Nov 30, 2011

November Poll Results: And The Winner Is ...

You voted for them, check out the results below. The big winner to me even though they finished third is The Wounded Kings. They are still fairly new to the scene and yet out-polled the likes of Electric Wizard, Candlemass, Pentagram, and Cathedral. No surprise to see Saint Vitus and Sleep come out on-top. They deserve it, true doom and stoner pioneers and a major influence on a lot of bands plus two of the most killer bands you could ever expect to see live. I think seeing Trouble poll so poorly is significant, imagine this poll 15 to 20 years ago, they would have finished near the top or possibly could have won; oh, how the mighty have fallen! The rest of the results are pretty predictable, as expected and where they should be in a poll like this but that is debatable of course. Thanks to the 855 people who voted, cheers.


1. SAINT VITUS - 114 votes (13:33%)
2. SLEEP - 91 votes (10:64%)
3. THE WOUNDED KINGS - 80 votes (9:36%)
     YOB - 80 votes (9:36%)
4. CANDLEMASS - 76 votes (8:89%)
5. ELECTRIC WIZARD - 75 votes (8:77%)
6. CATHEDRAL - 56 votes (6:55%)
7. SOLITUDE AETURNUS - 40 votes (4:68%)
8. BLOOD CEREMONY - 31 votes (3:63%)
    PENTAGRAM - 31 votes (3:63%)
9. MAR DE GRISES - 29 votes (3:39%)
10. REVEREND BIZARRE - 28 votes (3:27%)
11. THE DEVILS BLOOD - 25 votes (2:92%)
12. MOURNFUL CONGREGATION - 19 votes (2:22%)
13. TROUBLE - 18 votes (2:11%)
14. SKEPTICISM - 17 votes (1:99%)
15. ISOLE - 14 votes (1:64%)
16. PARADISE LOST - 12 votes (1:40%)
       EVOKEN - 12 votes (1:40%)
17. MY DYING BRIDE - 7 votes (0:82%)

Denver Doom Festival This Weekend ...

LOCRIAN - The Clearing ...

There is a lot to be said about what passes as "experimentation" these days. Black metal bands are the quickest to call themselves experimental and then when you hear them you get nothing but cheesy noises and bland sound effects that sound like they were made by a 3-year-old in mommies' basement. Then you get the other end of the spectrum, bands that take the "experimentation" angle and actually do something with it that is interesting to the listener. Locrian are one of those bands, they are a band that shows their influences often but use their "experimentation" to take it to a whole other level, creating something that is uniquely theirs. The sound on their latest album 'The Clearing' is ominous and cold and full of suspense and truly frightening moments. The band blend drone, noise, doom, ambient, black metal, and electronica and make soundscapes that build in atmosphere and never lack cohesion.

What is interesting is the band use a lot of common drone techniques that are in the vein of Sunn O))), post-rock a-la Neurosis and take black metal elements from acts like Burzum but yet make it sound positively original. That is a remarkable feat considering how limited a lot of these influences are but Locrain succeed on all levels. The band doesn't seem too interested with genres, they are more about creating moods and 'The Clearing' is about as moody as it gets. The opening track, 'Chalk Point' is what I would call "suspenseful - psychedelia." The entire piece keeps building but you never know where its going or if it will ever get there and in the end it leaves you hanging which in the end makes it even more suspenseful and chilling. The track has everything from cold and dark piano to moments of feedback laden drones and ends up a monster piece of music.

'Augury In An Evaporating Tower' is more like a short Sunn O))) track colliding with noisy, distorted black-metal. That little burst of menacing noise is followed by 'Corprolite' which is drones mixed with acoustics and is melancholic at first before turning very nasty and creepy. The last half of the track has some of the most gripping dark ambience ever recorded in my opinion. The album then ends with the 17 minute title track that starts off gentle enough but soon turns into an unforgiving droning piece that is continually gaining momentum. This one is a little long for my tastes with the ambient sound-scape getting a bit tedious after a while but it is no album killer.

Locrian are without a doubt masters of their craft and are a band that takes sonic experimentation to a new unique level and 'The Clearing' is an album that sucks the listener in and never let's go. Even if the title track drags a little, the result is still a stunning but stark piece of work. Fans of Sunn O))), Khanate, and Neurosis will want to hear this but Locrian need no such comparisons, they stand alone......8.5/10.


Riotgod - Invisible Empire ...

The newest album by the side project of Monster Magnet rhythmic section Jim Buglino and Bob Pantella has one main inspiration, which might turn out as their biggest flaw: they are in love with the early grunge sound. The guitars, the feel of the melodies, and even more, the style of the vocals are a total, unashamed throwback to the sound of “Badmotorfinger” era Soundgarden. A song like “Crossfade” could literally be mistaken for a lost outtake from those days.

And this whole vibe permeates the record through it's every note, allowing even a couple of nods to the sound of early Alice In Chains. That, to a lot of people, could sound like a sign of a “derivative” band. But to me, it's a good thing. Yeah, the band embraces the sound almost to the point of homage. But it's done so well and effortlessly, with so much skill and ear for great songwriting that I know, I will listen to this album repeatedly.

True, there's many bands who are doing this sort of retro riff rock mixture, inspired by the golden age of Seattle. Especially since highly overrated bands like Wolfmother made it marketable again. But in this case, its good. The riffs are big and groovy, the hooks are strong.

Mark Sunshine's powerful yelp, inspired, obviously by Chris Cornell, but even more by Robert Plant and even By early Coverdale, sells the songs to me and mixes with the band's honest and raw love for old school heavy rocking, creating an album that, to me, surpasses the début and is, if not a “classic” or a groundbreaking record, an album that sticks in my ears and makes me feel good. So, if you like the sound, don't hesitate and buy this. You wont be disappointed. 7.5/10

Words: Andrea Contanzo

Riot God @ Myspace

Interview with Florida Sludge Masters : HOLLOW LEG ...

Despite the fact that their debut album "instinct" has been released almost one year ago, I just got recently into hollow leg but since then I must reckon that there's not a day where I don't listen at least twice this incredible masterpiece.
It's maybe a bit subjective sometimes to put labels on a band's music and can even lead to little contradictions, but this time believe me we got here a band that has really took the best from sludge, stoner and doom to concoct an explosive mixture of sheer heaviness and grooving power with some of the most insane vocals that can be heard actually in the scene. The beast is raging, powerful and extremely sleek, menacing but beautifully aesthetic... If you haven't got yet "instinct" in your sick collection, I conjure you with the highest solemnity to catch this mistake right now !
It soon became obvious and urgent to ask Brent and Tim a few questions about the album and all the good shit that happened to hollow leg this year :

 About a year after its release, what’s your look now on « instinct » ? How has been the response to this debut ? What would you say to people who spite on digital purchase via bandcamp?

We still really like the songs as well as the recording. As far as first records go, we're very proud. The record is available on bandcamp so that anyone who's interested in the music can get the record, if you're one of those who've purchased the digital download, thank you. We just want people to have access to the music.

The band has been during quite some time a duo and the album was recorded this way, did you feel it was necessary to have a full steady line-up when you started to have more and more gigs early this year? Could you please present both new members ? Did their arrival impose new operating or behavior rules?

We were always comfortable as a 2 piece, but the opportunity came upon us to join forces with our new vocalist-Scott Angelacos and bass player-Tom Crowther (also members of junior bruce) and we (all 4 of of us) jumped on it...No new rules really, we just had to adapt to accommodating more personnel and learn how to make more phone calls.We were friends first and still are. That is always important to us for making good music.

Why did you choose a bison for the cover of the album? Does this animal represent something special for you? Do you consider it as the best animal to represent hollow leg (beautiful, powerful, wild… and intelligent! This is indeed one of the most intelligent animals with orcas and dolphins)?

The bison image just kind of materialized over time...Through writing that batch of music, and especially the lyrics to "instinct," the symbol of the bison just seemed fitting. We had this kind of neolithic vibe happening because it was our first effort and we wanted to incorporate that vibe in the artwork. The bison was a major symbol in neolithic life and art, so it became a mascot of sorts for "instinct." And, yes, it's also a huge badass animal!

Your song “the return” will be soon appearing in a movie called “veer!”, how did you get this opportunity and do you know some other songs that will be included too?

It's actually a track called "the return" that will be appearing in the film...To my understanding, someone working on the film is a fan and suggested us for a scene where they needed a heavy track...The film is a story about a skateboarder from Jacksonville, and most (if not all) the film was shot here, so I believe the film features a lot of local north Florida bands.

You did a cool video clip for the song “the source”, did you had any special help for this ? Did you try to make it played elsewhere than on the net, maybe on local TV or … ?

"The source" video was just something we put together from footage we had collected over the year or so while we were working on "instinct." It's a lot of live clips as well as studio clips and just random shots of us. We didn't really have any aspirations for the video, just more for fun and to give people that are interested something to check out.

You played numerous shows this year, is there any club from Florida left that hasn’t been infected yet by hollow leg’s sound ? Were the tours with shroud eater and omean self-organized ? Which parts of the states would you like to play in “in priority” next?

There are so many little shacks to play in here in Florida it's impossible to hit all of them, but we've made a dent in our home state for sure, a few times over actually! Yes, we self-organized those tours, with some help from local area bands/promoters. We would love
to play the pacific northwest, and since Tim (drums) and I are both originally from New England, playing that area would be great too. We've made moves to get up there, but haven't yet gotten that far north yet.

You recently played more important gigs with yob and dark castle, also last month with ken mode and the atlas moth, did you feel more pressure than usually for these gigs ? How did you enjoy them?

All gigs are important, but those were certainly more fun shows. We've known dark castle and the atlas moth for a while now and always love seeing those bands, and yob and ken mode were really great guys to meet and great bands to see live. It was a great time sharing a stage with bands like that. Anytime the collective vibe is loud, heavy, and fun,we fit right in.

Could you speak about some new songs please? Did the addition of two new musicians change anything in your way of composition?

Adding Scott and tom to the mix has definitely opened new doors for us as far as being able to play a bit more with dynamics and different styles of writing that we may have steered away from in the past due to our only being 2, but it's still very hollow leg. We're not going to give you a different band anytime soon, just a louder one!

Your sound is pretty original, I mean this is for me one of the most perfect blend of sludge, stoner and doom one can ever expect; I know nothing is premeditated, but how do you manage to mix all that so tightly and from which type of these musics would you feel the more close?

From the origin of hollow leg, the focus for the music has been on the riffs and groove of the riffs. We all listen to a ton of different music, and I don't know or think any one style is more close than any other. Well, maybe black sabbath, but they also incorporate all those sounds you mentioned, or rather all those sounds derive from sabbath in some way, but we come from our roots in early metal (sabbath,metallica, slayer, motorhead, priest, ac/dc, maiden). Then as ,we got into our teens the hardcore punk came creeping in because it is so accessible at that age. Then came more experimental music and then we started to discover a bunch of other genres and styles. But it all comes back around, it's all a part of us, and we just really love music in general. For what we choose to play, we just love heavy music, heavy riffs, and heavy rhythms, and do not care how people label us.

While remaining always extremely heavy, your music eyes sometimes  on some groovy psychedelic fields, can we imagine a development on that way with…. Some clean vocals?!

It'll be hollow leg but vocals will be different because we have an excellent new vocalist. It'll be as heavy and riffy as "instinct" for certain!

Florida was known about 20 years ago for its death metal scene, what’s the most popular underground metal style these days ? Who are the most interesting doom/sludge/stoner bands around ? Can you speak a bit about “orlandoom” promotions?

Death metal and its sub-genres are still very popular here in Florida. There's not a huge down-tempo metal scene in Florida, although new bands are sprouting up all the time, but certainly dark castle are leading the way for the doomier Florida bands, as well as junior
bruce, shroud eater, six dead horses, fire in the cave, ether, demons, flyingsnakes, tower, shitdang, and a few others. Orlandooom put on great shows in the Orlando area-they're standup dudes and really take care of bands-they're good friends, we appreciate them, and they've been a huge help to hollow leg in the last couple years. People forget how huge the state of Florida is, and there is continually great music here but there is no one defined scene like "death metal" or "stoner metal" to currently or accurately label the entire state. One fact is certain: florida, and the south for that matter, certainly likes its music heavy and dirty.

When can expect you guys to record for the sophomore album ? Will it still be self-released?

We're about 3/4 through the writing process for a new record. We've got a date to start demoing tracks in early December, if we keep working at the current pace, I'd say we can begin laying down tracks for the next record as early as April. It looks like we're going to be playing some shows in January and again in march, so probably after the march run we can begin tracking. If all goes well the next record will most likely not be self-released.

Thanx a lot guys, all the best to you, add something if you wish!

Thanks to you as well, and thank you to everyone reading this and then listening to us for the first time... And if you were already listening, thank you, and keep listening, because it is only getting bigger and better.
(note : all those nice photos have been taken by niuvis martin)

Interview By Steph ( Temple of Perdition )

Hollow Leg @ Myspace
Hollow Leg @ Bandcamp
Hollow Leg @ Facebook

Nov 29, 2011

Beastwars - S/T ...

Listen, I like using terminology.  It helps me convey otherwise complex and multi-faceted concepts with a single word and gives you, the reader, an indication of what I am trying to describe.  The trouble begins when I find something that falls through the cracks of genre conventions, takes a few out of each genre involved but doesn’t conform to any of the standards.  Then, to be blunt, I have to pull terms right out of my ass.  So here’s one: sludge rock.
That’s what Beastwars is about.  If I had to describe this genre-crossing piece of beauty, I’d say it was stoner-tinted sludge rock.  Yeah, sludge rock.  The music isn’t harsh enough to qualify for sludge metal, and isn’t stoneriffic enough to qualify as stoner metal.  It involves droning, not too overproduced but still sort of glossy-yet-dirty (think “hot mess”) guitars that churn out memorable, simple and tasteful riffs, under which a thick and nice layer of drums are added.  The bass on this album has some serious attitude, so much so that at one point, I thought that was a baby T-Rex they had wired to the sound booth.  It’s thick, sharp, nasty and roaring at times and overall brilliant.  The vocals are the game-changer here: this guy has some serious range.  The quirk is, however, he does vocals like he is drunk, in that the vocalizations are inherently unstable.  You can hear soft croons right before throaty, mumbling shouts and it’s a brilliant, all-over-the-place addition.

Now, this beast starts with “Damn the Sky” which is a perfect opener.  It alternates between chugging that one inexhaustible stoner riff like a sludge boss and letting the chords ride out a little – you can just feel the vice-grip those fretting hands have on the strings during verses.  When the band isn’t hammering you over the head with those, they add rather hushed bass and throaty vocals.  This trend actually carries into the second track, “Lake of Fire” which presents the more flowing and more restricted/controlled version of the same riff, in opposition.  With a sweeping solo section and an ending that suddenly starts building on the main riff by making it heavier and heavier, it’s a colossal track.

Then comes “Mihi” and it’s got this quirky, playful, hammer-on riff that I guarantee will get stuck in your head the instant you hear it. The song itself is carried on by more pronounced bass, throaty, rambling vocals and slight, psych rock-like variations on the main riff on the second verse.  Packing a brilliant chorus riff and a heavy, delicious bridge section, this track exemplifies what sludge rock is all about.  Next up is “Daggers” which, frankly, reminds me of another song.  The churning riff, the bass-with-serious-attitude, the sweeping leads and vocal concentration on a singular phrase (“Play it loud” in this case, which they do) carries the song, and it’s a good, slow burning sludge rock track with nice dynamism to it: this dynamism is more apparent in the chorus-like sections where the guitarwork briefly branch out into post-metal/sludge territories.

Then comes “Calling Out the Dead” which pulls an interesting trick with the main riff.  See, it’s a bunch of notes (I figured, 8th) the first four bars, but in the second, each note is elongated by nearly one-half (as opposed to two, which I figure is a 6th note.) It provides nice flow and this infectious riff carries us towards the soaring, sweeping, overarching, beautiful chorus sections.  The song also mingles both parts with a latter-part riff that combines both the more focused riffing and the spread-wing solo.  Watch out.  Next up is “Red God” which is where the sludge tones, the (g)rumbling bass are applied to a heavy metal song structure; the riff is very heavy metal, and the rest of the song is made to accompany.  It’s a very nice, very easy-going track for most listeners, I think, with a nice bridge, a good solo, very serious bass sound and good flow.  It’s a bit generic, I suppose, but that’s a high point.
Now, that’s where the album gets weird.  To follow the head-bang-fest that was “Red God” with the softer, almost ballad-like “Iron Wolf” isn’t the best of decisions.  “Iron Wolf” suddenly moves into post-rock and doom-ballad like territories without warning and, coupled with hush-hush growl of vocals and soothed guitarwork, it’s a curveball that’s in the wrong album.  It’s a lethargic track with the same riff re-iterated in verses and choruses, and the riff is good, it’s just that the song is too… I don’t know, light, too in the air, too out there to make sense in the context of this album.  And just when things can’t get any weirder, it’s followed up by “Cthulu.” It’s a track fitting it’s name, because it’s this weird, atmospherics experiment undertaken with a steady riff, the same throaty vocals that provide contrast with the otherwise serene soundscape, drums that feel sampled and keyboard and guitar atmospherics helping it along.  It just makes me question what it’s doing here, as both tracks are too out of the left field.  These two aren’t bad songs, per se, but they don’t belong in this album.

So, just like that, the album, as if picking up from where it left off, it brings back some of the thick, heavy, frenetic and addictive riffing of the album, along with sludge tendencies (the main riff reminds me of some of the more classical sludge songs) with “Empire.”  It has a good, sizeable refrain that adds to the atmosphere by featuring another soaring/sweeping pass at the instruments, the nicely-done, yet technical solo, the general feel and fleshy weight of the music.  It’s a hard-hitting, teeth-grinding, sledgehammer riff-fest that… well, hits hard and brings the album to a glorious close.  However, it does create more doubts as to the necessity of the two tracks preceding it.  Anyway.
SO, OVERALL, HOW DOES BEASTWARS FARE? Well, it’s a brilliantly done album full of skillfully crafted, ear-worm songs.  The riffs are memorable and quirky, the band’s blend of stoner influences to sludge and adding, as spice, a dash of doom is a winning combination and the way everything comes together feels very organic.  Further, perhaps a pitfall as well as a high point at the same time, the album is very easy to get into and very easy to digest.  This marks a different perspective for myself, as I like just enough challenge with my albums (not too much, not too little) and those looking for something that takes weeks to adequately digest and years to understand might find it lacking.  As it stands, though, this is a minor and listener-specific issue and there is nothing wrong with this album.  Get it.  9/10

NOTE: 1 points off for flow issues. Oh, and regarding the riff-trick of “Calling Out the Dead”, I might be thinking in bass terms, but you get the picture, I hope.

Words: Sarp Esin

Beastwars @ Facebook
Beastwars @ Bandcamp

The Fear of Eternity - Interview With Insaniae ...

Okay, all of us have some prejudices! And if we’re going to talk about doom metal scene then someone could be nervous as he hears something about so-called “gothic doom”. As for me I do not believe that this one exists for it’s a common label for death doom music to the accompaniment of male growl and soft female vocal. “Gothic” aspect in that case could only reveal itself in lyrical themes maybe or in general conception. I guess that today we’ll try to break some stereotypes about such death doom bands with help of Diogo Messias, who is the man which growls and makes guitar sounds crushing in Portuguese formation Insaniae. Re-issue of band’s first CD “Outros Temem Os Que Esperam Pelo Medo da Eternidade” via Ukrainian label Arx Productions became and official occasion for this interview.

Q: Salute to Insaniae! Who is on-line today?

-Greetings! I’m Diogo Messias, vocalist/guitarist with Insaniae.

Q: I should congratulate you with the reissue of your first CD “Outros Temem Os Que Esperam Pelo Medo da Eternidade” via Russian label Arx Productions. Well, the album has too long title – what does it mean?

-Thank You. The title is Portuguese and it means “Others Dread Those Who Wait For The Fear Of Eternity”

-Q: I know that a reissue of any album is good support for any band and it’s a sign of certain success, so how do you see that occasion from this point? What do you feel now and do you think that this work is still topical now?

-After they released our 2nd album, “Imperfeições da Mão Humana”, ARX approached us to re-release it. We thought it was a good idea and that the timing was right. It was an important album for us that didn´t get the distribution we thought it deserved. We are still very pleased with those songs, although, if we were to record them today, we would certainly change some things. I think it is a faithful representation of what we were doing back then.

Q: Oh, yes, “Imperfeições da Mão Humana”! This is latest work of Insaniae, but true to say I see not any cardinal differences between these albums. They’re both well-composed, good-produced and thought-out, what are main differences between them for you as their author?

­-“Imperfeições ..” is the logical continuation of “Outros Temem …”. There isn’t a big difference in terms of style. In my opinion, the main difference is in the quality of the composition and some of the small details in the songs. The vocals are more fluid and Isabel’s voice is (a little) less melodic. The execution has improved and Fernando Matias’ production is also better.

Q: How was CD “Outros Temem Os Que Esperam Pelo Medo da Eternidade” taken by listeners in 2006? It was only 5 years ago, so it’s not too long but I guess that you can sum up some resumes of this period.

-It was well received but not that many people got to hear or buy it. It mainly reached the people who follow the band here in Portugal but not much else. We got to promote it live (in Portugal) and we still consider it a valid first step for a new band.

Q: Don’t you think now that the most part of a band’s promotion depends on musicians and it is the idea of a “good” label who’ll make it for you is just a dream, isn’t it?

-I think it depends on both, the band and the label. In our case, we have better connections in Portugal (and Spain) so we try to promote it locally as much as possible. ARX has better contacts in Eastern Europe (and probably, everywhere else!) so they do their best to promote us over there. It’s got to be a joint effort. The labels cannot, and will not, do everything for the band, at least not at this level.

Q: Do you feel satisfied with the collaboration with Arx Productions? Does the label distribute and promote the album enough? Or do you have enough good support in Portugal with some labels, web-zines and etc.?

-We are satisfied with the job ARX are doing and our relationship is good and very professional. I think they do their best and promote the album as efficiently as possible, with the limitations every small label has. In Portugal we have more contacts with more magazines, webzines and distributors which makes it a bit easier.

Q: Only reissue would be very simple and I’m glad to admit that the art-work and inlay of “Outros Temem Os Que Esperam Pelo Medo da Eternidade” were totally rebuild and more than this! You’ve recorded a special bonus-track for the album, so I need your comments about such novelties!

-The album was initially self-released and we did almost everything ourselves in regard to the artwork, layout, promotion, etc. When ARX had the idea to re-release the album, we talked about making it different from the original release. ARX came up with the new artwork (which we consider excellent are very happy with) and we also included the lyrics in the booklet, apart from other small changes.
ARX also asked us to record a new and exclusive song to add value to the release. We thought it was a good opportunity to record a song that we were working on and that had a very “Outros Temem …” kind of feel to it. We also recorded some new guitar parts for the old songs and remastered the whole record again.
I think it was a very cool project and we are very happy with the outcome.

Q: New song is “Eternamente Imortalizados”, how does it look for you amidst old songs? Did you set a goal to make it please whole conception of the album? Or can you say that all of your works have similar mood and leitmotiv?

-“Eternamente Imortalizados” (Forever Immortalized) was a song that we were working on for a few months but couldn´t really see where it would fit in with the rest of the new material we are working on right now. When the opportunity arose, we immediately thought it would fit in nicely with the “Outros Temem …” material. We will keep it exclusive for that re-release and continue work on the new songs.

Q: What were you aiming for when you’ve came to the decision to create Insaniae? What was in the beginning - lyrical conception or music?

-Some of us were in a band called Dogma before. When Dogma ended, we started Insaniae as a way to continue creating music. The two bands are quite different and our goal is always to create music for ourselves.
There is no specific lyrical conception in Insaniae and there never was. The lyrics are constructions based on my views of everything that inspires me!

Q: There’re not too much variants when a band plays doom death with combined female vocal and growl. Look, Theatre of Tragedy made the rules for this genre and I see not too much option there when you are limited with very close stylistic boundaries. Usually it’s about Shakespearean tragedies, roses, graves, loss of beloveth one and same romantic stuff. Do you feel yourself free playing in that vein?

-I strongly disagree with you – there are no rules to music and Theatre of Tragedy didn´t invent anything ! The male/female vocals are just one component of the whole sound – you have lots of different elements to composing and playing music. I think it’s the easy way out – “if it has male/female vocals it must be Theatre of Tragedy”. We don´t consider that there are any stylistic boundaries to what we do.
There is nothing about our lyrics that has to do with “Shakespearean tragedies, roses, graves, loss of a beloved one and same romantic stuff”. It’s more about Death, Hands, Cannibalism, Kafka, and other things far removed from Romanticism !

Q: But your music has some features which are common for this genre, can you name most significant aspects of Insaniae songs?

-There are elements common to the genre, for sure.  Not that we do it on purpose, but Insaniae songs are usually slow (as Saint Vitus once said: “They say my songs are much too slow, But they don't know the things I know”), solid rhythm section and guitar, detailed lead guitar and dual vocals - guttural and melodic! There is also some odd stuff in there too…

Q: And well…, you’ve said it! How were these lyrical themes were revealed in “Outros Temem Os Que Esperam Pelo Medo da Eternidade”?

-The lyrics are rawer when compared to the ones on “Imperfeições …”. They are more abstract but, paradoxically, probably more personal. I guess you could sum them up as being about the weird things people do to themselves and to each other. 

Q: Lyrics of your songs are written in Spanish and the texts are pretty long, do the lyrics play an important role in Insaniae? What are your lyrics about? How much of your true self is in these songs?

-The lyrics are written in Portuguese and not Spanish and I like to express myself in my native language. Perhaps in the future we will experiment with other languages, who knows? The lyrics are long because they don’t necessarily follow the traditional verse/chorus/verse structure and have there are no real limits to them. Like I said before, our lyrics are merely ideas I have about different things that I love or hate. If you know the person well enough, you can see that their “true self” inevitably comes through in one way or another - I am no different.

Q: Which books, films or maybe art-works influence upon your creative activity in Insaniae?

-I’m influenced by everything and not all of it is necessarily in a conscious manner. In terms of authors, the most relevant would certainly be Kafka. Movies and pictures are not that important to me, although there are some I really enjoy - Quentin Tarantino, for example. Musically it’s just intuition and other bands / musicians I listen to.

Q: Who is the main song-writer in Insaniae? How does a process of songs composing usually go? Do you need a special meditative state to compose death doom or do you do it with clear head and cold heart?

-Luís Possante is the main composer of our music. He usually comes up with the riffs on his own and then the whole band work on the structure of the songs together in the rehearsal room. There is no special emotional state needed to create this kind of music – it is what we are ! It’s all about feeling !

Q: Right now EU lives a hard period, we can see that economic problems come to each and very country, how does this crisis feel in Portugal?

-It’s getting pretty bad in Portugal with the high taxes, growing unemployment and low wages. The music industry is also going through big changes and things will never be the same again. In Portugal it’s always been about doing it for the music and not the money, so bands keep trying to move forward despite the difficulties, as they always did! There’s no shortage of quality Portuguese bands who keeping working with the few resources available. This will never change.

Q: Thank you for your patience Diogo! I wish you all the best, and I’d like you to say a few more words for our readers. Thank you!

-Thank you for the interview – it’s always good to talk music! Fans, Bands, Press, Labels and Promoters – we’re all in this together. Support the Music and Doom On!

Interview By Aleks Evdokimov

Insaniae @ Myspace

Nov 28, 2011

Esoteric - Paragon of Dissonance ...

One of the most consistently good doom bands of the last 20 years has to be Esoteric. These British doomsters have now released 6 full length albums without a dip in quality anywhere. In fact I find it impossible to pick a favorite album from them. From 1994's 'Epistemological Despondency' to this new one with the title 'Paragon of Dissonance' they have always delivered the doomy goods although I don't think they have recorded a 100% classic as yet, they came close with 'The Pernicious Enigma' but still there is always just that tiny, nagging feeling they could do even better.

This new one is the same, so close to being perfect but still lacking that vital element to push it to 10/10 material. Of course there would be many people out there that would be thinking I am wrong and just being too hard to please but this is my opinion and I am sticking with it. This album is huge and I mean 2 CD's worth of huge but it suffers from the Cathedral - The Guessing Game situation of being 2 CD's when one would have made it that much more concise and listenable. Just like that Cathedral album, this effort from Esoteric is a little too long for its own good. The total playing time for this album is some 98 minutes and when you consider there is about 20 minutes total of padding on this album, it could have quite easily on fitted on to a single disc but again as happens with this band, even the padding is good.

The album might run for some 98 minutes but there is still only 7 tracks with the shortest being 7 minutes, the longest 18 minutes. Esoteric are the prog-mans funeral doom band or the thinking mans funeral doom band for the want of another term. The musical scope is just as massive as the sound of the band itself and even the word "epic" seems to understate how grandiose the album is. The thought of a 98 minute funeral doom album would likely send many people in a coma just thinking about it but Esoteric are damn more inspiring than the average funeral doom act. The amount of creative thought that goes into these pieces is staggering but still the sheer length and musical weight of the tracks could prove to be the albums downfall for many people. Even I, a big Esoteric fan had some trouble getting through all of this at first but once I got there, the journey was worth every minute. In comparison to other works, there is not much that is different between this and the 'Maniacal Vale' album. The classical influenced funeral doom element is still the driving force and they continue to clean up their production which oddly doesn't affect the overall, crushing heaviness that some of this album has and there is not many bands that can do that.

The vibe and atmosphere of this album is sheer, flesh-crawling horror but musically, it heads in every direction possible within the funeral doom framework. The opening track, 'Abandonment' is a good example of how they can bleed an idea and still be hypnotic. The first few minutes of this track is just mainly a lead solo with the band being pulverizing in the background. Once the lead work drops away, they head into about 10 minutes of some of the most mesmerizing chilling doom you will ever hear and yet the album has only just began. The track that follows, 'Loss of Will' has more gentle sections of ambience and more classically inspired song-structure. The piano alone is awe-inspiring and the track ends just as it starts to out-stay its welcome. This perfectly executed and well-timed situation isn't always the case on 'Paragon of Dissonance' but these two opening tracks are about as good as it gets. The album is almost split into halves, approach-wise and this is something I didn't really notice at first but disc one is much more ambient and quiet while disc two is heavier and louder and more dramatic.

The two tracks that take up the remaining 26 minutes of the first CD, 'Cipher' and 'Non Being' are an album by themselves. 'Cipher ' strikes me as being the weakest track on the album. For me, it sounds like almost 10 minutes of musical padding. It is interesting enough while it is playing but instantly forgettable once its done with and over. 'Non Being' however is a major highlight. The marching band drumming coupled with stunning and blistering guitar work is flawless and totally captivating for all of its 16 minutes. The first half of the track produces some of the most despondent doom the band has ever produced and even the second half's droning, buzzing noise that sounds like an amplified electrical storm is mesmerizing. The sound has a appalling kind of beauty about it, it makes you feel on edge and frankly, uncomfortable but I for one, can't turn it off. This is cinematic doom at its best that closes CD number one in pure white noise fashion. The question is can you stand this much distortion and noise for this long? It is a challenge, even for the most hardcore of listeners.

Press play on disc two and you have to sit through the 16 minutes of 'Aberration' which you can hear the band in fully charged doom-metal mode. In fact the whole of disc two is far heavier and merciless in its delivery of three very long bleak, punishing epic doom pieces.  I like disc two a lot more than disc one but tracks like 'Aberration' do require some patience and a hardcore ear for doom metal. There is heavier bands around than Esoteric but few are as unforgiving as this. It is pure funeral doom that even fans of Ahab, Mournful Congregation, Evoken, and Thergothon might hear as being overblown. 'Aberration' is certainly another track where ideas are being bled to death and the track could have done with a trim but like I have already pointed out, even Esoteric's padded sections are better than most other funeral doom bands.

Another major highlight comes next with 'Disconsolate.' This track starts off bleak and desolate and continues to build becoming aggressive and intensely pummeling. The last half of the track is almost worth buying the album for one, even just for the stunning lead work that is featured. The album ends on the longest track, the 18 minute 'A Torrent of Ills' which carries a similar vibe to disc one's 'Loss of Will.' Have fun getting through this track too, it is overly long, slightly bloated and extended to the point where I doubt if many doom listeners will even listen to it all without climbing the walls first. It is not that is is boring, it is just so damn uncompromising. When it is all over, nearly 100 minutes later, the feeling I am left with is this is a monumental album as usual from Esoteric but an album where they might have gone way overboard with.

With funeral doom albums like this one, the problem is even if they are good, the length of the tracks means it all starts to sound the same after a while. Funeral doom is not big on variation and Esoteric too are guilty of bleeding the same formula repeatedly. All the songs are written in the same way; split into two or three separate movements and it does get a little predictable. The vocals are used as another instrument of doomed torture and the lyrics, well they are neither here or there but sound great within the songs but you will need to read the lyrics if you are to decipher what they all means. Despite these little gripes and question marks raised, Esoteric have made another keeper and 20 years into the bands existence, there is still no drop in quality. Whether this album is better than or just as good as any of their other albums is up to you to decide. All I know for fans of the band, this is essential and for fans of the funeral doom genre, this will most likely win the funeral doom album of the year from most critics and doom metal writers. I don't know if I would go that far myself but yes, this is a monumental piece of work......9/10.

Official Website
Esoteric @ MySpace

Ivy Garden Of The Desert - Docile EP ...

The North Italian band Ivy Garden Of The Desert formed in 2008 and this is their début EP, well they call it a EP anyway even though you still get 38 minutes of swirling psychedelic rock that has tremendous scope. First impressions told me that this band isn't breaking any new ground or doing anything different that hasn't already been done before by Color Haze, Kyuss, and to a lesser degree Samsara Blues Experiment but the more you listen, the more music comes out of it. So being a release that requires the listener to peel back the layers, this is a EP that takes a while to truly appreciate. The 'Docile' EP is filled with four mostly long, mostly instrumental songs that blend psychedelic jam rock with classic desert rock/stoner rock with just a hint of mainstream rock sounds. There is also some great melodies on display and some solid doses of fuzzy riff-rock that Fu Manchu would be proud to own.

The opening track 'Ivy' doesn't kick off that way however. It builds slowly and is acoustically driven at first and it takes its sweet time in building up steam, almost four minutes to be exact. Waiting for that first big riff that come along and blow you away is torture but it arrives eventually with a gargantuan fuzz rock riff and then the band takes off and it kicks ass. It is all about the guitar and the big riff and this band does it well. While it sounds kind of generic of things that came out a long, long time ago, the riffing power is still irresistible and there is also some clever lead work that seals the deal for this tune, great track.

'Enchanting Odyssey' is indeed enchanting and a bit of an odyssey being the longest track on the EP and one that features vocals as well as some memorable, but repeated melody lines. The second half of the track is where it truly gets interesting with some fine guitar work. The track ends up being the more original song of the four and carries some real charisma all of its own. I always get the feeling it is a little too long with too much wasted space but it still delivers a killer tune in the end. 'Hang Glider' delivers more big riffage but this one doesn't waste much time in getting there. This tune is more immediately satisfying but it is also a bit different with the inclusion of cello and acoustics. The track is also a little odd in its mixture of styles. It is one half goth-doom, think of My Dying Bride and one half classic desert rock a-la Kyuss, that might sound like a mis-match but they make it work for a very atmospheric track.

The EP ends with 'I' that has more vocals, this time sung through what sounds like a megaphone kind of effect and there is more riffs and more riffs to be enjoyed. While it starts off pretty heavy, it soon settles down to more rustic soundscapes with more captivating melody lines. This EP is certainly a grower so give it a few spins before totally riding it off as just another stoner jam-band release. This band has more to offer than first meets the ears. Stylistically it might sound very generic of other, much older bands but a great tune is still a great tune and they have all that plus the musicianship to back it up. This is certainly a band to keep tabs on in the future............7.5/10.

Ivy Garden of the Desert @ Facebook
Nasoni Records

Black Pyramid Are Back And Playing Desertfest ...

As first reported on The Obelisk ...

Black Pyramid are back and it is not just another rumor, check out the poster for next years Desertfest. Bassist Gein and drummer Clay Neely have brought onboard none other than Darryl Shepard (Blackwolfgoat, Hackman, Milligram) to fill the shoes of guitarist Andy “Dinger” Beresky.

Nov 27, 2011

Cardinals Folly - Such Power Is Dangerous! ...

I have been waiting for this one for what seems like forever, the new Cardinals Folly album 'Such Power is Dangerous.' Just in case this band has someone passed under your radar, they are a traditional doom metal band from Helsinki, Finland that used to be called The Coven. In 2009 they released an EP titled 'Orthodox Faces' that show huge potential and was easily one of the best new bands to emerge in the doom metal scene in that year.

A couple of years on and they have come of the woodwork with a 69 minute full-length album that delivers more than I could have ever hoped for. With a great high quality label behind them in Shadow Kingdom the writing in on the wall, this band should be and deserves to be huge in the doom underground.

Being a Finnish band, I guess it is no big surprise that they sound a little like the late Reverend Bizarre and they certainly have their sabbathian traditional doom metal roots in check but rather than just recycling the same Sabbath formula, Cardinals Folly actually do something truly memorable with it and have released an album that can rival the likes of the latest Wounded Kings and Lord Vicar albums.

They have all the trad-doom elements you would except; moaning, depressive low and deep riffs and emotional draining, forlorn vocals and the songs are mostly long. Apart from the opening track that I will talk about in a minute that sounds oddly out of place at just a bit over three minutes, every track on here ranges from 8 to almost 14 minutes of epic doom metal. The production is ideal for doom metal, it is warm, thick, and I am guessing analog and all the tracks carry a atmosphere that is mesmerizing and hypnotic. The album starts with a almost total instrumental piece titled 'The Hammer Speaks' and the vibe here is ominous and there is great power and groove. At first the track merely just sets up the groove before the first real killer riff of the album is unleashed a minute or so into the piece. From that point on, this is the perfect opening track that neatly sets up the vibe for the 10 minute title track that follows and this is where the band really shows what they are about. The title track is trad-doom in every detail including the tempo but where as some bands might resort to just plodding along, Cardinals Folly are constantly building the tension and atmosphere. This track is downer rock at its finest and the melodic vocals are just the icing on the cake for a beautifully executed, majestic - sounding track.

The track that follows called 'Valkyries I Avenge' ups the tempo ever so slightly and is a little bit more off-kilter and quirky with vocalist Mikko Kääriäinen sounding like he just escaped from a mental asylum. He unleashes insane bouts of laughter in the track to give the track a slightly off-the-wall appeal but mostly this is a groovin, headbanging chunk of epic metal that shows real class and diversity. Next up is 'The Spear of Destiny' which starts off a little off-the-wall as well with the band messing with the tape-speed or something before it settles down into another thick, heavy epic doom groove. The track, like most of this album is deceptive with its hooks. It reminds me of other catchy trad-doom outfits like Count Raven and Procession. Like those bands, the songs are great but the real magic is in the musicianship of the people involved. Cardinals Folly are the real deal, professional with a killer rhythm section that oozes real class. 'The Spear of Destiny' pushes the 12 minute mark in length but it never feels like it is that long, it is concise and beautifully well-structured.

'Antediluvian Dreams' is really more of the same epic doom but this one is perhaps even more traditional with a early Candlemass kind of vibe. It is another lengthy tune but its strength is in the way that it is never meandering or stretched out without the ideas to make it interesting. 'Uncharted Seas' is one of the albums most punishing tracks that pounds the brain and stirs up emotions at every turn for well over 10 minutes and then they take all this epic feeling to its logical conclusion with the almost 14 minute 'The Secret War.' This monster closing tune sums up everything great about this band and album in the one epic piece of music. The hypnotic vibe at times is inspiring, the atmosphere electrifying, and the band simply sounds huge. After the 69 minutes is over with it, it is hard to listen to anything else for the day. There is in my opinion only 2 other albums released this year that can match it within the realms of traditional doom metal and I will let you guess who those two are.

Seeing as this has been released so late in the year, it will most likely miss out on a lot of top 10 lists for 2011 but it will feature highly on mine anyway. Cardinals Folly have found their sound and perfected their style and their songwriting. Their musicianship is excellent, which also has improved out of sight even though it was very good to start with and the production on this album is flawless. This is for fans of Candlemass, Lord Vicar, Wounded Kings, Procession, Count Raven, Black Sabbath, Reverend Bizarre, and other trad-doom masters. Also if the lead work of My Dying Bride sends chills up your spine, you too will love what this band does on 'Such Power is Dangerous.' Without a doubt, this album is in the top 5 best album releases of the year. It is captivating and crushing right up to the last awe-inspiring note. Buy it!!! .............10/10.

Cardinals Folly @ MySpace
Shadow Kingdom Records Website

Inhale This TEMPLE OF THE SMOKE Interview ...

Q: Salute comrade! Please introduce yourself for our readers and tell us a few more words about the other preachers of Temple of the Smoke!

-We are four friends from Belgrade, Serbia: Janko, Dusan, Marko and Dragan. Each of us is the bastard of famous rock legend Jimi Hendrix.

Q: Temple of the Smoke was founded just about year ago, but look – you started very good with your first CD “Against Human Race”, you recorded quiet diverse stuff in psychedelic / space rock vein, so I just must ask you about your previous experience of playing in other bands…

-Janko also plays in hardcore punk band Path of Decay, Marko was playing in various local metal and punk bands, Dusan and Dragan have their musical background in metal, noise, fusion and dub music. Dusan plays solo as ambient drone project Shining Shitbox too. Beside all that, Temple is our primary band and biggest devotion.

Q: As all of us know each band’s name speak for band itself making first impression. And of course I’m able to make a conclusion about that. What do you want to say with that name, because there could be people who would interpret it as connection with mysterious mr. Smoke of Castaneda or simply take it as a tribute to ninja Smoke from Mortal Combat!

-Actually, thing are much simpler than that. Four years ago, we were playing as trio, constantly having rehearsals at Dragan's place. One day, our close friend Duxa has entered into studio which was completely fogged by divine cannabis smoke. Suddenly, he said: "Temple of the Smoke!", and at the moment we all have suffered LSD-like, transcendental, religious experience. Nebula exploded in front of our eyes, all our chakras have blossomed and in that particular moment we realized, "we were experienced". Our name perfectly describes our psychedelic vision and music variety, beside that revelatory part of the story.

Q: I’ve said before that Temple of the Smoke are about psychedelic / space rock, but your music also has elements of post, stoner and kraut rock. Do you have a concrete intention to express certain ideas via certain musical elements?

-We don't care about the genres. We adore and listen everything from blues, jazz, psychedelic and prog rock, space rock, metal, punk, hard-core, dub, roots reggae, afro funk, and various forms of electronic music from 60's to the present day. It all has influenced us and shaped our music, but we do not have pretensions to sound like some specific band. We just try to picture all we feel and live through music, so it can be an ambient atmosphere, hard rock riff or ecstatic noise - whatever.

Q: By the way how much equipment do you use while recording and playing live your songs?

-Our ATA Carnet numbers around 200 equipment pieces: 5 guitars, four analog and digital synths with other electronic hardware, few tape echoes, electronic drum pad, shit-load of fx pedals and rack units, vintage tube amps and few miles of cables connecting all that.

Q: Well,  it should be hard to take all that stuff with you in tour, is it?

-Well, it’s hard but we do it somehow, we have friends to help us. We are always traveling with two or three friends. When you live for something it’s not that hard and I’m happy that we have that equipment, it helps us to express our visions and have a unique sound. You can always do it with Gibson SG and fuzz into Marshall and you can sound like any doom or stoner rock band out there, but we like to do things differently.

Q: Who was your “music teachers”? True to say I don't know not too much about Serbia, but I guess there were not too many heavy bands in the past, so this question is also connected with development of your native scene.

-There were only two real psychedelic rock bands in Belgrade during the past: "Pop Mašina" in 70's and "Igra staklenih perli" in early 80's. Somehow, since we were kids, all of us have listened mostly foreign music. Maybe because of our father Jimi.

Q: What can you tell us about the modern psychedelic scene in Serbia? Are such vibes popular in your country?

-It’s not popular at all. There are a couple of bands from Serbia besides us that have some elements of psychedelic rock in their music but that’s just not how we see psychedelic rock today. I don’t know how but we have pretty good following here in Serbia and lots of people on the shows, that’s always cool to see.

Q: Which state of mind do you experience while playing your music and what do you expect  your listeners to feel?

-Pure love, man. Like melting trip on acid. It's beautiful.

Q: And does this message of love spread successful, bro? How often do you play in Serbia and other countries? How does the public take your music?

-I think it does actually!:) We are really active, playing shows all the time in Serbia and in other countries also, and we are hoping that we will manage to book some more serious tour around Europe next summer. I think that people really need to hear us live, we are that kind of a band that sounds much better live than on the record and actually the most of the people that really like Temple of the Smoke started to listen us after they have seen us live, not from the record.
We have excellent album reviews, here on Doomantia also, we are always joking that we got bigger mark 9.5 than Mastodon’s new album who got only 8 ?, but we think that live versions of our songs sounds just like we want them to be.
Reactions from the public are different but always positive, sometimes they are dancing or headbanging, sometimes they jump and sometimes they’re just standing and listening, usually on slower songs.

Q: Can you say that people who visit your shows in different countries are different too? Or maybe you have some kind of “common type” in Temple of the Smoke’s congregation?

-They are usually the same kind of people, people like us that are not bounded by anything, love diverse and quality music of any type. They are not guided by some trend or hype, they just listen to all the crazy stuff like we do. We are not a metal band and we don’t look like metal guys (except our bassist ? ), even though we all listen to all kinds of metal shit, so that’s maybe the reason why we have such different people on our shows, from post rockers and hipsters to doom metal guys with Saint Vitus shirts and dreadlock hippie girls. We don’t wear corpse paint and we play with our clothes on so people are not scared!

Q: “Against Human Race” is a strange name for the collection of such extraterrestrial melodies and vibes, how did you come up with that name?

-“Against Human Race” is guiding concept idea that gathers our mostly instrumental music. Motives in our songs differ from apocalyptic science fiction, meteor showers and natural disasters to world-wide globalism, all kinds of decay and corruption, local and global politics. This world is completely fucked up and it deserves an enema in solar explosion. Our first album is our own apocalyptic summoning mantra, which is also a prelude for our second album.

Q: Ha! And how does the reggae-like song “Unnatural Regression” suit that conception?!

-It suits well if you ask us. There’s a legendary dub reggae song called “Natural Progression” from ASWAD and we thought that our dub reggae song should have a reference to that song but to be reflection of our time that is unlike 70’s, when ASWAD wrote that song, when everyone thought that they can change the world and make it a better place and we needed to reverse the name because there’s nothing that can be done now, we are going back and regressing with enormous speed.

Q: I’m wondering how were you able to catch and record such fragile atmosphere as you did in “Autumn World”! Really, bro, how did you come up with such bright vibes?

-Psychedelic rock is a beautiful area where you can express your darkest visions and thoughts through music that is not dark or heavy; it’s light and bright just like you’ve said. Our second album is going to have more songs like that, I like exploring different harmonies and melodies. Dusan’s touch with ebow on that song is also amazing in my opinion.

Q: Did you ever have difficulties with self-expression via your music? “Acid”-based music is about transformation of “psychedelic” experience via music, and I have no idea how it could be difficult to explain such states.

-We are always trying to make our shows as interesting as possible and we insist on having a visual component next to our music. Sometimes it’s a problem because there isn’t always a possibility to have screen and projector but we always manage to find it somehow. I think that our music goes very well with some visual elements on the side and it gives us a room to show the atmosphere that we had in mind and to express through others areas of art besides music.

Q: Forgive me if I demonstrate extremely indifference but as it seems your region is a constant place of conflicts and hostility. Roots of these conflicts mostly hide in the past but I just wonder how you came to making music living on a real powder keg!

-We all carry a gun, bombs and necklaces made of baby fingers and ears. Of course, we are practising massive bestial orgies after our rehearsals and our wine is made from dolphin's tears and child labourer's sweat.

Q: Hell no! I know that was it was all about, and it might be sound naïve or stupid but that was fucking unfair shit and still it is… What is your version of these events? What did you see?

-Many of these things now are part of the past, but many were unimaginable horrible and lot of people heavily suffered on every side. There were no winners. Just fear, poverty, social paranoia and huge pain that any civil war brings. As many other conflicts around the world, just like events in ex-Yugoslavia, were strongly influenced and manipulated by USA and NATO Alliance, because of geopolitical dominance.

Q: How often do you play gigs and where do you play them most of the time?

-We played lot of gigs in our region, also as in Moscow, Budapest, Zagreb and shared a stage with Karma to Burn and our friends Seven That Spells, among many other bands. "Against Human Race" was released by label R.A.I.G. from Moscow. Right now, we are making our second album and booking our first European tour for May/June 2012, during which we will promote all of our music.

Q: What is your best remembrance from your touring experience?

-Since we exist for year and a half, there wasn’t that much touring experience but it’s always fun to travel with your friends, it’s laughing and partying all the time.

Q: And I simply have to ask you about gigs in Russia – what did you get from that visit?

- We got a lot of money!:) It was great, we met some wonderful people and those were really crazy 4 days in Moscow. And what did we get? I guess some people that surely remembered us and liked our music and it’s really the only thing that we want.

Q: Okay, this question is a last one for today: how long must we wait for new revelations of the Temple of the Smoke’s priests? What’s with the new stuff, bro?

-I hope that you will not have to wait for too long, we are working really hard. There’s a lots of new songs and we can’t wait to record them. The recording is probably going to happen in January 2012. After that we just have to see if there is someone who will like it and be willing to release it on vinyl. We would like to have it on CD also and are hoping that it will be released by R.A.I.G. again, because Igor is really a great guy and he is running that label amazingly.

Q: Now let me thank you for this discussion, comrades! We have a space for a few words of love and peace – will you share them with our congregation?

-Thank you for the interview! Well we said already things about love and peace; we don’t want to people think of us as some kind of hippies, hahaha! ? Actually we have a favorite mutual quote, it’s a quote from Jimi, of course, and he said: “If there is something to be changed in this world, than it can only happen through music.” I think it’s cool to finish with that quote, it has that positive vibe of that era and we really need that kind of stuff more in these dark times.

Interview By Aleks Evdokimov

Temple of the Smoke @ Myspace
RAIG Records

Nov 26, 2011

Absorbing the Pain - Songs Of Hate With Love ...

The Swedish stoner-metal onslaught continues with yet another band following in Spiritual Beggars footsteps of 70's laced riff-rock and metal. If you think the Swedish scene is getting a bit overly predictable these days, I don't blame you at all. All I needed was to hear one tune from Absorbing the Pain's début album to know exactly where this album was going, not that it is bad, far from it but it is sooooo predictable like there is a production line somewhere in Sweden pushing this stuff out.

To be fair Absorbing The Pain don't sound that much like the Beggars, maybe a little like early Beggars, the vocalist does sound a bit like Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand but overall this band is closer to Black Label Society than it is Dozer or Spiritual Beggars. The first thing I found interesting is this band has been given the "sludge-metal" tag by some reviewers and that has left me amazed and confused. I don't any sludge-metal in this to be honest, unless down-tuned guitars automatically passes for sludge these days.

The Black Label reference I just made is important because Absorbing The Pain has much the same effect on me as Zakk Wydle's Black Label mob does. It hits hard at first only to become predictable and a little tedious by the halfway point in the album. At least the vocals from Absorbing The Pain are much more enjoyable and haven't got that grating edge that Wylde has but they are two similar bands.

Like Black Label Society there is variation with heavy riff-based crusher's and more radio-friendly tunes. The songs are also fairly short and concise making them easily digestible. The album runs well under 40 minutes with most songs in the 3 to 4 minute range. The opening track 'Contraseptives Use' is down-tuned, fast-paced, and energetic but is also very catchy and dare I say kind of mainstream by modern-metal standards and like I wrote in the opening paragraph, it is obvious where this album is going from this point on.

Elsewhere; songs like 'Judgement Day,' 'Hellspawn,' and 'Adrenaline' have their fair share of crunchy, headbanging riffs and powerful vocals but really not much stood out to me as being truly "classic" material. So I am torn between my own personal tastes and the tastes of the metal masses and for those with a perversion for the more generic metal bands of old as in Pantera and the already mentioned Black Label Society I have to say you should dig this. For me personally, it leaves me feeling flat and unimpressed but certainly not offended. I read somewhere they played on the same stage as Judas Priest and that is certainly the crowd this band is made for but where is the sludge-metal the critics speak of, take a listen and tell me if you can hear it..........5/10.

Absorbing the Pain Official
Absorbing the Pain @ Facebook

CANDLEMASS: Pre-Production Photos Posted Online ...

From Blabbermouth:
Legendary Swedish doomsters CANDLEMASS are working on material for their final album, tentatively scheduled for a spring 2012 release via Napalm Records. After a six-month writing period, the band spent two weekends in October in a Stockholm studio.

In all, eight songs were recorded for demo purposes. In December, the band will record the album "properly," but it's too early to say how many songs will be laid down. Commented the band: "Leif [Edling, bass] has got about 11-12 tracks written and CANDLEMASS are now rehearsing their asses off in the rehearsal room. Click here  and you'll see some photos from the pre-production stage of this process. Mappe's [guitarist Mats Björkman] injured hand and his 'open-body-surgery' of his guitar… Jan's [Janne Lindh] drums, Lars' [Johansson] new cool guitar… the Athens poster… the slippers!! More will follow!"

CANDLEMASS celebrated its 25-year anniversary by performing an extra-long, two-and-a-half-hour set at Debaser Medis in Stockholm on December 18, 2010. The band's classic debut album, "Epicus Doomicus Metalicus", was played in its entirety for the first time with the original singer Johan Längqvist. CANDLEMASS released a new DVD, "Ashes To Ashes - Live", in North America on June 29, 2010 via Nuclear Blast Records (April 23, 2010 in Europe). The set contains footage of the band's performance at last year's Sweden Rock Festival in front of 30,000 people as well as CANDLEMASS' entire October 2009 concert in Athens, Greece. It also includes a 30-minute interview and two photo galleries. The DVD was released as a CD+DVD, with the Sweden Rock show as the audio CD. "Death Magic Doom", the latest album from CANDLEMASS, debuted at No. 79 on the Top New Artist Albums (Heatseekers) chart, which lists the best-selling albums by new and developing artists, defined as those who have never appeared in the Top 100 of The Billboard 200. "Death Magic Doom" entered the German Media Control chart at position No. 52. The group's previous CD, "King of the Grey Islands", debuted at No. 83 back in June 2007.

Memory Driven - Animus ...

I approached the new album by Memory Driven with the bias brought by my almost unashamed love of Dennis Cornelius's previous projects. The man seemed to appear in all of my favourite classic doom projects, as Revelation, Place Of Skulls, Dwell Within or the gem that is Under The Sun. The band's début, “Relative Obscurity”, showed his talent but was also kind of a “minor” album for me. It's mixture of classic american doom riffage and melodies inspired by early darker grunge worked well, though, while being far from outstanding. “Animus” develops the same sonic matter, delivering a set of tight, riff laden tunes that never forget to drop the hooks.

By not really changing the ingredients, their sound also shows the same flaws that it had on the début to me: Dennis voice is extremely generic and it doesn't hold the range that really makes the difference, in my opinion, with this sort of sound. Also, at times, the melodies tend to drop way too much into generic dark material. But, leaving those flaws behind, the album is pretty good overall. It is still, way less interesting than other project by Dennis, and definitely way too restrained at times but when the music lets loose you can hear the magic. A strong example of both these good and bad aspects is the opening track “Empty Gestures”. The riffs on it are quintessential Heavy Rock, crossing with Doom. Big, glorious guitars hammering. But suddenly, the whole thing slows down and settles for a pretty tepid chorus. In the end it works, but one thinks of what could've been. Give it a listen, still. Not perfect but surprisingly good. 7/10

Words: Andrea Contanzo

Memory Driven Myspace
I Hate Records

Nov 25, 2011

Flashback Time: Dark Quarterer - ST

There has never another band like Dark Quarterer from Tuscany. They called themselves "The Founders of Epic-Progressive" which perhaps was a bigger turn-off than it was a turn-on at the time of this album's release. The truth is after originally forming way back in 1974, the band played a whole range of styles from prog-rock to epic metal to doom metal to classic heavy metal but the band never sounded like anyone else. In the 80's they got compared with Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road, Manowar and even Candlemass but this odd outfit sounds like more of a blend of these bands. The self-proclaimed "epic-progressive" tag does them no favors when it comes to appealing to doom metal fans. After all this band's début full length which I am reviewing here has a great deal of lumbering doom that is closer to Saint Vitus than it is anything prog-rock.

There are elements of a Witchfynde kind of traditional heavy-metal and 'Into Glory Ride' era Manowar but there is a mysticism to all of this album that makes Cirith Ungol sound generic. When I got an email from Italy about this band, the guy told me he couldn't understand why they didn't make it big. Well I have a theory and here it is. First up you have the high-pitched quirky vocals of Gianni Nepi who does have a certain charm but is so over-the-top at times, it gets very cringe-inducing. However, if it is bellowing dramatic vocals you are looking for, then Gianni is your man. The second reason that didn't make it is the production, this was recorded in 1987 but even by 80's standards it sounds dated. The production on this is more like a dusty old Atomic Rooster record. The third reason they didn't hit the big time is they were from Italy and can you name one single band from Italy that made it in the 80's? Reason number four is the "epic-progressive" tag they so proudly gave themselves. Well it is kind of epic in a 80's Manowar kind of way but it is hardly progressive, unless long songs passed as prog rock in the 80's but to my memory, they didn't. So they probably scared people off with that tag right from the get-go.

Despite the albums issues, this is strangely a relevant album now in 2011. With people still grooving to the sounds of bands like Witchcraft and all, they should find this equally as appealing. There is a great deal of doominess to the tunes on this album with songs like 'The Entity' and 'Colossus of Argil and there is sabbathian styled heavy riffage but it is a pity the production kills it. Nevertheless this is the kind of obscure band and album that retro-doom fans should be seeking out. If Blood Ceremony floats your boat, then so should Dark Quarterer. Interestingly enough, the band have released an album as recently as 2008 with something called 'Symbols' and in 2010 even released a DVD called 'Under the Spell' which I haven't seen but I have heard is great. But this is a "flashback" review and for 1987, this album was about as unique as it got. When you think of 1987, thrash metal, glam metal and everything else that was happening at the time, this is way out there for metal.

Conclusion; if you dig the retro sounds of Witchcraft, Blood Ceremony, Ghost then this is another album you can put on your 'must-have' list. It is a tad uneven and the production might have stunk for 1987 but it now sounds strangely in-line with a lot of other stuff that has been released in recent years so investigate and uncover this obscure treasure......7.5/10

Official Website

EYE - Center of the Sun ...

Heads up - any psychedelic fan who thinks modern psychedelia isn't up to snuff compared with the greats of the 70's must check out this band from Columbus, Ohio who call themselves Eye. Of course there is no shortage of modern psychedelia out there for space cadets everywhere to listen to but few nail the authentic, organic style as well as this three-piece. The band consists of Matt Auxier and Brandon Smith from The Pretty Weapons and Matt Bailey from Teeth Of The Hydra. Adam Smith (of Deadsea) also contributes to the EP with some vintage organ and Mellotron sounds.

This 4 track but 43 minute EP covers all the bases of classic psychedelic rock with some classic metal injected into the blend. You can hear Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, Blue Cheer, Amon Duul, Pink Floyd, and Om but there is also a jazz fusion edge to some of this a-la Mahavishnu Orchestra. To say the music of Eye is colorful and dynamic would be an massive understatement. That is not to say this band is a noodling proggy outfit, the band is still metallic and still explores a lot of heavy grooves with the Sabbathian riff being the glue that holds these jams together but this is some real trippy music.

The story goes that the band recorded most of this in one take. If that is indeed true, it is a remarkable effort. The 19 minute title track that kicks things off on this EP covers so much ground musically, it is a staggering piece of music. Over the course of this almost 20 minute extravaganza, the band mix Floydian cinematic art-rock featuring moog's to other sections where the band becomes an out-and-out sabbathy power-trio. The song flows incredibly well and there is never a moment where they seem lost or just meaninglessly noodling. In other words there is no padding at all to this monster track. In short this track is just classic fusion, beautifully played and thoughtout....Amazing.

Track two, 'Ursupers' is more menacing, darker and metallic. They lock into this well-structured and insanely mesmerizing groove that doesn't let up for all of its eight stunning minutes. People say the band is amazing live and I can imagine this track must leave people floored. 'Restorers' is equally as stunning and I don't know how much of this stems from pure improvisation but the musicianship is insane. How good the band really is occurs during the last track called 'Rik Rite.' Eye pull out all the stops on this one with an array of complex changes and mind-blowing psychedelic metal fusion. The sheer multi-layered power of it all leaves the listener exhausted and stunned by the end of it and remember these are lengthy tunes but everything is so constantly moving, evolving, experimenting, and pushing the boundaries that you never realize how long these pieces actually are.

It is obvious that Eye take great pride in what they are doing and they seek perfection and I for one think they got about as close as any band can get within this genre of music. Eye are a band that takes the psychedelic metal style to new heights but without for a second forgetting about the bands that made the music great in the first place. Fans of Pink Floyd and Hawkwind should dig this as much as fans of Om or Mastodon. The band doesn't seek to be a throw-back band nor are they are trying to copy modern innovators, they are making their very own footprints in the genre with 'Center of the Sun' and should be appreciated for the musical giants they so obviously are. Of course, it wont be for everyone but anyone who digs quality, innovative heavy music should like this. Eye are selling the download from Bandcamp in hope it will generate enough money for a limited run of CD's. I hope it happens, this is excellent.....10/10.

Eye @ Facebook
Eye @ Bandcamp

Aeon Arcanum - Monuments ...

Aeon Arcanium from Macedonia seem to have everyone confused, do a Google search and you will see they get called black metal, death metal, doom metal, death-doom metal, psychedelic death metal, goth metal, melodic death metal, and even cosmic metal depending on the site you are looking at. Press play on the CD and it is easy to hear why so much confusion. This band sits in a place where not one tag seems to fit, they are all these styles rolled into one but they have no clear direction which is kind of makes them a frustrating band to listen to but more about that later. All these genre tags aside, there is one tag that covers everything they do - dark metal! This band is dark, sometimes ambient but always atmospheric. Musically the band is very much on the black metal side of death doom, their music is grim, menacing for the most part but with ambient passages that break the pieces up. They also add extra color with very psychedelic synths and even the guitar sounds are often taking detours into psychedelic realms which is something you don't hear too often from a heavy, dark-metal band.

The album begins with 'Dysphoria' and it is clear from the outset the band is not out to follow any one formula. The sound and style are perhaps best described as death-doom but it is almost too ambient at times to fall under that banner. The death-doom side of the band however is pure old-school as it sounds more like something from the 90's than anything modern-day. At times the riffs are crushing, at other times very melodic, and the atmosphere is kept insanely dark at all times. The rest of the album pretty much follows the same pattern. It is death doom that delves into black metal, mutates into ambient psychedelia at times and it keeps you guessing as to where they will go next. The problem is this mixed bag of styles rolled into one seems a little disjointed to your's truly and I am hard pressed to find any real highlights. There is no real bad tracks either but there isn't one track here that I can truly called mesmerizing.

There is also faster tempos on the album which throw the listener a curve-ball at times, sometimes it works, other times it is just a bit irritating and disturbs the flow. Most people would know I am not a fan of fast-tempos within doom metal, in my opinion it rarely works plus I am just not into it. If I want to hear a up-tempo band I would rather go for an energetic stoner-metal band than anything in the doom scene. So now that I have stigmatized the album with my own personal taste, I have to pull back and say, this is still a decent album and considering it is a début, it is a very ambitious release. The playing is great, the production is very good, but it also lacks some emotion and memorable riffs. The growling black metal vocal parts do nothing to enhance the album either but there is some fine guitar work on display. The issue of not playing a clear-cut style could be considered an original element that should be applauded and sometimes that is right. In the case of Aeon Arcanum's 'Monuments' it left me wishing their songs would stick in the one direction and the psychedelic edge is something that have I could have done without.

Some songs are better than others; The opener 'Dysphoria' is quite good, 'Lurid Luminance' is great for the first 4 to 5 minutes but then starts to drag a little, and 'Alteration of Insanity' has its moments. The other 4 tracks are fairly mediocre to my ears. I don't know who to recommend this album to really but those with a passion for the more romantically tinged, atmospheric metal will most likely go for this.......6/10

Official Website

Conan Heading Back To The Studio & Playing Roadburn ...

This News In From Pioneer Music Press....

Conan – the uber-heavy doom titans- are sharpening their axes and preparing to head back to the studio.
The formidable trio will enter Foel Studio, Mid-Wales next week to begin tracking for their second album, with producer Chris Fielding once again at the helm. The tracks will be released in spring 2012 via Burning World Records.

Conan vocalist, Jon had the following to say:
“We’ve been writing these songs for a while now, and we are really happy with how they are sounding. We’re all looking forward to heading back to Foel, and working with Chris again - we are definitely in safe hands there. 2012 is shaping up nicely for us, and we can’t wait to get stuck in”

 The riff-heavy, monolithic beast that is Conan, recently announced their debut mainland European show; playing the Voivod-curated event at Roadburn 2012 on Friday 13th April. Jon adds:  “We are honoured to have been asked to play Roadburn, of course. It is a high point in the festival calendar, and the line up for 2012 is amazing- we’re so happy to be part of it.” Their mainland voyage will continue for a further week after Roadburn.

Details of the these additional shows will be available in the coming weeks.

Conan @ Facebook

Nov 23, 2011

Live Review: Kyuss Lives, Yob, The Sword, Black Cobra ...

Last night was one of those moments in life where my love and devotion for heavy music was 100% confirmed. Looking around at the excited crowd, feeling the music hitting the gut, and soaking up the atmosphere was a pleasure that is priceless. After battling cops, traffic jams, heavy rain, and strong winds that almost blew me off the road several times, I arrived at the venue already half-exhausted but immensely excited. The venue, The Showbox at the Market is no pleasure palace but it is better than a lot of other Seattle venues but as usual, parking was a nightmare. Eventually I got myself into the venue to be greeted by a sound that had me pinned against the wall - it was Black Cobra.

I didn't see much of the Black Cobra set but what I did see was a punishing sludge meets thrash kind of crossover that was brutally tight and heavy but by the time I found a place in the crowd to where I felt comfortable and I could see everything, their set was over. Still, what I saw was an excellent, tight performance. Yob were of course, magical, majestic, and their usual awe-inspiring best.

They only played (I think) 3 tracks that filled up what I think was just a 35 minute set but I was losing all track of time anyway by this stage of the night. The three tracks, which were all from their 'Atma' album was played to pure perfection. Yob have already got the reputation for being one of the very best live acts of their kind in the world and I have to say, while last nights set was too short, it was the best show from them I have ever seen. Yob are a band that sounds great on CD but when they play live, their songs are pushed up to new heights of majestic, doomy splendor. The set was short but the memories of their performance will last forever.

Austin’s The Sword came on next and they were slighty off in my opinion. They are a band that sounds great live but kind of flat in the studio, again that is just my opinion but their songs really come to life in a live-setting and if you haven't seen them live, you are in no position to truly judge how good they are. Talking a couple of people in the crowd and the old debate about their meteoric rise to stoner stardom was still (to my surprise) a talking point. I mean get over it already! Anyway, The Sword blasted their way through newer tunes from the last album and some older numbers which still got the biggest cheers from the audience and I think the reason was, they are just better tunes. Even though I do dig a lot of what The Sword do, I have to say they seemed to be a bit of a by-the-numbers kind of band compared to the other bands that played.

Then came Kyuss minus Josh Homme and I honestly don't think anyway really noticed or cared. Their set was mind-blowing. They played what seemed like 20 plus songs but I lost count pretty quickly as I got swept up in their stellar performance. All the classics were there, 'Gardenia' 'Demon Cleaner,' 'Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop,' and of course 'Green Machine' to name just a few. Hearing all these songs live make you realize how many killer tracks they actually wrote and recorded. Frontman John Garcia vocals were insanely right on the money, his voice sounds even bigger and stronger than it did back in the 'Welcome to Sky Valley' days and that is saying something. The band of Bruno Fevery, Nick Oliveri, and Brant Bjork made everything look all so easy. Bjork who is easily one of my favorite drummers of all time was incredibly tight behind the kit and he had his usual cooler than cool attitude.

The guitar work of Bruno Fevery was excellent and at times more Homme than Homme. I saw the original Kyuss when they were at their peak and I seriously could not tell the difference. Fevery has a slighty different style to Homme but what he brought to the riffs of songs like 'Thumb', and 'El Rodeo' just pushed the songs to even greater heights of riff-rock magic. As the Kyuss set continued, it seem like the crowd got bigger or the venue shrank in size, I don't know what it was but by the end of the show I felt like I couldn't move at all and was starved for oxygen. The Seattle audience was one of the most crazy I have seen in a long time, they seem to really lose it at about the halfway point of the set and that didn't let up till it was all over. I left the venue exhausted but more than happy that I got my money's worth and then some. If you miss this tour, you will miss one of the most intense, most mind-blowing live events staged in recent years. Take my advice, do whatever you can to catch the show, you wont be disappointed.
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