Interview with Robert Brockmann (Naturmacht Productions)

Robert is a musician and a label owner I met through promoting my own band, and we starting talking about various things, life in general, and found we have much in common. Having done a lot of work in the Metal underground releasing many quality records, and playing in a few interesting bands himself, I wanted to chat with him a bit more.

Hello Robert, how has the autumn started for you in Germany? Keeping busy with your studies, label and bands I’m sure?

Hi Antti, autumn is nice so far, I love this season very much! Especially the foggy and rainy days. Aye being busy as always, making decisions and so on. But life is good.

Your label has released a lot of quality albums in a few years, and you also have a side label specialising in more Doomier stuff. Is this really as time-consuming as one might imagine? Do you ever regret taking too much projects into your hands, or do you deal with releases one at a time?

Yes label work is demanding very much time, at least if you want to do it right and professionally. Already the promotion is an intensive job as you nowadays must be all the time available, online and active at social media platforms. Luckily the behind the scene stuff is now already operating well and effective, so it is not stressful at least. Sometimes I wonder if I got too much, but then also many projects or bands just stop to work and everything works out anyway. But at the moment I am not really signing any new bands at all, especially not black metal, as I got enough for now in this genre. And basically I set dates when a band is ready with the material, so its releasing piece by piece with 2 release max per date.

Your releases always have a very classy, atmospheric and professional visual side. How important do you see the visual aesthetics of a band in comparison with the music itself? Does all the visual planning come easily out of you or do you spend a lot of time with it?

Well it goes mostly easily from hand as the bands deliver always great visual art too, so putting everything together is not hard at all. The artwork is as essential as the music itself. Music and artwork are one at the end and must merge and catch the attention of the customers of course. Especially nowadays with those masses of bands and labels.

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As physical records don’t sell much these days, I imagine you focus more on quality than quantity when deciding about pressings etc. How important do you see digital sharing and perhaps even exclusively digital releases compared to physical releases?

I like CDs and always will and NP/RWE will always be a CD Label, for me CD is what for many is Vinyl nowadays. Digital sharing is very important though. Today the customers want to know what they buy. I think very less do blind shopping these days just because of a great cover or something. And for us labels it is a very cheap and easy way to earn money. I can not understand the whining of many labels. The market is changing aye, but you got nearly zero costs with digital stuff, no shipping and so on. And yet people will also buy physical stuff in the future. At the moment digital is new and exciting, but it can not replace a solid physical product, which you can touch and where you can browse through the booklet or simply watch the cover art while listening. And the people will recognise that. It is the same with books. First they feared people would switch to e-books, now the book market is again growing. Because it is not the same and you can not fill shelfs with e-books or digital releases. To sum it up, for me digital releases are a nice addition and they are practical for compilations and stuff but it is not replacing the CD in any way.

Your own band Lebensnacht has a very primitive yet beautiful nineties Black Metal style approach to melancholic visions of life, death and nature. I’m guessing it’s not hard for you to find inspiration for your art in you surroundings? Do you see yourself as a melancholic and perhaps even pessimistic person, or is this style of music a way of releasing negative energies from your consciousness?

An interesting question! I am melancholic indeed. For me melancholy is one of the purest and greatest emotions a human can have, it is so deep and somehow rooted, you as a Finn probably know what I mean. Inspiration is easy to find indeed, also the negative ones of course, but I am a realist rather than pessimist and normally a happy person. I say, everything has two sides and so also good ones. You can take from every shit thing also a good one, especially if you think in bigger terms than just the here and now. Related to that: Where is light is also darkness. The dark things in our universe always attracted me as we live in the light and tend to shut down the darkness and bad feelings. But I think they are as important as the nice things. One needs the other and you can just fully enjoy and understand life if you face all of them.

You’ve done this project for a few years now, and new album is coming out soon. Is this project something you devote a lot of time to, compared to other activities in your life?

Well, it is a big part and it is my musical baby, but I am a very balanced person and I try to balance also my hobbies and general activities, of which I got much, because too much is never good in anything.

Lebensnacht features titles in Finnish, as you share your life with a Finnish girl. How do the Finnish and German personalities meet? Do you share your individual art together in the form of mutual projects?

My lady is more the Death Metal, melodic Metal type (no surprise) but she also likes Black Metal, but not so much the Lebensnacht style unfortunately. But I am planning to “use” her as a guest singer on a future release with Finnish lyrics of course. I also learn Finnish now, so maybe in 5 years I can actually write Finnish lyrics myself.

You also play in the band Sado Sathanas, which has a more Satanic and Occult approach to Black Metal. How do you see these bands compared to each other? How has the response been so far regarding the new material?

They are both atmospheric black metal bands with an old school touch, but from the lyrical concept Lebensnacht deals with Nature mostly and Sado Sathanas with Occult and mystic things. I think they are bot unique in their own way. Sado Sathanas is more complex though. The response is very positive so far, also at the live gigs. I think we are able to deliver the music from the album one to one to the stage and the people like the mix between modern atmospheric and old school Black Metal.

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You’ve also played live with a few bands. Do you enjoy the live performances, or playing at a rehearsal place, or do you prefer working on you own?

Actually Sado Sathanas is my first live band. I come from the village where I was the only metal guy and in my school we were like 3. So making a band was not really possible as we also had different tastes. I like both, solo project and the band experience, especially if you have great guys around you like at Sado Sathanas and playing live is really fun once you get used to be stared by people. It has its very own magic.

Germany as a country has a lot of people and bands. Are there clearly certain perhaps geographically or ideologically formed scenes in Germany, whom pretty much stick to themselves, or is the spirit of underground Metal strong and soldiery there?

Hard to say for whole Germany from my side. I just know the local “scene” which is not very strong and more parted geographically than “ideologically”. You do have some areas where there is more Black Metal and then others with more Death Metal but at the end it is mixed and kind of open. We have quite much festivals in our county Saxony with mixed genres and with the clubs it is the same. But at the end I am not really a member of any scene or group here. At the end I have more global connections than local because of the label.

Are you into other styles of music besides Metal? Were you always an metal kid, since a child, or did this come about later in your teens?

Nope, I am or better was a classical Metal teen. Started with Linkin Park when I was 15. Before I listened to everything coming in the radio, also Techno and stuff. But I still listen to other music like Classic, Rock, Medieval music and Folk, also all this cool psychedelic stuff like Chelsea Wolf or Darkher is something I like. Tenhi is one of the best bands I know. When it is dark, melancholic and deep it is something for me.

What can you tell me about your views on spirituality and these typical themes in Black Metal such as Satanism and Occultism? Do they serve you only as philosophical metaphors, or is there something deeper there for you in you personal daily life?

Pretty much the first when it comes to Occultism and Satanism. In fact, I am not a big fan of super true Satanism. Actually I do not like extreme things in any way. I find those “true” satanists as ridiculous as Islamists for example, or Nazis. But I love occult stuff as mentioned above, it is also part of this universe. But really deep spirituality I feel when I am alone in the nature, that is why I love Finland for example so much. There I feel free and being really a part of something big and amazing. Hard to describe but my soul connects with everything around me then. A great and intensive feeling. And I do not feel like this in cities or in urban areas at all.

Thanks for this interview my friend! What are your future plans?

I really thank you buddy. Excellent questions you asked! Well, making a fourth Lebensnacht -album, a third Sado Sathanas -album, and grow with the label and continue my way of balance and real life.

All the best for your zine!

Naturmacht Productions

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Interview with Susanne Sinmara (Destructive Music)

Susanne Sinmara, an Austrian living in London, is the editor in chief of the web-zine Destructive Music, dealing in Black Metal, Doom, Folk and other styles of music. She also plays drums in a couple of bands. Besides this she has been active in the contemporary pagan scenes, as well as thriving to be as self-sufficient as possible, growing her own food and studying farming and animal husbandry. Always interesting to have a conversation with a fascinating person.

Hello Susanne! How’s the autumn weather in London?

Hello! It’s getting rather cold and wet, after a very dry September – no more blackberries to forage in the forest, but there’ll be other fruits and plants I can forage. My plants in my garden are quite happy about the rain though!

I know you are working on being self-sustaining when it comes to basic living, growing your own food and making your own daily products out of the many things you farm. Still, living in the urban area of London, one needs to work in order to pay the rent (and to avoid collecting the awkward unemployment check)?

Ah, indeed – having all these little projects going, drumming and travelling to other countries isn’t cheap. I’m working in an office – nothing special, but it pays the bills. I’ve been lucky enough to have a good education and the skills for a decently paid office job, although the ultimate goal is buying a small farm with my boyfriend.

Are you determined to live one day at your own farm, free from the treadmills of modern society, or do you think this is most likely just another individual utopia, at least in England?

The way I see it, farming, self sufficiency and going back to basics is the future. The current Western market system isn’t working, it’s collapsing, and I certainly don’t want to be caught up in that. Us Westerners have been living in such luxury, and the rest of the world wants to have their share of that – but imagine Asia and Africa all trying to have the same lifestyle as we have. Can’t blame them for this, of course. The earth doesn’t have the resources to cope with such a high demand. Chandran Nair wrote a great book about this topic, Consumptionistics.

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We want to breed goats, sheep and pigs, and have a permaculture on our farm. There’s so much to learn! I’ve been raised on home grown vegetables and fruit, and have experience in growing my own veg and fruit to a certain extent for quite some time. Baking bread by hand, learning how to preserve and ferment vegetables, how to make cheese, make mead, sew clothes, work leather – all things I learnt and regularly do. Saves a lot of money as well. The one thing I do want to keep doing is drumming and making music, so I will need to keep the internet…

Being originally from Austria, did you find it difficult at first to adjust to the societal ways of the UK? And have you become one with the English character, or do you feel like your Austrian personality will never completely understand the British ways of mind?

There were a few hiccups in the beginning – moving from a fairly rural area into London was quite a culture shock. I missed the mountains around me. London is different to the rest of the UK – no one cares what you do, how you look like, and if something happens on the tube, people just look away. The famous British stiff upper lip! The countryside is like Austria – people greet you when you’re walking in the forest, and it’s generally more friendly. Austria has its advantages and disadvantages – the people can be very backwards, especially in the rural areas. The metal scene is pretty good though! Austrians and British people have fairly similar characteristics: the black humour, the constant moaning. These days I feel half a Londoner, half Austrian. I enjoy going back to Austria, going hiking in the alps. I miss skiing, haven’t raced down a ski slope for 10 years!

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If I’ve understood correctly, you find solace and strength in the ways and customs of old, like many people interested in Black Metal and Folk music often do. You also visit Pagan Festivals. How do the English Pagan communities differ from Austrian ones?

In a way old customs fascinate me, and to a certain extent I celebrate some customs and fests – winter and summer solstice, Samhain, summer harvest and so on – however we live in the here and now, and not in the past. We learn from the past, and we move on. Mankind is ever changing and expanding, sadly mostly to the worse these days. This one of the reasons why I want to buy a small farm and live as self sufficient as possible, and do my little bit to help nature. I dabbled with the London Pagan scene a little bit and met some interesting characters, but generally found it too closed and narrow minded. As with all scenes there’s a lot of posing and bitching. Back in Austria I had a few pagan friends and we celebrated together a few times, but we were all too diverse to really get on with each other. I’m really not into the ‘waving hands into the air and sing songs’ Wiccan rituals. Each to their own.

Do you practice certain kind of Pagan-customs, or are you eclectic in that sense? Do you feel a sort of a Pan-European Paganism could triumph over the modern hypocritical so-called Christian values, or do you think local Paganism will just turn into nationalism and the quarrelling will continue on that level as well?

They recently recognised Druidism as a religion in the UK, which is fantastic, and a step forward, however Paganism will always be a niche-religion due to the many sub-groups. It’s more an umbrella term anyway. I’m curious how spirituality will evolve over the next decades, it’s hard to predict of course.

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Being involved in the world of Black Metal have you had your “Satanic” phase at some point, or have you been strictly into Paganism since you started to question the modern ways? Or are you perhaps constantly fascinated by the idea of Christianity’s Adversarial Angel?

I’ve never been interested in Satanism, never been interested in any kind of structured organised religion – be it magickal orders, Wicca or other organised religions. I find it much more beneficial to work on my own – obviously group dynamics have a much different dynamics for magickal purposes, but if you’re not working with people that are pretty much like yourself, you get energies in the group dynamics that I wouldn’t want. I draw my energy from nature and am eternally grateful for what nature and earth gives me. This also means I try to give back as much as possible and care for the environment.

Trees, forests, plants, stones – if that makes me a bloody hippie, then so be it. As a human you can’t just take take take, you have to give as well to keep the balance. Peter Carroll’s Liber Kaos is a book that influenced me and has opened my eyes. I’d consider myself a chaos magickian, albeit not quite what the common description is. Like with music I don’t limit myself to one system – I pick and chose what works best for me. Runes, Buddhism, Hinduism, North American Indians, Germanic teachings, Egyptology, Crowley, Shamanism, Chakras, healing stones and herbs, all that and more have influenced me in one way or another. In the end all you need is your mind. Willpower, Discipline and an open, yet sceptic mind. There’s so much knowledge out there!

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Have you always been into metal, or did you have your punk- or goth-periods at some point growing up (perhaps still have)? What other styles of music interest you and give you the right feelings?

My father had a 50ies jukebox with Suzie Quatro, Deep Purple, The Sweet and so on, that got me interested in rock as a tiny kid, moving on to glam rock/metal when I was 10. Then I got into punk in my early teens, moved on to black metal in 1991/1992 when I was 14 (as well as being a massive Manowar fan). Up until I was 21 I didn’t like any electronic music, until a friend introduced me to EBM, and started to explore the goth side – Industrial, goth rock, dark wave, 80ies. Then in my early 30ies I discovered folk and neofolk, as well as world music – Indian music, north European folk etc. Every music genre has some good acts, even hip hop or rap. It’s silly to limit yourself to one particular kind of music, why would anybody do that? Open your mind.

Besides being the editor in chief of a busy webzine, you also play in a couple of bands. How do you find time for all of this?

It helps having good organisational skills, a diary and commitment. I cram an hour of working out every morning after I get up (at 5.45am…) into each day, and I sleep 7 ½ hours for a good nights rest. I give myself some time to unwind by watching documentaries, reading and long walks in the forest.

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You share your daily life with a talented musician, with quite similar tastes and ways of life, am I correct? Do you give each other musical ideas and inspirations, or do you keep your own projects at different rooms of the flat so to speak?

Indeed, we’re both drummers in several bands, although the musical spectrum varies quite a bit – mine is raw black metal, atmospheric black metal and a folk/shamanic influenced extreme metal band (think Dordeduh, Halo Manash, Wardruna, Primordial), and he is doing atmospheric post black metal, 70ies psychedelic rock/doom, death metal and sea shanties. We don’t really influence each other, but it’s a constant back and forwards with bands we discover to check out. The second bedroom is full of drum equipment, percussion instruments and other instruments.

He does influence my cooking though, only if someone appreciates the food I make I’m able to be creative in the kitchen! We try new foods from all over the world and I love to concoct new dishes.

As this year is at it’s autumn months, do you already have big plans for the year 2015, or do you take your days one at a time?

The only big thing I planned for next year is a 2 week trip to Iceland, hopefully exploring South Iceland by bicycle. Then there are a few gigs lined up for Mørktår and hopefully Thurs too. I try to go to some festivals abroad too, Sommersonnwend in Austria (summer solstice festival in the Salzburg alps). Generally I prefer not to plan too much ahead and be spontaneous, because it’ll never go as planned anyway. Just enjoy the ride, life’s too short to worry. As a Buddhist once told me: ‘If there’s something in your life that worries you, but you can’t do anything about it, just drop it like stone’.

Thank you for this awesome little chat, please let us know where to find you and your work!

The Destructive Music website is www.destructive-music.com

Mørktår is www.facebook.com/morktarofficial

Interview with Valder (Eternal Death Records)

Valder is the man behind the compelling new label Eternal Death, focusing mostly on raw and primitive black metal, with an intelligent and artistic feeling. He is also involved in bands like One Master, Fatalism, and Lustrum. Being on his label with one of my bands, I wanted to ask him a few questions about the state of underground metal music in the US today, as well as to get to know the man a bit better.

You live in the North-East part of the US, which doesn’t differ much from the weather or nature of Scandinavia. Do you find these surroundings and area to be the kind where you most enjoy your life?

I definitely have a strong affinity for the north-east US – the landscapes, the mountains, the four seasons, the curmudgeonly attitudes… I lived in the southern US for a few years during college and definitely missed living in New England and moved back as soon as I finished. I am slowly moving my life up to the heart of the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire. Nothing beats living up there.

Have you always been into heavy music, since childhood, or did this come about later in your teens? Was it hard to find like-minded people where you grew up?

The first tape I ever bought was “Appetite for Destruction” by Guns ‘N Roses when I was 10. When I was a young kid and teenager I mostly listened to punk music, but also would stay up to watch Headbanger’s Ball and had some interest in metal. The area I grew up in had a strong punk / hardcore scene so there were always gigs going on and new bands coming up, but there wasn’t really any strong underground proper metal scene I was connected to.

I didn’t get into black metal until I was 19. Summer of 1998, first black metal release I bought was the “Firestarter” comp. put out by the old Century Black subdivision of Century Media. I saw it at a local record shop, it was only like $6 or $7 and looked very interesting (has an actual match in the jewel case) so I decided to pick it up. The first track is “Thus Spake the Nightspirit” and it totally floored me – I hadn’t heard anything like that before. It introduced me to a lot of really good bands. Immediately after picking up that comp I got the Emperor “Wrath of the Tyrant/self-titled” re-release and Ulver “Nattens Madrigal.” A friend of mine in college had independently gotten into black metal that summer so when I got back to school he introduced me to Storm of the Lights Bane, Blizzard Beasts, Filosofem, Transylvanian Hunger…

Hearing all of these great 2nd wave bands definitely was a spark for me. It took a few years, but I slowly lost interest in most punk music and started listening largely to metal, and mostly black metal at that.

Do you think the atmospheres of your surroundings have something to do with becoming fascinated with musical styles such as black metal? Have you been mostly intrigued by black metal, or have you at the dame time been into other extreme musical styles as well?

The cold attitudes and (at times) landscapes/weather of the north-east US definitely mesh well with the atmosphere of proper black metal and other forms of dark music. For instance, being on top of a 4,000 ft peak in the White Mountains in the winter can be quite a remote, cold, grim, and unforgiving place.

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I think my interest in black metal comes from two angles – one is the music and the other is the aesthetics, and I would say they are both equally compelling. I actually had a discussion with some friends about this recently and we all agreed that black metal is one of the forms of music where the aesthetics / atmosphere are just as (if not more) important that the actual music.

In my opinion, when black metal is done the right way, it is founded on feelings of estrangement and the need to create your own world. I’ve always been someone who felt like an outcast. I’ve never been able to escape the feeling of being disconnected from others. I go through binges and purges of social activity, but I think any one who really knows me would say I’m, at heart, an anti-social person. The Left Hand Path ideology of (what I consider to be) true black metal I find to be compelling because it is based on the need focus inward and create your own values and world rather than trying to mindlessly accept something someone else has created.

Lately, I’ve actually been listen to a lot of music that wouldn’t normally be associated with metal at all – what you could call retro-electro, bands like Gost, Perturbator, Carptenter Brut.  What I find to be interesting about these bands is that they play melancholic / dark music delivered in a very clean, basically bubble-gum way. The contrast of feelings in one package is what I find to be compelling.

Right now, I would say black metal makes up a majority of what I listen to, but I also listen to my fair share of neo-folk, death metal, tradish metal/hard rock, darkwave/goth, and some d-beat/crust punk.

Your oldest band active at the moment – One Master – released it’s first demo about twelve years ago. Could we say this band is your most precious child in a sense?

One Master is the band I put the most effort and heart into. If a band could be considered a child, I’d say its my most prized son…

Your bands have a very eerie occult yet sophisticated artistic feel to them, yet they perform quite primitive and raw stuff. Do you think this is the most powerful way to bring visions, emotions and states of mind across, or is this only because you like to perform music like this?

I’d say its a combination of all of that.  I like the contrast of music with an epic base to it but delivered in a raw, barbaric way.  Songwriting for me is a slow and meticulous process and the atmosphere created by a riff or a melody is really what decides whether it makes its way into a song.

Do the occult philosophies and arts play an important role in your daily life, and do you feel you have always been interested in things such as mythology, symbols, psychology, etc.?

Occultism plays a role in how I view myself and try to arrange things in my life. I see it as a way to understand the world and yourself rather than a playbook of words you need to read to get something to come out of an old bronze cauldron. I have come to understand how certain symbols, words, smells, sounds, etc. affect me and the people around me. With that understanding, you can have more power over your life and control your surroundings to achieve desired results. I read occult texts (Agrippa, Crowley, Levi to name some) and pick from them things I can use in my life in my own personal way – I don’t view them as some kind of objective authority that I must follow. I’ve always had an interest in mythology (when I was younger most compelling to me was the mythological figure Satan – as portrayed by Milton and Blake especially – and also Norse mythology), but my interest has grown as I’ve gotten older and been more accepting of the inherently irrational aspects of existence.

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Where did the decision to form a label come from. Were you active in the underground before that, trading records and so on?

To be honest, the main reason I decided to start a label was to have a stable way to release records from my own bands. During the first incarnation of One Master, I found some labels who expressed interest in putting out our stuff but nothing ever came through. I ended up just self-releasing all of our records.

When we re-started in 2012 after a bit of a hiatus, I didn’t want to go through the situation again of having material but no one to put it out, so I decided to just start my own label.  My friend Sal from Peasant Magik had done re-releases of our full lengths on tape and vinyl and did a split tape for us, but he had slowed down the label by the time we started being a functioning band again.  When I made the final decision to start a label, I first was focused on bands who were local and then started to slowly branch out when people heard of the label.

Before starting the label I had been trading records and tapes, so I had some experience in getting in touch with underground labels.

You have gotten a lot of good press lately, with your releases being featured at very visible places online. Do you think this online exposure is more important these days than the older version of just releasing good records, playing gigs, and waiting the word to spread on the streets?

I think both online press and traditional word of mouth are important as they both reach different crowds of people. Younger people tend to use the online stuff (or at least that’s what I think….?) and more older / diehards tend to pick up stuff from a combination of that and traditional word of mouth type stuff.  Releasing good record after good record will eventually build up interest in a label. There’s just a critical mass of interest that a label needs to reach where people give a new release a chance or a look because they trust the taste of the label – I’m hoping to reach that level at some point.

Have you seen any increase in your sales, or is the business slow and steady as it is mostly dealing with physical releases these days?

Sales fluctuate – after a review comes out, an interview is published, or an advert gets sent out I’ll often get a small batch of orders. But I have noticed a slowly but surely increasing frequency of orders even absent any particular review or feature or whatever. I knew that starting an underground label was not a money making endeavor, but if I can get near to breaking even and keep putting out new releases with money from the label, I’ll be satisfied.

What are your plans for the future, regarding the label. Do you work on the bands signed right now to be more exposed, or are you interested in adding more interesting artists to the roster?

I’m trying to not spread myself too thin and take things slow. If you put out too many releases at the same time, its hard to give them the care they need and people also get overloaded with one label putting out too much stuff at once. I’ve got a few releases in the pipeline (The Meads of Asphodel/Tjolgtjar split 12”, One Master full length, Haxen full length, TKNKNTJ full length, One Master/Sangus split 12”) and will probably try to slow down on taking new projects until the existing ones being planned come out. I like all of the bands I’ve worked with and am interested in working with them again. I’m open to working with new bands as well, but unfortunately a label has to be a bit selective in what they put out because there’s only so much $$ available and so much time.

My ultimate goal is do most releases on vinyl, but it is a tricky thing – its expensive to press and real expensive to ship, especially overseas. I have a few vinyl releases in the queue and as long as I don’t lose my shirt on them, will be planning on doing more in the future.

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How about your own bands? Does the label take most of your time from musical work, or have you made a commitment to keep the band activity working full speed as well, playing gigs and so on?

It can be difficult trying to balance the label with being in three bands. One Master rehearses 2 hours away from where I live so it can take up a lot of time. Because of different schedules of everyone involved, we’ve had to spread out recording our new full length over several sessions.  Its slowly coming together and right now I am very pleased with the progress we’ve made. We’ve also got plans for two split releases (7” w/Satanic Dystophia and 12” w/Sangus) so I’ve been trying to finish up writing and we’re going to try to nail down a cover.

Lustrum and Fatalism rehearse less often, but both bands are trying to get things moving forward.  Fatalism is working on a Joy Division cover for a comp. release that should be quite interesting.  We’re also writing new material and trying to book our first show. Because we don’t really fit into any specific music genre, its hard to find the right gig to play.

Lustrum took a long hiatus but we’re finally back together, rehearsing as a 3-piece. It looks like someone is interested in putting out a live tape, and we tentatively have some gigs being scheduled in early 2015. Looking to really channel the spirit of Cronos circa-1984 in these gigs…

Thank you very much for this interview! Any last words?

“Nobody believes in anything any more and yet everybody swallows everything they are told wholesale.” – JK Huysmans, La Bas

Eternal-death.com

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Facebook.com/eternaldeathUSA

The Bug – Angels & Devils

(Ninja Tune, 2014)

Kevin Martin, has created, produced and remixed music under various aliases, and has worked with such awesome names as John Zorn (of the great label Tzadik), Justin Broadrick (of Godlflesh), Dälek and Flowdan, just to name a few. This is the fourth album he has released under the name “The Bug”, which leaves none doubting why artists like Trent Reznor and Aphex Twin love this man.

Angels & Devils basically combines the Jamaican and African based styles of Dancehall (and Reggae) and more modern Grime with quite heavy and noisy Industrial-like sounds.

Featuring names alone such as Gonjasufi, Flowdan, Death Grips, Warrior Queen and others make this an interesting listen for any lover of experimental Hip Hop or Grime, but the style of “The Bug” is really something so personal and unique it would stand on it’s own even without the visiting artists.

The basic drum-sounds sound quite vintage, old school drum computer like, as do many of the synth-sounds in these synthetic yet strangely organic sounding beats. The overall feeling of the album is quite warm and resounding. Humming, buzzing , drony basses and leads mixed with the deep and also bright percussion sounds create an atmosphere worthy of an universe of it’s own. The soundscapes take me to a futuristic apocalyptic city by night, with buildings draped in red and blue neon. Very soundtrack-like.

Although half of the songs are not that multifaceted, they all have a special feeling of their own, and the clear highlights of the album such as “Mi Lost” with Miss Red,  “Fuck a Bitch” with Death Grips and “Dirty” with Flowdan make this an utterly cool listening experience. Had to actually buy it myself.

8.5/10 – Antti Mikonmäki

The Bug (Ninja Tune)

“Dirty ft. Flowdan” (Official Music Video)

Drowned – Idola Specus

(Sepulchral Voice Records, 2014)

Drowned is an old band, over 20 years old. Their discography is filled with demos, one Ep, and now this first full-length. The guitarist, who is an ex-guitarist of Necros Christos, has been in the band since the beginning (the other two members are also in the band Essenz among other things). The band used to have Mors Dalos Ra of Necros Christos, and music wise these two bands have had of course (because of these two members) some things in common. These two bands now also share the same label Sepulchral Voice Records, which has some similar sounding bands in their ranks, although they all have an atmosphere of their own, and Drowned is also something original in it’s own way.

The album starts with a calm ominous intro-like song “Die Niederen Weihen” (reminiscent of the latest Ruins Of Beverast album with it’s spoken but growling vocals, which may or may not have something to do with the vocalist and bassist being also a live member of Ruins Of Beverast), and as the song continues in a very slow manner, this is what we might expect the album to be at first, but we soon find ourselves to be mistaken. As the drums change gradually to faster beatings in the second song “Antiprism”, we are reminded of stuff like early Obituary with it’s slower and faster changes, but Drowned has a lot more tricks up their sleeve.

The album continues in completely gripping and interesting ways, keeping the listener hooked at all times. Sometimes you get the feeling you are in Florida in the early nineties, sometimes you are taken to Sweden of the same era, but always in a Drowned way. The songs are filled with amazing riffs throughout the album, never going too fast to sound like anything else than pure fucken old-school death metal, but never going slow enough to make us feel wanting a change in the parts. Perfect symbioses.

The tremolo-like guitars mix with the damps and the slower strokes fantastically, and the technical abilities of the guitarist are shown in many parts without being too performing. Just the right amount of technicality and groovy deathly doom. Also the bass-performance is of magnificent quality. The drummer does his job just as well as the guitarist and bassist, staying always in the concept of the music style, but keeping things interesting with small details here and there. The vocals are done kinda in the same manner as in Necros Christos, sounding spoken like more than loud growls, with just the right amount of reverb and echo.

The overall sound of the album is great, not too murky and not too clear. Drowned does not sound low-fi enough to be in the deep underground, or too produced to sound boring in that sense.

The music doesn’t venture anywhere outside the realm of death metal at any point, but using only this formula, Drowned manage to sound amazingly fresh, intriguing and multifaceted. This album is a great example of music being preformed in the limits of a particular music style but showing you something new at every turn. The album has so much material in it, it keeps us interested for numerous listens ahead.

If you are looking for the death metal album that made you worship this style of music in the early nineties, or if you just wanna find out what the hell is all this fuzz about old-school death fucking metal, this album will give you exactly that, with updated production.

Only Death Is Real.

9/10 – Antti Mikonmäki

Drowned

Sepulchral Voice Records

Abigor – Leytmotif Luzifer

(Avantgarde Music, 2014)

Abigor – a band belonging to the infamous ABMS during it’s earlier years – did a series of great releases in the early- and mid-nineties, with albums like “Nachthymnen (From The Twilight Kingdom)” being special to me when they came out. Masterpieces of melodic and majestic Black Metal. I must confess though, I didn’t get interested in their albums at the change of the millennium (due to lack of interest in the current state of BM in general during those times). With this in mind, I have little to say about the style of their last material featuring only one founding member, PK.

However, in 2007 the band returned with another founding member TT, having rediscovered themselves (I guess), with a new full-length and a new sound, with “Fractal Possession”. I loved this album when it came out, with it’s sheer coldness and technicality, almost non-human to my my ears. With it’s electronic samples and great intelligent vocals and lyrics, the album brought forth all the hate and scorn towards these realities of the Christian Creator God only a Black Metal band can, with a fresh sound quite unheard of (at least to me personally).

The band continued along these cold experimental and often electronic lines with “Time Is Sulphur In The Veins Of The Saint”, and their next releases consisted of revamped old material which unfortunately escaped my attention.

But now, they return with a new full-length “Leytmotif Luzifer”, and what a return it is! The style is quite similar to the material of “Fractal Possession”, in fact identical in the style of the riffs and the logics of the song-structures, but there is something new to the mix.

The drum sounds are a bit warmer and organic to my ear compared to “Fractal Possession” (and perhaps “Time Is Sulphur..”), while the guitars sound mostly as silky cold as ever, with maybe more layers and events in general. Flowing, almost surreal leads are usually in control of the atmosphere, with some other styles scattered here and there in the audial dance of Luciferian revelations. The style of the melodies and riffs bring to my mind classical music in it’s “illogicality” compared to traditional metal riffs. Both the drums and guitars are played with great skill and detail, which keeps the listener highly alert and interested throughout the whole album.

Compared to the couple of last releases, there are less electronics or synths around, or they are at least mixed to the background more.

The vocals are a marvel to behold in themselves. This time around Silenius (of Summoning among other bands and projects) return after many years (he used to be in the band on most of the nineties releases), backed up by Protector (of Summoning as well). The vocals sound amazingly similar to the vocals performed by AR on the previous releases, with more additional background-choirs and even clear singing. This method of almost spoken grim vocals suit Abigor most likely better than some more traditional BM screams. So, fans of AR’s vocals feel at home here, while being positively amazed with the new vocals fresh heights.

Without having seen the album-artwork in detail, or not having read the lyrics, it’s hard to dwell deeper into this masterpiece, but it is nevertheless obvious that Abigor today will not appeal to the average metal listener. This is higher art for the truly Luciferian mind. I believe all the “right” people know of Abigor and their recent offerings quite well, but if you happen to be someone who hasn’t yet heard of their unique style of BM, and happen to like stuff like Antaeus and DHG’s “International 666” in the same time, this album might be perfect to you.

I give my points out of sheer respect to the talents behind creating this amazingly detailed, original and majestic music, as well as to the memory of the old glorious times!

9/10 – Antti Mikonmäki

Abigor

Avantgarde Music

Revenge – Attack.Blood.Revenge

(Nuclear War Now! Productions, 2014)

When speaking of Revenge, I’m sure most fans know the backgrounds of the band’s members throughout the years in bands like Conqueror, Blood Revolt, Order From Chaos etc. In fact this Canadian “scene” is maybe most known for it’s seriously aggressive fuck you attitude, punk-like in it’s own way, but metal as hell. The mainman of Revenge is however the vocalist and drummer James Read, who has played for many other bands as well, but if you want experience the whole spectrum of his merciless furious storms of hate, you have to listen to bands like Revenge or Conqueror.

This reissue of their first 2001 Ep with bonus tracks serves as a perfect introduction to Revenge if you are not yet familiar with the band. Right from the start sirens howl before the machine-gun drums shear your sanity to pieces. Read attacks with almost grindcorish hellish speeds and cursing screams. This is pure fucken armageddon in form of spikes and bullets, no one is spared from this revelation and revolution, aimed toward all sheepish flocks and herd of weaklings.

The unnatural beats of Read are undoubtedly hard to imitate in their original off-beat but militaristic precision. They bring to ones mind perhaps Napalm Death’s “Scum” or Sadistik Exekution, to say the least. The vocals come sometimes though weird filters of effects and rhythms not usually heard in death or black metal, although they are mostly just sharp chainsawlike raging, where you can make sense of a sentence or two, adding to the atmosphere of the band. Although skillfully played the massive basslines and the steadily killing guitars usually buzz in the background, before some hellish lead attacks out of nowhere (reminding me of early Deicide), letting the sounds concentrate on the insanity of the drums.

Revenge propably appeals to anyone attracted by truly original and aggressive music, whether they might be into grindcore, noise or power electronics, death or black metal, breakcore (or whatever). If you’re not intimidated by the bands “fascistic” imagery (and start shouting “nazis!” with your finger pointing and right hand held high), and want to hear something really powerful and aggressive, you should check this out. Even the singer of the experimental hip-hip group Death Grips has been wearing a Revenge shirt.

A great reissue for sure, which of course fortunately featured a truly Revengeful version of Bathory’s “War”!

8/10 – Antti Mikonmäki

Revenge (Facebook)

Nuclear War Now! Productions