SHAKHTYOR

I don’t get to listen to too much instrumental music but every once in a while along comes a band like SHAKHTYOR that have no vocals and shake about my world. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

Why this fascination with Russia and its industrialism? Is that a specific German thing, that fascination?
-It is my very own specific thing in the first place. I have spent half a year in Russia during university, came back later regularly and used to have very close personal relationships to a number of people there. It is not so much about the “industrialism”, it is more about the mysteries of the largest country in this world and the secrets hidden in it’s outmost corners, secrets of nature or also leftovers of the communist era and its GULAG. It is about despair and hopelessness, being lost and left alone but also about its incredible beauty.
Why would it be typically German? I have met only very few people having an understanding for my affinity towards this region. Nevertheless, most people consider the name a good choice for a band playing this kind of music.

Isn’t the Ruhr area gray enough to influence you guys?
It might be as grey as Norilsk but this is not what SHAKHTYOR is about. The Ruhr is more about Thrash Metal anyway…

I’m quite familiar with doom, stoner but what is post and sludge to you guys?
-Sludge is a very raw, often rather simple but in your face kind of music, it is brutal, downtuned riffs and heavy fuzz distortion. Sludge might also be taken as some bastard of doom, punk and stoner. Postmetal on the other hand brings the more atmospheric, elaborated part into our sound. To me, postmetal is kind of the evil link between doom and death metal, lacking doom’s pathos and musicians showing-off their skills instead of focusing on the songs like often found in death metal.

How does your metal fit in with the rest of the German metal scene?
-What do you mean – how do we compare with Running Wild and Helloween, haha? I have no idea, actually it took some time until we realized that we are often recognized as a metal band, being signed by a label like Cyclone Empire underlines this. But frankly speaking, we are all not very familiar with the current metal scene anymore and the few people we know from metal bands do not seem to consider us as their likes, haha. Without a singer, without the typical solos and with our long songs I think it will be hard to establish ourselves as part of the metal scene even if doom is becoming more and more popular at the moment. We see ourselves more as a part of an underground scene where doom, drone, sludge and such kinds of music exist alongside and influence each other.

When you write songs that are longer than 10 minutes how do you keep it interesting to listen to?
-Tough question…it seems to work somehow. I would say you either have to surprise the listener from time to time or you have to hypnotize him somehow so he does not even realize how long he has already been listening. Our songs are mainly based on the results of long jam sessions and we just play and try different things, sometimes over and over again, sometimes it works from the first take…in fact, we do not plan to write long songs, it just happens and we always say “oh no, again more than 10 minutes” but hey, this is how it comes out and we like it.

How hard is it to not have vocals to hang up the melodies on?
-That is no problem, we focus on the riffs, the grooves and the massive sound so I would even say it is easier not to have another instrument added. Reducing it to the minimum with a maximum effect.

What would you say have been your biggest musical inspiration?
One of the reasons to found this band were Ufomammut. They just have a magic groove you can’t escape and their sound is heavy as fuck. Plus they are almost instrumental. But we do not and will never sound like Ufomammut, we get inspiration from every kind of music and are old enough to dare and try if it works if we like it.

How much have you looked for influences outside of music? How much inspiration comes from literature and film?
-We have one song named after a book of Aleksander Solzhenytsin but I would not consider the song being influenced by the book. We make our songs first and look for a title afterwards. There is no plot or something like this, everybody can make up his own movie to our soundtrack afterwards.

Is it Important that the art work and lay out follow a specific aesthetic?
-For the first album – yes. We wanted something closely related to our name, the imagery itself and the style or the aesthetics, as you call it. I did the concept and a first draft but Nils got in touch with Alexander von Wieding who has done loads of covers for Bands like Monster Magnet or Karma to Burn and he turned it into professional artwork. Our cover is very different from his other works but we love it as it fits our music perfectly. I do not know if we will stick to this soviet-propaganda-ish style in the future. As I said before, SHAKHTYOR is not about glorification of the Soviet Union. For our demo, we had used a photo of a graffity from Morocco taken by a friend of ours, showing the portrait of an old miner. For our next release, we have no specific concept yet, only some rough ideas. It should support the character of our music, though, heavy, dark, hypnotic.

How pleased are you with the final outcome of your debut album?
-We are absolutely satisfied. The Tonmeisterei has a very good reputation In the German underground, Omega Massif, B-SON,Kodiak, Blackwaves and many others have recorded or mastered their albums there so it was a dream for us to go there. Role, the mastermind, just knows what he is doing and he gave us a fantastic sound. We are really looking forward to the release of the vinyl, not only because we have recorded another song for it but also because the artwork really deserves a large vinyl cover.

VICTIMS OF CREATION

When you live on an island in the Mediterranean you might fell cut off but that doesn’t stop VICTIMS OF CREATION from being heavy as hell. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

How big is the metal scene in Malta? How tight knitted is the metal scene in Malta?
-Well, Malta is a very small country, slightly overpopulated, and metal is still mainly an underground scene. For its size we have a healthy metal/underground scene which spans across a diversity of genres. Indeed, almost everyone knows each other in one way or the other. Overall, there is mutual support between band members and fans of different styles however, some “fragmentation” is noticeable, e.g. individuals liking a particular genre will not venture to explore bands of another genre/style. Unfortunately, there are very limited opportunities for exposure both due to a lack of venues and audience, needed to support such events.

I know of a couple Maltese metal bands but they are easy to count on my hand’s five fingers. How much do you have to look elsewhere to find bands and people to be inspired by?
-Actually, there are quite a few local bands, say about 30-40 bands spanning all genres, some of which are well known outside of Malta. There are some great local musicians that will in some way influence or inspire your playing. However, it is almost inevitable, that any musician will dig out bands and artists that are not from his/her own country to be inspired by.

What would you say have been your biggest musical influence(s) in forming the sound of VICTIMS OF CREATION?
-The Victims of Creation sound was most likely influenced by death metal bands such as Obituary, Edge of Sanity, Morbid Angel, Entombed and doom metal bands like early Cathedral, Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Funeral etc.,

How pleased are you with your debut album? How much of a dream come true is it to see it in physical form?
-Considering the great amount of problems and fuck ups we had during the years we are very pleased with our debut album. Indeed it is a dream come true seeing your music being finally published! So far we had a very good feedback and positive reviews which makes the effort worthwhile.

Does the cover art work really matters in this day and age of digital downloads?
-In rock and metal albums, cover art makes an integral part of the publication. In our case, we feel that the artwork complements and enhances the listeners’ experience by aiding visual conception of the intended feel expressed in the music and lyrics. It is a policy of our label (Cyclone Empire) to promote music in its physical format, the old fashioned way – as an album is meant to be. This is something we endorse and believe it is a characteristic that should be maintained in the underground scenes.

Why the choice of band name? What is the meaning of the band name?
-The words “Victims of Creation” were actually part of the lyrics of an old song – the last verse read “and we with our Masters, left Victims of Creation”… It refers to the fact that we humans are victims of our own existence and our own creations (e.g. religions, politics, society).

How do you stand out when there are so many bands to compete with for the attention of the fans?
-Indeed there are so many great bands out there! Yet, we believe that we are expressing our own perspective of Doom/Doom-Death in a personal, genuine manner.

How important is the choice of label today in an ever declining record industry?
-It is important to work with a label that truly believes in the music you are producing and is truly committed to promote your work in a transparent way. We do not have much experience in the matter and cannot truly elaborate.

What do you expect to get out of working with a label that you couldn’t get from doing it yourself?
-Labels with a good reputation are likely to put you in the limelight and give you certain exposure and contacts that are very laborious and time consuming to do by yourself. We therefore would expect better distribution and promotion of our work, eventually leading to a firmer foothold in the underground scene.

What would you like the future to hold for the band?
-We wish to continue writing lots of new material and release more albums. We hope to have more opportunities to play abroad and spread our “Word of doom”, to meet and share the stage with other bands and meet cool people!! Ah! And yes of course to savor different delicacies.. and beer!

ARTAIUS “The Fifth Season”

ARTAIUS
”The Fifth Season”
(Moonlight)
Yes, once again this is a band that I know absolutely nothing about. I’ve come upon them before and given on what label they release this album this could be anything from the grandest pagan/folk metal to some of the weirdest sludge to the doomiest to the most freaked out psychedelia. I have no clue but I sure look forward to learning more. ARTAIUS are supposedly folk metal. Italian folk metal might seem like an oxymoron on paper but if you think about it why not. This is like a cross between black and goth metal with a touch of folk. ARTAIUS can call their metal whatever they like. All I know is that I like it. There’s enough going on it to keep my interest alive all the way through. I can’t really think of Italians running around in the forest dressed in leaves and flowers but thankfully theirs is something more sinister going on with ARTAIUS. Anders

BAKKEN “Death Of A Hero”

BAKKEN
“Death Of A Hero”
()
For those of us living in the Öresund region (Sweden and Denmark) we know BAKKEN pretty well. It is an amusement park just north of Copenhagen. I’ve been there as a kid. But never ever did I think that I’d experience it in the form of a metal band. That level of amusement never entered my mind. And it pretty much left my mind immediately as I was about to write them off as some sort of second rate Nickelback just based on the first riff. But luckily I stuck out a bit longer. Perhaps not the metal album I had expected. There is a light side to this that tends towards the more poppier side of things but they manage to keep it on the right side of the tracks making this a good metal album. Anders Ekdahl

BURIAL VAULT “Incendium”

BURIAL VAULT
“Incendium”
(Apostasy)
I really hope that this band lives up to its name. That this will be one hell of a BURIAL VAULT that will leave me so scarred that I hardly want to visit again. Yea, I’m in the need of some really scary death metal. The more horrible the better. I wouldn’t say that this is the most brutal death metal to ever be heard but it is hard enough for my needs right now. This is a German melodic death metal band that are on their second album now. To be honest I don’t know when I heard a melodic death metal band the last time. It seems to be either brutal death or melodeath that comes my way these days. I miss the days of Dissection. So of you like bands like Amon Amarth and the likes then you will most probably like this one too. Anders Ekdahl

CARDINALS FOLLY “Strange Conflicts Of The Past”

CARDINALS FOLLY
“Strange Conflicts Of The Past”
(Shadow Kingdom)
Doom metal from Finland, the land of a thousand lakes and probably as many vodka induced suicides. I loved The Reverend Bizarre. They were a damn cool doom metal band that I discovered too late. That they are no longer is a great loss to all of us. But now we have CARDINALS FOLLY. I can from the start tell you that if you miss The Reverend Bizarre you might very well find a new favourite in CARDINALS FOLLY. This is doom in the same vein. Slow, heavy and with just enough of a hint to Black Sabbath to make this cool. And now with Cathedral calling it a day there is the need for somebody to pick up the flame. Why not let it be CARDINALS FOLLY? Anders Ekdahl

CORSAIR “Ghosts Of Proxima Centauri”

CORSAIR
“Ghosts Of Proxima Centauri”
(Shadow Kingdom)
I liked CORSAIR the first time I heard them. There was something a bit extra to them that caught my liking. Now that I get to hear even more from them I do it with great anticipation. What if that previous album was just a flux, a lucky strike that they hadn’t matched before and never will again? Now with the re-release of their debut album we get to hear where they came from. There is a doomy 70s feel to CORSAIR that I like. I’m not saying that it was better in the 70s (well I am, actually) but much of today’s music would not be here if it weren’t for those pioneers. CORSAIR seem to have understood that. You can name drop Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Saint Vitus and every obscure 70s hardrock act you can find but truth be told this is still great whatever way you look, no matter how cheesy you might think the 70s sounds in the 10s. Anders Ekdahl

ECHTRA “Sky Burial”

ECHTRA
“Sky Burial”
(Temple Of Torturous)
When I got into metal back in the 80s black metal was Venom and Witchfynde and Mercyful Fate and the likes. You pretty much knew what to expect. These days black metal is just an umbrella. Underneath you’ll find everything and then some. So by describing ECHTRA as black metal doesn’t really say too much about them. This is black metal that owes a lot to the likes of Burzum and latter day acts like Xasthur. Call it funeral drone black metal if you like. This is more about creating an atmosphere than it is about being brutal slaying Christians. I gotta admit that I love early Burzum and the eerie, creepy feeling that he created on those records. I like the desolate feeling ECHTRA creates on this album. It makes me want to listen to some Lustre just to

HORDE THOR “Fire”

HORDE THOR
“Fire”
()
This EP by Columbian HORDE THOR is actually the B-side to an album called “Roots & Fire”. Yeah I know it sounds strange but that’s the way it is. The A-side has already been released making this a sort of double album. Based on Asatru this lot roams the fields of folk/pagan metal. And seeing as I love the more epic side of Bathory I’ll give this band the benefit of doubt. There might be an epic touch to this but basically it is black metal. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I really don’t get the difference between folk, pagan and heathen metal. It most often sounds like black metal to my ears. Perhaps not so much Bathory as Hades Almighty over this record. And that is not piss poor if you ask me. If you try hard you can imagine pixies and elves and trolls dancing around the fire listening to this lot. I think I’ll join them too. Anders Ekdahl

IMPRECATION “Satanae Tenebris Infinita”

IMPRECATION
“Satanae Tenebris Infinita”
(Dark Descent)
Now this is a blast from the past. I don’t think I’ve heard anything by IMPRECATION since the 90s. Can’t say that I remember too much of what they sounded like back then other than it was some sort of American death metal. This is truly Anti-Christian death metal. If you like Incantation and Immolation pr any other American death metal acts in that vein you’ll love this. As I do. As I said I have not heard a single IMPRECATION track since the 90s but hearing this new record was like being back in my 20s. Nothing seems to have changed. This is still heavy as a ton of bricks. Try headbang to this and you’ll end up with a whiplash injury to your neck from the heavy inverted cross around your neck. Some pretty cool stuff. Anders Ekdahl