Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spotlight: Scream Machine

SCREAM MACHINE


















MEMBERS

G. Mann (SinDelle Morte); B. Hopson -  All instruments, effects, vocals

THE INTERVIEW (SinDelle Morte - Vocals, programming)

1. This year, you've decided to release a full length compilation of some of your best material for free to the masses; entitled "We Are Revolution." How has that album been received and have you gotten more fans because of it? What went into the process of deciding what material to release?

Thanks for the opportunity, man. Definitely happy to talk with you. With "We Are Revolution" we wanted to put out all our best anti-establishment type of stuff. It's no secret that I am definitely against the type of all-encompassing government we are finding ourselves forced to accept more and more, or that I generally reject the mainstream. So the goal was really to try and encapsulate all of the anger and protest from earlier tracks and later ones into one album. In less than 15 tracks, preferably. Hahahaha. I think we have gotten some new listeners out of it, most definitely.

2. When you compose music for this project, how do you do it? Explain the process. What programs do you use? Do you program all the music yourself? What do you use to record vocals?

Often I will get a phrase or subject in my mind and it will get stuck there. Like with Toxic Agenda. I had really only the idea for the beginning piece in there, the sort of distorted radio announcement thing. The rest fell into place very naturally. That's when you know it's good.

Other times, a synth line or drum beat will inspire an entire song and very rarely, a vocal melody will come first. Usually lyrics are last. ACID Pro is what's used to create the tracks and mix them. Also many different synths and drum machines, including Virus, Vanguard, ImageLine products, Korg and others. I use a Samsung mic.

3. What bands would you cite as influences to the project? What made you first decide that you wanted to make this kind of hard-edged electronic music?

My influences are mostly metal and rock, honestly. In more electronic music I would probably cite Bile, Rob Zombie, Genitorturers, Eisbrecher, maybe even Manson. To me, that is industrial. And I'm naturally an intense, harder person. I like big drums. I like scary, evil basslines. So it followed naturally that when I started making electronic music, it was harder-edged. Like me.

4. Most of the lyrics (if not all) are based on rising up against the oppressors, who seem to be our government (Big Brother.) Why do you think it is important that people rise up against their government?

This is such a big question. The short answer would be that if you don't value your freedom, you will lose it.
The longer-but-still-short answer would be that we have been given unique freedoms in the world. We have to protect them, not just for us but for our children and so that all the oppressed people in the world have a place to run to. If people allow the government to oppress them, they have to suffer whatever is given to them to suffer. History has shown us what that can be. Why take the chance? And also because I don't need the government to make my decisions for me.

5. You've studied much on the government and secret societies I'm sure. What do people need to know about the men behind the curtain? What are some things that might scare the average American citizen who isn't awake? 

This is another big question. I think if people really looked into the legislation being passed - and I mean really LOOK, not rely on other people's interpretation of it - they would be horrified by what they'd find. Unlawful detainment, circumventing our protections and our rights, poisons in the water and the air... Just to name a few.

People also need to understand that the two party system in America is a scam. It is engineered to create the illusion of a choice when in reality, you are voting for the same person, the same establishment no matter who you choose. The figurehead is just that: a figurehead. A mouthpiece for the propaganda of the establishment. A slick vehicle by which to sell it to the American public. It doesn't matter who it is.

I could go on and on, I could mention Mr. Soros and many other things but I think if people look into even one of these things with an open mind, they will be led to the other things on their own. The most dangerous thing I think is that too many people believe that "our government would not do something like that" or that if they did, it would be front page news. I think any real examination of our government and media's history proves how naive that line of thinking is.

6. Let's talk about brainwash. How are people being brainwashed in today's society? What kind of images and ideas are being unfairly put into people's heads?

Well, the TV is of course the big brainwasher. There are little messages embedded into every single thing you watch if you look for them. Even on little kids' programming. For instance, on Spongebob, corporations are repeatedly made out to be evil, greedy, etc. and Mr. Krabs is repeatedly shown as money-grubbing, greedy, unfair and cruel. (I always thought that was funny; isn't he a small business owner?) The family structure is attacked; parents are portrayed as stupid, bumbling or unavailable/uncaring.

Talk shows showcase the decay of the family and relationship every day, all day long. Advertisements create the idea that you are lacking somehow if you don't have what everybody else has... Axl Rose said in "Don't Damn Me" that "the trash collected by the eyes is dumped into the brain" and it's really true. We are bombarded on all sides by messages that say YOU ARE! YOU SHOULD! YOU HAVE! YOU MUST! Everybody succumbs sometimes. The trick is realizing the game. They can't win if you don't play.

We are told we are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough... never enough on our own but I think the most damaging message being given - besides "you can't succeed on your own merits or through your own efforts" - is "YOU'RE SICK." Got a dry mouth? Take a pill. Got dry eyes? Take a pill. Twitchy legs? Pill. Itchy scalp? Pill. Think you MIGHT get dry eyes someday? Pill. Pill. Pill. Pill. Pill. There is a fucking pill for everything. People absolutely have got to stop taking all of these medications. 


7. In the beginning, the vocals seemed to be a little lighter compared to the Otep-style screams and scowls of your latter work. How did the evolution from electronic act to harsh electronic act occur?

Every song calls for something different but I think that over time the majority of the subject matter has changed and so the vocals changed with it. Not totally, of course but mostly. And I have experimented with different stuff too, along the way.

8. Though you don't believe that music should be made for money, you've been selling many albums on bandcamp for a while now at a reasonable price. How has it been working with bandcamp? I've also seen you on Rockbox with plenty of "Rockbox Exclusive" material to offer. Has this helped you to get the music out?

We really decided this year that the illegal download thing has to be addressed. The truth is that people who want to pay for music will pay for music and people who don't want to pay for music will not pay for music. Period. The only way to stop people from stealing it is to never put it out at all. It's not just torrents; there are a million programs designed to record, rip or otherwise collect music from websites, players and anywhere else on the Internet. The best way to do it is to make it so that people who want to pay can do so. That's what we've done.

Rockbox has been a great tool for promotion. There are many who would not like that I'm saying that but the truth is that thousands of downloads don't lie. We have gotten many fans from there, who have gone on to buy music. So you just never can tell.

Someone once told me that by doing that, it lends torrent sites "legitimacy they don't need." Well, torrent sites DON'T need legitimacy from artists. They are not going away.


9. What do you think of the state of electronics in today's gutter garbage music? The radio and television are completely filled with electronic dance pop songs and as a fan of electronic groups like KMFDM, Infected Mushroom, Juno Reactor, Velvet Acid Christ, VNV Nation, Hansel Und Gretyl, Grendel, Killing Joke and Wumpscut just to name a few - this absolutely sickens me. What do you think about this electro-pop madness, being an artist of electronic music yourself?

I think it's crap. Hahahaha. There are acts out there that present much more talent who are completely ignored. How does a song that is not even in English become a smash hit in America but acts like Suicide Commando are STILL totally ignored?

10. What do you think of auto-tuning and dubstep? I've noticed you use some autotuning in your latter material but it works well for the post-apocalyptic atmosphere that your music creates. But I personally think dubstep is a stain in electronic music and cannot discern why it ever became popular. I've even seen it used in metal bands and apparently there are now some bands who consider themselves to be "dubstep metal." Which leaves a sore in the back of my throat.

Auto-tuning as an obvious effect I am ok with, as long as it's not in every song. Auto-tuning as compensation for lack of talent I don't like and think should be done away with. And I hate dubstep. I really do. I have never heard dubstep metal and I hope I never do. To me, dubstep does not sound like music. I have heard many examples of it and I still hate it. People get excited over Skrillex and whatever and that's great. I'm just not feeling it. At all.

11. I'm going to offer you a very unique question that I'm sure you've never gotten before. Apparently, there is something to electronic music that you might be aware of. People have been researching it and are finding that the sounds and beats are able to effect brainwaves in a rather odd fashion. Music in general does effect brainwave patterns, but do you think that the electronic gutter garbage on the radio might be re-programming people's minds and they aren't even aware of it? Take "Gagnum Style" for instance. Isn't a little odd that a song of that nature becomes a worldwide sensation?

Good question! Actually I think it IS odd. That song is fucking retarded. And so yes, I absolutely think that there could be something in the track that would make it more... Popular. There are binaural beats for relaxation, focus, sexual stimulation and even to quit smoking so this would not surprise me at ALL.

12.  What is the definition of "Scream Machine" to you? What do you feel that this project represents, and how do you feel it is different from your other material in GODmonster?

Scream Machine is definitely harsher, harder-edged, with a bigger focus on vocals and lyrical content. On the other side, gM has no lyrical content, or very little. There's no guitar either. I think of godMONSTER as mood music or almost like meditation music. Scream Machine is more trying to convey a message. Very in-your-face-wake-up-fuckers kind of thing.

13. Do you ever think there will be a time where you've built up a full band and can take this material to the masses in the form of shows? If you were going to do a show, how would you do it? What would the attire be for the act? What would the stage look like? Perhaps something apocalyptic in the vein of early Skinny Puppy?

That would be great really. I have a young autistic son and so right now it's not feasible, even if we could afford it. However, for godMONSTER I would probably want the stage to look as much like a medieval ritual as possible. Torches, cauldron, the whole thing. I like the ritualistic trappings of the craft and gM music is very tied into the soul of that. For Scream Machine, I would probably wear some type of power attire, like leather or something paramilitary. Scream Machine is about being strong and powerful. Stage setup would probably be urban decay or urban post-apocalyptic.

14. You've been a practicing witch for many years now, so I'm sure you're aware of the changes in the planet's energy. Probably even more than I am. Some say that a new age is beginning, which will overpower the attempts of the elite to enslave mankind. What are your thoughts on that? Could this music actually be an inner surge of conscious energy within yourself to rebel against that which you know is morally wrong and harmful to the state of humanity?

I think things are changing, man. Most definitely. You can feel it in the air for sure. Which way it will go, I can't be sure. But I have my hopes. So I think that definitely influences the music. In many ways we are in the middle of the most important struggle we've ever been in. That includes me. So I really hope to inspire people to wake up and DO SOMETHING as well express how I personally feel. And yes, I think it's very conscious on my part, almost hyper-aware.

14. 5. I've also noticed that the elite are using occult rituals and symbols to further their efforts (plenty of information available on sites like TheVigilantCitizen) which is rather disheartening to me. One can look at (pop star) Rhianna for example; and find that there are many occult semblances in  the music and image as well as the mysterious Illuminati group that as far as I'm concerned; "took the energy of the universe and used it for their own personal gain." What do you think of this Iluminati organization and the fact that they are manipulating this energy for maleficent ends, even to the point of stealing the very creation energy from us in the form of an over-sexualized media?

I think it's naive of anyone to assume that such a group does not exist and foolish to put anything past them. The energy created by sexual desire is very powerful. I'd rather not comment too much more, except to say that people need to be careful what they pour their energy into.

15. Finally, imagine that you were able to look forward ten or fifteen, maybe even twenty years in the future. What do you hope to see in that time? What do you expect to see in that time? Do you think that your music actually has the ability to change the world and might open people's eyes to what's really going on?

I would hope to see the failure of our government (the WORLD government) to accomplish what they are attempting. I would hope to see more and more people waking up and saying, "No, we are not going to keep eating what you're feeding us." I would hope to see a return to the principles that made us as a people great. I don't expect to see that, though. Not now. Not yet.

What I expect to see is the US and the world as a whole to steadily progress toward a Communist-type of ideology. It won't be Communism exactly but that is the closest existing political system I can compare it to. The One World Government already exists. It's just a matter of implementing it and they have already started.

I don't know if I think my music can change the world but I think any energy you send out there that touches people can effect change. So in that aspect, I'd say yes.


Thanks for your unique vision and I like how it's evolving. I hope one day to see it further expanded and as well known as Skinny Puppy, Wumpscut, KMFDM and others.

Go get We Are Revolution from the band at their bandcamp. If you like it, grab some of the other releases and don't forget about the much colder side project, GODmonster.

THE REVIEW
 

Scream Machine - We Are Revolution (2012) - Those who checked out my review of SinDelle's other project, GODmonster might be interested to know that she's got a much warmer and harsher project called Scream Machine. The project consists of angry synthesized guitars, industrial dance beats and angry feminine rage that reminds me heavily of Otep Shamaya fronting an industrial band. This compilation album collects the project's best work from 2009-2012 and for the most part it definitely shows that SinDelle has talent and the possibility of becoming one of the first major hard-edged female vocal backed industrial projects I've heard in a long time since early Genitorturers (whose 120 Days Of Genitorture is still one of my favorite female fronted albums of all time.)

The 2010 material shows the band still a bit basic, but with the latter material we can see how she has actually evolved and employs many effects, including a style of auto-tuning that makes her vocals sound like they're coming from the same post-apocalyptic charred speakers that the frontman of Fog also screams into. SinDelle has created plenty of rebellion anthems on this album, making a disc that urges one to raise their fists in dissent and perhaps that's the purpose of this disc. After all, the tyrannical forces that Scream Machine seems to be so frazzled about are those same forces that promise us that things will be alright, while they secretly seek to annihilate the lot of us when the time is right. Most of the lyrical content here is along the same lines as the majority of my own scathing sonnets to modern society, so I understand completely.

Each anthem on the album proves to be extremely successful, with the exception of a few of the lighter tracks like "Big Brother 4:23" and "Freaks 4:28" which should be much harsher in the chorus area. I understand that SinDelle might be trying to save her throat, but some of the punches aren't as strong as they could be and might come of as comical to some. However, on tracks like "I Will Not Bow 3:45" and "Toxic Agenda 7:28" I am fully convinced of her ability to turn this into a full-fledged act with the same notoriety as groups like Wumpscut, Velvet Acid Christ, KMFDM and Angelspit. Clearly she's got the right intention and needs to develop a full band situation with this, as I can just hear how "Toxic Agenda" might sound with an actual drummer beating in the background and real guitars thundering the riffs.

To tell you the truth, I really like what I'm hearing here for the most part (even though I prefer the harsher work to the clean vocals) and I hope that this second awakening of extreme electronic music (which I would love to be a part of - send me an message if you want to do any free collaboration work with TheFallenAlchemist and you don't mind occult and anti-enslavement lyrics, you can find my work at www.youtube.com/TheGrimLordBStone - NO DUBSTEP!) is able to break out just as the first wave did. After all, the bands that first brought us industrial/harsh EBM are getting older and the torch needs to be passed to some new blood eventually. I think I would feel fine with bands like Scream Machine, Lockjaw, PIPEBOMB and several others I haven't yet been exposed to but hope to check out soon enough.

Though I feel that the samples should be a little louder in the mix, (I'm just not feeling the thump, maybe I should turn up my bass?) I DEFINITELY recommend that fans of electronic music in it's harshest form pick this up. This is a movement I can get behind and I'm more than proud to support it. You should do the same to keep the spirit of industrial rebellion alive.

Highlights: The Sick, War Face, I Will Not Bow, Apocalypse Now, The Game, Zero, Toxic Agenda (13 Tracks, 60:00)

8/10

2013 Changes

First of all, thank you guys - whoever you are; for your donations. It helps out a lot and in turn I end up spending that money on further supporting great acts by buying their music and merch. But this site isn't about money. It never was and it never will be.

In 2013 you may have noticed a new banner - something I cooked up during a tornado. Yes, I didn't even stop working to batten down the hatches. My stupidity might be my downfall. At any rate, I've now unleashed a new feature called spotlighting.

"What in the hell is spotlighting?" You may ask.

Well, spotlighting is very simple and hopefully it'll help bands get noticed. Some acts in the coming weeks will be "spotlighted" which means that I use your album cover as my background for an entire week - no matter what else gets posted, your album's art will be my background. What's more is that you get an interview/review post with a review featured NOWHERE ELSE on the site. When people type in your band's name as a search, they won't just get the review; but also the in-depth interview that gets bundled in with the spotlight. What's more, is that the little text message below the banner will act as such:

Current Spotlight: Band A - Album A Official Website: Site A Youtube:? (TBD)

This will link bloggers to your site, where they can hear samples of and buy the album. Spotlighting also might include the use of a youtube video sample of one of my favorite (or what is available in some cases) tracks from your album. This is to be determined. If you like the work, donate. If not, then don't. I do this to get the word about about amazing bands and promote, promote, promote.

Here's to an amazing 2013.

Oh. I forgot to mention. The Grim Tower is going to be on Facebook soon, so you can "like" it if you want. But please don't overburden me with requests. I only do one spotlight a week and there's already plenty of spots filled for this month. Also, the music has to really interest or blow my mind before I consider a spotlight. Do not worry, that has already happened.

Facebook is now up here: http://www.facebook.com/thegrimtower


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Talking The Occult And Black Metal With Enshadowed!

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Enshadowed

Country of origin: Greece
Location: Athens, Attica
Status: Active
Formed in: 1998 Genre: Black Metal
Lyrical themes: Death, Chaos, Nihilism, Misanthropy, Anti-religion
Current label: Pulverised Records
Years active: 1998-present

MEMBERS

Golgotha: Bass
See also: ex-Via Serpentis, ex-RandomWalk, ex-Gospel of Grief (live)
N.e.c.r.o: Guitars
See also: Burial Hordes, Merciless Crucifixion, Respawn the Plague, Skiltron N.V. 101, Vomit Church, ex-Hellmight, ex-Mournful Night, ex-Seventh Xul, ex-Suicidal Forms Elite, ex-Naer Mataron (live)
Serpent: Vocals
See also: ex-Via Serpentis
I.K.: Drums (2012-present)
See also: ex-Archemoron

THE INTERVIEW (N.E.C.R.O. (Guitars)

1. First off, could you talk a little about the new album Magic Chaos Psychedelia? What was the recording process like for the album? How long did it take to record? What were you trying to capture with the release? What was it like working with Fotis Bernando of Septic Flesh?

“Magic Chaos Psychedelia” is our new 3rd album. We worked on this stuff with rehearsals for one year. In the middle of 2011 we entered the “Devasoundz studios” to record 9 cursed songs. Fotis Bernando is a great professional, he worked as a sound engineer but as a producer too. Also, he did guest percussion in the last track of the album.

2. What is meant by the title Magic Chaos Psychedelia. What elements of the occult are laden into the music or the vocals themselves? Does this have anything to do with the Chaos Magic teachings of Austin Osman Spare, Peter Carroll and others?

I admire Peter Carroll methods and teachings. He has really amazing theory with practical challenge. But our lyrics aren’t a tribute in these ideas exclusively. I can say that you can find an allegoric touch of chaotic magic and not a copy paste from books. We give a personal view on how the spirit can harmonize with the universe. Everyone can follow “Magic”. A part of humans has a potential touch from their birth; some other must work to release out their astral self. “Chaos” as a word and meaning sounds untouchable. But harmony comes only if you touch it. “Psychedelia” is just the view of how you watch the nature around you in an astral trip.

3. Explain some of the song titles, if you will. The album's first track is called "Stary Throne of It" which has me quite perplexed, as I don't understand the concept there. I'm also curious as to "The Dual Hypostasis of Nihil" which would obviously have something to with Nihilism, or maybe the symbolism of nothing. How are these ideas brought forth into the music?

The responsible person about the lyrics is Serpent. After some journeys around the world, he had some specific personal experiences with ritualistic elements. Then he completed the lyrics of the album. So, everything in “Magic Chaos Psychedelia” is a soul-mind trip of Serpent, I can’t say more, you must ask him.

4. At the very last track of the disc "Magic Chaos Psychedelia" there is a definite ritual being worked. What is that ritual's purpose, if you can even describe it here? I understand how some occultists like to keep their motives sacred. There were also some very ritualistic elements on Rotting Christ's last album. Has Greece become a sort of hotbed for occult practice in recent years?

Oh yes, the “Magic Chaos Psychedelia” is our promise for more ritualistic music in the next releases. The song’s base was made spontaneously. We added more ideas in the studio. I really enjoy working in this way.

5. Speaking of that track, it also contains the percussion work of Fotis Bernando of Septic Flesh who also recorded, mixed and mastered the album. How did his addition enhance the nature of the track?

After many hours in the studio, Fotis started feeling what our music is about and he wanted to become part of it. We accepted because the last track is an experimental vision. It was the ideal choice for a guest appearance.

6. Obviously, you gentlemen have been making black metal for quite a while now. What is you opinion of the current state of black metal? There has been quite a lot more of it now than there ever seems to have been in the past. What do you think could be a reason for this? Are more people tapping into that animalistic side, perhaps casting off the chains of religion?

I think that we are living in the years of atheism. Most religions are weak. Sure Eastern countries remain in decline due to the closeness of Islam and other shit, but Europe and the West are now away from god, more than the past, to a large extent and this is good.. But better let’s get back in music. Nowadays there is a ton of shit bands which the only reason of creation is to stay active just for YouTube! I really hate this kind of bands. Nevertheless, I found many good bands inside the last years. Some examples, Ascension from Germany, Svartidau├░i from Iceland and more…

7. While working with Fotis Bernando, did he discuss anything about the upcoming Septic Flesh release? If so, what could we expect out of that one?

As I know for now, they're working in their other project band, Chaostar.

8. What are some bands that you gentlemen are currently listening to? What about books or recent films that you've enjoyed?

We like many stuff from all these kinds of art. I will stay in music. I enjoyed the last album of Pseudogod, Leviathan, Voidhanger, Alcest, Hetroertzen and Marduk.

9. There have been several upheavals in your country of Greece as of late, and we in the states have of course; had some of our own. I've heard that some of these rebellions have gotten quite rough, and many people have lost their jobs due to a faltering economy. What is your opinion on this?

We are living the experiment of capitalism. The history completes its circle for one more time. Perhaps this rottenness seems to dominate only in my country. But be sure this fucking shit will continue in all South Europe and this will not stop there. Humans have never been something more than animals. They still want blood and still want to dominate like animals. I wish this to change, but I don’t believe in miracles.

10. What instruments were you playing on this album? What bands first inspired you to play this sort of music? Or was it something you were called upon to do?

Serpent is the guy behind the vocals, Golgotha is the bass player. Drums played by Impaler but now he is out of the band. The new war machine behind the drum kit is I.K.  I am the guitarist and song writer of ENSHADOWED. I can’t tell that I was inspired from one, two or three bands. For sure, you can find many influences but every time I try to create my personal vision.

11. Following your last album, there were five split releases with other bands. Why the decision to record small splits and not a full release during this time?

The truth is that all these last years we had some changes in our line up. We also did some important live supports. So, this period wasn’t a pause. It was just the thing we felt to do. Now the time is for a full length release and here it is! An important information is that the next album will not be late.

12. Finally, do you plan to tour for this album? If so, who are you planning to tour with?

We don’t have the budget to spent money for a tour. We know how this shit works. You must deal with organizers who just want to earn money. We don’t have the patience to find the right persons to work together. We'll try to give some live shows all around Europe, but if this won’t happen we don’t care. The sure is that we will be here again with a new album which will possess your souls! Thank you for the interview.

Thanks for creating an interesting piece of music that clearly exemplifies the album title of Magic Chaos Psychedelia. If you don't have this album, then please go pick it up when it becomes available as it's certainly worth hearing.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Interview With Two Man Black Metal Powerhouse, Sonic Reign

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Sonic Reign

Country of origin: Germany
Location: Mellrichstadt, Bavaria
Status: Active
Formed in: 1997 Genre: Black Metal
Lyrical themes: Society, Flaws of Humanity
Current label: Apostasy Records
Years active: 1997-present

MEMBERS

Sebastian Schneider: Drums (1997-present)
Benjamin Borucki: Vocals, Guitar (1997-present)

THE INTERVIEW (Benjamin Borucki (Guitars/Vocals)

1. Talk a little about the new album, Monument In Black. This is your technical sophomore record, though you have had many small releases since 1998. What was the recording process like for this album? It was just the two of you, so how does that work in the studio?

Since I live pretty far away from the studio Sebastian recorded his drums alone. We did the click-tracks before and I recorded some guitars for his orientation. After the drums were finished I again travelled to the studio and startet recording my parts. So most of the time it was either just Sebastian or just me in the studio. Of course for the mixing we sat there together but for the recordings I prefer to be on my own so I can fully concentrate.

2. The gist of your lyrics are less about occult terms, unlike other black metal bands and more about an overall hatred of mankind, or current societal norms. The first track, "Abhorrence Vs. Scum" is not just effective, but it is very articulate in terms of vocabulary, showing the world that metal music is some of the most intelligent music on the face of this planet. Who are the "scum" that you're referring to in this track? What are certain things in society that have made you cringe as of late?

Actually the lyrics of this song are written by Azathoth (Ex-Dark Fortress / Eudaimony) so he would be more competent to answer this question. But in my eyes what he means with 'scum' is all the people that live their life following leaders. Leaders might be persons but also might be religions, commercials that give you the feeling to need stuff you actually don't need or society proclaiming a certain way of life that is accepted while other ways of life are somehow 'strange'. Simply everything that holds you from living a life as you imagine it for yourself.

Every day you can find lots of news that show how stupid, ignorant and selfish people are all over this planet. One of the things lately would be the sick bastard that massacred children in the US and the reactions of parts of the US society towards this.


3. You can obviously parallel similarities to bands like Dark Fortress, Secrets Of The Moon, Thorns, and Satyricon in your music. But I'm sure there will be people out there who'll cast your album aside saying that you're just another "Satyricon clone." What about your music could you say, separates you from that false generalization?

Of course there are some parallels to other bands. Only very few bands do something completely new – I am very well aware of that. But I think everyone listening to Sonic Reign and the bands above will be able to hear totally different atmospheres in each of them. To be honest I had not thought that this comparison with Satyricon would be placed again in so many reviews and interviews since I don't think that 'monument in black' has much in common with their latest works.

4. What kind of instruments did you guys play on the album? What bands first inspired you to take up music?

There's just the classic metal combination of instruments: drums, bass, guitars and of course vocals. When we started Sonic Reign we were really into Emperor and Satyricon. So there we have again Satyricon hehehe. Sebastian mostly uses a Mapex drumset, Paiste cymbals and the Iron Cobra from Tama. I use a Fame Baphomet bass guitar with a Sansamp preamp and an ESP Eclipse CTM guitar with a Marshall Slash amp.

5. What are some bands that you're currently into? Are there any locals from your country that you think we should check out?

I currently listen a lot to Lonely Kamel, Graveyard, Camel and Enslaved.

A band you should check out besides the ones above would be Stellar Master Elite. They do very cool music for fans of Thorns, Satyricon etc. I did some guestvocals for their latest album and they recorded in our studio. And also Eudaimony featuring Azathoth. Very atmospheric stuff.

6. What are some of your personal favorite metal releases? Records that you would consider wholly inspirational to the band at large?

Another answer featuring a certain band from norway... Satyricon – Rebel, Emperor – Anthems. Personal favorits would include Guns n Roses – Appetit for destrucion, all Megadeth records, Dio, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, old Metallica and so on. I guess this is pretty much the same list for most of all metal fans.

7. Will you be taking this music on the road? If so, who would you like to share the stage with?

No, we plan no live shows and this is most likely never to happen.

8. Let's go back to the lyrics. The album is entitled Monument In Black. Does that refer to the statement of the album itself? That it's some sort of dark monument to your namesake, or is there a deeper meaning?

It's both. It summarizes the album's atmosphere – at least in our perception, but there's also another meaning with which the lyrics of the title track deal. Monument in black is the unknown that comes beyond life. That's why we have the skull in the artwork of the album.

9. "A Doctrine Unreachable" refers to the failure of modern religion upon man. Could you talk more about that?

These lyrics don't deal with religion too much actually. I just used some terms in it that suggest this assumption. The lyrics deal once again with a way of life that is forced on us. Of course this includes religions. Uniformity as something that needs to be avoided. This is an aspect that is in many of our lyrics since the beginning of this band. A personal revolution. Finding a remedy for a society of many lies.

10. "Daily Nightmare Injected" is another interesting song, which states "No more narcotic dementia." Essentially, it's a song about breaking free of the chains. But who is that gives us those chains? Who are those stuck in the delusion?

Again it is chains like religion, leaders, commercials/consumption, society and we are all in the danger to be tied in these chaines.

11. Finally, the name of the band is called Sonic Reign. What does the name mean, and how does it represent the band? Who came up with the name?

We chose the name since we wanted to combine old-school elements with modern elements just like the style of music we wanted to play. "Sonic" has a modern sound, while "reign" sounds more old-school. It's that simple.

Thanks for making a strong album that speaks truth in a world where lies are usually scattered about. Sonic Reign's new album, Monolith In Black is definitely not a Satyricon copycat and definitely worth checking out for fans of modern era black metal. Yet the spirits of the purveyors of the art still emanate throughout this impressive recording.

Thanks for your support and the interesting questions.

All the best,

Ben // SR

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Week 70 (January 20th, 2013)


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CULT OF LUNA
Vertikal
Density

Though it's been a while, Cult Of Luna have not lost an ounce of steam during the long wait for their next release after Eternal Kingdom in 2008. As a matter of fact, the band have been given new life entirely; adding new influence from industrial and electronic soundscapes that breathe through a new atmosphere inspired by Fritz Lang's dystopian silent film Metropolis. Tracks like "I: The Weapon" show the full force of the band, while the near twenty minute monster "Vicarious Redemption" shows not only the ferocity of the band, but the subtle beauty in the guitar atmospheres. The album is certainly peppered with the sounds of a steely landscape, but that's not to say that the album comes of an mechanic as one might expect. To call it a beautiful machine might be most accurate, but to call it a beautiful beast would also suffice. The primitive fury of the band seems to couple well with the sounds of the cold and unforgiving future such as the one painted by Fritz Leng decades ago. Either way, the album is truly impressive and I would certainly recommend it, as there is nothing else quite like it out there.

E. May

9/10

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HEAVEN'S CRY
Primal Power Addiction
Prosthetic Records

Fans of bands like SYMPHONY X and PAGAN'S MIND should definitely appreciate the reissue of this album from a band that I hadn't even known about prior. When you've heard as much prog as I have, you come to a high level of expectation and this album most certainly delivers in that area. The album's very first cut "Komma 5:18" not only comes in as a power metal infused pummeler, but there's also a latter section that is filled to the brim with prog metal theatrics, the same kind that you'd expect from DREAM THEATER and SPOCK'S BEARD. To be honest, I'm quite enamored by the band's work and have become a fan almost instantly. Though bands like BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME and PERIPHERY have coined a sort of modern prog-core that some enjoy, I just feel that their music lacks the true spirit of what prog metal was and is supposed to be. With this first HEAVEN'S CRY reissue, hopefully that standard might be reinstated. There's not really a bad cut on this album, with even ballads like "Divisions" and the closer "The Inner Stream Returns" providing good atmosphere and that sense of prog metal that we've always known and loved. This album is certainly heavy, but it also displays more progressive wizardry and experimentation than I've heard from well known titans like SYMPHONY X as of late. I definitely recommend getting a hold of this one. There's also a cover of the late 80's classic, "Beds Are Burning" by MIDNIGHT OIL as a bonus.

E. May

9/10

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HEAVEN'S CRY
Food For Thought Substitute
Prosthetic Records

This reissue of the debut album from HEAVEN'S CRY is just as strong as their later release, but for some reason I seem to like it more. Maybe it's because the album comes in with the powerful opener, "Your God's Crime" and evolves upon that with the battle of light and dark riffs that compose "Out Of Me." By the time you get to "March" you'll notice that the band wrote much longer songs in the beginning, and that's a good thing; because "March" comes off much stronger when it hits it's climax, and it needs enough space to be able to do so. To be blunt, the entire album is an absolute joy to listen to and I'd make sure than every prog metal fan I knew had a copy of it. Yes, this is the kind of disc you can sail through without having to skip certain tracks - it works perfectly together as a fine whole; a magnificent and well structured marvel of a record that I honestly cannot believe I didn't get the chance to hear during the time of it's original release. With this album, HEAVEN'S CRY could have been a household name and I've no idea how they got overlooked. But if the metal gods be true; perhaps the band will finally get the recognition they deserve with these two albums back in circulation. If you're a hardcore fan of progressive rock and metal like myself; a recommendation is not enough. This is the very definition of progressive metal as it should be. Please do your part to support it.

E. May

10/10

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IN SOLITUDE
In Solitude
Season Of Mist

Even though IN SOLITUDE'S The World, The Flesh, The Devil was heavily praised as being "one of the best Metal Blade albums ever" back when it debuted in 2011, I wasn't quite as sold as everyone else. I did like the IRON MAIDEN meets VENOM style of the album, but the whole experience of that record felt a little off the mark for me. However, the debut from these Swedish classic metallers is finally being re-released by our friends at Season Of Mist, and it's definitely much stronger than the band's Metal Blade debut. The self titled disc still sees the band playing more along the lines of traditional NWOBHM acts like JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN, but with a little bit of BLACK SABBATH influenced doom that still retains the same amount of classic riffing, powerful melodies and guitar solos that go back to the days when vinyl's weren't just for hipsters and music aficionados. The disc also contains some harsher vocal tones than one would've expected back in those days; making it essentially a much darker and doom-laden approach to NWOBHM. Add to that the sheer fact that the amazing vocal landscapes of Pelle "Hornper" Ahman were recorded when he was only sixteen years old. Talk about an accomplishment. This album also comes packaged with two bonus tracks, "Hidden Dangers (In The Night)" and "Faceless Mistress (Demo Version)" which aren't necessarily going to resell fans on the idea of this album; nor should they. But forty minutes of terrific heavy metal that sounds just the way that grandma used to make should be enough to sell the disc and each of one the eight original tracks should be cranked up to eleven. If you've been disenfranchised by core, djent and other modern mainstays; then this is just the album you've been looking for. But if any of these tracks seem to bore you, then I would suggest a professional ear examination. It doesn't get much truer to the spirit of heavy metal than this.

E. May

(9/10)

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Nolentia - May The Hand That Holds The Match That Will Set This World On Fire Be Blessed Above All (PR2013) - Now I've never been the type to say "this band sucks" in those terms, because I recognize that there's a fan base for every type of art in the world, no matter how beautiful, sickly, or outright disturbing - but Nolentia certainly isn't my cup of tea by any means. The album cover is quite misleading as you'd expect something like Ancestors with the proggy touch, but this is by all means not even close to that kind of album. Instead it's a 13 minute expelling of negativity backed by some interesting structural changes. It's not a full kick into the stomach, there a re certainly meat on these songs, but the disc is so short that you won't even know the experience has ended. As the flyer says, the band mixes together many different styles including that of death, hardcore, sludge crust and doom metal, but all ensnared in the piranha plant of grindcore. Alright, so maybe comparing this band to a ferocious tube dwelling plant that either eats it's victims alive or spits fire at them might not be the best way to go; but it certainly fits. The band has toured with some rather diverse acts like The Arson Project, Benighted, Dagoba, Disgorge, Imply In All, Inhume, Knut, Sylvester Staline, Textures, Ultra Vomit and Yattai as well as stuff like Atara, Exhumed, Magrudergrind, Mass Grave or Rotten Sound.

Short, brutal and quick, I could compare this experience to being eaten by a venomous plant like the one I just named. I wish the mix was a little clearer, but am thankfully glad that the band doesn't just twaddle along with the same song structure in all 16 of these tracks. Every track has something different to offer, yet will still contain a garbage-mouthed growl backed by an impish scream. So if you don't like that approach, you'd better keep on looking. Nevertheless, these guys cover a lot of musical ground in 13 minutes and convince me that more can be done with grindcore than just playing the instruments very fast and growling and screaming through what sounds like a mess.

Worth checking out, but still not quite my cup of tea. But you can listen to it around six times in one hour!

(16 Tracks, 13:00)

7/10

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Vorum - Poisoned Void (PR2013) - These Finns make some very loud death metal. As a matter of fact, it's extremely fucking loud death metal. This album was so loud that my right ear started to throb in pain. I took of my earbud to find that there was a little bit of blood in my right ear. I was listening to the album on a normal volume as well, it was just so loud and unruly that apparently it made my fucking ear bleed. But I just played it out of my left ear and finished the listen.

Though not a long album, this loud and poisonous beast is exactly what death metal should sound like. The riffs are both intricate and remorseless, the drumming is ferocious and the vocal approach is quite vile to say the least. This is the exact thing I want out of death metal, and even though it says that it "will crush skulls and send children screaming out of the room in fright" I highly recommend that your children check out this wonderful piece of death metal, if your children are listening to good music. Oh, and as for crushed skulls - well, I feel it's an absolute shame that skulls must be crushed. I think you should find a group of reanimated skeletons - and play this record for them. If their bones don't explode from the sheer torrent of madness coming forth from this monster, that is. But let me know if you find some reanimated skeletons. I've always wanted to see some.

As any rate, this album certainly does manage to sound like a void in places. There are certain tracks that just sound "black" and that's the best way to put it. Some of this material literally sounds like a gaping vortex of doom, a black hole if you will; threatening to expound it's gravitational mass upon all who dare to tread too close to it. Being that the disc is loud, I don't have any problems hearing the instruments in the mix and they come through fantastically. The disc obviously is rife with songs that sound different from each other, yet carry the same vibe of evil; so the word "structure" could certainly be applied. There are also plenty of guitar solos on this album and for the most part; they sound as you would want them to.

Vorum is not re-inventing the wheel, but they are painting it black and putting spikes on it. I guess you could say that they're also dipping it in the blood of human sacrifice and throwing it into a vast and fetid abyss. It's death metal done right and is certainly one of my personal favorite death metal discs of the year. These guys made a colossal triumph of grim evil that death metal fans should get their hands on as soon as possible. I would also say that fans of black metal might want to dip their hands into this bloody water as well.

It's the best of both unholy worlds.

Highlights: ALL (8 Tracks, 35:00)

10/10

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Infected Flesh - Concatenation Of Severe Infections (PR2012) - Infected Flesh's third album sees the same kind of landscapes as those populated by Grindcore. It's got the sounds of a strangling pig as you might expect; but if that pig were a mutant hybrid and given the ability to speak, the vocal effect here would be the same. Yes. I've just compared the vocalist's approach on this album to that of a giant fucking man-pig hybrid. In the background, we've got a capable drummer, but he sounds kind of "in the back", which is probably due to the odd vocal approach being a little higher in the mix. Oddly enough, you'll hear the vocals more than anything else on this disc, even the guitars. Speaking of those, you'll certainly hear some solo sections and they aren't half bad. I wasn't so sure about this one from the beginning, but I will say that it's different. While having much to do with grindcore, it's classified as a kind of brutal death metal and supposedly in the vein of bands like Severe Torture, Disavowed, and Suffocation. Though this is a little bit of promo copypasta, I thought I would go ahead and add the list of guest vocalists on this album.

Guest vocalists on Concatenation Of Severe Infections include Robbert K. (Disavowed), Dennis (Severe Torture), Joost (Cliteater), Roi (Haemophagia), Albert & Jofre (Pesta Porcina), Regius (Nemesis Aeterna). So not only are you getting a band for fans of stuff like Disavowed and Severe Torture, you're also getting guest appearances from the frontmen of those bands. Don't forget that the band's current drummer also plays in Severe Torture/Centurian, so even though he's behind in the mix, the guy's still playing the hell out of the kit.

The album is actually full of good leads and some interesting points of groove and structure. In all actuality, groove is the name of the game. It's not overly pummeling, but it is certainly an interesting listening experience, complete with the mutant pig-man on vocals. If scientists keep making those Frankenstein creatures, that statement might not sound so whimsical in a few years.

Nevertheless, I recommend this one. It's not usual that I recommend metal of this vein, because it's usually not my cup of tea - but I found something unique and different here. Though I think the 16.00 price tag is a bit much too charge for an online order of the slipcase version that will more than likely include 4.00 S/H. If they'd lower the price down to twelve, I would recommend it a bit more. Especially when the payroll tax just hit everyone in the US with the effect of smaller paychecks, so people will have even less spending money.

But if the money doesn't matter and you want to support your favorite brutal death metallers from California, this album is certainly worth that support.

(11 Tracks, 43:00)

8/10

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Xanthochroid - Blessed He With Boils (2012) - I'm going to be honest. These guys hit me like a freight train sucker punch from behind. I noticed the interesting album art and the intriguing album title, downloaded the album and then later bought the disc because I had to have such a masterpiece as this in my collection. Xanthochroid is a mix of Emperor in their Equilibrium IX days and Opeth in their respected era, but they also utilize other elements that give the band an "epic" approach. At first, you might think the intro piece "Aquatic Deathgate Existence 3:00" lays it on a little thick with the theatrics, but as soon as the album's first real track "Blessed He With Boils 7:29" comes in, you'll see that this band contains a strength unmatched by very few. The frontman definitely takes a cue from Ihsahn, but his approach works well with the blasts from the kit and the piano (which can surprisingly still be heard in the mix despite the blasting.)

The album is actually based in the realms of fantasy epic, but I assured my friend that "this isn't a Lord Of The Rings knockoff story." It's actually got some interesting and thought provoking lyrics. Those lyrics are certainly screamed, yet there is also a clean vocal approach that comes off quite beautifully. Not all of the songs on this disc are progressive black metal monsters though, as some of them tend to utilize a softer and more atmospheric nature that comes off just as well as anything Opeth's ever done in that vein. Take "Winter's End 5:01" for instance. It's a light folk track that comes off just as well as anything the band's done with a heavier intention.

But even if you don't care for the lighter pieces on this album, there are plenty of epically orchestrated progressive black metal pieces on this album backed with Opeth riffs that found their way into the mix. But don't think that Xanthochroid is just a sandwich of Opeth and Emperor, even though that's a pretty awesome sandwich. The band certainly offer a sense of mesmerism that these bands still haven't delivered. The addition of gothic synths and choirs really add to the majesty of these pieces, and the direction in which these pieces change is also something uncanny. They could've stayed in one spot, but how much fun would that have been? There are many bands who write long songs and rely on the same riffs to keep them afloat, but this band really utilizes every facet that they have which makes these songs match the nature of the fantasy-laden source material. Remember, this album comes with a map and it's not a power metal disc.

What's more, is that the band is aware of file-sharing and what not, but wants to really get their music out there. A Russian review for this disc was posted on the band's facebook which had a direct download for the album. They thought it was a torrent, but I recognized it as an I-Folder page and saw that it was a full download of the material, so I informed them of it. But then again, I wouldn't even know about these guys if not for sites like those, so they are sort of a necessary evil these days even though those guys really just want to get the music out there. I've always said that I would rather play to a full venue of people who downloaded the album and really liked the music, people who now might want to go ahead and buy shirts and physical discs just to support the music that they themselves were able to listen to in it's entirety beforehand; then to play in front of an empty venue where no one was able to check out the music for themselves.

But the bottom line is that these guys spent a great deal of time composing this album and it shows it with each and every song. I don't know if you want to call this a 2012 or 2013 release, but if we want to call it a 2013 release, then it's one of the best albums of the year, hands down. And it will remain on my personal 2013 list. This is the very definition of amazing metal that's worth checking out for damn near every metal head out there. This is a fucking spectacle - a masterpiece of an album that I can't wait to check out a physical copy of. The band worked as hard on the music as they did the story, and as hard on the story as they did the artwork. Think about it - how many extreme metal albums out there have given you a fucking map?

It's elegant, it's epic and uncompromisingly fierce. There's nothing else to say about this one other than to just check it out for yourself. I'm keeping my eye on these guys, they've got a whole lot more than just potential. There are songs on this disc that will be played for years and recognized in the same way that Opeth's "Godhead's Lament" and "Deliverance" have been. It's got the same brilliance about it that made epics like Bal-Sagoth's Starfire Burning On The Ice-Veiled Throne Of Ultima Thule so great.

Yes, it's that kind of epic.

http://xanthochroid.bandcamp.com/

Highlights: ALL (10 Tracks, 57:00)

10/10

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Fragments Of Unbecoming - The Art Of Coming Apart (2012) - The fifth album from Swedish death metallers Fragments Of Unbecoming sees the band playing along the same soundscapes of traditional 90's Swedish death metal, but also adding slightly drearier portions to the sound (The Art Of Coming Apart 4:11, A Silence Dressed In Black 4:59) making a sort of Swedish melodic death metal disc with slight hints of melancholy. But for the most part, the album's eight tracks of metal will leave you banging your head, but curious as to why they wasted the time to record the sullen instrumental "Sundown 1:52" and the even more dreadful closer "Fathomless 1:54" which serves as more of an outro piece to the disc.

Drums beat vehemently, while guitars thunder and thump as the vocals fill the stage with as much Swedish brutality as we've come to expect from the band. There are no clean vocals or piano portions on this album, it is just eight tracks of complete terror and brutality (and should've been left that way.) It is a disc that is not very hard to explain with ten thousand paragraphs, so I won't do so. As soon as you listen to the album, you'll understand that it has no desire to be anything more than an intriguingly dark and desolate death metal album. I would certainly recommend it to fans of Swedish death metal, especially Edge Of Sanity, At The Gates and (older) Dark Tranquility which is referenced on "A Silence Dressed In Black" probably the best track on this disc.

It's solid death metal that doesn't really pack any new punches but it definitely worth listening to. Though I've already heard better discs than this, (Skineater, The Project Hate) it probably won't hurt to check this one out.

(10 Tracks, 42:00)

8/10

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Eths - III (English Edition 2012) - Eths certainly has the right idea in their attempt to make Nu-Metal more palatable to the modern metal hordes. They seem to be the odd lovechild of Meshuggah, Otep and Lacuna Coil, which was bound to happen eventually. Harsh vocals accompany angelic female vocals and djent riffs a plenty. I will say that the harsh vocals are performed believable enough to classify in the realms of venomous, which will definitely give these guys a big edge over everyone who thought Lacuna Coil was heavy because they used metal riffs and had Marcos growl on a few discs. That all went to shit, so Eths kind of brings that back. Surprisingly, the band is brutal in areas and the drummer does some worthwhile shit on the kit, but it's no death metal even though they have a "Nu-Metal/Core/Alternative/Death Metal" genre stamp.

One could say that The Agonist does the same thing, but I will certainly say the structures and atmospheres of these tracks is certainly much stronger than anything they've ever done. The frontwoman definitely gives Angela Gossow and Otep Shamaya a run for their money, I will say that much. Some of you still might be under the guise that women have no place in metal and should be cleaning the kitchen or something; which is a pretty shitty way to think - but it's good to see women getting out there and putting just as much of a stamp on metal as we men have done in the past. I have said before that I support female metal and this disc certainly has enough meat on it to make a further dent into the chauvinistic idea that men should only be in metal.

Other tracks feature a little bit more melody and some hard rock semblances, but there's really a mix of everything on this one. Perhaps "Gravis Venter 5:04" is the most radio friendly, but "Adonai 4:00" should definitely gel better with fans of more extreme music, while the hardcore fans might like the hardcore approach of "Inanis Venter 4:25."

Not all of the tracks on this album are in English, but it is good to be able to understand a handful of the tracks here. On this English Edition album, there are four translated tracks and three bonus tracks including a cover which I will get into in just a bit. At any rate, Eths proves with III that they've definitely got the ability to make a huge hit here in the states and that's just what they're trying to do. But Lacuna Coil came out of Italy and became superstars; so perhaps mixing extreme and goth metal semblances together was just the right thing to do to appeal to the masses this time around. Since there's no metal on the tube anymore, it's difficult to say whether or not these guys made their mark. As far a magazines go, I haven't even seen one review with the band - so that's another hurdle they'll just have to cross. It's music that will sell though, that audience just needs to become more aware of it, apparently.

I know of some friends who would like it. Perhaps that will help.

Bonus Tracks

Music (Madonna Cover 4:00) - First of all, I love pop-metal covers and have been dying to start a band in the vein of Ten Masked Men, but more on the extremes of black/death metal. However, this version of Madonna's (classic?) is very true to the original, except djent riffs compose the base and the chorus is accented with a harsh vocal. I have no idea what Madonna would think of it, but she'd probably consider it awful noise, the bitch. However, this psychotic cover of the album won't gel well with most metal fans who'll think it's just stupid.

7 3:52 - This track sounds like an odd sort of sludge/groove with NO female vocals. People who listen to sludge might actually find it the only track on this album they can stand, but will agree that they've heard better. Still, it's not bad to hear a band playing 31 flavors instead of just vanilla.

Cerebellum 4:11 - Not really sure what to call this one, but it's one of those tracks that is certainly more on the feminine side of things. It's also kind of basic, almost playing a Disturbed vibe. It's all in French but should appeal to some hot metal or goth chick somewhere. And probably some not so attractive ones. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. The track does get heavier towards the end, but took too long to get started.

(13 Tracks, 58:00)

7/10

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Synthetic Breed - Zero Degrees Freedom EP (2012) - Synthetic Breed utilizes the same sort of djent style that was somewhat featured in Eths, but comes across as a more death metal approach with the female vocals being mostly harsh with some occasional clean bursts. Whoever this chick is, she's absolutely fucking insane on the mic and it literally reminds me a hell of a lot of Meshuggah frontman, Tomas Haake (Dimension Zero 5:29) which is a good thing in this case. The band for the most part sound like a feminine version of Meshuggah, which means that it's slightly more melodic but just as fucking heavy. I guarantee you of that. I am hearing some of the same exact imprints in this band that I've heard in Meshuggah, plus odd ideas that are completely unique to this band in the vein of effects. There are also some beautiful fucking melodies on this disc (Resilience 4:22) in addition to the bashing that you'll get from this one.

Again, this IS a heavy fucking disc. It's much heavier than Eths, but even though there are female vocals choruses on this one, you can consider them respite from the storm. This is just one EP, so what these guys could do in the future excites me greatly. Each and every track on this one has it's own identity and assures me that this band could further succeed on a full length LP. It's twenty-three minutes of promise that's well worth checking out, even if you don't like female vocal choruses. Pretty heavy stuff.

(5 Tracks, 23:00)

8/10

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Acidcell - Feelin' The Doom (2012) - It's really hard for me to judge an album that's called Feelin' The Doom. It makes me think of "Feelin' The Groove" but with a dead disco hippie on the front cover who died while dancing to "Saturday Night Fever" (a track that really needs to be made into death metal by the way.) But this industrial metal disc is actually pretty fucking decent in all respects. I was quite surprised and found opener "Do I Look Like A Slut? 4:09" to be intriguing as it mixes thrash along with some odd robotic vocal effects that make it sound like a malicious spirit is singing in the background of the track. Not a bad opener. Then there's "Beautiful Undead 4:02" which features some blues riffs and a killer chorus that I'd expect from The Dethstars, which these guys sort of remind me of.

However, the disc does change a bit and the gothic vocal croons start coming in on tracks like "Stick It 4:07" and "Parasite 4:10" which don't seem to pass in the realm of "catchy chorus" that this band was trying to achieve. But "One Of Us 4:51" sees that pasty vampire approach succeeding in melting the clothes off of women around the world. As for the disc's title track, "Feelin The Doom 4:25" it also comes off surprisingly strong with a little heavier background for Dracula's vocals. "Deathmachine 5:33" sounds like it was influenced by The Ramones, The Murderdolls or both as for as musicality goes, but the Transylvanian approach continues on "Children Of The Night 4:39" though I feel that the backup vocals fail tremendously on that track and "Hate Me 4:33." As for the disc's long closer, "Out In The Dark 7:07" it might very well be one of the best ways to end the disc, as it sees the vampire vocals being used perfectly despite the fact that the backup at this point begins to sound like a little gremlin and might elicit a slight chuckle.

In the end, Acidcell have something to offer musically in the vein of electronic/industrial metal and the goth element is used well, for the most part. There are plenty of hits and few misses, but I can say that this one won't appeal to fans of more extreme metal. However, that's not who it was made for. If you like candlelit nights and hard rock fueled industrial metal, this disc will suit your fancy. It's in all honesty; not that bad. If this sounds like something you'd enjoy, then chances are that you probably will.

Highlights: Do I Look Like A Slut?, Beautiful Undead, One Of Us, Feelin' The Doom, Deathmachine, Hate Me, Out In The Dark (10 Tracks, 47:00)

7.5/10

If you don't see your album here yet, please be patient. I will have more reviews up shortly and interviews as I get clearance. I'm only one guy, after all. Thanks!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Interview With Melodic Death Thrashers, Vex!

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Country of origin: United States
Location: San Marcos, Texas
Status: Active
Formed in: 1998

Genre: Death/Thrash Metal
Lyrical themes: Longing, Exile, Death
Current label: Horror Pain Gore Death Productions
Years active: 1998-present

MEMBERS

Bill Edgar: Bass
See also: ex-R.C.P.
Owen McCloskey: Drums
See also: Bat Castle
Mike Day: Guitars
Ciaran McCloskey: Guitars
See also: Nosferion
Joe Jackson: Vocals (2011-present)

VEX

1. Let's talk about the new album, Memorious. That sounds like a really heady title. What is being referred to as Memorious? The human race, or society in general?

The title comes from a short story by the Argentinean author Jorge Luis Borges called “Funes the Memorious.” The focus of this story is a character who spends all of his time recalling his past in precise and exacting detail. We eventually learn that he was paralyzed very early in his life so this is really all that he is ever able to do with his time, in the absence of any sort of present tense. “Memorious” is not a concept album, but one of the unifying themes of the lyrics is what happens when the self is locked into a similar state of perpetual memory that is both involuntary and inevitable. I would say the scope is more personal than societal.

2. Explain the recording process for this album. How did it all come together and how long did it take to complete? Are you pleased with the results?

The tracking of the album spanned about 6 months, starting in late summer 2011 and culminating around the beginning of 2012. The writing process was a sporadic affair spanning about eight years. This probably seems extensive by most standards, but for a handful of losers from Texas with dead-end jobs, several other groups and no recording budget, it wasn’t too bad. It’s certainly preferable to the 3 ½ years spent tracking and the first album.

The process itself was actually very enjoyable. Eoghan and I spent a few months demo tracking the whole thing before the sessions started, so we had a good idea of how it was going to flow. We felt very confident about the quality of the songs, and we were able to work completely in-house, with Mike and Eoghan engineering the whole thing at Mike’s studio in South Austin. Of course it isn’t perfect, there are things that we would all change, but that’s to be expected. Overall I am very pleased. I really like the energy and the momentum of the recording, and I like that the production has an organic quality to it. We definitely weren’t looking for a sort of “modern metal” sound.


3. There are influences of black metal, prog, doom, and death metal strewn all over this thing. What are some of your influences and how did they help in the formation of this album? Am I right to hear a great deal of influence from Irish black/doomers Primordial?

Yes, you absolutely are! Eoghan and I originally hail from Dublin, so it was a big deal for me to learn about an extreme metal group from our home country. I picked up “Journey’s End” after reading about it in Terrorizer about 15 years ago, and it had a huge impact on me. I connected with it on an emotional level, but I was also very into the open-chord riffing style that has become a big part of the Vex sound. It was like Viking-ear Bathory infused with the sort of Irish folk music that Eoghan and I grew up listening to.

There are quite a few other influences that have helped shape our sound, most notably Celtic Frost, Morbid Angel, Carcass, Death, Edge of Sanity, Dark Tranquility and Iron Maiden, to name a few. “Memorious” was mainly influenced by mid-period Fates Warning, and a lot of 70s prog/psychedelic stuff like Amon Duul II, Magma and Gentle Giant. The stylistic fearlessness and bold artistry of that period is huge for us. We’re also very into jazz artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Wayne Shorter. I don’t think you can really hear that as much because the influence has more to do with the sort of emotional complexity that jazz artists bring into their compositions and improvisation. I recently saw Eric Dolphy listed as a jazz artist that metal fans should know about, which didn’t surprise me at all. “Out to Lunch” is fucking intense! Very sinister, brooding and heavy.

4. What instruments are you guys using, and what inspired you to pick them up in the first place?

Bill and I decided to learn bass and guitar, respectively, while watching a televised Freddie Mercury tribute concert in 1992. It seemed a natural fit for me because I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very musical family, and I was always drawn to the look and feel of a guitar. My brother Eoghan followed through with the decision to pick up the drums some time in the late 90s, which was a decision heavily influenced by Slayer and the Meshuggah album “Chaosphere.” Mike and I prefer to play Gibson guitars and high-wattage Peavey tube heads because they afford us the thick mid-range tones that allow our open chords to ring out. A trebly, hi-gain metal tone wouldn’t really work for what we do.

5. Texas has as of late, become a real hotbed for metal music. Some of the greatest American metal acts hail from there, and you really wouldn't expect it to be so in a red-state where God and guns seem to be on the minds of the majority. What are your opinions on this?

I agree that Texas has an incredible metal heritage. You’ve pointed out an interesting paradox there, and I don’t know that I can necessarily account for it. Perhaps it has something to do with the tendency for metal to flourish in generally adverse climates. I think metal is gradually replacing rock music as the global answer to political and religious oppression. In my own case, I grew up in a fairly small, heavily religious town in West Texas, and I was initially drawn to Venom, Possessed and Bathory because the extremity of the music and the lyrics was a welcome contrast to the strong Christian presence in my school at the time. It really drew me in and fascinated me.

In another sense, I don’t know that the battles lines are so clearly drawn anymore; metal has become so widespread around here that it doesn’t really have any sort of discernable political footing. Grindcore still seems firmly left-wing, but the red-state conservative culture you mention has become fairly pervasive among brutal death metal bands. Strange times are these.

6. Speaking of guns, it looks like the president has ordered a ban on assault weapons. What do you guys think of this, especially in a pro-gun state?

You are correct that gun control is a contentious and polarizing issue here in Texas, especially in the Central area where progressive ideologies clash with the deeply-ingrained culture of gun ownership. We definitely have strong views on the subject, but not in any unified way that could be expressed as a collective opinion. We are all politically and civically engaged as individuals, but as Vex we prefer to refrain from any sort of political commentary due to the potentially ostracizing effect it can have. We aren’t interested in excluding anyone.

7. You guys released a split with another Texan band, Divine Eve that made it into Japan and Asia. That's pretty fucking awesome. What do people in those countries think about the split? Did you guys make some unexpected fans overseas?

From what I could tell, the split sold fairly well and was well-received in those areas. It was originally supposed to be released much earlier, around the summer of 2011, but the tsunami completely changed everything. We all assumed that the release had been shelved, but Naru from Obliteration Records surprised all of us by forging ahead with everything about six months later. I really like how the release turned out and I’m proud to have those songs featured alongside the almighty Divine Eve.

8. If there's anything that you want us to know about the lyrical content of this album, what would it be? What messages can one take with them after listening to Memorious?

The lyrics to “Memorious” are all fairly personal, much more so than on the first album. They’re basically just attempts to understand and reconcile the way that things tend to happen, and why things affect us in the way that they do. If there is any sort of overarching message to the lyrics, it’s really just that there is a lot to be gained by recognizing the limits of your own perception and your own place in the universe. We chose to open the album with “Terra Soar” because it’s fairly uplifting track about reaching beyond your own cognition to seek transcendence. I’m very into literature and language in general, so I spend a lot of time with these lyrics, and I hope that people dig them or even just find them to be a pleasant addition to the music.

9. You guys have played with some phenomenal acts, most of them on majors, like Origin, Krisiun, Katatonia, Goatwhore, Moonspell and Exhumed among others. Do you guys eventually want to be signed to a major label as well? Or do you prefer to be an underground act?

We were very into the idea when “Thanatopsis” started to help us gain a bit more of name for ourselves, so we did the usual rounds with the press kits. We got played during A&R meetings for a few of the household name labels and basically got written off for being a bit out of context with the market. Relapse liked our stuff but said we are way too far beyond the type of sound that’s guaranteed to sell. This was a bit discouraging but it really just motivated us to work harder to produce the best possible album that we could.

Since doing so, we had what I would consider to be a successful year where we were able to accomplish a tour on our own and release an album that we’re really proud of. It was very satisfying, and helped us realize that we’re fine on a small label. We have such a great relationship with HPGD, with our PR group and with our booking agency. These groups basically supply us with all the same resources that a large label would, and we’re in direct control of everything. Of course the added distribution and exposure of a large label would be a wonderful asset, but that almost seems like a best-case scenario these days. While we were in the process of researching the major labels, I would run through a few of their rosters and in most cases, I had only heard mention of about half of the bands. We really don’t want to be in a situation like that, locked into a binding contract with almost no promotion or touring emphasis. We’ve discussed this recently and decided that if an offer from a large label did come along, we’d really have to weigh our options and see if it’s worth taking on that kind of financial liability.


10. What are some bands that you guys are currently into? Any bands out there in the Texas scene that you want us to know about?

I am very into Obsequiae from Minnesota. They’re a melodic death metal band with a sound and identity all their own, who also manage to channel the kind of feeling and atmosphere that has all but vanished from death metal. Everyone needs to hear them. I’ve also been very into Master’s Hammer, Summoning, and Novembre as of late. My girlfriend collects obscure psychedelic music from all over the world, so I’ve also been enjoying large doses of that, particularly Turkish groups from the early 70s. That stuff is just ridiculously good. As far as Texas groups, everyone should definitely know about Batcastle, Feral Rex and The Black Moriah – all friends of ours who are working to forge their own identity without compromising integrity or extreme metal aggression.

11. Let's talk movies, books and games. What are some of your favorite? What other things do you guys do when you're not making great music?

I’m not much of a gamer myself; I couldn’t even tell you the last time I played a video game but it was probably at least a decade ago. As far as movies, I’m really into what Martin McDonagh has going on – I was completely floored by “In Bruges,” and drew quite a bit of inspiration from the darkness and complexity of it. I’ve loved all of his plays as well. His brother John also made an incredible movie last year called “The Guard” that I highly recommend. Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal” and Dario Argento’s “Tenebrae” are also old favorites that I recently became re-acquainted with. Apart from that, I’m pretty old-fashioned so I’m glad you asked about books – I thoroughly enjoy the works of Vladimir Nabokov, Clare Keegan, Jonathan Franzen, Howard Jacobson, Samuel Beckett, Patrick McCabe, Dagoberto Gilb, James Hynes, William Trevor, Roger Boylan, W.B. Years, Paul Auster and Jorge Luis Borges, the author I mentioned earlier.

When we’re not rehearsing or writing for Vex or wasting time at our day jobs, we’re usually playing music in some form; each of us has at least two other bands that are in some phrase of recording or performing. Austin is a very musical place with a lot of very talented musicians who we are fortunate to be working with. Apart from that, I’m in the final stages of completing my English-teaching certification; the program I’m in is very demanding so that’s been taking up a majority of my time.

12. Obviously, Memorious seems to paint a bleak outlook on the future of our race. Do you think this is really the case? Are we truly fucked as a society? Or is there still hope for us?

I’m not much of a humanist – I really don’t have any sort of faith in the human condition or even in human reason as its own end. I really don’t care for ideology either. I’m more into the post-Enlightenment, Jonathan Swift view of humanity is a sort of eternal farce, worthy of the fiercest mockery and derision. As far as the future, I really have no idea what’s in store, but I don’t see how things will ever improve if puerile self-interest and stern commitment to baseless ideologies continue to be celebrated as political virtues. You mentioned gun-control legislation earlier; this is one issue that is just too deeply polarizing for any sort of national consensus to ever be reached.

13. Let's talk touring. What are some experiences that you guys can share with us about being on the road? What are some things that bands need to know before they get out there?

I would say that we’ve been very fortunate in our road experience so far, especially as a DIY band. We’ve certainly had some rough spots, such as last summer when we played to 3 people in a garage in rural Tennessee, but we understand that these sorts of things are inevitable in most cases. These gigs have been far outweighed by the great experiences we’ve had in entirely new areas where we’ve been fortunate to meet and work with a lot of great people. I’ve always been inspired by the precedent set by Fugazi, one of my favorite bands, of just going out and doing it, of creating your own scene where there isn’t one already.

As far as advice, I would say just know what you’re getting into; bring a good amount of merchandise, have a lot of backup cash saved up, and learn as much as you possibly can about the promoter in each city. You can never plan too much for these things. We were very fortunate to work with Riff Lifter Touring, a booking agency based in Philadelphia, for our last tour in that they really helped smooth everything over for us and iron out the details.


Thanks for your answers. The disc is truly incredible, so thanks for sharing your art with the rest of humanity. We really fucking appreciate it.

Thank you very much for your praise! It’s very rewarding to see that some people understand what we’re trying to do here, because it’s very important to us. Also thank you for the thought-provoking and intelligent questions!