Thursday, November 28, 2013

...a necessary moving : CARNE "Ville Morgue" (Album Review)

After releasing their debut EP “Metropolis” on Atropine Records in 2010, CARNE recently returned - this time via Solar Flare rds - with their first full-length album “Ville Morgue” which sees the brutish duo from Lyon (France) affirming themselves as one of our most promising acts regarding all kind of heavy and tortured sounds ... 
A duo ? yes, indeed, Carne consists in two tormented minds on guit/vocals and drums who blend in an uncompromisingly way sludgy HC mid-tempos and Noise Rock - refering to some of the filthiest US sounds of the 90's (think about Unsane and Buzz-oven); add to this, cold and dark reminiscences of post-industrial stuff who put the band definitely in this century and you've got now a better idea of what to expect from this winding assault !

Angry, heavy, grinding, sluggish, yet always catchy, most of the songs include accurate tempo-changes within. For example 'Crown of Porns" or 'Chien Noir' basically move along in a sludgy, abrasive pace with Carne delivering nasty, slow-burning riffs and pounding drums, and can turn quite suddenly into something savagely up-beated ... and vice-versa for other tunes as 'We are the Romanoes' or '1000 Beers' who see the duo sliding into a full hammering of intense riffs and furious hooks with an impressive menacing snarl in the vocal delivery, possibly deviating at one point to something more dark and tortured...  

But in fact, where CARNE bleakly excels and in my opinion stands out of the masses is "in between" the extremes -, where the disturbance reach peaks of anger and mesmerizing heaviness with an enhanced place for fragility and dementia... The 3rd song 'Fear Trade' has that chaotic vibe, insidious and unsettling but 'Slave/Her' is undoubtedly the highlight of the album with 'Ville Morgue', streching themselves across a full alienation spectrum. Vocals sound here more neurotic, still titanic the tone is more tensed and oppressive, until a piercing riffage accompanies demented  guest vocals by Marion (Overmars, Abronzius), a song that cuts right through you. The closing title track ('Ville Morgue' - amazing and aptly choosen name !) starts on a furious blasting tempo, angry and noisy, even if just clocking at five minutes, it's quickly asphyxiating you with a maelstrom of vicious noise - full of reverb, dissonance and sickness. 

Does this solid release mark a deliverance from what could be read as the story of an uncontrolled rising mental alienation ? hopefully not, those guys are just at the dawn of a promised productive carreer, from the EP period they've yet refined their powerful collision of noise and Sludge but have more to explore, more souls to torment and devour... time will prove it I'm sure and for you french fags I'll end this one easily with something like : d'eux on ne dira jamais...'Carne'(?)(:) 'assez' !!! -  désolé ;)  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

...a vile summoning: SERVANTS OF THE MIST 'Suicide Death Pact' (Album review)

That's almost a pure coïncidence again (well, ok , I could have posted this one tomorrow or the day after!), but -  after a review on the nice female Doom band Mist yesterday (by Brendan Butler), let me now present you SERVANTS OF THE MIST !!! as you may already imagine, we're not exactly speaking about the same genre of Doom and even if those 5 guys from Tampa can be occasionally nicely well-dressed (see video below), they are by far more malevolent than the slovenian ladies ! 

If SERVANTS OF THE MIST' sound encompasses all the facets of raw Doom power, the quintet is rather another new mammoth from this definitely very HEAVY southern state; probably the rawest and most venomous at more than a few hundred miles around (yet the local environment includes ripping bands like Shroud Eater and Hollow Leg), clearly more on the modern genre of funeral Sludge/Doom than the mentioned comparses.

All along the 3 songs included, ruthlessly, the band utililizes that typical monolithic guitar tone with ridiculous amounts of fuzz and distortion, supported by abominable growls and screeching vocals. Swamps certainly aren't far, but the moods set place to a cold and dark world of  horror and torture, this is harsh and makes makes no doubt to put them instantly in the Top of the most earth-shatteringly heavy bands of the world ! 
The more the affair goes on, the more triumphant and crawling the tempos are, including in the closing title song some sort of invocated words that make the mood turn into a kind of voodoo damnation... This obscure ritualistic touch is enhanced by the fingers of lead guitarist on solos of songs 2 & 3 which are immensely throbbing and in the last minutes draining all that accumulated aching sorrow in hallucinated dementia... just fucking great ! 

Seemingly soaked in hopelessness, this 30 minutes malignant manifesto encapsulates a tasty turmoil of all the negative sides of human emotion (pain, hate, despair, frustration) as if the band decided the world had to know their suffering ! Ultimately, innovation rests with the blend of styles itself rather than in any original take on the basic elements,  but the servants are of those who understood that there's countless ways to kill someone by the jugular...Self-released on December 10th, 'Suicide Sex Pact' has everything to become a classic in terms of experience, while looking forward for a full length album (the sooner the better, sometimes the other life doesn't wait too long to take you to it)...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

... femmes fatales : a review of MIST 'demo'

Ever heard of a place called Slovenia? Well, it may seem an obvious place to you readers living in Europe, but as an American with little knowledge of geography I must admit I had to look it up on a map. Just so you know Slovenia is left of Italy, below Austria, to the right of Hungary and just above Croatia…there, now that you’ve met your quota of geography for the day let me get to the point.

Slovenia is home to a band of fine musicians called Mist. Mist would seem like your normal occult themed doom band—and they are—except for the fact that all five of the members are very attractive young woman. I didn’t assume anything of the music based on this fact; I have seen many women perform very well in a variety of metal bands and let face it, sexism is better left to the past. I spun their demo, unimaginatively titled “Demo 2013”, several times and then several more times. Let me tell you, I’m hooked.

Reviewing a band’s music based off two tracks is tricky. Often times is doesn’t allow a good cross section of all a band has to offer. In the case of Mist their tracks “Phobia” and “The Living Dead” gave me a reasonable idea of what to expect from these five women of doom.

The opener “Phobia” is easily the best song of the two with excellent riffs, fantastic vocals and great lead work. The tone of the song is drenched in an occult gloom which I found much to my liking with whispering doubled over the chorus and plenty of tri tone riffage. Overall it sounds like a solid slab of traditional doom. Unfortunately “The Living Dead” doesn’t follow suit.

“The Living Dead,” proves to be the more upbeat of the duo, abandoning the creepy riffing of “Phobia” and attempting to capture a more traditional heavy metal sound. Is the song good? Yes. Is it outstanding? No. One of the stronger points of “Phobia” was Nina Spruk’s powerful and lilting vocal delivery. This vocal style is cast away on “The Living Dead,” and replaced with an aggressive, almost punk delivery which I found less then satisfying. Between the change in mood and vocal style, the difference between the two songs is abrupt and jarring leaving me to wonder if these ladies are still trying to figure out their angle.

Having said this, don’t let this minor point deter you from checking out this fine, albeit short demo from Slovenia. The instrumentation is solid, the vocals are powerful and the production is strong. My only other complaint besides style inconsistencies is that I’ve listened to this demo about twenty times and I don’t know how long I’m going to have to wait for the full album; all I can say is that I hope they hurry up and record it already; I want some more.

words by Brendan Butler

Monday, November 25, 2013

... poets of tragedy : an Interview with LORELEI

The name “Lorelei” is associated in German folk culture with Greek sirens, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. Though the Rhine is not the Strait of Messina, the river kept its danger as well. The legend inspired Heinrich Heine, List and some other poets and composers. Theatre of Tragedy devoted a song to this legend and now a Russian band took the name of Lorelei. The name is chosen well enough, since it describes everything the legend tells us about: death and tragedy with the enchanting female voice. Lorelei is playing a very quality death-doom, enriched by soprano and growl vocals. If you didn’t manage to come across with this band, this interview will be a fine opportunity to get acquainted with it. Moreover, I (Aleksey) never advised you anything which is not worth your attention…. except one case, perhaps… Anyway, today our guests are Alexei Ignatovich (guitar), Marina Ignatovich (keyboards), Ksenia Mikhailova (soprano) and Alexander Grischenko (bass).

Hi everybody! Since Lorelei has existed since 2003, I can’t help but ask you about the main facts of the band’s  history. Where have you been all this time? What inspired you to start the project?
Alexei: Hi, Alexei! That’s right, formally the band was founded in 2003. That time we lived in a small Siberian town (Chita, Zabaikalsky Region). But even before that we made some attempts to start the project and gathered a band in 1999, but we succeeded in this only four years later when Marina joined the band. The line-up changed from time to time: from duet to several people. But in the course of all this time only Marina and I have been in the band and continued our project.   In 2002, inspired by H. Heine’s poem “Lorelei” we chose it as a name for our band. The same year we wrote a song “Lorelei”.
Since that time we’ve continued with the music. But earlier the band was more of a hobby and we even didn’t think to offer our music to listeners. But sometimes when the line-up was full we took part in concerts and small festivals. In 2007 we were invited to take part in a festival in Irkutsk and after it recorded a demo, consisting of 4 songs.
But after it something went wrong and the band broke up. We tried form a new line-up several times but our attempts were not successful. In 2008 we moved to Moscow.
Marina: In Moscow we formed a new line-up. It has changed a little and now the line-up is almost formed.
Now Lorelei is:
Ksenia Mikhailova – soprano vocal
Marina Ignatovich – keyboards
Alexei Ignatovich – guitar
Andrei Osokin – guitar
Alexander Grischenko – bass
In 2011 we recorded EP album “Ston Razbitoy Dushy” (“Mourn of the Torn Soul”) in recording studio “Primordial Studio”. We included in the album songs of different periods of the band’s history, that’s why a definite genre of it can hardly be defined. It was our first experience of a studio recording.
Alexei: During that time me and Marina started to work on new material, which differed greatly from what we did before. We wanted our music to be heavier, deeper and more melodic. We saw it as a fine combination of heavy guitar section, melodic keyboards parts and contrasting duet of low growls and tender soprano.
Finally, we managed to bring our idea into life 2 years later in the album “Ugrumye Volny Studenogo Morya” (“Gloomy Waves of the Cold Sea”)…

But, as far as I understand, you didn’t plan to use a female vocal in your music, didn’t you? Do you have any sketches that were not used in the album?
Marina: In fact, we always saw our music with a female vocal and considered it, as well as growls, as an important part of it. Before Ksenia joined us we had an experience of implementing female vocal in our music. We were amazed by the beauty of Ksenia’s voice at once, and it fitted the music greatly. We are glad to feel her devotion and see development of her skills. As for sketches, we have included in the album everything we planned to. By all means we have some sketches, but they have a little to do with the album.

I know, that besides Lorelei’s line-up some guest musicians from well-known doom-metal bands took parts in the recording of the album. The album mixing was done in Sweden. Will you tell us some words about it?
Alexei: That’s true, among the invited musicians are E.S. (Who Dies in Siberian Slush, Decay of Reality) who performed parts for growls and Vladimir Lyashkov (Beheaded Zombie, Decay of Reality) who performed the drum parts. In 2011 on one of the doom-metal gigs in Moscow we heard E.S. growls live and we thought it a fine idea to invite E.S. for the recording of the album, since his growls is exactly the one we wanted to hear in our music. We are glad that his vocals fitted the music extremely well.
Thanks to Vladimir Lyashkov’s efforts the music became rich and deep in sound. He perfectly performed the drum parties I spent so much time on, while composing them. This album was also recorded at Primordial Studio. But for Hater’s (the owner of the studio) experience in recording and his friendly attitude to us, the process of the recording of the albums wouldn’t have been so nice. We overcame all the difficulties with utmost ease.
Then we sent the recorded song to Sweden for mixing. It was a new experience for us. We chose among several studios. Finally we decided to work with Dead Dog Farm Studio represented by Jerry Torstensson from Draconian. He did a really great job and we are extremely satisfied with the results.

How do you like the term “gothic” in connection with your music? Some time ago this term conveyed negative meaning like this music is only for girls and “please will you spare me this My Dying Bride”.
Alexei: I wouldn’t like to judge about music genres in terms how good or bad they are. I believe that both the so called “music for girls” and My Dying Bride have their own fans. It’s up to everybody to decide what music to listen to.  As for us, we try not to fit our music in some particular genre. There was time when we were interested in gothic, our demo-album of 2007 is a good example of that. Perhaps, now we are a bit tired of it. For the present moment we make no connection with gothic, even though there is growls-soprano duet in it. We try to make music our own and reflect in it  what we feel is important, though sometimes it contradicts some features of the genre.

On the website of Solitude Productions it’s pointed that the tracks are filled with professional soprano.  And that’s true, if you listen to any of the tracks where Ksenia sings you’ll hear her fine voice. Where did you study? Did you want to sing in a metal band?
Ksenia: I did want to sing in a metal band. More than that, I wanted to sing in a band whose music doesn’t leave cold. I fancied it to be not only technically well but harmonious, beautiful  and inspiring as well. We got acquainted with guys in the internet, though we lived and studied in one and the same town. I joined the band. I was glad that they needed  soprano and I couldn’t help but admired the way they worked. It looked as if they were professionals though they were not, in fact.
I remember I’ve been singing all my life. I finished music school and the teachers encouraged me to apply to music college, but I chose the career of a dentist.  But being a student of the medical academy I couldn’t  give up music and singing, and for this reason I joined the Academy’s chorus. Then I realized that I wanted to sing solo and began to take music lessons with a teacher. Then I left Chita and even dreamed to enter the Academy of music. Now I continue with music lessons with Maria Belokurskaya.

Did you tell your teacher about your work with Lorelei? What did she tell you about it? And what’s the attitude of your relatives towards your occupation?
Ksenia: I told Maria (my teacher) that I sing in a metal band. And to my big surprise, she supported me greatly in it. Almost all teachers of vocal are against such hobbies of their students, especially if it’s heavy music. Of course it’s a great responsibility  due to the peculiarities of opera vocal. But we work hard and I do my best not to bring harm to my voice.  I showed Maria Lorelei’s tracks and moreover we work on the vocal parties at the lessons, especially at complicated ones. This is a great experience for me. Everything I can do is but for my teacher, she is a true professional. I must say that the parties wouldn’t have been performed so well if it were not for her, for her efforts. Unfortunately, we had little time to prepare for the recording, but still when listening the album my teacher said that everything sounded rather professional, as if we were professionals, not amateurs. As for my relatives I can say that my mom has never shared my hobby and didn’t understand why I still go on with singing if I can’t sing like Anna Netrebko. J But when she heard “Gloomy Waves…” she changed her attitude towards what I’m doing. Of course, like every mother she didn’t like growls and even asked if growls participation is necessary… J
Alexander: Since I am not a professional my relatives are absolutely calm, and treat it as a hobby.

As far as I understand Romanticism and Renaissance literature form the basis of your lyrics and band’s concept on in general. How important is to reflect these elements in your music and lyrics?
Alexei: In fact there are no elements of Renaissance literature in our music or lyrics, except for Petrarch’s sonnet which we took for one of our tracks since it reflected perfectly the concept and the mood of the album. It unites all the tracks, making them an indivisible whole. “The Gloomy Waves…” shows the insignificance of a man’s life in a cruel world, which pulls the strings of his life, leading him to destruction. It’s compared to   the raging sea destroying a frail boat, which cannot resist its might.
The basis of the lyrics roots in Russian literature, Romanticism and Silver Age of Russian poetry, which inspired me greatly. We tried not to use elements of this or that literary genre deliberately, not to make it sound like cliché. Lyrics and music cannot exist apart; they are in a fine proportion where music reflects the lyrics building a particular mood.

Do these features of classical art are reflected somehow in your music or you rather continue the tradition of death doom with gothic elements whereas all the Renaissance elements remains only in your lyrics.
Alexei: We are trying to combine classical music with death-doom. Though we deeply respect the founders of the genre we try to find our own way, we understand that repeating someone’s ideas in music would be odd, since you it will never be unique. We reflect theideas, features of classical art, Romanticism  both in music and lyrics.

You mean some subjective Romanticism? To what degree is “Gloomy Waves…” autobiographical? It’s not an accidental question. You know different genres demand different approaches to express feelings and emotions. For instance, it’s enough to say “life is shit, there is no money” for the representatives of so-called Russian Rock movement, but here lyrics are full of stylistic devices… I think I’ve brought myself to dead-lock
Alexei: I believe that poetry as it is, is subjective, because it reflects the inner world of a person. This is characteristic not only for Romanticism but for any other genre as well. “Gloomy Waves…” is autobiographical to some degree.
As for lyrics, I can say that the way the author expresses his thoughts depends on him. Some people like realism and express their ideas and emotions straight, the others like symbolism, based on the author’s sufferings.  The ideas here are often implicit here.

The most unique band of this genre is Theatre of Tragedy, their approach to their music was always integrated, though the genre of the music changed several times. Are there any bands of this genre that are perfect examples to you? Would you ever change the genre of you music so radically as Theatre of tragedy?
Marina: I totally agree, that Theatre of Tragedy is a fine band with perfect ideas and wonderful lyrics, especially of the early period. There are also many other good bands. However we don’t stick to a particular genre and listen to music of different styles and genres. In my opinion, this strict conformity to traditions, this orthodoxy, if I may say so, kills the creativity. You cannot follow one and the same canon all the time. In the final and the music will be exhausted. The changes are inevitable but I don’t think that in our music they will be as radical as in Theatre of Tragedy music.

Ok. Thank you for the interview! I wish you success in everything you do.
And thank you for interesting questions and I wish you all the best back. There are lot of talented people in Russia, but due to different reasons they give up. We would like to wish them to be more confident, since all difficulties and obstacles exist to be overcome!
Wishing all the listeners all the best!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

...preparing for the Apocalypse: SEA OF BONES – ‘The Earth Wants Us Dead’

Few bands manage to match their chosen moniker with the music they play with such precision and accuracy as Connecticut three-piece Sea of Bones - a band whose name more than adequately describes the desolate, laid-to-waste atmospherics that is as suggestive of a great pestilence as it is of evoking visions of the remnants of a centuries old hecatomb. The band has also managed to release an album that rivals the malignant, misanthropic sludge/doom of Fister’s ‘Gemini’, an album that until this point was unmatched in terms of downtuned, acerbic sludgery in 2013. At six tracks and a runtime of over ninety minutes Sea of Bones’ ‘The Earth Wants Us Dead’ is a harrowing journey that tests the listener’s propensity for enduring prolonged exposure to seismic, gut-wrenching riffs, tortured vocals, and atmospheric blight on a grand scale.

The potent album opener “The Stone the Slave and the Architect” recalls the earth-quaking rumble found on Conan’s ‘Monnos’, and it relentlessly heaves and struggles under its own weight for nearly nine minutes. While ‘The Earth Wants Us Dead’ is, at its basest level, an exercise in monolithic, slow-motion drudgery, most of the tunes are embellished with enough subtle tempo changes and ambient textures to keep the album moving, albeit it at a glacial pace. “Failure of Light” is the best example of how the band deftly manages to include spacier moments into their uncompromising aural battery, particularly with the song’s intro. Despite the trippy calm, it doesn’t take long for “Failure of Light” to devolve into another writhing, unsettled beast of a track. Following in a similar vein to “Failure of Light” is the album standout “The Bridge”. Distant drums, calm, undulating noise, and clean guitar slowly build into what is one of the finest tracks on the album. After a four minute smolder, “The Bridge” launches into a mid-paced chug that is reminiscent of Neurosis’ “Through Silver in Blood”. If ‘The Earth Wants Us Dead’ gets released as a CD it’s going to be a two disc set, which leads to the closing title-track—an album in itself due to its forty minute runtime. As the entirety of ‘The Earth Wants Us Dead’ progresses so does the inclusion of ambient noise, a trend that peaks and ultimately conquers with the eponymous album closer—an instrumental tune wrought with a tension that falls somewhere between serenity and escalating dread.  

Sea of Bones have released one of the ugliest sludge/doom albums of the year, not an easy feat considering some of the band’s competition from the likes of both Fister and In the Company of Serpents. Despite the album’s ugliness there are still fleeting moments of calm, though they are inevitably engulfed by heaving waves of distortion. If it wasn’t for the group’s deft handling of ethereal sounds and ambient textures, ‘The Earth Wants Us Dead’ could run the risk of falling prey to gratuitous, mind-numbing repetition. Instead, the band has crafted a subtly dynamic album that pays off in the long run. Fans of Neurosis, Conan, Yob, and even Gravecode Nebula should appreciate Sea of Bones’ brand of atmospheric sludge.

Words: Steve Miller

... RUN AFTER TO 'Run After To/Gjinn and Djinn' (Album Review)

When I was young I wanted to be an explorer, to traverse the dark places of earth and see things that no one else had ever seen. Unfortunately, I was a boy during the 1990s and early 2000s; a time of rising technological innovations the likes of GPS and satellite imaging. What’s the point of traveling to remote locations when you can simple go there in the comfort of your own home via Google earth? In short, I left my dream of exploration and adventure behind and delved into the seemingly bottomless mass of obscure metal instead.

Many years later, Shadow Kingdom Records sends me a piece of gold, a re-release of an utterly obscure and forgotten band from Italy with the enigmatic moniker: Run After To. Naturally I was intrigued. The band formed in 1983, released a demo entitled “Gjinn and Djinn” in 1985, a self-titled EP in 1988 and then, disappeared. After decades of neglect, these two recordings have been re-mastered and paired together for one hell of a listening experience.
But before I get ahead of myself with the accolades I must admit, I was not completely sold on Run After To. The first three songs, though better produced and containing a show of greater musicianship then the following six tracks, came across as cheesy. These three tracks make up the bands 1988 self-titled EP and sound less like the proto doom I was expecting and more like an 80’s soft metal band the likes of Metal Church, with the added embarrassment of some truly schlocky keyboard sections and vocals delivered with eyebrow raising half-heartedness.

To be fair, the Run After To EP is not all bad. In fact, there are some real standout performances, particularly in the bass lines which bring to mind the finessed noodlings of Geezer Butler and Martin Swaney. The opening track, “Who Cries for the Children” in particular has some spectacular riffing while the EP’s 12 minute closer “My Name is Man” has one hell of an extended solo. All in all however, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the remaining six songs luckily I forged on.

Once “Gjinn and Djinn” kicked off with “Occultism” I was enthralled. Here was the music I was expecting: dark, heavy, and containing more riffs then you can shake a stick at. This is Proto Doom at its best containing the melodic edge of NWOBHM, whilst still dishing out punishingly heavy riffs. As far as its production value goes, “Gjinn and Djinn” is much rawer then “Run After To” but this does little to dampen its effect on the listener, in fact in some ways it enhances the experience.

To be honest, after listening to “Occultism” (a song Paul Chain covered in his 1984 Violet Theatre EP, Detaching from Satan), “Walking on the Rainbow” and the impossibly heavy “Visions” I am now convinced that the “Gjinn and Djinn” demo belongs next to the other standout recordings in a time when Doom Metal was just being born. This includes; Pentagram’s “Relentless” Witchfinder General’s “Death Penalty” and Candlemass’s “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus.” 

After years of listening to strange and unheard of bands the genre of so-called “Pop Music” makes little sense to me now. How can radio friendly music that is heard everywhere across the globe challenge the listener? How can a person be satisfied in simply turning a knob on their radio and have instant music? “Run After To” is all but unknown, save for those looking for something truly obscure. It is satisfying knowing that bands like this exist and are just waiting to be discovered.

words by Brendan E. Butler

Friday, November 22, 2013

... Interview with Norway's rising force : TOMBSTONES !!!

Damn shit, reviewing has never been something easy for your servitor, especially when it's about a striking album like 'Red Skies and Dead Eyes' which got wide attention and multiple stunning reviews over the few past weeks from the most competent blogs on my radar (ici ou  for example), I did it recently for bands like Beelzefuzz  and Stone Magnum... but rather than using tons of superlatives again and in the end having another bitter state in what still looks like my mouth, regarding my too limited and redundant way of reviewing, I thought it would be cool to have a different focus on this excellent stoned Doom band and crushing album through a few accurate questions to bassist Ole ... Watch out for Tombstones, a massive roaring monster of fuzz and northern bleakness !!! 

The musical development on this new album is maybe not as surprising as between 1st and 2nd albums, this time it’s more the production work that makes difference with a thick, fuzzy and dynamic sound and definitely a more and more doomed approach as the album is going, what’s been your reflection towards the composition and production of this new album ?
Sitting here with the final product at hand, I can say we are happy with, and proud of the result. As on "Year of the Burial", we had a very clear vision of how we wanted the album to sound, and I think we nailed it to the point. The main goal of recording it as raw, live and primal as we do, is to re-create the feeling we, and hopefully the audience achieve during live shows. We have great fun while playing and always try to catalyze that into the final product of recording. One shall feel the music, not only hear it. As composition goes, the whole album was written in a relatively short period of time, with extensive rehearsal the months prior to recording. We have dug up a couple of riffs from the past, and combined them with our approach of 2013'. The preparing-process was intense this time around, and that feeling of fresh energy hopefully shows on the final outcome.

If we compare the Tombstones from “Vol II” and what you have achieved here on the new album, it feels like the classical Stoner Rock has been devoured by awesome roaring Stoned Doom, how do you explain this maturation ? new influences maybe ? did the loss of your former guitarist and friend Jonas Martin Sørmo have an influence in the hardening of your sound ? 
That transition was even more dramatic from "Volume II" to "Year of the Burial", but yes, it's fair to say Jonas' death had severe impact on the general mood of the sound we wanted to put out. Something happened with our mindset, and that shows in the riffs we brought to rehearsals. Being a three-piece also welcomed more extreme and compact heavy riffery, which all of us enjoyed. We felt we brought something new to the table as an entity.

There’s been 18 months between “Vol II” and “Year of the Burial”, then again 18 months to release “red skies and dead eyes”, is that an immuable rhythm of release for Tombstones like something you feel reasonable while you could hardly do things more quickly or will a new 4th album be released before April 2015 thinking you’re in a very positive dynamic that needs to be looked after ?
Hehe! Has it really been 18 months both times? That is a funny coincidence. As of now we don't have any plans to enter the studio again in the near future, but on the other hand, that wasn't the case after "YotB" was released either. "Red Skies and Dead Eyes" is just out and hopefully it will generate some live-action for us. But of course there will be another album. New songs are slowly growing in the back of the mind.

“Red skies and dead Eyes” has been recently album of the day at, that’s often the sign of an upcoming participation at the fest and there’s still a few names to announce… is there a chance to see you there or at other European festivals next spring ? (HDDT pleaaaase !)
Yeah, being album of the day at Roadburn was a great honour for us! We would love to play lots of festivals, but nothing is planned as of now. To take part in the Roadburn-lineup is a dream we have had for years, and we really hope it will be reality some day. This goes for HDDT aswell. I have sent them an email, letting them know of our interest. Their lineup in Copenhagen this year was mental. Feel free to let them know you want us to play there! Hehe! 

In September you took part at the 1st Hostsabbat fest in Oslo gathering the best of the actual Norwegian scene, must have been pretty awesome times ? you had the luck to play the same night as Lamented Souls, a very rare band , was that a special appearance or are they still active and plan something ?
Yeah, Høstsabbat was an incredible weekend. So much fun, and so many great bands. Huge success. Keep your eyes peeled for next year!
We actually played on saturday, and Lamented Souls played friday, but we caught the gig nevertheless. They played a killer set! I have the impression it was a one-off show, but you never know. They are occupied with so many good bands, I don't know how much time the are granting Lamented Souls

You do regularly play with cool local and international bands in your country but also had the luck to play a couple of times in England this year, is that definitely a different feel to play in foreign lands, get to see new people, conquer new fans, etc… ?
Yeah, it is very exciting to play abroad. Our gateway to England was the show at Desertfest in april, which was totally killer! The tour in october was also a rad experience, we had a major blast and met some really awesome people. We are returning to the UK next year, and we can't wait.

Your music can sure bring numerous images to mind but is that really arisen from the bleak woods of Norway as the promo sheet says ? are you guys living among wolves and hunting seals, whales and bears like all normal norwegians ?! More seriously, how do you think your local situation can influence your music ? Do you know Ocean Chief and their northern Doom ?
Haha! Yeah, we live amongst wild wolves and bears, hunting demons with our bow and arrow! Jokes aside- All of us live in the Oslo-area nowadays, but we're born and raised in the deep Finnskogen woods, on the border to Sweden. So our fascination for deep and dark woods are highly authentic. I am sure our dark winters play a role in our music, at least that's the case for me. It's during that time of the year the riffs appear.. while the daylight loses against darkness. Ocean Chief are great!!

What’s next now for Tombstones ? do you have any dates confirmed for the next months ? Can you confirm the merchandising actually available ?
We have a couple of gigs lined up before Christmas in Norway, and in february we're touring Europe again, also visiting Paris! We're teaming up with UK-stoners Widows. Killer live-band. We're on the road from february 1st through february 9th. Come catch us on stage!!  Both "Red Skies and Dead Eyes" and "Year of the Burial" are available on both vinyl and CD. "Volume II" only on CD.. We have a small selection of jerseys and patches for sale at gigs.
Thank you again for your time and hope to see you on the road!

... ALBATROSS / VESTAL CLARET 'The Kissing Flies / Black Priest' Split CD (Review)

When Philip Swanson says underground, it's not just lip service: After having stumbled upon Indian metal enthusiasts Albatross, the man did not hesitate and instigated a joint release with his sadly still widely overlooked band Vestal Claret. The Indian label's CD comes in a tastefully layouted gatefold papersleeve including a booklet an, of course Albatross' song cycle "The Kissing Flies" as well as a longtrack by the American party.
The Intro "Wither" (some acoustic boredom by Rat King's Murari Vasudevan) segues into straight Eighties banger "Uncle Sunny At The Tavern", an oddball horror story in the vein of Mercyful Fate, not least due to Biprorshee Das' theatrical singing. Both guitarists love their leads, so comparisons with the Great Dane and his henchmen are quite justified. Ten-minute highlight "Kissing Flies" shows Wolf's Niklas Stålvind as a guest in dialogue with the front man. The musical fundament is comparatively unassuming, maybe apart from some prominent fretless bass parts that establish a distinguishable motif. Riju's remarkable, low buzz are also the icing on the exceptionally sinister cake which is "From Ashes Comes Life". Here, we hear another vocalist (screamer) as well, namely The Demonstealer from Indian colleagues Demonic Resurrection. Perhaps thanks to their relative isolation, Albatross generally sound rather original. As compared to their debut "Dinner Is You", the music seems more dynamic in terms of tempo and mood, thus giving the impression of some kind of mini opera. With their raw, yet crafty style, the group should be well received in Europe, given the current "retro" climate within the metal scene.

Vestal Claret, though, are able to top Albatross' contribution. Their 18-minute piece takes all the time it needs to really get going: At first, Swanson appears to evoke a black mass, then clean guitars give way to distortion. The trio sounds close to epic doom now, yet with less pathos than true gothic flair, which has always been one of the group's main characteristics. The lyrics remain cryptic as usual, and Tuozzoli's leads are more than just a bit touching at times. Come half time - you almost expected it - Vestal Claret become faster, and because of their simple riffing alongside eerie chorus vocals sound very British - yet finally, the threesome find their way back to where they came from, resulting in an overall hypnotic, compelling composition that whets your appetite for a complete album ... by both groups, mark you.
words by Andreas Schiffmann

Thursday, November 21, 2013

... Interview with ABSENT/MINDED

If you search for new and fresh sludgy death doom metal, then let me introduce you Absent/Minded from Bamberg of German Bavaria. The band is active since 2009 and until recently those  men had just one solid full-length album “Pulsar”. Yet on July 12th , Absent/Minded did release their second work “Earthtone” and it sounds damned heavy and honest.  Jürgen Frohling, band’s drummer, is here to spread the words of Doom and Death amongst us!

Hail Jürgen! How are you man? Of course new album of Absent / Minded “Earthtone” is main news, but let me start with one simple question – how did you get into the band?
Hello, I´m fine!
Well, in the spring of 2009 I searched for musicians to make some downtempo stuff or something like that. After a short time I found our guitarist Uwe. Micha, a friend of him, entered the band with his bass guitar... a friend of mine, Steve, grabbed the microphone: ABSENT/ MINDED was born.

I see that you were involved in few different bands and projects, so can you say that Absent / Minded is main one for you?
Yes, Absent/ Minded is main for me. My 2nd band is My Shameful. But the founder and songwriter Sami lives in Helsinki. So we have no regular rehearsals.

How did you forge band’s sound through the years? Absent / Minded has recognizable “hollow” and “groovy” sound on the edge of sludge and death doom, so I wonder what kind of feelings did you put into your songs?
During the first 3-4 songs we didn’t have a clear idea how Absent Minded should sounding like. We just wanted to transport a lot of energy. And we didn´t want to copy our idols or other bands. We had to grow thru the years to find our own sound and our own kind of working.
Each member of the band connects own meanings with the songs on a different way. We have no main- songwriter. We are all a part of this thing. When we start writing songs it doesn´t matter where the ideas come from. My personal feelings I put into the songs are rage, sadness, relaxation and happiness.

And does that sort of therapy work in your case? Do you feel real therapeutic effect of such practice?
Oh yes, the most times it works. But I would it not call therapeutic effect. It´s more like a liberating effect.
Things like rage or sadness for example wanna flow. And I just let it flow into the songs. And of course: it makes a lot of fun to rock our songs with the guys!  

Jürgen, one of most famous bands in which you did play is My Shameful, how does this experience reflect in your work with Absent / Minded? And how do you work over new stuff? Does everyone in the band have their part in song writing?
Well, a few years ago I played in a couple of bands with a higher speed level, black/deathmetal or something. I still love blastbeats. In 2007 I joined My Shameful a few weeks before our Doom Shall Rise gig. It was difficult to switch from blastbeats to funeral doom. But it was awesome. I always liked it to play slow stuff like Deftones or My dying bride. But with the experience in My Shameful I changed more and more from high speed technical drumming to mid/ downtempo- heavy beats. It´s wonderful to create a lot of different moods with this kind of grooves! 
The most time when we work with new material we are all together in the rehearsal room. Sometimes it starts with a simple theme, sometimes anyone have some riffs or beats ... that´s different. Then we let it grow.
And I hope we gonna find a new label for My Shameful and for the new record. The recordings are done already.

Oh! So I have to ask you about new My Shameful stuff! Do you feel some noticeable changes in band’s songs? Or is classical depressive death doom enough for you in itself?
Yes of course. The “Descent” record was released more than five years ago. A lot of things happened since then. The new stuff is still close to funeral doom, but with a lot of more different influences and moods. The most songs are very strong. The first time I heard the songs, I heard the typical My Shameful harmonies, but on a different way. We wanna release the record in December this year. The chance to form your own opinion later ;)

Well, I never thought about that indeed, so you’re first man who I ask: do you see enough space to improve your skills as a drummer in one band? Usually it seems that doom is pretty slow to leave free space to demonstration of any astonishing attainments, will you break my stereotypes man?
That depends on how many genres you like and what you wish to play. I like the drummers from Cult of Luna, Katatonia, Deftones to Gojira, Nile and Strapping young lad for example. So it is not possible for me to bring all my favorites in one band. But a few bands are able to manage this.
I think the most important thing is, what kind of music or music-playing gives you the most!
And sometimes I realize, that very slow stuff is the hell lot more difficult to play than fast stuff! Because there is so much space where a beat exists but no hits on the drums. That is what I like in this kind of music: Space!

Can you tell about most difficult parts of “Earthtone” record-session?
The most difficult part was to find a good studio with a good producer.  In our music the sound is essential With the Earthtone record we needed more power, dynamics, rawness on a good quality level. And of course, it shoulded be affordable for us. We had good fortune with the choice of V. Santura and his Woodshed Studio/ Germany. We had a really good collaboration. He pushed us a bit, he dealed with our ideas and we are happy with the result. 
The biggest problem now is to find a good record company.

So you mean that there were no problems with records of some drums parties or parties of other instruments during this session at all? Just want to clarify that all went well and smooth! :-)
No, we had no problems in the studio. We had snowy weather in the middle of nowhere, our producer was relaxed and competent and we practiced the songs enough. So everything went well and we had enough time for the sound, organizing the tracks etc.

And Jürgen what’s about another way to relax besides music? Does alcohol or – opposite -some sports exercises help as well?
Well, sometimes alcohol helps, but only for a few hours! (laughing) It´s important for me to get enough time for myself or spending time outside. I get a lot of energy on this way. Another way to relax is the whole private stuff, spending time with my girlfriend or hanging around with friends. Keeping life in a balance with everything you do is a good way for relaxing ;)  

I see that “Earthtone” is DIY album as you release it without any labels, I wonder if you did knock in some labels’ doors before you get decision to do all things by yourself?
Yes of course. We did some calls to a few record labels with the Pulsar record. With the Earthtone- album also. We have a lot of good reviews. But it´s difficult at the moment. It´s pretty hard to find somebody  for a band, who do not care about mainstream or trends. But on the other hand it´s not bad to deal everything by yourself. We can do whatever we want, we have all the rights on our songs in the band´s hand.  And: Nobody can exploit us! But we will see, maybe we gonna find a label who cares about the music at first…  

I guess that musicians are worst critics of their own creations, I often hear it from them. But dare I ask you to evaluate both strong and weak (if these ones exist) sides of Absent / Minded.
Haha, good question! I think one of our strong sides is, we are a unity on stage. “We are able to go with the flow.” We know what we want. We don’t want to sell our souls for commercial success. We don’t want to become a bunch of jerks for popularity.
One of our so called weak sides is, we are not perfectionists.

What kind of reasons do you see for such intensive growing of doom scene for last few years? Is it because of society’s satiety? You know – it sometimes looks like slow fall down as such things as we have now were simply impossible 30 years ago, I mean extreme musical genres for example.
Well, I don’t know the exact reasons, but we realize, that this scene is growing. In my opinion, a lot of people are tired of this huge pool of overproduced bands and of the big metal- business. There are so many releases during the last years, which sound like other 100 bands. I think the individuality in attitude and sound is getting lost more and more in this mass of bands. In the most modern bands I miss the dirt and innovation. Most of the doom bands are not  focused on popularity, business or perfectionism. Sometimes less is more! And yes, I think a lot of listeners are saturated.
Maybe another reason is, that slow, intensely music could be a countermovement to the faster and faster becoming times. Especially in the so called “rich nations”.  I think this kind of music is focused on what really matters, our origins for example. Or just having fun
And of course, it´s difficult to create new ways in all the typical metal genres. So much is played already. I mean, what will be when all the great bands of the early days will finish? What comes next when Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden etc. are saying goodbye? Which way will the hard´ n heavy scene goes? I´m curious about this.

Jürgen may you give me a universal answer – what drive adult dudes to play such highly energized heavy music? This interview turns like philosophical dispute but it’s pretty interesting and common phenomena, so I wonder if those who addicted to such kinds of music see some concrete reasons for such obsession.
We are young and we need money! ;))))) (joke)
So...Tones and Music are one of the strongest forms to catch feelings and energies and bring them on a way. We love it to create new songs with no boundaries and to play the stuff on stage. There were a lot of bands, who gave us so much. And if I could give a bit back to anybody, that would be one of my highest reasons. And it really really doesn’t matter how old are you to play  in a band and walk the way of  Rock´n roll!

Ha-ha, the answer is accepted! :-) Thanks for your time man! Wish you all the best on band’s way to glory’n’money :-) Good luck!
Thank you for the interview! And some Doooom Greez from Germany!

Interview by Aleksey Evdokimov