Saor: Andy Marshall about being Scottish

Scotland is a country that speaks to the imagination. Apart from a lot of clichés that strangely involve many elements of the film Braveheart, it is a place of rugged nature that has inspired many artists over the years. Andy Marshall with his various projects is no difference at that.

Saor is his main output lately, a solo endeavour with which he has released three albums this far. The latest is titled Guardians and shows a new side to the nature inspired atmospheric black metal Andy produces. I decided I needed to learn a bit more about his work and got in touch.

Originally this interview was published on Echoes & Dust.

Hello, how are you doing?

Andy: I’m good thanks.

Can you tell a bit about yourself and how you got into metal music?

Andy: I started listening to metal in high school. I used to listen to a lot of rock and mainstream metal in the beginning, which then led me on to more extreme and underground bands. In my late teens/early 20’s I listened to a lot of black and folk metal. Nowadays I usually only listen to the classic albums from the 90’s/early 00’s and don’t listen to a lot of new bands.

What made you feel attracted to the combination of metal and folk elements? Though it’s a broad scope, you’ve clearly found your own combination of the two, where they complement each other.

Andy: I was inspired by other European bands who mixed their countries traditional folk sounds with metal. It always puzzled me as to why there were no Scottish bands doing this considering we have an interesting history, amazing nature/landscapes and lots of great traditional folk music. I grew up around Scottish folk music, so I guess it’s in my blood.

You’ve just released the third album under the Saor name, including Roots [which was released under the name Àrsaidh originally], what can you tell about the new album Guardians? What is its concept/story?

Andy: The poems I used on the album cover subjects such as fallen heroes and ancient battles and I thought Guardians was a good title. I never really have a concept or story when I start writing an album, I usually add lyrics or poetry after I’ve written the music.

You’ve done this record mostly on your own. How does the recording and writing process take place? How do you select the musicians to work with on your album?

Andy: I usually start off with a few basic demos with guitars, bass and drums. I then start adding folk instruments, strings, piano etc. Most of the guest musicians are friends of mines, but I asked Meri Tadic (fiddle) to play on Guardians because I am a fan of her work and Kevin Murphy (bagpipes) got in touch with me online.


You’ve briefly taken Saor to the stage, why did you abandon that avenue?

Andy: We’ve decided to play a few exclusive live shows this year to see how it goes. A lot of people really want to see Saor and the other guys convinced me to continue playing live. I don’t particularly enjoy it, I find it pretty stressful and I get quite anxious on stage. We had a run of poorly organized shows last year and I really couldn’t be bothered with it anymore. We will see how these shows go in 2017 and then I will decide from there if we will continue.

In the past you’ve been doing a lot of work by yourself. What is your philosophy behind doing things yourself, releasing music by yourself with Fortriu Productions and how is it to now release Guardians on a label?

Andy: I think the phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth” sums it up. I have always preferred writing music myself and managing things myself. All three of my albums have been physically released by Northern Silence Productions, but I released them all digitally under Fortriu Productions.

What does being Scottish mean to you? I ask this in the broadest sense, since it seems to pervade in all your musical endeavours.

Andy: It means that I probably will never see that big warm ball in the sky (I think they call it “the sun”) for as long as I live here. It means that I will never get to see my national team progress to a major football tournament again in my life time. It means that I will probably die young due to a bad diet and alcohol problems… But seriously, I am obviously inspired by my country’s history, its nature and landscapes, its traditions and art, but apart from that, as Renton said in Trainspotting: “It’s shite being Scottish!”.

Is it for you the nature or the culture that inspires you? For me it seems like Saor is akin to a number of bands in that appreciation for the land more than its culture. What do you think about this?

Andy: A lot of things inspire me. Nature, culture, art, good ale and life in general. But yeah, I agree that nature and landscapes play a bigger role in my themes than culture.

Which bands inspired and inspire you to make the music you do?

Andy: As I said in a previous answer, I grew up listening to a lot of the early traditional, black and folk metal bands, so there’s probably a few of them who inspired me to make this kind of music. Nowadays I tend to listen to non-metal genres and try and get inspiration elsewhere. I actually find that places, books and films inspire me more nowadays than any music.

Are there any other Scottish bands that you feel people should know about (and why)?

Andy: The Twilight Sad is a really good shoegaze/folk/indie band from Scotland. I think their sound is great and the vocalist is amazing. My friends Cnoc An Tursa are releasing a new album called The Forty Five soon, which I highly recommend for fans of power, black and folk metal. If you’re into traditional folk music then Julie Fowlis is an amazing singer you should check out. Another suggestion would be the mighty Runrig!

What other things inspire you to make the music you do?

Andy: Hillwalking, being outdoors, books, films, art, poetry, life.

So earlier in 2016 you’ve also released an album under the moniker ‘Fuath’. A completely different sound, stripped down and direct, what can you tell about Fuath and why did you form this project?

Andy: There’s not much to say really. I wanted to try something different and darker to Saor and I had a few ideas I couldn’t fit into Saor. I probably won’t do much more with it.

Though this is an assumption from my side (which I hope you’ll pardon me for), but it seems that there is a perhaps minor political element to Saor (the link to Saor Alba). Politics and folk metal don’t mix well it seems. So my question is, is there a political element and how do you feel about the politics in extreme metal?

Andy: I wouldn’t say there’s a political element in my music. I first seen the word “Saor” in the phrase “Saor Alba” (Free Scotland) and thought the meaning behind Saor (“free”, “unconstrained”) suited my music really well. I’m personally a supporter of Scottish independence and I have always been inspired by my nation’s fight for independence, but I’m not going to try and push a political agenda down people’s throats. My lyrics are mainly based on traditional poetry or love for nature/landscapes. My music is meant to be an escape from politics and all of that kind of stuff. I want people to put my music on and be transported somewhere else. If other bands want to push a political agenda in their music then that’s up to them.

Do you have any future projects on your mind or that you’re working on?

Andy: I’ll be focusing on Saor in the future. This year I am focusing on the live shows and I’ll probably look into making some new merchandise.

If your music was a dish, a type of food, which would it be?

Andy: Deep fried Mars Bar.

Underground Sounds: Fief – II

Label: –
Band: Fief
Origin: United States

Dungeon synth is a genre with a spectacular variety, but sometimes you find true gems that stand apart even it this genre. Fief dropped two records in 2016, which both are completely out of this world. For lovers of fantasy and dreamy realms, this is the right soundtrack.

Whether you’re a dungeon crawling role player or an obsessive high fantasy reader or even an oldschool gamer, this should fit right in there. The simple, synthy sounds are playful, merry and have the natural feeling of a soundtrack. Oh, a bit of history. A fief used to be the word for the reward vassals would reap from serving their lord. It could com ein the shape of land or peasants. The fiefdom would be the vassals realm.

So that explains why this sounds so much like medieval music. You picture yourself on a sunny day in the village or the forest, with bright, twinkly sounds. A harpsichord is ever present in there and it just feels so close to a folky ensemble playing a jam, that it becomes so tangible. The charm is that it is still different, not natural, which is the feeling I get in my D&D games. There’s a construction taking place, of cold, ancient walls, overgrown ruins and peaceful cottages.

For Fief the playground is not the dungeon and the looming threat, it’s the blissful spring in the village. The sound is well composed and balanced, not just a guy jamming on a keyboard. It seems that the force behind Fief knows his music and manages to create tunes that keep you listening, while holding to the continuity of soundtracks (for example, I tink of the old Lord of the Rings RPG on the SNES or the Zelda games).

Fief makes colorful, lively music that I completely adore. Check it out for yourself! (also listen to I) it’s pretty too. For Fief there are no dungeon walls, just the sunny forest.




Underground Sounds: Forest of Trys – Frostburn

Label: –
Band: Forest of Trys
Origin: Lithuania

There’s  a joke in the name, because Trys just sounds like trees. The profile picture on bandcamp is a fat cat and you might start having doubts about the seriousness of Forest of Trys . Still the sound of the band is not one for light jokes and fun, but a grim affair indeed.

Forest of Trys only has one member listed on Metal Archives, namely Šmėkla. Another fact is that the band hails from Kaunas and did release a full lenght earlier in 2016, titled ‘Architect’.

‘Stars I’ is the opener, which starts with hazy, distorted noisy black metal. It feels like an industrial haze with the lecherous sound of Fat White Family somewhere hidden in the sonic fog (no clue how I take that from it). Then suddenly it merges into an old carnival tune, not dissimilar to the Eraserhead soundtrack by David Lynch. It all sounds just a bit of and wrong, which makes the vibe more slightly unnerving. Guided by martial drumming, the song moves back to the noisey dissonance. Shattering sampling and icy beats follow for the next part of the track, creating a noisy template of assault.

A more gritty sound can be heard on ‘Stars II’, where we seem to move away even further from the noisy black metal sound. Groaning noise pulsates in the air, while string elements create a semblance of style and class in sharp contrast to the colossal noise. Again, such a peculiar sound, but the final song, surprisingly titled ‘Starts III’ really takes the cake. Grim, desolate and full of industrial elements, it consists of more effects and samples of people speaking in an order that feels completely random. Pulsating, humming, squeeking the sont thunders on, with a seemingly random drum pattern offering a semblance of steadiness in the sound.

The record is an almost nightmarish trip. This is a peculiar album, with only black metal as a spirit present. Lithuania seems to have some interesting musicians out there. This record would go down well with noiseheads and experimental listeners too. Nice stuff!

Underground Sounds: Tuurngait – Untitled

Label: –
Band: Tuurngait
Origin: Lithuania

Tuurngait is a new band from Lithuania, that has just released their debut. Not that much else is known about the group from Vilnius, apart from the fact that they certainly don’t sound as if they come in peace. They did show up at the release show of the last Luctus album, so they might have been around for longer than I can see now.

This EP is noteworthy short with just 3 songs and an intro. It’s the bare minimum relaly for an EP, but the band does not disappoint soundwise on this. They’ve also admitted to be very antireligious. The blackened element in their sound gives them a bit of Behemoth, the grandeur I would say, though not as pronounced as the Poles do it.

Dissonant tones anounce the start of the nameless debut. It’s a jangling sound that forms the introduction, creating a moment of anticipation for when ‘Open Sanctum’ unleashes with some thick groovy riffs and powerful, guttural vocals. A bit of effect over the singing makes it sound as if it comes from really deep. A rolling, thunderous bit of death metal, the way you like and love it. Roaring vocals and thick slabs of guitar, hell yeah.

The opening of ‘Crave For The Vultures’ reminds me a little of Debauchery. A roaring, wild assault of battle lusty death metal once more is unleashed by the Lithuanians. It’s a thick, sla of sound that the band delivers, with some guitar weeping through the sonic mass. It just happens that Tuurngait does all of this pretty good. Final song ‘With Fire’ is another full on track, fitting in the more modern death metal tradition. It’s a shame that Tuurngait is such an unknown, mysterious phenomenon now. I would be keen to hear a full album by this energetic new group. Good stuff!

Underground sounds: Draugsól – Volaða Land

Label: Signal Rex
Band: Draugsól
Origin: Iceland

Iceland’s young black metal scene keeps producing diamonts. I think that Draugsól is just the next one in line with their excellent debut ‘Volaða Land’. It translates as something like ‘land of misery’, which is a fitting titled for a black metal band that seems to have a sound inspired by the Nidrosian style in black metal. But hey, that’s probably painting them with too broad strokes.

This group is ofcourse not a collective of unknown figures, but are also active in Mannveira, In Crucem Agere and Cult of Lilith. So all in all, close to the tight knit Icelandic scene with a bit of death metal thrown into it. Like most band in that scene, there’s a definite identity to their sound. A rawness and untamed element that immediately stands out when you listen to them.

The sound of the title track immediately sets up something epic, working as an intro with powerful voices and muscular drum rolls. Howls and dissonant guitars fill the air and let their squeel merge into ‘Formæling’. The deep, guttural vocals and the cascading riffs are immediately affirming the chest pumping epic direction the sound is going in. The cascading riffs are remniscent of other northern battle metal bands, maybe even a bit of Keep Of Kalessin with the straight forward, clean riffing. The overall clean production really helps the band carry their sound to an epic status, instead of becoming a more bestial sounding band.

No, there’s an honest grandeur to the sound of this band.  Mainly thanks to the arches of the guitar, that is often let free to soar and roam the land. Implementing some nature sounds also works in favor of their overall experience, like the falling water on ‘Bót Eður Viðsjá Við illu Aðkasti’. As a listener you can detect some Enslaved in the sound here. The stretched out parts with intentse tremolo riffing, the shifts and build-up in the song, even the gurgly vocals feel like they connect there. It feels as if Draugsól has a tendency to be slightly more progressive.  At other moments they really stick to the traditional aspects, but there’s definitely a different groove to this band.

I have to add some Behemoth to that, because the band certainly knows how to bring it big. Somewhere in between all that they deliver a fierce debut and I hope these guys will be around for a bit.


Underground Sounds: Veldes – Ember Breather

Label: Razed Soul Productions/Pest Productions
Band: Veldes
Origin: Slovenia

One could argue that autumn is not the worst time of the year, but on ‘Ember Breather’ one might start changing ones opinion. This is the second full lenght of Veldes from Bled. A project manned by Tilen Šimon, who’s been active in NephrolithWintersoul and more. Veldes is also the word from medieval times for the vastness of the landscape in the region where the music originates from. Roots run deep as we know.

What attracted me to the record are the clean passages, the mournful tone and a sort of olschool feeling to the sound. You can feel the nature inspiration in the way the sound wanders of, the acoustic elements and warmth of the sound. The contrast between that warmth and the icy high-pitched screams is rather big, which is a specialty for Veldes. I get the comparison to Drudkh, but there’s also something of Agalloch I suppose.

What I particularly like in the sound of Veldes is the contrast between those clean sounds and the harsh, gnarly drums and vocals. It gives a much more hooked and scharp sound to the band, without taking away the massive atmosphere that is created. The sense of forlorn times and grief remains intact for the listener. Those themes are very present in the song titles as well and the fading art work on the record cover. It all falls into place with the long piano pieces, like on ‘To Ruins Of Throneless Realm’. A slow progressing piece with laborously toiling guitars and some tremolo play. The drums are barely needed to keep the flow of sound going.

When you find that calm in the flow of the music, there’s always that shriek to wake you up again and arouse you from the slumbering trees. When it comes to this type of music, Veldes is in its own remote valley.


Underground Sounds: Cober Ord – Le Revers du Soleil

Label: Nomos Dei
Band: Cober Ord
Origin: France

The dark holds many shapes, even the other side of the sun might be dark if this album is any indication. The French duo Cober Ord take inspiration from something deeper than nature. Something more primordial than the earths shaping, which you find in an underlying rhythm and timbre.

The duo embraces the spiritual idea of animism. This means that certain objects and beings possess distinctive spiritual qualities. That is something they try to put into their sound, which is stripped of human elements in a way. It’s the forgotten caves, the underground rivers and the unknown corners of the world. Think ambient, but also just sounds, field recording meets drone. All of that and more by Ynn (vocals, noise and sounds, known from Habsyll) and Yn (percussion, known from Stille Volk and Ihan).

The dark, meandering drone reminds me of David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Is it a drone or an organic sound, because it feels alive and puts up the hair on the back of my neck. It’s a part of the 17 minute opening (and title track), which gradually leads you to the deepest parts of the world, where only inhuman sounds occur. Towards the end, bestial roars interrupt the drone. In the dark with nowhere to go, this is not what I’d call a pleasant moment of the record. Droning, doomy and with sounds that make you feel slightly queesy and unnerved, the sound meanders on. The vocals are modified and mutated to unearthly entities, but all still is part of a rhythmic, natural sounding progression.

That changes when the percussion takes the forefront on ‘Forêt V Cathédrale Glas I’. It feels like you’ve ended up in a different place, an underworld furnace, where mad rhythmic hammering is resounding. It’s a hellish racket, but almost industrial sounding and strangely magical as well. The vocals indicate other creatures from more mythical sources, working their instruments here in a devilish symphony with pumping bellows and clanging of anvils. Guttural barks resound over this rhythm.

It’s amazing how strongly this music plays on the imagination. It’s like a black metal paradise, but what makes it so unnerving is how real the sounds are, how every peep and squeek is audible, as if they’ve really went down into the darkness to make recordings of an unknown danger. But there’s a beautiful harmony to the sound as well, it’s always rhythmic, organic and flowing forwards unstoppably. It’s an aural journey that resets your thinking in a profound way.

This is magical, hauting and a bit creepy, but such a wonderful effort. I really recommend locking yourself up in the dark and listening to Cober Ord. Maybe in a dark forest, to experience the otherness. Well worth it.




Underground Sounds: Velnezers – Pēdējā Saule

Label: Beverina Productions
Band: Velnezers
Origin: Latvia

Velnezers is the creation of Roberts Blūms, a Latvian musician who did everything on the first demo and album, but now the group is continuing as a four piece band. Bringing full weaponry to the table that means on their second full length ‘Pēdējā Saule’, which translates as ‘last sun’. An interesting endeavour of violent black metal.

The band has a very down to earth approach to it. So much that I’d call their sound earthy as well. The songs are rather straight forward, but with an ethnic element of rolling up your sleeves and getting in on it. The cover speaks of some sort of pastoral sound, perhaps inspired by the wintery countryside, but this is not what you get with Velnezers. The band name might be derived from a Wagars track, but I’m not certain about this.

There’s something typical about the sound of Velnezers, from the vocals (in Latvian) you can see that the language shapes the way it fits in with the music. Something I find typical about many Baltic bands. The riffing is often not too complex, but much more expressive and tasty. The track ‘Raganu Medības’is a nice bit of thrashy black metal, with rolling sound and threatening effect. Jumping from the thrashing passages, straight into the blast beat-tremolo roll, it shows how easily the band shits sound. It’s a sound that is feisty, furious and energising, but always with that darkened edge, which makes them so accesible.

Though the band stays pretty close to a rough sounding black metal band, there’s definitely a good rock’n’roll vibe going on. The clear production helps the musicians articulate their sound clearly and cohesively, without becoming the static broth you often hear. Still it sticks close to the ghoulish original Mayhem sound with the bombastic power of Behemoth at times. The clear sound helps in creating space for that vibe. The clear atmosphere never gets lost in a pile of guitar distortion. Both influences can be heard on ‘Meži Deg, Dūmi Kūp I’.  On the other hand, you can detect some death/sludge influences on ‘Svētīts Tiek Mirstīgais’.

Stranger even then, to suddenly hear a mellow, acoustic track. The vocals on ‘Meži Deg, Dūmi Kūp II’ sound distant, far removed from everything. The song flows forward like a calm river with repetitive waves and singing. It is a unusual song for a black metal album, but like most bands from the Baltics, there’s something eclectic to the sound of Velnezers. This song swells up to a gloomy expression of despair, ending with some mere piano tones. The title track closes of with some big riffs. This is a great record, if you can get past the Latvian language vocals. Enjoy!

Imants Daksis: Screaming folk, freedom and creativity

I’ve come across many kinds of music and many artists and some stick. Sometimes I don’t even get the words directly, but something in the way they are sung tells you of their meaning.

Header photo by Olafs Osh

One of those artists is Imants Daksis, a latvian singer/songwriter, who makes ‘screaming folk’ music. Daksis is a peculiar figure in the Latvian music scene. Deeply artistic, expressive and solitary caught between the east and west. Check out the latest record right here by the way.

I was extremely excited to find him willing to answer some of my questions, so without further ado, here goes:

How did you get into music and how did you end up on this specific path? Which artists inspired you?
When I was 15 I realized that guitar is my instrument. I began writing songs at 17/18 and at the same age I had already planned and written down concert repertoire for many concerts which was even far from planning. So it happened quite naturally.
In 2001 we made a post-punk band together with my friends. The band was called “Pasaules gaisma” (Light of The World). After few years I began my solo act.

I experienced my first musical revolution at 13 when I heard Jimi Hendrix. I am still fascinated by the way how liberated he was in his playing. In my opinion, it is possible to reach true virtuosity by doing things your own way and not according to the so-called canons.
My own music has been influenced by 60s’ psychedelic music and ethnic/world music, post-punk bands (such as Swans, Bauhaus, Joy Division, etc.), Russian punk scene (Grazhdanskaya oborona, Instrukciya po vizhivaniyu, etc.), and some local artists as well. Also I have great love for Russian singers-songwriters Vladimir Visotskiy and Alexander Bashlachev. I have always been loyal to independent music and ground breaking avant-garde, though I am more interested in particular artists than genres. Not to mention the influence left by classical music and music for cinema. The last one has particularly leaded the way on how I make my own albums.

However, for the past 5 or so years I am mainly getting inspiration of my own musical work which has been recorded in the past and developing my own ideas.

Are you involved in any other projects at the moment?
Right now I have collaboration with one electronic music artist and I am also a lead singer in s rock band. At this moment these projects are focused on making records and there are my songs involved.

Music is not my only occupation. For the past six years I have also been making photo collages.

What does making folk music mean to you?
I don’t associate myself as a folk musician and I have never felt the need to belong to any music scene. I think that my music is more expressive and controversial than a typical folk musician could tolerate. I could say that it is somewhere between folk, psychedelia and post-punk. Some time ago my Latvian audience invented a new genre to describe what it sounds like – screaming folk.

What are the thoughts, images and messages you try to convey in your music?
I am into such themes as death and transcendental processes of any kind of consciousness, weather it be human mind or mind in wider meaning.

Is there any political element to your music? Or a religious one for that matter?
In my music I actualize the need for spiritual freedom. That is the most important thing for me. There are also motives of reincarnation and transformation in general. My music is not political. However, from all political systems social democracy is the one I prefer the most.

How important to you are the traditional elements in music and culture in present day Latvia? Where do you see your own role in this?
For me traditional elements are as important as any other elements are, if they are used to create something good.

Not too long ago I was a vocalist in a post-folk project “Pērkonvīri” (Thundermen). We were looking for innovative sounds and interpretations of Latvian traditional music and recorded a very good album together, which you can listen here. This has been my closest affair with traditional music so far. However, I have composed a couple of songs by the same principles as Latvian folk songs are based on (speaking of the text layout and rhythm). I don’t like to tag my music with genres, but I see it more as a combination of acoustic post-punk, indie, psychedelia and folk in general.

Can you tell a bit about your latest album ‘Mūžīgā ģeogrāfa piedzīvojumi’, which is a great record. I understand it’s an album with global themes, for example the Judah Song. Why did you choose such topics?

“The Adventures of Eternal Geographer”. This album is dedicated to the eternal geographer – a character which has repeatedly appeared in my music. For eternal geographer our so-called reality and civilization is something only so-called. He does not cling to anything and does not see the statements and ideas made by this society as something unconditional. Eternal geographer is not attracted to any ideology – he laughs about the borders which are made by human society (for him human life is only a temporary challenge). This album is not only about global themes, but the abstract nature of them. It is about human in the world and the world in human, and in general it tells about spiritual processes.

Photo by Olafs Osh

When I try to read translations of your lyrics and texts accompanying music, I feel and see a lot of poetry and literature, also in referencing. Do you take this as an important influence on your work and which writers most of all?
I have always had an ability to perceive and memorize huge amounts of information. When interested in something, I literary start studying it. So when an image, reference, rhyme or anything else is needed, it just emerges from this storehouse. I am interested mostly in spiritual and explorative literature. And in some spare moment I will read children’s or adventure books – that adds some ease and buoyancy to my daily life.

Folk music has a risk to sound outdated, how do you keep your music so catchy and relevant? It never feels repetitive to me.
My life is hard both internally and externally, that makes my music catchy… Well, every joke has a gain of truth. I have very wide range of interests and influences. For example, right now, besides answering these questions, I am listening to Syrian traditional music and Sardinian polyphonic singing. I also experiment a lot till my music reaches my mental state (a song has often gone through several wholesome versions). My aim is to achieve unexpected results, while using minimal resources (that especially refers to live performances).

What plans do you have for the near future?
I have some very divergent musical plans and projects for this year, and also my photo collages soon will be finally finished.

If you had to compare your music to a dish (food) what would it be and why?
I would like to think that my music is more eternal than food. Food is something that has to be taken to provide this physical life, but I make music to transform it.

Images thanks to Imants Daksis Facebook/ Olafs Osh (check out his amazing work)

You can listen to the music by Imants Daksis on bandcamp

Underground Sounds: Bethlehem – Bethlehem

Label: Prophecy Productins
Band: Bethlehem

Origin: Germany

Existence is not a state that is embraced as good and wholesome by everyone. Bethlehem definitely aren’t a life-affirmative and positive band. Nor are they a band praising suicide in the way DSBM bands do. Still, the style of the project of master mind Jürgen Bartsch is dark and different enough to be labelled ‘dark metal’ due to its singular and unique embrace of the dark elements.

Having released seven albums before, this eight record is the first ‘self-titled’ record. After having ventured into unknown domains with previous records, this line-up featuring Onielar on vocals (Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult), returns to the peculiar sound the band is known for. It is already promising to see an unsettling image on the cover of the record.

Opening with rattling battle cry, the record definitely doesn’t stick to static, ponderous passages but instantly rocks out. The demented barks of Onielar are delivered with enough conviction to make ‘Fickselbomber Panzerplauze’ a great opener. The swelling roar of the music is like an opening maw.  The fast pace of the songs is hectic and the listeners stumbles to follow. A sudden break to near silence and piano play on ‘Kalt’ Ritt in leicht faltiger Leere’ knocks the wind out of you. Tormented howls then fill doomy passages of clear, soothing blackness. The pace keeps shifting. The madness tears at you as a listener and tempts you.

The thrash elements in the music allow the music to stay loose and violent. That also works for the listener. You’re more or less prepaired for the rapid shifts and unexpected turns. There’s the double bass urging you on and the high pitch of razorsharp riffs, but it all feels like something you could still party to. The crushing bass on ‘Die Dunkelheit Darbt’ could even be described as disgustingly groovy. There are always unnerving effects to the Bethlehem sound. By just hinting, therefor creating a sense of foreboding dread combined with bursts of intricate, directed madness the group slowly wears down their audience. Without end the songs twist and turn. Doom, black metal and experimental sounds merge into eachother and never does Bethlehem veer to far to one style. Solid ground the listener will not find.

A great example and perhaps the most sincere and hurtfully conveyed track is ‘Verdammnis straft gezügeltes Aas’. The cavernous riffing, while you hear the creepy murmur and painful vocal delivery with thunderous groove is a price piece on this record. Bethlehem returns to form on this album. It’s a form of nightmares, but what nightmares I say.