Friday, November 24, 2017

Progenie Terrestre Pura - oltreLuna

Progenie Terrestre Pura’s (aka qTp) second full-length oltreLuna is the band’s best release to date and is undoubtedly an essential album for anyone with an interest in the fusion of metal with electronic music. In addition to electronica and ambient music the band’s sound is also heavily influenced by industrial black metal, where a number of sub-styles have emerged over the years. It has ranged from mechanically pulverizing bands like Mysticum to lighter dancier bands along the lines of Samael. oltreLuna falls firmly in the latter category, to the point where the release can be described as what Samael’s Passage would sound like if it was released today instead of 1996. Yes, you are reading that right. This album is at least as good as Passage.

Despite the band’s really cool space aesthetic, the electronic influences give off more of a techy general science-fiction vibe. It’s probably better to say that you shouldn’t go into the album expecting something cosmically oppressive like Darkspace or trippy like Oranssi Pazuzu. While the band’s dry black metal croaks are similar to Vorph of Samael and some of the tribal drumming and crunchy guitar trills wouldn’t sound out of place on the Samael’s song “Jupiterian Vibe,” Progenie Terrestre Pura’s approach is entirely of their own creation. Each of the songs has an excellent sense of pacing, balancing soft electronic or the airy synth parts that transition to catchy/interesting riffs and mesmerising drumming before cresting into all out black metal tremolo picking and blast beats.

It’s easy to overstate the electronic elements on this album and give the misimpression that it isn’t a predominantly metal release or that every moment has some kind of step sequencer. But the electronic feel, while often subtle in the mix, is really enhanced by the album’s ultra digital production. So, even moments that structurally seem atmospheric come across as more electronic influenced. The ultra-sterile production style makes every last element of the mix perfected, digitized, and probably accounted for in some kind of a ledger or spreadsheet. While on the balance you weigh something like the outro on [.oltreLuna.] that has a dubstep kind of wobbly bass section, against a bunch of more straightforward metal riffs, it still comes across as more experimental than what you would think by just looking at the sheet music. Fortunately the music’s hard edge is never sacrificed, and it ends up feeling like something you would hear in the 2016 version of Doom (the game) minus the lethal adrenaline overdose.

Many aspects of the album that I consider as downsides essentially boil down to the release being a smidge softer, less abrasive, and more produced/clean than I prefer. For those that don’t take issue with that, parts of the album like the delicate outro on [.Proxima-B.] or the mournful viola on [.Pianeta.Zero.] will be rewarding in their relaxed atmosphere and crystal clear sound. Even the parts of the release that take cues from dance music have enough variation and rhythmic complexity to keep things interesting. [.Deus.Est.Machina.] however is an exception to the album’s extremely high quality because it stacks up as “only” a fine song in comparison. It lacks the energetic and memorable elements that make the rest of the album so great. Despite the album’s 55 minute run time being divided across just five songs, this slump comes across as minor because it is followed by the 15 minute monster closing track [.Proxima-B.]

One deeper flaw however shows up when the eponymous song [.oltreLuna.] starts off by abusing the living hell out of this world music sample that uses overtone vocals. It repeats for nearly two minutes straight pulling the listener out of the band’s atmosphere into a 90’s alt-rock hellhole swirling with ankh tattoos, Charmed the tv show, baristas saying namaste, and Enigma’s “The return to innocence.” Overly dramatic? Maybe, but think about how you feel when an album you otherwise love has a part that outright pisses you off. Fortunately putting the intro aside, the song is absolutely superb and the only other hint of this problem is during the brief female vocal section on [.subLuce.], which actually works quite well as a pivot point to transition between melodies.

The synthetically crisp production and brilliantly executed aggression swells from electronica to blastly black metal and back on this release are a one of a kind experience and the punchy rhythmic riffs are absolutely top notch. Despite digging into a bunch of sub-genre minutia in describing this release, oltreLuna is the kind of album I’d suggest to anyone who likes metal at all. However, if you like industrial or electronica influenced metal, this is a necessary album.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Cyclopean Eye Productions Interview

My first interview for CT include an in-depth chat with Mr. Sandesh Shenoy - the boss hog behind India's very own Cyclopean Eye Productions.

Interview conducted in October 2017 by Mongrel.

M: Fucking hails, Sandesh! How's things going in Bangalore? In addition, could you give us some details about your activities and also a little background on how it all commenced?

S: Greetings my friend! Things are usual in Bangalore. With every passing moment, things are getting shittier by the day - weather, traffic, crowds, pollution, rotten scumbags. The place has turned into to a dump-yard from a pristine paradise originally know as the Garden city and Pensioner's paradise of India. I live in this shit-hole only because I have my folks and good friends staying here. Enough of about the city, and more about the music - It's been 7 long years since I first began Cyclopean Eye Productions in 2010 as a distribution service and things are still going strong. I have a ton of upcoming releases and a couple of gigs that I am working on.

About the label's humble beginnings, I started the label officially at a difficult time when most Indian labels were either dead or dying (99.9% of them were distributing and releasing crap mostly). I was already very familiar with the metal underground world-wide as a metal fanatic and despite stopping my previous effort of running a distro (Soul Erosion) after getting ripped of by a big label from Italy (Avantgarde), the urge to do something afresh was always on my mind. So I decided to restart my efforts under the Cyclopean Eye Productions moniker first as a distro and use all my contacts in the underground to source some of the best extreme metal music for metalheads in India. In 2012, things went a step further when I first signed Genocide Shrines, a Sri Lankan Death Metal band that now has received recognition world-wide and probably is the biggest Asian underground Metal band along with Sabbat, Abigail,Impiety, Sigh and Wormrot despite being a lot younger than these Asian legends.

Things progressed from there and I signed many more acts like Dying Embrace (India), Dusk (Pakistan), Serpents Athirst (Sri Lanka), Konflict (Sri Lanka), Reek of the Unzen Gas Fumes (Japan), Formless Devotion (South Africa), Blood Division (Singapore), Beelzebud (Singapore), Jyotisavedanga (Indo-Russia), and finally Bell (USA) a Power Electronics / Ambient act that was recently released on tape and will will be getting the CD and Vinyl treatment shortly. I will release two more killer acts - In Obscurity Revealed (Mexico) and Abominablood (Argentina) before the end of this year.

M: How and when did you first get into the wonderful and glorious music called METAL and what kind of meaning does it hold for you?

S: All credit goes to my elder metal-head cousins who introduced me to this music when I was 13 and was still listening to 80's pop like Michael Jackson and Madonna. They introduced me to Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, AC/DC and Napalm Death among others bands. As for what Metal means to me, it is a way of life for me now and I proudly wear it on my sleeve.

M: When referring to a particular scene as "obscure" - I don't think India fits the description any better.  Could you highlight some worthy bands from India as well as give mention to any decent acts from around your neighboring countries?

S: Well, I guess India is "obscure" for people who stay in the Western world, and by that definition the metal scene in your home country - South Africa is pretty "obscure" to us Indians too haha. Among the Indian bands, I would highly recommend Dying Embrace (Death/Doom), Kryptos (Heavy Metal), Tetragrammacide (Raw/Bestial Black Metal), Jyotisavedanga (Noise/ambient influenced Black Metal), Dhwesha (Ethnic Death Metal), Necrodiety (Bestial Black Metal), and Shepherd (Sludge).

From neighboring countries, I would recommend Orator (Death / Thrash), Morbidity (Death Metal), Warhound (Death Metal) from Bangladesh, Funeral in Heaven (Ethnic Black Metal), Genocide Shrines (Bestial Death Metal), Manifestator (Black / Thrash), Dhisthi (Depressive Black Metal), Serpents Athirst (Bestial Black Metal), Konflict (Noise / Black / Grind), Plecto Aliquem Capite (Depressive Black Metal) from Sri Lanka, Ugra Karma (Death Metal) from Nepal, Dusk (Death / Doom) from Pakistan.

M: Your label, Cyclopean Eye Productions, has pretty high standards regarding the bands you sign and work with. Please elaborate on the criteria and what would be the essential factors leading to a collaboration.

S: Thanks for mentioning that! The bands that I choose pretty much reflect my taste in music and ideology. I enjoy bands that innovate and yet stay within the old school metal category.But lately, I have also been signing metal/grind acts with harsh industrial/drone/noise influences (Konflict, Beelzebud, ROTUGF and Jyotisavedanga for example) and have also moved into the pure power-electronics direction with Sathara Ashtika and Bell. On the ideological front, the label welcomes talented bands with serious anti-religious, satanic and nihilist themes. I have a very strong distaste for all organized religions and faiths including Hinduism and Buddhism. So religious bigots / bands / vegans / antifa can fuck off!

M: Tell us about the event you organize in India called Trendslaughter Fest. What's the idea behind it? How did it actually manifest to the point of its success, and which bands have made the bill?

Dying Embrace live at TSF IV
S: Trendslaughter Fest was started to combat a completely limp and dead extreme metal scene in India. Back before we started the fest, the only bands that got live gigs were horrible numetal, funk and shit pop rock bands with one or two exceptions. After my 1st trip to Thailand for the God Beheading Fest in 2010 (where I witnessed Inquisition, one of my all time favorite Black Metal bands headline with some great Aussie and South East Asian acts), I decided that I wanted to re-create a similar scene in Bangalore/India. With my partners in crime, Vikram and Pritham (Dying Embrace) and a close metal-head friend Kiran, we brought Orator from Bangladesh (who I met in Thailand mid 2010) to headline the very 1st Trendslaughter Fest in 2011. We got also got Dying Embrace (Oldest Death/Doom/Extreme Metal band in India), Bevar Sea (Stoner Doom), Gorified (Grind) and Culiminant (Thrash) to play at this gig.

Demilich live at TSF V
We were quite shocked that 178 crazy metal heads landed up at the this first gig and egged us to do more fests like this one. Needless to say, we complied and got other bands like Cauchemar (Canada), Abigail (Japan), Dhwesha (Ethnic Death Metal), Djinn and Miskatonic (Doom), Blood Division (Singapore), Shepherd (Sludge / Doom), Witchgoat (Black / Thrash), Impiety (Singapore), Necrodeity (Black / Death), Ugra Karma (Nepal), Serpents Athirst (Sri Lanka), Demilich (Finland), Anatomia (Japan), Balberith (Singapore), and Hellucinate (Indonesia) to play on our later line ups. We've also brought Genocide Shrines (Sri Lanka), Manifestator (Sri Lanka), Defiled (Japan) and some other bands but under the mantle of other gigs like Doom over Bangalore and Echoes from Beneath.

M: Are there any current bands that makes your skin crawl and whom you would like to see play Trendslaughter? Do you think the festival has reached its full potential yet or is there still much to triumph over? Also, tell us about the attendance.

S: Yes, there are plenty of bands that I would love to bring down if I had the money, but the ones of the top of my list realistically speaking are Inquisition, Archgoat, Sigh, Sabbat, Coffins, Reek of the Unzen Gas Fumes, Konflict, Jyotisavedanga, Banish among others.

M: Are there any other metal festivals in India worth a mention? What makes Trendslaughter different?

S: Well to be honest, the only other fest worthy of mentioning is Bangalore Open Air that brings a lot of the bigger bands to the country (This year they brought down Coroner and Nile). As for the difference, Trendslaughter Fest is a much smaller indoor fest and is purely dedicated to the underground extreme metal scene while Bangalore Open Air mainly gets arena bands.

M: Are there any other specific affiliations you'd like to make, special projects you have at heart that are important to you? Have you ever given much thought to the idea of doing a fanzine? And if you ever did one, which bands would you feature?

S: Well besides doing another Trendslaughter Fest, I would definitely like to organize an all Asian Metal festival someday. The Fest would feature bands from South Asia, South East Asia and the Far East. But it still remains a dream! As for a fanzine, I actually made one called Trendslaughter zine that never got released. It featured Abigail, Impiety, Funeral in Heaven, Kryptos, Nektarium, among others! If I ever make another one I would definitely feature Deathkey, Satanic Warmaster, Archgoat, Deathworship, Burzum, Necros Christos, Revorum Ib Malacht, Inquisition, Nocturnus, Acheron, Deceased, Macabre and many more bands.

M: I understand you also have a deep love for classic horror, especially of the body horror variety. What are some of your favorites? Beside the classics, are there any horror films of recent years that have excited you?

S: I pretty much grew up on horror as a kid as my dad was a massive horror movie buff. He'd get at least 3-4 horror movies along with some action movies and we'd watch movies nonstop on the weekends. I adore horror in all its glorious forms - psychological, occult, body/gore, sleazy and cheesy. I do have a thing for body horror though and some of my favorite ones are - The Fly, Altered States, An American Werewolf in London (Werewolf movies are body horror too in my opinion), The Thing, Society, Hellraiser and From Beyond. Among the more modern ones I quite dig Uzumaki, The Void and especially Tokyo Gore Police for it's sheer ridiculousness!

M: What are your thoughts on bootlegs? Some seem totally against the concept while some see their validity. But what about obscure and hard to find demos from the 80's/90's that never saw a reissue?

S: When you are a label and release original stuff, it's pretty obvious that bootlegging is something that you cannot condone. On the other hand, many fans support bootlegs because music is sometimes real hard to obtain. It gets even tougher when it comes to merchandise, when you can find many killer bootleg patches and tee shirts (sometimes of better quality than original merchandise released). It's a really thin line. I completely avoid buying bootleg CDs and Tee shirts, but when it comes to patches it can be very difficult to get original merchandise.

M: What are some of the best bands you've seen live and which bands would you like to see still?

S: Just naming some of the best acts I've seen so far - Judas Priest (The Apex and Epitome of all gigs I have seen), Iron Maiden, Slayer, Morbid Angel, Samael, Inquisition, Archgoat, Anatomia, Necrophobic, Root,  Revenge, Genocide Shrines, Orator, Ugra Karma among others. Bands I would love to check out in the future - Black Sabbath / Ozzy Osbourne, WASP, King Diamond, Alice Cooper, Sigh (I believe they are batshit insane), Graveland, Absurd, Nokturnal Mortum, Kroda, Temnozor, Intolitarian, Deathkey, Genocide Organ, Mz412, Trepaningsritualen, Bizzare Uproar, Death in June, Boyd Rice, Blood Axis are just some of the few artists I can think of right now.

M: In your opinion, what makes Asian scenes and bands different compared to the rest of the world?

S: Well strictly talking about the South Asian scene, it's probably the political chaos, hunger, anger, poverty, corruption, war and daily strife that fuels the hatred of extreme metal here. On the other hand, we also have a huge influence of Indian classical music, pagan religion, mythology and mysticism that also lends a special flavor to the music. Added to that we also have an influence of culture and literature of at least a hundreds different languages.

M: Give me your opinion on the following bands:

S: W.A.S.P - Pretty much my favorite all time Heavy Metal band along with Judas Priest! I worship at the altar of WASP, in fact some day I want to release an underground compilation with extreme metal bands covering WASP. Too bad Blackie has turned Christian today and spouses religious bullshit (I think it's the fear of nearing Death that does that to most of these older guys), but I'd still go watch them live!

Metallica - Never been a fanboy like other Indians/South Asian fans. It's blasphemy to many, but Megadeth appeal to me a LOT more.

Dissection - One of my all time favorite Extreme Metal bands, the amount of respect I have for this band is incredible! They are the very epitome of Occult Metal! It was my greatest moment to meet Set Teitan a couple of years ago and talk about Jon and Dissection over a few drinks!

Type O Negative - Peter Steele's acerbic wit and black humor is what makes Type O Negative such a special band, not to mention Peter's haunting vocals and the great music. This is another band that I have great respect and adore.

Master's Hammer - I prefer the Finished and The Mass demos to the later material!  I still remember my friend Pavel from View Beyond Records (CZ) sending me CDRs of all their demos back in early 2000. Really ugly stuff!

M: I know you're more of a black / death guy, so I'd like you to give me a list of some of your top black and death metal albums (in no particular order).

S: These are the albums that come to the top of my head at the moment -

Morbid Angel - First 4 albums
Deicide - First 3 albums
Dissection - All albums
Nocturnus - All albums
Acheron - Rites of the Black Mass, For those who have Risen, Anti-God / Anti Christ
Hypocrisy- First 6 albums
Burzum - Det Som Engang Var / Filosfem
Nokturnal Mortum - All albums
Hate Forest - Blood and Fire, Purity
Drudkh - Forgotten Legends, Autumn Aurora, Swan Road, Blood in our wells
Hateforest - Ritual
Temnozor - All albums
Old Forest - Old Forest, Tales of Sussex Weald
Winds of Black Mountain - Sing Thou Unholy Servants

M: Tell us about your upcoming releases.

S: Before the end of 2017

Bell (USA)- Secrets from a Distant Star (CD / Vinyl)
Konflict / Reek of the Unzen Gas Fumes split Vinyl
In Obscurity revealed (Mexico) - Path of the Seeker CD
Abominablood (Argentina) - Abomination Continues CD


Aempyerean (India)- Fire Born CD
Nocturnal Kudeta (Indonesia) - Orphic Soul
Chaos Cascade / Tetragrammacide / Konfict / Jyotisavedanga / Phosphor Blanc CD,
Heresiarch / Genocide Shrines / Serpents Athirst / Trepanation split CD,
Konflict - Third World Control (full length tape)

M: Last but least, how can folks get in touch if they have any inquiries? Thanks for taking the time to answer this interview. If there's anyone whom you'd like to greet, credit, or curse, the last lines are yours.

S: Folks can email me at or message me through my Cyclopean Eye Facebook page.

Thanks a lot for having me on your webzine James and I wish you all the best! As for the people at large, Cyclopean Eye has put out many killer releases in the past and is coming up with many more interesting bands in the near, so you might want to head to the official Soundcloud or Bandcamp page to check them out!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Place Of Skulls - Nailed

Victor Griffin's work in Pentagram, along with iconic albums from Sabbath, Trouble, etc has become universally recognized as the iconic style of Traditional Doom, but fewer have ventured into his non-Pentagram repertoire. 2004's Late For An Early Grave was my first investigation into his other work. That led me to Place of Skulls. Nailed is the first output from this solo project. In my estimation, it's easy to understand that the known Christian, Griffin, would want a secondary outlet from Pentagram. Where Place Of Skulls truly differs from Pentagram is the hard-rock oriented pacing and riffing. The somberness and dour attitude is still present in almost all the songs and with Griffin also providing the vocals on the album, there's a sincerity and concern that accompanies the material. Ultimately, though, there is less of the chugging and attack one would find on throughout the Pentagram catalog. The album's insular lineup is rounded out with short lived Pentagram drummer Tim Tomaselli and Death Row's own Lee Abney.  

There's a host of new material here all of which is worthy but there are also remnants of older tracks that are recognizable. "Feeling of Dread," appearing on the aforementioned 2004 release, sounds great with the updated production that captures the thick signature guitar tone of Griffin. My favorite of the material, "Never Die" is a re-recording of "Pistonhead." It's a song which I can never play loud enough, and never sing forcefully enough. For me, it tops the greater majority of Pentagram material and is offered in pristine form. These two songs make up the totality of older material but what is evident is that Griffin's style has never shifted away from these earlier songs. Original tracks are similar in sound and composition and the flow throughout the record is very easy to follow.

As far as new songs here, "Dead" follows as my favorite of these. Truly distressing and solemn, Griffin presents the suicide-tinted verbiage expertly. As the lyrical content shifts towards a feeling of thankfulness for the end of life, the musical side of things becomes noticeably upbeat as well. Opening track "The Fall" is a solid opener and comes in close second for my pick from the album's own songs. "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" is a cover of The Animals. ",,," is the closest the album gets to Pentagram's heaviness musically and Griffin even sounds like Liebling slightly here. It's the shortest track on the nine-song Nailed. These tracks lack something subtle. While all powerful examples of Doom's marriage and reliance on Hard Rock for inspiration, I'm not entirely sure they capture the same soul which is found in "Never Die." "The Fall" and "Dead" do come close, though, to supplanting the verdict of the newer tracks don't live up to the older tracks.

Nailed is an album which can stand on it's own outside the context of Griffin's past. With sturdy doom and hard rock moments, this album would most likely appeal to those already familiar with Griffin and Pentagram, but coming across the album on it's own without being familiar with the better known groups isn't a bad thing as well. Nailed gives insight into Griffin as himself, outside the larger influence of Pentagram's status as Doom magnates. Place of Skulls, then, is really a much more personal look into Griffin and his natural riffing attack and songwriting habits, without the curtain of Pentagram hanging over everything. This makes it also an important album for Pentagram and Doom Metal fans in general that are trying to get better understanding into what makes Pentagram tick and Doom Metal tock.