he has a natural talent for this style and maybe should have been playing it all along. Albums leading up to Double Diamond start with the début self-titled in 2000, Deluxe in 2001, No.3 in 2003, Hot Wings in 2006 and Grand Union released in 2009.

The most puzzling thing about Double Diamond is only recently did it get released in the US where as it has been out in Europe and Japan for months, I think I first heard it at least 6 months ago. Anyway this just another Firebird album so in other words, predictable but killer chunks of wild 70's inspired bluesy hard rock. The album kicks off with "Soul Saviour" - and mid tempo bruiser with infectious hooks, groovy guitar work from Steer and those thin but incredibly soothing vocals also from Steer. Something about Bill Steer's voice is pure perfection despite having almost no vocal range, his voice is warm and kind of wispy but it is ideal for the songs and style. They push on the gas for the second track, "Ruined" with a more intense, energetic performance. Highly infectious as usual but the highlight of the track for me is the breakdown in the song where drummer Ludwig Witt lets loose with some excellent drum-fills. Also, pay special attention to the guitar solo in this track, it shows Steer is a remarkable guitarist that makes me think he must look back on the Napalm Death days with a laugh - there is more dynamic lead runs in one Firebird song than the entire Napalm Death catalog. From Ruined the album moves into the more relaxed "Bright Lights" and the band certainly takes things down a notch with this melodic, bluesy tune. In typical Firebird fashion, while more mellow it still keeps up a solid groove throughout.

"For Crying Out Loud" is up next and this the most relentless guitar assault on the album, the riffs and the grooves don't let up and take note of the riff that enters the song at 1:45, Thin Lizzy’s “Emerald” anyone? "Farewell" is up next and takes the vibe down a notch once more similar to "Bright Lights" - more relaxed but still keeping a heavy, solid groove going. "A Wing and a Prayer" is track 6 and is one of the catchiest songs Firebird have ever done, the guitar work is pure genius in this tune. "Pound of Flesh" is track 7 and the seventh song in a row with a irresistible groove, this album never lets up in the catchy hook department. "Pound Of Flesh" is also another track to feature the kick-ass drumming of Witt, he really delivers a pulverizing performance in this song and even has time to use a cowbell here and there!! "Arabesque" is the odd track on the album, it has a very different feel from the rest of the album despite some thick guitar sounds. This is the albums only mis-step in my opinion, nothing bad about the track but it does seem to disrupt the flow of the album to me. After that minor hiccup comes "Lose Your Delusions" and this is a major highlight as this tune kicks into a groove and just keeps on delivering the goods. It is also one of the few songs where the bass groove really drives the song just as much as Steer's guitar. The album ends on "Pantomine" which is the most mellow track on the album. Firebird have always done mellow tunes but this might be the 'most-mellow' ever and it is a good tune but it is oddly placed at the end of the album. A rocking tune would have made a better closer in my mind but oh well, can't win them all. Again, this is another showcase for Bill Steer's incredibly smooth guitar work, he has a natural flair for engaging, warm blues and but he can also let rip some brutal boogie too and this album has all that and more.

Firebird are not the most original band going around but they are incredibly consistent and 'Double Diamond' is another solid effort that sums up the feels, the grooves and the essence of 70's blues-rock and classic heavy-rock. Firebird are also one of the very few bands where I can not for the life of me pick a favorite album, they are all equally as good in my book. I also love the album title, 'Double Diamond,' it is a brand of beer in the UK and I drank gallons of that stuff when I was there so yeah another reason to dig this album, check it out.........9/10
Firebird @ Myspace

PENTAGRAM: 'Last Days Here' SXSW Screenings Announced ...

Metal Blade Records will be invading Austin, Texas this March as a part of the South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival, with bands playing at various showcases. Fans will also have the chance to catch the world premier of the PENTAGRAM film "Last Days Here" on three separate days.

Metal Blade Records artists playing SXSW this year include PENTAGRAM, WHITECHAPEL, THE RED CHORD, ACROSS THE SUN, and DAWN OF ASHES. PENTAGRAM, who is rumored to be playing a secret surprise show on Friday, March 18, will perform with its current lineup, featuring Bobby Liebling, Victor Griffin, Greg Turley, and Virginia's Albert Born as the group's new drummer.

"Last Days Here" tells the story of Bobby Liebling, lead singer of the cult hard rock/heavy metal band PENTAGRAM. Frozen for decades in his parents' basement, Bobby's music is finally discovered by the heavy metal underground. With the help of Sean "Pellet" Pelletier, his friend and manager, Bobby attempts to overcome years of addiction, loneliness, and broken dreams. Intimate, raw, and unexpectedly funny, "Last Days Here" portrays the unbelievable journey of a man at the crossroads of life and death.

The film was produced by 9.14 Pictures, an independent production company that specializes in documentary films. The film was directed by Don Argott and Demian Fenton and produced by Sheena M. Joyce. The company's filmography includes last year's critically acclaimed "The Art Of The Steal", "Two Days In April" and "Rock School".

"Last Days Here" is in the "Featured Documentary" competition and is up against seven other documentaries which were chosen out of the 808 submitted.

"Last Days Here" screenings:

Monday, March 14 - 4:30 p.m. @ Vimeo Theatre -World Premiere
Tuesday, March 15 - 2 p.m. @ Alamo Lamar C
Friday, March 18 - 4:30 p.m. @ Vimeo Theatre

Feb 23, 2011

Sourvein Announce Southern US Tour ...

Sourvein, the band that has been around for over 18 years but are only now about to release their third album are heading out for a southern tour. One of the loudest bands on the planet, it looks like they be destroying the south next month. Here is the latest news ....


North Carolina doom metal heathens, Sourvein, will kick off a short US tour this March. Dubbed the “Disturbing the Peace Tour 2011,” the band will be joined by Jucifer on select dates. Said vocalist/guitarist T-Roy Medlin of the upcoming jaunt: “Can’t wait to hit the road with Jucifer, bring the doom and unleash some new songs’!”
Sourvein are readying to release their third studio full-length, Black Fangs, this June via Candlelight Records [ see cover art ].

Sourvein Disturbing the Peace Tour 2011:
03/01 Sonar Baltimore, MD
03/02 Volume 11 Raleigh, NC
03/03 Cadelonia Lounge Athens, GA
03/04 Wormhole Savannah, GA
03/05 Checkpoint Charlie’s New Orleans, LA
Jucifer joins tour:
03/06 Rouge Fayetteville, AR
03/07 Hi Tone Memphis, TN
03/08 Exit Inn Nashville, TN
03/09 JJ’s Chattanooga, TN
03/10 Soapbox Lounge Wilmington, NC
03/11 Tremont Charlotte, NC
03/12 Hideaway Johnson City, TN
03/13 Krug’s Place Frederick, MD w/ Iron Man (no Jucifer)

Ride The Sun CD's In Stock ...



Ride The Sun CD's are now in stock in the Doom Metal Alliance Records Store. Don't miss out !!!! ( Limited Quantities )

$12 - For US Customers
$15 - Rest Of The World

Check the DMA Records Store page for more details and a sample track.

Interview With KYPCK - Comrades In Doom ...

Myspace Bio - KYPCK, 'Kursk' in the western alphabet, is a Russian-singing Finnish metal band. The band's debut downfall, the full-length album titled 'Cherno' was completed during 2007 and released through the Finnish UHO Production on the 12th of March 2008. In May 2008 the album was licensed to Century Media Records, and released worldwide. During 2009 and 2010 the band recorded their new album 'Nizhe' (Lower), which will be released on February 2011. More details coming soon. KYPCK's crew features vocalist E. Seppänen, guitarist S. S. Lopakka (Sentenced), bassist J. T. Ylä-Rautio and drummer K. H. M. Hiilesmaa, who is also known as the producer of HIM, Lordi, Sepultura, Sentenced, Moonspell, Apocalyptica and many others. Obviously Hiilesmaa is also in charge of KYPCK's production. Kursk bio in brief: 1032 – The first written records of Kursk, the Russian city. 1508 – The city of Kursk joins the centralized Russian state. 1943 – The Battle of Kursk. The largest tank battle in history. 1994 – The nuclear submarine K-141 Kursk is launched. 2000 – K-141 sinks in the Barents Sea taking 118 lives with her. 2007 – The band Kursk is formed and their debut album recorded. 2008 – The band's debut album 'Cherno' is released. 2009 and 2010 – The band's second album 'Nizhe' is recorded.

Aleks caught up withy Erkki Seppänen for this interview....


Q: Salut Erkki! How are you comrade? Are you ready to answer a few questions about the brand new release of KYPCK?

Erkki: Hello! We are well and excited about the new album. The response has been quite positive and we were extremely happy to hear that Nashe Radio has started to play us… It’s an honour to be played on a radio that plays ONLY Russian music!


Q: Which song do they play? I bet that it is “Alleya Stalina” (“Alley of Stalin”)! But true to say I think that KYPCK is not suitable enough for format of this radio, but anyway it helps to spread a Word, so it works!

Erkki: Yes, so far they’ve played that and it seems to go down well, as it’s at the moment the number 1. voted track in that show!


Q: First album of KYPCK “Cherno” was released in 2008 and if I’m not mistaken you have totally readied new material about year ago. It’s natural when a band seeks to release new songs as soon as possible, but why did you wait for year before finally producing “Nizhe”?

Erkki: We had problems with the so-called “major” label that was going to release the album. We had already shaken hands, agreed on it like men, and made a deal, but in the end they just kept delaying and couldn’t make up their minds about the release. What a bunch of losers… So, we decided to release it through Hiili’s label.


Q: Yes, I’m sure that Kai H. M. Hiilesmaa, KYPCK drummer, knows how to produce and release music, also I know that KYPCK is enough popular at least in Russia. Why do you think it took so much time to release “Nizhe” indeed?

Erkki: Well, the main problem is of course illegal downloading. Labels are afraid to lose money as people don’t buy albums. That’s why we need to play some live shows and be active ourselves. Otherwise this music will just go away.
Q: Maybe I’m wrong but it seems that KYPCK stays aside from traditional doom scene (well we can maintain that you play a bit of a strange form of doom metal), what do you think about it?

Erkki: We don’t go over our heads and try to stay aside from it, but it’s true that none of us really cares whether our music is called doom or not doom. Band’s like Cathedral and Reverend Bizarre are great in their own right and do what they do. But this is KYPCK and we have our own genre. I don’t have anything against traditional doom-metallers, but I want to do this.


Q: Russian listeners can figure out by themselves what do you want to tell with your songs but let us make it clear for those who do not know Russian language therefore I would like to ask you about meaning of your texts. First track of new album is titled “Gifarus”, there is an expected question – what does this title mean?

Erkki: It’s the name of a time-machine that one slightly mad Russian writer dreamed of back in the 19th century. I just stole the name. It’s the intro track, so, the idea is that we switch the machine on and move further back into Russian history. Just an interesting title & idea.


Q: “Posle” (“After”) is a first song of new album, and it must show a whole direction of new material to listeners. And I think that sound of KYPCK has changed a bit – it became rougher and heavier. Did Sami S. Lopakka take less part in the process of songwriting at that time?

Erkki: No, not really. Although “Posle” is my composition – actually the only one on this album that I wrote. We sat down with Sami after the Cherno-album and the shows we had in Russia to talk about the new album. And we both had the same ideas, in that we wanted to make KYPCK even more heavier, slower and use some less-traditional arrangements for the songs. “Posle” was my vision for that with the long beginning with just a churning drumbeat, the choirs, the spoken verses mixed with singing… All that was how I envisioned the new album should be: more of everything. Of course there’s still the obvious single “Alleya Stalina”, but all in all we wanted less of the traditional style songs that we had on “Cherno”. In the song “Bardak”, for example, there’s no chorus – it’s just a rolling steam-engine all the way through. And a great track!


Q: And did the way of composing and recording of new stuff differ for this time from the way of working with “Cherno”? Can you tell us which role did each member of the band play in the composing of “Nizhe”?

Erkki: No, it was pretty much the same as on “Cherno”. Jaska wrote two songs (“Brothel”, “Felitsa”), Hiili also did two (“Alleya Stalina”, “Burlaki na Volge”) and “Posle” is my composition. The rest are Sami’s music. We did do one thing differently in that we rehearsed the material twice and did demo-recordings as a band so that everyone had an input on the songs. After that process, I wrote the final lyrics.


Q: Who is the author of CD’s art-work and booklet? Isn’t it too simple for the album?

Erkki: No, I think they suit the music and the album-title perfectly. They are the work of a Muscovite photographer, Aleksei Repkin, and all the photos are from the underground sewers and tunnels of Moscow… Hence the title: “NIZHE” – lower. They have a weird, dark beauty in them, although possessing a dark, abandoned quality as well. Very unique photos and I wish to thank Aleksei once more for them!


Q: How did you figure out the subject of this song? A theme of murder in a state of alcoholic intoxication is a new and… well, and fresh for the genre. By the way, I think that lyrics of KYPCK is more “Russian” than the texts of 90% of Russian metal bands who follow western trends in their creative processes in most of their artistic ways.

Erkki: Yeah, heh heh… Thanks for the compliment! Well, the idea is basically just that: the guy wakes up in a drunken stupor, not really knowing what has happened and it is left open in the text, so you don’t know exactly if he killed his wife or what (although that’s probably what happened)… I usually get my ideas together with the music. As with “Predatel” and “Ne prosti” on the first album. And this one come together in the same way. Maybe I was thinking about losing someone you love and only afterwards realizing fully what they meant to you…


Q: There is Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin, previous name of this street was Stalinallee (Alley of Stalin), did you know about it when you composed the lyrics for the song with same name?

Erkki: Yes, of course, but the song is actually just based on a dream I had. It’s again a sort of dream-like story, like „Rozhdestvo v Murmanske“ on the first album, it’s not a historical song. It’s pretty much what my dream was like and I just thought it had a great atmosphere for a song. The music came from Hiili. At first, I wanted to change the title into „Alleya staraya“, because I didn’t want to go back into any Soviet-themes on this album. But in the end, the chorus „Alleya Stalina“ just sounds so bloody good that all the guys in the band persuaded me to keep it… So, it’s there… And now everyone can keep on complaining that “they only sing about Stalin!”


Q: I take notice when I listening to “Nizhe” that your lyrics bear a mark of incompleteness, your stories look like sketches – we can see vagueness in “Alleja Stalina” (“The Alley of Stalin”) too. Erkki, how did it happen?

Erkki: It’s a stylistic choice. I guess I prefer to leave things open a bit, so the listener can use their own imagination. That’s why I use a lot of allusions and leave some things incomplete. I just try to create an atmosphere. I do it with my other bands, too, as I write the lyrics for Dreamtale and Tuiran Miliisi as well. Sometimes I write the full story first and then sketch the lyric from that, so that the lyric then alludes to things in my original story. I just feel it makes the lyrics more durable and interesting. Then again, some people don’t like it, so what do I know?
Q: Once again you turn to the literally legacy of Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov – there were obvious influences in your song “Demon” from first album “Cherno” and now we have the track “Chuzoi” (“Stranger”) with verses from “Mzyri”, another poem of Lermontov. Is he the ideal author of doom lyrics from your point of view?

Erkki: Well, Lermontov is a great poet and I just happen to enjoy his poetry very, very much. It’s also a lucky coincidence that they seem to fit many songs of KYPCK… The atmosphere is very similar – loneliness, despair, anger… It just suits the music!


Q: Erkki, how much of you is in KYPCK songs? Which songs are the results of rethinking of your own experience? “Chujoi”, “Bardak” (“Brothel”), “Razryv” (“Rupture”) – what about all of these songs?

Erkki: I think that whenever a writer, any writer, creates a text, they put some of themselves into it. Of course, in the Romantic tradition (such as Lermontov represents) there’s a tendency to see the author and the person in the text as one. But this is art and things are never that straightforward. Still, I can easily say that the text of “Chuzhoi” is very close to my heart, as a whole, and yes there are moments where I’ve personally experienced a “Rupture” or “Razryv” in my life… I’ve had quite a full life, although I’m only 32 now… I’ve lived in Russia, I’ve studied at Oxford in one of the most historical colleges in the world… As for “Bardak”, well, we’ve all had our “Tolstoyan” moments.


Q: What do you mean when saying about “Tolstoyan moments”?

Erkki: Well, he had quite a strong sex drive… If you read his autobiography, you’ll find lots of stuff about brothels.


Q: You studied in England as you told but why did you choose the Russian language for your songs? I’m meaning that you understand very well conditions of our life and our traditions, but on the other hand – English language had same chance to take a place in your lyrics!

Erkki: In KYPCK, the language choice was made. The whole concept of the band was based on Russia, so the only natural choice is to also sing in Russian. I use English in Dreamtale and my solo-project, so I get to do that enough already.


Q: KYPCK still keeps this tradition and once more we have songs with subjects of Russian history, they are “Felitsa”, “Burlaki na Volge”* for this time. Why did you choose these themes for your songs? (*Burlaki were workers in Russia (XVI-XVIII centuries) who pull barges along river against a tide; and “Burlaki Na Volge” (“Burlaks on Volga”) is a picture of famous Russian artist Ivan Repin - Wikipedia

)

Erkki: “Felitsa” was an obvious choice, since the song is about Catherine the Great, who was called “Felitsa” in her time. There’s also a very famous poem of the same name by Derzhavin from 1782, I think, also written for Catherine the Great. My lyric is not taken from him, I just used the title, because it sounds good. I wanted to try some new things on “Nizhe” and also take themes from Tsarist Russia. So, these songs seemed to musically fit these themes. I always listen to the songs which the guys have written first and then start thinking about the themes. “Burlaki” is also a different kind of song for KYPCK musically, kind of groovy, at least for us… So I wanted to find something new lyrically too. Somehow it brought Repin’s painting to my mind and I started to work on that.


Q: The story of “Burlaki na Volge” is perfect for a doom song too, it’s story about real struggle for life and suffering, don’t you think that doom as a musical genre needs more realistic subjects? I remember German band Spirit Descent with their amazing track “Tragedy of Captain Scott”, it’s stronger, it’s more expressive than stories about same old romantic stuff, because it’s a real life.

Erkki: Perhaps. I don’t think about these things much when I write as I try to focus on the music and what the music calls for… But certainly for KYPCK, even on “Cherno”, I tried to bring subjects and themes from real life – my own or someone else’s. Maybe it’s a good contrast between our larger-than-life visual presence and our down-to-earth lyrics?


Q: What is the song “Tovarishcham” (“Comrades”) about? What does the word “comrade” mean to you? It’s strange for me that some people see this word sometimes just as a remnant of Soviet past though it’s about hard friendship, about some common idea and support in any situation.

Erkki: That’s simple: it’s a song I wrote directly to KYPCK-fans. I like that you brought up that thing about “comrades” being associated only with the Soviet past. Obviously, it has that burden, but it also means other things and I try to focus on that. It’s the same with our band’s name – for some people it just means the submarine, whereas to us it means a whole lot more. And though many people still keep talking (wrongly, of course) that we are a band that only sings about WW2, that is just a sign of intellectual laziness. We don’t have any songs about WW2, as you know… It just goes to show how people are into appearances.


Q: Yes, I know that you have no songs about WW2, though I wonder why… But well - will you tour to support “Nizhe” in Russia and other countries in nearby future?

Erkki: Yes, we have four shows in Russia in the end of March: St.Petersburg, Moscow, Kursk and Voronezh, as well as about seven shows in Finland. At the moment we are waiting for some requests from Poland and Czech Republic, but nothing’s for certain yet. We were supposed to play in Brutal Assault last summer, but because of all the bullshit with our label and the album not coming out, we decided to cancel it. I would’ve wanted to go, but as a band we wanted to come out with the new material first. That’s life sometimes, you have to make hard decisions…


Q: So you will finally play in Kursk city! Sounds like a dream comes true :-) What future do you want for KYPCK and are you ready to do to fulfill it? Do you have certain plans to make it real?

Erkki: Well, obviously I hope that this album will be successful enough that we can still make a third album. It’s very important for us to get concerts all around Russia and probably Eastern Europe, too. Otherwise this current tour in Russia might be a farewell-tour, heh! But it’s a good step in the right direction that we now do these shows in Kursk and Voronezh, places where Western bands don’t usually go. Because that’s what we need to be – not like others. If that succeeds and people still enjoy our music like they did with “Cherno”, then who knows what we can become in Russia?


Q: Thank you Erkki – that was the last question. Let me say that I’m really glad that in the end we’ve got new KYPCK release and we have a chance to see the band in Russia once again. You know – you’re always welcomed here! I hope that you have few more words to say to our readers because it’s time!

Erkki: Thanks to those who have supported this band! Thanks for buying the albums and coming to the shows – the concerts have always been very special to us… Be strong!
Interview By Aleks Evdokimov


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