Funeral – “Oratorium”

Funeral – “Oratorium” (Grau Records)

Hail to the masters of funeral doom! One of the genre’s pioneering bands, Norway’s Funeral were formed in the mists of the early 90s with an apt name to match their distinct style: morbid keyboard melodies, plodding death stalking riffs and melancholic choral harmonies all superbly mix to create an unbelievably sombre atmosphere on songs like ‘From The Orchestral Grave’, ‘Making The World My Tomb’ and ‘Song Of The Knell’. With each song clocking in around 10 mins a piece “Oratorium” really does feel like attending a funeral in every sense – not in the least when you consider how many guys in the band have died since its formation!

Victorians Aristocrats’ Symphony – “Revival”

Victorians Aristocrats’ Symphony – “Revival” (www.facebook.com/victorians.band)

VAS are a new femme operatic goth metal band hailing from Poland steeped in majestic splendor emanating from their 100 year ancestral heritage going back to the Victorian era! With aristocratic wit and bravado they now give us mortals the chance to glimpse into the inner sanctum of their ‘V-Lodge’. Classical orchestrations incorporating violins and delicate tantalizing melodies belie a feisty confidence and passionate power behind songs like ‘Who Never Loved’, ‘Servants Of Beauty’ and ‘Don’t Let Them Cut My Wings’. Exuding superb musicianship throughout – not in the least the wailing operatic vocals of the delectable Eydis – VAS are up there with the likes of Nightwish and Within Temptation, bringing an exquisite style to match their aristocratic suaveness!

BLOODY HAMMERS

BLOODY HAMMERS s another in a long line of bands that thinks the past was better. Interview with organist DEVALLIA . Anders Ekdahl ©2012

My first thought when I saw the cover was a combination of Black Sabbath’s “Master of Reality” and old Hammer horror movies. How much do you look to the past for inspiration?
-The picture itself was a bit of a fluke. I was doing a photo shoot with friend and model Veronica Steam. At the very last minute, I remembered we had this great goat mask, and asked if she would wear it for a couple of shots. She was all for it, so I brought it and the torches to the studio area. When my husband saw the results, he immediately knew he wanted to use it for the album cover. He was writing the song “Witching Hour” during this shoot. As for the font, it was intended to give the listener a hint of what to expect musically.

When you play the kind of music you do are there any limitations to it?
-Anders composes all of the songs, and this music comes very naturally for him. He spent some time doing synth driven work, but always wanted to get back to his roots in guitar oriented rock. There is no limitation whatsoever as far as his passion for the art and the result. The only possible limitation could be how well it’s accepted in a world where other genres are more widely received, when compared to the underground nature of what he is doing.

Have you met people that have slammed you for not being true, people that really want to sink you because you are so great?
-Actually, there has been very little negative feedback at this point. When putting your work out there, it is normal to have responses from each end of the spectrum. We just do what we love to do, and if someone else likes it, that’s great. If they don’t like it, they can listen to something else. Everyone has a different concept of what is true. We were born in the 70s and grew up in the southern United States, in a severely televangelist era. We are truly rebellious products of our environment.

How important is it to you to be true to the music, that you don’t involve instruments that are not authentical to the era?
– At the end of the day, what matters is whether or not the songs are good. Bloody Hammers did not seek out authentic, old school instruments to produce this album. It was certainly influenced by retro song structures, but as more of a nod to this golden age of music, rather than attempting to recreate the entire sound verbatim.

I’ve notice that there are more and more labels that used to be exclusively extreme metal now have branched out to more hardrock/classic metal. How do you feel that you fit in on SoulSeller?
-SoulSeller is an amazing label, and we are pleased to have been offered this opportunity to work with them. There definitely seems to be a resurgence in the classic metal sound because it’s eons better than what the mainstream is currently churning out. There is a demand for songs with substance, and people are finding what they are looking for with classic inspired rock. Labels are looking to meet this demand, and have diversified their offerings to do so.

I love the music and the movies from the 60s and 70s and the soundtracks that comes with them as well as the innocence of them. What is so special to you about this period in music?
– The sky was the limit for these artists, and they left such a lasting impression in the history of media. It is so difficult now to do something that hasn’t been done before. They were the first to go there, and were immortalized as a result. On the other hand, society has become so much more jaded, so it is refreshing to revisit things of old.

Did the album turn out the way you wanted? What kind of expectations did you have on it when you recorded it?
-The album did turn out exactly as expected. Anders (vocals, bass) had complete control during the recording process. He laid down all of the tracks in his studio, and we mixed it ourselves. Some say you should not mix your own work, but we are pleased with the results. I come in very late in the process and offer final suggestions when his ears are tired.

How hard is it to let go of something that you have recorded knowing that once it is out there it will live a life all its own?
-When Bloody Hammers was released, it was primarily for fun. We put it out there just to see what kind of reaction it would get. Within 24 hours we started receiving feedback, and SoulSeller contacted us about a record deal. It got an overwhelming response in a very short amount of time, so we decided to go with the flow and allow it to become a bigger production than originally intended.

What kind of reactions have you had so far to the band?
-The reactions have been pretty positive thus far. There have been some good reviews and listeners have taken the time to say hello on Facebook. That means a lot to us.

What would you like the future to bring?
-We are ready for anything the future may bring. It would be fun play some shows or go on tour. The primary objective is for people to hear and enjoy the music.

ERUPTED

Another Swedish death metal band. This time from the dark forests of Småland. What else is there to say? Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Is it a good thing to be Swedish death metal band? Isn’t the competition killer?
-The competition is hard, but the roughest thing is the judgement you get even before people listen to your music. Being branded ”Swedish death” turns some people of your music from the start and some people get very disappointed when it doesn’t sound the way they expected it to.

I’ve tried to think of any band’s in my collection that comes from Växjö and the only one I can remember is Furbowl. What a place is it to be a metal band?
-It’s an awesome metal town! The best Växjö bands you should give a try is Birdflesh and Entrails, they’re just fucking awesome! As a young band this town is good as well, lots of metalheads and good basic venues to get started on.

When you come together to form a band does it help that you have had previous experience? What was the plan with Erupted from the beginning?
-Sometimes previous experience helps we guess. The ”Plan” with Erupted was pretty much just partying and making metal, and it still is,

Is it a good thing ending up on a label that has a lot of other Swedish bands? Can you benefit from it?
-Makes it easier to feel at home, but in the big picture it hardly matters.

The cover art work makes me think of Russian Icons with a twist. How does the art work connect with the album title “In The Grip Of Chaos”?
-The pretty lady is Kali, and the symbolism from the human skin with the chaos star in the background to the daggers are there to represent how much of an influence chaos and, in some cases violence and hatred, has in our lives and way of thinking.

Your sound is based on old school Swedish death metal, or perhaps just old school death metal. How do you go about getting the right kind of sound? Do you spend hours listening to Nihilist, Unleashed, Grave, Autopsy, Death etc.?
-Beer based creative chaos!

Is there a period in the death metal history that was better than the others?
-85-98 was maybe the golden years, but there was good stuff before that and there is new awesome stuff showing up every day!

What is death metal to you?
-Good music and damn fine ideas. In some cases the perfect soundtrack to a gruesome story.

How do you intend to make most possible people aware of the album’s existence?
-We are hoping that it will spread a lot through word of mouth and the internet. We will try to PR it as much as possible through live shows as well.

What other plans for the future do you have?
-Hopefully someone will start offering some more shows, and we would really love a chance to play in some different countries, so the plan for the future is pretty much playing shows, drinking beer and taking over the fucking world!

INCANTATION

INCANTATION don’t really need an introduction. This is death metal in its most primal form. The kind that makes your intestine twist and turn. Chuck was so kind to try his best to answer my questions. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

When you have been going for so long as you guys have and been through so many changes does it feel that your past has hindered you from getting further than you have?
-Because of my 4yrs in the band. I can’t speak of the earlier periods. I guess this is just another change, as you put it. If anything, it’s far from hindered but strengthened. We are all good friends and have a collective mentality whether it’s writing or performing. I’ve never been in a more functional situation. What a bunch of assholes.

Do you think that your attitude has been “too” extreme for you guys to have made it bigger? Does being true to your ideals mean that you are limited in your potential?
-Never thought of Incantation as being too extreme. That’s what draws fans in the first place, myself included. I’d personally rather leave “making it” to people who let those kind of considerations feed their own megalomania. All I’ve experienced has been rewarding. Being true to our ideals makes us what we are. As far as potential…. I only see unlimited possibilities.

Incantation is often revered as one of the most important American death metal bands. How hard is it to take in that kind of accolade?
-It’s not, in my opinion. It’s an honor to have that form of recognition, just not something that alters our goals. From a standpoint of fan becoming member I still revere my band mates as history and popularity dictates. Their impact on Death Metal is widely known and for good reason.

I remember hearing your debut the first time and how that one made an impact on me. What was it that shaped the sound of Incantation in the beginning?
-I wasn’t there, can’t answer that one. Still just a fan at that point, like yourself.

What is death metal to you? Does it have to be anti-Christian/anti authorative to be considered death metal?
-Metal to me is the culmination of all things dark, aggressive, evil and unknown. With the versatility to waiver in and out of various genera without compromising their individual impact. Be it Heavy, Thrash, Death, Black, Doom etc. nixing of course the many other newly fashioned “____ Metal” to suit the desires of bands/public trying to diversify under the guise of “innovation”. Being anti-christian/authority isn’t a requirement, but it’s so far and few between to find a fan of metal who isn’t or at the least not offended by anti christian/authority views. Clarity of thought and the ability to question leads us to metal in the first place, I always believed. Might not be a requirement….. But it helps.

You have a new album now that you are promoting. What kind of feelings do you have for it now that it is about to be unleashed upon an audience?
-Only the best! We’re all so proud of the album. It’s cliché in a way…. but we feel it is our best material to date. Or at least till the next one.

Your art work has always been dark in its colours. How important is the art work to you? What does it represent?
-The artwork like any other release should compliment the material. The music surpasses at times but the two share a certain balance. The Vanquish in Vengeance cover tirelessly painted by Worthless I feel reflects the darkness within the album. His approach captures the feeble monotheistic followers and their vain attempts at salvation. The tome they reach for in the painting is left to interpretation. While the darkness we’re unleashing through said material (In the form of the entities of the background.) poise to engulf those defeated by their own false hope.

Will this album mean the beginning of a second or third breath of fresh air for the band?
-Definitely.

Is death metal still a touring kind of metal when it comes to promoting the band/music?
-Indeed, no better way of exposure then through touring. It has it’s pros and cons like anything. But to share a stage with comrades and play for those whom support you or have never heard you. Wouldn’t trade it for anything.

What do you see in the future?
-In actuality we’re already looking ahead. There is material left over from the Vanquish in Vengeance sessions that we intend to utilize. Also we’re meeting on weekends now creating again. Only evil can come from this…….

QUADRIVIUM

QUADRIVIUM is another Norwegian metal band that operates outside of the frame. Call it progressive. Call it avant-garde. Whatever you call it you still end up with your nose forward. Interview answered by Erlend. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I have had to struggle to get your name memorized? Why choosing a name that starts with Q and what does it mean?
-Well I don’t know really. Quadrivium was the name for an earlier project I worked on with a friend that didn’t amount to anything but a couple of demo songs. Back then I was into symphonic black metal and I liked the name. The name itself implies all kinds of fancy stuff but I won’t profess our music to be as fancy. More appropriate for the music of the original project but this is now our band name and we are kinda stuck with it. Also not many band names start with Q so that was an added bonus I guess.

To me the typical Norwegian is a happy-go-lucky kind of person but then you have bands like Arcturus, Dödheimsgard, In The Woods, Winds, latter day Mayhem etc. that are anything but happy-go-lucky. Where does that side of Norway come from?
-That is a very interesting question. Some say that the cold and dark weather is to blame, but Sweden suffers from the same shitty weather and yet there seems to be some big differences between Norwegian and Swedish metal. Swedish bands are masters of melody and always seems to get a great sound. Norwegian music is more about atmosphere. It’s not a perfect comparison and I’m sure there are quite a lot of counterexamples but that is my general feeling. I like both styles and I chose to have the Methocha album mastered in Sweden because there is a tradition for making great sounding albums. So how to explain it? Well maybe it has something to do with our national soul. Like 50 years ago, Norway was one of the poorest countries in Europe and had been so for quite some time to say the least. Maybe there is a lingering sense that at any moment our recent wealth might be taken away from us. Best not to get our hopes up, right?

From what I understand this is sort of a comeback album for you guys? Why is now the right time to come back?
-It is our second album but you can kinda call it a comeback in that the music is pretty different this time around and because it has taken so long for us to finish it. We really wanted to finish it earlier but of course we ran into the usual trouble with injured musicians, finances etc. I would say that half the time since the release of the first album has been spent recording the second one. This is one of the disadvantages in being a pure studio band that does not get together to rehearse. Everyone has to record separately and that takes alot more time than one would think.

What kind of expectations do you have this time around?
-Our goal was to take some big steps up from the first album and hope that people will recognize that. This is definately the album we are most satisfied with to date and it is very nice to read that other people
seems to like it too.

How serious do you take the band these days? How has that changed with time?
-Even though I have less time for music these days I take the band even more seriously than I did a couple of years ago. I was involved in a couple of other projects for a while and that made me realize that Quadrivium was really the project that I wanted to do. So I quit all other projects to focus on Quadrivium as my only full-time band. I still do some session work here and there but not much songwriting.

How much have you learned in the years between? How do you best utilize the knowledge to not make the same kind of mistakes?
-Where to begin? When I think back on what my level of knowledge of music and recording was at the time we made the first album.. It was laughable. Like most musicians I had to make 100 shitty songs before I could make something good. It is hard to say exactly what you are learning during this but at some point the songs just gets better. You also learn alot about music production when you record your albums and you learn to appreciate good gear. You can only do so much on a shoestring budget. I guess that is one of the most important lessons.

When I read the titles and look the cover I get a science concept feeling. What are the lyrics about?
-There is a certain kind of spirituality inherent in science I believe. You can appreciate nature on an even deeper level if you know a little science and that is something that inspires me a great deal. Astronomy is one of my big interests and blended with some sci-fi-quasi-science it really does inspire alot of my lyrics and music. The song Destroyer on the new album is a good example of these influences.

How important is the way you present the band? How conscious are you of the image that the band portrays?
-To be honest, that isn’t something we concern ourselves with. I guess that if we were a proper band who rehearsed and played live and all that stuff we would put some more effort into it. The music is what matters to us and we want the band to stand and fall on the music.

Where does Quadrivium fit into the Norwegian metal scene?
-That is for the scene to decide I guess. Frankly I don’t know because where I live there is no metal scene to speak about. I do recognize that some of the great metal bands come from the Norwegian scene and everyone who comes after will always live in their shadows. Still though I hope we can make our own little contribution to the void of music.

What would you like the future to bring to the band?
-More albums. There are still more aspects of music we want to explore.

SARATAN

The Polish metal scene is growing stronger for each day that passes by. Proof of that can for example be found on SARATAN’s new album. Iinterview with Jarek Niemiec, vocal, bass. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Now that you are on your third album does it feel like the band has progressed the way you intended?
J: Yes, we feel that we have made a huge step forward. The new songs became more complex, but not chaotic. We were able to compose and add all the new layers in our music like ethnic and classic instruments. Also everything is much better thought through. Not only music-wise, but also in terms of artwork, band photos and the scenario for “ Baâ al Zevuv” video.

What is with the Polish metal scene that keep spitting out new great bands?

J: It’s hard to explain, and I don’t know the right answer here. Some people say that it is connected with polish economic and social situation. Maybe it’s influenced by that in some minor fraction, but I wouldn’t be sure it’s the key factor. But it is a really interesting topic indeed!

There is an ethnic side to the band. Where does the interest for that come from?

J: I studied Persian language, so it was quite natural for me to also explore the culture, religion and of course music from this region. Moreover I have traveled to many interesting places like India, Iran, Azerbaijan, and I’ve always been trying to bring some music cds, or
music instruments from there. For example the instrument I’m using most often is TAR that I brought from Azerbaijan. You can hear it on “Antireligion” and “Martya Xwar” albums. I love it! It is so inspiring to play this kind of instruments!

When you come from a town like Krakow that is historically interesting does that bring with it a source for inspiration?
J: In my opinion not at all. I’ve lived here all my life, surrounded by those landmarks, which became elements of everyday reality rather than inspiring or breathtaking environment. When it comes to pointing out my inspirations, I’d rather point out the aforementioned journeys to Asia.

Is the band name a homage to the British band Cancer? Why the choice of band name?
J: We decided to name the band this way because we didn’t want to have a typical English name. It is such a popular practice, and a trivial one at that, so we wanted a little more originality. During the first year of my studies I have discovered that Arabic and
Persian word SARATAN would be really great as a band name. It hasn’t yet been taken, it’s connected with culture I like, and it sounds like Satan! ?

What is behind the album title “MartyaXWar”, is there a greater concept behind the choice?
J: “Martya Xwar” means men eater, or cannibal in middle Persian language the ancestor of modern Persian. From that phrase, the world Manticore was created. A title should be a little
gloomy, mysterious even, to somehow link it with occult topics of some of the songs. As for the concept – there is an idea encrypted throughout this album, but I still wouldn’t call it a concept one.

What is the metal scene like in Poland today? We hear about how much power the church has and how there are people fighting against metal.
J: It is not so bad here!! The Church doesn’t fight with metal scene, but some sort of politicians do! As a band member I don’t see many obstacles here, but I know that Nergals case and some other widely known issues could make this sort of image. Rest assured, Poland is not as catholic as You imagine! And the change is constant!

What are the chances like for being added to a tour that actually brings the band forward instead of playing to the closest interested?
J: We are working on that. We have joined a booking agency, a really good one, but for now I can’t reveal any details. We will play some gigs in Poland and in Eastern Europe, and we really look forward to playing shows in Western Europe. Hopefully it will happen next year!

Is it worth the hard work doing a video? What does it give the band having a video to show?
J: Yes, of course it’s necessary! Youtube and other social media are really important in band promotion. The video is giving the band another opportunity to find new fans and listeners. And it doesn’t matter how many views you achieve – everyone is important!

What will the future bring to you?
J: We don’t know, but we are sure that promotion of “Martya Xwar” will last for minimum one year. We will play as many gigs as we can and we are planning to shoot a second video clip. It is going to be a busy year, but we are looking forward to it!!

SCHYSMA

I’m not saying that it is so but when a band becomes successful a handful bands that almost sound the same follows. With the success of for example Nightwish we’ve seen a countless number of bands just like that. So why should we not see a number of band mimicking Lacuna Coil. SCHYSMA, while being heavier than Lacuna Coil ever been operate within the same perimeters. And they do with such a grace that I had to interview them Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Is there anything positive with being a metal band from Italy?
-Unfortunately there are no opportunities for metal bands in Italy, especially progressive metal bands. If a band wants to try to work with music, the only way is pop music. In fact we try to be known outside Italy.

From what I understand Northern Italy is more white collar than the south. Does that reflect in the taste of music or is it all Eros and Zucchero that gets played all the time?
-Ahaha in southern Italy there are more blue collars, instead in the north there are more white collars! But metal music is valued in the north as in the south, but mainstream music in radio and television is dominated by pop artists, Zucchero is a great artists in comparison to the most popular pop star in Italy (such as Gigi D’alessio). The real problem is that International music world considered Italy as a marginal country (and agreed), but it is not connect to north and south differences.

Does being from the north affect the metal you play? Is it more down to earth in the north as supposed to the more operatic/symphonic south?
-I don’t think that our music is strictly related to our land . The mix of progressive metal and industrial comes from our own musical experience. Every single influence is perfectly melt to obtain something that is really original in the actual panorama.

What are the benefits of just releasing an EP? How much of a gamble is it to release and album?
-Actually we had enough songs to release a full-length album but we preferred to record a five tracks EP because we considered those song exhaustive to describe our style. In addiction a 5 tracks EP is more immediate and incisive for an emerging band : that’s why we think that in this way will be more easy to spread our music and to reach the labels.

How pleased are you with the end result? What kind of expectations do you have on it?
-We are really satisfied of our work and in particular we would like to thank Stefano Parodi of X studio for recording and mastering the tracks: the result fully reflects our starting idea

When you have a record to promote how do you find the right kind of people to help you promote it? What kind of media is there to help you?
-The social media like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Youtube and our website (www.schysma.com) are the best way for us to contact people sharing our musical interests and to keep them updated about our last news and gigs. The web Is actually the most powerful way to promote the EP because is quick, easy to manage and today is used by billion of people. We are present also in other websites related to music like reverbnation, last.fm, beat100, soundcloud .

In my eyes the whole social media ?scene? can be rather fleeing and not as substantial as it is made out to be. How do you avoid being swept away by all the ?likes? on the net thinking that you’ve made it?
-It’s a difficult question! Now our purpose, before recording the full length, is to promote our music through social media and the web, and at this time, we think it can be very helpful! Waiting one year to see what will happen!

What does 10.000 likes on Facebook really mean in real life? How can you benefit from being liked on social media?
-In our view the popularity in the social media simply means that our music has reached at least 10000 people. This obviously doesn’t mean that now we have 10000 fans but once we have the contact we have the possibility to work on the possibility that they will become.

Is touring/gigging still a viable way of promoting a band? What kind of live environment is there where you live?
-Gigs are the primary way of promotion in our opinion. Unfortunately here in Italy, is not easy to find, so we have signed with France label, Optimum Association, which promote in Europe our EP and organize us a small tour in France!

What future would you like to see for Schysma?
-Obviously we hope to find a good label that can produce and promote us, to play with important bands on great stages!!

ADORNED BROOD “Kuningaz”

ADORNED BROOD
“Kuningaz”
(Massacre)
For reasons unknown to me I haven’t bothered to check out Adorned Brood even though I’ve known of them for ages. This is a band that was folk, pagan, heathen or whatever you like to call it way before it burst onto the scene like the bubonic plague. If you like bands like Folkearth, Arkona or any of the newer bands then this is the band for you. I might not know the difference between all the sub-genres but I know when I like something that I hear. And I like Adorned Brood. Which makes it even stranger why I haven’t bothered to check them out before. There is a depth to this band that I sometime miss with other bands in this genre. This is not just a full on blast. There is something more to it, an after-thought if you like. A reason for it to exist. Now I have to start digging backwards in their back-catalogue. Anders Ekdahl

BLOODY HAMMERS “S/T”

BLOODY HAMMERS
“S/T”
(Soulseller)
I love old Hammer films. They used to make some of the most classic horror movies. If Black Sabbaths debut album from 1970 was the epitome of horror on record back then Hammer films where the equivalent on the big screen. When I saw the cover to this album the first time I immediately came to think of Hammer Films and Black Sabbath. I like the music of the 70s when heavy metal wasn’t invented and hardrock was the hardest to be found. People weren’t as conscious of fitting in and the frames were wider for what could and couldn’t be done. Which is kinda why I like Bloody Hammers. Today we need more bands that doesn’t care too much about what genre they belong to. All that matters is good music. And good Bloody Hammers are in all they do. This is hardrock for those of us that like our hardrock good. Anders Ekdahl