Spaceslug: Cosmic slow heaviness (Interview)

Recently you could already read my review of the Spaceslug record ‘Lemanis’ on this page, but now we managed to track down Bartosz from Spaceslug and ask him a few questions.

You can read the review here.  The record stuck with me, because it was indeed spacy but still heavy, resonating in its own realm not sounding like any other band really. So I was keen to learn more about this Polish band.

How did you guys get started with Spaceslug?

B: I talked with drummer – Kamil around may 2015 if he wants to play some music with me. Little project, nothing special, just jammin
some jams with heavy riffs. Then he brought over bass player – Janek, who was also in his other band Palm Desert and we started.

What bands inspire you to make this music?

B: It’s hard to tell really. For me I love bands like Yob, Sleep, Neurosis, Black Sabbath, Subrosa, My Sleeping Karma and other generic heavy stoner/doom/name it stuff.
Guys like more ambitious music. But that’s why it was so well mixed in the process.

I was surprised to see that you guys hail from Wroclaw in Poland. Is there a big stoner scene there?

B: We have a good local scene that is growing. Try 71tonman for example.

Can you tell a bit about the writing and recording of this record?

B: I was bringing the riffs, and the rest of the band formed them and gives taste to it. It was that simple. What was really cool, that it was in fact really hard work. We played every rehearsal with heart, and passion.
Long play was recorded live in two days. Alot of fun, and experimenting with sounds.

Though the album is very heavy, i felt a strong connection to progrock of the 70’s and psych. What do you think about this?

B: Almost from the begining I wanted something heavy and cosmic. I like that kind of way, when something is heavy, but also
majestic. Probably you can tell that there is some vintage 70s vibe in our music, and it is not coincidence 😉

The cover and further artwork of Spaceslug reminds me of this comic book style/ science fiction posters stuff of a few decades ago. What is your inspiration for this part?

B: I love old S/F movie posters and vintage comic book arts in general. I was inspired by couple bands if we talk about style,
and couple old movies posters. Rest was just fantasy about what we are representing with our album. Cosmic slow heaviness.

You’ve just signed with Two Eighty Five Bookings. I for one, can’t wait to hear ‘Lemanis’ live. What can people expect from Spaceslug live? (and when are you touring the Benelux)

B: Hard to tell about specific dates righ now, but for sure if you will come to our show we will take you with us to our
spacecraft and show you couple galactics.

What future plans do you guys have?

B: We are writing material for second release. We also want to tour here and there.

If Spaceslug was a dish, what dish would it be (and why?)?

B: For me – Big, fat, juicy steak, with fries and salad.
Because it’s good and fat!

Underground Sounds: Black Tomb – s/t

Label: Graven Earth Records/Hellas Records
Band: Black Tomb
Origin: United States

Black Tomb is a rather new doom band that seems to favor a color scheme of black and orange on their outings, which results in an exquisite image. That’s the first thought I had, checking out their stuff.  Little information is available about these guys, who sound like their experience extends beyond this self titled debut.

Self described as New England Doom, the band recalls the sound of something between Hooded Menace, Electric Wizard and Graves At Sea. It’s a bit like a swamp of tar, while the forest is burning brightly orangy around you and everything is turning to shit. I think that captivates the sound of Black Tomb pretty fittingly.

The sound of Black Tomb reminds me a lot as well of Black Tusk, the dirty, gritty fury and the rawness of it all. There’s little subtlety and it’s constantly in your face. These gentlemen lack the surging energy of the latter though, but every riff sounds like if you could touch it, you’d want to wash your hands after. Slow, sticky and oh so pitch black, this is not the record to listen to when you’re already down and depressed. The irony is that the band included knives in the special editions… so yeah.

The tormented vocals, for example on the harrowing ‘Eyes At Midnight’ are a ripping, crushing delivery of screams. It’s bleak and relentless, full of pummeling riffs, that surge like a muddy avalanche. Man, what a debut record. I love this stuff, with its vicious sound and heaviness that may not push the genre forwards, but unites the best bits!

It’s always keeping you on the balls of your feet, ready for anything with the heavy bass and tons of groove and fuzz. There’s a constant anticipation or even threatening note to the music, that never fully erupts but definitely places these guys in the heavy weight category.

Imagine this on a fuzzy tape, playing in the dark. Hell yeah!

Feed The Flames, putting Guyana on the metal map

Guyana is a place you glance over easily on a map. That’s not something I’m saying to diminish the place, but it’s really a tiny bit of the South-American continent on the north. Part of a few former French, English and Dutch colonies, and these young states have developed a culture of their own.

After a turbulent history as a Dutch colony, later as an English one, slavery and a serious influx of migrants from India, the country has become a nation on its own in 1966. The history of countries like Guyana and the neighbouring Suriname connect them to the old ‘motherland’ and make them a melting pot of cultures.

I e-mailed with Gavin Mendonca and Gavin Singh on behalf of Feed the Flames, a band from Georgetown. We talked about how they want to put heavy metal on the map in their country, punkrock, the Caribbean scene and Creole culture. Enjoy reading about this intriguing place where heavy metal is just gaining a foothold.

Hello, could you kindly introduce yourselves and the band?

Gavin Mendonca (GM): I am the bassist of Feed the Flames. Feed The Flames is a five piece Guyanese Heavy Metal Band, members are as follows:

Gavin Persaud: Vocals

Gavin Singh: Guitar

Gavin Mendonca: Bass

Emilio Martins: Guitar

Nicholas Chung: Drums

How did Feed The Flames get started?

GM: Feed The Flames was formed about 8 years ago. The founding members are Gavin Singh and Gavin Persaud, I joined the band about 5 years ago as bassist.

Gavin Sing (GS): FTF was founded by myself and former vocalist Gavin Lee Persaud (his work is on the recordings). We were close friends who just loved the music, and back then still learning; this was around early 2007. I remembered we were listening to a Black Sabbath album when the idea came up to start a band, however we had no musical skills with the exception of a bit of music theory I learnt in school. Sometime after that we both bought cheap acoustic guitars and started the journey, spending the next year learning to play and holding the strings.

In 2008 we met Persaud’s old school friend who had just returned from the USA and had vocal training, so we immediately appointed him as front man. Through some friends we also met Zaheer Imran Baksh (former guitarist) and Nicholas J. Chung (current Drummer). After all being acquainted the first full line up was formed and officially founded on the 26th May 2008, Guyana’s independence date. At that we had little or no music skills, and so the journey began to learn and grow.

How did you get to the name Feed the Flames? And how would you describe your particular style and themes?

GM: Gavin Singh will have to tell you about the origin of the name. Our style is very reminiscent of Thrash Metal… it’s our favourite type of metal so there’s a heavy influence there. Guyanese Thrash Metal! Main themes include rebellion, and fighting for what you believe in.

GS: The name was actually presented by the first vocalist, Persaud’s friend, Quacy Ayotek. It was supposed to represent the idea of keeping the passion of the music alive in your heart, hence feed the flames. The style and themes have somewhat changed over the years since for about half our age was just about learning. One thing is for sure – hard, in your face metal was and is what we strive for, not only for its composition but most importantly the message of truth.

You mention you’re heavily inspired by various bands like Zeppelin, The Ramones and Megadeth and more. Which bands truly inspired you guys individually and what did you take from them? Also which ones got you into metal in the first place?

GM: For me, personally, my main influence as a Rock Musician is punk rock. The Ramones played a big part in me first picking up the guitar and learning to play. I was also the guitarist/bassist/vocalist of a local punk rock band which is now defunct.

I was never really a Heavy Metal guy, but after meeting the guys in FTF and being invited to join the band, I picked up the music and it has been a big part of my life since. My main Heavy Metal influences are Megadeth, Metallica, Iron Maiden and Lamb of God, Lamb of God especially, as our music is similar to theirs. The old school thrash bands are where most of our inspiration comes from, since we used so cover a lot of their music starting out.

GS: For myself, in the early days, the older bands really had me. Led Zeppelin really stood out to me mainly because of that unique tone/sound they had- you don’t hear anything like it anymore. I love what page did on II and III with the odd tunings, it was as though there were no rules but still sounds so great and gives me chills up to now. I guess I took that unorthodox approach to my writing. Metallica’s ‘Ride the Lightning’ was and still is one of my all-time favs. This really got me hooked and the list that follows is endless. I’ve listened to pretty much any style since. There were also a few modern bands at that time like Slipknot and Killswitch Engage. It was a combination of all these that got me into writing metal.

How did you get in touch with punkrock at the time?

GM: I got into punkrock after coming out of High School. I started to listen to rock music, and personally – I was very rebellious. I didn’t like being told what to do, I didn’t like being told that I Can’t do something, I didn’t like people telling me what to believe in, and I certainly didn’t like people telling me how to live my life.

So I don’t know if I found punkrock, or maybe punkrock found me. Because who I was, was punkrock. So I fell in love with the music, the fast drums, the noisy guitars, the shouting! Oi!

You guys are, according to your bio, currently working on a full length. Can you say a bit about that and what it’ll be like?

GM: We currently have 4 demo songs recorded, 2 more to go, for a total of 6 original songs. Here’s our most recent release, ‘ Firefight’, with a homemade video from our trip to Trinidad recently, where we performed with Lynchpin, winners of the first ever Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean.

GS: Well, it’s long overdue since some of these songs go back three or even four years. You will hear the evolution of this band on one album over five years.

What’s the writing and recording process like for Feed the Flames, what roles does every member have?

GM: The main composers are Gavin Singh and Emilio Martins. They come up with guitar riffs and patters and the general structure of the song… the drums and bass then add the glue. We all contribute to lyrics, and the overall structure of the songs.

Recording is fun. We do it ourselves in our band room. We invested in all the right software and equipment to be self-sufficient… a true ‘do it yourself’ band.

GS: Most of the composing or at least the concept comes from me. I usually would transcribe my ideas into Guitar Pro and then build on that idea from there. I would then play that to the guys and we’d start stripping away, adding or just doing it all over. Everyone has their own input and their own idea on songs. We just star with a concept and start jamming so the song finds its own identity through that.


I read that your music was featured in a film titled ‘A Bitter Lime’. How did that come about?

GS: A few years ago we were introduced through a sponsor to Max Orter, the producer/writer of the film. Gavin Mendonca remained close with him and even worked on the film itself. Earlier this year he came back to Guyana to do the finishing touches before its launch and needed a place to stay. He poured his money into the project and was low on cash, so we offered him to crash in the band room. In return he offered to add our music to the film.

GM: ‘A Bitter Lime’ is a neo-drama filmed shot mostly in Guyana, written and directed by Max Orter, a great friend of the band. Max was visiting Guyana often and we met him a few years ago and became great friends. I helped him on the set of the film while it was being shot in Guyana, as Production Assistant. He offered to have our song featured in the film, as a gesture of kind faith, to allow the band to get some global exposure by being featured in an international film. It is a huge opportunity that we are very grateful for… especially since it starts the infamous ‘Skin Diamond’!

I’ve noticed that you are, atleast Gavin Mendonca, interested to an extent into Guyanese music and folklore. Is that something you try to somehow put into Feed the Flames or do you save it for the Creole Rock project?

GM: I have a solo project aside from Feed the Flames. Creole Rock is my own style of music, where I have fused Guyanese Folk Music, our creole culture and dialect, with Punk Rock, creating a truly unique sound. Whenever I have to perform live, FTF would accompany me. We have a side project called Outta Box Experience for occasions like these, where it’s not all about Heavy Metal, but alternative forms of Rock n’ Roll at public forums.

Can you elaborate a little on that Creole identity, what it is and what it means to you?

GM: The Creole Identity, to me, is who we are as Guyanese people. It is our culture, our use of the English language, our traditions and practices. Most importantly, the way we speak. Creolese is our ‘Native Tongue’ here in Guyana. It is a broken down version of Standard English.

For example:
I Do not want to go there – Me nah wan go deh
Hey boy! How are you doing ?  –   Ayyy bai ! wuh goin on deh ?
My name is Gavin, and I am from Guyana   –   Me name Gavin, and me come from Guyana.

Our native tongue, and our Guyanese accent, I believe, is one of the most unique in the world. When we have a real conversation you will see what I’m talking about.

How important is the own identity for you as Guyanese musicians? I’m also looking at the radio show I’ve seen posts about Guyanese music.

GM: Guyanese Identity is very important. We are one of only two active rock bands here in Guyana. Our scene is very small. So to stand out in the larger Caribbean Rock Scene, and more so the international Rock Scene, we have to maintain the fact that we are GUYANESE HEAVY METAL MUSICIANS… That’s what makes us most unique.

What would you say is typical Guyanese music?

GM: Traditional Guyanese music, the folk music, would include our Creolese music, it’s part of our roots.
Modern Guyanese music borrows from mostly American and Jamaican pop culture.

If a Guyanese artist stays true to his or her culture, you will always hear that Creolese influence in there for sure. There may be even a hint of Indian or African drums, steel pan and lots of lyrics about ‘mashing down the road’.


So, would you guys like to say a bit about your concert in the national stadium? How significant is it for Guyanese metal?

GM: Our concert at the National Stadium was a milestone for the band, and for us as Musicians. We performed at a concert that was in celebration of our country’s 50th anniversary as an Independent Nation. We did not play ‘Heavy Metal’… it was more Creole Rock … but we played as Heavy as we possibly could. A huge accomplishment for a Rock band here in Guyana. We were well received by the mass audience.
GS: Although we didn’t get to go full metal for that gig, it was a huge step for Guyanese metal. No other rock band had ever performed there, so we achieved an exposure for the music and scene that no one else had done for a while. The thing is, it wasn’t like a rock party; there were hardly anyone that I knew there that even like rock, much less metal. But when they heard our set it really opened their minds and heart. I still can’t believe the reception we had; I even met people in the streets that came up to me excited asking for more. They didn’t appreciate it before but now they do!

Can you elaborate a bit on the history of metal in your country? What bands were significant and why?

GM: Heavy Metal was very popular in Guyana in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s… The scene was thriving, with top local bands like Burning Bush, Pearls To Swine, Stone Blind, Struck Root, Et Tu Brutus – all who contributed to what Rock n’ Roll in Guyana is now. Most of the bands would have also ventured to Suriname, Trinidad and Brazil during their active years. Et Tu Brutus, the local veterans, have been active for almost 20 years now. The other bands have split over the years due to various reasons. Et Tu Brutus remains as the band that paved the way for FTF. Midnite Mars, a more recent band is currently building their rep here in Guyana.

GS: From what we’ve learnt from the older folks, metal has been around in Guyana since the 80’s. At one point our scene was even more vibrant than our neighbours (it’s the total opposite now). One of the biggest names to come out of that time was Pearls to Swines. I’d say that band made the most impact on the history of rock n’ roll in general for Guyana. I think its members still play in various bands around the world. This band is really important because they were A-class musicians and most bands that followed came around as an indirect or direct result of them.

There were a few other bands that weren’t so much metal that came out such as Burning Bush and Tech 21. However in the 90’s the first real heavy metal band came to being, and that was Et Tu Brutus. They paved the way for the younger bands which includes us. Still one of my own personal inspirations, this band still performs. They’re the veterans that kept the music alive in the country for a little over a decade, when no one else was doing it. Then we came along.

Did the music face any obstacles in your country? As in censorship on political or religious grounds?

GM: Rock Music is very underground in Guyana, and in this region. The airwaves are dominated by Soca, Chutney and Reggae … all which are Caribbean Music. Rock music is not very much accepted by the general public, as it is different in many ways.

It is hard to get airplay from just about all the radio stations and DJs… Because they believe it’s not what people want to hear… so… I create Radio Rock n’ Roll … so that Rock Music can be heard on Guyanese Radio every day.

Over the past year though, the public has been warming up to Feed the Flames, as we have been in the newspapers, and have made several public appearances recently. There is no moral war against Heavy Metal in Guyana. At least none that is stressed on. A few people might say things like it’s ‘devil music’ or that we’re destructive or something. But that hasn’t happened in a while, I don’t think it even happens any more.

GS: The typical Guyanese wouldn’t want to hear metal on the radio, hence that’s why Gavin Mendonca is the only radio-dj to do this. When we started as a band, even before Gavin M joined, we would try to record an original song and every studio turned us down or tried to rip us of. Just because of the stigma the music carries. Mainstream music here is really just Jamaican and American pop music.

In the 90’s a few students of the University of Guyana were accused of practicing witchcraft and satanic rituals. Some of these students of course were identified with the music and as such it caused a stigma. Also around that time, there was a popular rock club that got shut down after a patron got stabbed. This pretty much sealed the fate a rock and people’s perception of it. Literally killed it and kept it dead for years.


Do you have any real heavy metal gathering places, like venues, bars, record stores or rehearsal spaces? How readily available is any material and music to you guys?

GM: Unfortunately, we don’t have a place where usual gatherings happen. The only time a rock event/party/show/concert happens is when we decide to throw one ourselves. Back in the day, there was a place called Sidewalk Cafe, which was the CBGB’s of Guyana, but that eventually closed down. Live Rock n’ Roll happens as often as we perform.

GS: As the years go by the hanging spot changes. There a few pool bar that can be identified as rock bars. There is one in particular that everyone calls the rock bar ‘Nial’s bar’. The owner’s brother is also a musician and the owner himself is into the music, huge fan of it. So we do shows there every couple months. In terms of music material…internet. Everyone here downloads, for years it was the surest way. Either that or cheap bootleg and that’s if you’re lucky to find any type of rock. Nowadays though, people do order albums if we want the original.

What can you tell about the scene in Guyana? I suppose its similarly to the Suriname one very mixed. What sort of unity does it have?

GM: The scene in Guyana is very small… At the average gig, about 60 – 100 people would show up, sometimes less. At a big gig, for example when Lips Stick from Suriname came to perform, we had about 300 people. The diehard fans are always around to support. There is a small group of rock enthusiasts who are very close knitted and support the scene always.

GS: It’s pretty much the same in terms of people; spans across all class, race, age or creed. Although very small the folks of the scene are very friendly (for the most). It’s not as vibrant as su though. Moshing and so forth doesn’t really happen, unless it’s the musicians themselves.

You’ve taken part in the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean, can you tell a bit about that experience?

GM: We had submitted our application for the event, but were not selected to compete. We still decided to drive to Suriname to attend the venue, and meet everyone and all the bands. Jerry Orie is a great friend of mine, and I support all of his shows as much as I could. I was lucky enough to serve as the first every Stage Hand for the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean, alongside Jochen. An experience I am truly grateful for.

The overall experience was AWESOME. It probably was the biggest Rock event to happen in the Caribbean. We went there to network with the other bands, and two months later – we found ourselves in Trinidad performing with the winners, Lynchpin, and third place finalists – This Will Be No More from Aruba.
GS: Though we didn’t make it to the top five for the Caribbean to compete, it was a great experience. Some of us went to visit the event in Suriname, which was a wicked road trip by itself. The best of the Caribbean under one roof was an incredible experience, it’s the first time that happens and it was great to rub shoulders with some of the best n the world too. The band Taipan performed as well, who have worked with members from Megadeth and even Nine Inch Nails I think. It was one long, drunk weekend.

I understand from the chat with Luguber from Suriname that the metal battle is prompting more unity in the Caribbean scene. Do you guys feel that too and how does that work out?

GM: Luguber is AWESOME ! Shavero and I actually performed together in one-night band at one of Jerry Orie’s events – we formed a Punk Band called ‘Punk As Fuck!‘ for one night only, on the same stage as Disquiet. We have been developing a relationship with the Suriname Rock Scene since 2012, they are awesome and very friendly. A family. And we are happy to be a part of it. We have made great friends in the Surinamese Band – Morrighon, who performed in Guyana, and we performed with them in Suriname as well. We then made a huge link with Trinidad, where we have made new friends as well. Together we all are moving forward as ONE giant Caribbean Rock Scene.
GS:  Ah It is! Back home people are stoked about this. It would be great if both bands travel forth and back to each other with fans and create a big network. I think it might be happening. We’ve also had the opportunity to perform in Trinidad a few weeks aback and it’s booked for next year April. We might be going to Suriname later this year as well and bands are willing to travel here. The Metal Battle surely has stirred the pot and turned heads.

Which bands from Guyana and around should people check out and why?

GM: Feed The Flames is the future of Heavy Metal in Guyana. I definitely would advise you to follow us closely, our YouTube page, our Instagram, everything. We plan to make huge waves across the Caribbean, then to the rest of the world.

Et Tu Brutus is an awesome Guyanese band, with a great group of guys. They will actually be performing in Brazil this August. Aeons of Disorder are a great band from French Guyana and we had the pleasure to play with them three times. There Will Be No More from Aruba is a great band that was in the finals of the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean. We performed with them in Trinidad.

GS: Definitely Et Tu Brutus! Beside us, they are the only true metal band here. Also check out Pearl’s to swine, might be old but still awesome. Trinidad has some great bands to offer, like Lynchpin, who won the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean. Anti-Everything is a great punk band and there’s much more going on there like Spectral Vibes, Orange Sky, Black Rose, Side Kick Envy, and much more.

If Feed the Flames was a dish, what would it be and why?

GM: We’d be Cook Up, with a side of Pepper-Pot. These are two Guyanese dishes that are legendary in Guyana, and truly represent the diversity and heritage of our culture.
GS: Haha! From the top of my head I’d say a 7 curry, like what you might get at an Indian wedding. Mainly because of all the influences and different affinities that add up to make feed the flames.

What future plans does Feed the Flames have right now?

GM: We are finishing up the recording for our first album. We aim to get it released by the end of the year. We also plan on getting more gigs across the Caribbean so we can build our name even more. Then, Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean 2018. Winners. On to Germany from there.
GS: We’re aiming to write and record an entirely new album by mid next year. Also we host our own events in Guyana and one hope to bring the world here. Definitely writing and recording but also touring. We’ve never done that, so I suppose that’s the next big leap for us!


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Underground Sounds: Myrkur – Mausoleum

Label: Relapse Records
Band: Myrkur
Origin: Denmark

Myrkur may be an artist that caused more fuss in the black metal world than even Deafheaven in the past year. Her debut ‘M’ was a darn good record though and seeing her perform live was very special indeed. The beef with Myrkur is a bit vague to really pin down. Is it the fact that her music focusses on a specific aspect of black metal, the more ritualistic, folklore atmosphere? Is it that Amelie Bruun did pop music under her own name and with Ex Cops? Or maybe that she did hiphop with R.A. The Rugged Man?

Or is it the fact that she’s really quite attractive and has a fashion sense, which she displays in videos online? There’s many reasons to revile Amalie Bruun if your a stuck up black metal purist. If you manage to look pas that, you might be able to see that Amalie Bruun is talented, creative and daring to step out and do a black metal album. Having seen a show, I can also inform you that it is a great improvement to have women seeing the bands with you and not just the smell of basement, earth (I think) and sweat stains surrounding you. Get over yourself, please, and look at your black metal heroes who are now making wine, industrial music, classical stuff or weird racist role playing games.

If there’s one objection I’ve had agains the music of Myrkur, is that i’s so ridiculously dense. There’s so much happening, that it confuses me as a listener. No, it’s not like a crazy jazz record, but ‘Mausoleum’ offers what I would have liked from ‘M’. A dressed down, more pure performance of these highly atmospheric songs. The Danish singer can really demonstrate her skills here.

While retaining the essential atmosphere, the music becomes a sort of chamber music, with only guitar and piano supporting Bruun’s vocals. The ethereal, nymph like chants of Bruun evoke mythological images and dreamy nature landscapes. I had to think back to a book I once read, which involved a man ending up in a Mausoleum of his race, where his people where sleeping forever. In this tranquil silent place, he walked around for hours.  This soundtrack would be the right one for that story.

The record was recorded live in Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum, which through its natural reverb greatly supports that wavery sound of the record. The choir also helps to create that angelic aspect. Though I could go through every song, the album listens as a whole. If any deserves special attention though, it’s the Bathory cover ‘Song To Hall Up High’, which is majestic. Truth be told, I love the work of Amalie Bruun for what it is. If that is not worthy of the black metal label, than so be it.

Underground Sounds: Allfather – Bless The Earth With Fire

Label: Rotting Throne Records
Band: Allfather
Origin: United Kingdom

If the motto of a band is ‘Beards. Metal. Fuck You’ , you know that this is something you want to play loud for a bit. The omnious reference to a Norse Ragnarok added to that makes it even sound more bad ass and that is pretty much the deal with this debut record by United Kingdom sludge metal brawlers Allfather. Can I add to my vote of sympathy that most of their Facebook timeline is filled with shout outs to other bands? That makes you even more of a cool band to me.

The four piece from Rochester have recorded their album in Son of Suns Studio of Jason Frye and Charlie Creese’s Magpie Studios. The mastering of the first five tracks was done by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege (known from Nails, Yob, Sleep etc.), so that’s bound to be good!

Opener ‘Raskolnikov’ shows instantly, that there’s space for the literary and complex with an obvious reference to the work of Dostojevski (Crime and Punishment) with a lyric that demonstrates the shizmatic nature of the protagonist Raskolnikov in a ranted monologue. Surrounding that is the pummeling rhythm section, not unlike some of the Bolt Thrower  tank-track grooves. The vocals sound muddled and boiling up in anger. The whole sound is like an eruption.

If that isn’t enough to already be impressed by the group, you’ll be blown away by Sabbathy riffs and a punch to the jaw on ‘The Bloody Noose’ (wait for that rif for like 4 mins). The sound is not complex or unnecessarily frantic, but just good, groovy doom with an interesting amount of that old fashioned bluesy guitar sounds. Not that the band does anything simplistic, it’s just the sense of knowing what is enough for a good track I think.

A bit of biblical referencing on ‘Death, and Hell Followed With Him’ (Revelations 6:8) is also showing that more thought out element in the music. Clocking an epic 11+ minutes, this is the summit of the album (there’s a bonus track too) where Allfather takes the time to build up properly. There’s always something cathartic to their music and lyrics. Gritty, dirty and full of fat, greasy grooves, the band is like being dragged through the mud and feeling cleaner for it afterwards. And that goes on and on.
Good stuff!

Underground Sounds: Mizmor (מזמור) – Yodh

Label: Gilead Media
Band: Mizmor
Origin: United States

I’m a novice to certain local scenes, but sometimes things just hang together so tightly, that figuring out where things come from is tricky. Mizmor’s new album was mostly captivating my attention thanks to the amazing cover, with a huge floating mask. It appears slightly like something from the far east, but there’s also a universal element to it. Musically, this is an overwhelming experience for sure and the cover is bringing that too life.

That looming spectre seems to be something that the band shares with the affiliated Hell, where the entity of the music and the aesthetic become larger than the artist. A.L.N. started the band as Sorceres and later this morphed into Mizmor. A.L.N. is also active in Urzeit and plays in the live line-up of Hell (who crushed at Roadburn this year). All in all, a good resume for a bit of blistering black metal.

A piercing howl breaks through the misty darkness and unleashes a gargantuan sound of blistering black metal with a grinding sound of rhythm instruments. Harsh and deep vocal screams simply erupt and reign down on the listener as fierce abyssal hailstorms. It’s at those moments, when icy howls escape from A.N.L., frontman of Mizmor, that the band truly tickles those hairs on the back of your neck.

The slow, thrudging pace and the buzzing guitar sounds are rather uncanny for the listener, but the whole experienc is ment to be unnerving and different compared to the more traditional genre specific bands. The elements of doom and black metal are combined in an extremely efficient way. The slow, menacing progressions are terrifying and mighty. Big tapestries of distorted guitar, but then also the trickling acoustic elements.

Somewhere in between everything, this album offers a pure cathartic experience. The crawling pace, the deep abbyssal vocals and tormented screams are a true aural embodiment of hell. It pushes the envelope and is almost a soundscape of looming darkness to its perfection. The way a track like ‘Bask in the Lingering’ builds up and then winds down only to rise again is majestic. You just got to love this album.



Underground Sounds: Sir Robin & The Longbowmen – S/T

Label: Independent
Band: Sir Robin & The Longbowmen
Origin: Germany

With a beaver on the cover and an obvious reference to Robin Hood in the band name, this group from the German city of Dresden captured my eye instantly. Sir Robin & The Longbowmen is a big band with seven members that likes to play psychedelic music and that they do well.

The band also has a rather big load of humor if you look at their facebook page, where they claim inpspiration from Czech porn and thank Michael Jackson, Phil Collins and Costas Cordalis for some dubious contributions. Oh, that and they claim to be the tallest band in Saxony, which might be true.

Musically the sound of the band is rather filmic, oriëntal even on openern ‘Sissi’s Harp’, where the sitar-like sounds meander through hypnotically. That atmosphere sticks to the music, which also includes funky bass loops, frilly samples and a good buit of world music here and there. The sound is not too filled up with all sorts of jambling by the huge band, the sound is condensed into a meaningful and fitting form.

Repetition is one of the key elements of psych music and that is what you hear mostly on the songs, but the vocals vary immensely. From the muttering Spanish on ‘Tramboliko’ to be burly roar on ‘Dead Horse’ with it’s nice 70’s vibe. There is a trace of chamber poppiness in their sound, most notably on ‘I Would Like’, with some sensitive arrangements.

Shimmering slow pop with fluttering instruments is what the band does with little effort, as much as their more dense psychedelic jams. It’s all particularly captivating and enjoyable. Why do I dig this so much? Because the whole record is good, it feels like a whole, a complete record with good, pleasant music. Check them out, you know you want to!

Your ultimate Lovecraft soundtrack part 1

I’ve noticed the curious fact that so many bands have recently gone in the direction of Lovecraftian themes in their music, it’s astonishing. Some of them are brilliant.

Entering the Mythos

I stumbled upon a library book when I was around 16 years of age, featuring assorted Lovecraft stories. Though the book was more aimed at New England stories (the witchcraft stories of Lovecraft), it was an immediate succes for my reading pleasures. For years it felt like a nice underground thing, that only the initiated of my friends knew about. It’s the kind of work that makes you feel like you know something others dont.

The mythos isn’t for everyone, there’s a style of writing inate to the work of Lovecraft that is dense, old and sometimes a bit too stale, but it all helps in the proces of scaring you. Not everyone can get that far, which always prompts me to recommend short stories. Lovecraft could astonish you in a  100 pages of ‘At The Mountains of Madness’, but evenly so in a 3 page short story.

Academic interest

The Lovecraft mythos and its impact has even become a topic of some academic/essayist interest with the writings of even a Michel Houellebecq adresses the topic of Lovecraft. The early 20th century pulp writer has become an underground culture phenomenon. Specially in the later decades of past century, Cthulhu is rising.

Not only are there tons of cartoons, re-issues and weird fan art, Cthulhu and other Lovecraftian creations have been part of music (mostly heavy or underground) for a while. Gary Hill documented this in his book ‘The Strange Sound of Cthulhu: Music Inspired by the Writings of H.P. Lovecraft’.  It mentions an astonishing amount of bands from all sorts of places, but I feel quite often from the southern part of the USA. I guess the foggy swamps bring about something supernatural.

Musical Reading Support

Though many bands featured mention the fact that they veel their music should stand on its own, I find personally that having a good slab of music to listen to while reading the works of Lovecraft is an entirely cool thing to have. The comical Lovecraft tunes and punkrock probably doesn’t fit very well as material that supports you while reading. Instead you would go for something more atmospheric, heavy and oppressing, leaving classical/postrock/ambient and metal. I prefer metal.

Recently there’s been a boom in Cthulhu stuff, which ranges from audiobooks on bandcamp to strange experimental rock similar to the soundtracky stuff by X-ray Dog. An example of that are these guys:

Triskaidekaphobia would be right up your sleeve if you are interested in more electronic, trance-like material. A bit of goth flavoring and a ton of electronic assistance create something akin to a game soundtrack.

Similarly, the work by guitarist Brett Miller takes on that sound, but more metal oriented and maybe akin to the famous Red Alert videogame soundtrack. Strong riffing, but little other effects. Quite up front, which  is not for every reader, and highly captivating.

More out to get some prog in your ears? The recording done by Back to R’lyeh is a worthy endeavour with soaring, big sounding adventure-music. There’s a bit of heavy vocals mixed in their, but overall they sound a bit like modern day Opeth. Good stuff by this Spanish group, but to me a bit too all over the place.

More sticking witht he ambiance of a radio show? Reber Clark supplies the music to the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s Dark Adventure Radio Theatre and more, so he’s well versed in this. You can find a lot of his work online. 

A bit weirder…

A bit more odd, but I’m not judging, is the lo-fi surf inspired noise rock by Zpider on this endeavour. Granted, for me the weirdnes of it would be a bit too distracting, but the Burzumesque drones and spiralling sounds may just be what you need to get in that Lovecraftian groove.

So the Suction Cups took that and made it even more weird and silly, with a carnivalesque organ jam that sounds way to much like a party to me, but damn,… it’s captivating.

Thomasz Bylina is a metal musician, but on the side he started doing something he likes to call illustrative music. That is great, because that is exactly what you’d be looking for. The record, titled firstly ‘Teomachia’ is in fact ment as a soundtrack of a game Thomasz is part of developing. How awesome is that!?

Or you just don’t give a tick, give Cthulhu boobs and a vagina  that looks like the mouth of  Gene Simmons , like Blinding Eye Dog. I don’t know what more to say about this. Lovecraft probably didn’t envision this, but then again Lovecraft was a bit of an old fashioned guy… The music is good in my opinion.

Mind, this is just a pick of recent materials that have been released. It’s not an all encompassing list, but just what I came across.

The thing is, the inspiration that Lovecraft’s work has given to musicians is one of a kind. Even the weirdos from Blinding Eye Dog have clearly read the works and decided to do a strange spin on that. Sure, it’s very different, but the impact is shown. Yeah sure, it’s not thet profound expression of appreciation, but it shows the impact of Lovecraft’s work.

Tuesday thoughts: Tiny bits make big things

I’m walking towards the university building where I need to be this morning. It’s around 10.15 and the sun is shining. I’m listening to The Fall on my headphones and quickly read the latest column by Henk van Straten. Henk writes nice little bits about his life and how they make him think. It’s good to know more people think.

I’m on my way to another day of lectures on communication. Because I have to catch up on some subjects I have a shortened pre-master trajectory, which features mainly communication subjects. I find most of them a  bit similar this far.

You can have a whole lecture series on one topic, one type of text and its elements. It’s weird science to me, focussing on all those little bits. Now, I’m more of  a fan of the big theories, the big thinkers and thoughts. Einstein, Kant or whatever their names may be. Titans in the cosmos of the sciences.

My thoughts switch to another fact. I’ve been married for a week now. Funny, it is such a tiny thing in a way. You stand in front of a desk and later an altar and you say yes a bunch of times. Has anything really changed? Not really, though I’ve been affected by a new sort of affection. I want to be with her as much as I can. But that was always the way of things.

And she’s so smart and independent, I don’t think she needs me
Quite half as much as I know I need her.
– Blink 182 ‘Josie’

It’s the little bits though. The tiny bits of research that form and break paradigms, the small steps that make a relationship grow and flourish. The small stories that make up the personality. That’s the lesson of today then.
Maybe I should do columns?

Underground Sounds: Rebel Wizard – Triumph of Gloom

Label: Independent
Band: Rebel Wizard
Origin: Australia

Imagine extreme metal that is free of trends, free of hip motivations and pure in its expression of angst, fear and frustration. That is a bit of a tricky thing, since most bands are connected to some other, bigger movement, some sort of trend. Then stumbling across the most raucous, rancid record in a long time, which is filled with an almost jubilant fury and enthousiasm. That’s what you get from Rebel Wizard. 

What if you’d mix Angel Witch with Bathory and add some epic Iron Maiden riffs? Well, that would be the most close I can get to describing the feeling Rebel Wizard’s music offers. Sole member NKSV, also known as Bob Neskrasov, has been active in Neskrasov and Whitehorse next to this project, which allows him a singular way of expression outside of that (Neskrasov is also a solo project).

The album opens with the quote: “There’s no reason to be alive…”. It sets the tone for a grim sound, but when the riff comes in, it’s not the static haze of typical black metal, but a thundering, fists in the air heavy metal riff offering you a build up like no other. The song serves as an intro with its mid pace marching vibe. Prepare, for metal is back as you love it. The riffs on the following thrack ‘Where We Surrender Completely To The Miserable Shaman’ the guitars fall down on you, but again with those recognizable heavy metal vibes. Combine that with hoarse screamed vocals and you have a potent mixture of fury.

Rebel Wizard combines the two unlikely sounds to a vibrant, energetic sound that you can not sit still to, it demands you to stomp your feet, rock your fists and scream along in the overwhelming frustration that is vented by the Wizard himself. The switch in sound is so intriguing, so different, yet so incredibly catchy. Though the recording quality is not studio-crisp, it’s that gritty element giving it even more of an edge. Just listen to the track ‘Eat The Warlock’, which has the screaming guitars that work so well, regardless of any other aspect. The high pitch of the vocals feels almost harmonious with that sound.

I find that in words I lack the means to truly describe how full of vitality this record is, how strongly it just resets the starting point for a black metal album. This is brilliant and feels like such a raw, direct expression that punches you in the gut and then knees you in your face. Bam!