Category Archives: Band Interview

Interview with Sordide

Sordide from Rouen, France is one of those bands that manage to keep the whole concept of “Black Metal” interesting to me. Rather than following the current trends, the band has found themselves in the traditional nineties Blackened realms, adding the rawness and primitivity of Punk and even Garage Rock elements (as well as more purely artistic and Avantgarde elements) into their sound. In all it’s primitive and raw complex beauty, the creative process behind their music demands clarification.

Bonjour Sordide! How has the year drawn to it’s closure over there in Rouen?

Bonjour Antti! Last weeks were a turning point, as we had our first tour in France. An important experience, with great meetings and very good feedback. We toured with Nebehn, Sordide’s new bass player. He joined the trio from the very first gig, without any rehearsal (we called him the day before going on tour). Continuing ahead, we are currently working on new material for the next release.

The members of the band have been active in the local music scenes for quite some time. Extreme Metal seems to be the main style of your preference, but are there other styles to be found in your musical lives?

Indeed we’ve mainly been playing extreme music, be it Black, Doom, Hardcore, but also Experimental, Improvised or Classical music.

As you have taken a very traditional (mostly nineties-sounding) approach to your brand of Black Metal, do you still feel this as the most powerful path of the art, as opposed to current trends?

We don’t care about trends. In fact, we just play music as we feel, each time trying to keep a similar energy. Our sound and sensibility have obviously been affected by first wave of Black Metal, but not only nor mainly. We cannot say how much. Some bands kind of lose themselves in the studio, overdubbing everything, triggering the drums… It’s like they anesthetize the music and lock it in a cage. We want to keep it wild and alive.

The other elements of your music include (in my opinion) Garage Rock, French “Folk” Music, and Post Punk. Has this been a mutual collective choice, or do the different elements come to the band from the different individuals creating the music?

At the beginning, we only wanted to play Black Metal together. We’ve never had any precise plan, only a common will and that style in mind. Then, our collective and individual influences, experiences and feelings made a “strange” musical alchemy, crafted what you can hear: Not only Black Metal, we are often told. Pinpointing all influences would be both a pain and useless. We couldn’t even tell. As often, there’s no precise intention to cross over trends, musical styles or areas, it just happened…

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Talking about the raw energy in your music, there is no denying the strong influence of Punk in styles like Thrash, Death and Black Metal. That is also something I’m personally hearing in your sound (at least), besides the more artistic approaches to the riffs and songs. Is this mostly intentional or unintentional?

Yes, it was clearly intentional. Our music had to be raw. No polishing, no compromise. We want to keep it real, on stage as on records. Keep it simple, wild, alive… In a way, the Punk influence you underlined.

How about the lyrical side of Sordide? Without any knowledge of the French language, I am guessing the topics include social and personal issues, ponderings on what it means to be French today?

Lyrics effectively deal with social and personal themes, but are way wider than national ponderings or issues. They’re composed of various visions of situations we can live or behold. They mainly bring contemporary but also long tradition values into question. Titles are meaningful : “Ni Nom Ni Drapeau” (Neither Name Nor Flag), “Gloire” (Glory), “Violence”, “Blâme”, “Pauvre Histoire” (Poor History) or “La France A Peur” (France Is Afraid) – This latter being from a 1976 TV speech.

I can understand when some bands want to keep political opinions out of their music, even when dealing with social issues (and let the listeners decide for themselves), while some bands want to speak out their mind under a certain ideology, may it be Left, Right, Anarchist, Fascist, or whatever. But is there a clear attitude or philosophy to be heard in the art of Sordide?

We claim to have a “neither name, nor flag” -attitude. You can interpret it politically or artistically. Those were our first words, and part of the art of Sordide. The band is not claiming specific political opinions, or a straight musical path. We do experiment, nothing is black or white.

Are you active in the local music scenes? Do the local bands help each other out when it comes to things like rehearsing and gigs? Are people of different genres open-minded, or do the different musical scenes stay separated?

Rouen musical scene is quite rich and musically open-minded, but not that much socially. It is said to have known a real Punk Rock background from the late 60’s to 80’s. Nowadays, like in a lot of the cities of France (and Europe perhaps), we’re lacking places to organize shows. Rouen has no squats or independent venues. In a nutshell, lots of bands and a few places…

We must admit we’re not very active in local scene, often supporting gigs, but we do not organize gigs more than twice a year. We intentionally chose not to play in Rouen before a year, thus focusing on other cities.

How has the reception been towards your amazing first full-length “La France A Peur”? Has the reception been better in France or abroad? You are currently in the process of creating a second album?

In France and abroad, the album has been very well received. Lots of positive reviews, download-statistics and radio broadcastings are good evidence it was. We’ve heard of some negative opinions regarding lyrics, and perhaps misunderstandings concerning our approach (it is a hen, in fact…). Anyway, among most amazing feedbacks we had, the ones following gigs surprised us. We often met people who came to hear us, some of them even knowing lyrics. And when some just discovered our music, we’ve often been thanked. What better reception could we hope ?

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How does the year of 2016 look to Sordide? Is the band something you can all invest in full-time, or is your time (as a band) limited when it comes to musical activities?

It already looks like an important year. We are currently working on the next album. Recording session early February: That is a challenge. Everything hasn’t been composed yet and we have to affirm the new line-up. Moreover, we can’t invest in full-time because of jobs and have to invest in other bands too.

One thing is sure, new material will be more violent. Satisfaction is already here and we will continue our breathless work till recording is over. Then, we’ll be eager to tour again.

Many thanks for your attention and interest, Antti.




Interview with JM Dopico (Bodybag, Deadmask)

Dopi has been active in the underground scenes of extreme Metal and Punk for over twenty five years, playing in numerous bands of many styles. His groups like Machetazo really need no introduction to people into underground Death Metal and Grindcore, but I personally really started to follow the man’s musical career after the appearance of the magnificent band Dishammer. Currently he is active in (for example) younger bands such as Deadmask and Bodybag, and I wanted to ask a bit about his current feelings in the local and global underground music world of his preferred styles.

Hola Dopi! How has the autumn begun for you down there in the north-western shores of Spain?

Hola Antti, thanks a lot for this interview. Autumn is my fave season and it’s begun in the best way possible cos’ Bodybag just played our debut show here, it was fuckin’ awesome, and a very intense night.

How is life in A Coruña in general, regarding matters like employment? The last few times I’ve visited cities like Barcelona, I found it extremely cool they had anarchist squats downtown and in tourist areas, as neighbours next to a five-star hotel, etc.

Employment here is crap as in the rest of the country, most of the people I know works at some cheap job or survive thanks to “illegal” activities. This a tourism oriented town, all the support and effort from the government go for that, the rest of activities are mostly low quality and dumb as fuck, like a retarded place, a village that pretends to be a big town. Anyway I like to live here cos’ I prefer small towns to big ones of course, I made my own path without caring for this town long time ago, my family and best friends live here, and the ocean is pretty close, a very important thing cos’ when I am far away from it I feel like dying of claustrophobia.

There were some good squats but sadly they’re all dead now, a real pity cos’ they were the places where the best underground shows took place. Now most of the people just go to big festivals to do the nerd, only the die-hard maniacs keep on going to the very few small shows that take place here, I think it’s just the same everywhere as far as I know.

How are the music-scenes in your area? Are people working together, with for example gigs of different styles of bands, or are the borders of genres keeping people in their own camps? You seem to have always been active in many scenes of different kinds of people?

The scenes here usually follow the trend and the tendency of the time, like anywhere else. There’s a few people that have been around forever but their number is just going lower and lower cos’ they’re going old and frustrated, or just get married and stuck to jobs and then disappear, you know how it is. The internet and specially the social webs fucked up the underground scene a lot, I think a lot of people live in a cyber-reality really stupid and false, they’re virtual beings that exist only inside of their computers. People that don’t buy records and don’t attend to shows don’t belong to any scene, as simple as that, they’re parasites.

I’ve been active always at Metal and Punk scenes, but always looking at it internationally, not only locally, if I only was into the local scene I would be wasted and done since long time ago. I always liked to meet people from different scenes cos’ I like a few diverse musical styles, these last years I got into stuff I never thought I would enjoy, but I am in a point where I see connections and inspiration in very diverse musical styles, I find them opposite in feeling and form but with the same attitude and message. To be open minded about music is important to never stop learning, and of course to don’t get bored.

You have been active in numerous bands of many styles, from Crust and Grindcore to Doom and even classic 80’ies Heavy Metal. You seem to like keeping yourself active (giving the finger to scenesters I assume). How do you find time for all the bands and projects?

Of course man, scenesters can and will fuck off and die, I’ve seen many of them before and they never stay for so long, they banished as soon as the wind of trend changes, you know. I have plenty of time to carry on with two bands, no problem at all, both are pure underground bands.  The studio projects and collaborations just come from time to time when it’s the right moment and place, but right now I am only focusing in Bodybag and Deadmask, I was recording with a lot of different people for some time and now I need to relax and just focus in my bands here.

The origins of Death Metal and of course Grindcore (just like Thrash or even Black Metal) are strongly rooted in Hardcore / Punk. Which one came to your life first, Punk or Metal, or have they always been there simultaneously?

I think they came almost simultaneously, when I was a kid I started with Metal bands like Barón Rojo or Iron Maiden but at the same time I got into Punk stuff like Eskorbuto or Dead Kennedys, also I have been a fan of Motörhead since a very young age, and I always saw them as the absolute Punk Metal band.

As you have been active in the extreme music scenes since the early nineties (at least), when people (like us) were still recording stuff at rehearsal places with a four-tracker, doing zines and tape-trading across the world. As you are still apparently very active in the UG-side of the scenes, what things have fundamentally changed in your opinion during the years (for better or for worse), with the coming of the digital age and so on?

I’m starting to think everything, absolutely everything changed for worse. Sometimes I try to be optimistic but I feel like I’m trying to lie to myself, and what the hell, I don’t need to do so. Anyway this doesn’t mean I’m a grumpy bitter bastard, I am just realistic, not pessimistic, and in fact I consider myself a clown that laughs about everything including myself, always enjoying a good sarcastic rant, you know? Of course I use (but not abuse) internet and the easy communication we enjoy now, but I come from a different time and way of doing things, I really liked that way and I felt a great connection with it all. Now it’s very different, I won’t enter in details cos’ I’m bored of doing so, but my conclusion is that I don’t like the times we’re living at all, too much too soon for so many people that don’t have the proper time or attitude to digest it. Anyway, I will continue playing and recording cos’ I love music and it’s all I’ve done in my life, I still enjoy going on stage and the experiences in the studio are always awesome, those are the things that really matter, the rest can go to hell, I don’t give a fuck, less and less everyday.

There are always clear trends going on in the Death and Black Metal world, such as the current return of Death Metal to it’s brutal roots (which has been going on for quite some time now), and the apparent pseudo-occult chaotic vibes of Black Metal, with hundreds of bands with identical album-covers and song-titles. Is this something that annoys you, amuses you, or do you just ignore it and concentrate in what you love to do?

Mostly it makes me laugh out loud. It’s really funny to see all those rich kids playing to be occultists and dark philosophers with their motherfuckin’ right winged ideologies of shit, or all those “obscure” teens claiming to reinvent Death Metal while the only thing they’re doing is to rip-off Incantation in every way possible. I think everything became very “arty” now, it’s all about pose, I miss some danger and true feeling. Of course there are a few exceptions and some new bands I really like, but to be honest, If I want to listen some real Satanic music I play Led Zeppelin’s “Presence” or “In Through The Out Door”, and if I need to listen some real dangerous evil band I’d rather play the first Cro-Mags album than any of the current Death / Black young bands.

Unfortunately your older bands like Dishammer and Machetazo have now disbanded (still enjoying a cult-reputation), but you are currently active mostly with Deadmask (playing old-school Doom & Stoner Rock) and Bodybag (playing Death Metal with elements of Grindcore). How have these bands caught fire, as they are clearly both unique and professional-sounding in their own styles?

For me it’s very fortunate Machetazo is dead and buried now, believe me, I lost a heavy load of pressure in my life, at the end I was just wasting my energy and losing my time with the wrong people and I was going insane, so one day it was the last straw and radically I decided to send it to hell. Now I do what I like with the people I like, feeling a good connection you have a lot of fun, cooperation and collective work, and that’s something I really missed the last years. The fuckin’ Dishammer disbanded long time ago, I think it’s been 5 years already, it was a great and crazy experience, I always say it was Punk as fuck cos’ it was short but intense, but we were a bunch of rancid bastards and it all went to hell fast cos’ we could barely stand each other at the end. Anyway gotta admit I miss the Dishammer shows, cos’ on stage we unleashed so strong and pure energy like I never felt before, that’s the fuckin’ truth.

Bodybag started around August 2014, I wanted to keep on blast-beating my drumkit as if there was no tomorrow, and I was lucky to find two guys into making something primitive and old styled. We released a MLP titled “Predominance of Insanity” this summer, and some weeks ago just recorded another bunch of songs for a couple of splits to be released early next year. As I said earlier, recently we played our first show and it was really good, now we’re booking more shows for 2015 and some for 2016 too.

Deadmask exists since 2007, but it was on hold sometimes, now since we got a steady guitarist months ago, the band finally got an established line-up and things are going fuckin’ awesome, practising very often and composing a lot of new stuff pretty fast. By the way Deadmask only released a MCD and a split 7”, but we have in mind to release some stuff next year, I think some recording sessions will be done in December.

OK, thanks for this chat! What are your plans for the rest of the year?

You’re welcome dude! My plans are to enjoy life and have as much fun as possible living on my doomed way, nothing else and nothing less. Cheers!

Bodybag (Facebook)

Bodybag (Bandcamp)

Deadmask (Facebook)

Deadmask (Bandcamp)

Interview with Leila Abdul-Rauf (Vastum)

Since their first release “Carnal Law”, Vastum (despite their relatively young age) has indeed been one of my all-time favourite and most respected Death Metal bands. Their style of slow old-school Death has a very authentic and honest, macabre and ominous, as well as deep artistic and intelligent feel to it. Despite having interviewed her about a year ago, now with the release of their new album “Hole Below”, I wanted to have a brief chat with Leila Abdul-Rauf (the singer and guitarist of the band) about her current state of affairs. 

Hey Leila! How has the fall begun with you in San Francisco?

It’s off to a very busy start; preparing for the new album release and everything needed for the upcoming tour, and also working on many other music projects. So life is hectic and time is flying. I look forward to the transition between fall and winter, as the light dims, and things quiet down. It’s my favourite time of year, and usually my most inspired time to write music.

The making of Vastum’s previous album “Patricidal Lust” was plagued by different kinds of setbacks and tragedies. How was working on the new album, compared to the last? With only a year between the two albums, did the composition of the songs flow easily on it’s own?

We have certainly endured our share of many setbacks throughout the almost six years of the band’s existence. There was more of a gap between the last two albums than it seems. Patricidal was recorded in early 2012 even thought it wasn’t released until late 2013, due to our engineer Jef who died in a motorcycle accident shortly after we tracked, as well as our guitarist and drummer leaving the band shortly after that. After replacing Kyle on guitar in 2013, Shelby and I essentially became the new songwriting team. At that time we were playing with Necrot drummer, Chad. Then our bassist Luca left town for almost a year, so we were on hiatus and it was just Shelby and I writing songs for Hole Below. That was a difficult period because the band seemed like it was falling apart again. But when Adam rejoined last year, things fell back into place instantly. We went from having a bunch of semi-finished songs to a complete album in just a few months with very sporadic rehearsals. Adam’s focus and dedication had a lot to do with this. Recording Hole Below was a much smoother process than the previous record because there weren’t any interruptions during the recording, and we were more prepared and had a better idea of what we wanted to accomplish.

With an addition of a new talented individual (Shelby, the guitarist) and the drummer, Adam returning to the band, how have the guys fit into Vastum of today? As the band is known for being excellent performers live, will you be touring a lot with Vastum in support of the new album?

Shelby and Adam have been absolutely crucial to the band. Their work ethic have become the lifeblood of Vastum, and it’s an honor to be in a band with them. Shelby is a total shredder, a great and prolific songwriter. Adam is probably the best drummer I’ve ever worked with, among the top 3 at least. I believe all of his drum tracks on Hole Below were nailed in single takes. He’s a total machine. We will be doing a brief east coast tour in November with Trenchgrinder (NYC) in support of the new album.

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Photo: Al Cummings

The lyrics and artwork of Vastum (as well as another awesome band featuring same members, Acephalix) have been influenced by the work of Georges Bataille in the past, something which apparently comes from the singer and vocalist, Dan. How about the themes of the new album? I’m detecting some kind of ecclesiastic and molestation related themes?

For all of our albums, Dan created the artwork (with the exception of the Patricidal Lust CD which was a painting by Paolo Girardi), and we both wrote the lyrics. On Hole Below, there are themes of oceanic psychology, narcissism and perversion, exploitation of mind and body. I always find it difficult to summarize what my lyrics are about. When I do, I feel I miss the mark. I usually write Vastum lyrics when I’m in a troubled state and I’m trying to make sense of my world – a horror or suffering that I experience personally, or that I witness happening to someone else, on an individual or mass level. In my lyrics, I tend to use sexual themes more symbolically than literally, sexualizing the nonsexual and vice versa.

How are your other projects, for example Hammers of Misfortune, as well as your more ambient stuff (Ionophore, and the one you have been doing by your own name) doing?

Hammers has just finished recording our sixth album which will be out on Metal Blade early next year. I have also been performing live with Cardinal Wyrm (Svart Records) as their bass player/backing vocalist and will be recording some vocals on their new album. We just performed at the Grimposium in Montreal in August, which was a total blast; one of the most unique and fun events I’ve ever been a part of. Nate Verrill of Cardinal Wyrm and I have recently performed my solo material live, and there will be a vinyl release of Insomnia eventually. Ionophore are almost finished with our second album, Sinter Pools, and are still searching for a label to release it. I’ve also contributed some tracks for Jan and Ryan (of Ionophore)’s respective solo projects, Qepe and Souls and Cities. I have developed a fluid approach to collaboration; when I find musicians who I click with creatively, the result can take on many forms and combinations across genres. The traditional band approach (writing and practicing as a group, then recording the songs exactly as written) works for Vastum, but not really for anything else I write for. I find it more limiting as time goes on.

Thanks for this brief talk! Any clear plans for the rest of the year regarding especially Vastum? Also, considering the openminded and creative music scene of San Franscisco, any new local bands we should be keeping an eye on?

Thank you, again. Hole Below officially releases on November 6. The digital version is now up for pre-order through our Bandcamp. The CD and vinyl will be released by 20 Buck Spin, as well as a cassette version released by Sentient Ruin Laboratories. The Vastum/Trenchgrinder tour dates are:

Nov 5 – NYC – The Acheron

Nov 6 – Baltimore, MD – The Sidebar

Nov 7 – Richmond, VA – Strange Matter

Nov 8 – Philadelphia, PA – Second Empire

I haven’t been much of a show goer for years now, so I’m probably not the best person to ask what’s going on in the local metal scene in 2015. However, recently I got to see Death Grave from San Jose and was very impressed. Shelby also has a new band Extremity. Most of the San Francisco metal scene has relocated to Oakland for economic reasons, as I mentioned in the last interview. West Oakland is home to one of the largest practice buildings in the bay area; Vastum, Necrot, Cardinal Wyrm, Dispirit, Scolex, Infinite Waste and hundreds of other bands all rehearse there, and that seems to be the place where a lot of new bay area bands form.



Interview with Angoisse

A while back, I was completely blown away by the honesty of the French band Angoisse’s short but strong “Demo 2015”. The band’s attitude towards the style of Crusty Black Metal they have chosen to play comes so tangibly straight from their hearts, I was reminded of how rare it is to find (good) bands of this nature among the newer generations of copycats and imitators. After all, the roots of Black Metal are (at least in my opinion) strongly rooted in Punk, and having this attitude when creating honest Blackened art today, is much more “true” than any recent trends or arrogant elitist attitudes. This interview was answered by the whole band.

Greetings Angoisse! How has the autumn begun for you in your part of France? Is the band situated in Bordeaux and Nantes?

Angoisse: Hey man, actually it’s cold and the weather is bad, like raining a lot, wind etc… And that’s cool because we hate summer. The 3/4 of the band are located in Bordeaux and the rest in Nantes. But all our souls are in Hell, so it’s not a big deal.

The style of Blackened Metal you have chosen has to me the feeling of the early­ and mid-­nineties (of especially Norway), as well as the Anarcho and Crust Punk vibes of old I admire totally. Was this a conscious thing when you formed the band, or did it happen by itself?

Asriel: I think that when we formed the band we just said “Hey, let’s play Black Metal”. The first guitars riff were pretty Crust Punk, cause that’s mostly what I am used to play, but I tried to play them with a BM mood in it (by using special chords that I don’t know the name, the ones that feel evil you know?). We haven’t discussed a lot of what kind of Black Metal we wanted to play, we just tried and it appears to be like it is.

Lord: Yes he’s right. We talked about this for a while, tried once, but it didn’t work well. Then we tried again, with just the idea of playing Black Metal. We asked around, found two other guys, and things are going well naturally. Two punks, two metalheads, and here we are.

Äaerzerath: I remember when we decided to form the band, we were at a Crust gig (Ancient Amblem, Ough!!) and Lord came to me and asked “Hey man, we want to play fucking Black Metal, are you in?” I just said “Yeah” and one month later we were playing together ! We wanted to play something old, loud,  influenced by the old tyrants, Hellhammer, Venom and others, and the Crust feeling came by itself, by Asriel’s riffs and Lord’s vocals.

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Do the members of the band share the same kind of musical tastes, or is the band divided when it comes to liking different styles like Crust and Black Metal? Is the style of Angoisse something that comes from all the members, or is one member more into Punk and the other more into Metal, and so on?

Asriel: Everybody in the band listens to a lot of things. Mostly Metal and Punk stuff for sure, and everyone’s got a sub-genre preference. Lord and Asriel are originally more into the Punk/DIY/Crust scene while Äaerzerath and Sorhyn are more into the Metal scene.

Äaerzerath: We are quite different in our musical tastes but when we decided to form Angoisse we all agreed in which musical direction we wanted to go. So this style came from all of us, by adding our own personal feelings but we are all going to the same place. And the fun thing is those who play Crust ask for more blast-beats, and those who are into Metal want more Punk feeling !

Lord: We trade feelings about music, name of bands of each other’s scenes. Stuff like, “You should listen to this and this band.” Same for the shows. We share a lot our different influences, with totally open minds. The only stuff we told ourselves is to play something heavy, fast, evil and raw, and see what happens next.

Sorhyn: Indeed, the band is divided, on one hand Crust Punk and on the other hand Black Metal. It comes into this kind of Black Punk !

You probably agree with me that the roots of Black Metal are firmly situated in Punk, with bands like Venom and Bathory playing “Evil Punk” in the beginning of their careers? If a young dude denies this today, it seems a bit ignorant, don’t you think?

Asriel: I totally agree with that. The music speaks for itself. Listen to “Eurynomos” from Hellhammer’s “Satanic Rites” album, this is fucking Punk Rock. You can’t deny that, it’s fact. If a young dude denies this, he’s not ignorant, he’s stupid.

Äaerzerath: And aren’t Venom’s guys “long haired punks”? I think young people (or not so young!) are often into the “new school” scene, and just don’t know the first bands and the first albums who made Black Metal what it is. I am also fond of Thrash Metal, which is often just Punk played faster !

Sorhyn: Today, most people say that bands like Bathory etc., are not forerunners of Black Metal. It just pisses them off. We can’t deny it, but we don’t feel Black Metal the same way.

Lord: I’m an old dude and I’m barely aware about these kinds of things. So let’s say I’m an old ignorant dude… And truly I don’t care. Who cares about being the best historian of Punk and Black Metal.  But I see your point, and of course everybody should go a bit deeper in the past of all things, to get the sense of it. And not just listen to the mainstream, and not just be on the surface, like we all tend to do thanks or because of the internet. So to answer the question of what are the roots of Black Metal, maybe people should ask what are the roots of Punk. And are we talking just about music for musicians and performance, or are we seeing, thinking, seeking, the music as something that brings you a soul or an aura, and takes its roots in your feelings, your path, your surrounding. Then if all this takes its roots in frustration, pain, rebellion, anger and disenchantment, so yes we can say that the roots of Black Metal are firmly situated to punk. But it is also situated into Punk , if we consider the facts that it has been invented by a bunch of northern rednecks or white thrash, a bunch of losers whom didn’t know what to do with their lives, or in this life. Where the differences stand in this, is in politic, and activism. So to conclude, young or old dude, this music and everything that goes with it, is made by and for people who are dismissed by the rest of the society.

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How do you feel about the state of modern Black Metal in general? There is of course a clear trend of “Spiritual” Black Metal running the markets, with most bands sounding quite identical to each other. Do you find this entertaining, or just boring (like I do)?

Asriel: It’s hard for me to answer as I mostly listen to albums that are at least 10 years old… But I really enjoy Wolves In The Throne Room for instance. When there is blast it can be shit, right? What we surely find boring is the post-hardcore scene.

Äaerzerath: You mean all these bands playing 15’00 songs with a fucking linear blast beat all along? Fuck it! I don’t think the Black Metal scene is dead, if you ignore the “Post Black Metal” bands (which are called POST Black Metal!). There are some very nice bands, in Europe for the most part, like Quintessenz or Belliciste who play old and raw Black Metal. It is not necessary to play very complex riffs or very fast blast beats to be original, just play with your guts and you will be the best!

When was your relationship with Punk and Crust formed, is this something that comes from your teens etc. or did you discover this kind of music later, after discovering Metal? Do you follow any current Punk scenes?

Asriel: As I said I think that we all listen to a lot of different styles. A lot of them has been discovered when we were young of course, but we always discover bands. With the internet, you can discover 100 of them everyday, and some of them are really good. You can also listen to old stuff you haven’t heard when you were young, that’s really fantastic. I’m not sure young people who grow up with this technology are aware of the chance they have.

Äaerzerath: As far as I’m concerned I grew up in a small village where we had a Punk fest every year, so I’ve been close to Punk since my teens. I think Crust and Metal get closer to each other year after year, so you can discover new bands of both these scenes easily, when you go to a gig with a Death Metal band, a Punk band and a Disco DJ for example!

Sorhyn: As far as I’m concerned, I discovered the Crust scene after Heavy and Black Metal. Many Black Metal bands remind me of this kind of music, it’s probably thanks to them that I can appreciate it.

Lord: My relationship with Punk and Crust was formed more than 20 years ago. So when I was a teen… And when I grew up my mind changed due to life, but still I’m firmly rooted in the values that goes with Punk and Crust music. Everything can be discussed, but still… Some not. Then again I don’t know really what you mean by Punk scene… Regarding music I am a total fan of 90’s Crust (Portland, Northern Europe etc…), and I love Sludge stuff.

What can you tell me of the other bands and projects of the members of the band? Is every member involved in Punk or Metal in some way, or is there some other styles of interest to be found?

Ängoisse: Lord and Asriel also play in Aguirre, a Sludge band. They tour a lot in Punk places, like squats etc… Sorhyn have a side project called Sanskirt, a kind of crossover between Black, Death, Thrash and others.

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How are the music scenes in your area in general? Are the scenes divided into for example Death Metalists, Black Metalist and Crusties, or are people of different tastes working together with live­ shows and so on?

Asriel: In Bordeaux, the scenes are now more mixed than before. Metal people come to Punk shows, punks go to Metal gigs… We have a lot of alternative places where really good bands come to play, we have a lot of good bands too, in a lot of styles. It’s really a good city if you want to be involved in music.

Äaerzerath: I think the scenes are going to be mixed more than before, even if some old rivalry is always here (Death Metal VS Black Metal, and other kind of elitism). We have a very great festival near Paris called the Fall Of Summer, where you can hear Death, Black, Doom, Grindcore and others, and I realised that everyone comes to all the gigs, so I am confident about the future. We need to be united if we want to go far, Metal music in general is going to die if everyone only supports his own friends or their own favourite bands.

How has your awesome “Demo 2015” been received? As you perform live as well, this must add to the amount of people discovering your music? Do you feel that playing live is essential to music like yours?

Asriel: For the moment, the demo is well received. We have got good reviews, and people seem to find it really nice. It was recorded really quickly, after maybe 5 or 6 rehearsals, but we needed to put it on tape to move on. Playing live is always an intense moment. For a short amount of time we try to put all our energy in the songs to make them more evil, more brutal… It’s not always easy but I think it’s really good for our band to play live and feel that energy.

Sorhyn: I know that the tape is appreciated by some people, even if not many people have listened it yet. Our music comes to life thanks to the live shows. Even if the sound of the tape releases the energy of a show, it’s not sufficient.

Lord: According to me live is really important, your learn more than when you only rehearse. The music evolves more when you play live. Then you got to know more the people you play with.

Äaerzerath: And there is a very big difference between your tape player and our fucking amps ! I love that kind of energy that makes you vibrate with the decibels !

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Thank you for this interview! What can you tell me about your future plans?

Angoisse: We are working on new material, to prepare an album for next year, and we are planning to go to Spain (Basque Country) late September to play some gigs! We go step by step, we do not have crazy plans, but crazy lust of going forward ! Thanks for your time and interest, cheers !



Interview with Vincent Presley (Zebras)

Upon the first minute of hearing it, the energetic but strangely epic and serious style of Crossover Thrash the Zebras perform made a very strong impression on me, with its high quality but organic and Punky atmosphere. As there has been a revival of all kinds of styles of the eighties and nineties among the kids of today, there is something more artistic and mature (than just going retro for the sake of it) in the attitude of this band. I wanted to ask a few questions from the guitarist and vocalist of the band, Vincent.

Hello Wisconsin! How has your week fared so far? Busy working, busy with musical projects, or both?

Yeah, busy plugging the new album and booking shows through the end of the year.

How is the Milwaukee music scene in general? Are the bands and artists generally helping each other out, or is the area divided into smaller scenes depending on musical styles?

There are some great Milwaukee bands but I can’t figure out the scene. All I know is people seem to only go to shows in their own neighborhood. It’s some kind of neighborhood coolness war that I don’t get. I moved to Madison in the early 2000’s and it seems to have gotten better than Milwaukee. More people at shows and more different kinds of people seeing different kinds of bands. Both cities have some great venues that have been really good to us.

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The members of Zebras have been / are active in bands such as Those Poor Bastards (playing Gothic Doomy Country Music) and Call Me Lightning (playing energetic Indie Rock) among many others, which makes me guess you all have a wide musical spectrum and many projects all the time? Am I right?

Yeah, Shane and I have been in a lot of different bands over the past 20 years and Lacey has been in a few over the last 10 years. Lots of different stuff including industrial, punk, noisy experimental, etc.

The style of Crossover Thrash (with influences from Hardcore Punk and Sludge) you play gives an impression this band has a certain element of nostalgia in it? Were you Thrash / Hardcore kids growing up? How about other more extreme styles, is there for example Death Metal in your past?

I’ve always listened to all kinds of music and have always been more into specific groups than specific genres. My dad had the early Sabbath and Priest albums I would sit and play when I was really little. A little later I would tape Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies off of the TV with a boombox. I think DRI: 4 Of A Kind was my first cassette purchase. And is still one of my all time favorite albums. In middle school it was Deicide. During high school I moved to a new town and met people that introduced me to Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Bad Brains, etc and we started our first punk band together and had a 7” out when we were still in school. I don’t think I’m nostalgic but I have thousands of LPs and not a whole lot of them are new bands. I’m just playing what I know.

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Crossover Thrash of the eighties had a very humorous and playful feeling to it. Is this what appeals to you particularly in this style, or does it have more to do with purely musical aspects, such as the merging of styles?

Yeah, a lot of bands definitely take themselves too seriously but I’m also not a fan of really whacky stuff. It’s a fine line for sure. I do love how dorky D.R.I., Exodus, and Anthrax could be while making some of the best and most intense music. These days a lot of people think being metal or punk means you have to be a meathead that never smiles. You need some balance. As for the merging of styles, all of my bands have always been described as a mix of different genres. I just play what I like without thinking about what it is.

Despite the energy in your music, there is often quite an artistic and severe atmosphere to it. Is this intentional? Do you see the Zebras as a more tongue-in-cheek kind of band, or as a more serious artistic channel?

I’m very serious.

You have played with many notable but stylishly different acts such as Black Flag and High On Fire. How did this all happen, and how has the audience reacted to your stuff, which works most likely amazingly well live?

Yeah, it’s been great playing with some of our favorite bands. So far we’ve been getting a pretty solid response from the audience at every show and a lot of respect from the other bands. Shane and I have been around long enough so there’s a good amount of venues and promoters that know us. Now we’re getting more known bands asking us directly so that’s cool and very encouraging.

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Now that your second album is about to hit the streets, has there been much interest in this release in advance? How about the first album, how well was it received in general, and did this give any pressure when creating the second album?

Yeah, we sent out tons of demos of these songs last year and it seems to be slowly spreading. The response has been great so far. The last album had a lot of really good reviews but was a lot weirder and each side was recorded two years apart with different band members. We’ll only play one or two songs off of that album now. The rest has all been shelved. This album is way more solid and focused.

It reads on your Bandcamp-page you are going to have a release show with none other than D.R.I. Is this fucking awesome or what? How did this come to be?

Yeah, personally it’s the show I’m most excited about since the Jello Biafra show last year. D.R.I. is one of my all time favorite bands. Having venues and promoters that know you and like your band is really helpful. I think the D.R.I. tour dates were posted and I just said something like “one of my favorite bands” and the promoter said “call me”. If only everything was that easy. “I want to tour with D.R.I.”… I was hoping something was going to happen if I said that.

Thanks for the interview! What does the rest of the year 2015 hold for the Zebras?

Shows shows shows. We have some really cool stuff booked in the mid west. Now we got to get some killer stuff going on everywhere else. People keep asking us to play shows. Now we need them to start asking us on tours.



Interview with Albin Julius (Der Blutharsch)

To anyone familiar with the Neofolk, Dark Ambient or Martial Industrial genres, the work of Albin Julius needs no introductions. Having released many highly influential and even pioneering albums with his projects The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud and Der Blutharsch, Albin has always been an artist full of controversy. Having (most likely) surprised many by steering his music towards more traditional Psychedelic realms a few years ago, this immensely talented man is full of interesting ideas. I’m am more than happy to have a chat with him.

Greetings Albin! How has this year of 2015 begun for you?

Phantastic! We for the first time ever spent New Year evening in the studio recording. Was amazing and gave us a good groove. I then already felt that 2015 will become a great year – much better than the last years – which all have been great as well. This year will be terribly busy, which is very good, as I need to be busy to feel alive. After a nice holiday in Laos and Cambodia with loads of new inspiration and recharging the batteries now I am working on various projects at the same time. The new Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand album named “Joyride“ is now recorded and I will start mixing it next week, besides I work on a very limited handmade 10inch but also on 2 collaboration albums, one with White Hills and one with Urfaust and 2 Jastreb albums. Life is Good!

I imagine you to be a passionate traveler. Where have you been traveling last, and did that change you in any way? There are always something new to discover even to the most experienced adventurer on this globe?

Yes. I consider traveling as a very important part of my life. Fortunately my wife Marthynna loves to travel a lot as well and we mostly manage to do at least 3 trips a year. In winter we have for the last 3 years went to Asia – this year Laos and Cambodia which was amazing. In summer we have been in east Poland which was great as well, visiting all the Templar castles and some nice lakes. This year we have planned to fly to Dublin for a few days to visit friends in May, in summer we want to travel south Poland and visit some weird places of interest there, in autumn Venice for our 5th wedding day – yes – we go romantic and in November our annual visit to Wroclaw for Wroclaw Industrial Festival. So, some plans for this year as well, and already thinking about where to fly next Jan/Feb. Let’s see… Traveling is very important to open your eyes towards other cultures and also for inspiration. Well, at least for me.

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One of your first musical projects was the magnificent The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud, which you started in Austria in the early nineties. What can you tell me about the ideas behind forming this project, or the musical atmospheres surrounding Austria during those times? Do you still get a lot of question about the band, or requests to publish material etc.?

We had serious talks about rereleasing the whole material again, but this due to various reasons didn’t work out, and for me it’s OK. It’s somehow sad as loads of people seem to crave for it, but well. For me it’s the past and it remains the past. I do not really think about it nor do I listen to the music. I anyway never listen to my own music. Listening to own music is like swallowing your own sperm. And also, after having finished an album which means having listened to every song at least 500 times I can`t simply hear it anymore.

At the times we started TMLHBAC I was studying arts and politics and was very much interested in medieval times, so it was only logic to have recorded the kind of music we recorded. In Austria at that time there was no real scene – only very few good concerts and no other bands except maybe Allerseelen which then had already released some great stuff. But we had no contact then and were more or less isolated, which then seemed a bonus somehow and did allow us to do what we want without any restrictions. It was a good time then and very exciting, I mean recording, mixing and releasing your own music is always good, but the first album is the most exciting. And we did all ourselves.

After the Medieval audial aesthetics of The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud, you took some of the more martial aspects of the music and formed Der Blutharsch. If Martial Industrial was (according to many I’m sure) perhaps started back in the day by Laibach, you certainly were one of the first to popularize this kind of music, as many artists followed you on this similar path (with many of them copying you ruthlessly). What can you tell me about the first years of Der Blutharsch in these times of Martial Industrial uprising?

I, when starting Der Blutharsch was also studying politics and was quit interested in Europe’s newer history, and at the time it just seamed a good concept. Mostly it was about provocation and it worked well. Also I have to say at the times I started Der Blutharsch it was really different. There were a lot of weird and interesting people in this scene – if you consider all the good bands on World Serpent Distribution. I got to know many funny and damn interesting people and it was really a weird and crazy time. I think I could write a book. Later it turned more into boring and more and more of the crazy people dissapeared and new boring and untalented bands showed up. Also I got really bored about provocation – I mean.. It was about music and I think it simply was time to move on and discover new territories. And I have to say.. It was for a better!

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During your years with the more militaristic version of Der Blutharsch, you collaborated and toured with many respectable artists from for example the Neofolk or Noise/Industrial -scenes, with people like Douglas Pearce and Boyd Rice. Considering the nature of these personas, you must have had a hell of a time?

Oh yes.. It was crazy then. We had a lot of fun and a weird time. But same… You move on and for me it was time to go.

The latest incarnation of Der Blutharsch is very Psychedelic Rock -oriented. Pictures of mushrooms and such have been present in for example pictures related to Der Blutharsch in the past, so I guess it’s safe to assume you have experience with psychedelics and the states of mind they produce? Would you say a certain mindset present in the Psychedelic-scene is closer to what you do today, more than for example the atmospheres surrounding the Neofolk-scene, or is there any need to make a distinction?

Well… Hard to say as I ever really analyse what I do. I do music for myself, I have to do music. I start to feel really bad if I didn`t go to the studio after a few days. For me it’s passion and I just have to work on music. But somehow I think even the old Der Blutharsch were somehow psychedelic, but not that much than these days. Of course.. If you experience some “opening up“ of your mind you see things different. Meanwhile loads of things which seemed important for me 15 years ago are not important at all. For me music is just a way to have good times with good people… More or less.

As your music today is called (among other terms) “Neu Kraut Music”, you can probably see yourselves as a continuation of the wonderful Krautrock tradition? What are the most important aspects of this culture in your opinion, compared to the other Psychedelic scenes of those times?

I think and always was thinking that the most important thing for doing music is to stay open and curious. I never gave myself any restrictions towards what I am doing, and somehow this worked out well. It was always a good ride. Also I am very open towards music.. For me there’s only bad music and good music, and I decide for myself what is good and what is bad. And I think what really was the main target of Kraut Music back then was to not follow any restrictions or rules. This is what I think is still important.  And these days it is REALLY important for me to find other bands who give a shit about all and do their own unique work. I have to say that i.e. Pharao Overlord is one of the bands I discovered via Niko a few years ago and which REALLY impressed me a lot and still does – and as long as I am able to discover new bands which impress me… Life is good as well. There is loads of good concerts going on in Vienna… And this makes it a good place for me!

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Your 2013 full-length was titled “Cosmic Trigger”, a title used also by the late great Robert Anton Wilson, featuring what appear to be wooden penises on the cover. What does this title and cover-picture represent to you? What can you tell me about the themes of your latest full-length “Today I Want To Catch Clouds”?

As I said. I do not analyze my music and honestly I do not really think a lot about it. For me creating music is a process. It’s like a journey. When you start you never know where you will end and if you finish I find myself really surprised where it did lead me to. For me the process of creating music is more important than the result – somehow. So… I have no clue what else Cosmic Trigger represents to me than a good time I had. I remember when I heard about this penis shrine in Bangkok and went there to take the cover picture… This is more important to me. Good memories about good times.  “Today I Want To Catch Clouds” is not a real album, it’s a collection of songs we recorded or remixed for or with other bands and it was a good thing to have all of them together on one album. But the songs date over 5 years.

What’s the story behind your latest release “Sous l’Arbre De Science”, and does the name Josef Dvorak mentioned as one of the artists of this release have something to do with the movement of Viennese Actionism?

Yes. Josef Dvorak is a satanist expert, philosopher and psychoanalyst and one of the founding members of Wiener Aktionismus. I got to know him via a friend and he did 2 vocal tracks on an album for us. Then we thought we should do a proper release with him and so we did. I talked about this idea to another friend – Didi – the singer of well known Austrian band Fuckhead and he liked the idea so we joined forces. Josef is a very funny guy and I really am very thankful that I could work with him. Also I have to say – Jörg B is a great fan of him and his books influenced him a lot when he was a teenager – so I think for him it was even more exciting. And thats also nice for me…

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Your releases have usually been printed in various versions and many different sizes of pressings. Do you see this kind of “collector”-mentality essential to releasing music in concrete formats these days? Does music even sell these days in the way it supports the people involved? Can you personally live on music?

I think not about music as a business. I am privileged that I can survive with what I am doing and more that I can work with other people I adore, that’s the best about doing music. I never think about it commercial. I had some offers of bigger labels to sign but then I always decided to stay with Tesco, as they always supported me and they do not really care as well about my weird ideas – au contraire. If I want to release something I just release it. I am working on a limited 10inch now which will be released in a very ridiculous edition of 16 copies. All will be made by hand – so I work with friends directly.. One will do the artwork, another the print – we will do all by hand together. That’s what interests me… The process – not the result. As soon as I have an album or release out I am not interested in it anymore. But luckily also some people like what we do.. So I can not complain about sales, although really – I do not care. Also with playing shows. I prefer small intimate shows rather than big ones. Better to have 200 people who really like your music than 600 who just come to see you.  Success is relative – and I think doing music since over 25 years now and still being around and having more passion for what you do than before… That’s success… At least for me.

Thank you very much for this interview! What can you tell me about the future of Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand? Does it involve a lot of playing live?

No, I am right now in the process of seriously thinking if we ever will play life again. I have many projects now and some more in my mind for 2016. And you know – Time is thee enemy!

Der Blutharsch (Official)

Der Blutharsch (Facebook)


Interview with Dorian Williamson (Northumbria)

The Ontarian duo of Northumbria (consisting of Jim Field and Dorian Williamson) creates amazing heavy and Drony yet light and beautiful Ambient Metal (their own term) using only guitar and bass, played through various amplifiers and effects. Their music is of truly magical nature, full of feelings and emotions, visual landscapes so numerous and vast, every person taking their trips most likely has a different story to tell. After getting to know their awesome music I wanted to ask a few questions from the man responsible for the sounds created with the bass guitar, Dorian Williamson.

Greetings Dorian! How has life been recently in Toronto?

Things are well Antti, and thanks for the interview. I found your site through a Sutekh Hexen and I’ve been really enjoying the coverage. Great site! I actually moved out of the city, about an hour or so, to an area called Northumberland County. I wanted to be closer to nature and was a bit sick of city-life. I grew up in the country and was missing it very badly.

You come from the region of Ontario, with a very similar climate to Finland I’d imagine. Long cold winters and short hot summers, forests of fir and pine, lakes scattered across the woodlands. It’s no wonder people from Scandinavia settled to these kinds of regions, bringing their customs with them? How is your lineage, is it reflected much in modern life? 

There are certainly many similarities between Canada and Scandinavia. Our climate is very cold right now, we’re buried under snow! Winter here is so magical and beautiful, and really inspires us a lot. The geography of Canada is so varied and beautiful. My family has been in this area since Canada formed and broke away from America in the early 19th Century. My ancestry is Scottish on my Fathers side, and Irish on my Mothers. We all feel a closeness with that history, and how hard our families worked to make a life here under such harsh circumstances. Living here you have to love the winter and adjust to the climate!! I’m sure you and your readers are aware that the Norse visited Canada over a thousand years ago. There is evidence in the Arctic that their presence was there for centuries. Four centuries before Columbus “discovered” North America!

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Northumbria has been active for a couple of years now, and prior to that you both made music in a band called Holoscene. How would you describe the music of Holoscene compared to Northumbria, are there many similarities? Why did you decide to quit the previous band and form a new one, were you drawn to more Ambient mindscapes?

Well Holoscene was but to rest when our principle songwriter Rob Plastow moved back to the UK from Canada. It just didn’t feel right trying to continue using that name. For the latter half of Holoscene’s existence we were joined by Jim Field, my partner now in Northumbria. I’d been a fan of his music for many years, going back to his band Rhea’s Obsession. As soon as I heard him play I knew I wanted to do something more abstract and long format with him. He has incredible control over his sounds, and is able to create soundscapes that have so much emotional resonance. He’s also brilliant at improvising musically, something I was very attracted to after being in many structured bands. Regarding similarities between the two bands there are some tonal similarities, but fundamentally they’re very different. Northumbria is all about the power of the moment, experimental sonic exploration and trying to capture the magic of the ineffable in an emotional way. Some of the ideas we’re exploring are things Jim began with his solo ambient guitar project Spacenoiz. We try, in essence to act as one guitar.

How is the music scene of your surroundings, are there a lot of underground activity going on for the more rare types of music? Have you guys known each other for a long time, or have you met due to interests in the kind of music Northumbria does?

I was first made aware of Jim’s music from within the Toronto Gothic scene in the late 90’s, although we didn’t become friends until about 10 year ago. As the driving creative force of Rhea’s Obsession, his reputation was well known in the scene. Right now there are quite a few artists that we are friends with that are doing really cool things, all stylistically quite different, but connected in a way. In Toronto there are bands such as Nadja, Gates and Black Walls; In Montreal Thisquietarmy, Havan, Echo Beach, Menace Ruine and Aun; In BC there’s Funerary Call and Skagos. We also feel a strong connection to New York, and have been fortunate enough to play with, and get to know bands like Theologian, Requiem, Insect Ark, Sewer Goddess and A Murder of Angels. So yes I would say that the ground here is very fertile at the moment!

What is your musical background otherwise? Have you ever been involved in for example more aggressive type of music such as Metal or Punk, or perhaps more experimental stuff such as Electronic music? What kind of music interests you the most in your personal life at the moment?

Yes my background is more in Industrial, my early bands were influenced by bands like Godflesh, Swans, Skinny Puppy etc. I kind of gave up on that type of music and got heavily into more Electronic styles of music, but returned to playing bass with the formation of Holoscene in 2005.

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Since the musical skill and knowledge of instruments and equipment needed in the creation of your music is so vast, I’m guessing you have past in working with audio in some way? Have you studied audio or music in general, or are you self-taught? 

I’ve always been involved in audio and sound, and yes I went to school for Audio Engineering in Toronto after failing out of art school. Jim is also and Engineer and Producer, and has been involved in a lot of technical projects. We both collaborate on every aspect of Northumbria’s music.

Your music is extremely visual to me, in terms of visions of sceneries it creates in my mind, as well as emotions of different life-situations. Do you have history in visual kinds of art, such as painting or making films?

It’s interesting how music that is instrumental free up the mind to have an experience that is much more sensory, without the narrative or direction of a vocal you can impart any kind of meaning on it that resonates with you. That’s one of the more interesting things about this style of music. It’s much like a non-objective painting. The meaning is in your own personal experience, and in that way it’s completely unique. I’ve been very influenced by Film and Visual Art and I think it comes across in the music. Film-makers like David Lynch, David Cronenberg and Peter Greenaway have had a big impact, and visual artists like Andy Goldsworthy, Banks Violette, Spencer Byles and Antonio Tapies.

The art of Northumbria is very live-oriented (improvised even perhaps) in terms of creation, as well as working splendidly on stage I’m sure. How much do you play live, and do you see Northumbria as a live-band more than a studio-band?

We definitely see it as a “live” studio band, because we almost never add any overdubs. It’s almost all live off the floor, with a bit of mixing later. We wanted it to be a document of a raw experience. We do play live, not as much as we’d like to. It takes so long to tour in this country, the cities are so far apart. To date we’ve played a few times in Toronto, Guelph, Montreal, Boston and New York, but really want to play more and get over to Europe. Hopefully Finland! The label that released Bring Down the Sky, Consouling Sounds, is based in Belgium, so for sure we’d love to play there as well.

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Your music has been received extremely well in the press, with stories in magazines like Terrorizer. Have you experienced the results of this much as a band, such as a stronger demand for physical releases or live shows?

We’re honestly quite surprised at the response, considering this is our most personal and in some way experimental, music that we’ve ever made. Almost everything we’ve released has been sold out quite quickly, which is awesome! Bring Down the Sky is our first widely available release with proper distribution. The label (Consouling Sounds) has been really wonderful to work with. Their roster is just killer!

How is the global (or local for that matter) scene for music like this? Do you feel like a part of a bigger group of musicians helping each other out, or do you prefer to work on your own more?

The people making this music are very supportive of each other, and the overall vibe is one of community for sure. I really feel like this is a special time, and that artists are making their best work. Not too long ago it was so hard to find and connect with people making extreme music, not it’s so easy to find things that would have been nearly impossible. Also for the DIY musician it’s really become kind of a grassroots movement.

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Thanks for this chat Dorian! How does the year of 2015 look like for Northumbria, and you personally?

Thank you, and thanks also for turning me on to Taatsi, I’ve been listening to “Amidst The Trees” all the time. Perfect soundtrack to winter nature worship! Regarding your earlier question about Scandinavia and Canada…We’ve just completed our third full-length which is called “Helluland”. It’s inspired by the the Norse discovery of Baffin Island here in Canada, and translates roughly into “the land of the flat stone”. There is new evidence that the Vikings not only visited Newfoundland here in Canada, but set up a permanent settlement high up in the Canadian arctic over a thousand years ago. We both found that totally inspirational and used it as the basis for this release. We’re extremely honoured to be releasing it through the Swedish Dark Ambient label Cryo Chamber, operated by Simon Heath of Atrium Carceri; he’s also doing the Mastering and artwork. It’s a different record for us, much more subdued and minimal, but still very dark and emotional, hopefully translating the awe, majesty and terror that must have been felt at discovering this land. The Vikings must have felt as though they’d landed in Jötunheimr!

Northumbria (Facebook)


Interview with Stefan Necroabyssious (Varathron)

Varathron (founded in 1988) needs no introductions to anyone familiar with the nineties Black Metal world, especially the Greek bands. Stefan Necroabyssious (who used to do vocals over 20 years ago in Kawir as well) is one of those personalities people identify the good old Greek sound with, a true pioneer of Greek Metal in general. Fortunately I had a chance to exchange some thoughts with the man as their latest full-length album “Untrodden Corridors Of Hades” came out.

Greetings! How are things in Greece? You were unfortunately in a motorcycle accident recently?

Hail my friend Antti! Yes, I had an accident but now I’m fine. You know, riding a motorcycle on the road, one must be prepared for any dangers around. Anyway, the past is past and now I look into the future!

I just returned from Creta myself, and I must say I really love the attitude to life down there! How’s life in Ioannina?

I visit Creta too. It’s such a perfect place. We have a similar way of life here. Ioannina is a city with an “aggressive” nature around it. Great mountains, a perfect lake with an island where you can live, great ancient monuments, immortal rivers and a winter as cold as the winters of Northern Europe! I like to live here, far away from big cement cities!

Greece had a tight and great BM-scene in the early- and mid-nineties (not to say it still has), with bands like Varathron, Necromantia, Zemial, Kawir, Rotting Christ etc. making great atmospheric music and developing the Greek sound. You guys also seemed to help each other out quite a lot, and participate in each other’s projects?

Believe me these days were amazing! We were a strong team, hungry for creation! We released magazines, made flyers, we wrote lyrics, designed covers, and in general we totally worshipped our music and gave it our best! Especially the unholy trinity of Varathron, Necromantia and Rotting Christ. We rehearsed a lot and I believe we gave birth to the Greek Black Metal sound! That was the result of our passions and our desires to do more evil and dark Metal, beyond our mortal thoughts and ideas! I feel so lucky to have lived that period of my life, now stronger than ever!

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It was not unknown in those times for BM-musicians all over the world to send threats to each other and so on. Did the Greek musicians think of them separate music-wise (and maybe in other issues as well) from other scenes globally, or was there a comradery of bands all over the world in your case?

My friend, in our case the situation was great! We really had so much support and friendships with many bands – great bands now – around the world. Varathron has had a cult-status throughout the years, and that is the result of our great brotherhood with so many bands around the world. I never liked the threats and shitty words, I like honest speech and continuity. My band was and still is a servant of evil Metal music. We separate our music from any social or political ideologies. That was my fundamental idea and I still swear by it! We want to create Black Metal music, psalms for the dark lord, not manifesting for the society. If I would like that, perhaps I would play other kinds of music!

To the outsider it seems that a sort of a central figure in producing many of the albums was Magus Wampyr Daoloth. Is it safe to say that he is responsible for the Greek sound?

My brother George (Magus) was the sound-engineer at Storm Studios, where all the bands recorded their first works. Of course he had a great influence on Greek Black Metal sound. The ideas, the riffs, the songs, the sound-systems in the studio, and the sound-engineering were the result of that!

How do you see the Greek scene today? Is the country separated into different smaller scenes, or do Greek music makers all over have much contact with each other? Does Varathron even count itself to be part of some scene?

The Greek Metal scene is till strong. Of course the old glorious days shall never come again. There are a lot of bands, a lot of releases, but not the same feeling or the old strong spirit that dominated our past! Varathron still remains immortal and we are friends with the old brothers as well as some new great bands.

Has the recent political and societal happenings of Greece affected the affairs of the musicians much? Some bands seem to be associated with certain political currents, others distance themselves from all that. 

I think the political and societal happenings of every country gives a big “boost” to local art. That situation, which is totally negative for the people, gives a “positive” inspiration to musicians creatively. For more good music, movies or poems or any kind of art. So, I never mix my music with societal issues, although the entire situation gives me wrath to continue stronger than ever.

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You yourself have done a great career in the Metal-underground, and these days you also host a Metal show. Can you make a living out of Metal in Greece, or is it mostly just a hobby for everyone?

My friend, I heard Metal music in 1978 for the first time. The first bands I loved were Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Motörhead and AC/DC. I heard Venom and later Bathory in the early 80’ies. That’s when I dedicated myself totally to darkness. I love the Metal sound, and I think it is inside my blood. To me, Metal music is not just a hobby, but a part of my life. 36 years full of Metal!

Varathron today is band that plays very well together, having maybe a bit younger band-members than the older Greeks (?), but all very skilful musicians. Is it common in Greece for a young person to become interested in Metal music, and become a good player?  

When we begun Varathron we played more aggressively, not as technical as now. The new younger members are musicians from music-school, not empirical musicians like our past members. I think the new musicians in Greece, and in the entire world in general, are more skilful than past musicians, which is very good for the scene. Personally, I feel great to have those guys in my band.

Do you play live much with such a professional lineup?

After a long time, we’ve returned on stage! Currently, Varathron is playing some great live shows; After Berlin, the next stations are Prague, Poland, London, and later Brazil!

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Varathron has lyrically and conceptually many Occult themes, and for example I myself being a student of Kabbalah, it was a delight for me to listen to the first song on the new album. How seriously do you take the Occult, is it just a hobby for writing lyrics or do you study and practice some form of Spirituality daily etc.?

Throughout the years, I’ve read so many books, ancient works of past religions and masses. I respect the Occult totally, and I worship it. I’ve studied and practiced the dark forces for many years. I am a servant of the dark side, not a fake marketing-puppet. I like to write lyrics with themes from my personal life and visions. Varathron has never had a “pseudo-image”, but it is a true evil spirit whom drives us beyond bizzarre dimensions and thoughts.

Varathron has released albums quite steadily over the years. Has the band been operational all the time, or have there been major breaks and pauses at some point? Has quitting music ever occurred to you seriously?

Varathron has had some bad luck in the past. We’ve had many troubles resulting in delays of our releases. After our last release “Stygian Forces Of Scorn” of 2009, we started working on new material, after which the bad luck stroke and our guitarist Sotiris and our drummer Haris had to go to obligatory army-service. Despite these difficulties we released a 3-way-LP and two Split-7” Ep’s. In the meantime, I was searching for a new label to release our new album. Economic problems were huge, and we recorded the instruments of the new tracks when we had money. So, the album proceeded slowly, and when I signed to Agonia Records, things begun to move faster, and the result was awesome! Our label does the best for us and we know it!

How is the future of Varathron, can we expect more awesome albums with this same line up?

Yes, we create more great albums and play more great live shows! The positive thing in our band is the total friendship between us. Besides, all the guys are fans of Varathron and they love to play in the band!

Thank you Stefan for this interview, and much respect and gratitude for your work over the years! Any last words?

Thanks so much my friend Antti! Thanks for the support and your great words about our works. I salute all our friends there. Embrace our evil sound and beware for our unholy invasion. Walking the paths of Hades! The kingdom come..

Stefan Necroabyssious

Varathron (Facebook)

Agonia Records

Interview with Somesha Sridhara (Dhwesha)

When I got into contact with cool people with similar interests (and very widely conscious, when it comes to global extreme Metal underground) from India, and was recommended a local Death Metal band, I had no expectations in any direction, since I didn’t remember ever hearing an Indian Metal band of any kind properly. Of course I found myself in a world of amazing old-school Death Metal with strong Indian influences, musically and lyrically. After the great experience of listening to their first full-length album “Sthoopa”, I had some questions to the brilliant guitarist Somesha Sridhara of one of India’s leading Death Metal bands, Dhwesha.

Greetings! How is life today in the area where you live? Could you give us some information about your home-city, and the daily life there?

Greetings Antti! Well, I would say it’s the same as every day, nothing unusual. The city we live in, Bangalore, has the best weather as compared to any other city in India and life here in general is somewhat moderately paced.

How did the three members of the band meet, and decide to form a Death Metal band? Is it hard to find likeminded people in you part of India?

Ajay and I knew each other since pre-university college and had a band then. Eventually the drummer and bassist of that band went their own ways after our course but Ajay and I stayed in touch, started writing music and formed Dhwesha in 2008. In 2011, we decided to start playing our songs live and that’s when we started looking for a drummer seriously. Our search ended when we met Tushar with whom we started practicing the songs we had written already and also started working on new songs which led to our album ‘Sthoopa’.

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There is such a strong early nineties Death Metal feeling to the music of Dhwesha, I must suspect you have been into underground Metal for a long time, am I correct?

Well, the bands we are mostly influenced by are from the 90s and the late 80s/early 90s was the time when some of the most iconic albums of the genre were released. Bands like Bolt Thrower, Gorement, early Amorphis, Sentenced, Unleashed and Desultory have been our biggest influences in creating this kind of music.

You are all very skilled in playing your “Western” instruments. How did this come about, when thinking of your childhood? Are you just as much trained in traditional Indian music compared to Western styles of playing and composing?

Well, I was always fascinated by the guitar as a kid and really wanted to learn the instrument. I started learning when I was about 13-14 years old I suppose. I’m quite sure it was the same case with Ajay who started playing the guitar when was 15-16 years old or so. We picked up these instruments as we started listening to a lot of hard rock and metal music, being fascinated by the guitarists in the bands we were listening to then.

Unfortunately, we have never learnt any traditional Indian instruments. However, I’d like to explore more in that direction eventually but I doubt we’d ever incorporate those instruments in our music. We just want play plain old death metal with a certain sound of our own.

How about the Metal-scenes there in general? Looking at your gig-posters, I got the feeling there are quite many bands, as well as gigs in your area, or did I get wrong impression?

The metal scene in India has improved immensely in the past few years especially in our home city Bangalore and in the city of Kolkata. We have had great underground metal bands like Impiety and Blood Division from Singapore, Abigail from Japan, Orator from Bangladesh, Genocide Shrines and Serpent’s Athirst from Sri Lanka to name a few.

Which is the dominating music style – Black Metal or Death Metal – when it comes to underground music in India, or are they usually enjoyed and performed by the same people?

Well, there is a good mix of both. In Bangalore, its mostly Death Metal but in Kolkata there are some really great sounding young Black/Death metal bands like Necrodeity, Tetragrammacide, Banish and Thrash metal bands like Deadbolt and Armament.

Do you ever experience any problems from any local authorities, because of the music styles of your choice?

Well, we have not had any issues in our shows so far. There was a deadline of 11PM for shows to end or pubs to close in our city and since everyone’s used to it, shows start in the evening and end by about 11-11:30 PM but nowadays they tend to go on a little longer as they’ve extended the deadline by a couple of hours.

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Your amazing first album came out through Dunkelheit Produktionen in September of 2014. How did this happen, did they approach you or vice versa? How has the response been so far?

I was aware of Dunkelheit Produktionen as they had released Funeral In Heaven and Plecto Aliquem Capite’s split, Pathogen’s ‘Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberrations’, but when we discovered that the label was going to release Exhumation’s ‘Hymn to Your God’ we realized that they were also looking at signing more death metal bands and thought we’d give it a try by sending a promo copy of album which was yet to be mixed and mastered. Bernd from Dunkelheit Produktionen contacted us as soon as he received the promo CD and expressed his interest to release ‘Sthoopa’ and have Dhwesha on their roster.

The response to the album has been quite great so far and we are really happy about it.

What does the name “Dhwesha”, and the name of your first brilliant album “Sthoopa” mean? How about your lyrics, what are the general themes in them?

‘Sthoopa’ in our language Kannada translates to a pillar or a tower and that is what the album title track is about. Our lyrical themes are mostly concentrated towards mythology and Indian history. The ‘Hoy! Sala’ is about how the Hoysala Empire got its name which according to the legend talks of a sage who was meditating with his disciple Sala when a lion attacked the sage and he called on his apprentice to strike (Hoy!) the lion. ‘Ugra Narasimha’ is based on a story from Hindu mythology, of Hiranyakashipu, an ‘asura’ (Demon) who seeks immortality and during his attempt to kill his son Prahlada for opposing him in his thirst for power, is decapitated by Narasimha (half-human half-lion avatar of Vishnu). These are stories most people in our country are familiar with and as children grew up hearing/reading about. Magick and rituals have always been practiced in parts of India since the ancient times of which some are documented. The song ‘Sabhe’ on the album is a generalized take on this subject about a coven of witches congregating in a forest around a ritual fire.

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What can you tell me about your religious backgrounds? Do you all share similar childhoods in this matter, or are the Metal-heads in India a collection of different stories when it comes to cultural upbringing?

Well, the 3 of us are Hindu by birth but I’m not a religious person really. Yes, most people in India, depending on their upbringing are religious and as kids follow things that their parents and elders tell them. While some choose otherwise when they are old enough, some choose to continue.

What do the ancient Traditions, Philosophy and Spirituality of your culture mean to you? Is it mostly a source of inspiration to your music, or something more deeper in your daily life?

They are definitely a source of inspiration for our music. Some of those traditions which have continued from the ancient times are part of people’s daily lives here.

How do the younger generation of India today view the ancient reality tunnels and thinking, such as the Caste-system or extreme devotion to Religion and Spirituality? Is there a difference there between the perhaps more educated part of the people in the cities versus the rural folk?

The younger generations in the cities of course detest caste-system and blindly following religious beliefs/customs. Although, there could be a very small percentage of people who still do. But, the numbers would be higher in the rural areas because of lack of education.

Thank you very much for this interview! What are your future plans when it comes to your band?

The plan for now is to play shows in most of the cities in India to promote the album and also start working on some new material!

Thanks a lot!

Dhwesha (Facebook)

Interview with Kenneth K. ([ówt krì])

Creating rich and moving soundscapes (without conventional means and common ways of creating music) is not easy. May it be subtle or harsh, composing spells of audial magic, layers of sound triggering inner films, requires a very special kind of talent very different from traditionally beating your instrument and screaming your lungs out, or something similar. Under the name [ówt krì], Kenneth K. has created one of the most multifaceted and internally visual works of Ambient music I have ever heard in my life.

Hello Kenneth! How has the winter begun for you in our mutual hometown of Helsinki?

Cheers Antti!

Besides the struggle against the oppressive darkness and a chronic lack of time everything is very well. I have been planning future ventures as well as started recording layers for the next [ówt krì] release, hopefully out sometime next year.

You have created music for about ten years. Has it been always made in the way it is now, with synths as well as with an electric guitar?

I was very late with picking up real instruments; Actually I was in my early twenties when I got my first keyboard and guitar. Until then I tried out composing with stock loops from Sonic Foundry’s ACID music and toying around with Fast Tracker. Since I got into real instruments there was no turning back and I’ve turned into something of a instrument junky.

Today I compose using guitar, bass, keyboard and some midi programming but also some more obscure instruments like electric violin, AKAI EWI and Theremin.

How much experience do you have creating other styles of music? Do you have a background in something other than Ambient, or have you always been attracted to more subtle (yet rich) ways of playing with sound?

To the core I’m a metal-head. Some 15 years ago there was no other music for me than metal and it’s sub-genres. So back in the early 00’s I started out with trying to compose metal, which just turned into bad pastiches of my visions and heroes. From there I tried out all types of stuff, from Rap to Country. Ultimately I found my own voice as a composer when I scrapped the conventional song structures and mainstream styles and took the deep dive into drones and ambience.

Nowadays, even if my main focus is on soundscapes and ambient, I  still record some experimental metal music occasionally. Mostly I tend to express my aggressions with Black Metal, Doom and Grindcore, or an occasional Noise one-off every now and then.

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Your music is extremely (internally) visual. As a skilful creator of landscapes and paintings of sound, have you ever worked in visual arts as well?

Thank you so much for the compliment. One of my earliest creative outputs was drawing so I consider my artistic roots to be in visual arts. I had this huge Marvel comics collection that I used for model and inspiration in my drawing, which resembles my way of picking up music also; I develop my style and ideas based on what I hear in other peoples music or read about composers ideas.

My latest ventures in visual arts have been a few acrylic paintings and a handful of photographs, but they are merely sporadic acts of creative fulfillment.

How is a typical [ówt krì] -song crafted? Is it a long process, or do the creation-lengths of songs vary a lot? 

My point of entry usually varies quite a lot, as the actual aggregate for a composition can be pretty much anything. Sometime the ideas ignite from a sound or a text, other times from a spoken phrase or a photograph… there is no rule really. Anything that wakes emotions within me can serve as the seed for inspiration.

Once I have the main idea for the track, then I just plug in the instruments and start following my intuition. It’s not unusual for the final track to be light years away from the initial idea, but the point of entry is still imperative.

Your magnificent album “The New Seed” was released by Alrealon Musique last year, but after that you have also released material through other channels as well? Do you see this as a fruitful and usual way to go when it comes to Electronic music in this day and age?

Alrealon Musique really did a great job with promoting “The New Seed” and the guys at the label are like an extended family for me. Still, as a small indie label they need to get their investment paid back before we can put something new out together and I really hope that day will come. I know both me and the label are hard at work with getting the batch of CDs out there.

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So the thing is that you really need to do whatever you can to spread knowledge and information. Every free download release I get on the net helps in spreading knowledge about me and my project. Also each label and media have their own audiences and readers which all help in getting attention. Fact is that it’s not enough to make a critically acclaimed album anymore. You have to find the listeners and connect with them.

You also perform live. Do you see this fundamentally different from studio-working (so to speak)? How much do you improvise when performing live, or otherwise?

I was given a great chance last summer (2014) to perform live during the Ambient Music Conference 2014 pre-party in Helsinki. It was a great game-opener for me and really woke my hunger to perform. Now my live routine has been based on improvised playing over pre-recorded backing tracks and it has worked well for my gigs in Finland and the US.

As my studio work also is largely based on improvised overdubs and intuition, I don’t see such a large fundamental difference between the two.

In many ways I see my recordings as a process of trials and errors until I reach the perfect atmospheric and melodic mix for my aural aesthetics.

Of course, in difference to recordings, the live performance peaks in that spur of the moment and will be tied down to the atmospheres and feelings right there, right then. So Live I either hit or miss.

In other words I give the viewers of my shows a once in a lifetime experience that I hope will touch them at least on some level.

Your music has taken you abroad as well. Is this something that you can picture happening in the future as well? Is there a common trait in people attending Ambient music shows?

Absolutely! Any chance I get to play abroad or domestic is highly welcome and appreciated. The problem is that on this level I can’t afford to play that much abroad, but if I could get the travel expenses then no problem.

What I have noticed is that there isn’t that much of a scene locally, or it is very deep underground so, being a bit of an introvert personality, finding the right people and connections is hard for me.

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The people who I have had the pleasure to meet at my gigs have all been musically highly open minded and sincere people. I have been very lucky to connect with so many great personalities!

What other activities do you do (or see yourself doing) in life, besides music? Is creating art a constant process to you, or do you have your periods of creativity and periods of rest?

Mostly I try to juggle between Family life, work and music to get out the most from life. With that said family life is very inspiring. I pretty much depend on inspiration for my creative ventures, so I tend to have dry seasons when I don’t create anything new.

Regarding other ventures in my life, I have tried a whole lot of things besides my day job in an office. As I said earlier, I used to draw and occasionally paint some minimal stuff. At one time I wrote a lot of poetry, that I still have hanging around in my drawers (aka. cloud storages), and I also did reviews for a music Zine.

A part of me also craves to do things with my hands and after years of assembling my computers I did a switch and started building (or assembling) guitars and some obscure string instruments that I can utilize in my future projects.

Thank you very much for this interview! What can you tell us about the future plans of [ówt krì]?

Thank you so much for the attention.

I just released a tape called “Incarcerated” on Cursed Tapes, which was a collaboration I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

Other than that I hope to continue the victory march that started in 2013 with “The New Seed”. My plan is to release more music within the next year and play some more gigs. There are also a few music video projects in my mind and I hope to advance with those soon.

At the moment my next gig will be in February 2015 in Turku.
I also have plans to arrange something in Helsinki… more about that later.

[ówt krì] (Facebook)