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/

Interview with GreyAblaze

Back in December I had a great opportunity to talk with Astargh regarding GreyAblaze’s fresh full length album. As a musician myself, I am always curious about the way other people of my ilk work as well as the business end of things. If you too are curious, read below and be enlightened.

Give me a short bio of your project.

The project has no biography. Once I had the idea to write DSBM project, but it turned to something else.

The album was recorded back in 2013 but got released just now. Why is that?

I didn’t want to give it indiscriminately to someone, all proposals for the production of the album were unsuitable. Ashen Dominion did everything as I wanted, so they released the album.

 

What is the feedback so far? How are the sales going?

I do not know how many CDs were sold, I do not follow it. But we got a lot of positive feedback.

Now that the album is out, would you change anything in it?

No, everything turned out as planned. All I wanted to do now, will be on the new album.

You haven’t gone into the usual great lengths that most labels require to market the album (professional photo shootings, videoclip etc). Was this deliberate? Are you happy with the label’s support so far?

Here, it was not necessary. There are music and images in the lyrics. Think that this album not needs in musicians photos and music clips, we give to listeners the freedom of imagination.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

It is very difficult to say where it all comes from. I think it come from inner state, some feelings, from music of old bands, such as Queen or Pink Floyd.

What are the lyrics about?

All the lyrics for the album written by Helg (Khors, Ulvegr, KZOHH).  They didn’t have some sending or concepts, but they are filled with a very expressive images that emphasized Greyablaze music.

What is your creative routine? Can you tell me anything about your favorite gear or software you use?

Usually I compose music at home. When all the demos are ready, we start working on the Dark Essence Recording Studio. At work, I use a lot of software, the main DAW – Pro Tools, also I use many Kontakt libraries. I have old American guitars BC Rich and Jackson, I used them on all recordings.

 

What are your future plans with GreyAblaze? Are you planning to play live shows?

Now I compose a new album which I want to release this year. About the live performances anything difficult to say. If there are proposals, we will play concerts, but there is the same problem as with Elderblood – for organizers of concerts is difficult to carry a band from Ukraine.

Any albums you listened lately that you would like to share with us?

Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
Cult of Luna / Julie Christmas – Mariner

What can you tell me about your local scene? Any bands we should lookout?

I do not watch the local scene. All worthy groups are already known.

What do you know of the Greek metal scene? Do you have any favorite bands?

From the Greek scene, I heard a lot of bands. Favorites are Septic Flesh and Acherontas.

Anything else you want to add?

Thanx for the interest in GreyAblaze. Horns Up!

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To stay tuned with GreyAblaze, follow the band at:

https://www.facebook.com/greyablaze

https://vk.com/greyablaze

Noteworthy Report: January 2017

In today’s overcrowded metal scenes, more than 100 albums are being released EVERY MONTH. Some of them are awesome, most of them are not. Through ATF I try to review 2-3 albums every month, 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 –hopefully– monthly installment with albums that are either too noticeable to miss (so no point to write yet another review just to get some traffic), or albums that sound promising but I didn’t have the time to pay as much attention as they deserved.

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.

 

Acrosome – Narrator and Remains

This is the second full length for the Turkish one-man band. Nightmarish ambient covered in a fog of murky avant-garde black metal. There are many elements I didn’t really liked, but the overall impression the album did to me was very powerful. Few dare to execute this kind of music, and fewer do it properly. Acrosome tried and delivered.

 

Afterblood – Blood Art Tryptych (EP)

I wasn’t aware of this Greek blackened death metal act, until we shared the stage half a year ago. Their energetic show was captivating, so when they released this new EP I was eager to check it out. The overall impression is very good, even if I mostly prefer their blackened moments (see Behold The Fallen). Definitely worth your time.

 

Begerith – A.D.A.M.

I knew I was in for a treat with this album even as the intro was still unfolding. Polish blackened death metal, closely following on the steps of late Behemoth. Astonishingly majestic, majestically astonishing.

 

Draugsól – Volaða Land

This is a cliché joke by now: there is something in the waters of Iceland, no other explanation for how they manage to have so many, so talented, so high quality extreme metal bands up there. Draugsól are no exception.

 

Scáth Na Déithe – Pledge Nothing But Flesh

Now this is a tricky beast. These guys manage to instill a heavy, mournful atmosphere to their black metal, dispelled only by the constant gear shifts from doom to high speeds. Parts of it are pure nightmare material, parts are direct whispers from the outer planes, and parts are just Irish black metal. Interesting listen in any event.

 

Enepsigos – Plague of Plagues

This is a hell of a debut. The Norwegians start their album with somewhat careful tracks, but as the clock gets ticking they raise the bar higher with every passing song. Less than halfway in, they finally stand up for their bio proclamation: this is some Trve Norwegian Black Metal. The ‘groove’ didn’t do me any good, but some riffs are pure poison. Don’t miss it.

Listen to the whole album here: https://drakkar-productions-official.bandcamp.com/album/enepsigos-plague-of-plagues

 

The Flight of Sleipnir – Skadi

The Americans return this year with their 6th album of ethereal progressive black/doom. The slowly unweaving tracks create the perfect otherworldly atmosphere to accompany your whiskey. Too bad there are not as many hours in a day to properly enjoy this.

 

These are some of the most impressive releases for the first month of 2017. If things keep up like this, I can safely bet this is going to be a hell of a year!

Noteworthy Report: Rest of 2016 (4/4)

The time has come to close this 4-part Noteworthy Report. These albums and EPs made my year SO much better and if you have compatible music tastes (which is why you are here probably) I can guarantee they will make yours too if you take the time to listen to them.

 

Paul Ozz – Tartarvs

While it is hugely common for black metal musicians to form one man “bands”, the same is a rarity in the death metal scene. Paul Ozz is a hard working musician who managed to put together a little gem of progressive death metal in the form of an EP. He also released a new single just this month.

Listen in full here: https://paulozzmusic.bandcamp.com/album/tartarvs

 

Panzerfaust – The Lucifer Principle

If you ever wondered how the end of the world would sound if you were trapped in a dusty cathedral while it was happening, this EP has the answer. This is some dark black metal.

Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/decibelmagazine/sets/panzerfaust-the-lucifer-principle

 

Perennial Isolation – Epiphanies of the Orphaned Light

This is the third album for the atmospheric black metal band from Spain, and I got to say, they did a tremendously good job at every aspect, from the compositions, to sound, to artwork. The moment you hold this CD you know you’re in for a ride through misty forests. Highly recommended for fans of Agalloch and Fen.

 

Sol Sistere – Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum

Chile has a quite small metal scene, but the few names that made it out of the ‘deep underground’ are of such remarkable quality that makes up for their numbers. This one here is one of the best atmospheric post black metal albums I heard all year.

 

Sinsaenum – Echoes Of The Tortured

Interesting mix of black and death metal. Some DM parts felt underwhelming, but otherwise it is a solid release. Amazing lead guitars and all kinds of cool stuff going on with vocals, and how couldn’t be with three singers one of whom being Attila Csihar…

 

Sojourner – Empires of Ash

Murky, atmospheric black metal bordering pagan folk. For fans of Summoning and Saturnus alike. Quite enjoyable for slow evenings.

 

Sylvaine – Wistful

Shoegaze post rock with a few blackened moments that bring Dismal Euphony’s ‘Soria Moria Slot’ to mind and others reminding late The Gathering, while still carrying a personal brand. Pretty good music to relax you after a hard day.

 

Spire – Entropy

An album that is constantly switching from agonizing Doom/Death to rabid Black metal. It resonates a murky gloomy atmosphere even in its most energetic moments. Excellent work from the Aussies.

 

Temple of Katharsis / Faceless God / Sulferon – Knights Of The Northern Black Empire

The one thing you will immediately notice upon playing this split is the primitive production and sound. But as I stated opening the series of this “Noteworthy Report – all of the great releases of 2016 I didn’t get the time to mention during the year”, I AM giving a break to the least established acts. Once you allow your mind to focus on the music, you will find 6 killer compositions that present 3 different aspects of the Greek underground. Sharp, short and to the point.

 

The Foreshadowing – Seven Heads Ten Horns

There are parts of genius and parts that threw me off, pretty much in constant exchange. It still sounds like a dream, it manages to carry you away. Two Horizons is one of the most beautiful tracks I’ve heard this year.

More info here: https://cycloneempire.bandcamp.com/album/seven-heads-ten-horns

 

Thy Worshiper – Klechdy

Magical, paganistic neofolk, prog black metal from Poland. It sure sounds interesting but can it be good too? Short answer, YES. If Ravenloft was a real place, this could be its folk music.

 

Ultha – Converging Sins

This album generated some hype, and rightly so. Unfortunately I found the majority of vocals not really matching the music which is a masterpiece. Still it is a great album that will give you goosebumps on many occasions throughout its duration (which is slightly over an hour).

 

Urgehal – Aeons in Sodom

Old school Norwegian Black/Thrash. Is there really anything to say about Urgehal? If you never heard of them before, well, you’re a little late…

 

Urfaust – Empty Space Meditation

Urfaust is a band I always liked for the ritualistic occult paranoia of their music, and I always admired for their ability to transfer the feeling of their recordings on a live setting as a duo. Empty Space Meditation carries the heavy air of Der Freiwillige Bettler, yet the maturity of the band in this new release is striking.

 

Voidthrone – Spiritual War Tactics

If you ever go on a journey through some barren desolate hell-hole, this is THE must-have soundtrack to heighten your despair. Dissonant black/doom from USA at its best.

 

Void Omnia – Dying Light

This is the debut album of this newly formed American melodic black metal band, and I must admit they did a hell of a good job. The contemporary US BM scene is becoming quite the thing lately.

Listen here: https://voidomnia.bandcamp.com/album/dying-light

 

Winterfylleth – The Dark Hereafter

The lads from UK are on fire for yet another album. Melancholic, misty, atmospheric black metal, and a brave cover of Ulver’s “Troldskog Faren Vild” compose an instant classic. Don’t miss that one.

 

I haven’t included the albums that I presented in previous Noteworthy Reports (in November and December), nor the albums I reviewed (Deathkin, Battle Dagorath, GreyAblaze, Ossuary Anex, Diabolical) as this would be redundant. The fact I got to talk about them in the first place means that they ARE so special.

If you discovered some other albums that I may missed and you believe I will enjoy, feel free to let me know in the comments…

Have a fucking great week everyone!