Monday, July 29, 2013

Leukemia - Love

Love is such a bizarre album, even by today's standards, that if it had come out when it was recorded in 1994, it surely would have been seen as way ahead of it's time, a huge step forward for the Swedish Gothenburg scene and it would have been a major influence on all melodic death metal and metal-core afterwards to an extent that it might have actually inspired other bands to experiment with the mundane and stereotypical dross usually offered by the genres. This is an album I would essentially dub proto-metalcore. As a whole, Leukemia's album would have had a huge amount of cross-appeal within the underground music scene where it's eclectic mix of Death Metal, Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal, Industrial, Doom and Progressive Metal would have earned it accolades before the mass exodus of individuals with actual independent musical-taste buds fled the scene leaving only those lingering to easily identifiable bands and genres. Love sounds what Pestilence would have put out two albums after Spheres if they hadn't gone on hiatus and if they threw in a heavy splash of hardcore and At The Gates influences.

The greatest majority of the music, in particular tracks like "Sad" or "Hurt" incorporate a huge swath of styles all rolled into one rolling wave of excellently organized weirdness. You'll encounter mechanized drums, bongos, samples, a huge array of bizarre melodies and leads, various guitar tones and sounds at times extremely dense death metal, other times extremely light and airy spaced out meanderings. Hell, "Roses," seems to harbor disco influences. There are a huge number of awesome leads across the album such as in the opening track "Emotionally Dead," and also second track "Murder." With all the material here, it's obvious that Leukemia's talents as musicians inspired them to really go off the deep end with the album instead of playing it safe in the vein of their two previous efforts, "Suck My Heaven" and "Grey-Flannel Souled," which while both exhibiting touches of the bizarre were very much contemporary death metal albums to the rest of the Swedish scene. Perhaps this was the reason they changed the name of the band originally when they recorded the album.

One of the most notable highlights on Love is the Jocke Granlund's phenomenal vocal performance. He offers such a landscape of styles ranging from the sweet and gentle clean vocals in "My Pain," bellowed and powerful booming commands in "Roses," the angry and bitter hardcore vocals in "Regret" or "I Remain Silent" - a song with my favorite vocal moment on the album where Granlund simply yells "Why don't you just kill yourself?!" over and over again - or the bassy low growls of more typical death metal which complete the rest of the tracks. It's like staring into the mind of someone with split personality disorder and hearing their thoughts as they hear them in their head. It presents the album as something particularly painful and vocalist Grandlund as an emotionally fragile, bitter and resentful advocate for his own problems which due to the presentation, decipherable lyrics and content that I can delineate must be there in the not so dark shadows.

My favorite tracks here alternate between "Murder" and "Sad" each one probably on the far end of the spectrum of weirdness. "Murder" is probably the most ordinary, even though it has a serpentine structure like a snake in a knot that eventually comes back to eat it's tail. It opens with a deep melody and the sweet caress of a slowly tapped guitar lead with a sullen melody. It's followed by a range of riffs from tremolo to slower death / doom to a more generic (by today's standards) metal-core riff. A lead section with a memorable middle eastern flair exists a little more than halfway through the track. The last minute returns to the a few of the earlier riffs. It's an excellent written track that doesn't look track of itself. With "Sad" there are no words to explain it. The bass riffs are wild and the atonality of the tracks main intro riff breaks off and on in conjunction with the rest of the more industrial cadences. The synthesizers really place the track in a league of it's own. I guess a good comparison would be to Damage Done era Dark Tranquility if they spent a whole summer with Laibach or something. The almost unbearably simple staccato nature of the vocals over the track is an exercise in dichotomy.

Either way, if you're even moderately interested in either early melodic Death Metal or the Swedish Death Metal scene, Leukemia are band not to be missed. They offer something few other bands offered at the time - most notably a sense of adventurousness. Love is a monument to that attribute. While most of the Gothenburg bands were happy reiterating and rehashing, Leukemia were ready to revitalize and rejuvenate their own sound. If nothing less, Love is worth a listen for the variety, excellent musicianship of bassist / guitarist / drum programming of Kentha Philipson, guitarist Tobbe Ander and the awesome Jocke Granlund on vocals who's range and diversity on this album are second to none.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

CTP-010-I: Black Chalice - Obsidian

Black Chalice return with Obsidian, furthering their drive to the top of the steps of doom exceptionalism. Smoother and less extreme than Submission or the prior albums before that, Obsidian is no less an experience. It's ebbing and flowing movements, impeccably picked and produced melodic adeptness are displayed in full and Patrick Hasson once again emphasizes passionate vocals steeped in atmospheric haze. 

CTP-010-I: Copies 105 TBA


12/27/2013 Aristocrazia Webzine

Patrick Hasson non si dà tregua: è uno di quei maneggioni con sempre qualcosa per le mani, non riesce a frenare la sua vena compositiva; dal 2011 a oggi, con i suoi tre progetti musicali (quello black "classico" Avulse, quello più atmosferico Auspicium e Black Chalice) ha pubblicato non meno di una dozzina di lavori tra split, ep, album completi, demo e via discorrendo. La mia prima esperienza con la musica dell'uomo di Portland (Maine, non Oregon stavolta) fu lo scorso anno con un lavoro a nome Auspicium che non convinse più di tanto; oggi mi ritrovo a scrivere di un lavoro pressapoco contemporaneo, ma di tutt'altro livello.

Il progetto Black Chalice viene etichettato sul web come un misto tra doom e death metal, ma ciò che il nastro di "Obsidian" contiene va ben oltre, arrivando a lambire ripetutamente e con forza le coste dello shoegaze, innalzando muri di feedback dolci e malinconici e perdendosi in un cantato pulito e vellutato. L'umore che permea i quattro brani è cupo e intristito, ricorda in più di un passaggio le produzioni casalinghe di gente come gli Have A Nice Life, pur mantenendo salda la propria radice metallara, specialmente nei toni gravi della chitarra ritmica durante i pochi, reiterati riff (da cui la solo parziale giustificazione dell'etichettatura death-doom). I quattro brani sono molto organici e, nonostante la durata media sia piuttosto elevata, con lo strumentale "Heliocentric" e quello che dà il titolo al disco che superano abbondantemente i dieci minuti, l'album scorre molto piacevolmente nella sua interezza, riportando alla memoria (con i dovuti aggiustamenti) lo shoegaze "vero", quello di My Bloody Valentine e Pale Saints, molto più delle ultime "cacate" di Alcest.

Tutto questo senza perdere di vista il disagio e il malessere, poiché i tre testi sono uno più autodistruttivo dell'altro, tra tentati suicidi, vite in solitudine e, in fondo, la mancanza di fegato necessaria per porre fine a tutta questa sofferenza che è la vita. Perché il continuo aggrapparsi ai pochi spiragli di luce della vita non è altro che l'ennesimo fallimento, l'ulteriore prova della cialtronaggine dell'essere umano. E Patrick A. Hasson, in una cassetta che con sottile ironia si presenta dalla copertina e fascetta color rosa caramella, ce lo ricorda egregiamente.
09/11/2013 From The Dust Returned

What hit me the hardest about Obsidian is just how abrupt the album begins, especially for a death/doom record. No lengthy, pretentious acoustic passages to kick off the experience, no treacherously slow build into the solemn and crushing riffs. This one just dumps a bucket of sorrow directly over your noggin through a miasma of churning, burly doom metal progressions, haunting and tonal clean vocals that hover below the loud swell of the chords, and a foundation of dreamy atmospherics that seem as if they could only been inspired by a dreary, overcast New England coastline. Or at least that's how I'll imagine it, since Black Chalice is the work of one Patrick A. Hasson of Maine, who some underground pundits might recognize from his black metal oriented projects Auspicium and Avulse.

But even more important, this album got me nostalgic for what must be my favorite doom metal epoch, the 90s, when the strong presence of the British scene was joined by an emergent Swedish wave of Gothic-tinted bands. For instance, some of the emboldened chord patterns here recall the first two Lake of Tears records, but then Patrick is constantly splaying out resonant melodies beneath them that remind me of Paradise Lost (circa Icon). Granted, this is marginally more solemn and funereal in disposition than those albums, to the point that it might even appeal to fans of stuff like Evoken, but this guy clearly dug out the roots of the genre and avoids the droning, endless excess that the style has often fallen into, even on the longer pieces "Heliocentric" and "Obsidian" that make up about 21 minutes of content between them. 

Some might balk at the stiffness of the drum programming, or the oft calamitous resonance of the production in general, but this tape is nothing if not consistently eloquent and oppressive in equal turns.

Naturally, he gives himself more space to explore in the wider tunes, like "Obsidian" where the drums drop to a sparse cadence, the drudging bass-lines rumble beneath a glaze of harmonies; or "Heliocentric" where he produces these warm, climactic fusions of the grainy rhythm guitars and melodies. But most of the material is based on the same, steady formula of dirty chords and drifting vocals. The singing is strangely subdued, and this might also prove a turnoff for those accustomed to the vocals being on top, but in reality this just gives them the substance of another instrument in the mix. He doesn't exclusively stick with this one style, capable of belting out the dirgelike gutturals most equate with the genre, but it certainly feels more drugged, numbing and ultimately unique. I did feel at times like the album might have benefited from further variation, perhaps some vocal-only passages or tempo shifts, but as it stands, four tracks in 33 minutes isn't quite enough to wear out its welcome by turning the same few tricks repeatedly.

All in all, a fairly unique style here that rewarded me with the escapism I seek of it. The lyrics are personal and cautionary as opposed to poetic and image-heavy; dealing largely with depression, alcoholism and the confines of the human condition, but at the same time their humble. Patrick isn't speaking to you through some pretentious haze of Gothic grandeur, but more on a person-to-person level, and it helps to ground the epic quality of the music, to 'reel it in' if you will. You know, I just had to make a fisherman joke because I'm an asshole, and because there's just something so contemplatively coastal about this...lighthouse doom...a walk on the rocks, breakers spraying your toes with cold, salty tears. Obsidian isn't perfection by any means, but it IS an experience, and there's not a lot more I could ask for in a niche of metal that I sometimes find to be the antithesis of compelling. Recommended for your next gray afternoon.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Lectamynol - Tools To Wield The Apes

Belgium’s Lectamynol offers up a quick sampling of black, death, and stoner doom on their debut EP “Tools to Wield The Apes.” Just as some bars have a “beer flight” where you get several smaller glasses of various types of beer, Lectamynol offers tastes of sub-genres and styles with this EP. A beer flight lets you quickly compare flavors to find your favorite, and here it is immediately apparent that Lectamynol is strongest when channeling their fastest and most aggressive influences. While not lacking in variety, the multiple flavors of metal in these twelve minutes make it hard to establish a sense of mood. A sip from one style and then the next isn’t as satisfying as a large gulp. This alone isn’t an issue if you are the kind of person that likes listening to playlists of various styles of metal. Style is the operative word here because the band varies their sound more through intensity rather than genre, although slower sections naturally feel more like doom.

The overall sound is similar to later Glorior Belli with much more restrained blues influences and crossed with a dash of Anaal Nathrakh styled single note guitar leads. A large part of what makes the band more interesting during the faster sections is how well the bass guitar matches the energy levels. Smooth and clear on simpler melodies, the bass tone gets noisier when it needs to compete against blast beats. Even something as simple as this helps the band control the intensity, and that is vital with how often it shifts. Although the band has some rough musical transitions, the EP is well balanced between clarity and still having an aggressive sound, crisp without being over-produced. This is especially true of the vocal work which is precise and remains powerful despite its high-pitch. The vocals are the heart of the band’s aggression when they take away the speed. At some points you can clearly hear how they are nicely layered together, double tracking high with low or sustained screams roaring one over another.

Given the liberal use of style changes throughout the rather short EP, it was very confusing to hear a minute long acoustic intro to the third track and also a half-minute final outro of silly noises. These parts wouldn’t have been entirely out of place on a full-length to break up the pace, but only serve here to highlight the band’s stylistic jumps. The fact that Lectamynol could use some focusing is not surprising for a debut release. While the band showcases many different styles, they haven’t shown whether they can pull off a better blending. If you disregard the bluesy intro to “Unleash” you have the most coherent and aggressive track on the EP, and also the most stylistically narrow track. So, even for those who enjoy variety, Lectamynol may be like a brewery with only one good beer. No need for a flight.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Atomic Head - March of the Urban Zombies

Atomic Head prove themselves to be a promising act with "March of the Urban Zombies," their debut full length. Thrash does as Thrash has done on this release and while Atomic Head surely do not do much to separate themselves from a lot of acts that have already made a name for themselves such as Havok or Warbringer, both who share very similar styling to this Chilean group, the full length puts them in the general vicinity of the rest of the above average pack. Though Atomic Head still have a bit of growing to do, moments across the release offer a glimpse into what could become something excellent. While guitarist Sebastian Galindo played live with Battlerage several years back, this has absolutely no resemblance to that better known Chilean pact and I would reach for Atomic Head's disc before glancing in the other direction. I would actually pick up Atomic Head's disc before a whole lot of modern thrash projects. Chile apparently has a large swath of Thrash bands, all of which I've never heard of with the exception of Demona and Acero Letal, bands which I've come across demo tapes of somehow but Atomic Head have placed themselves in a position to both draw attention to and lead a scene from the South American country.

There are a lot of good things going on with "March of the Urban Zombies." For one, the musicianship is excellent on the release and, as a bass player, I always seem to pay attention to what the bassist is doing - something ignored and deplored by most interested parties. With Atomic Head, however, the bass is more than prominent and demands attention. Bassist Diego Carrillo - borrowed perhaps from Evil Madness - is impressive on the album. Atomic Head do a good job of reviving memories of stuff we all grew up with and nurturing those memories without attempting to recreate them. The title is a good example as, for me, the intro reminds me of "Hangar 18" for some reason, even though it doesn't sound anything like the classic. Personally, the best two tracks here for me include fourth track, "Friendly Knives," which enforces it's thrash authority with a memorable and strong intro which should be longer than it is. The song has somewhat weak verses compared to the bridge, intro and solo sections which are awesome. The final conclusion track is also a beast. "Nephilim" is the only song to really significantly adjust the tempos on the album and it's placement in last place highlights it's uniqueness on the album after an album's worth of consistent speeds. The track opens with the oft-used and sampled George H. W. Bush 'New World Order' speech. Contrasted against the title, Atomic Head take a standpoint waved by many thrash bands though do so with a sense of cunning. The song is good though, and while it is far from perfect / amazing / groundbreaking, Atomic Head are at least honest in their thrashing ways.

So, with all the good and positive things said, "March of the Urban Zombies" is still flawed in several ways and even with a couple strong tracks, a lot of room for improvement exists. For one, the sample intro. Obviously made by the band themselves, it carries no nostalgia, no reference and acts as a set-up for the album title and not the content itself. There are too many topics covered in the tracks to warrant a sample overseeing the entirety of the release. The vocal production is raw. The very traditional thrash vocals here stand out not for their strengths of being passionate, varied and engaged but for being embossed against the music. They are mixed poorly and sound unattended to. Some reverb or a lower lower... something has to set the vocals into the music instead of standing out on top of everything and separating the listeners' ears from the overall track. Pacing is also an issue here on "March of the Urban Zombies." All nine songs are very stagnant in the variety of the tempos and riff styles. Other than "Nephilim" and "Friendly Knives," there are not many standout tracks.

Fans of thrash may want to add this to their lists to check out but for those seeking a more refined and finer product, "March of the Urban Zombies" may be something worth waiting on. Atomic Head, should they put out another album after this will probably be a significantly better bet in terms of quality. The band, while creative in their riff construction and talented in the areas related to technique, should be able to trump this effort easily if they focus their efforts on creating individual songs that had a specific purpose in relation to album flow, as monotony is the most significant factor holding them back here.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Master Fury Review #3

From Metal Core Zine::

MASTER FURY/Circles Of Hell (Contaminated Productions) Holy shit this totally crushes and destroy. This is a re-release of this thrash metal band’s 2 releases way back when…think the 80’s ha ha. This is just prime time thrash metal at its finest. Just raw unholy thrash metal that still sounds fresh after all these years and Jon you put one hell of a release and you got 2 albums on one disc which is extra cool. This band if from NJ home of such killer 80’s thrash bands like Hades, Whiplash, Bloodfeast, Blessed Death and you add this band to that list. Just a pure thrash metal masterpiece.

Prepare for the Mindscan - Prepare For The Mindscan

A hardcore/grindcore band from Buffalo with a 13-minute demo, a suitable format for their bursts of energy. They hit hard early, tearing into an aggressive 40 second burst that the minute-long sample of diaglogue left me unprepared for. The lead vocals are a forceful yell reminiscent of Dwid Hellion of Integrity (a lofty compliment, for those unfamiliar with him), contrasted against some low growls that aren't nearly as strong. The guitars roar with a meaty crunch and some solid riffs, precise and percussive along with the drums. These guys are impressively tight for a grind group, especially with the transitions between grind and hardcore sections. It's tight, but not polished. They're well equipped with talents to play good hardcore/grind - but not very good at writing songs.

At their strongest, they're ripping through a tight and vicious 40 seconds like "Alien Invasion", but they start it off with a minute-long sample. The album sort of falls into a lull for a few songs before showing a good example of the push/pull contrasting that highlights grind with "Driven to Kill". The two songs that follow seem to switch between two parts, but they don't mesh well, they don't contrast, and it doesn't offer the same contrast that they manage twice - the second time on the closer, "Rise of the Machine Elves", which starts with another minute-long sample - another break that's really not helpful to dictating the flow of a short demo. The contrast of straight grinders, the shorter songs, and the more varied ones, which reach lengths of almost two minutes, could be stronger if they were positioned a bit better. The band gets energy going quite well, but they don't juxtapose it as well as they could. I'd prefer if they killed the samples to make this a flat ten minutes, emphasized a few section/tempo changes a bit more, and shifted the tracks around a bit with attention to the flow of the whole album.

The impression this demo gives me is that this is a band who would be interesting to see live, with a lot of energy and the chops to pull off their music, but they need to work on the big picture of putting their talents to use to create a more complete experience - if they're going to use samples, they need to use them to cut up their bursts of energy precisely. I think they could rearrange what they have here into something better than a sum of its parts of its parts - calculating chaos rather than sloppy arrangements - sample/grind/two-speed/grind/repeat rather than the weaker arrangements here. They sound good, they have skills, but they don't put it all together that well. This could be better than the sum of its parts.

Bhaobhan Sidhe - The New Order

Bestial Summoning are one of my favorite black metal bands, sounding halfway between Mayhem's DMDS and a practice room shaking in an earthquake. Bhaobhan Sidhe is a project of Conscicide of Bestial Summoning that began after the demise of that great early black metal band. Coming from an unhinged black metal band, one should expect that this music isn't something particularly normal. Delving into dark ambiance through minimalist black metal seems like a reasonable choice for this fellow and his mate who joined him to program drums. Two things are notable - Bestial Summoning's incredibly rough, barely together playing style was much more coherent than this, and this is something very odd, very dark, and almost incomprehensible.

There is a drum machine that seems to have been recorded onto a tape, complete with clipping, and mixed in at a decent volume level. It's not even proper drum beats, just occasional hits, not as sparse as drone doom but certainly not even a regular back beat. They sound like shit too - you could get the same drum tones from a Casio keyboard with wet speakers. The vocals are regular black metal vocals, quite loud. They're audible and at reasonable levels for a demo tape, though I'm not sure why they transferred it so quietly when parts of the recording are heavily distorted by clipping. I'd guess it has to do with neither of them having the slightest idea what they're doing beyond hitting buttons on a tape recorder.

So, it's experimental dark music, there's vocals and drums, and it's a very rough demo. So uh, shouldn't there be guitars? On closer inspection, there are indeed guitars, but they are barely audible. They're approximately as audible than Led Zeppelin's squeaking kick drum pedal, almost mistakable for tape fuzz. There's a slight sound in the background that sounds like the muted vibrations of your neighbor playing an old organ while you're in another house and the organ can't even be that loud because it's an organ. The guitars shouldn't be that quiet because they're guitars, and this is metal, right?

Well, not really, maybe some sort of dark ambient, but better described as amateur tape recorder foolery than actual music. There isn't even a full band here, and this realistically could have been a guy growling into a microphone while a drum machine played through a built-in speaker and a practice amp buzzed out guitar lines at low volume from the other side of the room. I don't know why the guitar is completely inaudible though, because the recording really doesn't make sense because of that. They aren't making use of the silence, nor are the vocals or drums trying to lead the music.

Even with the dark sound that comes with a very quiet, yet noisy lo-fi tape recording, this isn't effective as dark ambient. I was interested in this because of the BS connection (how appropriate to abbreviate it) and tried to get into the feel of an incoherent collage of noises. Even after I focused on the overall sound rather than thinking about what was going on, I couldn't get past that this was incoherent, incomprehensible, and such an obvious failure that the original two demo tracks led to another two and all four somehow got pressed to a 7". Did someone attempt to use a screwdriver as the record cartridge on this disc before I heard it? There doesn't even seem to be enough noise to excuse the awful production - maybe it was done one thing at a time, bouncing between two cassettes, recording guitars, then drums from an electronic keyboard, then vocals added? It's even bad for that, as Striborg (among others) did that and it didn't sound this bad.

I'm running out of words to describe how incomprehensibly terrible is this, so I'll pull one of the most wretched descriptions out to push the point home. This is far worse than Jewicide on every level. The drums are worse. The guitars are much worse. Even the ideologies behind this are apparently also national socialist, which doesn't make me feel better about looking for this music once I found out about that connection. When I listen to Jewicide after this, it sounds like actual music, since I can at least make out the basic components and what is going on. One reviewer** went to great lengths to attempt to literally describe what was going on, resulting in the analysis that the drums sounded like a children's train going back and forth, and the guitars had an extensively terrible system eventually going through 3" speakers. Sounds about right for either. The difference is that Jewicide are actually playing black metal through the world's noisiest, worst apparatus. Bhaobhan Sidhe aren't quite sure what they're doing with this equipment, to the point where the guitarists spends a while clicking and sliding his pick slowly against the winding of his lower strings, inconsistently dragging it on and off, sometimes one at a time, rather than going for a full, proper pick scrape, because this guy has literally no idea what he is doing. Rather than instruments at times, the noise coming through sounds like when I picked up the guitar end of a cable that was plugged in and it buzzed - trying to make music by touching the cable? I don't know.

So... what? What is this? It's not only the worst recording I have ever heard, it's also the worst performance I've heard, seemingly a recorded experiment with someone's first time picking up a guitar? I've heard those before, but certainly didn't record them, nor release them. I have no idea what the fuck is going on here and neither did the guys who made this "music".

Credit to BloodIronHate for these precise and imaginative descriptions that I build on. Great read too.

Angel Reaper - Angel Ripping Metal

"Angel Ripping Metal" 2011 - Metal Ör Die Records
In 2011, Metal Ör Die Records released a compilation of the three-demo discography of an early Soviet-bloc black/thrash band called Angel Reaper. It's not the greatest of its style, the recordings are poor, but it's really interesting to listen to. Quite a vicious collection, but very harsh on the ears - the treble is more piercing than Morbid Saint's "Spectrum of Death" but less balanced and focused. If you like Bathory's first two albums, Sepultura's debut LP, and rough, ripping old-school extreme thrash, check this out.

Demo I (1987) - Doesn't rip hard enough, Angels are soft.

Angel Reaper have a really weird style where they mix these incredibly hokey, happy sounding melodic lead sections with dark sounding, snarled, heavy metal and some pretty rough thrash. At points they get to slower chugging parts where the vocalist snarls, then they just take off with fast thrash sections and screaming, but their changes in direction simply seem confusing. I'm not entirely sure these guys knew what they were doing with their songs at points - pretty much each section is pretty cool on its own, but collectively it's a mess. It's primal thrash metal with an early black metal edge, not too thrashy not vicious as one might expect, but there is some potential for that - it is limited by the poor production.

The guitars, drums, and vocals are all audible, but they also have the dynamic range roughly equal to the stability of the Eastern Bloc in 1987, where and when this was recorded. It's rough, it's pretty cool that this was recorded in this area in 1987, and I likely would've been impressed by some part of that if I heard it back then, but looking back from now, it's not particularly innovative nor good, and the recording makes Maximum Oversatan seem like technical wizards and guitar virtuosos. These guys make Venom look tight.

This is thrash that's not particularly fast, hardly memorable, poorly recorded, but offers a listenable experience and conveys a level of enthusiasm and intent to do things that they couldn't quite pull off. They managed it to a greater extent later on, but considering they were years behind Bathory, Sodom, and Kreator, they weren't really anything special then, and they're hardly special now. They have a cool name, some demos, and it's worth giving a run through if you like metal that sounds like a bunch of guys in a basement rocking the fuck out, but they don't even rock that hard.

They convey their enthusiasm an intents well, that makes me want to like it, but it just isn't very good.

A végzet utolér (1989) - Unrealized potential and sinister intentions.

Angel Reaper's second demo is a much longer, more matured, and more complete effort than their first, which is tacked on to the end of this one. Once again they open the release with a happy, upbeat melody - perhaps rooted in Hungarian folk music - but an odd choice for the vicious thrash that they pursue, starting with a bestial groan and dark, brooding riffing at the beginning of the next track. After the intro though, perhaps a national homage, though a mystery to me, they follow through on their intents, ripping through vicious thrash with more developed snarls and growls that sound like an Eastern European imitation of Venom and Sodom.

One of the more notable features of this demo is, while still playing relentless thrash, the incredibly rough production enhances the dual-guitar efforts, adding a haunting quality to unisons and harmonized fourths, as well as enabling the band to back some leads with some percussive hits from the rest of the band. At times, proud folk-like melodies ring out, as with a brief solo in "Fekete őrség" - in a way, sounding like high and mighty, triumphant national music, but in another sounding goofy and happy in an otherwise dark and minor blackened thrash attack. One moment, it feels like an even more grating tribute to early Bathory, an uncomfortably over-trebled sound akin to Morbid Saint, the next it's deliberately breaking that atmosphere for a nearly incomprehensible reason. "Kannibálok támadása" begins with screams and shouts like it is about to break into primal, bestial black metal, then it goes into a melodic section that's neither haunting nor particularly fitting.

The ideas found in Angel Reaper's music seem to have split into two separate things in more recent music - the first being metal based in Eastern European folk music, the latter being raw black/thrash metal - worshiping the more extreme side of the 80s. While these subsets of metal are not incompatible, it seems as if a combination must rely on a stronger control on atmosphere to channel the feeling the band intends, to capture the atmosphere and convey their intents. Instead, their vicious intents are apparent, but disrupted by these happy-sounding melodies that have a sweet guitar sound that simply doesn't fit the extremely abrasive sound of the rest of the production, from the sharp guitars to the snarling singer. They sound almost circus-like, something that would be in a "fun" wiffle thrash song from a jokester band like Scatterbrain or one of the countless recent pizzacore skater rethrash bands. Even if they're a somewhat minor feature in the songs, it completely changes the atmosphere and feeling of the evil Eastern Bloc onslaught here.

There is a lot of unrealized potential here, both captured and disrupted by the rawness. It is simply the unleashed fury of aggressive 80s thrash on one side, and the other side of the same coin is unrefined ideas that disrupt each other in not focusing the entire effort into a singular presentation of atmosphere and theme. That is simply a harsh reality of 80s demo tapes, where one hears what could have been with a little more control. However, the harsh reality of vicious thrash metal is also one of the upsides. This is a demo and band that intrigues me, but can't enthrall me as they always seem a step away from doing.

Exhumált világ (1992) - The logical next step and last step

Angel Reaper's final demo also displayed one final step in the band's evolution. The hokey melodies have been tamed, even transformed into an interesting exotic lead or two that fit the music, the dark atmosphere they always grasped at is in their holds now that the edge of thrash is no longer their target, and the vocals have been handed over to another band member who seems to fit them in more than have them stand out. Though it wraps up their somewhat lackluster and brief career with some satisfaction, this isn't their strongest effort - perhaps the most listenable without cutting the treble, but a bit dimmed by the loss of their reckless abandon.

The grating, vicious edge of their earlier works has been smoothed out and the band has a meatier tone, still lo-fi, and the vocals have had enough reverb added to make their Hungarian countrymen Tormentor blush. The production, though lacking low-end as they're still a thrash band with black/thrash vocals and a bit of a black end, is otherwise fairly similar to the muddy sound of many death metal demos of the early 90s, a welcome change from the high-end treble balance of their older demos that were harsher on my ears than Moonblood. It is certainly a welcome change and an interesting conclusion to their career, seeing how they focused and refined their earlier efforts. The overall notability factor is pretty low though - it's a thrash demo from 1992 that's not particularly impressive nor embracing the extremity that their intents seem to require to be realized. Drenching the vocals in reverb is a nice touch, a sign of the times in that they're taking some of the edge off of thrash for the atmosphere as they hadn't done in the past, but it's also quite behind the times for primitive yet extreme thrash - Tormentor were five years ahead of them on the vocals, and more intense, while Bathory seemed far ahead of this band as a whole, with both of those bands being much better. Perhaps the reason music like this is enjoyable is because it offers some potential that it could sound really good had their ambitions led them to the right places - something those bands are exemplary of.

Though they appear out of order on the "Angel Ripping Metal" compilation, it is an interesting journey to listen through Angel Reaper's demos - a journey through a few years for an extreme band that was neither an innovator nor particularly impressive, but offers us some insights into what metal was beyond those who became the most famous. While we know the history of metal by the top tier classics, even the second and third tier classics, and the steps in between for the bands who put those out, listening to the bands who never made it to that level provides a great perspective in what the differences between good, great, and decent bands are. This is a band that, had things gone a little differently, had they come a little earlier, might have managed to make a solid thrash album, or even a black metal album, rather than being swept into the dustbin at the downfall of thrash in the early 90s. Their mistakes are as interesting as their successes, and this is largely because the music oozes honesty - despite the goofy, happy melodies, they were intent on making evil sounding thrash metal. They pushed their music as far as they could, but their limitations kept them short of being more than a collection of artifacts that wouldn't regularly be on display at a museum, rather dug out for interested historians studying a broad range of things that includes the insignificant.

The Kris Norris Projekt - Icons of the Illogical

Not quite a current release, but one from a few years ago that is certainly worth noting. 

Following his departure from Darkest Hour, guitar wizard Kris Norris took Magna Carta up on their long-standing offer to do a solo record to release on their label. Produced by his longtime friend Cory Smoot in his home studio, the album is an interesting collection of Norris' compositions and some performances by friends, many of them improvised or worked out on short notice. Knowing that the album was worked out fairly quickly from a large archive of compositions mixed with some improvised parts, the album is surprisingly coherent and memorable. In a way, it was a commercial success in that Magna Carta asked him to write and record a follow-up for them, in a way, perhaps not so successful as he apparently never got any money from them.

The styles of the songs vary quite a bit, a blend of leftover Darkest Hour songs, homages to influences, and late night jams written while watching television shows about conspiracy theories - the latter being a marketing point of the album because apparently Magna Carta didn't think that, as a label notable as the home of countless prog side projects, it would be effective to simply broadcast this classically-trained guitarist's extensive insights and thoughts on music. Personally, I find them fascinating and more extensive than his catalog might suggest, even with the old projects and weird recording projects that range from Dream Theater worship to epic black metal infused with synths like Summoning. That is the exact appeal and the reason to listen to this album - Kris Norris has a lot of interesting ideas as a musician, he is a talented guitarist and composer, and being at the center of a self-titled project, he works without the constraints present in other bands, both in the variety of the songs and the ability to put the guitars at the center of a song.

An interesting choice is how the song focuses around melodic riffs, but despite his noted shredding skills - one of highest regarded for his work in Darkest Hour which was both virtuous and melodic - he opted to chose to make this album about the songwriting and riffs, which some well placed solos and leads and more than a few harmonies. A studio video shows producer Smoot at the helm playing through songs and manning the recording computer, while Norris drinks a beer and blasts through fast harmony layers over choice leads in a single shot. Another interesting choice is to eschew vocals, aside for two songs on which Randy Blythe guests. One of those songs is otherwise an homage to Opeth, full of melodies and 7th chords - most certainly an unusual an interesting contrast to Blythe's vocal style. It works - it sounds good, and it's quite catchy.

Some of the more obvious stylistic choices are those like the song for which a video was made, "Everything Expires". It's a harmonized melodeath song which a catchy solo, something that could have easily been one of the more melodic Darkest Hour songs, though it barely has room for the vocals or any of the punk influence that characterized some of the more band-driven DH compositions. A side note - the video for this song was filmed by the JamPlay crew, a guitar teaching site who Norris was one of the flagship artists teaching for, and he has certainly been one of the best. Norris, a Florida resident, flew up to Ohio around winter holiday season and they spent all day filming a video outside in the snow. The extreme cold affected his hands and made the first set of recordings a bit rough. The guitar that was set on fire for that video was later smashed by Cory Smoot, in costume as Flattus Maximus, when they JamPlay crew had another fun day filming a video about Gwar's invasion of their HQ when Smoot filmed a set of lessons on Gwar songs with them.

One of the more classical leanings doesn't sound neoclassical as we think of it, but explores classical theories in practice. "A Shift in Normalcy" is an exercise in counterpoint, of two dueling - or rather precisely balanced and carefully composed - guitar parts. The melodies in that song, and on the whole album, are excellent. Much of the album explores different ways to use guitar melodies, certainly his forte, in different contexts of metal songs. Good melodies and good riffs are the building blocks of this good album.

A sad aftermath in the years following this album is the untimely passing of bassist Dave Fugman producer Cory Smoot. Dave Fugman passed away on May 6, 2013 of complications from diabetes at age 38. Cory Smoot passed away on November 3, 2011 of a heart attack related to a heart condition. Rest in peace and may your legacy not be forgotten in your own careers and part of this great album.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Distro Updated - New Arrivals

Just added the following tapes to the Store / Distro. I have between 2 and 5 copies of all the tapes except for the Mortinatum, Malcuidant and Tumulus Anmatus tapes which are single copies. Be sure to message me if you're interested in any of those asap!

Die Hard - Nihilistic Vision ($4)
Seax - High on Metal ($4)
Decayed - Lusitanian Black Fucking Metal ($4)
Incapacitate - March to the Death ($5)
Ataul - Demo 2013 ($5)
Toxemia / Pathogen - Welcome to the Alcoholocaustic South - The Unholy Alliance ($5)
Mortinatum - Demo 2003 ($5)
Malcuidant - I Hymne de la Ghilde ($5)
Tumulus Anmatus - Demo 2007 ($4)
Wolfsgrey - Pure Transylvanian Style ($6)
Wolfsgrey - A ($7)
Wolfsgrey - D ($6)
Paganfire - Wreaking Fear and Death ($5)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Honey For Christ - The Darkest Pinnacle of Light

Honey for Christ need to straighten some stuff out pronto. Honey for Christ self-describe a "Northern Ireland based pure heavy metal band." They sound nothing like "pure heavy metal." In fact, at times, they don't sound like heavy metal at all. Darkest Pinnacle of Light is their 2005 EP, perhaps their best known release even with a full length out in 2011. And so general good reception surrounds this release with almost all reviews I've read being very positive. Even if this was described as what it really is - Swedish melodeath with, at times, whiny, clean vocals and a melodramatic flair - I still wouldn't feel that The Darkest Pinnacle of Light deserves more than brief mentions, possible during a conversation rounding up bands that sound like Discouraged Ones era Katatonia. Normally, that would be awesome but Honey for Christ also sound like local Jersey alternative band Thursday at times, an accolade which no Metal band would want thrown around at them.

Though the first track, Satan and Swastika, rummages around in the big ole bin of Gothenburg influences, with opening riffs and style being very much an offspring of that scene, once the metalcore verse riff hits, all I can think about it how I saw Beyond the Embrace open for Overkill once and how boring they were. If anything however, this opening track is the closest you'll find on this album to what Honey for Christ want themselves to be. It's not a bad song, but it's hardly exceptional. It's a pretty standard track in all aspects, with a predictable structure, little variation of riffs, little depth of arrangement and a lot of opportunity for it. When second track "The Final Transition" starts, I'm wondering if someone was forgotten. A brisk clean phrasing gives way to a distorted riff. The whole thing is then repeated with vocals over it. Three minutes into the track, we are granted an excellent mournful lead. This is followed with a blatant metalcore chorus with a mixture of clean vocals and background screams. It repeats. Song done.

"The Darkest Pinnacle of Light" is the fastest song on the release and I guess, by that standard, it's the most intense but it just sounds like so many bands I heard in high school that were trying to be Killswitch Engage or God Forbid or whatever. Honey for Christ may be better than sixty or seventy percent of them but that shouldn't be seen as a mark of excellence. Either way, the title track is an exercise in generic metal-core riffs. The verse is straight forward chugging with pull offs to add melody in the riffs. With the final two songs, we get "Sorrow Descending," which sounds like a cut off Discouraged Ones that wasn't good enough to was never finished. This is the best track on the release for me because it sounds much more honest and unique. It also much better suits the voice of guitarist and vocalist Andy. It may be a bit long for it's own good though with a run time of over eight minutes. The final track, "Signs of Bitterness" follows in the same vein as the earlier tracks on the release though with a much less metalcore vibe. Similar melodic tendencies, with melodramatic melodies and on and off again clean / heavy guitars. There are plenty of people out there that love this kind of stuff but it's not the "pure heavy metal" I was expecting to receive. Maybe something got lost in translation for me though.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July News: Forestfather Release, ProCD Bundle Promotion and More

Forestfather - Hereafter is finally here, and out, and ready to mesmerize. The disc features a twelve page booklet, doublesided tray card and 38 minutes of top notch avante-garde black metal. Steve's impression is quite accurate. You can get this awesome release for $10.00.

Also an option, I am offering a bundle for the next couple weeks while I work on the upcoming releases. Get both Master Fury's Circles of Hell and Forestfather's Hereafter for $16.00. Inside the USA, postage is paid. Outside the USA, ask for some shipping options to help with our unreasonable shipping prices.

Work will now continue on finalizing the upcoming three releases, Black Chalice's Obsidian, Lamentations of the Ashen's EKIMMIV and the repress of Black Chalice's sold out Submission. Keep an eye out for those! These will be limited to about 100 copies each and should be available in about three weeks. Just finishing up the last of the three releases' artwork and getting all the forms together to send out to the dubbing plant.

I am looking for reviewers interested in reviewing the following CTP releases. If you have a blog / write for a zine etc. Please get in touch to be added to my reviewer list so I can send you free promos whenever new CTP releases come out. Here are the releases I have available promos for:

CTP-005-II: Black Chalice - Submission
CTP-006-I : Gates of Eternal Torment - Imprisoned Beneath the Ice of this Cold Black Void
CTP-007-I : Master Fury - Circles of Hell
CTP-008-I : Forestfather - Hereafter
CTP-009-I : Lamentations of the Ashen - EKIMMIV
CTP-010-I : Black Chalice - Obsidian

If you're interested in reviewing all or one of these, get in touch!

Finally, last but not least, it's that time again! I'm looking to add another reviewer to the website so if you enjoy reviewing underground stuff, have an interest in writing and want to put your reviews somewhere which people will read them, email me! CTP reviewers get the added benefit of receiving a copy of each current CTP release. Steve and myself are simply overloaded with reviews so help would be much appreciated!

Any questions or interest in anything CTP should be directed towards me via email. Thanks!

Here are some samples for the upcoming releases. Thanks and enjoy!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Countess - Sermons of the Infidel

Countess are at it again, this time with a digital only EP containing two new tracks as well as tracks from last year's On Wings of Defiance and other periods. "I Am the Infidel," which seemed to be On Wings of Defiance's single or 'hit' and "Sermon of the Devil Preacher," both appear with different mixes as do the other older tracks. "Sermon," has other alterations to it as well though. Once again we are gifted with Orlok's brand of awesome Orthodox Black Metal featuring tons of riffs and melodies which are highly NWOBHM influenced and his signature sniveling vocal style which, for me, is always a highlight of his releases. "Sermon of the Infidel," the title being a combination of the two previously released tracks also contains one of what I would call my favorite Countess songs of all time now, "Son of the Dragon," and even though Orlok calls this an EP, it's thirty five minute run time is a bit more like a full length. In my opinion, this is an awesome place to start your adventure into Countess' discography because of it's shorter run time.

Being a digital release is kind of a bummer because Orlok has always found ways to put out excellently packaged and complete products. I would love to hold this in my hand so I can read the lyrics - which he always puts a lot of effort into - and due to the strength of the songs, the lyrics being available right in front you, letting you sit around and just follow along. The songs are short enough and straight forward enough where it would be really easy to remember specific choruses and verses which, in black metal, is rare. The album art on this is a bit of a let down. Just a simple papery looking background with titling and what looks to be an Arabic letter or something. Musically, this is pure Countess, pure genius. The only thing that might be holding it back is, as usual, the production. It's not bad or terrible, It's just very polished with a pretty sterile sound which contrasts, as usual, with Orlok's viperine vocal chirps and what Black Metal generally sounds like. Countess though, as we know live by their own rules so I don't really judge this on that much. Just a personal preference I guess. Once again on this release Orlok has had help from guitarist Zagan who can be credited with the rhythm and lead guitars which are a definite standout on the album. Orlok, as always, supplies the Bass which, as always, is clearly audible and major driving factor of the album. He is also to blame for the disgustingly inventive and addictive keyboard parts which have been a Countess hallmark for the entire Countess career.

The eight track album, all enjoyable tracks has three or four really memorable ones. The first of the four-track highlights is the revitalized "Sermon of the Devil Preacher," which is aided with an updated intro featuring new vocals. The two redone tracks are less trebly and a bit less distorted or over driven than the tracks from On Wings of Defiance. "Son of Dragon," my favorite track off the album, is just awesome. It has a doomy foreboding intro with some nice flair which carries into the the slower and bruising mid-section. Some awesome lead work early in the song and again near the end of the track is perfect. The whole thing is narrated by Orlok's signature vocals. "Child of the Millennia" is another highlight. It has a medieval, court jester like vibe behind a Venom-inspired verse structure. Keys add fanfare to the track and are, as on every track, used expertly to enhance the arrangement. The chorus is memorable as well but the best chorus on the album goes to "City of Satan," another spotlighted track. Utilizing a brilliantly memorable and catchy bombastic keyboard theme throughout the track, Orlok and Zagan in what I would consider a shorter track by Countess standards, maybe have the most accessible song here. It's hard to not smile at the combination of triumphant keyboards, big drawn out chords and Orlok's classic vocals.

For a digital album, this is one of the few I would say is worth the money it costs. It's really a great hole to fall into if you've never checked out Countess before and I would say that it even makes this notoriously love-it or hate-it band much easier to love than to hate. Far easier to check out this than say, The Return of the Horned One and genuinely enjoy it. The shorter tracks are a huge boon to Countess as well. As awesome as the longer tracks that appear on past albums have been, these shorter songs are a welcome diversion. I would dare say that Sermons of the Infidel truly 'rocks', as in Rock ' N ' Roll.  It kind of has that go-for-it and have a good time feel much more so than their past few albums which seemed much more serious. Orlok's once again impressed me with how varied he can be with Countess and I expect that people checking out Sermons of the Infidel will be impressed as well.

Ebony Tears - Evil as Hell

The last of three albums from this old Swedish melodeath band - what the hell happened?

Ebony Tears began as an elegant yet unformed band blending violins and guitar melodies with Swedish death metal, quickly evolved to playing aggressive, thrashy melodeath with a mystical atmosphere. Another two years later, they're playing some of the blandest thrash/groove death metal I've heard. Perhaps this is to be expected of some band that nobody has heard of from Sweden circa 2000, but it's surprising that the band dropped everything they did well in two years after a brilliant album to create incredibly boring and sterile groove/thrash metal with little death metal left. The death metal is gone, and it's bordering on being a bad type of metalcore, nearly mallcore with all of the completely percussive chugging and shouting.

This album is a mix of a tamed attempt at brutal thrash mixed with a noisy alignment of chugging guitars and whacking a snare drum that's not mixed right. I've heard the awful mix of Darkest Hour's "Hidden Hands..." described as sounding like the guitars got into a fight with the drums, and that's what this sounds like. The guitars used to have a meaty Swe-death tone, now they sound like plug and play with a Mesa - the chunky but sterile tone of a lot of bands of the early 2000s. The mixing on the snare drum alone practically ruins the record - it normally fits into the music, it's a big punch but you hear other things around it. It's just noisy here and half of the time the treble side of the spectrum is just an awful mess. It sounds like Soilwork without melody - think of the shouting part of "Rejection Role" with that chugging and make that most of an album.

The string skipping Gothenburg riffs are sparse here, and when they do appear, they're completely out of place, completely neutered, and aimless. While their last album seemed perfectly arranged, this one is the opposite. Perhaps they were leaning too far to the crappy thrashing of their side project, Dog Faced Gods, but this is on par with the tiring, monotony of a band like Paganizer, even though Ebony Tears do more than one thing. They aren't differentiating what they're doing, due to both poor songwriting and poor mixing.

It's hard to believe that this is the same vocalist from their previous albums. His Lindberg-inspired scream is completely gone, the entire album a cacophony of monotonous groove metal shouts, sometimes with a bit of an industrial feel due to the mechanical production and narrow range, though there's hardly any industrial here. The vocals actively detract from the music. I have no idea what the hell any of them were thinking on this album - perhaps it's a good indication that two of the few breaks from the groove/thrash whacking are southern/stoner metal melodic swaggering at the middle and end of "Lowdown".

What the hell were they thinking? I don't know, but I'm inclined to say they were looking for a new direction and decided to walk away from making good music. It's no surprise they split up after putting out this clunker.

Ebony Tears - A Handful of Nothing

The second of three albums from this old Swedish melodeath band - one of the lost treasures of melodeath.

Ebony Tears have refined their style of melodic death metal from their debut, shedding the violins (bar one interlude), trimming down their long arrangements, and distilling their style to waste no time with uncertain arrangements. Their music is on the very thrashy, aggressive side of melodic death metal, similar to the execution of later At the Gates, but with a different mood and emotional angle. While ATG crafted a hopeless and desolate feeling, Ebony Tears were able to channel the mystical, fantastic angle of Eucharist and In Flames. ATG are still certainly the most dominant comparison in execution - something I will refer to repeatedly as it's the easiest way to explain it, but the differences are not on the surface, and they are what shape this album.

The most outward similarity of the music is to At the Gates' "Slaughter of the Soul", primarily because the vocalist sounds like a slightly less manic Tomas Lindberg and half of the riffing is a very similar style. The riffing that isn't that same style is what gives the music it's unique and enjoyable character. The drumming and riffing arrangement of the upbeat sections resembles that same style too, tick tock drumming and a mix of tremolo riffing and string skipped Gothenburg riffs. There is a lot of hard, driving melodeath that is strong on its own, a good example of typical Gothenburg riffing - pedaling the lower string while skipping strings to pick out a melody as the drums whack away - but the other sections of the music are what really color and frame the music to make it succeed and stand out.

While the comparison to At the Gates is the simplest reference, perhaps one that one wouldn't get past without being a devout follower of melodeath, the feeling of the music is what really makes this stand out. The atmosphere and feeling of this album are similar to Eucharist, a blend of their older realm of a darker death metal sound and the cleaner, mystical atmosphere of their later works. There is a very thrashy component in this melodeath - it's certainly more reckless and aggressive than early In Flames or Dark Tranquillity, it doesn't layer harmonies, but it still carries some of the magical feeling of their classics. The feeling that I try to describe is split in two ways - it's very thrashy and aggressive, but it also has an old school mystical, melodic feel that tends to get lost when melodeath bands play fast and become more aggressive.

A few tracks stand out in how they shape the album. "When Depression Speaks" contrasts very tight, fast, breakneck thrashing to some slower melodic riffing that has a nice groove that cuts the tempo and rocks slower, but it doesn't enter the discoloring territory of chugging grooves that plague modern melodeath and characterize metalcore. The tone and the feeling of the song are rounded out perfectly by somber clean guitar passages - brief, minor pieces that are very similar to the clean guitar parts found on "Slaughter of the Soul", but less cold and more sorrowful.

The interlude "Erised" is an eerie serenade of melodic violins with a sharp, screeching tone. It sounds eerily reminiscent of the music from Dragon Warrior III, perhaps in the eastern village Zipangu, before you fight the mythical, many-headed dragon beast Orochi. The Zipangu shrine music - look it up and get a hold of the NES game, but beware that the GBC re-release was plagued with weird Japanese shit that adversely affected the ancient, mystical atmosphere of the game like Soilwork killed melodeath a few years after this album. Alas, I am speaking of the wrong thing from the 90s that you should enjoy, and there is plenty of buzz about that game, yet little for Ebony Tears. The interlude is perfect though. This type of styling seems to have been sparsely used, and uniquely 90s, where a shrill sound with a thoughtfully composed melody perfectly conjures the feeling that the band wishes to convey. The presence of something like this colors the entire album - where certain parts might be emotionally ambiguous and uncolored, these melodic breaks provide the setting for the album. It's not polished and pummeling as melodeath seemed to evolve into, it is ancient and mystical - antiquated and lost in the gloss and flair of newer productions, less accessible and requiring the conscious will to want to become involved in an experience rather than simply observing it as a passerby.

The final track on the album is my favorite, a perfect mix of the factors that make the rest of the album enjoyable. A sweeping melody distorts in pitch, gradually getting higher, before exploding into one of the more intense examples of the riffing on the rest of the album. Another simple, yet captivating melody fits in perfectly in a section between the aggressive riffing, and they seem to shift flawlessly between the three speeds they like to use. The song is so well composed that one could get lost simply following the vocals and miss some of the subtler aspects of the composition.

"A Handful of Nothing" is an excellent, finely focused album from the golden era of melodic death metal. Ebony Tears distilled the magic of melodeath - the slower parts that shape the mood and atmosphere - and blended them flawlessly with the vicious, aggressive side of the style that powered it too. It clocks in at just over 30 minutes, with no time wasted - a band with a vision who knows exactly how to convey it, how to arrange it, and how to frame it. A great melodic death metal album, and certainly one of the best that went unnoticed.

Ebony Tears - Tortura Insomniae

The first of three albums from this old Swedish melodeath band - a rough cut of melodic death metal and violins.

Ebony Tears are a Swedish melodic death metal band that borrows from the sounds of both Stockholm death metal and Gothenburg melodeath. The guitars borrow the chainsaw Sunlight sound, smoothed out a little bit, and many melodies are reminiscent to In Flames' incorporation of violins on parts of their debut. The vocalist is very similar to Tomas Lindberg of At The Gates, a fairly common style among Swedes at the time, with Lindberg becoming the iconic vocalist. The vocals are one of the strongest points of the album, being consistent and having some groove and catchyness to them, though they are hardly varied. A bit of the heavier punk influence that can be heard on "Slaughter of the Soul" is also present on this album, an aggressive edge to something that has many very pleasant, consonant melodies.

The basic structure of Swedish melodeath is the strength of this album, but the inconsistency is the weakness. Many of the melodies seem removed from the music, with violins coming in as the guitars lay back, and the lead guitar tones being far removed from the crushing rhythm guitar tone. There are some guitar melodies in the riffs, but the guitar work lacks both the heaviness of swedeath like Dismember and the mystical feel of In Flames' harmonies. Perhaps the most notable part of the combination is how the melodies have a folky feel, moreso than even In Flames' debut. The violin parts generally seem quite removed from the song, at times as much as At the Gates last minute addition of a violin player on their debut, though in contrast to ATG's approach of tacking a violin solo onto the end of a song, Ebony Tears prefer to start the song off with one. The arrangements are still rough and odd. The interplay between melody and rhythm, crushing guitars and sweet violins is a bit reminiscent of late 90s gothic metal, with the smoother element at one point being clean vocals rather than violins. Still, the hard-driving Gothenburg feel is dominant, though they're from Stockholm.

The melodies and grooves here are quite enjoyable - while they aren't perfected, it's quite enjoyable if you're a fan of melodic death metal, especially an older, less polished style where there's still the remnants of death metal as well as the punkish edge found in later ATG. The melodies are the strongest point here, with the grooves being good, but nothing that stands out from death metal of the era. Give this a listen if you like melodic death metal, otherwise it's probably not your cup of tea.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sentinelles - L'envol

France offers another Black Metal project, this one an interesting mixture of influences which offer a rather uncommon dichotomy of sounds. Sentinelles' L'envol has certain Orthodox Black Metal flair to it which would make Orlok of Countess proud but combine those very Heavy Metal influenced tendencies with the more modern palette of styles and techniques which appeal to most Black Metal fans. The choice of less aggressive and violent melodies, tempos and performances reminds me of Alcest to an extent though is nowhere near as shoegazey or "hipster" oriented. Across the album Sentinelles is at once conservative and also a bit daring which allows the music to have some really splendid moments such as the Piano flourishes in second track, "Kogda ia Vernous" or the exciting intro to "Immensite et Tristesses," which really sets up the rest of the song nicely. The band lists their influences as such as Negura Bunget, Drudkh, Burzum and Wolves in the Throne room. Those may be indeed be influences of the band however they don't really define the sound of the album. L'envol is not as dramatic, somber or atmospheric as those bands. L'envol is themed around the seasons however the music doesn't seem to portray those themes as well as say, Winterrealm's Ouroborus, which really delineated and created specific individual feelings for each season on the album.

Of the four tracks on L'envol, I thought that third track, "Immensite et Tristesses" was the strongest complete song. I get a Bathory-eqsue epicness with the chanted vocals spread across the song harkening back to masterpieces such as "One Rode to Asa Bay" or "Shores In Flames." Sparse piano pieces - as mentioned before - offer a bit of variety and depth, even if at times they pop out of nowhere in the composition. Refinement of their placement would excel Sentinelles' songs. I think the song that least impressed me was opening track, "Les Larmes de l'Est," which had some slightly jagged lead guitar work, and overbearing, albeit emotional and passionately performed vocals. It's best moments were the acoustic interlude section which would pass for a unreleased Opeth demo from their Orchid or Morningrise days. While the band uses a drum machine for percussion, I was never bothered by it. It's varied and programmed extremely well as to be neither a bust or boon.

L'envol isn't a bad release, it shows a band in formative stages writing and finding their style. I think the possibility of a strong second album is very much there so long as they can perfect their already strong usage of the piano as a defining instrument and continue to hone in on exactly where their strong points lie in composition tendencies. The progressions, melodies and subtle experimentation are already working out well for Sentinelles and so, they've already got a firm foundation in place to really move forward and offer something exceptional.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Dimentianon - Collapse The Void

Clocking in at just over twenty seven minutes, I wouldn't put money on more people considering Dimentianon's Collapse the Void being a Full Length album rather than an EP. I definitely view it as an EP and it's a decent one at that, with the Long Island - a location I loathe due to traffic driving to the airport today - gang that put this together showing off melodic skills, rhythmic acumen and creative will. I think the last aspect is their best attribute however. The inclusion of keys and an entire keyboard driven track shows that Dimentianon is more interested in creating than copying others. The release is out on Paragon records which is not a surprise at all, considering that vocalist M is Paragon owner Mike Zanchelli. I like the artwork on the release as well, featuring a looming shadow over what looks to be a planet being broken in half or something. As I'm familiar with the band, I can say that I've always thought their logo was cool also.

Collapse The Void isn't this or that. It's a nice combination of things, at times done effectively and elsewhere bordering on a mashup. At times the songs flow really well but then, at other points transitions don't seem to fit. One example would be about four minutes into "The Forgotten" with a grandiose section being welded with a faster thrashy section which awkwardly turns back into a slower, moody period. The songs wander around like this at times and even though the parts are cool and interesting, I'm not always sure if they fit together, especially on the two longer tracks, "The Forgotten" and "Return...," which could have been better served as three or -more likely - four tracks with more definition and recognition. Even with this drawback, though, the songs hold their own well. Clean sections are scattered across the release which in sound reminds me of a less black Emperor or a more aggressive and blackened Insomnium maybe. Who knows?

Performances are strong. Mike's vocals are well performed typical death / black snarls and they suit the black / death mixture of Dimentianon seamlessly. He's at his best on Collapse's weirdest track, "Breathe Deep," where he still sounds fresh to the ears and a bit deranged, to match the slightly happ-go-lucky taunting melodicism of the track. I would wager that while "Breathe Deep" doesn't have my favorite sections, it's a perfectly written song from the standpoint of memorability goes. I particularly like the two leads in the track which mimic the frivolous back and forth irking of the track's melodies. Engineer, Mixer, Masterer Pete Rutcho is probably to be blamed for the awesome synth break in the album, "Fragmented Nostalgia." The rhythm section of Maureen Murphy and Peter Christopher is one of the highlights on the release. Both offer interesting depth to the release. Christopher's drumming is varied and paired with the perfect sounding drum production featuring a really punchy kick and really crisp cymbal work, fills the percussive space that's often left in other albums. Murphy plays against the guitars often and follows mostly only on the faster sections. Her bass playing is a big part of what keeps everything interesting and moody.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Paganfire Interview

I recently spoke to Nonoy of Paganfire about the best known thrash band from Philippines and their great new debut full length,Wreaking Fear and Death. Aside from having known Nonoy for at least four or five years through trading he's a genuine and incredibly sincere dude. For whatever reason, it always seems like the coolest people make the coolest music. Paganfire is no exception to that rule. They've been putting out demos and promos and splits since... well... I'll let Nonoy handle all the history. 

CT: Nonoy, Tell me about the formation of Paganfire. How did the band come together in 2003? It's been ten years since the band formed! 

Nonoy: Greetings Jon!!  It is I, Nonoy you are talking to!!! Me and Jay have been playing under the monicker PAGANFIRE around 2001, this was when some revamps were made to our then band AGE OF DISTRUST, Alvaro and Rowell came into the fold in 2002, around 2007 we had problems with Rowell, thus in 2008, we had M.A. come in, as we speak it is the line up of me, Jay and Alvaro plus M.A. at the helm, so far it is a potent line up, and a very productive one at that, obviously it is not only 10 years brother, but what the heck there is no use counting the years, it is more killer to count the beers!!!!! 

CT: You've had a very stable lineup compared to a lot of other bands. Basically the same lineup as on your early releases. I think you had a different guitarist on the United by Thrash and Beer split and that's about it. What has made the band such a strong unit over the years? Are you all good friends outside of the band? 

N: It is our common goal and desire to melt people’s faces with our brand of our thrash metal that made us stronger after all these years,  yes we are good friends outside the band,  that’s why when we work on something and develop ideas the petty arguments don’t go anywhere else but within the walls of the studio, I guess when you are at ease with each other as friends the metal and alcohol just fits like lock and key. Rowell was the same guitarist on the split, it was the demo ’04 included in it. 

CT: Paganfire's first full length is out now titled "Wreaking Fear and Death." Tell me about the album. How did you decide what tracks to put on it? I notice a few older tracks like Lust Possessed, Obscure Syndrome. Are all the tracks older material re-recorded or are there new tracks as well on the album? 

N: The album is 8 tracks, 37 minutes of total thrashing metal hell, thrash done the way it must be, total metal to the bone! Apparently we started writing it around 2008, but to our dismay, many fuck ups happened, including Rowell’s disappearance and the decision to remain as a 3 piece or find another axeman, ,  it is a mix of old and new,  some tracks were developed  a few years later than the rest,  we are proud of  the final result and more honored that true metal maniacs and veteran metalheads totally like it, that in itself is accomplishment in my opinion.

CT: The production on the album is the best I've heard from you guys yet. It really does your material justice which, sadly sometimes on the previous splits suffered from some pretty harsh production standards. Why have you decided to now try and get these tracks sounding as good as they possibly can? Why haven't you put as much effort into the sound on all the other splits, demos and promos you've done? How did recording for "Wreaking Fear and Death" differ from past releases? 

N: I am glad that you liked what you are hearing,  if we map out our evolution this is the next step, to go and make things more killer by going for something we didn’t do before, go for a better production!  We thought it is time to do it,  As for your question that why it took us only now, first reason is the budget, we were lucky enough to have found this studio that has cheap rates, so we rehearsed a lot and planned the next studio outing well, and this album is the result of that (although admittedly we still consider ourselves nitwits inside the studio!),  those past studio sessions just reflects our learning process, each release  differs from the next because we tried various methods, changed studios, changed engineers etc, all part of the past now, we could have wanted to be more killer but we also have to accept many limitations then,  the recording for this album differs  from the rest because we are more organized now and the engineer is better than the others, and we finally have new gear and learned how to use them as well, we have better songs but we have never forgotten to let the metal flow free!!!! Argh!!

CT: How has the reception for the album been so far? What's the best / worst responses you've gotten for the release? 

N: The response is overwhelming, as partly mentioned most TRUE maniacs I have sent copies to really dig it, and say that is a  killer album, and the songs make them bang their heads, etc, the best part is all of them say it is a METAL album, no trendy shit and all, which is total hell for the poseurs!!! The worst so far is the fact that it seems the CD label is deathly silent and the Chilean version of the tape is cancelled because the label boss is unsure of himself, he has no word of honor or PALABRA DE HONOR so he can understand it!! And another thing is that no one wants to do the vinyl!!!! Fffuuuccckkk!!!! 

CT: The album has been released on Afterlife Productions. How did you get in contact with and decide to release "Wreaking Fear and Death" with them? How have they been to work with so far? 

N: I have been in touch with Wan/Afterlife Prods+Deadhead zine for a good number of years already, and even before he heard the album and way before we were writing it, he already agreed to release it, that says a lot about his metal lineage!! They are a killer label to work with, the tape sounds and looks good and the inlay is superb, they did what they promised and all is excellent, and we didn’t wait for an eternity for them to do it and for us to receive our copies,   Afterlife is a killer label and we hope to release more Paganfire stuff through them in the future. 

CT: Will you be doing another full length any time soon or will we have to wait for the passing of another three or four dozen promos, demos and splits until we get another longer album? 

N: As we speak we are at the helms of finishing a pair of new tracks which me may or may not use for a split 7” and another miserable sounding demo,  so I guess there will be a handful more releases again before any album will materialize, the reason for this is simple, it is our way of spreading the plague, through tangible and physical means!! I cannot look myself in the mirror and call myself “underground” when all I have to prove that my material exists is via facebook, youtube and bandcamp, we may utilize those tools in the future, who knows? but we will never 100% rely on it, so all those true underground labels out there, from the tiniest to the most known, beware PAGANFIRE will hunt you and pester you to cooperate with us and release stuff that we deem is necessary!!

CT: You have a ton of other material floating around in form of lots of splits and demos. Let's go through some of the other stuff you've released. 


CT: One of the noticeable things about your release is how much material appears on other releases. For example, your 2004 demo, "Mabangis! Marahas!" also appears on your 2006 split with Evil Attack. How do you decide when to put new material on a release and what old songs to use? Why did you use this particular demo on this particular release?
N: Yes, we have always done that and might continue doing it, that is the fastest and killer way to spread material, “Mabangis!” for example is only released by us on CDR limited to 100, very few right?? Then we have it re-released by Eternal Darkness Creations on tape with live tracks on the other side, that is in the US and to top it off we used it again for the split you mentioned, that is in Sudamerican lands, Bolivia to be exact, and also another CDR re-release in Canada via Skullfuckingmetal distro, all releases are done in micro quantities and in various formats from all over the Earth, the only way to spread the demo like plague!! We used it because it needs to be done!! The demo must be heard by all maniacs from whatever part of the Globe!! The same principle is applied to all the other splits and promos, spread the material via tangible means all throughout the TRUE underground!!

CT: In 2006 you released a VHS tape. How many of these were sold? Why did you decide to release a VHS tape of all things? No one buys VHS tapes anymore! I think the format is awesome though and it reminds me of all the bootleg live videos I have from the early 90's. 

N: Sadly this information is wrong, we released a promo VCD, and if someone re-released it on VHS without our permission that is ok, but it could be better if I see it!! Or if someone forwards me a VHS copy of it!! Arrggghhhh!!!!! 

CT: I loved your split with Germany's Moder (mainly because I loved Moder's Ewiger Tod). How did that split come about? Who contacted who when it came time to put that together? Once again you use a handful of live tracks which you are proud to claim are "Live and Fucking Raw! No Pre/post production exists!" What did you think of Moder tracks on this split? 

N: I like Moder’s death metal too, and yeah Ewiger Tod is their finest hour!!!! I have been in touch with Necronickel for sometime already, as you may notice I seldom deal with strangers or people whom I haven’t established good correspondence with, (unlike the Chilean label that cancelled the release, I just emailed that guy, and look what happened, fuck I lost a master CDR and $6!!!!) we have been toying with the idea of the release around 2008, and it took a very long time to happen!! But I am glad it did, though I am sad that Moder is dead now,argh!! Yes what you hear in there is our rehearsal, no 2nd takes or whatever, just a bunch of mics recording the devastation!! Live and raw tracks is our way to piss off all those “metalheads” who just drool over overproduced bands, hahaha shut up!! The Moder tracks are very different, reminds me of Celtic Frost, they are doomier now, still heavy and good death metal, but I think if they did something like Morbid Visions era Sepultura that will kill!!!

CT: You are very adamant that if someone doesn't like Paganfire, they must die. On your Dudurog! Lilipol! 2006 demo, you wrote "If you hate this demo then you are absolutely a poser and you must die!" on my copy. On your 2010 Promo tape it says "Poseurs Die!!!" right on the cover. What other releases have you sent out with such dire warnings? Any reason for this practice? 

N: All the poseurs must die indeed to declog the scene and for it to have more fresh air and space to move!!! They can die literally or figuratively, I don’t care!! Poseurs must never own our stuff or even listen to it, they won’t be able to handle the material anyway,  we label our releases so people like you will get to know what they are getting themselves into, so if they don’t like it, they can avoid it, otherwise if the warning alone excites them, they are in for a real thrashing metal ride!!! I really haven’t met people from other bands who like people who don’t like theirs, have you??? It just so happened that we are vocal about it, hahaha.  

CT: Your split with Beast Petrify, "Hypnotic Thrashing Beast," you have appearing the first full version of "Metal Thrashing Militants." But it says that the song appeared on the "Thrash Metal Blitzkrieg Vol 1." 7". What is different about the version on this tape versus the one on the 7"? 

N: The 7” version is missing a whole minute of music, as per label DEATHSTRIKE RECORDS, they have to do it to make it fit, at first I thought was a shitty decision of theirs and I really felt that the track before ours should be the one cut off, but as the years went on, I think it was OK after all, as that made an instant 7” version of “Militants”. This is our very first vinyl release and I think it served its purpose well, as for this Chilean released pro tape split with Beast Petrify, this is another slab of metal with fellow maniacal metal brothers!!!! 

CT: You've released one 7" EP along with all your demos and splits. This was in 2008 and called "Hate Vanishing Point." Can you reveal a little about how this release came about? This was released via Iron Bonehead Productions. How were they to work with on this release? 

N: I was  always asking people around if they want to do something, and the label boss Patrick just agreed to do it, he is also a complete metal maniac, the label is killer as well, as things went ahead as promised and we received our copies soon after the release, the slight letdown was we had  to wait a bit for  it to happen, the working experience with them is killer as obviously Ironbonehead is one of the few labels out there that is totally into the metal and not into the Euros!!!! 

CT: Any other releases worth mentioning? What is your favorite release you've done so far other than "Wreaking Fear and Death?" What release would you tell metalheads they should check out to get the full Paganfire experience?
N: VEHEMENCE ENSUE pro tape by North Cabin Enterprise, TASTELESS REVENGE pro tape by Hard Music Production, INVOKE FALSE METAL’S DEATH LP by Monster Nation (which combines the first two I mentioned, and is still available) TASTELESS REVENGE + bonus CD by Old Cemetery Records (still avialble too), these I  think are better releases to begin with when one is new to the PAGANFIRE discography, then afterwards proceed to WREAKING FEAR AND DEATH and regress to the old demos “MABANGIS!” and “DUDUROG!” now that will be a complete and full PAGANFIRE experience!!!

CT: Paganfire is probably one of the most notable Philippino bands other than Deiphago, Kratornas and maybe Korihor? How are you viewed amongst other bands, metalheads in the Philippines? Do other metalheads view Paganfire with a certain celebrity status being that you've been active for about ten years and have a ton of material out? Do your shows draw a significantly larger crowd than other thrash bands in the country? 

N: We have managed to get known outside the country due to our hardwork and dedication, the Underground is not a place for lazy bastards! I am not concerned at all as to how other metalheads view us, it is ok with me if they put us in high regard or treat us like shit, I do not care, as long as they don’t  meddle with our activities that will be ok, but I am aware that some people do give us their outmost respect and with that I am honored,  I am not aware of how many people do other shows gather, because I do not go to there and check it out, some people told me that there a handful more people at our shows, I do not care really, if it’s 100 or ten we are playing to, we will thrash them all the way just the same!!! And on another note, there are no other TRUE thrashing metal bands in this country, if you hear them you will agree that they are trendy motherfuckers and that their brand of thrash is just too clean and mainstream compared to PAGANFIRE.
CT: How is metal viewed upon by those not involved with it in Philippines? The mainstream media circles and your everyday citizens of the country? 

N: Most people even the mainstream media are completely oblivious to METAL, they think that guys with long hair, wear black and listen to loud music are worshippers of satan and regularly take drugs..i guess that is about it, but beyond that no drastic actions are done by authorities like raiding your houses, or (perhaps?) intercepting your mail, your email, or police harassing you for looking different, or maybe I am just relaxed to be not paranoid??? I know my parents ,relatives and some supposed true metalheads think of the whole culture as nothing but a phase in life that you will outgrow sometime, hah but they are wrong, METAL IS LIFE! NO METAL NO LIFE!!!! 

CT: What would you describe as some of the most memorable live experiences you've had so far? Have you had any opportunity to get out of the Philippines and play abroad or is too expensive and difficult to leave the country to play in other countries? 

N: There are many, there was once an instance in 2001 when a group of kids started having seizure like behavior when we started to play Sodomy and Lust, and some gigs in 2002-03 when my strings would break, or this 2008 gig that I had to change guitars in the middle of a song and the crowd thought it was planned and they all applauded, they didn’t know it was and emergency and I just acted calmly hahaha, we have no roadies over here Jon, Many gigs from 2011 to present are memorable, with lots of good friendly violent fun!! Gigs supporting foreign acts etc, all gigs are good memories!! The gig we did 500kms outside Manila last 2011 is also awesome!! Our first time to do so, nope no chances yet to play outside the country, no good offers yet, and you are correct it is way too expensive to do it, the money we will spend will finance 2-3 albums provided we go for the same production of Wreaking, and if the studio won’t jack up rates anytime soon! 

CT: There was a lot of information in Noise Gate #3 which featured a handful of reviews and an interview in Noise Gate #2 which I haven't had the chance to read. Tell me about the support you've gotten from specific individuals across the underground? What labels and individuals have been the band's biggest supporters? 

N: That is from Boris of Macedonia, sadly I do not have anymore contacts with that guy, I hope he is killing poseurs well!! If I drop all their names I will definitely miss out somebody, I consider all people, zines, labels, traders, bands, maniacs and everyone else whom I am, was and will be in touch with as supporters of the band, even those people I do not know but buy our stuff they are all worthy of my thanks!!! Cheers to all of them !!! Keep on supporting the TRUE underground, fuck the rest!!! 

CT: What bands would you call major influences? Obviously you've done some covers across your releases including Slayer, Sodom, Celtic Frost and Dark Angel. 

N: You forgot our mistake riddled No Remorse cover from Metallica,  all these bands are considered major influences in the PAGANFIRE camp, as for me I also look up to INFERNAL MAJESTY, DEMOLITION HAMMER, RIGOR MORTIS, HOLY TERROR and ORDER FROM CHAOS as influences, these bands have written songs and delivered ideas that not too many can handle, Call them whatever you want but in my selfish opinion they are the best in what they do and should be listened upon by all the cocks who call themselves metal.  

CT: What other bands from the Philippines would you recommend checking out for those looking for new and excellent music from the metal underground?

N: check out bands like SACROSANCT, CORRUPT INSANITY, INCARION, CHAMBER 69 (R.I.P.), INTERMENT (R.I.P.?), MORLOCH (R.I.P.?) If you have the chance you won’t regret it!! Then proceed with other hardworking acts like TENEBRION, ANCIENT WARLORD, PATHOGEN, MASS HYPNOSIA etc, there are bands rich in talent around here but are all dumbfucks that do not know anything about the TRUE underground. I hope they all bump their heads one day and realize what they are missing after all this years.  If anyone is genuinely interested with these bands I mentioned just drop me a line and let’s do something!!! 

CT: Are you familiar with any bands from New Jersey, USA? Surely you've heard of some of the bigger names from the state and it's thrash history. What are some of the bands from New Jersey or the local area here (New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland) that you're familiar with and listen to? 

N: are ANTHRAX and OVERKILL from there?? Those are the only bands I think from your state that I know of, not sure with the smaller ones or I might have listened to them but not all aware that they are from your area, argh!! Cannibal Corpse, Immolation, and Baphomet are all from there right???Agnostic Front??? Queensryche??Malicious Onslaught?? 

CT: There are a lot of people that refuse to trade with individuals in the Philippines for fear of being ripped off. The country has a notorious history of being a haven for scammers. Does this limit your exposure outside the country? What would you say to those who refuse to deal with individuals from the country for fear of being ripped off in trades?

N: I cannot blame them, it is of course such a fucking drag when you get ripped off! Well sad but true, Davao city has turned into the rip-off capital of the world, so BOYCOTT THE DAVAO RIP OFF SCENE, do not even contact people from there, those addresses in Davao city and post code of 8000 and above should be completely ignored!! I cannot say completely if the rip-off vacuum has affected Paganfire, but as of now there are no deals turned down because I was mistaken for a dumb ass rip-off from Davao, People should BOYCOTT them!!! Do not even keep in touch with them so they will be cut off from the scene and will slowly die!! Be vigilant!! Expose those subhumans for what they are, total worthless scum!!! 

CT: What are you favorite beers to drink from the Philippines? Are there any beers worth mentioning to try and seek out?  

N: San Miguel pale pilsen and San Miguel all malt are the best beers coming from our shores, if you get to see it at your import store, try it, you won’t be disappointed, other people recommend Red Horse beer, but I don’t, that is junkie beer!!  But foreigners like it , so if you can try it too, the best is the local gin, GINEBRA SAN MIGUEL, fucking 70 proof and is used to lit firewood in some far flung places, no Filipino will deny the power of the gin!!! Hail Ginebra!!! 

CT: What do you do for a living outside of Paganfire? I assume that you can't survive on Paganfire alone. How do those around you that you work with view Heavy Metal? Have you converted anyone into metalheads that weren't fans of the genre before hand? 

N: I do office work at a medical facility, my being a metal maniac is never an issue in the workplace, they are all intelligent enough to consider that it is my passion and a part of my life, and not just some adolescent phase, I have tried in vain many times to convert some non-metal people I know, but to no avail, they just listen to the bands I recommend them and that’s it, I guess that’s what is it to them anyway, entertainment, so there is no need to waste my time on them, I just let them be, live and let live. 

CT: How can people contact you and get your releases here in the USA and in Europe? 

N: Interested maniacs can contact me: NONOY PADREJUAN #60 NARIG ST., VETERANS VILLAGE, PROJECT 7, 1105, QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES,for trades, cooperation, other questions etc, move your lazy asses and write now!!!! 

CT: Thanks for the Interview! You have the last words! 

N: no Jon thanks goes out to you!! I wish I have given your interview the justice it deserves!! And I also hope that this intie will go to print on your upcoming issue!!  Next thing we should talk about is a possible PAGANFIRE release on your label, what do you think??? Maniacs get a copy of WREAKING FEAR AND DEATH now!!! True thrashing metal done by true thrashing metal maniacs!!!! People in the US should get it from MANDARANGAN RECORDS from Chicago!!! Pardon the shameless plug! Argh!!!!