Interview with Ossuary Anex

A few days ago I got the chance to talk a bit with Russian brutal deathsters Ossuary Anex (if you remember them from the review of their latest album I did a few months back). This interview is quite revealing, especially if you aren’t really familiar with the Russian metal scene. It is a somewhat long read but as always, it is going to worth your time.

Give me a bio of the band so we can get to know you better.

Max: Ossuary Anex was created by me in 2008. (Before that I was playing in an Occult Death Metal act called Daemon). Nothing particularly remarkable was in our bio. The line-up changed often during the early years, so the group evolved slowly. But it may be noted only the release of our debut album in 2012. And In 2014 Kirill joined us as lead singer. I think it was a turning point for the band. He was the missing element for us, and our puzzle was completed with the arrival of him. From that moment the new life of the band began to take form in which it is now.

Actual Line-up: Kirill – vocal, Simon – bass, Sergey – Drums, Max – guitar.

You released your second album “Mutilation Through Prayer” a few months ago. What is the feedback so far? Are you watching the sales, are they going as you expected?

Max: We get a lot of positive feedbacks so far, sometimes even rave reviews. Some positive articles were written, for example by Frank Rini, another on Hellmagazine, or your own review etc. It’s really cool! But we are not watching the sales of our label, perhaps it is too early to think about it.

Have you gotten the time to reflect on the album? If you were back in the studio, is there something you would change in it?

Max: It’s been over 3 years since we started working on this album. Of course, we have been changing during this time, as well as our attitude to music. This album captures the vision that I had when the work began. Despite the fact that it was released not long ago, it shows where we were three years ago. The recording of the album stretched across almost two years. Sometimes it was not easy. If it were possible to make the album for a lesser period, I think it would be much better.We could have made a more thought out, more perfect record. When a recording stretches for a long time, fatigue accumulates, interest reduces. Everybody wants to finish as soon as possible. And quality may deteriorate. But I wouldn’t like to change anything in it. This album is just a slice of our history. Now we have a different view, and we will translate it into new things.

Most brutal death metal bands are into blood/gore culture when it comes to lyrics. You on the other hand decided to tackle religion. Why is that?

Kirill: I think religion is a great evil for people. Religion causes war, intolerance and ignorance. It makes a man a slave and a pliant puppet in the hands of liars. I hate that shit!

Max: It should be noted that some obscurantism has been increasing in recent years in our country. The Middle Ages return. The Church has been gaining strength. It influences the politics and culture. Religion has been becoming a national idea. In addition, “insulting the feelings of believers” became a criminal offense in Russia. Orthodox activists cancelled theatrical performances, exhibitions, and concerts, if they think that it is something blasphemous and no one can do anything about it. For example, concerts of Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth were canceled in 2014 in some cities. All concerts of Belphegor were canceled in 2016. Strictly speaking, our album is outlawed in our country today. But we are not known by the masses, we’re an underground band. If we were a famous band, we would have had problems I think. That’s why religion is an urgent topic today.

The album has some astonishing artwork. Care to tell me who did the cover and how you came across each other?

Max: Thanks! It was created by W. Smerdulak. He is a quite famous artist and designer in some circles. Initially, we didn’t have a definite idea about our cover art, but we clearly knew what we didn’t want. We talked with the boss of our label about it. And he said: «I’ll take it upon myself, I know an artist that you need». We trusted him and decided to agree. When we got the first sketches, it was not so clear what we would get in the end. But when the work was finished, everybody liked it and only small changes were made.

Are you happy with your label’s support so far?

Max: Yes, quite. These guys are really decent. We began to look for the label, as soon as we had finished the recording. We sent out our stuff without mixing to many labels. Max (boss of our label) answered immediately as he listened to our raw tracks, and offered us good terms. We received suggestions from several foreign labels. But the offer of Lord of the Sick Recordings was the best that moment. In addition, I knew Max for many years as an ideological person and true fan of extreme music. After signing a contract he and his team set to work very hard. Almost around the clock we kept in touch with him. He was responsible for creating the cover art, the booklet design, also participated and helped us in our work with the studio, which was mixing our stuff. The good support was provided after the album’s release. Considering that it is underground and young enough label the work has been done perfectly.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Kirill: I try to draw inspiration from the shit that’s going on in the world. Some texts from the new album were inspired by the Old Testament. This book is saturated with blood and horror, the best inspiration. Sometimes an idea comes to my head by itself and I try to write it down immediately.

Max: Usually I draw inspiration from dark and gloomy music. Although I listen to different music styles. Sometimes black metal, sometimes death metal, folk, new age etc. Quite often I visit concerts of symphonic music. I like Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Borodin, Schubert, but especially Schnittke, he is an absolutely crazy composer, I call him “The God of music“, hehe.

What is your creative routine? Is there some piece of gear you wouldn’t be able to work without?

Sergey: We wouldn’t be able to work without our guitarist. Max writes all the music. Then together we work with parties and make changes if necessary. When the music is ready, Kirill applies text to the music.

What are your future plans? Do you have any shows booked?

Max: Ossuary Anex have a Russian tour with Relics of Humanity and Darkall Slaves in May 2017. In Autumn we’re planning another tour and a couple of separate shows. Besides, we began to work on a new album, we have a lot of ideas. We would like to achieve even more natural and dark sound. By the way, Justin DiPinto (a former drummer of Malevolent Creation, Pyrexia, Mortal Decay, etc.) agreed to participate with the drum work on the album. We sent him an outline of our new things, and he was quite interested. Sergey, our permanent drummer will concentrate on preparation for the concerts.

What are some of the difficulties extreme metal bands face in Russia?

Sergey: The main difficulty for extreme metal bands – little interest in this kind of music. In our country, people treat minorities and subcultures with suspicion. Few people go to concerts of extreme music. No culture of buying music. Everyone’s downloading from the internet.

Max: …and as a consequence it is difficult to find good like-minded musicians.

Tell me about your local scene. Are there any notable bands I should research?

Max: The extreme scene in Russia is very unstable. I don’t know groups that have been being active since the 90s, which have been regularly releasing albums, constantly performing, were well known throughout the country, like Greek Rotting Christ for example. There is a death metal band Miscreant from our city, they have been playing since 90s, but now are almost inactive. There is old band Alkonost, their earliest stuff is awesome – rough pagan metal, but their new work is not so interesting. But many decent bands began to appear in the last 10 years about in deferent styles. Black Metal: Drauggard, Grey Heaven Fall, Vedmak, Neron Kaisar. Death Metal: Cephalic Impurity, Grond, Pyre.Grindcore: Internal Damage, Fitcage, Disact, etc.

Simon: There are a lot of extreme metal bands in Russia, but not many bands linger on the stage. Remarkable bands for me – Disact, Visceral Disorder.

Any albums you got to listen lately that you feel deserve more attention?

Max: I recently listened to an album of Apparatus (Copenhagen) it’s called the same – Apparatus (2015). I really like it, very dark and atmospheric music. And I think almost all the releases of Lavadome Productions deserve more attention.

Great, I haven’t heard of them, but I sure will. Now, what do you know about the Greek metal scene? Do you have any favorite bands?

Kirill: I’m a big fan of Rotting Christ. I really like Triarchy of the Lost Lovers, I listened to this album a million of times. It used to be my favorite album. Well and early Septic Flesh of course.

Max: The Greek metal scene is very rich and diverse! One of my favorite bands – Inveracity, I love their album Circle Of Perversion (2003). Then, I know guys of Sickening Horror, they had a Russian tour in 2009, and I organized the concert in our city for them, they even couch-surfed in my flat! Also Dead Congregation – awesome band. Besides, I know Greece has a very strong black metal scene! I listened to Necromantia, Varathron, Zemial, Lord Impaler, Agatus, Burial Hordes and many more!

Ok, you covered pretty much everything. To wrap it up, is there anything else you want to add?

Thank you for the questions, it was very interesting to answer them, and thank you again for your review of our album!

Follow them on https://www.facebook.com/OssuaryAnex

Ignis Gehenna – Baleful Scarlet Star (2017)

ignis-gehenna-coverIgnis Gehenna is a one-man band from Tasmania, Australia. Nihilifer (also known from the now split up Erebus Enthroned) is the mastermind behind this act that already counts a decade on its back. In this debut full length album he attempts to conjure a sinister darkness from beyond this world, and admittedly he managed it all too well.

The album starts with a slow, mesmerizing tune, and from the first minute you can tell this is going to be a good album. It doesn’t take long however to realize this is an understatement. Halfway through the first song and the raspy vocals are hooked on skin like snake fangs. Then enters the bass with a furious melodic riffing and instead of just filling the sound, it fills your brain with deep burning scars. And this is only the beginning; each track pushes the envelope just a bit further. The album is constantly shifting from mid-tempo groovy to Swedish-like melodic black metal with a natural ease, and sure has the riffs to support the act (the closing riff of Baleful Scarlet Star keeps playing in my head at random moments during the day).

The guitars are heavy and distorted and give the album the dreading sound it requires to drag you to hellish magical paths. The incredible (and quite audible) bass helps heighten the feeling of desolate desperation which tends to become the trademark of Australian extreme metal. The vocals are also amazing. Part venomous, part grandiose and with clear articulation are more than you may ask for. The drums are doing their best to push the album a little further into the masterpiece area. They won’t ruin a good riff with needless experimentations, but given the chance they go all inventive.

Production-wise, the album is outstanding. The songs are crafted with great care and keep the interest peaked at all times. You will literally be surprised at how fast time flies by when you listen to it. The sound is gloomy but not muddy; on the contrary, everything sounds clean and well separated. The well crafted mastering maintains a consistent atmosphere for the entire duration. The cover artwork is fantastic and only adds to a flawless album. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Follow them at: https://www.facebook.com/ignisgehenna

Noteworthy Report: February 2017

In today’s overcrowded metal scenes, more than 100 albums are being released EVERY MONTH. Through ATF I try to review 2-3 of those albums, the ones that really worth it and don’t get as much credit as they are due. Unfortunately, this means that an awful lot of good albums are not going to be reviewed. This is why I post the “Noteworthy Report”, a monthly installment with albums that are either too noticeable to miss or albums that sound promising but I didn’t have the time to pay as much attention as they deserved.

As always, I will begin with the albums that usually pass under the radars and put the “established” acts in the end, since you probably got to listen to them already. If you believe some other way of order would serve the bands better, let me know in the comments.

 

Scuorn – Parthenope

Italy’s Scuorn have almost a decade on his back (yes, this is a one man band), but only released their debut just the past week. Symphonic black metal (that will remind you the great Limbonic Art at points) with a Mediterranean folk twist. Sounds really promising. Added bonus: the second CD comes with the orchestral versions of the songs.

 

Pure Wrath – Ascetic Eventide

Debut release for this one man band from Indonesia. Nice atmospheric black metal and a sound quality I wasn’t really ready for. At points the repetitions feel somewhat uncalled for, but the overall impression is a good one. I wish I had more time in my hands to focus in this album. If you do, don’t miss the chance to give it a spin.

 

Guerra Total – Nihilistic Malthusian Manifesto (The Ouroboros Cosmic Indifferentism)

Whoaaahaha! Total war is sure what is going on in this album. South American blackened thrash featuring some weird piano/synth moments that -once I got used to- actually managed to keep me interested throughout the duration.

 

Eterna Rovina – Metamorfosi

Another one-man band from Italy that plays mid-tempo atmospheric black metal. The album starts with some uncertainty, but a few songs in it picks its own direction and stigma. Don’t let the obvious mastering blunders turn you down, this is just the perfect stepping stone for improvement.

 

Sinister – Syncretism

Need I say anything more? Really?

 

So, what are some other interesting extreme metal albums that got released in February? Let us know in the comments…

Interview with Avslut

As you may remember, last month I reviewed this fresh Swedish band’s latest EP. Once they did a break from touring they found the time to have a chat about their music and their future plans. Don’t you wanna know? Well, keep reading.

First of all, give me a short biography of the band.

Avslut is a strong 4 piece band based in Stockholm Sweden. It all begun one year ago when C and O wanted to do something different from what their other bands do/did. From the beginning it was just supposed to be a 2 piece band between them both, but short after E was invited to do the lead guitar works and it became a band. Later on D joined on Bassguitar.

You released two singles and an EP the past year. What is the feedback so far?

The feedback has been great all across the world, we’ve been played on radiostations in      several countries and in October’s Edition of Close Up Magazine Avslut were appointed as the best unsigned Swedish band. This is to mention the EP. The singles have made us into the top Metal lists on spotify and resulted in great collaborations and contacts.

What are your future plans? Are you working on a debut album or should we expect something different first?

We are working on an album at the moment that will be recorded, done and released after this summer. During the time we will do some gigs in between and keep on spreading Darkness.

Anger. Misery. Darkness. Tell me about your lyrics.

The titles sums up some of the “negative” forms of energies the living, or dead tend to produce, in different circumstances. You can either “run from it”, or embrace it to it’s fullest and use it as a tool. The lyrics comes from our own personal experience, and we’ve chosen to write them in our language.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

From within our inner selves.

What is your creative routine when you begin to write a song? On that note, is there some piece of gear that you feel is essential to facilitate your work?

We often come up with new riffs at home or when we do our 3 days a week rehearsal that are the same days every week no matter what, that’s pretty much the routine we got. We always want to involve all the members in the songwriting and all of us got our own homestudios that facilitates the songwriting and sharing ideas.

Do you have any plans for live shows?

We will go to Germany the 15th of April to play at Dark Easter Festival, then we will play 2 shows on home ground. We will open up for the cult Death Metal band Asphyx the 20th of May in Stockholm then we will do a Festivalshow in Stockholm at Prostatattack in October. That’s what’s planned so far, but we’re sure it will be more bookings inbetween.

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There is a long tradition of extreme metal in Sweden, and as far as I know, even the state kind of embraces that now. Are there any difficulties for black metal bands up there?

Yeah we got for example Dissection, Marduk, Dark Funeral and Watain to mention some important bands in the genre that have released many great albums and made big prints around the world. It’s very common band’s sound to much original than try to create their own sound that’s what makes it hard for new bands to reach out to a bigger mass, and that’s the biggest difficulty up here.

Tell me about your local scene. Any notable underground bands we should keep an eye for?

There are some strong growing bands in Stockholm to keep an eye out for. IXXI & Mephorash. The scene is very small in Stockholm but is on its way back. It’s up to the new bands to lead the new wave.

What are some albums you got to listen lately that you feel deserve more attention?

SarkomDoomsday Elite, GorgorothInstinctusBestialis, The UglyDecreationNordjevelNordjevel. That’s some of the best albums of late time.

What do you know about the Greek extreme metal? Do you have some favorite bands?

Natvre’s is an awesome upcoming band.

Ok, thank you for your time. Do you have any closing thoughts or anything else you want to add?

Stay updated and keep your eyes open for more. Thank you for this interview.

For more Avslut visit: https://www.facebook.com/1008Avslut1008/

Au Champ Des Morts – Dans La Joie (2017)

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Au Champ Des Morts are a somewhat new band, summoned in 2014 by former Anorexia Nervosa members who didn’t want to sit idly after the band went into hiatus, they released an EP in 2016, and now they are back with more of their bitter poison in the form of a debut album.

 

The album starts with a pretty standard sounding shoegaze track, and for the first four minutes nothing really prepares you for what is going to unfold before you. Then, around 4:05 something happens, something truly promising. The mood switches to the epic melancholy of late Primordial albums, the music speeds up a notch and the vocals become bolder in their expression. The album never loses interest from then on, constantly going back and forth between anger and despair. With every passing track more and more influences are transparently brought in. Loose ends from Asgaroth’s “Absence Spells Beyond”, from Therion’s “Vovin”, from Fen’s “Malediction Fields”, heck, even from Dead Can Dance’s “Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun” are tied nicely to what feels like the origins of depressive BM, and creates some of the finest French contemporary post black metal. Absolutely fucking brilliant songwriting!

 

The purposefully unclean guitars weave a dread web of mournful melodies, enhanced by the vocals in their many forms. The drums are unexpectedly inspired –for the genre– which was a positive surprise. The bass tries to follow this orgy, and in many a case you will catch it playing wicked tunes, but its somewhat flat sound doesn’t allow it to truly shine.

Production-wise, the mix is somewhat muddy. This isn’t really a deciding factor when it comes to black metal, yet in this case it does do a disservice to an –otherwise– excellent album. Dans La Joie goes way beyond the boundaries of shoegaze post black metal, and I guess it will appeal to fans of Fen, Drudkh, Primordial, Battle Dagorath, and anyone with an open mind really. Bottom line: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

For more info hit:

https://dmp666.bandcamp.com/album/dans-la-joie

https://www.facebook.com/Au-Champ-Des-Morts-1061663760580553/

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Nidingr – The High Heat Licks Against Heaven (2017)

 

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Nidingr started way back in 1992 as a solo project of Teloch (also known from his work in 1349, Gorgoroth and Mayhem among others), yet for some reason they never reached the starhood status other bands of that same era achieved. They released their debut in 2005 and even from that first album they showed signs of expert musicianship and a wild blend of melodic -yet sharp- black metal, cross-bred with brutal death metal moments. Yesterday they released their fourth full-length album, ‘The High Heat Licks Against Heaven’, and as nature wants it, this is a mature evolution of the band and its style which can still be heard rooted deep in its songs.

The album starts with a blast of energy that sets the mood and expectations: this is going to be a Hel of a ride (warning: there be Valkyries), definitely black metal, but hard to put in a corner as it constantly shifts and wind up in weird and unexpected turns of doom, avant-garde and death metal. The only element that is ever-present is the Viking mythology.

 

The guitars on this album are hard to characterize: at points they stand firmly on previous Nidingr works, at points they stand with one foot knee-deep in Mayhem-like bursts and the other in US death breaks, and in the end all roads lead to epic ballads. But there is no confusion as everything is mapped properly. On top of that, the clearly audible bass is at great form here. Not only massively glues everything together, on its spare time it goes into raging melodies complementing the work the guitars are doing non-stop. Simply beautiful.

The vocals are fitting. ‘Is that all?’. Well, for such a complex album, “fitting” translates to some of the most diverse and well performed recordings. The growls are articulated (a rare feat on its own), the clean voices, both male (performed by Kristoffer Rygg, aka Garm) and female (performed by Amalie Bruun, aka Myrkur) are mesmerizing. They manage to take you there: the Norse saga.

The drums sound natural, an option most modern extreme bands avoid as they are hard to do right and it raises the bar for the rest of the instrumentation as well. Nidingr went for it, as they seem capable of pulling this off anyways. The compositions here however are somewhat conservative –given the nature of the album– and although perfectly executed, they leave you wanting more.

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The mix is wonderful. Nothing is forced here, despite the shift of styles even mid-song. Everything has its place, sounds natural and well separated. The sound is powerful but special care was given not to kill the dynamics. If you are a fan of relentless, violent black metal, well, there is something for you too in here. If you are a fan of honest extreme metal, labels aside, this album is for you. Twice as much if you also like Enslaved. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

More info:

https://www.facebook.com/nidingr

https://nidingrsom.bandcamp.com/

 

Avslut – Vanskapt (2016)

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Avslut is a newly formed band, but also a hard working one. In their sole year of existence they released two singles and one EP, for which I am going to talk about in this review. The band members are seasoned musicians (although I never heard of their previous bands) and this can be heard – the quality of their work is astonishing.

If what you seek in your black metal is darkness, disharmony, anger, misery, deformity, this EP has you covered. With four tracks clocking just over 20 minutes, they give us a taste of classic Swedish black metal that pays tribute to the entirety of their scene, in its own unique way.

Sharp guitars intertwine and create beautiful yet nightmarish riffing, the bass is digging graves and the gnarled vocals assault the senses. The intense drumming is inspired and fitting and the tight mix glues everything together nicely, leaving enough headroom for dynamics. I always like that as it makes the listening experience easy.

The compositions are well thought out. They never go stale; instead they constantly evolve into some new mischief. Vrede had my hair raised. On many occasions I felt my heart racing. I can’t remember when was the last time a contemporary release managed to do that to me. All I can say for this little gem here is: a work of genius. I became a huge fan of Avslut in under 20 minutes. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

For more Avslut head here: https://www.facebook.com/1008Avslut1008/