Category Archives: Uncategorized

Underground Sounds: Beithíoch – Storms of War

Label: Independent
Band: Beithíoch
Origin: Ireland

Ah, some proper Irish black/death fromt he crew of Beithíoch. The band hails from the north-west of the green Island and has been consistently pushing out records over the last few years. The band name translates as ‘beast’  or ‘animal’, which sort of matches their intense sound.

It appears as if the group has been trying to find a particular sound for their Irish roots, moving through different styles over the albums. This EP appears to be the next experiment in this long line of explorations, titled ‘ Storms of War’. It’s a short but powerful endeavor worth listening to.
What remains is a cavernous, lumbering monstrosity, that shows little to know subtle movement in this dense, atmospheric record. Opening track ‘Morrígan’ has slow waves of distorted guitar crashing into the listener as a crow caws. It’s more a dungeon synthy intro, before ‘The Jaws of Death’ launches in big, wavy fashion. The sound feels very dark, with a shadowy melody line emphasizing the way the sound seems to work within confined space. The song just barrels onward, showing little subtlety or nuance.
Once more, the track ‘Funeral Pyre’ introduces the final song.

‘Dornán Talaimh’ comes on like atmospheric black metal, with lingering and languid riffs. The vocals are almost a whisper from the abyss. The deep guttural barks that roared through the first half of the record have made room for calm and measured murmuring.  It shows another side of the band in this way too short release.

Beithíoch spawns forth some creeping chaos on this EP, that will take you to some dark places.

Underground Sounds: murmur mori – Radici

Label: Casetta
Band: murmur mori
Origin: Italy

I’ve written before about the magic that is murmur mori. The Italian nature worshipping folkers have now released a new album, that goes in a slightly more familiar direction with move singing and folky passages, but the ambient nature sounds and organic feel are still a large part of their sound.

The members of the Stramonium Collective earlier released the album ‘O’ and it was inspiring enough to try and learn more. Here you can read the interview I did with the group a while ago. It remains a fascinating entity to me and I’m very happy to be able to tell you about ‘Radici’.

The group takes the approach of music for children, which is an interesting approach but it makes much sense. Children are open to many things, to stories and sounds, to wisdom and knowledge adults may find trivial. It explains the more lively and vibrant sound of the album. Though the chanting on songs like ‘La Calza Rossa’ is calm and quiet, the music is driven with piping flutes. The singing sounds like something you’d easily join in with and that seems to be the point, the magic of the songs. The emotional vocals of Kuro Silvia on ‘Il Sole e l’Eremita’ are full of yearning and really touch the heartstrings. This album touches something of simple play and discovery, the child in our hearts.

The music on this album sounds uncomplicated, direct and therefore amazing. Making music that simply captures the listener is hard because it requires to strip it of useless ornaments. Sometimes a simple rhythm suffices, the other time a lingering melody. The song needs to carry the listener along and that is something murmur mori does very well on songs like ‘La Tomba del Busento’. The beat is what you latch onto. Every song on this record is inspired by Italian folksong or legend. That makes this record a journey in itself.

A recommended record for those who enjoy the calm of nature, simple instruments and pleasantly soothing songs. Check out murmur mori.



Underground Sounds: Ljosazabojstwa – Sychodžańnie

Label: Hellthrasher Productions
Band: Ljosazabojstwa
Origin: Belarus

To the swamps of Belarus with Ljosazabojstwa

I didn’t come up with Ljosazabojstwa, but it’s by far one of the most exotic band names I’ve encountered. The band hails from Belarus and in a sense for many people this is as exotic as it gets since the mere mention of the country evokes a grey canvas of unknownness. This is the second release by the Minsk natives and it is titled ‘Sychodžańnie’.

The group is fairly fresh, having only started in 2013. The previous release was a demo titled ‘Staražytnaje licha’. The band likes to blend black metal atmosphere with some death metal swagger. This results in a sound that can probably be closest described by comparing it to Behemoth. Still, thanks to the Russian language there’s a special vibe to this group.

Ljosazabojstwa has a sound that is both clean and menacing but holds a death metal groove just as well. There’s also the odd classical experience, like on ‘Zhuba’, where the lone guitar player demonstrates his icy skill. Or that eerie organ intro ‘Pozirk u biezdan’, that sounds like it comes straight from a horror film in those glory days. There’s a deep, heavy groove to the menacing death metal riffs on the first track. It slowly waxes and wanes, like the heavy clashes of sea against the shores.

The deep, abyssal grunts of the vocalist really work well with that slow and steady sound. You’d almost put a doom sticker on this heavy, creeping sound when listening to ‘Piekla’. Spoken word parts fill up the blanks in the story, but soon we launch into the next assault of the song. Rapid, thrashing guitar play and that gravelly, intimidating sound speed up and slow down to beat at the listener. This is music to overwhelm, to strike fear into the listener with the continuous ominous vibe. The use of those synths is definitely striking on that front.

Though the sound of these Belarussians is pretty straight forward, they manage to display a lot of different facets. Various ways to absolutely crush any sort of opponents, to deluge their listeners in harsh, Belarussian swamps. An excellent piece of music with an exotic flavor to it.



Underground Sounds: Rimruna – Der Hatz Entronnen

Label: Naturmacht Productions
Band: Rimruna
Origin: Germany

Rimruna hails from Berlin and its two members are also active under the name Drangskapur. Rimruna has been active as a project since 2011 and this album is the second full length for the duo. The last one came out back in 2014. The title ‘Der Hatz Entronnen’ translates as ‘Escaped from hate’.

The music of Rimruna fits well into the German tradition of folk-flavored, atmospheric black metal. Thematically the band appears to have a particular fascination for the winter season. Much effort goes into the lyrics for this band it would seem. They are written in German, which might be a bit of work for you, but totally worth it. Being part of the Naturmacht stable, this group fits right in with their sound.

The dark folkloric sound is as dark cloud gathering and following you. Strong, galloping rhythms and drum rolls hit home, while the guitars seem to produce a thin but compelling sound of swooping dissonance. The gnarly vocals are as bent and twisted as old tree trunks sticking out from the snow, with the particular bite the language allows for.

The sound holds a clarity, which gives it a direct and melodic feel. On the other hand, it also makes particularly the rhythm section sound pretty raw and aggressive on a track like ‘Tor der Zeit’, where the melodies meander past, while the drums assault the hearing. That contradiction in sound is one of the great alluring powers of Rimruna, who truly drag the listener in all directions and often sound close to some of the blackgaze bands of these days. The sound is harrowing, but filled with melancholic melodies that take the listener along.

Still, the sound is rooted in raw black metal and that is what you get mostly. The tremolo guitar play on a song like ‘In Ewigkeit Versunken’ takes nothing away from that, but just makes the story and flow of the album so much more captivating and pleasant. This certainly is a good bit of music!

New Wave of Dutch Black Metal Part 3

This is the third part, where I attempt to highlight some of the names that make up the blossoming (well, withering if you prefer that) Dutch black metal scene. Dutch zine Never Mind The Hype coined the phrase ‘New Wave of Dutch Black Metal’, due to the bookings at Roadburn last year. This prompted this investigation.

This will not be the last installment.

Secret Alchemists: Kaffaljidhma, Himelvaruwe, Voidspell, Kraggsygh

Black metal has its share of underground musicians, who work on their own, zealously producing music according to their own vision in relative isolation. Musicans that only release music through obscure means, like tape labels. Who remain faceless and don’t play live. Well, we have some gems in the Netherlands too. And I’m not jus talking about the dark wizardry of Mories with Black Mouth of Spite and Pyriphlegethon

Three numbered releases is all we can really tell about Kaffaljidhma, named after a distant star system. The musician Olibanum (that in turn is a type of resin) is inspired by the stars and his music sounds as distant and estranging as you might expect. Think of Mesarthim and Mare Cognitum, but then more underground, darker and at times barely audible through the grey noise. Releasing tunes on The Throat, the artist is also active in some other acts, but this one is definitely one of the most fascinating ones.

The Throat is a label with some unexpectedly, excellently odd releases and the latest effort by Himelvaruwe definitely puts them in that category. The sound approaches dark ambient or even just noise. A grey fog envelops the listener, who just sinks into the swamp that is Himelvaruwe. Occasional high pitched screams come through the fog, distorted and grim, but the weary drag really is getting you too much down to really look up anymore. Everything is grey and all is lost, that is the feeling this act evokes on the majest ‘CCIII’, give it a listen.

Another strange entity is Voidspell, who draw their listeners down into the pitch black of the absolute void with their noisy, abrasive sound. Let them take you along for an eternal trip into the endless with their debut release ‘The Eternal Voyage Through The Eternal Void’. A meandering descent with despair seeping into every note the band plays. It’s a spiralling fall with these guys, who sound truly dark and foreboding. A real recommendation!

For the one-man metal fan, there’s quite some gems to be found in the Netherlands. Another taste of ravishing grimness we get with Kraggsygh, a project that has been around for only a few years, but has been highly productive. A lot of releases, including this little gem with Russian band Wounded Orb. Sole bandmember Count Azathoth creates a gurgling, formless mass, a dark creeping sound that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Well worth your time again.

Dark artistry: Grey Aura, An Autumn For Crippled Children, Moenen

The band Grey Aura from Utrecht is exploring the boundaries of what black metal can be. They are currently working on a four demo series, which will shape up to be a 2,5 hours piece to accompany a novel one of the members is writing. In the music they’ve integrated even flamenco music and traditional flamenco singing. The record is a mixture of fierce black metal, conversations and ambient passages. It says alot about the new direction some bands are taking the music in these days. Greay Aura is definitely turning this music into art.

The most peculiar and often misunderstood project from the Netherlands must be An Autumn For Crippled Children. In nine years the post-blackmetal band spat out 6 albums of the most harrowing atmospheric music. The band has been moving to a more postrock-orientated sound, which they do pretty well actually. This probably will alienate listeners, but their bandname was doing that anyways, so this is not for any real purists. It’s an engrossing sound , completely captivating and full of warm hope of this mysterious group, check out their latest to see if it’s something for you.

Another one that stood out for me is Moenen from Dordrecht. Moenen may not be one of those mysterious one-man metal bands in the traditional sense, but it is the side project of a Arminus member, creating atmospheric black metal with some synth elements. The sound is particularly smooth and mellow, but with an ever present dark edge. Moenen might not be that far out from what is common use of black metal these days, but there’s something really catchy to the sound. On bandcamp the krautrock tag is listed, which makes sense.  Really worth listening to if you like some shoegaze with your black.

Stranger Gods: Solar Temple, Hellevaert, Slechtvalk, Cultus

Solar Temple worships at the altar of the otherness. They’ve just released a very first demo, with the song ‘Rays of Brilliance’. It’s out on Haeresis Noviomagi in conspiracy with Fallen Empire Records and offers something quite peculiar. The sound is a continuous barrage of lo-fi black metal, blasting and riffing away to get this static, continuous sound of hypnotic, psychedelic music. Pious chanting can be heard and ever so gently does the sound shift. Alluring and charming the listener into submission, this is a band that may be close to Urfaust on some fronts, but totally distinct in its otherworldliness.

From the southern part of the Netherlands hails the band Hellevaert and though the artwork might appear to be traditional in the Dutch black metal scene, we hear a distinct sound here. Blasting drums and wavery, melancholic guitars lead the way in a dreamy and dark descent on their debut album. There are no vocals most of the time, therefor the music needs to do the work and the storytelling.
On the song ‘Hell And Apocalypse Await Eden’ we do hear samples and some operatic singing, but mostly it is just music. The drums sound a bit computeresque, but overall this is something to just sink away in.

When we talk of stranger gods, the band Slechtvalk comes to mind. Regardless how you feel about a band implementing Christian themes, they were boldly different and bravely defiant of the norms in the black metal world. That Christian thing was actually never a thing, but it has tainted the band for the rest for their carreer. Unfortunately this happens. The band from Deventer plays black metal for a good 18 years now and has released many excellent albums. Sure, they’ve moved into a more viking metal direction, but their solid sound, excellent production and powerful presentation make them impossible to ignore. Their latest album came out in 2016 and though it is much more accesible, it sounds damn good in my opinion.

If we stick to these different divinities, other than Satan I mean, then Cultus definitely should be here. Not only are they one of the long standing names in Dutch black metal, yet they sound as roaringly angry on ‘Gezeteld in Zegeruïnen’ as they did 20 years ago. The themes of their music revolve around the old Germanic history. There was a period of inactivity before, but this album must be one of the most powerful releases in a while and it has a certain bombast and strength to it, that is hard to emulate. It feels epic and powerful, like a sky filled with thunder.

The Verdant Realm: Irrwish, Wilds Forlorn, Flooded Grave

Nature is a theme of worship in black metal. With longing we think of the dark forests of old and Irrwisch expresses that. The band name refers to the forest spirits of yore. You might considered the sound quite traditional. There’s a more to it though. There is a melancholy of beautifull melodies interwoven in the songs. The production left a lot of hazy noise in the songs, which really works on the slower parts. Irrwisch is like a black metal snow storm. It completely overwhelms you, batters you and cradles you in the heart of the natural realms at the very same time. They haven’t released anything since 2014. I’d love to hear more from this group from the Nijmegen region, releasing material on Those Opposed records in France.

Another band drawn to the wilderness is Wilds Forlorn. A one man project playing black metal from Utrecht with sole member Yuri Theuns (also active in Ascese and Eater of Souls). The band has been silent for a few years. Now with the single ‘Upon The Horns’ the project is back alive. A twenty minute epic with roaring black metal and classic piano intermezzo’s to boot. It sounds like a bit of a Primordial vibe on this release, yet that might be a bit far fetched to other listeners. Powerful, roaring passages with a visceral effect on the listner definitely hit home. We can definitely hope for more from this musician, it’ll be well worth it.

Final entry in this edition is Flooded Grave. A solo endeavour of Adonai Nero of Heavens Fall, also inspired by nature and myths. The band has not released that much work yet, but this tune is very promising. The latest release is an odd three way split record, which you can pick up from Zwaertgevegt. The band is very new, while sticking to traditional sound. Check this band out, because thisis good stuff!



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: Harmasar – Din Pământ

Label: self-released
Band: Harmasar
Origin: Moldova

Moldavia is too most, me including, a strange land. Caught between east and west, the orient and the occident. It’s not fully known to me what the identity of this place is. Reason enough to rejoice, for Harmasar is there to tell us more about it with their particular Moldavian folk metal. There is a connection with bands like An Theos and Bucovina.

‘Din Pământ’ is the debut of this group and it tells us of the great battles that took place in the region in the ancient past. Back then the region fought against foreign invaders, like the Romans and Ottomans. It’s that feeling the band puts in their music. It also sets them apart from other folk bands who use folk more as a gimmick. In the sound of Harmasar it seems to be more fundamental, even more so it’s the base for their sound. The group hails from the capital Chisinau, where an active scene is brewing.

The title track opens the record with an upbeat bit of balkan folk, with a tinge of melancholy and an oriëntal flavor (however mild) to it. That folk element gets the heavy weight and bravado of a more modern war chant thanks to the addition of the guitars and drums on ‘Daoi’. A thunderous bit of war metal, with burly, masculine vocals, that even further set the tone. There’s a lot of screaming guitars, but all in all the music is not trying to over complicate the metal part. If needed a folky flute will give that special feel to a song ina solo

Particularly nice is that the band doesnt eschew any of the stereotypes of the region. They use what is there, which is also the sorrowful song on ‘Tapae’. It leavces you picturing a group of men sitting around a campfire, there wagons in a circle. The men are singing of their trouble. The tendency for the dramatic is definitely something you’ll find in Balkan music. Using it is only logical. The same goes for the energetic rhythms. The lamenting vocal delivery is in concord with that same whistle, which blows gently. Granted, the production is’nt sublime, but it’s good enough to properly convey the sound of the band and their gruff essence.

‘Din Pământ’ is a bold statement that puts Moldova on the folk metal map. Where folk metal has grown stale with an endless flood of German and Nordic bands, this is something new and more folk-based. Let’s hope translated lyrics will open up the rich history in the songs to the wider public of the genre.


Underground Sounds: Skogen Algiz – STIF

Label: Self released
Band: Skogen Algiz 
Origin: Italy

The band Skogen Algiz, which is a bit shrouded in mystery, plays Alpine folk music. That is music that translates as the mountains, as grandiose peaks and deep dales with darkening trees. Of old myths and forgotten creatures. But then again, according to the bandcamp the music was made without ideals, just as an expression.

It appears taht Skogen Algiz is a one person band, which hails from the Italian part of Tirol. It would also appear that the man behind the band (mr. Formisano) is normally focused on photography, but I can  tell you already that he must be rather passionate about music too.

The sound feels very small, like it’s recorded in a tiny cabin in the woods. There’s no grander notion to the music, it’s not for a big party or to dance to, but just to escape into. Gently trickling guitar play is all the listener gets and the rare chiming of bells as well, like on track number 3. The chanting has a ritual tone to it, which drags the listener (if he wants to or not) to a place of calm and contemplation.

Sometimes the music sounds much closer to the modern pop, like the guitar notes on ‘no. 6’, that remind me peculiarly enough of the xx with that laid back sonic blanket feel. It’s a warm sound, but it takes you places as well. The song ‘8’ feels much more like a trippy journey, playful and recorded in a fuzzy way to make it feel more… fuzzy I suppose?

The record feels very pure, stripped of everything that it doesn’t nee dan in a way almost ritualistic, the way the guitars gently proceed and the music just lingers in the air.

Folk, land, heritage without hate

To me it matters where I come from, it matters where I feel at home and I feel a connection to certain traditions and religious tendencies. I’m happily embracing the harmonious ideas of heritage, This is something that is very persistently present as well in extreme metal music. The connection has provided us with endless political discussions, but does that make as much sense as we think?

Though there is the rare band that embraces national socialism, racism and nationalism at large, it’s a very rare occurence. Most bands say they are anti-political and not without reason. Extreme metal has one characteristic that defines it.

Individualism: Defining the self

Extreme metal has often been about the individual. This is probably why NSBM is such a weird mix of two world views. Metal is against the herd and for the self, but that leaves the void of identity for a person. We, as human beings, like to define ourselves as something, we are always looking for a sense of belonging and reason to be. Even black metal warriors delve into identity and spirituality on all sorts of levels.

Connecting to something like our heritage, traditions and maybe nationality is a logical thing to us. Sure, we can still accept that we are all one people, but we’re defined by where we are from. Does that make me a Germanic pagan? Not necessarily, but it might just as well. Bands like Skyforger, Winterfylleth and Moonsorrow had a hard time getting the difference across. Self-identification is an individual proces, which sometimes works as a concept and identity for a band, but that doesn’t make it the herd behavior of institutionalized nationalism or racism. It’s about defining the self, not the other.

The Other: Defining the opposition

The other side of the medal is when identification of the self is done in order to define the other. The other is, for some reason or purpose, the opposed of what the self should be. This is a lot harder to do in a way, so much easier to do by defining the other first. Now, here we come into the terrain of professional hate mongering. Defining the other with unwanted characteristics is very effective, because it defines both sides. This completely binds the relation to the other in an absolute relation of the lesser and the better. There is no need to approach the other anymore, because the other is evil, wrong, lesser and the enemy.

When we’ve defined the other, we usually end up with  a stereotype, with a group we’ve vilified. This puts us in a group too and sadly we soon will find likeminded individuals. The hate is concrete enough to fuel itself, but high-over enough to define all others. Though metal has the tribe mentality to form a cohesive group, it just isn’t in the nature of the culture to find such unity. Individualism is part of that identity and so is discussion and interaction. This sort of defining just doesn’t work in that environment.

Open hearts, open minds

It’s perfectly possible to have an identity bound up with the local, the past and belief, but be open and tolerant to others. Interaction between cultures is what shapes them, but if you define your opposed identity you’ll never know this beautiful variation. I talked to a Latvian metal singer once who said: “It’s ok to be proud of your country, your tribe or your belief, but if you feel superior to others you missed the plot.” Superior thoughts lead to isolation, which creates a fearful protection of what is yours. Of vague ideas of tradition and identity that don’t really matter at all. Imagine a culture on its own. How does it get any value if it’s not challenged by different ones?

I see this constantly in the metal world. People are embracing their own culture and past, but also interacting with others. Clearly showing that, a while ago a compilation album came out titled”One and All, Together, for Home” on Seasons Of Mist. Why would all these bands work together if they were the kind of nationalists depicted in the media? If they had superiority motives, why would they ever join on a record? It’s that sort of love for land, folk and belief that creates. It connects and enriches itself and the other.

If you open yourself up to the other, to culture of others, your identity and culture will change. We learn through interaction about the other culture. We adapt, we reform, we change. Change is scary, but not bad. This sort of change we are all too familiar with. We call it growth.

If we allow growth to happen, maybe we can even get some sort of enlightenment one day.




Underground Sounds: Thy Catafalque – Meta

Label: Seasons of Mist
Band: Thy Catafalque
Origin: Hungary

Thy Catafalque is the brain child of mad musical professor Támas Kátai. The avant-garde musician has been active in bands like Gire, Gort, Darklight and Towards Rusted Soil. The Hungarian musician is active in tons of projects, but this is probably one of his most amazing ones as far as I’ve heard. Enter a completely new domain of musical madness with this band.

Kátai originates from Máko in Hungary, but currently resides in Scotland. It may be a climate more fitting to his frantic, rugged music, but maybe it’s a bit of everywhere anyways. The artwork is inviting, and speaks of a medieval and maybe even spiritual atmosphere. Yes, with animals. Agnessa Kessiakova from Bulgaria is responsible for the artwork. A legion of guests is also active on the album.

After a heavy intro with theatrical black metal, the energy dwindles down on the meandering folky ‘Sirály’, with vocals of The Moon and the Nightspirit’s Ágnes Tóth. Gently swooning music allows the listener to just drift off for a bit. A Ghost like chanting greats the listener on ’10^(-20)’, before it launches into a turbulent, battering assault with sharp guitars and a harrowing set of vocals. Then the song almost unnoticable switches around to a dance track with flat, repetitive vocals and a hacking rhythm. It’s exactly that, which makes Thy Catafalque so wildly unpredictable and amazing.

‘Ixión Düün’ is a track you could just as well expect to hear while playing World of Warcraft in an exciting dungeon, looming with danger. There’s the whole Dungeon Synth genre, which seems to be somehow where the inspiration for this soundtracky tune has been drawn from. Amazing stuff again, but not as impressive as the track ‘Malmok Járnak’. This is a 20+ minute epic, with bombastic passages that slowly creep by, a battery of instruments, effects and strange confusing passages. It kind of keeps on building up, slowing down and then rising up again, sticking to that soundtrack feel.

It’s hard to really write about this album, because it goes in so many directions. Every time you listen to this, you hear new things. That’s the beauty of it and also why you should be listening to it right now. Enjoy!