Friday, 19 September 2014

Bolzer - Aura

BOLZER - Aura (IRON BONEHEAD - EP 2012)
Sometimes it’s good to listen to what the crowd has to say. At least in this case it paid off. Everywhere I looked I could only read how awesome is this new Swiss band called Bölzer, how unconventional take on death metal they offer and simply that their EP “Aura” is a fuckin shredder and best debut in years. Yeahhh… I was not so eager to check it at first, but this name was just coming back all the time, so finally I surrendered, checked couple of songs and the same day I ordered the vinyl. Yes, I also became addicted to Bölzer, all these opinions were absolutely right – this band IS one of a kind and their music sounds exceptional. And believe me, once I putted this vinyl on the player, it did not leave it for couple of weeks, so good it turned out to be. Yeah, absolutely magnificent job, so thanks to Iron Bonehead for unveiling this band into our world and spreading this pestilence!
Now, what’s so special about Bölzer? Well, I guess everyone should just listen to their music themselves to discover it, to find out how infectious and possessing these sounds are. Obviously I am sort of a reviewer, so I must try to recommend some good music to those, who never had a chance to hear it – or the opposite; to tell you if something’s shit… if my opinion would matter at all. As mentioned, my opinion on “Aura” is only super positive. This EP do not let you walk away easily and drags attention like the light drags moths! And the main secret, in my opinion, about Bölzer are the totally amazing riffs, which the band plays and which I think sound quite original – as I just can’t put one or two bands, which would play something similar! These riffs along with possessed, howling voices create an atmosphere of mysticism, epic and monumental (as majestic as the fuckin Ancient Rome!!!), but also dark and haunting. And you can probably call it a mixture of black and death metal, some reviewers throw into the description also sludge, even post metal (!), but I suppose the influence of both first mentioned styles had a strongest impact on Bölzer… But it is still not enough to call it just that, I repeat: you must listen to this music carefully to truly discover its essence and supreme feeling. It’s not something what has been explored countless times before, I think that this truly is one of the most original sounding bands of the recent years. Sure, there are around bands like Mitochondrion, Necros Christos, Grave Miasma and so on and on, which may have some similar patterns used here and there, but Bölzer is not alike any of them.
Two songs on side A are simply perfect and leave me speechless… every time I listen to “C.M.E.” and “Entranced by the Wolfshook” I am feeling like in trance, hypnotized by the excellent powerful riffs and howls of KzR. They’re mixing fast and vicious riffs with some doomy parts, but it always sounda just exceptionally good. And so damn dark! And “The Great Unifier” on side B is walking similar path to such Triptykon and is just eerie, doomy, sinister, ominous… It is a 10 minutes long anthem, but there’s so much variety in it, so many different things are going on in this song… in each of them, actually, so in the end I can’t even choose my fave track, all are just superb. And it is getting even better with every listen. This is certainly the best thing, which Switzerland has spawned since the 80’s and early 90’s, so the most glorious days of Celtic Frost and Samael. And it shall echo in eternity!
Standout tracks: ALL

Final rate: 95/100

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Martyrvore - Obliteration

MARTYRVORE - Obliteration (DEATHRUNE - CD 2014)
Years have passed since I heard anything from Matei from Death to Mankind / Die Todesrune (now Deathrune Records). But he contacted me a while ago introducing to his newest release, which is a CD of American band called Martyrvore. I don’t know any of this band’s previous releases, which were some demos and splits, but that doesn’t even matter so much. It’s good that I got a chance to listen to “Obliteration”, as it is really damn awesome and shredding piece of obscurity and bestiality!
This band really shows how violent, bestial, cruel, evil and sinister this music can be. Martyrvore performs death / black metal, which I think brings some strong resemblances to such bands like Archgoat, Black Witchery, Profanatica, Throneum, Nunslaughter, Bestial Raids, Blasphemy, Incantation, Teitanblood and many other, similar cult acts. More so, the atmosphere on “Obliteration” reminds me the evil, satanic feeling on the Acheron albums. So, put together all these bands I mentioned, imagine simple, not complicated, maybe even quite archaic music, but with very heavy, thick sound and riffing and with awesome ghoulish vocals – and then you will know what is Martyrvore like. 
There are 19 tracks on the album! Of corpse some of them are intros, but only few, and the rest is an uncompromising and malevolent attack of bestial death / black metal anthems, mostly played in fast, vicious tempos – short, but straight forward and merciless to the bone! But with the production, which is harsh, but clean and deadly powerful this music really crushes and sets the proper atmosphere right from the very beginning, from the first riff of “Tsunami II”. Yes, total annihilation! Simple means, not primitive, but just traditional for this sort of music and the result is great. Martyrvore knows perfectly how to compose this music to achieve the best, most powerful results and in my opinion they succeeded on “Obliteration”. For me the most important in this music is to set the proper evil atmosphere and to have the powerful (nuclear hehe!) sound – and in both Martyrvore did great. There’s no philosophy in this music, no mathematic formulas… some songs may sound too alike to each other, but I don’t even care so much, what matters is that energy and blood, which erupts from the speakers once I play “Obliteration” loud. Get this offering of disgust and blasphemy and support Martyrvore. Well good stuff, indeed! And great front artwork!
Standout tracks: “Tsunami II”, “Iron Satan”, “Nuclear Orgasm”, “Reaper”

Final rate: 70/100

Dissection - The Somberlain

DISSECTION - The Somberlain (THE END Records - LP 2006)
If I was going to say which is my favourite death and black metal scene ever, then surely it is Swedish! Why? Well, the answer is simple: just look at how many amazing, classic bands and albums this country has spawned in past 30 years! It is unbelievable and totally influential. And if I was going to mention which are three or five my favourite and important Swedish bands, then Dissection would surely be among them. It is undisputable how great influence the music of Jon Nödtveidt had on countless bands and that Dissection was responsible for creating something exceptional within the death and black metal scene. It’s one of those names, which you simply must know. So, let’s write some words on the classic debut album of the Swedish band titled “The Somberlain”! Oh yes, this is some fantastic stuff and probably the best thing, which Jon Nödtveidt composed (with great help of other band members of corpse, who on this record were John Zwetsloot, Peter Palmdahl and Ole Öhman).
It is fascinating that so many bands from these early days – and that obviously includes Dissection as well! – had already such a unique, recognisable sound and style already in the demo stages. You play “The Grief Prophecy” or “The Somberlain” and you just know this is Dissection; no other band was playing something alike to them (Necrophobic may have been close sometimes, but they were different anyway… and all those followers like Sacramentum, Dawn or Vinterland were great, but yes, they were followers!), no one else had such songs, which had such unique structures and arrangements. And even the voice of Jon Nödtveidt sounded different! And so damn amazing hehe! Already the first two songs, which open the album are enough to call it a classic, legendary LP! They are “Black Horizon” and “The Somberlain” – surely two best tracks here in my opinion. I just love their melodies combined with aggression and dark atmosphere, harsh vocals and it is simply impressive how built they are. It is not simple verse / chorus type of rock song; there are many fantastic, lengthy instrumental pieces, killer guitar work, which delivers insanely memorable harmonies, plenty awesome riffs, some extra parts played on acoustic guitar… Surely classic heavy metal of such Iron Maiden must have had an influence on building such songs, because it is not a common harsh, simple, primitive black / death metal. But what I especially love about Dissection and “The Somberlain” LP is that it may be melodic and atmospheric in many parts, but it doesn’t forget also about being damn obscure and aggressive. That’s the main strength of Dissection, I think.
So, “Black Horizon” and “The Somberlain” are amazing songs, but obviously the album has more to offer. All in all it is 45 minutes long material and damn, basically every song here is a winner like “Frozen”, “The Grief Prophecy / Shadows over a Lost Kingdom” and “Heaven’s Damnation”! But hey, what’s the point mentioning all these titles, if the whole LP is so killer and high quality? And more so, on top of everything that I mentioned, I also really love the production of “The Somberlain”… and that nice artwork of Necrolord is also a piece of art. All together, this album, just like all similar classic extreme metal records, deserves 100 out of 100, no less!
I must also mention that I was lucky to buy an ultimate vinyl edition of “The Somberlain”, released by The End Records in 2006. And it is simply astonishing, breathtaking release! Why is it called an ultimate edition? Just look at all the bonuses! Great booklet with some huge photos, lyrics and it’s also a double LP. Vinyl number one is the album, but vinyl number two gather many truly essential early Dissection recordings, which are: “The Grief Prophecy” demo 1990, “Into Infinite Obscurity” 7" EP, “Demo 1992” plus some live and rehearsal songs. So yes, it is a ultimate reissue and a perfect collection of the best what Dissection had to offer, especially as those demos and EP sound also fantastic, I especially love “Into Infinite Obscurity” EP, especially “Son of the Mourning”. You can hear how amazingly the music of Dissection was evolving, how it was getting better and better. But the demo and EP also sound fantastic; sure, their production is harsh and crude, but I simply love it! So, if I was going to recommend you buying any version of “The Somberlain” then it would surely be this one, with all these bonus stuff. Ha, killer!!!!
Standout tracks: “Black Horizon”, “The Somberlain”

Final rate: 95/100

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Ghost - The Lost of Mercy

GHOST - The Lost of Mercy (THRASHING MADNESS - CD 2014)
I’ve noticed that in the last month I actually wrote more reviews of old, re-released demos / albums than the reviews of new bands and their recent recordings. But I am not complaining, as it’s always great to remind some classic shit, especially if it comes from lesser known, sometimes criminally underestimated bands, whose old CDs are as easy and cheap to buy as gold. I am happy that the re-issue frenzy has also reached some old Polish bands and recently I was mainly reviewing the stuff, which Thrashing Madness was releasing, such as Merciless Death, Silence, Armagedon, Nightmare, Lastwar… and now it’s time for another Polish classic death metal release, which is Ghost and their only full length album “The Lost of Mercy”! It’s really worthy reissue, because the original CD pressing of this album costs as much as Hazael’s “Thor” but is even more difficult to find. And I am not a kind of person, who would spend half of his monthly wages on a CD! So, in my opinion this is just excellent that “The Lost of Mercy” has been reissued. Thrashing Madness as always delivers a good quality CD, with fat booklet (which hardly fits the jewel case, so thick it is hehe!) – and in the booklet you’ll find a second part of Ghost history (first part shall be introduced on the demo compilation CD!), some liner notes from the band members and people, who knew the band back in the old days… finally there are some photos, lyrics… And most importantly, the CD contains several bonus tracks, of which the most significant is the 1998 demo “Renown”, which I have never heard of before – I seriously thought that Ghost split up right after releasing “The Lost of Mercy” and never recorded anything else… until now! – and four live recordings from various gigs. In total you’ll get 17 tracks, over an hour of old school death metal!
Now, starting with “The Lost of Mercy”… I think I haven’t listened to this album for well over decade now. My cassette has vanished with all other old tapes I had and obviously I could never afford to buy the CD. But I still remember the whole album very well, every song is in my head. But I listen to the album with great pleasure. Ghost nowadays would simply be called old school to the bone death metal, very much influenced by such bands as Obituary, Bolt Thrower, “Leprosy” era Death, Massacre, Cancer, Disincarnate, even Asphyx in some parts. When compared to such Armagedon, it is obvious that Ghost were more brutal, with more massive and heavy sound and riffs… But the materials stands out with some great arrangements, great variety of riffing – with some slow, simple, but damn heavy parts coming next to some fast stuff and with some truly awesome lead guitar parts; oh, just listen to “Cross of Stone”, which is just excellent track, offering everything what I just mentioned, including some leads, which even James Murphy would be happy with! I even think that Murphy’s Disincarnate is the closest band I can compare Ghost with! Disincarnate and maybe also Polish Trauma (from their “Invisible Reality” demo days)!
I do admit that maybe not all songs from “The Lost of Mercy” are top notch – such “Extreme Reality” and “The Day After” for instance are quite mediocre, sometimes they tend to become a little monotonous and coarse, especially if the vocals seem to growl in the same manner all the time. But it is very minor detail, surely one which doesn’t spoil the listening and I still think that “The Lost of Mercy” is more than just solid and great album. There are many pearls there, with the previously mentioned “Cross of Stone” in the first row; then there’re such killer tracks as “Alien”, “Flag of Shadow Master”, “Bestial Rites”… “The Lost of Mercy” contains also three I think re-recorded songs from also well remembered “Bad Obsession” demo (which I think was my very first demo tape I ever bought in my life!!!!!), of which especially “Morbid Game” sticks out with some excellent riffs. Oh, I really like this song a lot; it is fairly unchanged when compared to the demo version, only small arrangement changes I think and it just sounds better and heavier than before. “King of Darkness” also sounds powerful and belongs to the most brutal tracks of Ghost.
Finally there’s “Renown” demo, which I was so curious about… and damn, I think I like it even more than the album! Maybe it’s because “The Lost of Mercy” has this tendency to bore in few moments, while “Renown” are just three songs and there’s no time for monotony? I don’t know, but I guess it’s just the fact that these songs are simply better – heavier, but also more straight forward, better written, with some truly crushing riffs and even some Bolt Thrower-esque melodies… Anyway, the result is very good! Also the production is not bad at all; it may not be as clean as the albums’, but that works for the better I suppose, as it seems to be rougher but more deadly. “Just Say No!”, but especially “Freedom Calls” are truly great songs, so I recommend you listening to them. Finally there’re also four live songs, recorded in 1993-94 and I must say they sound not bad at all. Just listen to “Morbid Game” recorded at Jarocin festival 1993 – it sounds really brutal and powerful!
So, I must write it again – finally I have “The Lost of Mercy” on CD!!! This reissue is simply awesome, also for the “Renown” demo, so even if you already have the first press CD you better also get this reissue, so you’ll listen to some more music from Ghost. Very, very recommended! So, we had Hazael, Armagedon and Ghost reissues among others… now I am waiting for someone to put out Betrayer, Violent Dirge, Schismatic, Necrobiosis recordings. And probably some more bands I forgot now to mention! 
Standout tracks: “Alien”, “Cross of Stone”, “Morbid Game”, “King of Darkness”, “Freedom Calls”

Final rate: 80/100

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Watain - Rabid Death's Curse

WATAIN - Rabid Death's Curse (NOEVDIA - picLP 2008)
Nowadays everyone in the scene and outside of it have heard about Watain. Yes, this Swedish black metal band became huge! They’re certainly one of the biggest black metal bands ever, which is even more weird knowing that they were formed only in 1998, so years after the explosion of Scandinavian black metal. And yes, some may argue whether Watain became more popular because of the whole image, total satanic devotion, the whole aesthetics around the band or due to their music… Hmm, I suppose it depends who you’re talking to. Some may be totally fascinated by the image, some other may simply love the music. I personally think it’s a bit of both… Yes, Watain made the black metal image important again, after a time, when most of the classic black metal band seemed to feel bored with it and became… hmm, normal, if I can say so. Emperor, Mayhem, Satyricon, Gehenna – they all dropped the visual aspects of their music and with it the whole aura around this music was just gone… and then Watain – but let’s be honest, it wasn’t just them, but also some other (mainly Swedish) bands like Armagedda, Ondskapt, Funeral Mist, Ofermod – appears with ultra fanatical satanic music and imagery. And it turned out that these bands gave a new life into this genre. And for Watain it all went so far that now they play huge festivals as one of the headliners (I am sure that mainly due to the show they put out) and the band is recognised by everyone.  Yes, they took a long road since “Rabid Death's Curse” LP. This was my first album of Watain, which I have heard back in 2001. The same year I managed to interview Erik and even putted an awesome live photo of him on the cover of the second issue of my fanzine. Ha, so many years ago, damn! Now he’s on the covers of the major magazines, not fanzines anymore, but it is good to go back to those old days and listen to “Rabid Death's Curse”, as I still like this LP a lot.
I suppose the first thing, which is going to strike you, when listening to “Rabid Death's Curse” is the production of this album, which is way, way more harsh and obscure than the albums, which will follow the debut years later. This sound stinks with sulphur and infernal tar and is truly raw, but in a good way… I mean, this is classic black metal production, in my opinion quite alike to such “Kronet til Konge” for example (I have this impression especially when listening to the title song!)… It is harsh and rotten, but still quite powerful and more so, it brings out dark atmosphere of the music. At the same time it’s not perfect, as I realize that sometimes you may lose some guitar parts, here and there the riffs may be slightly unreadable or the music gets chaotic or messy a little. But this is black metal! And the music is obviously also different to the future, more popular Watain albums. Here everything is more uncompromising, faster, it’s cold and grim stuff… and way less melodic! Right with the first song “The Limb Crucifix” this LP is an explosion of utter hatred and an example for the classic black metal means. Nowadays everyone states that Watain has sold out, that their music became too acceptable to some public. Well, you may agree or not… but if you do, then give a listen to “Rabid Death's Curse” as this is as close to the origins of black metal as Watain has ever been to.
So, here is harsh and obscure black metal, very much in the vein of many Scandinavian classics, but that doesn’t mean it is unworthy or repetitive piece of junk. Ha, no way! This is truly awesome album, with several devastating – or should I say desecrating – tracks. Yes, it walks the path which was trodden by some cult bands like (mid era) Darkthrone, Mayhem, Triumphator, Funeral Mist, Marduk, of course there’re also some signs of Dissection style of arrangements and melodies, but not too many… YET (hehe). What I like about “Rabid Death's Curse” is how riff based, how aggressive this album is. I mentioned the song “The Limb Crucifx” – what a killer opener it is, with many fast and crushing parts that are forceful and violent as fuck. Then the title track is very much in the vein of Swedish black metal, of bands like Dissection and Sacramentum as there are even some traces of melody here and there… and yes, this is probably my favourite song here. It goes on and on and doesn’t stop, “Rabid Death's Curse” has awesome riffs spread all over the album, there are many truly killer parts. And I also just worship the atmosphere, which Watain has created on this LP. It is just dark, malevolent, cold and grim…
On a downside of “Rabid Death's Curse” I can say that it is a shame that the vocals are so low in the mix, I mean Eric Danielsson is a killer vocalist, but here his voice often disappears behind the wall of riffs and drumming, which is a shame, as his croaky voice would give more power to the whole music. Sometimes, even with the lyrics in the hand, it’s difficult to find out where is he, what lines he’s “singing”, which is a shame!
Standout tracks: “The Limb Crucifx”, “Rabid Death's Curse”

Final rate: 75/100

Monday, 8 September 2014

Armagedon - Invisible Circle / Dead Condemnation

ARMAGEDON - Invisible Circle / Dead Condemnation (THRASHING MADNESS CD 2014)
This is one of those reissues I was waiting to come for with a great hunger. All in all back in the early / mid 90’s Armagedon’s “Invisible Circle” belonged to my favourite death metal albums (SERIOUSLY!). I was still a kid, but already knew the best death and thrash metal classics… and I remember first time hearing about this band when I’ve read interview with them in Metal Hammer, supporting this (then upcoming) album… It was announced as second to Vader brilliant death metal band from Poland. And soon later I found that cassette in local record store and purchased it without hesitate, spending my all pocket money I had. And it seriously turned into a real beast; amazing album, which accompanied me for many years. But my old cassette is long dead, so I was waiting for a real re-issue! Sure, I also had that miserable CDR release from Apocalypse Productions, which was fine to have, but was not even half what I would expect! And finally in 2014 Thrashing Madness managed to properly exhume “Invisible Circle” and released this CD along with the awesome, classic “Dead Condemnation” demo. And this is the first time these recordings have such proper, quality release, so even if you still have your old tapes you may also consider buying this CD, as the booklet and music are all fantastic. OK, the booklet could have been better – read: maybe it could have some more information on the old days of Armagedon, some more extras like and look like it’s on the Merciless Death re-issues. Anyway, it’s not bad either: there are quite few archival band photos plus all the lyrics from the album (sadly, no lyrics from the demo)… Sure, those who like to moan will always find a reason to complain; I will keep myself quiet, as the most important is that these materials are finally available again and first time on CD (now, will there be also a vinyl version or not??).
Of course it is not easy to review an album, where you already know every sound perfectly… every song, every riff, drum bit, all vocals are there in the head, so there’s no surprise anymore and all became predictable. And where I listen to “Invisible Circle” today I just know it to perfection. Obviously the same I can say about many other classic records, such as “Altars of Madness”, “Testimony of the Ancients” or “Left Hand Path” – I know them perfectly also, but they’re a class higher than “Invisible Circle”, so they’ll never feel boring or monotonous and will always deliver the highest dose of energy one can get from music. In case of this debut CD of Armagedon I feel maybe slightly bored, but not because I don’t like this album, but just because – as I mentioned before – I just know it too well nowadays. So, it is just impossible for me to review it objectively, especially as I hold all those memories from the old days… but giving a honest review I can say that one thing is most important here and it is the fact that “Invisible Circle” survived the test of time perfectly and it didn’t grow old badly. It is still very vital material and it still sounds brilliantly aggressive, powerful and not archaic at all! This is how you recognize timeless classics!
I suppose that when I listen to “Invisible Circle” today two things come to my mind first. One is that I forgot how fast this music was, I suppose that Armagedon might have been one of the fastest death metal bands of the time in the country! Most of the songs have fast pace and sure, they’re not Krisiun fast and luckily they’re also not Krisiun-boring fast, but have plenty of variety, also with slower parts and many awesome arrangements… but I just forgot how many blasts are here and at the same time how brilliant were Armagedon’s ideas, song structures and arrangements. Secondly, the production… Hmm, I must say that this album sounded very good for the Polish standards of early 90’s. Sure, nowadays some may say that the guitars sound is slightly thin and surely would do better if it had more “juice” or “meat” – read: was heavier, more powerful. Also the drums could be better, but I suppose there’s no point in judging the production values from 20 years ago, as would it change anything? No, it would not.
Armagedon was rightfully considered to be the best after Vader Polish death metal band… and “Invisible Circle” will show you exactly why. Great musicianship, awesome ideas and arrangements with plenty of variety and absolute lack of stagnation and boredom, many absolutely fantastic songs – this is what you can find on the album. Armagedon was sort of a mixture of Polish death metal aggression alike to Vader, Betrayer and the classic American style of death metal. There are particular riffs / ideas / songs which do remind me such classic bands as Obituary, Malevolent Creation, Gorguts, Resurrection, Disincarnate, Cancer, Monstrosity, etc and that is a compliment, but at the same time it is just different! I can assure you that Armagedon didn’t have to be ashamed of themselves when confronting their music with all these more popular foreign representatives of death metal. Quality wise they were not so far behind them (and in some cases they were even better, in my opinion!).
It’s almost impossible to describe the whole content of “Invisible Circle” to those, who have never heard this album before. Why? Because so much is going on within this album. Yes, it is fairly traditional death metal, but Armagedon managed to compose several killer songs and incorporated so many different ideas that I would have to go track by track to describe it fully. The main scheme is what I described above: aggressive death metal in the Polish / US vein. There are fast, uncompromising songs such as “Death Liberates” and “In the Land of Uncertainty”, which both are a truly blasting opening and there’s also such “Two Faces” – aarrrgghhhh! But there are also such songs as “Circle of False Truths” (killer!!!!!), then “Instead of Epilogue”, which is almost epic in few moments and surely has some of the slower pieces off the whole album. Finally there’s the awesome “From Beyond Oneself”, where the keyboards sound damn good and provide a fantastic, dark, monumental atmosphere. For the entire duration the music is truly asskicking and I cannot find any fillers here, all songs are superb. And as I already mentioned, they didn’t get old at all, they still sound fresh! Sure, I wonder how would some of these tunes sound with current recording studio conditions, if were recorded in such Hertz Studio for instance… but I do hope that Armagedon will never want to find that out and will never re-record any of these old songs hehe!
Before “Invisible Circle” there was also “Dead Condemnation” demo. And trust me, this is surely one of my personal favourite demos ever! I love it. The production is just excellent, so aggressive, harsh but powerful… and the songs are perfect with “The Term of Existence” (which probably is even my most liked song in the whole Armagedon career) and “Inside the Soul” (what a fast bastard!!!!!!) being my favourites! The band already presented skills (both technical and compositional), which raised them well above 99% of the rest of Polish metal scene and had amazing quality of the recording and excellent material, better than most of the bands of the time. I suppose there’s only one song on the demo, which I don’t like so much and it is the last one called “Fate”, which has more thrash metal parts here and there and definitely lacks that spark and violence of the rest of the material. But who cares…
So, this is the whole “Invisible Circle / Dead Condemnation”. Yes, very very sought after release and I am so glad that it is finally out. So, get your copy now, even if you still have the old cassettes you just need the CD as well, trust me!
Standout tracks: “Death Liberates”, “Circle of False Truths”, “Two Faces”, “Instead of Epilogue”, “The Term of Existence”
Final rate: 89/100

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Hellsworn - Repulsive Existence

HELLSWORN - Repulsive Existence (Eldritch Lunar Miasma Records - CD 2014)
Ya, ya, ya… I know that probably you don’t need another old styled death metal band. And if it sounds Swedish, then it is even more unwanted anymore. Fuck off with these opinions though – not originality counts (you cunts hehe), but the music, the feeling of it, passion and the poison, which is in these sounds and which is able to infect you body with sheer aggression and obscurity! And this British death kommando gave me all that! And yeah, their name is probably taken from the awesome Demonical LP and they do play the same style of Svensk Döds Metall, but they do it so well that I just don’t care whether it sounds unoriginal and over explored. That’s not the reason for me to reject such an awesome band!
Interestingly Hellsworn is only debuting with this CD “Repulsive Existence”, but quality wise they sound better than the majority of similar acts. This is killer death metal, with impressive dark, obscure atmosphere, great feeling, vicious and aggressive riffing and that powerful energy, which forces me to play it as loud as possible and bang my skull like a damn maniac. The music is truly infectious, some of these riffs are totally memorable like in “Repulsive Existence” and “Lifeless”… and yes, the shadow of Dismember or Carnage is floating over Hellsworn all the time, but take that as a compliment! These are just damn good death metal songs. And the production is also great, with that guitar tone, which we all love.
So, to conclude – for me Hellsworn is brilliant. Ha, it is actually yet another awesome British death metal, which I am so fuckin happy to have in my collection. For years this country was useless, when speaking of good, brutal music – the old legends were either dead or sucked cocks, only Bolt Thrower and Benediction were standing pride… but recent years are a real resurrection of the scene in UK, with hordes such as Cruciamentum, Grave Miasma, Sheol, Vallenfyre and now also Hellsworn… A nice pint of cold ale or shitty cider for them all then!
Standout tracks: “Repulsive Existence”, “Lifeless”

Final rate: 80/100

Friday, 5 September 2014

Belphegor - The Last Supper

BELPHEGOR - The Last Supper (LAST EPISODE - CD 1999)
Unbelievable how quickly the time passed away... Almost two decades ago I’ve read an interview with – then unknown – Austrian band called Belphegor in Metal Side Mag. Back then, I think it was in 1995, I never heard of them before, but soon later I managed to get their second and third albums… and now so many years later Belphegor is a well know extreme death / black metal beast, with several better or worse, but all solid albums, signed to a major record label, with performances on many tours and big festivals… Damn, who would think that it will all turn out this way? I can’t call myself the biggest Belphegor maniac, although I do like this band, I have most of their albums and most of them are truly good. But to be honest, my favourites from their discography are the albums from the pre-Nuclear Blast era… such as this early piece of blasphemous noise “The Last Supper” originally released in 1995 by Lethal Records. Sadly I never had a chance to get a first press CD, but at least I have the 1999 Last Episode re-issue which is cool, because it has some bonus tracks. What I don’t like about this version is that it doesn’t have the original artwork, which was so bloody cool… but well, at least it contains the classic “Obscure and Deep” EP plus some more songs (mainly covers). For them, it is worth to have this version as well.
I am really fascinated that already on the first album Belphegor had their own, characteristic style. From the very first notes you can really hear it is Belphegor, with their specific riffing, relentless, throat-cutting guitar work, mostly fast tempos, utter violence and aggression and finally with the blasphemous lyrics and possessed vocals of Helmuth! Arrghh, and I must not forget about the diabolic atmosphere of their music! Yes, this is totally satanic, mad, possessed and sacrilegious metal and Belphegor always creates this blood freezing, eerie an evil atmosphere, which I love totally. It’s not a common black / death metal, but as I said Belphegor is very characteristic, with these powerful, razor sharp and aggressive riffs, very fast pace, but also with some slower, more catchy songs, where there’s always a memorable chorus part… Of course some people say that Belphegor sometimes eats its own tail and repeats the same patterns too often, some songs are copies of some other… well, I can see what these opinions are based on, but it doesn’t change the fact that this music is still damn good. And “The Last Supper” belongs to the best albums of Belphegor I suppose, even if the sound here is the most vicious and harsh and that the band’s best songs and riffs are yet to come on the future albums. But damn, listen to such tracks as “Impalement Without Mercy”, “March of the Dead”, “The Last Supper” or “D.I.E. (Drowned in Excrements)” – aren’t they fantastic? OK, one or two other songs are maybe not quite as good, but as overall I think that this is very good album indeed.
I mentioned that Last Episode version of “The Last Supper” contains some bonus tracks… and well, the first one is “Krucifixion” cover of pre-Belphegor band called Betrayer. And it is quite raw, kind of archaic sounding pure death metal, nothing majorly interesting, far from the vicious and blasphemous style of Belphegor. The song is mediocre, the production is also not the best… so I don’t like it too much. Then there’s the excellent “Obscure and Deep” EP, which is awesome I think. Finally the Black Sabbath cover is something I would rather forget, as it sounds crap in my opinion, but that Sodom cover of “Outbreak of Evil” is not so bad at all. All in all I think that “The Last Supper” is a very good album, if you like harsh and fast, blasphemous death / black metal then you know Belphegor and I don’t have to recommend it anymore.
Standout tracks: “Impalement Without Mercy”, “March of the Dead”, “The Last Supper”

Final rate: 75/100

Panchrysia / Iconoclasm - The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell

PANCHRYSIA / ICONOCLASM - The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell (SHIVER Records - CD 2006)
After I recently reviewed Iconoclasm’s album “Iconoclastic Warfare” I tried to figure if I have some more CDs from this Belgian band… And yes! I have found one more, which is their 2006 split with Panchrysia. Damn, I bought this so many years ago and probably listened to it just couple of times before it got lost in the mess of CDs/LPs, etc. Cool then than just like “Iconoclastic Warfare” I can also exhume this split. And certainly I am happy even more when the music turns out to be so damn awesome as what I can find on “The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell”! Yeah, both bands did great job here, both deliver some truly awesome and devastating songs and I just don’t know why have I forgot about this CD for so many years. Mistake like that won’t happen again hehe… and as a redemption, I am writing this review, as I just want to recommend you all this great stuff. Believe me, there are some killer songs here!
“The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell” starts with Panchrysia, which I remember by the name only, I can’t remember hearing much music from them, except this split of corpse. Well, I must say that Panchrysia is just excellent! Sure, they are totally infected by Satyricon, but I love Satyricon, so maybe this is the reason why I also like Panchrysia so much? Anyway, there are riffs, vocals, the atmosphere and song structures, patterns, which really remind me the famous Norwegian band, sometimes it’s almost on a verge of maybe not plagiarism, but well… let’s just say that it’s really, really damn close. What makes Panchrysia music interesting, despite this huge influence of Satyricon, is that they seem to be more old school than the Norwegians are nowadays, the feeling of Panchrysia music is darker and more obscure, also the production is cruder, there’re are some great fast parts, like in the song called “The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell”… So, generally Panchrysia nailed these songs perfectly for me, I love them a lot and damn, if you like “Vulcano” LP then I can assure you that these Belgians may interest you as well. Only the additional live track called “Angst” is something I did not like, I always skip it when I listen to this CD, the rest are three lengthy anthems of killer (modern) black metal. And I wonder if the style and quality of “The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell” is the same also on some of their full length albums? Damn, I must check them out!
As for Iconoclasm, they do not disappoint either and deliver something I expected to hear, after getting smashed by “Iconoclastic Warfare”. Five songs from them are pure, aggressive and thrashing black metal pieces, filled with violent riffs, harsh vocals, old school feeling and black metal atmosphere. I love how fast, insanely aggressive and harsh the music of those Belgians is in such track “Hellmouth”, when it sounds like all the hell got loose hehe, pure insanity - definitely the best song of all, which Iconoclasm prepared for this split! And then we have something like “Rebel of Hate”, which is more traditional, more old school and damn classic sounding thrash / black metal, with a lot of influence from the classic German thrash scene and such Kreator and Destruction. There are lots of killer riffs, a total headbanger kind of metal and generally if you’re into such Aura Noir, Nocturnal Breed, Witchmaster, maybe even Toxic Holocaust and so on, then I can bet that you’ll like also Iconoclasm. Great band, indeed, but so underestimated!
Uffff… You know what? I realize that the metal scene has spat out thousands of demos, EPs, albums, splits during past 30 or more years and it is simply impossible to know all of them. But if I was to recommend you some unknown bands, which recorded truly killer songs and maybe did a split CD, which is so bloody fantastic, then “The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell” would be my recommendation. Wow, it is absolutely killer stuff. Sure, both bands are different, maybe Iconoclasm would fit more suitably to some Australian hordes or Aura Noir, but who cares… this is great CD. I am so glad I dusted it off!
Standout tracks:The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell”, “Hellmouth”

Final rate: 80/100

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Siaskel - interview

From the Chilean vastlands Siaskel came... and damn, it is another truly awesome band from this country! Check out their CDand support them! Here's my interview with Alfredo Perez!

Hello there guys. How are you doing? I suppose that it may be the first interview for the European fanzine for Siaskel, so I hope we’ll manage to make a detailed autopsy of Siaskel! Ready?
R: Hey there Panzerfaust zine, yeah, we hope to be full eviscerated on all the questions you may want to ask…

It is obvious that Siaskel is a band, which differs from the majority of the death metal scene… The music is an old styled attack, but it brings some awesome patterns. Most importantly though, lyrically you introduce the concept on “Jatenentolpen Thejin”, which is something totally uncommon. So, I must ask first, how and why did you come up with the idea? Am I right that you also used the traditional language of Selk'nam? And here I must ask, how did you know it, as I read it is a dialect, which extinct with the people.
R: Yeah, as you say, we don't do the typical structure of the death metal, in fact, we try to get away from the style… The association with "a so called rare death metal sound" it's maybe because we play very fast and use downtuned strings, but we have never wanted to do a particular style of music. Speaking about the concept: since the start we wanted to do something different. In Chile, as in other countries, we have many bands talking about different concepts and some of them base their "style, lyrics or/and imagery" in cultures from other sites of the world and just a few uses their own historical references. In our country there are a lot of underground bands, some more well known than others, talking about the Mapuche culture, so that theme is kinda usual in here. Taking this on the table, the Selk'nam stories always called our attention, because of the brutal, ahead of its time mythology and overall, inside their cosmogony, the cultural parallelism that exists with other ancient cultures, even with Sumerians. We use some words and phrases of their language, but sadly it's impossible to write all the lyrics in Selk'nam since there's not much information about. For that reason we had a lot of biography to study and discuss, thanks to the poor information which usually is mixed with the own interpretation of the different authors.

Tell us something more about “Ona” people, Selk’nam… who were they? What was their mythology, cosmogony and beliefs of Temaukel? What do you find inspiring in this people? Is it just to show the heritage and tribute to ancient cultures or something different and deeper?
R: The thing is, "Tierra del Fuego" (Land of Fire), an archipelago at the south end of Chile and Argentina, was occupied by tribes like the Selk'nam, Kaweskar and Yamana, between others, but the Selk'nam people always occupied a wider extension of this territory or "Haruwen". This people were adapted to live in a very hostile place, not only the clime, but isolation, long periods of darkness and short time of daylight, etc. They normally used the bow and arrow for their hunting activities. They believed in giants living at the south of their territory and most of their activities were related to magical rituals, like the Hain, a ritual initiation from youth to adultness. Selk'nam were used to handle astronomy and between some other heavenly bodies, they used to worship Sirius, inside this point appears the figure of TIMAUKEL, or the "one we don't speak about", a supreme being, who had all the power of creation, it can even be described as a "God's creator" if you want to correlate it with other forms of beliefs. Between their stories was possible to deduce they used to believe in the duality of universe, like the eternal conflict between the Sun and the Moon, explained by their own tales. Other information talks about their beliefs in man being reborn and even mummification (but no mummies have been found yet), and some other issues maybe you'll spot in our lyrics. With the brief information described previously, it was impossible for us to get away from such a rich culture, and moreover, going deep into it and internalize it as own, with the natural idea of re-interpretate it in some way…

Maybe it is a common question, but what does the band name and album title mean? Can you also describe more closely the lyrical content of every song? And I ask this simply because it is impossible for us to understand a single bit of them, you know!
R: Well, about the band's name, Selk'nam people used to believe in an antagonist, SIASKEL, who was a giant capable of terrify every being on the Onaisin (territory occupied by Selk'nam people). He was the incarnation of evil, an unmerciful sadistic being, some stories even describes him by wearing his victim's corpses as trophies, hanging on his belt, specially kids and women. The name of the album "Jatenentolpen Thejin" means "obscure hate", based on this deep feeling reflected on our music, a title that matches perfectly with the stories told on the album. To talk about every single song is very difficult, but we usually picked a specific topic or story, and made a lyric about it. This album in particular, deals very much with some of the characters described on the creation of the world according to Selk'nam mythology. It has by example the story of a flood, which was created by a mad Xoón (shaman)… another one describes the giant Siaskel between some other dark stories.

Why did you choose death metal sounds to illustrate the lyrical concept of the Selk’nam? I mean, was it a natural and instinctive that Siaskel sounds as it does or maybe it all was a deeply thought through process, when composing “Jatenentolpen Thejin”? I mean, some may think that maybe more ethnic and traditional music would illustrate such concepts better?
R: We always wanted to make extreme metal music. The sound related to death metal is just a coincidence, since we use a lot of black metal resources. Basically no member of the band is too adept to play folk/ethnic music, except for Gorrge our vocalist, who experiments on his voice by doing some throat tuvan singing (not for the band though). The first album has some hints of the last living Selk'nam person, Lola Kiepja, who's chants were recorded by an ethnologist in the sixties. But, coming back to the point, it never crossed by our head to create or mix our music with folk or ethnic music like many other bands have done before. Our goal is to represent death, hate, blood and destruction, so playing beautiful melodies was not an option to consider.

What feelings do you have towards the extinction of Selk'nam and the European invasion on the South America? I mean, does it bring some hatred or just an interest how someone strange and new to the land can cause the extinction of the natives so quickly?
R: Well, the whole history of mankind is full of blood; you can see the obvious rooted instinct of self destruction everywhere. Since primitive small tribes invading other territories to survive, to contemporary countries using religion as justification of greed for money and natural resources… Hatred and disgust will be always present as long as this exists, not for a specific group of people / race / countries / continents but for mankind. Certainly, talking specifically about the South America invasion by European hordes, it brings back an ancient anger and rage when you read about the abuse, tortures, massive murders, robbery, the use of native-slaves as circus monkeys, and even the paycheck for each amputated ear of Selk'nam natives… that's part of our history as humans and there's nothing you can do about it, I think that after reading my words, you'll probably might feel the same as me: a whole civilization being packed up by just a group of people who doesn't care about the ancient elements, mysticism, human art and the own mind development of the different cultures on this earth… everything must disappear from the surface of Earth!

I also wonder how the present people of Chile and other South American countries see the XV and XVI Century European expeditions of people like Columbus and Magellan? For some it may be seen as a beginning of the new era for these lands, while some will see it rather as the end of the ancient civilizations, end of the old era and old tribes?
R: For the European eyes and minds, of course, the western "civilization process" started with this events. But, in America there were huge civilizations back in time, before that. All this "new" history that was written by outsiders sounds like a paradox. Europe as the nest of modern civilization, is where they teach you, in childhood, that "history of mankind" was started. What was forged by the Great Greek Empire, by philosophy and the "Republic" concept, followed by the Roman Empire, and what anglo-saxons built up along their existence and so on, finishing in the crusades, deeply created by the Catholic Church, which finally in the subsequent years developed in the non-asking-questions-training of the world's population/zombies dictatorial religious scam. History would have been different if this supposedly-heavenly enterprise in the name of a supposed god wouldn't reach the importance it had and has in this era. South American native people in ancient times, and even now, were and are very naive in thinking all this expeditions came as "friends", when almost all of them just came to sack the so called "new" lands. About the question, yes, it became a new era for this vast lands, but an era of eradication and end of a precious and rich culture in the whole continent.

Do you visit the places with remains of the ancient civilizations? What feelings do they bring to you?
R: Oh yeah, some of us had the chance of being in different places where ancient civilizations developed back in time, like the wide-distributed Inca ruins in Perú and the ones that are present in our own country; the Mayan, Tolteca and Azteca remains along Guatemala and México; the ruins and Moai along the Easter Island; and clearly we cannot forget the legacy of our own belonging cultures distributed in Chile from north to south, which we have visited as well. The ancient power you can feel in each one of 'em is indescribable, but it's impossible to do not feel a deep quote of melancholy by learning the way those places became ruins, mostly between the XV and XVII centuries. Sometimes, you can even imagine you can feel the screams of suffering people and the smell of ancient blood spilled under your feet long time ago, but it also make you stronger as a thinking human being, opened to always learn and question everything you are taught when you are in the process of creation of self consciousness.

We spoke about the lyrical influence, but what about the musical? From one hand Siaskel is deeply rooted in the classic death metal, but on the other I don’t see you as a common band, so tell me which bands / albums are the most influential for you?
R: As we explained before, we try to get away from death metal since we believe we don't match exactly with the style. Each of us has different influences and taste of extreme heavy metal music, which obviously has been reflected in the compositions and in the final result of the songs created. Some people have told us our album has a raw sound and that's probably because the main idea and focus was recording it the way traditional metal has been recorded years before us, and that's with no extremely-hipster-overproduced-new technology with even a big amount of over-polished mixing and mastering. When the band started, we were very influenced by bands like Dissection, Dark Funeral (old), Marduk (old) and we share the taste of the sound of bands like Infernal War, Thunderbolt and a list that goes on....

How does the artwork reflects the lyrical content of “Jatenentolpen Thejin”? What is the map behind the lyrics? Is it Patagonia or just a random place in South America?
R: That's a very good question, you are the first one in taking that topic to discussion… in fact it is not just a random place of South America. The map in our album corresponds to a very old map, which contains all the world upside down, at contrary to all we have been taught in the past (north hemisphere up and south at the bottom). To us in this case, the map represent South Hemisphere as the dominant one, and going beyond this, it is a truly homage to the Selk'nam people who inhabited Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) specifically, a land which is insert in the vast Patagonia.

Siaskel was formed already in 2003, but the first demo was released only in 2010 and now the album was spawned only few months ago… What took you so long to come out of the shadows? And what can you tell me about the demo? Finally, it also took you three years to put a recorded “Jatenentolpen Thejin” on CD… What problems have occurred that it made you self release it?
R: Many years passed before finding a final line up for the band, which was formed in 2003 by K'mah Jauke on bass and Sinn Hayek in
drums. Some years passed until we added the female guitarist Ma'hai Jippen as lead guitar and another guitar player as well, who used to do vocals as well. With that line up we had some live gigs and when we were prepared to record a promotional album, we ran out of a vocalist, a job very hard to fill up. In 2008, Oblimink was added in the rhythm guitars and Mortal Sorceress (a female vocalist, actual vocalist of Intenebras) did the vocal work. With her, added to the line up, it was possible to record a promotional CD, which was released at free distribution. After that time, we were preparing to record our first full length album in 2011, moment when we decided to do not keep the work with her in vocals. In that moment, after the music of "Jatenentolpen Thejin” album was already recorded, Gorrge was added to the final line up, so we kept waiting for a couple of months so he could learn and digest the songs, adding finally his voice to the mix. The mastering of the album was finished on October 2011. After it was finished, we started to look for a label so we can release the album and between that search we got in touch with a French label, which was offering a vinyl release deal. Time passed and passed until finally this label told us it ran out of money, so the release wouldn't be done. It was in that exact moment we decided to release our first album in an independent way. We thank our vocalist, Gorrge, because without his support, the release would have taken even much more time.
And well, in all this time we haven't stopped, and new songs were created along the last 2 years. Right now we have recorded at least the 95% of the second full length album tunes and very soon we are starting the compositions of a third album. Our creativity and development as musicians has grow deep into the underground, thanks to the self-imposed discipline to rehearsal every week, so new creations and vomits will come up into a very close future. We hope to work with a good and professional metal label in the future, since the job of being a self-released band is very fucking hard.

How do you feel about being a part of the mighty Chilean death metal scene, with some of its truly awesome bands like Demonic Rage, Unaussprechlichen Kulten, Magnanimus, Thornafire and Godless?
R: The death metal scene in Chile has been very prolific! In fact our first gig was shared on stage with Unaussprechlichen Kulten. All of the named bands are exceptional bands of the underground metal scene of Chile, except from Thornafire, a band we wouldn't say belong to this sac of great bands, usually they are in other kind of scene. Anyway, back in time we have shared more gigs with black metal than death metal bands, and our first live gig after all this years in silence will be with a couple of black metal ones in about 2 more weeks.

Is there a continuation of “Jatenentolpen Thejin” in works? And if so, I wonder which way do you plan to go, from the musical point of view?
R: As we wrote before, we are ad portas of finishing our second full length album. On this one we took the freedom of experimenting more into melodies, rhythms and vocal range, clearly it will have a more black metal sound. We hope to do not fall into previous errors, but taking that aside, we think this album will be WAY more interesting and brutal than “Jatenentolpen Thejin”.

This time you spoke about “Ona”, but what about Mapuche and their mythology then? Is there going to be some more features on the ancient Chile in the future? Which concept do you plan to introduce to the future Siaskel albums?
R: Oh no, we are not really interested in bathing ourselves in more cultures and finally become some kind of exponent of ancient cultures of Chile and South America. Our songs will remain deeply rooted into the Selk'nam culture, there are a lot of more stories to describe, some darker than others, which are mixed up with our own interpretation and some lethal doses of death, hate and destruction, insert in deadly compositions. We don't want to show the world what they should already know by self initiative, we don't want to transcend by exposing primeval cultures, we won't show any weakness nor laments about what happened in the past. WE ARE SIASKEL, THE OBLITERATING COLOSSUS, PREPARE YOURSELVES TO BE CRUSHED BY THE BLEEDING MOUNTAIN!!!

Siaskel still feel like a mysterious band for me. Why? First off, because there’re no official band photos or something… Then you also hide yourself behind the pseudonyms. Tell me, what role those names have? What do they represent? Finally, only recently Siaskel made a Facebook profile, which is OK, as many bands nowadays use this tool for promotion and communication. Tell me, how do you see this tool’s role in today’s scene? Does it have more positive aspects or negative ones? I sometimes feel like most of negative opinions on it are caused more by a pure nostalgia for the old days rather than they’re having any rational and reasonable explanations…
The names are a way to show respect for what we do, they represent the dark side of ourselves in connection with those who are already gone, plus, we feel like we need to keep our real identities out from the project since we are only a media to get into the final product which is the music and it's own concept... By the other hand, for a band like us and many others out there, it's really impressive how this "tool" can help you spread your art, whatever it is, since many people uses it and as an spider web, all of the possible people who might be interested in your stuff, can get into it easily, instead of randomly catching a bandcamp, soundcloud, website, of your project...all of this is good for those bands, specially if you are not backed up by a label, which usually makes me the job easier. So, we see it as a really powerful and positive tool to work with, and about nostalgia, yeah, it is there, but mainly in the heart of those real black hearted metalheads who are still fighting to keep the underground alive after all this years, in all the forms of support they can do, by buying records or going to local gigs... history begins with those people who are constantly searching for victory!!!

Thanks a lot for answering this interview, I hope you enjoyed it and that it will help maniacs to find out about Siaskel!
R: Thanks Panzerfaust zine!, it was a very historical but necessary interview for all the maniacs out there who share the taste of dark, occult and sickening vicious dose of extreme metal!!!! 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

The Great Old Ones - interview

Hellzzzzzzz there! I don’t wanna start this interview with some boring questions about the history of The Great Old Ones, instead I would like to ask you about the times before The Great Old Ones, when all members were starting to play music. What were your first bands? When have you started to play music / metal and what are your roots? Are they exclusive to metal music or there were also some other musical styles, which you played?
Xavier Godart: I started a band in high school with some friends, we played mostly covers of classic rock and punk stuff. Then I was involved in some punk hardcore / math core bands, influenced by bands like Botch or Converge. I also did some music for myself, influenced by Cult Of Luna or Isis. TGOO is my first touring band. As for the others, Benjamin played in some hardcore bands like me, Jeff played in more bands than I can imagine, from folk to death metal. He played in Tormenta, a great math rock band. Sébastien played mostly in death metal bands. Léo played in lots of bands too, from jazz and funk to black metal.

So, why H.P.Lovecraft and not E.A.Poe, S.King or G.Masterton? Or Tolkien? What is so influential and intriguing about his works that it makes you base the music / lyrics of The Great Old Ones on his concepts? Do you remember the first time you’ve read his novels? What feelings does it awake in you?
Benjamin read HP Lovecraft work when he was a teenager and I think it has a huge impact on him. The universe he created is huge and it's an infinite source of inspiration. You can express feelings, as long as scenes or landscapes based on HPL descriptions. It could have been another author but for some reason, Lovecraft was a more natural match when Benjamin started to compose for this project. But maybe we'll find the inspiration somewhere else in the future, who knows.

Lovecraft has obviously inspired many metal bands, starting with Metallica in their early days, through such Morbid Angel and
finishing with some current underground bands like Unaussprechlichen Kulten. Why, do you think?
I think it's pretty obvious that thematics in HPL novels fit pretty well with metal. Feelings of horror, fear, madness are common theme.

Some people go as far as seeing some truth in the stories Lovecraft wrote, that he was a visionary who was able to see things that are hidden from the sight of normal people. I wonder do you believe in extraterrestrial or other such things, as ghosts, etc? For example, all these mysteries of the Egyptian pyramids… What do you think of it?
I will just say that we are all down to earth kind of people, so no, we don't believe in such things.

Tell us something more about the concept, which you chose for “Tekeli-Li”. It obviously is mainly based on "At the Mountains of Madness" novel, am I right? Your label has even released a special edition of the album with this novel, what – I must admit – is a killer idea!
Thanks! The album is entirely based on “At The Moutains Of Madness”. You can see it as a retelling of the story. As the novel is in the public domain, we had the idea to print an original copy, with some artwork from our singer and guitarist Jeff Grimal, who is also a great painter. We proposed the idea to our label and they were really excited about this thing.

I wonder how the songs for The Great Old Ones are usually composed? I mean, having such concept, you obviously must try to fit it into the music. So, is it difficult to capture the essence, the atmosphere and the feeling of Lovecraftian myths in the music? How does it usually look like? Also, the fact of having three guitarists makes the whole process easier or even more complicated?
Benjamin Guerry (vocals / guitars) is responsible of 80% of the material. He writes music with the concept in mind and then we let the music evolve in rehearsal until it reaches a point when everything seems complete. It's a pretty natural process. Also, having three guitars is not really a big deal (if you forget the weight of the gear...). Bands commonly records much more than two guitars in studio but aren't able to reproduce everything for live gigs. Keeping three guitarists in the band allows us to play everything live.

That sounds wise, I guess. Let’s speak of the music of The Great Old Ones. Obviously we all describe it as post-something. Post black metal, post metal, post rock… I do feel though that “Tekeli-Li” may sound too extravagant and too unconventional for most of black metal fans, even if it certainly keeps some influence of this music here and there. But there are many more layers in your music. So, to whom do you feel your music is directed to? What surrounding does it require when being listened to? And what kind of feedback did you receive so far?
We're open minded people. We're obviously influenced by black metal, but not only. We put a lot of things in our music, consciously or unconsciously. So, I guess you need to be open minded to appreciate our music. Feedback is really good so far. Of course, not everyone gets it, but most of the time they understand what we try to do. And that's great.

How do you feel your music has progressed since the “Al Azif” album? Did you try some new things, speaking of the technical aspects, playing, song structures, etc? Was is a challenge for you to compose an album, which would be better or at least as good as the debut?
“Al Azif” was our first effort, and as much as we like this album, we were unhappy of some little things, like the drum sound for example. We tried to fix these things on “Tekeli-Li” and I can say we're pretty happy of how it came out. ”Tekeli-li” is also much more resulted in terms of composition, everything seems
more consistent on this album for us. We're really proud of what we achieved.

The music of bands like The Great Old Ones often reminds me the movie soundtracks, so I wonder if they are any inspiration for the band when composing it? And more so, what would be more influential – black metal or the so called post rock / metal genre?
Well, I think we tried to write this album as a soundtrack for “At The Mountains of Madness”, so I guess that explains why you feel like this. As I was saying before, we're inspired by all kinds of music, mostly metal of course, but not only. We really enjoy bands that don’t put boundaries to themselves and try to experiment, and that's what we are trying to do too.

Such song as “The Ascend” sounds very special to me. It is a perfect combination of black metal with post metal. What purpose is of such instrumental song? Why did it actually end up being one and not having any vocals?
This track represents ascend of the mountain, just before William Dyer discover the non-Euclidean city. The storm during a few minutes, majority of blast-beat, and then the calm, when the plane stops, with acoustic guitars and cello... It simply follows the novel. And we felt that this part of the novel doesn't need any lyrics to be described.

We have also such song as “Behind the Mountains”, which is obviously absolutely amazing. But I wonder how does it work to play such long songs live, for both: you – the musicians, and for audience?
Well, all our songs are pretty long so that doesn't make any difference for us. Also, we usually play our setlists in a row, without stopping too much between songs. It's only a problem when you only have 30 minutes for a gig, we usually prefer to play 3 songs instead of one or two.

The artwork for the new album must be also something special for you. I mean it is not a typical metal cover and maybe the small CD size won’t let us see all the details, but it surely looks intriguing. Unveil some more details on the artwork, please.
Jeff Grimal our guitarist / singer makes all artworks for the band. It's a real asset for us. He works with the concept in mind and proposes us his vision. And that usually match very well with the music. On “Tekeli-li” artwork, I guess we can see an abstract vision of these mountains. We felt that an abstract work suited better, as we can let the listener draw his own vision of these mountains in his head.

The cover of Bjork’s “Bachelorette”… I must say it is not an obvious choice for a metal band to play a song of the artist like her. So, why did you pick this one up, what’s the story behind it?
We're all amateurs of the Björk work, but no one in the band is a real fanatic of her. Benjamin just heard that song one night at a party and just thought it could be great to write a cover of this track. And for some reason, he actually did it. We weren't thinking about releasing it, but in December 2012, our European
tour was cancelled at the last minute, and as we had this free time, we used it to record this track.

You seem to be a very special and significant band for your label, Les Acteurs de l'ombre Productions. How important is it for you to work with a label, which is French and also has such musical profile, very much connected with more avantgarde side of black metal? I, from my point of view, must say they seem to be doing a great job, when promoting their bands!
Our relation with them is really awesome. It's not only because they put money on the table. They are supportive whatever we want to do and that's really great and comfortable. I really think you can't have this kind of relationship with other labels, especially bigger ones. Gerald who runs the label and Romain who handle physical production are great guys and we are very lucky to know and work with this kind of people.

If you were about to record a video for a song from new album, which one would you choose and why? And more so, what would it look like?
We would love to make a music video, but it's a real budget and it's difficult to find the right people to do that. I don't know which one we would pick, but it would definitely be an animated movie, because we think that is the best way to transcribe everything.

You’re quite active live band, playing tour with Regarde les Hommes Tomber or bigger events like Roadburn. What feelings do you have about these gigs you’ve played so far? Any funny or especially worthy to mention stories from them?
We haven't been that much active so far, but it's becoming easier to tour for us. That's great, but as we all have a full time job beside this band, we'll never be a full time touring band. We had the chance to play in great festivals like Hellfest or Roadburn and that were our greatest experiences as a band. It feels great to be treated like a professional band. And there are no stories I can think of (at least, no one I can tell...).

Bands like yours, Paramnesia and Regarde les Hommes Tomber have certainly brought a new quality / sound into the metal scene. Obviously there are also some older acts like Agalloch, Wolves In the Throne Room, Alcest and so and on… But tell me, what do you think of all this? Do you feel like something special has been brought into life?

The bands you mention are great. We're definitely huge fans of Wolves In the Throne Room. Like I was saying, they are the kind of bands who doesn't limit themselves and that's what we really like about them.