Interview with God Syndrome

Every time I write a review, I try to get in touch with the band and get some more information around the album and the musicians responsible for it. And it is always a pleasure when this actually happens. I spoke to Pavel of God Syndrome about their album “Controverse”, the band’s future plans and the Russian realities. Read along for his interesting insights.

Give me a short introduction to God Syndrome. What does your name stand for?

God Syndrome is an expression depicting a parasitic type of a mindset, an boundless lust for power over the others, it’s some kind of a diagnosis, which signs appear in some people. The people who play with this world, who rule the processes and destinies of other people and believe that this is their mission. Or the people who aspire to do so.

What is the feedback on the album so far?

The album had been released in 2016 but, as You can see, we’re still working on its promotion. Of course we do not have huge opportunities for it, but during the past time we had received a lot of reviews from all around the world. Generally the album was favourably accepted by the listeners and critics. I think, that after this release we became more popular in Russia, but it’s actually not a hardest task. The social networking helped our album to spread all around the russian segment of internet, so the russian underground was able to fully appreciate our work. The European metal scene is different, and now we would like to receive more opinions from that part of the world.

The artwork on Controverse is really impressive, and I don’t just mean the cover. The entire booklet is really well done. Can you give some info on the artist(s) responsible for it and the creation process?

Yeah, we liked the artwork too. The artist’s name is Vladimir Chebakov, but in the world of dark art he is widely known as W. Smerdulak. He had been living in Russia, but moved to Czech Republic. Our guitar player Sergey had been working with him long before the birth of God Syndrome band. W. Smerdulak also known as the author of the artworks of many bands not only from Russia but from all over the world. We made up an idea of the artwork and W. Smerdulak brought it to life. The work upon the art and layout design lasted for a long time, but the result was worth it.

What are the lyrics about?

We have a lot of topics that we touch in our lyrics, since I’m not the only one writing lyrics in the band. Our bass player Dmitry and guitar player Sergey take an active part in writing lyrics. Each of us has his own views, own style of writing so, respectively, the songs are different in their meaning and style. In common the band’s lyrics concept is based on our attitude to class division of people, to the centuries-old hierarchy of “crowd-elite” society. “Controverse” is the name for such general mood. This name was formed through conjunction of two words – “controversy” and “verse”. Doing so we wanted to say, that for us this album and these lyrics are some kind of a struggle expressed in verses. For example, the song “Clan” tells the listeners about closed social cell with different laws and relations to other people. “Tormans” is a story about the fictional planet from the novel of Ivan Efremov, whose books really impressed me and affected my own views and mindset. “Purge” is a requiem to an existing reality, an epilogue of self-destruction when the world celebrates the forthcoming of an end, falling into artificial ecstasy and dancing its epileptic dance. Dmitry’s lyrics depict the ones who stand against the injustice and disparity, shown in the images of monstrous inhuman beings and deities.

What are your main influences?

We started out playing a “Swedish” melodic death, like Arch Enemy and In Flames, with the vocals even closer to scream rather than growling. But soon we all came up to a conclusion that we want to play more aggressive and heavy stuff, so our first EP had been recorded with that conclusion in mind. We love different kinds of death metal and rely mostly on three death metal “schools” that are important for us – Swedish, American and Polish death metal. So in our music we combine American drive and groove, Swedish melodism and Polish aggressiveness and anger.

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Can you give me a walk-through of your music creation process?

All the music is written by Sergey Aksenov. He prepares the demo tracks and then we listen to them together, share opinions and change something. After that we start to play these new tracks during the rehearsals. It helps us to determine the details in drum parts and to get an understanding of how the track sounds live. After that we write the lyrics (sometimes the already written lyrics fit well though). When the song is complete, we begin the recording process, but sometimes changes can occur even in the studio. The final result is usually unknown, we can just approximately imagine it during the creation process.

What are your immediate future plans? Do you have a new release coming or focusing on live shows?

Right now we are working upon new songs. We have some tracks already, but we’ll think about recording the next album after we’ll write a minimum of 7-8 new songs for it. We do not think about concerts right now, maybe we’ll play a live show in our hometown this autumn, but we have to prepare to it well. We want to make every subsequent show to be more interesting and exciting for listeners than previous one.

What are your goals for God Syndrome? Where do you see the band in 5-10 years from now?

It’s a difficult question. Though it’s hard to make any predictions (who knows what would happen in this world?), I would like to see God Syndrome performing on bigger stages of metal festivals around the world. Time will show what would come from all of this.

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Lately I am noticing more and more high quality extreme metal albums coming from Russia. What exactly is going on up there?

The things are really bad here, bro. I know that it’s not easy anywhere, and there are good metal musicians and talented people here in Russia, but not everyone can establish himself in metal music. Those who found forces and dedication to make their ideas come true and bring this to life – they become heard by metal music lovers. But it’s hard, cause there is no united metal scene in Russia, and mostly there is no metal culture in many regions. Metal music came to us from the west, it is usually perceived as alien by most people. In boondocks (and Russia is really huge and rich on such places) some people bully the metalheads only for their  appearance. But in big cities there are local scenes, local festivals. And of course in each region there are bands that deserve attention.

What is it like being in the extreme scene in today’s Russia? I understand that there is some Christian “resistance” of sorts, backed by the government?

We feel fine, although the f*cking regime doesn’t allow us to perform sacrifices and ritual murders, hehe. Joking aside, the notorious russian laws prohibiting extremism are quite adequate to modern society. Those incidents with metal bands in Russia are mostly particular cases, it was some kind of a wave that couldn’t be seen today. And it was the policy of particular people, the government cannot support such acts, it’s illegal, but in Russia the government and the church had grown together and many people are just lobbying their own private interests. Someone had won some publicity through cancelation of Behemoth’s concerts, the others were glad to defame the reputation of the gig organizers, as their rival in showbiz. It’s difficult to understand if those religious activists had emerged on their own or with someone’s help. As you see, religion has a bad influence on governing process. And the officials, like police chief or a governor, can also be a Christian, and for them it would be easier to follow the flow of the situation created by someone else rather than puzzle out who’s right and who’s wrong and seek the justice.

I understand. Now, leaving these things behind us, are there any other notable bands from your local area you would recommend me?

In Samara, our hometown, we are the only active death metal band. There’s also a great band called IRV, they really do their best for self-development, they are skilled artists and they write very interesting and ingenious music. The other bands either are of very low level or do not perform actively. Maybe there are some super-bands from Samara, but I haven’t heard about them…

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

I think that I know almost nothing about Greek metal scene. Maybe there are some bands among the ones that I’ve listened to and I liked them, and these bands are from Greece, although I don’t know about it. Speaking of bigger bands, I was excited by the latest Rotting Christ album “Rituals”. I also keep an eye on Septic Flesh. A good friend of ours (and a huge Septic Flesh fan), who lives in Moscow, is acquainted with Seth. He sent our albums to Seth and he told him some warm words about our music. We also had met them after their show in Samara in 2015, and Seth recalled our band during the conversation with our bass player Dmitry, it was very cool and encouraging. And the other day I’ve seen Psycon wearing our t-shirt on Instagram photo. So maybe we are closer to Greek metal scene than we think 🙂

Yeah, Seth is a great guy, and he really pays attention to other bands… So, I think I am covered, I have no more questions. Is there anything else you want to add before I let you go?

Thank You for Your interest to our band and to Russian metal scene in general.  I wish You all the best, my friends, and let’s hope that we would come to Greece someday and meet all the death metal lovers of this wonderful country!

Thank you for your time.

Follow God Syndrome on https://www.facebook.com/godsyndrome/

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God Syndrome – Controverse (2016)

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Time and time again I have declared my dislike to groovy metal-core. And here I am reviewing an album that stands with one foot in it. No, it’s not dry season. Rather the opposite. It’s just the simple fact that this is a killer album despite its grooviness (or –for people that aren’t me– thanks to exactly that).

God Syndrome come from Samara, Russia. Have I told you lately how the Russian extreme metal scene is becoming a really great one? This is another example of this fact. With one foot knee-deep in American tech-death-core and the other in Swedish melo-death, they present an annihilating mix similar to Hypocrisy on steroids.

The album starts with a tech-y catch-all track, one to lure the average generalist metalhead, but shortly after that it gets a character of its own (and gains the review slot). The songs flow beautifully and you won’t even notice its almost hourly duration. This in my book counts as great songwriting.

The guitars are expertly performed, especially for a lead-packed album such as this one. These melodic leads are pretty trippy to the point of melancholy, bringing late Septic Flesh and Hypocrisy to mind on many occasions. The vocals are perfect and fit the music in both its brutal and melodic phases. The drums are intense and really well composed. Always on target –no matter the experimentation– they manage to give the right atmosphere to every riff. The bass here takes on a more supportive role. Clean and powerful, it glues all the pieces together.

Sound-wise, the production is perfect. The instruments are well separated and mixed properly. Special care has been given to preserve enough “air” to let the dynamics do their part.

Overall, this is an album worth your time and money. I never really expected to say something like that for an album with a –core synthetic in it but honestly, anything less would be a mean lie. It has enough power to satisfy every extreme death metal fan, and enough groove to satisfy pretty much every other metalhead. Fans of Hypocrisy around “The Final Chapter” era will surely love it (this is the third time I dropped their name so I really mean it)! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

For more info follow them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/godsyndrome

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

Ossuary Anex – Mutilation Through Prayer (2016)

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Ok, it was about freaking time for a new review, right? I should start this one by pointing out that I am not a huge fan of death metal. There, I said it. I don’t like death-core. Heck, I don’t like anything-core as a matter of fact. When it comes to death metal, I like some Swedish school, or melodic/symphonic stuff like Septic Flesh, or when I feel like going all brutal, Deicide, Vital Remains and a tiny bit of later Cannibal Corpse is pretty much all I enjoy.

So what we have here is the second album of the Russian band Ossuary Anex. And I must admit I couldn’t tell they’re Russian until I read it. This is the kind of death metal I would expect from a US band, or at least a really inspired moment of a Greek band. The album starts with a sick piano intro, the blasting commences and it’s uphill from then on. Nothing is forced, the songs flow with enough variation and thanks to their duration (which averages around 4 minutes) it never gets boring.

Brutal sounding guitars, highly energetic technical play, a bass that slams you right in the face, the vocals are brutal and deep (even if mixed a little lower than what I was expecting), and natural drums, which was a great surprise given the overly trigger-happy nature of the genre.

The mix is really good and powerful, and you can easily discern every instrument. These guys totally convinced me. It’s been years to enjoy a brutal death metal album as much (last one I remember was “Promulgation of the Fall” by Dead Congregation, and that was back in 2014). Not to mention the killer artwork. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

More info:

https://lordofthesickrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/mutilation-through-prayer

http://www.lordsick.bigcartel.com/

https://www.facebook.com/OssuaryAnex

SMT/ATF Episode 9: Russia

This is the 9th and up to now the most difficult part of this series where I pick a country and choose those bands that have something exceptional to show, if not their exceptionally great music, at least the fact that they are an exception to the rule of “play the flavor-of-the-month music or sink trying”…

Why was this week’s post so difficult to write? There are two reasons: at first, this week I present music from Russia, home to all things evil, like communism, the Czar and Konstantin of Stellar, and sadly enough I couldn’t find that many candidates for a slot. Does this mean there are not that many good bands there? Hopefully not! I just don’t seem to have as many CDs from Russian bands, and those that I do have are pretty ordinary as the practice of running through them showed me. The second reason is that WoW’s patch 4.3 came out this week and I just HAD to check it out. Actually I wrote this post in a hurry and heading back in some dungeon crawling afterwards. So here it is…

 

One of the first Russian bands I ever got to listen to was Alkonost. They play melodic pagan/folk metal, and I mean every word in this tag!

 

 

The second band is Dukhi Predkov, and they also happen to play melodic folk metal. The Slavonic folk elements are very prominent and fans of Skyclad and Eluveitie will definitely enjoy their music. For me, at least they are better than Temnozor

 

Seducer’s Embrace is russia’s answer to NWOSDM. I have to admit that I first got interest in them after reading “death metal” under the very colorful cover of their album ‘Self-mythology’, and to be honest I prefer their older works, as this one is too melodic for me. Almost Gamma Ray melodic!

 

Wine From Tears was a real shock for me. They play melodic doom/death metal, something similar to Saturnus, and they are very good at it. The production and the whole detailed-to-perfection package fooled me into believing them Swedish at first. Probably my favorite band from this huge land!

 

This is the first time since I began this series, where I went shopping and asked specifically for ‘Russian metal’ music. Thehappymask is my collection’s latest addition and they have some lovely shoegaze post-black metal treasures in their pockets. Invest!

 

Last and in our case probably least, we have Ordo Coquatrix, a band that shot their own foot in today’s way of making and promoting music. I was thinking of not having them here, because they have no means of letting you hear their music. That’s right! No youtube videos, not official website, not even myspace! All I can show you is the last.fm page of them, but unfortunately you won’t be able to listen to ‘XVIII’ which is a lovely weird song, but only a few typical depressive black metal samples of them. It really is a shame that the only way to get their debut (?) XXMI is to order it through some obscure underground distro or download it from some blog… Did I mention they didn’t even bother claiming their last.fm page as their own, artist-run page?

http://www.last.fm/music/Ordo+Coquatrix

The comment for them is no longer valid, since there ARE now videos available, so enjoy some ambient/drone from Russia!

 

 

Have a nice weekend!