Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tarpit Boogie, Laibach, and the World Between

It's been a strange past few weeks in terms of musical continuity. It goes without saying that I have eclectic taste at times. I find myself actively listening to more and more world music and non-metal of late. Many individuals I know would be aghast at what I value and I'm sure they would have some sly facebook comments and backhanded jabs at my lack of metal purity. Well, fortunately, I'm in this whole thing for my own reasons and my own exploration. I wasn't commissioned by a dying political power to discover something like a famous explorer. And so, I've always enjoyed the oft-ignored shows, the foul-line music genres, and the lack of really pigeon-holeing myself. Sometimes I actually confuse myself. So that whole musical-complacency feedback loop that I see a lot of people falling into definitely doesn't apply to the past ten to fourteen days of activity.

Also compressed into all this was an Electric Wizard show which I don't remember particularly well because of the beers and the residual haze that formed from the audience. I guess I should have written on that when it was still somewhat a blur.  Also I was able to make myself get to an excellent show at the Grand Victory in Brooklyn featuring a handful of bands styled in the late 90's alternative rock vibe including In 1933 and Bad Citizen who were both excellent. The highlight was seeing Ambiguity for a last time before guitarist Harold 'Fro' moved to Ohio (I believe). The show was great with lots of Husker Du vibes. Ambiguity played a vivacious set of instrumental progressive metal stuff. Excellent vibes all around.

Most of last week I was focused on getting the Paganfire live tape layout finished and dubbing some awesome tapes for Incisor (Philly thrash/punk) for an upcoming live show. It was a short tape so I was able to run off the thirty-three copies required rather quickly while cutting and pasting and searching through my box of spare layout images. The Gods of metal yielded a few more goodies. Earlier last week my intrepid fiancee and I were down grabbing some food in Asbury Park and I we dipped into a local record shop which had maybe twelve metal records. You never know what treasures may end up in your paws - which is why I stopped in four consecutive thrift stores tonight - and in this case, an old crudded up copy of Ample Destruction was perfectly priced at $10 and was waiting to find a loving home. I've been looking for the album for a while too. It was enjoyable.

On Friday, scheduling miracles at work allowed me to thankfully attend Tarpit Boogie's gig at the Clash Bar in Clifton, NJ. George, who've I known since his time in Maegashira, had emailed me earlier the previous month about the show and I had promised I would make it. The show was one of the more relaxed affairs I've seen in a long time and for this old-boned-body (at least according to the pops and cracks in my knees and ankles) it was relaxing after a hectic few days at work trying to come up with some explanation for my corporation's inability to properly merchandise to customers. I arrived at the venue early. The place looks the exact same as when I was last there - which was probably back in 2010 or something - seeing Nimdot, Clamfight, Maegashira and Iron Man. The bar is still too dark, there is still an obnoxious load-bearing post in front of the stage, and the beer selection is nothing to brag about.

This show opened with locals White Void performing an admirable set of Sabbath influenced stoner rock. Initially I was excited to hear the band based on their sound check which implied the band would be more stonery than they actually were. Opening with a slow, mumbling bass riff got their set off to a most-definitely too slow start which didn't do them favors. You can tell that they hadn't put much road behind them yet in the live arena.  Once they picked up the speed in second track though, the highlights started to appear. Guitarist Zach who turned out to be way too young to be in the actual venue simply ripped on guitar and was a definite highlight. His leads were spot on. Bassist Vinny has a lot of talent and definitely provides the main energy ingredient for the band but at times played a little ahead of the beat. Ray was cool and emotive on the kit. Though their original material was promising, without vocals it was difficult, though not impossible, to imagine the tracks complete and when they pulled an audience member up on stage for a cover of "The Wizard," they had won over my interest. They handed out a copy of their CDr demo which had absolutely no track titles on it.

With Useless cancelling their appearance - I was looking forward to their doom approach - Dead Blow Hammer was next. Originally Against The Grain, the band having changed names, Dead Blow Hammer provided some strong hardcore but I wasn't interested in the style that night so I stepped out to talk with the guys in White Void while I waited for Tarpit Boogie to come on. I offered an interview, they accepted, then somehow it never came to fruition. Oh well. Tarpit Boogie were better this time than when I had first seen them at Dingbatz (the Clamfight - Thank You Delaware live tape was recorded at that show). Tarpit, best described as sludge-boogie-doom, are comprised of ex-Maegashira members George Pierro and John Eager along with Chris Hawkins on drums and recently enlisted vocalist Anthony Ferrara. The change in vocalist to the harsher, more abrasive Anthony provided the extra ounce of energy the band seemed to lack at their Dingbatz show. I still am under the impression the band is finding their legs a bit stylistically though, as some tracks seem a tad too long.

The following Tuesday I made my way into New York City and The Gramarcy to see Laibach. Saxon and Armored Saint were playing a few blocks away but I've been partial to the martial industrial menace that Laibach has been providing. Ultimately, I was very pleased with their show. Arranged essentially into three sections with the first segment consisting of material from their newer album, Spectre. This was back-dropped with sharp geometric patterns and animations which fit well. After an intermission featuring audience antics which were more enjoyable to watch than to participate in, they went through tracks which appeared mostly on the Iron Sky soundtrack. Essentially the first three-quarters of their performance was soundscape styled material. Enjoyable... especially instrumentally, though I'm not totally sold on the female vocals in their material with the exception of a few harsher screams and outbursts but the overall ambience was killer. The final few tracks were classics. Leben heißt Leben, Tanz Mit Laibach and Geburt Einer Nation were really the era of material I was hoping to see more from. The visuals were excellent, incorporating imagery you would expect from Laibach such as political symbolism. To see the memorable music video for Tanz Mit Laibach essentially recreated as a stage performance was great to watch.

There was a period of time when myself and my co-conspirator had planned on ditching the show to try and catch Saxon, who apparently had an awesome setlist. Ultimately, the decision to stay was a good one. The show ended up being memorable. The beer prices at Gramarcy are fucking ridiculous though. I'm not going to pay $7 for a PBR. I wouldn't pay $7 for a PBR if you were giving me a keg with it's own wheelie cart which I could pull behind me the whole time. The fact that the seated area was all quarantined for "VIP" was also ridiculous. For a band so politically charged and visually ideological, the whole idea of separating classes of audience members based on how much they were willing to pay for the tickets seems comical. Surely this was not the band's doing but irony appears before the hidden structure of the promoter/venue/band spider-web.

I've basically come to grips with the fact that I relish the extremes of music. In one chair I've got metal and across the table a map of the world staring me in the face. Several weeks back I was heavily invested in the Bangladeshian metal scene and now I sit here and listen to I.K Dairo and Blue Spot Band sandwiched between Heaving Earth and Empyrium, prepared to go see Master and Sostice tonight and head down to Maryland Deathfest Friday morning. It has been a life goal fullfilled to finally see Aeternus live and strangely I will likely be listening to more music from Nigeria and Sierra Leone on my way there. If variety is the spice of life, than my life is a habenero pepper sauce on top of buffalo chicken pizza and music is pizza parlor.

My Grandfather (who recently passed away) had this globe which I've played with my whole life. Naturally I retained it for my own future use. It's old and half the countries are wrong on it.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lamenations of the Ashen Interview

CT: Hey Bon, thanks for doing this interview. Tell me about the early stages of Lamentations of the Ashen. What inspired you to create the project? Where the name, Lamentations of the Ashen, arise from?

Bon Vincent Fry: Well, the idea goes all the way back to probably 2006, but I finally recorded the first material in February of 2008. I used to record everything in a bedroom into a radio shack mic from a tiny 8" Marshall practice amp. After I was done doing the guitars I'd use my friends drums and record those tracks into the mix. Everything was in mono, I had no clue what I was doing. Right around 2005, after spending a lot of years immersed in brutal death metal and grind, I finally found stuff like Burzum, Leviathan, and older Behemoth. That led to getting into stuff like Bethlehem, Sargeist, Xasthur, Nargaroth, etc. It had a huge impact on me and it changed a lot of things for me. I had been hugely into death metal since I was pretty young and after awhile it seemed to just be getting a little stale. Black metal was something that actually moved me. I was inspired and I wanted to make music like that. When I was thinking about a name I knew that I wanted it to kind of have this paranormal, funeral kind of vibe. I was thinking about nothingness, death and lost spirits from other planes of reality. This initially resulted in something like "Lamentations of the Departed" but one day I was in my car listening to Glorior Belli and there was this lyrical line I thought I heard that was, "The ash of Lamentation". Obviously when I heard it I identified with it and so right then and there I thought of the title Lamentations of the Ashen. Honestly though, that name kind of pisses me off. It's a mouthful and I make a conscious effort not to talk about my music with anyone because I don't want to have to say those words when they ask what my bands name is. It's no ones business anyway.

CT: You had a couple of earlier releases before your debut full length. Walk us through these releases. What were some of the early themes on these releases?

BVF: I don't really know if there was much of a contrived theme on those releases or some kind of concept. They were just dark, sad songs. Some of the lyrics were a little abstract but I'd say the songs names imply their meaning pretty closely. In the summer of 2008 I recorded 'A Memoir of Departure' shortly after Singularity Publishing hit me up about putting out a release. That song completed what would be the 2 song EP that they released that year and later re-released in 2010. It was s fucked up time in my life and I think those songs reflect that.

CT: How did the split with Desolation come about? Was that something that was set up by the label? Were you familiar with Desolation before the split?

BVF: Well, one night I was browsing pages on MySpace and I just had an idea that it would be cool to do a split with another band out there. I posted a bulletin and the guy from desolation was who wrote back. I had never heard of him before at all, but his music was dark and painful. We discussed everything and he was the one who came up with the title, 'Harrowing of Innocence'. At the time I was pretty bent on starting my own label so I took on releasing that tape myself. It was limited to 50 copies and totally DIY. I designed the cover in Photoshop and printed the  J-cards out at kinkos. I had to take one of the tape cases in and have the clerk resize it multiple times to get it small enough to fit in the case. It was quite the shit show.(laughs) I dubbed all the tapes myself going from the computer, through my audio interface and direct into the deck. It was annoying having to listen to that release 50 times over as I dubbed everything.

CT: How was writing and recording your full length, In the Burden of the Heart's Plaint, different, if at all, from the writing process of your earlier material?

BVF: Well, it was a lot different. When I started writing that album you could say that was when I started to really get 'serious' about things when it came to music and this project. I started approaching everything with an obsession that almost seemed monomaniacal. I sold my record collection and anything else I could and took huge risks for the sake of funneling whatever finances I could into buying gear and recording equipment.  I was still inexperienced to a great degree though. I was motivated by unrealistic ambition and I constantly made ridiculous, irresponsible decisions for the sake of actualizing this vision I had in my head of what this album would, or what I hoped it could be. It turned out to basically be a huge mistake in the end though.

I had this job at the time that involved lots of downtime between tasks so I'd just sit in the office and play my guitar for hours. I literally played constantly for 9 months straight, everyday writing that album. By September of 2009, I was ready to start recording. I set up my drums in a bedroom and spent 3 or 4 days recording the drum parts. Right after that, it was decided that I was moving to Maine. I suspended recording activities until I arrived and got settled in Portland which was in mid November of 2009. Throughout that winter, I recorded the rest of the album, finally finishing it sometime in February I believe. It was quite the experience and I think it differed greatly from the other musical endeavors, limited as they were, that I had previously taken. I don't like that album though, and I don't like that period in my life. I was basically addicted to idealism. I was naive, intellectually irresponsible and I traveled across the country looking for things I was never going to find. I guess that kind of stupidity is pretty becoming of most people in that stage of youth. Either way, I'm glad those days are behind me, where they belong.

CT: Has the context surrounding the creation of In the Burden of the Heart's Plaint affected your feelings towards the album more than the music itself?

BVF: It's probably a combination of both. I just don't like the way some of the music flows I guess. I hate to be 'that guy' that has some shitty, flippant Attitude towards past recordings but I guess I feel like things have progressed and improved a lot since then so sometimes it's hard to take that stuff seriously. It's weird though, because I don't have that same attitude towards the even earlier stuff so maybe context plays a pretty big role. Maybe a big part of it too is my general disdain for DSBM and what it became over the years. I got to a point where where I was just over it. It was a skin that I wanted to shed and I guess I outgrew it. The ones that did it first were the ones that did it best and just about everything else  is basically complete garbage.

CT: While living in Maine, is this how you became in contact with Patrick Hasson? I know he contributed on your following album, EKIMMV.

BVF: I originally came in contact with Patrick before I moved to Maine. I had been planning on going up there for awhile so I put out some feelers and looked up artists in the area and came upon him. When I got there we met and formed something of a friendship which has lasted long beyond my short stay there. He's done an excellent job with vocals on these last two records and it's been a pleasure having him. I look forward to working with him again.

CT: Continuing with EKIMMV, what are your memories in the creation of your second full length?

BVF: The first pieces of what would become the second album started showing up during my last days in Maine. In the spring of 2010 I came back to New Mexico and spent the summer working on things here and there at a pretty easy pace. At the end of the summer of 2010 I fell into a bout of major clinical depression combined with severe OCD. I got this obsessive idea in my head that I was going crazy and I just couldn't shake it, no matter what degree of understanding or rational faculties I had in me to discredit such an obsession. I was just constantly afraid of not being in control, of doing something terrible or experiencing something terrible in the midst of some burgeoning psychosis. I remember being afraid to look at my own reflection for fear of what I might see. I just constantly thought about death, I wanted the peace that came with it. Music was the only thing that kept me going. I was on a mission. Music was the only thing I had, it was the only thing I was and I felt like it was the only way out. EKIMMV was the product of all this. I recorded it in the summer of 2011 here at my studio in New Mexico.

CT: There's been a significant gap in time between EKIMMV and Libertine Cyst, your new record. What were you focused on between the two records? Did you experience a sense of nostalgia - especially considering some of the events and memories surrounding the previous albums - in recording another album after such a long gap?

BVF: If the new album is any kind of a complete effort, it's definitely by virtue of the longer than usual interval within which it was created. I don't think there was any kind of nostalgia that had to do with the last 2 records. I just wrote it because it's what I do. Music is a path I chose a long time ago and I have to live with it for better or worse. There's something in me that needs to do this everyday so making another record was a pretty natural and logical move.

CT: Walk us through Libertine Cyst's origin through it's completion. With how powerful Libertine Cyst is, did that span of time help in crafting such a complete effort? I feel musically, there is more black metal material present than on the past two records.

BVF: The first riff I wrote that I was to use on the record is the opening riff of the third song, 'torpor of the persiflage', so you could say that the writing process went back to summer of 2011 when I was still recording EKIMMV. After I was done recording that album that summer I moved back home to Ohio for a year and continued writing material during that winter. This is when stuff like 'Dissentient cyclic echelons' started showing up. After my stay in Ohio i headed back west originally to move to L.A. To join up in a new band with Scott Conner of Xasthur. Some unfortunate events led to me ending up back in New Mexico in the autumn of 2012. Throughout that winter and a good chunk of 2013 the final 2 songs took shape and after a brief stay in northern Maine that year I returned to NM once again, reassembled my studio and began recording in September of 2013. I've always said that each album I did was the hardest thing I've ever had to do but this third album proved to be a much more tremendous undertaking. It took 3 months just to get the drums finished and by the time that was over it was getting too cold to record guitar since my studio is in an old train car with little insulation. At times I was just burnt out, felt overwhelmed and potentially defeated by the whole thing. I resorted to heavy drinking and generally dallied around wasting time and embracing every distraction i could. My focus was waning and I was just kind of running from myself. I think maybe I was just scared that something was going to go wrong and everything was going to flop. Then I'd have to endure the neurosis that comes with that. With wasted time, wasted life. I had so much of myself invested at that point. Years of my life. Still I continued to push myself to record whenever I could, piece by piece things continued to come together and after a year since I had originally started this journey, I was done. I didn't rush anything, I did it at my own pace and insisted on being comfortable. It had never been like that before and I honestly think that in the end, it made for a better record. I've always worked slow but in the past I had this really neurotic, stressed out energy moving me. I just can't do that anymore and I think I'm at a stage in all this now where I don't have to.

CT: Lyrically, what is Libertine Cyst cover? Are there any specific lyrics that stand out in your mind and why?

BVF: Id say that the main underlying theme lyrically is one of awakening and rebirth and anything that doesn't explicitly imply that are basically still by-products of that main theme of renewal or the pursuit of it. It's really important to know that this isn't negative music. I really can't stress that enough. I'd hope that underneath the case-hardened nature of what this and other metal music is, people can find something uplifting. I suppose that's always been a goal of mine with this music.

It's hard to abstract a section out of the whole of the lyrical content and have it seem consistent with the statement just made but I do plan on publishing the lyrics soon for anyone interested. The music really does all the talking though.

CT: It's interesting that you specify that your music and metal music overall are positive and not negative.  That's something I've always felt was true about the genre. Philosophically the genre has always been a strengthening force for myself mentally as well as intellectually. Speaking about the genre overall, what do you find uplifting and positive about your music as Lamentations of the Ashen, as well as with Metal overall? Predictablly those that have discovered a deeper meaning to the music that they love are the most stalwart supporters and artists in the metal world. I know for me now, talking to metal fans in far reaching oppressive countries about their diehard love for the genre, they consistently mention how metal's themes of freedom of thought, lack of boundries, and communal feeling have provided them with an outlet from a world around them they fear/hate/are trapped in.

BVF: Well, I didn't necessarily mean all metal music. I guess I was primarily referring to the music of this project and perhaps I worded it the wrong way. I understand what you mean though. I do suppose what music means for each person is highly subjective. Some people like the music they enjoy to be negative and I think that sometimes can affect the trajectory of their life and eventually lead to destructive tendencies. Some bands try to be 'negative' as some sort of gimmick. Those are the bands I usually hate. Metal music has a huge counter-culture aspect to it though which can give it a huge appeal to those with a non-standardized orientation. There's so much imagery, philosophy and general content on top of the purely sonic aspect within the subculture to latch onto and Its no suprise that it can get its hooks into people and be a driving force of their personality and entire existence. I suppose this can be affirming to some and I suppose that's a positive thing in the end but with everything, balance is essential.

I always wanted there to be a transcendent quality to LOTA. I always wanted each record to end with a finality, a resolution. For me, there's always been a beauty in sad music. It lights a fire inside of me and it always has. As a young kid I loved metal because it sounded the way I felt. I really don't think much has changed. Now I just take part in the actual creation and overall, I don't regret it. It's been an interesting journey for me. Bittersweet. It's taken a huge toll on my life, but I've gotten to express myself exactly the way I want to, made music that will never disappear or be taken away from me, music that matters to people all over the world and even finally been able to feel something I'd call satisfaction after almost a decade of work. I'd say that's pretty positive. It all means a lot to me.

CT: You've released your three albums both digitally as well as on tape format. Tape format is how I was originally introduced to the band. What are your thoughts on the increased interest in cassette tapes lately? Are you involved with tape trading at all?

BVF: No, I've never really gotten involved in tape trading. I think it's a cool tradition that goes all the way back to the earliest days of metal culture but I've never gotten around to it. I have a small collection of tapes but I honestly don't pay much attention to them. I've always been more into vinyl so that's what I focus on in my efforts to embrace the physical aspect of music releases. I understand why people like them and why labels like to release them. They're easy to ship and produce as well as not sounding too bad either.

CT: What are your future plans for Lamentations of the Ashen, as well as, yourself musically? Are there any plans for live performances of the material or will you keep Lamentations of the Ashen strictly a studio effort?

BVF: Well, I'm slowly getting back into things and have a growing collection of riffs and ideas that I've been building on. I've also got 2 pieces that I wrote that haven't made their way into an album yet so I definitely plan on making another record. I might do an EP first though. I guess we'll just see. I'm not rushing anything though. Things happen when they happen, the world keeps turning either way. Playing live is another thing that started to come up and looked promising but just fizzled out. I've got lots of mixed feeling about doing the live thing anyway. I'm just going with the flow. I never had aspirations to play live when I started doing this anyway so if it just stays how it is then that's that. It really doesn't matter anyway. I'm not important and neither is my music. The world keeps turning...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Woudloper - Woudloper

Woudloper’s 2014 self-titled demo is a damn fine cut of top-sirloin murky black metal, and it’s marinated with both doom and death metal. Following in the footsteps of bands like Negative Plane and Hellige; you have the usual fuzzy guitars, cavernous reverb, and wide-vibrato for that unhinged quasi-psychedelic flavor. With only 17 minutes and two songs titled “I” and “II” (go figure) the project displays a wide range of sounds while keeping the atmosphere consistently oppressive. This is something that can often go awry, a kind of atmospheric decompression as songs become more dynamic, but Woudloper slithers from one tempo or riff to another without even the slightest hiccup.

Woudloper’s particular breed of murk concentrates on sinuous diminished melodies without delving into more the exotic dissonances that sometimes characterize more technical bands. This, along with an ample serving of slower riffs, gives the demo a doomy feel punctuated by accented note-bends. Doominess aside, the demo has an energetic feel to it, due in large part to the smart mixing decisions. Guitars stand at the forefront to keep the atmosphere in focus while the vibrant drums, fuzzy bass, and amorphous vocals sit back in the mix a bit to garnish the uroboric riffs.

Woudloper is flush with ideas, and even the slightly melodramatic four-minute outro in “II” never quite feels like the project is chewing the cud. Each of the four separate moments of feedback worship feel necessary to divide the album. Quick breaths of air to prolong a particularly cruel drowning. This excellent demo has is just the right marbling of heaviness, atmosphere, languor, and discomforting weirdness - bon appétit.

Woudloper's Bandcamp Page

Friday, April 17, 2015

Necropole - Ostara

Necropole play a very tense style of orthodox black metal driven by fast-changing melodies contrasted by a slower-changing root. It's all about tension in ther air, an endless stasis of eerie, menacing discord. Their style is very similar to Sargeist, though Necropole use two guitars, which pairs the contrast of melody and dissonance differently.

Nearly the whole running time adheres to this orthodoxy of the same tremolo patterns holding a static tension. Each song starts with a blast beat section, slows it to a back beat, then repeats. The exception is the bridge of "Trahison fratricide" which progresses nicely with a dual-tremolo harmony over double bass. Ironically, it is the shortest song which progresses the most. Despite the ever-shifting guitar parts, only one song really goes anywhere - everything is framed within the fairly strict adherence to patterns. Tension isn't built up and released, it is the unrelenting mood of Ostara. The melodies are merely a feature of the soundscape, not themes which guide you through the experience.

To once again compare Necropole to Sargeist, the tension patterns on Let the Devil In were longer, more pronounced, and drawn out. The tracks were shorter and the buildup and release of tension much more grand. Necropole's songs flow smoothly, but don't really go anywhere, a contrast to the typical dissonant French style which has an abrupt and jarring flow which escapes resolution with sharp turns.

Ostara has an enjoyable atmosphere and aesthetic, but aimless and unfulfilling songwriting that fails to complete the experience.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Emerald Weapon - Emerald Weapon EP

Here's one for the hall of shame.

"Experimental Black Metal / Drone from the Pacific Northwest"

There are four components to this:
-Black metal: Crappy bedroom black metal where the reverb's presence exceeds the original recording.
-Experimental: Only marginally capable of playing fragments of music. Ticking drum machine, no semblance of composition.
-Drone: Synth/feedback/noise filler triples the running time.
-From the Pacific Northwest, which I guess has a lot more prestige than saying you're from Portland.

"We have hand crafted CD's available to help enhance the experience we set out to create on this project. Explore the depths of your own mind.."

This looks like a middle school art project. Is that really how you want to present your music? I suppose this looks like what the music sounds like, but I'd rather not have that experience enhanced. I can practically smell the construction paper, Elmer's glue, and Play-Doh while listening to this. that a greeting card?

"Limited Edition Handmade Compact Disc."

I always thought limited edition splatter vinyls were a lame gimmick, but a limited edition black splatter CD-R? That's so bad that it's funny.

"We put together these kits in our kitchen."

I can tell.

"We wrote and recorded this EP in our Southeast Portland apartment."

It sounds like it. There are actually two funny pieces of fluff here. Their BandCamp profile cites their location as the Pacific Northwest, and now they have to specify which part of Portland they're from. It was recorded in an apartment, like you couldn't tell, but that sounds a bit nicer than the typical asphorism of "bedroom black metal."

The release is "sold out" so I guess you won't be able to get your very own thank you note in sloppy cursive on a hand-ripped piece of notebook paper. I'll include the link to the BandCamp page even though it is hand-written in the picture below!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Weirding - Each Birth Is a New Disaster

Listen at Bandcamp (not recommended)

Wouldn't you just love to snuggle up with the warm tone of an Orange amp at night? I could sleep through this. Do you think that simple fuzz pedals have an inherent value? The pedal's not the only thing with two holes and a knob. Tone-basking checklist aside, the production is fair enough on this album, the music is just dead boring. You'll have to deconstruct the definition of riff to excuse this shit, it's stoned alt rock with a few riffs stolen from Matt Pike. t's a trash can with the components of doom metal in it, but it's not the cheesy B-flick horror of Black Sabbath, it's a kid mashing a tritone who think he's cool because he's playing an organ. Instead of conveying a state of doom, it just revels in the boom of their tube amps. Boom metal. I think that's what I'll call it from now on. Unless you're absolutely in love with any bassy rumble and ready to apologize for every failing of an album because you feel they're <i>doing the right thing</i>, there's little to redeem a guitarist whose two moves are a downtuned drone and a power chord. Most egregious, the drummer basically bounces down a row of toms and constantly rides a crash cymbal - it's like he's trying to channel a constant state of burnout. To sum it up, there's a good riff to start track 4, after which you realize that the 37-minute runtime feels like at least an hour.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

CTP-024-L: Vin de Mia Trix - Live In Kharkiv

Out 4/14. Vin de Mia Trix's Live In Kharkiv was recorded in 2010 in Ukraine and features an unprecedented example of live material sounding 20 years old. Fans of classic Doom Death Metal such as Paradise Lost and Morgion will want to find a place for this incredible tape. Features 45 minutes of material as well as an expansive cut-and-paste DIY layout.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Eric Carle - The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Years of experimentation and innovation have metamorphosed metal into countless forms, from speed metal to the slow languor of bands like Sunn O))). With Eric Carle's death metal album, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, continues this metamorphosis, changing metal into something more like Cage's 4'33" than any other active band out there. This is because there is no music on this album. Only silence. Unlike Cage's myopic experiment, which is limited in time, TVHC has no determinable track length, or even tracks. Still, this high-quality release feels too short.

With album art suggestive of a Kafkaesque nightmare and Lovecraftian lyrics detailing a voracious and decadent beast, TVHC is a death metal masterpiece. The guitars show a lot of restraint, as there aren't even any solos. Drums likewise lack any blasting, and of course there isn't any audible bass (which is just so typical in metal albums, especially on ones with no music).

Despite the album coming in a vinyl-sized booklet, there are only lyrics and artwork inside, not even a blank vinyl. This challenges our very idea of what metal is, and even what music is, so it must be pretty thoughtful. The project's mysterious lineup consists only of Eric Carle, who oddly enough uses two pseudonyms "author" and "illustrator." Still, this doesn't sound like a solo project, rather it comes across as something less than that - which makes it so much more.

I give this album 10 silk cocoons out of 10. Upon request, I will supply several excruciatingly detailed graphs, charts, and spreadsheets further explaining my opinion.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Azoic Interview

Today we have a chat with Benedikt, founder of Iceland's Azoic where we talk about music, language, and some of his activities outside of metal. Keep an eye out for the band's upcoming EP, which the band may have given us a glimpse of the cover art on their Facebook page. This interview is the last one from the Icelandic black metal article, and Benedikt sure made it an interesting one. Enjoy:

Apteronotus: The band’s last full-length, Gateways was in 2012, and it looks like you guys have been keeping busy, what has Azoic been up to since then?

Benedikt: Mainly we have been working on new songs and the work is almost over for an EP. We did some live gigs locally but nothing worth noting. 

A: Gateways had a mix of Icelandic and English lyrics, even within particular songs like “Spirituphysics.” What motivates the decision to have lyrics in one language or the other or even using two?

Benedikt: To create a differing atmosphere was the main motivation. The Icelandic tongue fits well to some aspects of what we do and will play a bigger role in the future. Also, it gets exhausting quiet quickly only writing lyrics in your second language and Icelandic does feel more fitting for some parts.


In a prior interview with Slaying Tongue you had described music as “a portal for something not expressible by our language.” Why do you feel that music has such a powerful capacity for expression when compared to everyday language?

Benedikt: Well languages are very different. Expressing emotions can be difficult in your own mother tongue let alone in a second language. So music or art in general can channel emotions or a certain atmosphere cross any language barrier. “Gateways” tries to characterize this, perhaps in a metaphysical way.

Azoic - Gateways (2012)
A: How old were you when you first started getting into metal and what is the story behind how you first start playing music?

Benedikt: I had a very musical upbringing. Both of my parents have always been in a choir and both of them play the piano. At age six I was put into Violin class and I stuck to that for about seven years until crossing over to classical guitar. In the northern part of Iceland were I grew up there was not much to do so starting a band was probably the best way to kill time.

My first exposure to metal was when I was about ten I think and heard some Metallica songs (Kill Em All) at my uncle’s house and I’ve been hooked ever since.

A: Azoic has gone from a solo project to a duo and then expanded into a full band. How has the influx of new members influenced the writing process and direction of the project?

Benedikt: It has changed the direction completely for the better I think. At first I had a very precise and narrow vision of what should be allowed and delivered. Now each of the other members contribute to the writing process which gives way to a more creative environment. I can assure you that there won’t be another album sounding like “Gateways” and for us that is a positive thing.  


From looking at the Azoic Facebook page, it appears that the band’s arsenal now includes a 5-string bass and 8-string guitar. How easy is it to get the gear that you want in Iceland, especially with atypical instruments?

Yes we have use both 4-string and 5-string bass and also 7- and a 8-string guitars. Prices are much higher here than in mainland Europe and in the US but you can get any instrument you want, both on in music stores and on the “black market.”

A: Without saying anything that would be too revealing, what exactly is the black market for musical instruments in Iceland like? Is it getting around some kind of tax?

Benedikt: Haha no, most of the used instruments are sold between people without any store involvement. For example through Facebook or a forum or something like that. There is no black market activity that I know of (although that would be much more interesting.)

[Side note: I was really hoping a crazy story like "we meet under the volcano next to the glacier at midnight, the guitars are hidden in a big crate marked Fiskeboller" but I really appreciate Benedikt's honesty when faced with my ignorance. Of course, he could just be protecting the black market's secrecy!]

What bands have you been most interested by lately?

Benedikt: The last band to really hit me is actually not a metal band. It’s called Swans and I’ve really been digging into their new album “To Be Kind.” Very very interesting music IMO and seeing the live is something else.

The Antichristian Symphonies (2013 Split - Baalberith / RÁN / Loup Noir / Azoic / Váboði)


If you had to estimate, how many people do you think have heard Azoic’s music and how do you feel about the listening public’s reception so far?

Benedikt: Well we have about 2000 downloads from our direct site and then a couple thousand views on Youtube but it’s hard to tell who actually listens.

The reception has been exceptional and we’ve gotten some very decent reviews. Most of the attention seems to originate from the US but also from Europe.

A: Outside of the music world, what are some things that you do for fun or have a real passion for?

Benedikt: I’m studying Geology which I got into because my passion for understating our surroundings (the mountains, rivers and volcanoes). Also I’m a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (training in Mjölnir MMA gym) which has grown to be my second biggest passion besides music making.

A: When did your get your blue belt and do you compete at any events as part of your training?

Benedikt: I've been a blue belt for about a year now and yes I compete regularly (currently training with the Mjölnir competition team.)

A: Music is a multifaceted endeavor that can involve tasks like composition, individual practice, band rehearsals, playing live, mixing, and designing visuals. What part of making music is most satisfying for you?

Benedikt: Performing live is really the high point for me. It’s kind of the end point for endless hours of hard work in the rehearsal space, where it all pays off.

Thank you for your time and for doing the interview! Is there anything you would like to add for a final comment?

Benedikt: Thank you too for good questions and thanks for taking the interest in our band!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wormlust Interview

In this interview with H.V Lyngdal of Wormlust, (parts of which are quoted in the prior article about Icelandic black metal) a bit of background context is helpful, since some of the questions and responses build on topics that he had discussed with others in awesome interviews in the past. In short, Hallucinogenesis is the upcoming album from Wormlust, The Feral Wisdom was the project's latest full-length from 2013 (which was noted to have been created during long periods of time without sleep). Also, the project Martröð, which he mentions later in the interview, is a pending project featuring H.V Lyngdal and members from bands such as Aosoth, Krieg, Leviathan, and Blut Aus Nord. See his thoughtful and expansive comments below:

Apteronotus: What is the current status of Hallucinogenesis and how much sleep deprivation has gone into working on it?

H.V Lyngdal: There were delays, some probably due to putting a time limit on the creative process. Most of it was that every last piece of gear broke down beyond repair and needed to be replaced. Finally the process of going through hours of musical ideas was slower this time around since the quality consciously went up. It is pretty much finished, I had to make a vow to myself that the version I am finishing up will be the last version. No more changing it around because of some idea of perfection. There have been sleepless periods, mostly this offering has been on my mind constantly since I began imagining what it could be 3 years ago. 

A: In terms of hours of music, how much material would you estimate that you have written over the past twelve months?

H.V Lyngdal: Past twelve months has been around 5 hours of riffs and maybe 3 of atmospheric stuff, but I started writing for the album back in 2013 and so everything summed up is around 20 hours, riffs and soundscapes. Some of it very thought out and (each progression) while others have a wider brush stroke that lead to being other themes and variations instead. The principle is that 99% of the effort is utter shit, but the energy going into it will leave 1% of material that is usable and perhaps
half of that is any good. Divide it up again and there is the music you can actually release. Then there is the question of how to compose those pieces together, maybe only one second of a riff was interesting so I will place it in the composition somewhere it challenges you. 

Wormlust - The Feral Wisdom (2013)

A: Why is it that you are so drawn to psychedelics and making chaotic music?

H.V Lyngdal: Saucerful of secrets clicked with me on a spiritual level and sent me on a journey that had me listening to the obscurest 60's rock bands a few years later. What it was is that drew me to it I can't say, but I remember getting really claustrophobic on that first listen of Saucerful, with images of universes being born and dying, Firelit tribes of antiquity worshiping the stars.

The chaos in music in the music can be thought in relation to chaos magic, both artforms are interconnected, the inner turmoil of the self manifested.

A: Which bands, if any, do you feel have had better success incorporating psychedelic music into metal?

 H.V Lyngdal: Mostly the bands that are not trying to be psychedelic, it's the old shamanistic tribal trance that every musician taps into on some level once or twice, through repetition. I could talk about Von in relation to krautrock bands like Neu! easily. That is the basis of the thing, but the other level would be musicians who are conscious of the label like myself. Being aware of the fact can have you playing with the idea of the "song", like in art. Is it still a song if you do this and that with it? Warp it. Destroy something integral to a tradition. Most bands seem to think buying a delay pedal is what makes a psychedelic band, but if you are aware of what you are trying to attain then you have to change your approach to the thing as a whole. By that I am talking of those that think, "I am going to make psychedelic music". It in itself has no defined style so the freedom to alter the music is vast. I haven't really heard many bands utilize the idea total creative freedom to that degree that use the label, but I can give a couple of  names to nail the point in. On these opposite spectrums are f.e Murmuure and Lurker of chalice. One is consciously making weird stuff while the other is made from instinct and emotion. Abigor is the quintessential psychedelic black black metal band for me, Negative Plane is also up there.

H.V Lyngdal Created the Cover Art for the Leviathan / Krieg Split
A: As someone who has studied art history, how do you feel that your education influences how you create music and visual artwork?

H.V Lyngdal:  I can relate it to the movements of happenings, duchamp, dada-ism, surreralism and ad nauseum. Its just like building a god-head and projecting your self unto it, its giving names ,symbols and power to a thing. What I do with music and visually is always a self portrait, that is how I view it. I alone create it and its a reflection of me, a singular entity. I have only done one commission artwork that was not truly from me and it turned out horribly, I am not credited with it. The most important thing I have learned from art is the importance of having your own voice, that is probably why I am not behind a Mayhem clone project.

A: On the topic of visual arts, are there any cover art projects that you are currently working on and can discuss?

H.V Lyngdal: No nothing, my mind does not handle working on music and images in the same time period.

A: Do you think that being an Icelander has an influence on what your music sounds like?

H.V Lyngdal:  Well, I could not really know. Hypothetically I could imagine not being born on Iceland and it is a nice thought. For me my music is just experience. Having played it and analyzed it long enough. Sociologically I can have the distinction of being an "old timer" within the black metal circle here, going back almost 15 years. Done dozens of random things.  I played drums on two rehearsals on what later in essence became Svartidauði, before that I was a member of the only active black metal band around 2000, failed horribly at playing keyboards for Potentiam. Later in 2003 I made 5 handmade copies of my first demos and sent I think 3 of those to labels, that until 2009 was my only effort into releasing my stuff and even then that was at someone else behest. All along I was playing in horrible bands on auto pilot, a band formed during every drinking binge. I was the only when in that situation, and when I think about it I can define how Iceland influenced my music: It gives no support! Want to release something/play abroad/get your efforts recognized? Forget it.

It is through our own efforts like hungry wolves that we are getting respect abroad. Even today for me personally there is not much support here, f.i "experts" like the zine Andfari etc. have never given me the time of day.

Usually the question is if the landscape is a influence on the music and I believe you are getting to that at another and less obnoxious angle. The answer is yes, every black metal project and band stares into the snowy horizon teary-eyed when they write and play their music.

Wormlust - Seven Paths (2009 Demo)

A: You’ve mentioned being unsatisfied with lyrics translations, citing a communication gap. Aren’t miscommunications inherent in lyrics anyways, or is language more fundamental for you?

H.V Lyngdal:  How I wrote those particular lyrics was basically untranslatable, I used Nordic compound words that would be incoherent when translated over to anything else. The loss of communication in lyrics comes mostly from not understanding the overall idea behind them is. You basically do not understand even though you can easily read it. Not being able to give people at least words so that they can try to decide on their own makes the whole idea of having lyrics useless. Trying to convey an idea, narrative etc. with a gag over your mouth. Placing such importance on words I derive from the orthodox side of myself where lyrics are transmuted into scripture.

A: Of all of the feedback you had heard or read about The Feral Wisdom, what has been the most memorable?

H.V Lyngdal: Getting to know other musical creators is the best thing to come as a result of that release,  I joined a project "Martröð" early last year. This project has been the impetus for getting better at my craft, I would write 1-10 things a day for it for a month and try to do better or at least differently on each try. It is a much needed construct of discipline. But I also enjoy hearing stories of people tripping to the album, using it as a table coaster to sniff things off of etc.

A: There has been a lot of press coverage about Iceland having its first pagan temple in a 1,000 years, with construction beginning in February 2015. How do you feel about this?

H.V Lyngdal: I did not know anything about it, I have been living in a cocoon basically, all our medias are owned by political parties now so I have stopped reading them. Things are going very wrong. My stance has always been the abolition of all religion basically. People tend to confuse the amazing Icelandic sagas with what the heathen religion of today is. For starters there are no reliable written records of anything concerning how heathen held their beliefs so there go the ties to tradition. What is there left then? Folk in costumes in opposition to the ruling religion that is Christianity. I can also take my favorite literature, marry it to my beliefs and give it a name - and I do. All within the comfort of my own home and definitely not inside a post-modern toilet-sculpture like the "heathens" seem to be doing.

A: Well that is all for questions, I appreciate your time. The last words are yours.

H.V Lyngdal: I would just like to acknowledge that this is one of the few interviews I have answered where the questions are well thought out.