Category Archives: Black Metal

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LILAJUGEND
CVLT Nation Interviews A PREGNANT LIGHT

About two years ago, I was staying at Sean Reveron’s house in Venice. As per tradition, I would raid his tape collection while fielding a thunder barrage of questions, when I grabbed a duo-toned cover. How did a long-lost Rough Trade cassette end up in Sean’s metal and punk collection? I asked him, and in his trademark desert rasp, he corrected me: “Dude that’s this guy named A Pregnant Light; dude, it’s like death metal blackend punk, man, I’m really feeling it! They fucking cover Madonna dude, Madonna.” Basically, if you have Sean Reveron’s approval, it’s a crucial pick up. On the car ride back to my palm-tree lined border city, I listened to “Live To Tell” at least 3 times. Whereas I was expecting the deviation from black metal to end at the cover art, I was gravely mistaken. Each song had a complex multi-layered guitar, reminding me of reading about how Johnny Marr would lay down at least 12 guitar tracks on every Smiths song. Backwards, forwards, played backwards and then reversed. There was an uplifting element to the music. A huge separation from the Transylvanian marauders of the second wave. Throughly unplaceable. A Pregnant Light has managed to do what some artists strive for their whole career. Full realization by stripping away all the bullshit (whatever it may be.)

I sat down with Damian Master, the sole heir to the APL throne, to discuss ideal audiences, no genre allegiances, and the far-reaching influence of Madonna.

A Pregnant Light has been termed as “Black Metal,” but that doesn’t seem to be all there is – and if such, than it’s more out-of-the-shadows Black Metal. There’s strong melodies, emotions other than anger, and more experimentation; how do you feel about the Black Metal labeling?

I think it plays heavily with that aesthetic and sound, but it really isn’t black metal. It has a lot more to do with lots of influences that are outside of the black metal realm. Though, some BM influences exist. This is why I call it “purple metal.” I’m not trying to create my own genre, just trying to pay respect to those who take these things seriously. I also take myself super-seriously, but I’m not trying to be “unique.” I’m just trying to show that I’m a product of many influences. Not just black metal. I think a lot of black metal is influenced solely by black metal… I think that that kind of thing is similar to inbreeding.

It seems that, from an aesthetic stand point, a lot of the bands on Colloquial Sound Recordings deviate from whatever apparent path they’re supposed to follow. Aksumite, named for the Kingdom of Aksum in Ethiopia and Dressed In Streams (basing their imagery off of the Provisional Government Of India – Azad Hind) and A Pregnant Light’s seemingly Smiths-inspired album artwork all seem part of the same circle, label notwithstanding. Do you feel a musical kinship with anyone else through this mentality, or is A Pregnant Light careening solo down a one car lane?

I don’t think APL has any kinship with any band particularly. APL is sort of peerless, which is both cool and unfortunate. I never set out to be “unique” or “original,” I just wanted to be good. I just wanted to be quality. It’s kind of sad, because I wish I belonged to a larger scene or body of people / artists. I’m kind of out here in the desert all alone. It can be frustrating. However, I’m not going to stop doing what I want to do or stop following my artistic urges to fit in anywhere.

When I think about what I’m doing, I believe it’s important. If you don’t get it it / understand it / need context – that’s kind of your problem.

Has that desire of quality over availability stopped you from performing live? I know in your interview with Lurkers Path you stated you don’t know how performing live would work for APL. Is the necessity for solitude still as important as it was?

Quality and availability are two separate things. If you’re referring to the availability of a band being accessible through live performance, that has changed. The project has evolved pretty dramatically since it’s inception. I’ve changed as a person. A great deal, really. I think a major factor in APL performing live has always been that the guitar parts are pretty intricate and strange, especially for a band that gets labeled “black metal.” It’s like, an indie rock guy or something would be able to accomplish what needs to be done more than a metal or punk guy, but someone who listens to XTC probably isn’t into A Pregnant Light, or would play for me. At least, I don’t know these people. I no longer crave solitude or distance from my listeners. It’s impersonal, corny and not who I am.

Don’t be so sure, I love “Making Plans For Nigel” almost as much as I love “Live To Tell.” I mean do you crave solitude for the purpose of creation? Like most harsher styles of music, was the desire of solitude in there in the beginning or have you always found that to be a lame trick?

hahah! That’s great. You should like “Plans for Nigel” more than “Live To Tell,” it’s way better! LTT is pretty great though. Let’s agree they both rule. ha. Sometimes I crave solitude for the purpose of creation – more so, I crave the lack of distraction. It seems that people have very little time to devote to one thing and people are spread so thin. I am trying to get away from this. I wan’t to focus on one thing and one thing completely. I think that will yield the best results.

To the XTC statement, what would you consider the most surprising influence for APL?

I know all of my influences, so none of them surprise me. I’m totally open to everything. I’m sure the average civilian might be surprised where I get my influence, but that’s on them. It’s funny to have people message me saying they can hear this certain influence, and usually I either hate the band or have never heard of them. Right when I put out The Feast of Clipped Wings, one dude on a forum said it kind of reminded him of Urfaust and so I checked them out. Now Urfaust is one of my favorites. That was the first and only time something cool happened relating to that situation.

So my connection with On A Banquet Table and In The Air Tonight is totally in my own head?

I was into Sussudio more. “Something Happened On The Way” is a great track as well. My mom was a big Madonna fan. As was everyone in the 80s, so there was a lot of that as a kid in the house as well. I kind of lost my mind on Madonna, obviously. She’s the most.

I am always surprised by the amount of people who quote early Madonna as a huge influence. My youngest memory of Madonna is Ray Of Light, so I was obviously eclipsed by her better work (Ali G cameo not withstanding).

I love all periods of Madonna. I think her early stuff is great, but Ray of Light was good as well. Of course I gravitate towards her early work, but there is a lot of great stuff Ray of Light to present. She’s absolutely lovely.

Well you covered Live To Tell so this shouldn’t really be shocking. How did that come about ,anyway?

I’m a big Hammers of Misfortune fan and started interacting with John and Sigrid on twitter. They both followed me. Then one day I was tweeting about how whenever a metal band covers a song it’s always so predictable. Venom or Slayer or something. I said I wished a metal band would cover Madonna. Sigrid replied “what song?” That took me off guard. I said “Live To Tell” because it was ballady but not mopey and could be made into a metal song. More than “Borderline” or “Lucky Star” could be. I think she brought it up at Hammers practice or something. Eventually I said I would cover it and asked if she would help. She kindly agreed, she said her friend Kris would help her record it, and it ended up being Kris Force. I’m a massive Neurosis fan as well as her work in Amber Asylum so I was pretty floored. Kris sang the song and Sigrid played organ.

Lyrics tend to be a big focus for APL, seemingly britpop influenced. More so than your typical affair; Romantic, caustic, and observing instead of the more woe-be-tide-you and mythos based. How important are your lyrics?

They’re not inspired by britpop at all, or any author. I’m not particularly well-read. It’s shameful and I’ve been trying to correct that as of late.

I think all that mythos based stuff and overly poetic, overwrought stuff is stupid. Super corny. It’s not who I am.

I purposefully am trying to write the way that I speak. It’s going to get the closest to my heart. I don’t hear anyone else in metal doing that. They’re all trying to be something they’re not. It’s embarrassing for them, and to an extent as I was growing, to me as well.

All that has changed, now.

I’m not inspired by anyone or anything lyrically. Just myself.

Maybe that’s what it is. There’s a similarity to the directness with what happened in England in the 90s and APL. That directness is very apparent. Tell me about “Before I Came.”

I like all that stuff, or a lot of it for sure. I mean, Oasis is just massive. Super cool stuff. I’m a big Factory Records scene fan as well, and of course, the Smiths. We are probably tapping into the same artistic consciousness, but they’re not an influence.

Before I Came is a compilation album of a lot of out of print demos / splits / singles which is actually a very British thing to do. Ha! And of course, the first two tracks, “Ringfinger” and “Lilajugend” are brand new. For the most part, the comp is in reverse chronological order. It’s not comprehensive, but it’s essential. It’s a great release that brings everyone up-to-speed on APL and how it got to where it is. It’s also the first non-cassette release on CSR. It’s a nice retrospective, but far from the end. I promise.

Ringfinger seems to be the fullest encompass of all that APL has been. It’s uplifting, light bearing and most importantly indicative of the grasp on melody and and actual hooks. It seems like a statement song. The “I have arrived” in contrast to the “before I came.” Would you say it’s the microcosmic vision of what you’ve always wanted?

People have had a really great reaction to “Ringfinger.” It’s kind of funny, I’m really into “Lilajugend.” It just goes to show that what I think is cool is not really what people embrace or identify with. I think these two songs usher in the new era of APL. Before I Came has a few connotations, but the most obvious being that it’s a compilation of older material. All these things came before. In that respect, these two new songs were new, but built on the shoulders of the old. I think every song I write is trying for perfection. I mean, if you’re writing a song and your goal isn’t perfection, what’s the point? There are things about Ringfinger I really like, and some things I dislike. The song is far from definitive. The new material will always redefine and re-work my own frame of reference. When I finished the 21 minute song “Deathmyhangingdoorway” I thought it could never be topped. It was the best I could do, then a few releases later I thought the same of Domination Harmony, but I think I’m getting better and better. I hope so! I’m really working hard to offer something good and quality. Every song encapsulates a small section of who I am and I try to express it to the fullest of my ability. As I grow as an artist, it will become easier and more clear… hopefully.

Who is your ideal audience?

I have no idea. If I did, I would pour every cent I had into marketing to them. I don’t have a Facebook. Someone started an APL one, and they sort of run posts through me, but I don’t have one personally I don’t know how it works. I’m probably missing out on a lot. I would like to find out who my ideal audience is. Wouldn’t we all? I think more than anything my listener is a person with a eclectic taste in music, because there are a lot of influences in APL that could be picked out by the discerning listener, ie. record store nerds or something. I’ve been lucky enough to grow naturally and have people find me. I think the people that have found me really appreciate me. APL is kind of oddball and doesn’t really attract casual fans. Most people that like APL are fervent about it. I like that loyalty. I’m eternally grateful for it.

3 years on, 12 releases in, how has your attitude changed about what you’re doing? Surely in the beginning there must have been some trepidation, the dreaded “Will this work” mentality, has that disappeared?

When I first started I had zero plans or expectations. I just had a plentitude of material. I figured I would sort of start this thing and see where it went. I was never driven by trends or reviews or what people said. Quite the opposite really. In fact, as the project grew in popularity I became really disenfranchised with a lot of the elements of the scene and culture that I once loved. I wanted to just do my own thing. Not for the sake of some self-centered agenda as is the agenda of anyone ages 15-30 right now in this age, I wanted to make something for myself that would keep ME interested. Everything around me seemed dull. My settings, my surroundings, my peer group and certainly the musical landscape.

Maybe at one point there was a “how will I do this” but it was more related to recording. I hate recording. I have to do it all myself because I’m so sick of having to rely on other people. I hate performing all the instruments myself. It sucks. It’s not my dream to be this all-inclusive guy. It’s just that I’m constantly let down by the people I work with. I suppose, more than anything, I’m let down by their work ethic and drive. Pretty much everyone I know has totally sold out. They all want civilian life. I know I sit in a pretty privileged place, so it may sound ludicrous that I’m saying all this. Truly, I am 2 blessed 2 b stressed, but I’m very unimpressed with people’s desire to make music or art. Everyone overvalues their underwhelming output. Now the only thing I’m afraid of is topping myself.

There seems to be a back and forth in your mind about the idealism of an artistic relationship, and the reality that you’re probably the only person who’s going to be down to work 24/7. What’s the biggest frustration about doing things alone? The lack of sexual harassment?

I don’t want to misattribute quotes, but I think I remember Trent Reznor saying once that he wishes that there were just more of him in the band. I kind of feel that way. I want to be like Trent Reznor. I want to hone my skill set and become a better composer and musician. Then, and probably only maybe will I attract some likeminded people. It’s just taxing to do it all. To play all the parts and write them and record them and mix them, etc. It’s fine. I’m not complaining. I mean, I suppose it sounds like complaining. If anything I’m frustrated with those people around me, but my output would show that I’m not letting it slow me down. Imagine what I could do if I could share the load! Also, I have no issues sexually harassing myself. I’ve been doing that longer than I’ve been playing music.

Who do you want to work with?

Really, I’m only interested in working with people that would bring an entirely new palette of sound. I don’t want to record with a big metal producer, or engineer. I’m interested in bringing good sounds. I want to work with people like Kanye West, Trent Reznor, Flying Lotus. Those kind of people. If I ever had another guest vocal, I would rather it be A$AP Rocky, or Pusha T, rather than some screamer from some metal band.”

CSR has seen a rise in output, with new artist such as Obliti Devoravit, Secret Creation, and Ornamental Headpiece releasing. How does the selection process work?

Well, it’s pretty easy. There are a very small group of us that work together. I like the music I make and that my friends make. I love the stuff we make together. Sometimes CSR branches outside of that, but not often. I have so many plans for myself and my friends it’s hard to get passionate about someone else’s project. Some of the submissions we get are embarrassingly bad, so that makes it easy. Some of the stuff I get is fantastic, but I can’t commit to it, because I have to take care of my own first. I would love to work with certain bands or people eventually. It would have to be organic though.

So then, what’s next?

I’m always working on new stuff. I can honestly say that the new material I’m working on is head and shoulders above not only some of my past efforts, it’s certainly better than most bands. Especially the hollowed out hole that is the underground metal landscape as covered by most websites / magazines.

Lastly is there anything else you want to touch on?

I want to thank all my supporters, without their support I would be utterly lost. I truly am in debt to everyone who listens to my music and supports me. I also want to invite all my haters to get in contact with me. I have a box of Tampax I’m trying to get rid of.

(I have supplied Damian’s contact info for said haters. EDIT: Redacted)

Before I Came, the new compilation by A Pregnant Light is available now from Colloquial Sound Recordings.

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CVLT Nation 3rd Anniversary
Showcase Photo Essay

CVLT Nation would like to give an extra HUGE shout out to Countdown to Armageddon, USNEA, NIGHT NURSE, DRUDEN, BLACK LODGE, ALAN HUNTER and everyone how came out to our Seattle 3rd anniversary on April 19th. All of the bands gave stellar performances! The amount of love that I felt in that room got me high, but Joel from USNEA did smoke me up too, so good-looking out. Now it’s time for you to check out these epic photos taken by our creative comrade Alan Hunter! Big Up Robert Hanna.

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Sickest Black Metal Demos
You Will Hear This Week:
Mannveira // Serpent Lair

Right here and now, you are about to hear two of the sickest young black metal bands creating sonic hate! Mannveira hails from Iceland and Serpent Lair hails from Denmark. With each of these releases, what will strike you first and foremost is how both bands sound so fucking amazing!!!

Mannveira’s (download Here!) brand of black metal will give you nightmares while you are awake and dreaming about death when you sleep. This band knows how to wrap their torment in dirty cloth of audio filth that will infest your eardrums. Mannveira’s songs almost have a doom-like quality to them, but they always retain a cryptic sense of danger. The emotions of despair that their riffs whip up leave you wanting to hear more. Do not get it twisted – there is a method to their madness that you will able to feel in their macabre grooves. Three songs are not enough – I want to hear more from this outstanding band!

Serpent Lair (download Here!) are about to be your new favorite band, and you will find yourself with these two songs on constant repeat. Their music is the perfect storm of swirling chaos flying on the sonic wings of mayhem into your eardrums, killing all of your braincells. Their songs have the ability to change directions at a moment’s notice, but they always stay on the road of bleakness and misanthropy. Serpent Lair’s songs are fucking powerful beyond belief, full of morbid passion and conviction that is highly addictive to the listener, and I know for a fact that this is just the beginning of a great career. Do me a favor and spread this sonic disease to your friends – and any labels reading this, sign both bands ASAP!

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Exclusive
CVLT Nation Streaming:
SON OF MAN “Chiroptophobia”

Pissing on the graves of all of the dead popes, SON OF MAN comes out blazing on their soon to be released 7 inch entitled Burn The Witch via King Of The Monsters. From what I can hear, these dude must have drunk gallons of demonic nitro, because all I hear is pure FIRE! CVLT Nation has been given the highest honor of streaming the new SON OF MAN track “Chiroptophobia” below…Now it’s time to pre-order Burn The Witch HERE!

Artwork by Drake Avila

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666% So Sick!
Ornamental Headpiece
Masks of Ash Review + Stream

Holy Christ! Ornamental Headpiece sounds like an odd name for a black metal band, but if you listen to good music, I mean good extreme metal, Ornamental Headpiece should be a household name! Doubt if the band likes the idea, though.

But man, Ornamental Headpiece’s punk-meets-black metal absolutely rocks my boat. There are touches of Nachtmystium if you would believe it, although I’m sure the band didn’t intend to use them as an influence. The psychedelic touches sound absolutely perfect on this release. All-out blast, mid-mosh punk, then let those notes ring like it’s a hypnosis session.

Members of A Pregnant Light, Aksumite, Citizen and Freedom comprise the band. If you thought you hated supergroups, think again!

Label: Colloquial Sound Recordings

The album starts with a war clip, then it’s utter annihilation for a while. When the band hit the punk riff, it sounds right on track, then the strings beguile you like a pendulum, shifting, until you’re lulled by the decrescendo. After that, the drums pick up, and you’re headbanging like a crazyperson again.

The next track, “Boots On The Ground,” has the best psychedelic riff on the album. The vocals never go clean, though. In fact, your Grandma might think she’s caught on the wrong side of the tracks after she hears it half-asleep.

The third track, “Candle Holders,” has the best punk riff on the album. It sloshes and grooves and sounds so original, metal heads may have to re-think Maryland Death Fest in favor of CBGB’s this year.

The last track is a blast-fest for the ages. The guitars let the notes ring out and the feedback is good enough to make your ears bleed.

Riffs aside, the songwriting is stellar, and the lyrics might be unintelligible, but its scream-along-in-the-shower-stall worthy, should you tempt yourself into listening to this in the shower, planning for a trip to the emergency room with a cracked skull.

Really, the pigeonholing types can’t call this straight-away black metal, and they sure can’t label it anything that makes sense. There are elements here that work well together, and if you haven’t listened to extreme metal lately and have a hard time thinking Nachtmystium can go punk, try Masks of Ash for a Total Recall session. You’re sure to love it!

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Verdelet – Lights Of The Old World

UK black metal has always been seen as some kind of lesser son to that of its Norwegian counterparts, through no fault of the makers of course, but when the one name to touch upon is Cradle of Filth then most new bands have to go a long to prove their worth within a scene that is both small and very closed off. Luckily there’s a new breed of British black metal – bands that plant their feet firmly in the raw, cold expanses of a truer sound and those that tread a Cascadian path while bringing a little traditional flavour to proceedings. The Infernal Sea, Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone and Soar are examples of some incredible black metal coming out of these fair isles of late and Verdelet are a name to add to a steadily expanding list of groups that are giving UKBM a good name.

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Verdelet’s sound is definitely rooted in the days of old with cold, harsh landscapes of sound filling the space of Lights Of The Old World while Morior’s vocals bite and snarl at the heels of the severe guitar (Balan) riffs and blasting drum work (Vadok). Verdelet are still a little rough around the edges but with this particular style of black metal, that isn’t so much a problem but a bonus. The raw lines are drawn under “Bring Out Your Dead” which travels the plains of cold, icy lands while the band bring a sweet groove to the song in the swaying guitar lines allowing the movement to flow into “Terminal Decay” and the wonderfully rhythmic progression it then follows.

“Blackened Bones” takes a different path with a gorgeous, melodious and melancholy introduction which steps back to sit beneath the otherwise aggressive vocal approach. The play off is disarming considering how combative the music has been up to this point but it shows that Verdelet are far from a one-trick black metal pony. The beauty is masked and full of sadness but it’s wonderful and dark, as often is found in the more esoteric strains of music.

Lights Of The Old World may hark back to a different time but Verdelet are a band to keep in mind for the future.

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You can hear Lights Of The Old World via Terrorizer and buy the EP from the band here (although give ‘em a while to get it out you due to the physical version selling out).

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CVLT Nation Streaming:
WOMAN IS THE EARTH “Bird Song”

Just like their namesake, WOMAN IS THE EARTH‘s music conjures up a feeling of nature with each listen. While blasting their tunes, you will find yourself feeling like you have witnessed a beautiful sunrise, but at the same time experienced the solitude of winter. The emotion that this band’s music conveys is huge, and is evident in every note of their new album This Place That Contains My Spirit, which is being released via Eisenwald on April 21st (EU) & May 6th (NA). CVLT Nation has been given the honor of sharing with you today WOMAN IS THE EARTH’s new tune “Bird Song,” streaming below…

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Exclusive
CVLT Nation Streaming:
KRIEG – Isolation/Transmission

Krieg have been around in some form or another for nigh on twenty years now, and their outrageously prolific career has seen their take on black metal evolve and shift from album to album (and EP and split and demo) so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that their Record Store Day release is one that takes a step back into the past and pays distinct homage to the wonderful era of post-punk. It’s a genre that is held very dear to the heart of band founder/vocalist/guitarist N. Imperial, and one that in recent times has coloured many a black metal release (see Vaura or Beastmilk for example).

With Isolation/Transmission, Krieg take those initial beats and sounds and transform them into newer ordeals, filtering them through a more modern lens. The two tracks here still retain the base notes of sadness and dejection that Joy Division gave to the world (the 7″ title is taken from two gorgeous Joy Division tracks) but with a twist that adds an element of intrigue.

Isolation/Transmission shares its aesthetic with many Factory Records (the infamous Manchester-based label) releases – the artwork in particular evoking many classic covers of the label’s heyday – and it’s this use of imagery and tone that gives the record a hazy aura of past regret. “Walk With Them Unnoticed” is a harsh and despondent trip which plays rasped vocals off against stunning guitar work in order to create a disjointed vibe that speaks of separation and misery, while “To Speak With Ghosts” allows deep bass notes to drive the song forward into a feedback squall and oblivion. Isolation/Transmission is something a little different from Krieg, but is no less emotive for the change in tack. Krieg are one of the most impressive and exciting black metal bands out there – long may they continue to experiment and shift their sound, particularly if this is an indication of things to come.

Init Records will be releasing Isolation/Transmission on vinyl exclusively for Record Store Day with 500 orange copies available from independent record stores worldwide on April 19th. In addition, Init will have an extremely limited version of the 7″ on purple vinyl which will be curbed at 166 copies – they will come with a download, a sticker and a pin. This version will available directly from Init Records with more information forthcoming after RSD is done.

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CVLT Nation
Young and in the Way
Video Premiere:
“Be My Blood”

This is way beyond fucking gnarly: Young and in the Way are getting ready to release their Deathwish Inc. debut album When Life Comes to Death on May 27th. I know for a fact that this record is going to blow the hell up because it’s that fucking good from start to finish! To say that CVLT Nation is proud of YAITW for creating the record they always wanted to would be an understatement. It’s our honor to be premiering below their new video for “Be My Blood,” directed by Max Moore. Head over to Deathwish Inc. and pre-order for “When Life Comes to Death” HERE! This YAITW album will not disappoint you, but it might have you clawing your way through walls!

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Exclusive
CVLT Nation Streaming: T.O.M.B.
Pennhurst / Xesse + Interview

Label:Crucial Blast

T.O.M.B. (Total Occultic Mechanical Blasphemy) is one of the most creative and distinctive entities currently operating in the realms of black metal and noise, with a singular approach and a slew of releases including Black Crypt Worship, Sacrilegium, Macabre Noise Royale, Uncovered Ancient Gateways, and the forthcoming Pennhurst/Xesse and Fury Nocturnous, the latter of which features contributions from the legendary Hellhammer and Manheim of Mayhem. In addition to that collaboration, T.O.M.B. has opened for Sunn 0))) and even counts Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth/Twilight as a fan.

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1. How and when did T.O.M.B. come about?

T.O.M.B. was created in 1996. After being involved in a previous project, I wanted to start something different for myself and create a style of black metal that was extremely harsh and organic, in method and in composition. During this time as an artist, I was seriously absorbed in the ideology and execution of Norwegian black metal. But instead of focusing these efforts on black metal as a certain sound or style, I focused on it more from not something “metal” but something “black”.

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2. One of the things that really strikes me about T.O.M.B. is the ritualistic aspect behind the recordings; it’s not just about the sounds being heard but the process by which those sounds were created/recorded, the locations they were recorded in, the materials and methods used. How important is ritual to T.O.M.B.?

I had learned that the environment and surroundings of any person is critical to one’s development. I have always been drawn to subjects or environments dealing with death, destruction and the occult.  I decided when I started this project that I would literally record in and use cemeteries to create the foundation of T.O.M.B. music. I used doors from mausoleums or crypts as percussion and composed further from there. There was never a preplanned rhythm or set beat. I would go late at night and just walk the location, absorb what I was seeing, hearing and feeling. I would finally be directed to a doorway and I would set up, then create the piece. One take. This feeling became my own method or ritual in creating a style of music that was for me very personal and pure. Instead of recording in a studio and writing music about death, destruction and the occult, I began using death, destruction and the occult to create music.

3. Could you describe some of your recording practices?

I’ve always, to this date, used the same electrical devices to capture my field recordings and noisescapes. I have used different elements from cemeteries, crematories, morgues, asylums and abandon industrial locations. I’ve used many different instruments or objects in creating audio, such as metal, human bone, Aztec temple rocks, animal antlers or horns, crystals and cadavers.

4. You’ve recorded in a number of significant locations, the Lambertville High School, the Pennhurst State Hospital, the Eden Hall Church – locations with deep histories and a lot of myths surrounding them. How did this practice come about and what are some of the ideas behind it?

As the project expanded and grew, the mentioned locations were perfect. Rich in history and spiritual decay. At the time, there were so many different paranormal TV shows of people exploring places like these and “hunting” down sounds, ghosts and negative energies. I decided to let these energies explore me, my structure and vessel. This was not just an opportunity to record in these locations, but physically, spiritually and ritualistically allow those forces to use me, enter my decaying structure to communicate in ways they no longer can. It is a union, through sound, between the living and the dead.

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5. What are some of the most interesting locations you’ve recorded at/what are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had while conducting these field recordings?

Wavery Hills in Kentucky was extremely extraordinary. The events from that recording session are quite unexplainable. I was given the opportunity to record anywhere I wished alone, for one hour, no one else. Understanding beforehand the vast amount of deaths, experiments and abuse that were created there prepared me. These energies flooded my senses and feelings. Six recordings were conducted that night. Two appear on the Uncovered Ancient Gateways UAG release and the remaining four are featured on the upcoming Fury Nocturnous album. Another was at the Richmond Electrical Power plant in Philadelphia. I had recorded there at two separate times for our unreleased Richmond Curse Ep. The first session conducted generated several excellent bodies of material. In occult ritual, there is a  calling forth and casting away of energies or spirits. During the first session this closure was not completed while exiting the property. This mistake had a very negative effect on me for about one year. I returned to Richmond to record and also leave behind this negative attachment. During the second recording, I composed a piece with a tool used for harvesting. The results during that recording consisted of my recorder buttons being pushed by them selves and extreme sudden temperature changes that effected the recording outcome. The song “Cleansing Them” is audio of this attachment that was removed and left behind. The entire experience was quite abusive and draining.

 6. Your upcoming album Fury Nocturnous features contributions from Hellhammer and Manheim from Mayhem. How did this come about and what was the collaboration process like? How has black metal influenced you?

Mayhem, what they created, was a life altering experience as an individual and an artist. I had met Hellhammer and Blasphemer at CBGB’s show in New York many years ago. I had greatly admired their work since the beginning. It embodied an energy, style and sound I had never experienced before, and I absorbed myself in their work. After that meeting in New York we stayed in contact. Then in 2008, I spent 9 days in Norway and met up with Hellhammer again in Oslo. We drove to Euronymous’ grave where I conducted two songs on his tombstone. Hellhammer agreed to record drums over those tracks. Manheim was then later approached and agreed to contribute to the tracks as well. Creating music with artists who were souly involved in changing your entire outlook on existence is very rewarding. Black Metal music and philosophy, if taken at a very serious level, can have a positive impact on the course and power of that person.

 7. What are your main influences, musical or otherwise? What drives you to do what you do?

A passion and possession to connect with death as an energy and entity, through extreme audio frequencies and mechanical experimentation in occult black magic ritual.

 8. How did you get into metal? Black metal? Noise? What’s your musical journey been like as a listener and as a creator? 

I was always into listening to heavy/dark styles of music before I started creating my own. Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were the first seeds of metal planted inside my mind. That grew into even darker forms of music. Bands like Iron Maiden, Dio, Metallica, Slayer and Misfits followed. I expanded onto early death metal like Entombed, Grave, Crematory and Carcass along with Black metal: Samael, Burzum, Abruptum, Havohej, Mayhem and Watain. Each artist mentioned has added their own element and effect to the creative inspiration of my material. Noise wise I respect and admire artists such as Vomior, The Rita, Funerary Call and Into The Thickets.

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9. Your earlier recordings as T.O.M.B. featured some more traditional black metal instrumentation and playing. What inspired the move to focus more on a noise/ambient style?

I wrote my material based upon three fazes. My more industrial black metal/noise was the first faze. I used what abilities and resources I had during that creative time period. This was the beginning and birth of the project. Once I began the second faze, I had developed several new types of recording techniques and tactics. I also expanded on my equipment arsenal. Combined I wanted to create audio that when played together,effected the senses. Mind, body and soul. So we started conducting ritual practices of invocation, using instruments and objects associated with primitive ritual, and record this inside abandon hospitals or asylums were negative malevolent energy can be easily conjured. Conjuring was the second faze. Fury Nocturous marks the third faze of the project and exposes the results from the past fazes, cryptic occult audio experimentation and extreme black magic.

10. What do you still want to do as an artist?

A lot has been achieved, but there are many things that still need to be accomplished. Releasing Fury Nocturnous and performing live with proper support is the next task to achieve. A year ago, we opened for Sunno))) in Philly and literally shook the venue, so much several people buckled and past out. I would like to have that opportunity again, and perform  together with my associates Brian Zimmerman of Panther Modern, Joesph Curwen of Ghorageist and Samath Viola of Skulsyr. I have also done soundscapes audio for the Animal Planet  TV show “The Haunted”. I enjoyed being able to expose people to my music, without their knowledge or consent. Next I would like the opportunity to compose audio for movie and film, and conduct my audio experiments and measure it’s effects on subjects from a much wider, expanded scale. I also am involved in the apocalyptic delta blues/occult doom folk project Dreadlords. We conducted a mini east coast tour opening up for King Dude back in October last year. Since then we have completed our first album called “Death Angel”and are working with King Dude to release it under his record label, Not Just Religious Music.

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Metal Alliance Tour
Photo Essay Feat.
Behemoth, Goatwhore + More

Photos & Text by Saul Torres

Last Saturday, I spent my weekend in Los Angeles and I was pleased to be shooting at the House of Blues for the Metal Alliance Tour. This year, the line up was insane: Black Crown Initiate, Inquisition, 1349, Goatwhore and Behemoth, who are back in the U.S. after a series of unfortunate events that right now are just another reason to keep the band going stronger than ever.

One thing about Behemoth is that they will throw the best show you’ll ever see in your entire life; from beginning to end, the crowd went crazy, and the band… they were beyond perfect on every song played. I remember the first time I caught them live in El Paso, TX, 7 years ago – they were extremely insane, but now they are so intense, very pure, and of course, the five years of waiting were totally worth it. Behemoth’s new album is an elegant masterpiece of heavy and extreme music by the name of The Satanist. A faultless album with a more organic and evolved sound of what Behemoth had done before. It’s a very interesting new sound from the band.

This is absolutely the year of Satan.


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Thantifaxath

Thantifaxath
Sacred White Noise
In-Depth Review Footage + Stream

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

-H.P. Lovecraft, “The Call of Cthulhu

It’s with this famous quote from master of literary Horror H.P. Lovecraft that I open this review of the debut album from Canada’s mysterious Thantifaxath; it was the first thing that popped into my head upon making my first go-round of the six tracks that comprise its makeup, for it is more relevant today than it ever has been. It’s my contention that in light of all the information gathered from years of exploring the cosmos, that that dark age is here, it is now.

What must ultimately be deduced from all we know about the universe is that we are incredibly isolated, miniscule, a speck, i.e. nothing in the grand scheme of things. Given the band’s name, I’m sure there are some esoteric themes they’re concerned with, but for me, personally, this album is rife with existential dread on both a micro and macro cosmic level; from the kind described by Heidegger and Sartre to that alluded to by Lovecraft. For a band that stated “Freedom is Depression” on their demo, I don’t find it far-fetched at all that such philosophical concepts are at work here.

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Indeed, Sacred White Noise comes off as a cognitive crushing treatise on the maelstrom of sanity-shattering variables that make up our condition; it evokes feelings of estrangement, madness and the complete, utter fallibility of the flesh. We’re capable of comprehension, and yet, have been thrown into a world without meaning, and whose workings are often incomprehensible to the human mind. This sensation comes through clearly on the stunning opening track, “The Great White Nothing at the End of the Tunnel,” when the rapid atonal riffing of Thantifaxath hits full tilt and the vocalist can be heard screaming about a forgotten purpose, a forgotten name – perhaps a symptom of the madness that comes with revelation.

The opener is a good preview of what follows, as Thantifaxath often blister the ears with furious tremolo picked riffs that seem to progress to perfection, as they never feel dragged out, and always find air to breathe when necessary in slower, more chilling passages that feel downright eerie in nature. “Where I End and the Hemlock Begins” is a good example of this, and the instrumental interlude “Eternally Falling” is a better one, as it tastefully weaves a hair-raising violin into the composition. This band thrives on playing fast, eccentric, riff driven, atonal metal, but surprisingly, and much to my delight, has a keen sense of knowing how and when to scale things back in order to create a dark atmosphere through ambience as well.

Also, and not to be understated, the bass is warm, punchy, high in the mix and adds significant weight and volume to the bands attack, as does the drumming, which carries the compositions forward with skillful, blast-driven precision. Both compliment and work in perfect unison with the spiraling, Mick Barr-esque riffing that pervades Sacred White Noise, particularly on the crushingly relentless “Gasping in Darkness”. And the vocals here are very fitting for the unique, unorthodox style of metal played by Thantifaxath, as they are in no way simply garden variety, high-pitched Black Metal vocals, no – there is some serious bite to them, and they succeed fully in conveying a sense of both disassociated despair and the blind fury that comes with Man’s perpetual frustration. The nuances in tone become more noticeable with each listen and compliment the instrumentation in just the right way.

In summary, let’s just say that much like our venture into the black seas of infinity, the mind will have trouble correlating all the contents of Sacred White Noise and the attempt to do so is best undertaken with trepidation, for it is an unimpeded look into that terrifying vista of reality that Lovecraft spoke of and is nothing short of high art from this anonymous trident of flesh-searing Canadians. I don’t hesitate in calling it perfect or my album of the year thus far. It’s that good. Buy it and lose your mind – literally.

Grafvölluđr

Sickest Black Metal Band…
You Will Hear This Week!
Grafvölluðr

Grafvölluðr is the shit and they create some off the hook black metal! They put out a two song tape on Fettered Redwoods that has sold out. All I can say is that if you ever see anything about Grafvölluðr releasing new tunes, be sure to pick it up. I wish I had a copy of their tape because I would blasting it non-stop! For now, I’ll just enjoy the stream of their song “III” below and I want to give a shout out to Clothbodies for turning me on to Grafvölluðr – they RULE!…

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Exclusive
CVLT Nation Streaming:
AKATHARSIA’s “Blood Opulence”

Worms are eating through my marrow. Maggots are pushing their way through my flesh, infesting my skull and tunneling out of my eye sockets. Ash is falling like snow, everything around me lies in ruin, everything is fucking dead and gone. This is how AKATHARSIA‘s music makes me feel. This is what the new song Blood Opulence, streaming below, makes me envision. Total death, decay and ruin. Helpless misery and the collapse of everything. Complete fucking sickness, loss and despair. A malevolent crossroad of sorts where raw and primitive thrash, post-punk and black metal intersect, lethally injected with an absolute overload of rotting despair.

This is also not your newcomer band whatsoever. This is a band of real underground vets, people who have endlessly tasted death and destruction numerous times before in their other established former and current bands. AKATHARSIA are in fact formed by current and past members of Fell VoicesNegative Standards and Lycus, and they hail from Oakland, the West Coast mothership of rotting and brutal music. This brand new Demo the track is taken from will be released on tape by Psychic Violence, and the vinyl version will be released in the coming months by Econo Jam Records (more information about this to come).  Press play on the track below and get your spleen split in half.

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Free Download:
Ugly, Dirty, Primitive!
FLORIDIAN WINTER:
Morals Come Last / Whats Next?

I’m a fucking fiend for ugly, dirty, primitive black metal with a punk stench! FLORIDIAN WINTER is right up my putrid alley, and with every listen I just want to smash more shit! Right here and now, you can download two of their releases: Morals Come Last & Whats Next…For all of your black metal with punk stench needs, head over to Primal Vomit Records!

FREE DOWNLOAD!!!

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Exclusive
CVLT Nation Streaming:
Paramnesia “IV”

French project Paramnesia may not be a name on the lips of every black metal fan just yet, but their sound is one that is much loved the world over and their full length debut is sure to push them into the minds of fans of the Cascadian sound championed by Weakling et al. Paramnesia is a gorgeous, raw, magical and intense record, and coming on the back of an incredible split with UNRU and an initial demo which paved the way to today, Paramnesia will certainly hit new heights with this release.

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paramnesia (ˌpæræmˈniːzɪə)
n
1. (Psychiatry) psychiatry a disorder of the memory or the faculty of recognition in which dreams may be confused with reality

We have an exclusive stream of the first track from Paramnesia, “IV” which follows the flow of releases quite succinctly (the catalogue includes tracks I – III, naturally) and these two new pieces of music showcase a much more rounded and technical approach without losing the emotion and weight of the band’s first forays into black metal.

“IV” and “V” both wade in the waters of the American/Cascadian sound, which is somewhat unusual for a French act – more often than not, bands from France will have a much rawer tone or tread the path of gorgeous post-rock – yet Paramnesia stands ahead of the pack with a record that bites and curls around the heart, and progresses with beauty and hate in equal measure. The melody is held deeply within both tracks, only shimmering through at select moments, and the vocal is slightly stepped back to give an aura of mystery – an aura which follows the band itself, as not much information is forthcoming as to who is involved in this project. But such things don’t matter when the music is this good. “IV” caresses the atmosphere with glorious depth and shade, the track shifting from pounding drums, incredibly quick guitar work and suffering vocal lines to occasionally allow a modicum of sublime harmony to push through. Howling screams play off pulsating beats to create a generous air of utter despair, and Paramnesia blur the lines between what can be seen as beautiful with passages that breathe with elegance, yet drip with vocalized agony.

The comparisons to Weakling, and in turn Wolves In The Throne Room and Skagos, are difficult to turn away from, but Paramnesia are so adept at creating soundscapes that any such similarities are a bonus rather than a hindrance. The palette takes in ravaging drums, a vortex of guitar and a voice so laden with burden that it becomes painful to hear, and as such, this young band have much to digest in their array of tones. “IV” gives way to the grand scale of “V,” which continues to walk in the footsteps of “IV” and ramps up the majesty ever further. Where “IV” has occasional shining moments, “V” completely wallows in misery, misanthropy and wretchedness, with the slower-paced moments full of desolation and horror. It’s a stark, cold piece that works its way into your soul and clouds it in darkness for the entire twenty minutes it punishes. Paramnesia are not about creating wonderful and serene movements, and the two tracks on display here are desperate in their machinations – all icy fingers and cold touch. The band whip up a swirling and passionate scream for finality in “V’s” dejected undertones, and with it comes a distinctly distressing melancholy. Paramnesia is a stunning work that needs to be heard.

Paramnesia can be found on bandcamp and the album can be ordered from Les Acteurs de l’Ombre ahead of its April 16 release date.

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Hades Archer / Slaughtbbath
Split LP Review + Stream

Label:Iron Bonehead

Hades Archer and Slaughtbbath are both from Chile, and they’ve joined forces in the fight against all that is good with the release of their split LP,Circus of Abominations/Antichristos Thanatos, courtesy of Iron Bonehead ProductionsIf seven billion souls are bound for eternal damnation, consider how much chaos will be found in the pits of hell once these sickos play there live.

Hyperspeed riffs and blastbeats bombard the listener from almost start to finish.  Hades Archer play tremolo riffs closer to the upper frets than blackened death metallers Slaughtbbath, but are both adept at break-neck speeds. The playing is spot-on, the slower jams in between all-out blasts don’t take too long, and both bands make use of the short runtime to get the job done.  You’ll be peeling yourself off the walls after playing this record!

It’s also fun to listen to this record intently.  There’s no filler material and no wimp-out ballads.  The production is just necro enough to please the purists, while enhancing the material.  The riffs are thrashing and slightly-punk influenced.  They don’t slow down and let notes ring too often, downpicking and tremolo picking for long durations while the beats hammer them home.  I also love the sound of Slaughtbbath’s drumming, as the drum tracks sound like they were recorded in a cave a la Mayhem’s De Mysteriis.  Hades Archer’s snare drums blissfully rekindle old 80′s thrash vinyl records.

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The bass notes are all over the place, following the hyper fast guitar sections.  Both bands spew out vocal vomits at crucial sections in the songs.  Both bands employ the use of death metal vocals well, with enough of a rasp to hint at the classic black metal/death thrash influence.

And oh – the solos don’t disappoint.  Screeches and vibratos hint at some big-time string and whammy bar abuse.  In particular, the standout track Black Revelation of Death, ends with an insane solo that blows the roofs off.

There are no intros or outros.  There is a vocal interlude called The Ascension that only lasts 1:01.  By the time Slaughtbbath plays its first track, The Grand Dialogue, they set it up by starting slow before the blasts set in and the rapid-fire riffs become conducive to headbanging.

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There is a brief spoken-word vocal at the end of the record that I find suitable, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome or take up room in a separate track.

This CD storms hell after the second you hit play.  There are no doom jams or keyboard interludes.  South American black/death aficionados will grin from ear-to ear with this CD.

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BAST – SPECTRES

London based Bast have been slowly creating a name for themselves on the local scene and with their recent support slot on the Conan tour and the incredible presence of their debut full length Spectres, the trio have all the ingredients to completely break out. Their sludged out blackened doom travels the full spectrum of sheer heaviness and from the black metal leanings of opener “In the Beginning” to the gorgeous instrumental behemoth that is “Psychonauts,” Bast go a long way to showing that they’re more than a one trick doom pony.

Spectres is a monumental work and the sounds and patterns that are contained within are huge, beautiful and deathly weighty. Their debut has been a long time coming after the band formed way back in 2008 but as they say, good things come to those who wait and Spectres is certainly worthy of that wait. Opening track “In The Beginning” slowly builds to a crushing beat and a distinctly black metal tone that serves to push Bast increasingly further away from the sludgy tag that they’ve had bestowed on them. While it’s a fitting box to put them in, the band are so much more and Spectres is the sound of a young band fully committing to experimentation, and it paying off.

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“In The Beginning” moves with blackened grace towards doomier territory and fuzzed out lines of guitar that crawl with feedback and splice into “Denizens” with a consummate ease. The track constantly evolves and shifts its boundaries to accommodate the more blackened edges of the vocal range (handled by drummer Jon Lee) which give way to the the huge vocal approach of Craig Bryant (guitar) who commands the soundscapes with authority and power giving Bast a weight that is tangible in its presence. This first track weaves through a plethora of sounds yet it passes with a cohesion that belies the multitude of sub-genres that dwell within. Black metal, doom, gorgeous shimmering post rock passages and a grime that sits beneath it all allow Bast to truly step up and take flight.

“Denizens” continues to eschew the traditional musical conventions of doom and again incorporates many different aspects of the darkened sphere of sound that Bast sit within. Heightened and harrowing screams play off bellowing and guttural vocals, gorgeous and almost clean lines work their way in occasionally and lift Spectres into outrageously interesting territory. The album’s title track kicks with a rollicking and outrageously heavy pace before stepping back completely into gentle guitar lines that prelude the storm that is the crushing, crunched down final minutes. It’s a journey that offers a rounded experience of the Bast sound and a track that pushes into the aforementioned instrumental monolith that is “Psychonauts” which pulses with an exploratory fervour and showcases Bast’s affecting and ambient side.

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Spectres is already one of the heaviest records released this year and final track “Outside the Circles of Time” aims to push that knowledge ever further. The song navigates melancholic paths without falling into clichés and voyages the waters of sadness and the unattainable on gorgeous guitar inflections and psychedelic progressions, building the song and its walls higher and questing for the truth with aggressive beats and a solo to die for. The harsher vocal of Jon Lee again lends the song a distinctly darker tone in the latter half of its time before the track descends in a whirlwind of sound and staggering heft.

Bast need to be on your radar and Spectres must be acquired.

Spectres can be purchased through Black Bow Records and Burning World Records and can be heard here.

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T.O.M.B. – Abysmal Channeling: Video Premiere

Black noise warlocks T.O.M.B. have been doling out the intense occult atmospherics for years now, and are showing no signs of letting up. They continue to bring the menace with the oppressive nightmare noise-scapes of their latest single ‘Abysmal Channeling’ off the forthcoming full-length album Fury Nocturnus, due out later this year, and featuring the legendary Hellhammer and Manheim from infamous Norwegian black metal pioneers Mayhem. Before that album drops, you can look forward to the release of a full-length collection of rare previously released material, Pennhurst/Xesse, out in a couple weeks on Crucial Blast Records, and also a new album from T.O.M.B.’s gothic blues blood brothers Dreadlords, also out in a few weeks.