Cultfinder – “Black Thrashing Terror”

Cultfinder – “Black Thrashing Terror” EP (Eldritch Lunar Miasma)

Every now and then a band comes along that pulls out the stops and brings the shit. England’s Cultfinder have done just that with only 3 songs. Going back to the days of old black thrash when the two comfortably swirled around the same foul smelling trough, “Black Thrashing Terror” reminds me of similar obscene beasts like early Napalm Death, Onslaught and Iron Monkey where the music owed itself as much to the heaviest of metal as it did to the crustiest punk. And so it is too with Cultfinder, although the well executed musicianship of this trio should not be overlooked in bringing to life the true evil of songs like ‘Archangel Burial’ and ‘Witching Curse’. Nasty stuff indeed with no hint whatsoever of compromise – you can either like it or fuck off.

Shades Of Dusk – “Squalor”

Shades Of Dusk – “Squalor” (PRC Music)

These guys are apparently one of the top underground bands from Montreal, QC – and I believe them! This is quite astonishing melodic death metal which is easily up there with the top ranked purveyors of this style i.e. Dark Tranquility or The Black Dahlia Murder. Listening to the likes of ‘Morning Qualm’, ‘Priapism’ and ‘The Satyr’ its clear that Shades Of Dusk are a grade A complete package ranging from superb delivery to some of the best song writing I’ve heard in this genre – implying some serious brainpower as well as musical dexterity! But what I really like best is how they incorporate hints of other styles from technical death metal riffs to emo core harmonies to neo gothic licks to bring both a dark and yet also illuminating atmosphere that pervades the entirety of “Squalor”. As I said, quite superb for an unknown band. Considering their talent and potential I really hope they don’t get passed over simply for being Canadian because they deserve so much better.

Xander Demos – “Guitarcadia”

Xander Demos – “Guitarcadia” (Rock N Growl Records)

Behold the next guitar god! With a breathtaking range of endorsements, awards and recording collaborations with artists from all over the world, it’s no surprise that Xander Demos is one of those ‘in demand’ high-energy rock and metal guitar players who performs in excess of 100 times a year! Xander is an avid animal lover and given that ‘arcadia’, the name from which he has chosen to derive his album title, means a place of beauty or serenity, then it comes as no surprise that this album is filled with some of the most beautiful guitar driven rock and metal melodies – although by no means lacking in power! It’s interesting that while being influenced by the likes of Boston, Rush, Van Halen and Journey, Demo’s own inspirations come from other virtuoso guitarists like Shawn Lane and Guthrie Govan. Saying that, it’s particularly pleasing that songs like ‘Right Angles’, ‘Chase The Sun’ and ‘Metagalactic’ aren’t just brilliant examples of instrumental dexterity played to orgasmic levels, but are power rock / metal songs in their own right, albeit featuring the outstanding fluid guitar work of Xander Demos. Breathtakingly stupendous, and yet unbelievably humble, the talent just oozes on “Guitarcadia”!!!

Malefice – “Entities – Anniversary Edition”

Malefice – “Entities – Anniversary Edition” (Transcend Music)

This is the 5th year anniversary since the issue of this debut, and to commemorate it, this Brit metalcore crew have decided to re-master it as well as add in a bonus track ‘Reasons Lost’. To be frank, I’d question the sense in re-issuing an album so soon but the re-master is to be commended, adding clarity and a bigger sound (as if the band needed one) to songs like ‘As Skies Turn Black’ and ‘Horizon Burns’. Dale Butler’s voice sounds even more hoarser than before and Craig Thomas’s drums sound like he’s really hitting them in front of you! Best of all though, are those strong Gothenburg influenced guitar melodies, which really resonate atmospherically to bring a ‘live’ feel to this album. If you are new to Malefice then deffo check this out. Fans need no prompting!

Stealing Axion – “Moments”

Stealing Axion – “Moments” (InsideOut Music/Century Media Records)

These guys are the latest prog metal band hailing outta Seattle that mix traditional prog melodies with grunge harmonies and a very heavy bottom end (so much so that they’ve been labelled ‘djent’ in some circles). Blending in alternating clean with hoarse death like vocals and chopping Meshuggah riffs, Stealing Axion have successfully fused a variety of styles into an identifiable sound on songs like ‘Solar’, ‘The Unwanted Gift’ and ‘It’s Too Late Now’ to create a resulting effect that is both diverse and captivating enough to hold my attention – and I’m not exactly a big proggie lol! All in all, there are some very impressive aspects to “Moments”, but most of all, it’s definitely one of the heaviest prog releases around, from its pounding drum work to that unbelievable grunting bass twanging almost relentlessly, resonating in your ears long after the last track has played!

BODYFARM

I will always have a place in my metal heart for a band from Holland. BODYFARM is just my latest Dutch band to fill that heart with totally great death metal. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Is Bodyfarm a good name for a death metal band? Given its more scientifical use in reality?
-Yes, we think it is. It’s short and catchy, and it doesn’t represents something deep or pretentious. We play death metal and our lyrical themes may vary, so we like a bandname that doesn’t say what you can expect.

Would you say that you are part of a healthy Dutch death metal scene? What kind of death metal scene is there today?
-Without being cocky I think we can say that yes. There are so many bands over here. The best known bands are o fcourse Hail Of Bullets, Asphyx, Legion Of The Damned, Severe Torture, and some others. That’s the upperground. I think Bodyfarm worked itself to the upper-underground if you know what I mean. We’ve played some shows outside of the country and we allways had great support from the critics and the media. The death metal scene today in Holland is very big. If you want, you can go to death metal gig in The Netherlands every single day. There’s always some band playing somewhere, and every big tour visits the country multiple times. Because of that, it’s pretty hard to be seen in the enormous amount of bands.

Does it add pressure to you knowing that people expect every band to come from Holland to be good? I can’t remember having heard a single bad Dutch metal band.
-Ehr… do they expect that? Haha. I know we have a rich history and present of death metal quality but no, it doesn’t add pressure. We make music because we love to do it. It’s our lives. We are very happy to know that a lot of people like what we do, but if they don’t: no problem. We enjoy every aspect of making death metal and for us it’s all about having fun, playing gigs and meet people.

Death metal today is divided into so many sub-genres that it is close to impossible to keep track of it. What is death metal in its most basic form to you?
-Do you want names? I’d say Vader, Grave, Vomitory, Unleashed, Deicide, Asphyx and some others. Bands like these have been around for twenty to thirty years and still haven’t changed a bit about their musical style. It’s so pure and honest! Those bands are the godfathers of death metal, and without them there would never have been genres like ‘technical vegetarian djentcore’ or whatever these genres are called. It’s a very natural thing for musical styles to evolve, but I’m very glad that there’s still a great scene for primitive, pounding death metal.

When you have an album out what kind of feelings does that bring with it?
-I can only speak for our latest release ‘Malevolence’ since that is our first full-length album. The whole recording process took a while and I’ve been very busy with it. It took a lot of my energy and at one point I seriously doubted the quality of the songs on it. But since its release the positive reactions have just been overwhelming, so now I’m very proud of it. The other guys too. We never expected that the critics and media would love it this much.

How easy is it to let go of something that is done but you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life like an album recorded and released?
-You can work on something for ages and try to improve it until you don’t even know what you’re doing anymore. At some point the material is just ready for the studio, and you’ll just have to wait and hear how it’s turning out. Letting go is sometimes scary because there’s no way back indeed. We had a lot of trust in Harry van Breda who recorded, mixed and mastered the album. And in our opinion it turned out into something we can be proud of. That doesn’t mean that we can’t do better. We’ve learned a lot from this recording process.

How important is the right kind of art work? What wouldn’t have worked on the cover
-Very important! When I walk into a record store, the artwork of an album is the first thing I see. It has to draw your attention. I also think that it has to represent the content of the album. A death metal album with a Nightwish-like cover would be weird. When we were working on the album cover we took a close look at the lyrics. Then Erik Visser made some sketches and we picked one of them for him to work on.

What kind of importance do you place on lyrics? Do they have to fit the music or are they just a necessary evil?
-From every song we write I get a certain ‘vibe’. Then I start writing about whatever comes to my mind. Lyrics turn out violently most of the time, but when you listen to ‘Heartraped’ on our 2010 EP it’s more of a love song, haha! Basically I write about whatever I want. Personal stuff, war, gore, death (and its beauty) and anti-religious extremity… It’s all there. Chuck Schuldiner wrote a lot about issues in life, love, inner conflicts and stuff. It fit in perfectly, so in my opinion it doesn’t have to be about death and gore all the time.

What lyrics are the most death metal in your opinion?
-I honestly don’t have a clue. The most common themes are of course gore, death and anti-Christianity. You could say that these themes are the ‘most death metal’. But I don’t think that they represent death metal. There’s so much freedom in death metal because there are many sub-genres and you can write about whatever you want.

What can we expect in the future from Bodyfarm?
-I hope that you can expect a lot! We are already writing material for the next album, and we’re planning to ge tinto the studio somewhere in early 2013. Until then we’re playing some nice club shows, and we hope to play on some international festivals next year!
Thomas Wouters, guitarist/vocalist Bodyfarm

CATUVOLCUS

We live in a globalized world where there are no real distances between countries and cultures thanks to the Internet. CATUVOLCUS might be from Canada but everything about them screams ancient history. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Can you tell us the story behind the band name? What was so special about this king that you wanted his name to be your band name?
-The band’s name is a gaul word for “battle-wolf” “catu-volcus”. It also represents a gaul chief of the Eburon tribe.

Why is it that other places? History is more interesting than the history of your own country?
-I was born in France back in 1991, I must say that first of all I decided to create Catuvolcus based on my origins. Gaul history is my history!

What is so fascinating about the Gaul period? Was it Asterix (no pun intended) that turned you on to this era?
-I still love those stories but what really inspired me was a book written by Patrick Pion entitled “Celtes et Gaulois”. It is also in this book that I read about Catuvolcus. I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Roman invasions in celtic lands.

What can we learn from that time in history? What kind of stories do you focus on in your music?
-My first album was about paganism and battles but I decided to focus on history since paganism is not the way I see modern spirituality. Catuvolcus is about historical events of the gaulish period.

How does the Gaul fit into the context of black metal? Any particular theme that is particularly interesting?
-This is as Viking fits with Black Metal, history fits with black metal!

When you sing in French does that limit the potential of reaching the fans? Have the world opened up to accept bands singing in other languages than English?
-I do not think so, that is true there is not a lot of French speakers around the globe but that adds spine to the concept. It becomes mysterious and not accessible to all, the one who wants to understand has to stop and read texts.

Does being a three piece black metal band limit you in any way? Can you do whatever you envision you want to do?
-It does not limit us, what does limit us is the distance between every band member. We are all about 2 hours of driving from each other.

What kind of scene are you a part of?
-I don’t really know, maybe Folk Metal scene but I am not sure, Catuvolcus is not that folk. We are not pagan so we cannot say we are in Pagan Metal. This is a reason why I created “Gaul Black Metal” name since we are apart from these scenes.

Canada is a vast but sparsely populated country. How do you play live in a place like that? Do you visit the same places over and over?
-Catuvolcus is not a live band so we do not face this aspect of the vastness of Canada.

What future would you like to see for Catuvolcus?
-Le temps met tout en lumière. «Thalès»

EMBASSY OF SILENCE

A Finnish metal band. Oh crikey! That must be a first. All jokes aside EMBASSY OF SILENCE is another in a long line of bands worth to check out from Finland. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I must admit that I don’t think of Finns as funny people but when I saw your album title ”Antler Velvet” I laughed. What is behind that title?
Ines: Haha, we didn’t really go for any humour there! Antler velvet is the coating that most male deer animals get on their antlers, which they later shed off in a rather gruesome- looking manner. We thought it represents self-discovery and renewing oneself, which is kinda the whole theme behind the album.

The album’s been out a while now. How does it fare? What kind of reactions have you had to it?
Ines: Things are looking rather bright at the moment, we get new fans every day and all of the reviews on our new album have been excellent. The first “batch” of the album is, to my knowledge, nearly sold-out, so it might be that we have to get a new one rolling soon enough.

Does being Finnish put pressure on you to make the national charts? Is it a failure if you don’t make it?
Ines: Actually it takes a lot of the pressure off, since there’s so much metal music being made here, and a vast majority of Finnish musicians really do their stuff, not for topping the lists or making tons of money, but for the love of music.

It seems that wherever you turn in the Finnish wilderness there is a band. What is it that makes you Finns want to play in a band?
Ines: Wish I could answer that. As I said earlier, a lot of metal music is being made in Finland, and I think that’s the key here. It’s not just about being in any type of band, but expressing our feelings and creativity seems to come in its most natural form through metal.

How much of a camaraderie is there between the Finnish metal bands? Is there a greater DIY-ethic among the bands?
Ines: The band circles are small, and especially with small and semi-big names, the solidarity and help-a-brother mentality is quite prominent. For a few examples, if a guy in a friend’s band knows how to do gig audio work, he’s probably going to mix a few gigs, and if a band needs guest musicians on albums or gigs, the help is usually available.

What does it mean when a Finnish band makes it big abroad or wins the Eurovision Song Contest to the rest of the bands? Is there any envy between the bands?
Ines: Winning the Eurovision Song contest (completely hypothetically here, of course, wink wink nudge nudge) wouldn’t earn a band any real respect as such, but it would be considered a brilliant joke. Metal musicians tend to have a good sense of humour about themselves, and I can’t say I’ve really encountered any envy. Most of us are also avid listeners to good music, and although there might be a more or less silent consensus over which bands definitely don’t deserve all the hype, we tend to pat each other on the back a lot and cheer for the other guys.

I often wonder what it is that makes a band find their sound. What was it that made you sound the way that you sound?
Tero: Our basic sound probably originated from the fact that I don’t consume vast amounts of music, but when I do, the styles vary from tender atmospheric stuff to extreme metal. I think I’m good at recognizing the good in any type of music (including the sounds) and use that to my advantage when composing the “skeletons” for our songs. When I learned to free myself from genre limitations and to not think whether “this fits our style”, our sound/style was eventually born. I guess you could call it some sort of “musical madness”. Songs become what they become by following the moods they carry. If a guitar riff sounds Russian, it’ll get played with a Balalaika, and so forth!

How much influence does the Finnish mentality have on the way you compose your songs?
Tero: A huge influence! “A pessimist never gets disappointed and shit was what this was supposed to be”…yeah, just kidding. I don’t think it really plays a role, at least in our orchestra. We do add a pinch of perverse humour now and then, maybe that’s where the Finnish mentality steps in? Then again, in my other band, Saattue (doom metal), I have to try and get really depressed in order to get any compositions done.

The Norwegians are the jolly ones, the Swedes the serious ones and the Finns are the melancholic and dark ones. The Danes are just on the side. How does the Nordic brethren influence you? Does it feel like we are one big family?
Ines: It’s not about the Nordic countries’ circle jerking, it’s more like all of the metal bands around the world have a somewhat strong sense of family, in my opinion. We can’t even say that it’s us here on our cold Northern thrones that are making the best music exclusively, times really have changed when some of the great stuff comes from France, for example! Of course Scandinavia and Finland still are the Holy Grail of metal, no question about that, but we don’t hold some mythical monopoly on the good shit anymore.

What plans do you have for the future?
Ines: We plan on doing gigs in Finland and possibly touring as well later in the autumn. We’ve already begun composing new material, a sound-junkie’s work is never done! There’s still a lot of unchartered territory and we plan to continue our promotional efforts to spread our seed far and wide. Music-wise, of course (cough).

HERETIC

I can’t say that I remember HERETIC from back in the 80s. I might have come upon the name once or twice but I don’t think I ever got to hear the music. Turn to 2012 and that has been rectified. Answers by Glenn Rogers (guitars) and Angelo Espino (bass). Anders Ekdahl ©2012

Why do we see a new Heretic album now?
Glenn: We just feel that there is unfinished business. Heretic has more music to give.

What was it that made you want to reform the band and not start anew?
Glenn: It took a while for Brian Korban to want to play in a band again. Julian Mendez contacted Brian, and started to get it going. As soon as word got out we were offered a slot on a short tour with Malice and Bitch. That’s when we kicked it into gear.

What kind of foundation can you continue to build on? What from the 80s can you take into the 21st century?
Glenn: The band is built on its love of playing music. For whatever reason people respond to our type of Metal. We will just do what we do, and if people like it, then it won’t matter what century we’re in.
Angelo: Our foundation is the one Brian built 25 years ago. So as long as he is at the helm of the band’s song writing, we will remain very consistent. We were all forged from the early 80s thrash scene so what you hear is what you get.

What has the internet meant for the interest in the band over the years? How much have you done to keep the band name alive over the years?
Glenn: The internet is good and bad for bands. The good side is people around the world can reach out to you. Makes it easier to connect with the fans. The bad side is free downloading kills any way to make a living in music.

What was the LA metal scene like back in the 80s? What was it like to be a part of the Metal Blade rooster back then?
Glenn: The LA scene was one big party that went on and on. The thing I remember the most was??? A lot of us don’t remember much. The Metal Blade bands were pretty spread out. We knew the local one’s like Viking, Hirax and Lizzy Borden. For the most part everyone was alright with each other, but you were mainly focused on your own band.
Angelo: The scene was thriving. It’s where it all started so I am very proud to have been part of it. Unfortunately the glam metal scene pushed true metal underground but here we are, back better than ever.

When you were in the middle of it, did it feel like you were a part of something new and fresh? How do you view the progress your kind of metal has made over the years?
Glenn: When we were in it at the time we didn’t think about the scope of what we were doing. We were all trying to get signed, play shows and hopefully make it in the business.
Angelo: We knew we were a part of something special. Metal has branched off into so many sub-genres. Some good, some, well…

How much different is today’s metal scene in LA? Where do you fit in today?
Glenn: The metal scene is underground in LA. Most local shows bring in about 50 to 100 people. Back in the day you could get 300 people in to a show. Like in Spinal Tap the audience has grown more selective.
Angelo: It’s refreshing to see there is a metal scene, but it’s total shit compared to where it was back in the day. Where we fit in is up to the people who buy our records though.

How have the metal sound evolved since you started? Where will Heretic fit in today’s metal scene? What kind of bands are there for you to play with?
Glenn: Metal still sounds the same to me. Loud drums, guitars and bass with some screaming in a mic. Most shows will have a lot of different styles of metal.

What kind of expectations do you have on the new album? What is it that you want it to achieve for you?
Glenn: The goal is still the same as it was in the 80s. We want to write and record songs for metal fans to enjoy. If we sell alot of CDs that would be great too.
Angelo: I have no expectations. We just wanted to write and record the best record possible. I hope people like it and it’s well received. We hope to get some great European festivals from it.

What more can we expect from Heretic now that you are back?
Glenn: We plan to record more CDs and tour a much as we can.
Angelo: World domination.

MORTALICUM

Another Swedish metal band to be discovered. MORTALICUM might not be the next Hammerfall but they still deserves your attention. Answers by Patrick Backlund (bass). Anders Ekahl ©2012

I kinda pride myself in knowing all Swedish metal bands but you guys are new to me. Why is it that I haven’t heard of you before?
– Hi there Anders! Well, it’s tricky for me to answer that… but I guess it proves that you are not too old to learn new tricks…!

There seems to be a Swedish heavy metal revival going on with a hell of a lot of bands getting noticed. Do you feel that you too can benefit from this interest?
– It’s good and fun that metal is alive and kicking, but it’s tough competition to get noticed so I’m not sure really. Hopefully it’s beneficial for us!

Where do you draw your inspiration from? What would you say has been the defining detail in the band’s sound?
– Good old heavy music like old Black Sabbath, but also from far too many bands to mention. We also add some classic Heavy Metal to the mix simply because we like that stuff. We want our music to be heavy but we also want to put some energy, emotions and melodies in there.

Where do you see yourself fit into the international heavy metal scene? What are your ambitions with the band?
– It’s really up to others to label our music. We just play the stuff we love! Hard rock, heavy metal and doom… Our ambition is to make great music, play live and to have fun doing it!

What is it that sets your metal apart from all other metal bands in the world?
– Maybe it’s Henrik’s clean vocals vs the doom sound? We think it’s a good thing!

Does having an album out make the band seem more real than if you just keep releasing demos?
– Absolutely! No question at all about that! We have two albums out now so we must be really real! It’s much easier to get attention from an album than from demos only.

What kind of expectations did you have on the album and how well have they been realized?
– It’s always a bit nervous to release an album. We thought it was more nervous with this album than the first, because for the second one fans have expectations of their own. We were really happy with how it turned out so we hoped it would be approved by the fans and critics and it really has so far, so we’re very satisfied!

When you have an album out, does it make it easier to get gigs and tours? Are people more willing to take you serious when you have something to show?
– Not really. It’s not a disadvantage, but it’s still not that easy to get gigs. But of course people take a band more seriously when you have a couple of albums out.

Have you painted a most desirable scenario for the band that you’d like to see happen?
– In the beginning, before the line-up and everything was complete, I had a desire to be able to play abroad with the band and we’ve now managed to play in the UK and are also booked for a festival in Malta so in that sense we have fulfilled what we wished for. But, we still would like to be able to play live more often.

What future is there for the band?
– I’m bad at predicting the future, so for now we will just sit back and enjoy the ride! Hopefully we’ll be able to have a few more albums out and also play live in more countries like Germany, Holland, France, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Spain, Austria, USA etc… and more in Sweden of course!