Underground Sounds: Ennui – End of Circle

Label: Non Serviam Records
Band: Ennui
Origin: Georgia

Ennui is a French word, fallen out of use to an extent, that means a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction, which well captivates the work by this Georgian duo. With ‘End of Circle’, they’ve outdone themselves on the magnitude of work and force and therefore the work may be a bit much to chew up for most listeners. But those who delve into it will find sheer majesty.

Funeral doom is a difficult genre to be prolific in, but Ennui has been quite productive since 2012, releasing 4 full-length records and two splits. Serj Shengela who provides guitars and keys is also active in Angel of Disease, Signs and No Regrets. David Unsaved, drummer and singer, also plays in Necropoli and his solo outlet Unsaved.

The first thing that has to be mentioned is the sheer immensity of ‘End of Circle’. The opening track (and title track) clocks in at over 30 minutes of shimmering, dirge-like doom metal. A slow procession towards the underworld it seems, with the guitars just clambering up the heavens. It’s the feeling of being in a pit of sand where the walls keep crumbling as despair sets in. The keys are ever present, providing dungeon synthy intermezzos, further enriching the mournful sound of the band.

The vocals are minimal, but when David Unsaved screeches defiance at the heavens, it is something else. At times, the sonorous sounds of the tracks remind me a little of that Victorian darkness My Dying Bride Brings, but it’s sombre procession remains too level. The synths are often mesmerizing, like the use in atmospheric black metal. Another point of enjoyment as the guttural vocals grate low and dry.  The tunes ‘The Whithering part I & II’ both sound like a lamenting dirge, crawling towards their end for a good fourty minutes of sheer force and magnitude.

A spectacular record and effort by the Georgian duo.

Underground Sounds: The Angelic Process – Weighing Souls With Sand

Label: Burning World (originally Profound Lore)
Band: The Angelic Process
Origin: United States

The Angelic Process is an oddity in the drone doom landscape, with little similarity to the names that must spring to mind right now (Khanate, Earth and the mighty Sunn O))) for example). Their record ‘Weighing Souls With Sand’ is not a new one, and actually was released in 2007. Since James Plotkin remastered it for release by Burning World, we’d better check it out.

The Angelic Process only ever released two records and consisted of two members, namely Kris Angylus and Monica Henson. The suicide by Angylus put an end to the activities of the band, but their legacy is vast with a sound that can hardly be emulated as it veers somewhere between the densest postrock, shoegaze, and doom.

The slow emergence of the sun is the thing most akin to the way ‘The Promise of Snakes’ comes in. The densely compressed synths fill any sort of open space you may imagine with a sonic mist. As the song unfolds, the contrast between the ascending melody and distorted rhythms, crackling with condensed force, couldn’t be greater. The vocals and drums seem to be battling against this tide on tracks like ‘The Resonance of Goodbye’. That is possibly why they hit you so hard as a listener.

A track like ‘We All Die Laughing’ sucks the life out of you completely. The full on screams hit like a hail storm amidst the torrentuous guitars. Every particle hitting you with an icy cold, a fatalistic streak, and deep, deep sorrow.  It’s remarkable how hard it is to describe the music of The Angelic Process, yet it evokes such clear imagery. It’s the same trapped, muffled feeling that you get when you feel at your worst. The oscillating opening for example, on ‘How to Build a Time Machine’ is like a sonic bath, making you feel peaceful and tranquil. Allowing yourself to submerge in it.

Though the history of the record is a sad one, it’s beauty and splendor is undeniable.

Yana Raymi: Peruvian Pagan heroes

South-America is in these times identified with the European or Western cultural sphere. Yet, tradition and history runs deep in the Andes. None know this better than Yana Raymi from Peru.

Blending folk and metal, the band breathes life into a past that is buried and forgotten by many. The band has been active for years, they’ve recently dropped a new album that tells the stories of the Andean past.

Luckily, I was able to get an interview, in which we discussed their history, the history of their region and music. Of course also the connection with Indoraza.  Jhon Castro Cancho was kind enough to answer my questions and some interesting facts came up!

Ancient spirit of the Andes

Could you start by introducing yourselves and your musical background? Do you have any other bands you are currently active in?
My name is Jhon Castro, I am the founder guitarist of Yana Raymi. Peruvian band of Pagan Folk Metal. The band is composed by Luis Sarapura on drums. Jim Castro Bass and Voice, Evit Ordonez in the native instruments of winds and my person in the guitar. I currently play only in Yana Raymi .

How did the band get started and did you meet up?
The band began in the year 2004, in the city of Huancayo. The bassist, who is my brother, had been playing in a hard rock band named Indoraza and I had participated in Ccarccaria thrash death metal band. I joined them for a while and from there we decided to start the project that I had in mind. The idea was to make folk with a solid base in the traditional metal. After overcoming the lack of a drummer and getting a stable formation, Yana Raymi was born.

What sort of bands inspire you and are the basis for the sound of Yana Raymi?
Different bands. Bands like Sepultura (Old ), Sarcofago, Hadez, Kranium, Candlemass, Amon Amarth, Amorphis, and many more bands. As well as bands of South American Folklore, like Kjarkas, Savia Andina and others. At the time of writing we have never limited our horizons, nor have we typecast the band in a single style.

Which would you say is the core message behind Yana Raymi. As in, what do you want people to take away from your music?
The central message is to revalue our customs, legends and Andean Cosmovision, Peruvian through the extreme art of metal. We want to transmit to the people, through our musical style, all the heroism and glories of our past. Recreating in each song, battles, sacrifices, pagan rituals and worship of our ancient gods.

Can you share a bit about the Peruvian mythology, what is it like, what stories and aspects do you take from it and how do you put this in your music?
Peruvian mythology is based on the Incan empire, which reached its splendor with the brutal subjugation of other cultures in our territory. The worship of the Sun, Moon, and Mother Earth, among others, was the main feature. This Empire was ruled by the Inca, who was a direct descendant of the sun. This theme is included in our music through the lyrics.

Can you tell me a bit about how you go about making your music? Is it a cooperative process, or does every band member have his own part to play?
I make the base of all the songs, we work the lyrics together with my brother, and the other arrangements are made with the other members of the band already in the rehearsal room. We want all the members of the band to feel satisfied with the final result of a song.

As I understand it, your band has a connection to Indoraza. Do you feel you are bands in a similar mind or do you feel Yana Raymi is completely different?
The connection with Indoraza dates from the year 2002 – 03, which is when we played there. The sound evolved and Yana Raymi was born. Indoraza continued his path inside the Hard rock. The musical style is different, but in thematic, there is a certain similarity since both bands seek the revalue of certain customs. They in a more current way and we oriented to the pre-Hispanic era.

Recently, you released your latest record, which was named ‘Yana Allqo’. What can you tell about the record, the process of writing and what inspired it? What is the figure we see on the cover?
Yana Allqo ( Black Dog ) is a thematic disc that narrates the confrontation of the Inca army with the guardians of the Wanka Culture, this was located in the region that we currently inhabit (Center of Peru). These guardians were giant dogs that were invoked by the god Wallallo Carhuancho . for the defense of Wanka Valley. The figure we see on the cover is a Yana Allqo or black dog, around whom the theme of the album revolves.

Some of the songs seem to contain traditional elements and language. Can you share a bit about that and why you’ve chosen to make this part of your music and how you implement it during the creative process?
We chose to do this because it complements the theme we address. The traditional wind instruments give us a favorable environment for what we want to transmit. With regard to the language used is basically Spanish, with some Quechua terms that is the native language of our country.

What sort of scene is there in Peru and how big is it? Which bands brought the genre to your country?
The scene in my country is relatively small, but with very good bands, and with people who bet big for the future of Peruvian metal. Currently, the “Lima Metal Fest” festival, that brings together bands with a worldwide career, is being held. There are emblematic bands like Mortem, Hadez, Anal Vomit, Kranium among others. The style we practice that is a South American Folk Metal that was born in our country since the first record we have by the band Kranium, which began to capture this style in the mid 90’s.

What sort of attitude do people have towards your music? Is it frowned upon, censored in any way or so?
In the beginning, it was complicated, being a different style we did not receive support, we had to leave our city to start playing live. The cities that supported us initially was Ayaviri, Juliaca, in the south of our country and cities across the country of Bolivia where we went for the first time in 2007. Today things are different, the band achieved some consideration within the Peruvian scene.

South America has a thriving metal scene, but I wonder how much interaction you have with bands from abroad How important are the cross-border connections for you? Are there countries with whom you don’t really connect?

The South American metal has a very marked sound within the extreme style of which we are very proud. We keep in touch with almost every country in South America. Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, they are countries where we maintain a friendly relationship with bands and bangers that like Yana Raymi. But we have a very special connection with Bolivia, a country that we have played twice in 2007 and 2011, and in which we have been very well received, and at present, we are in the process of returning. If we have not connected with some countries or we have lost contact, it is basically due to the language.

How’s the availability of everything, like rehearsal space, instruments, music, venues to play at and so forth?
We have our own instruments and rehearsal room. The places to play are small, and the concerts in my city are rare. Usually, we leave our city to play.

Which bands from Peru should people definitely check out and why?
All the bands in Peru deserve special consideration for the effort that demands to make metal in my country. The bands that should be known are Mortem, Hadez , Kranium , Necropsya , Grave Desecration, Tunjum, Anal Vomit, Putrid, Nahual, Chaska, Deicidios, Psicorragía, Darken. They are really good groups with a distinctly South American spirit.

What future plans do you guys have?
This year play as much as you can, and the next start with the production of a new album.

If you had to compare Yana Raymi to a dish, what would it be and why?
We would be Panchamanca, which is an ancestral dish that is being made to this very day.

Thanks for the consideration and support. A hug from Peru. Cradle of the glorious Inca Empire

Underground Sounds: Bosse-de-Nage – Further Still

Label: The Flenser
Band: Bosse-de-Nage
Origin: United States

Taking their name from an Alfred Jarry novel, Bosse-de-Nage is a group that follows along in the wake of renewers for one of the most conservative music styles in the galaxy. Their new album ‘Further Still’ does retain a pretty recognizable sound and hardly does harm to black metal’s integrity. Others will say different.

The previous record ‘All Fours’ had a bit of a dadaist cover and literature references are hidden in plain sight with the Californian band. Blending a feisty bit of hardcore into their sound, this is a continuous show of force by the band, who clearly know how to play a tune on their third record.

The wave of riffing is like a sudden gale of wind you have to work against as listener, but as soon as you find its harmony you are set. The music contains a mellow melody, woven through all aspects of their sound. Yet, notable are the barked, hardcore-style vocals by Bryan Manning. It’s as in a flash that ‘The Trench’ and ‘Down Here’ surge past you with their fury and despair in delivery, but it’s some tight stuff too! Certainly, the cleanliness still fits the blackgaze label, but an artistic vibe molds it to a more clean-cut black metal vibe.

The production is spotless, creating that harmonious flow in the sound with a bit of that driven postrock effect on a tune like ‘Crux’ (check the intro). The most grabbing thing about Bosse-de-Nage is the level of emotion in the music. Combining in your face vocals with blackgazy guitars works like a charm on this fascinating album. Perhaps it’s singularity becomes a bit of a grey unity in its completion, but that just depends on your attention span. Anyways, when you reach ‘A Faraway Place’, a fiery blast hits you with full energy and vitality. This is where we have a full taste of what this band can offer, which might be more forceful than the Deafheavens of this world, leaning to Harakiri for the Sky.

 

Underground Sounds: 1914 – The Blind Leading The Blind

Label: Archaic Sound
Band: 1914
Origin: Ukraine

‘War, war never changes…’ But it did, and particularly in 1914, it showed that advanced technology and ancient battle tactics can combine into a horrible cocktail of death and decay. That is the theme taken by the band 1914 from Ukraine.

Their live shows are a spectacle, somewhere between re-enactment and death metal extravaganza. Their latest album, after a long time fighting to get their own sound heard, here is ‘The Blind Leading The Blind’. A work that tells of the folly that is war and the horrible situations it created, This definitely get the sound noticed, which is something I’m very happy about. The band takes their sound further though, and the fascination with World War I goes much, much further. You can re-read the interview I had with singer Dmytro Kumar about that here.

The blood-soaked fields and trenches

1914 delivers a firm death metal masterpiece with a sense of melancholy and despair woven into the very fabric of the songs. Repetitive riffing, stomping rhythms and firing on all cylinders, the band marches on and on with tunes like ‘Arrival. The Meuse-Argonne’ and ‘High Wood. 75 Acres of Hell’. Every song adhering to the theme, as cavalrymen swing their swords while galloping towards machine guns. Mighty tanks getting bogged down in the mud… It’s a blind dash for death. The only spark of hope is in the Exploited cover, ‘Beat the Bastards’, as a sense of rebellion emerges, but it soon submerges as the war continues.

Obviously, there’s a link to be made here to the mighty Bolt Thrower. No wonder then, that on ‘Passchenhell’ we have Dave Ingram (also Benediction of course) singing along with the Ukranian battalion. But perhaps my favorite track on the album is ‘The Hundred Days Offensive’, which derives, like much of the album, a lot of force from the introducing sample. Here we hear a soldier talking to the man he just killed. “When you jumped in here you were my enemy, I was afraid. But you were just a man like me, and I killed you.” It’s here that we feel so deeply the disgust of the human tragedy, which we failed to learn any lessons from.

Musically, the album is versatile and very catchy. From fierce, pounding death metal, to harrowing melodic passages. 1914 has everything and more to offer. No wonder they just got signed to Napalm Records.

Underground Sounds: From The Bogs of Aughiska – Mineral Bearing Veins

Label: Apocalyptic Witchcraft
Band: From the Bogs of Aughiska
Origin: Ireland

From the Bogs of Aughiska returns with their masterpiece ‘Mineral Bearing Veins’. A harrowing piece of dark ambient, black metal and folklore, with samples, stories and spoken word. After their previous experiments with Irish culture and atmospheric music, the group hereby establishes themselves as frontiersmen in the advancement of dark music.

It is the third record by the act, under the guidance of Conchuir O’Drona. The sound is ever still bleak, full of threat and with an aura of otherworldliness. Ken Soceron (Abigail Williams, Perturbator, Leviathan) mastered the album and the artwork was done by Ken Coleman (Morbid Angel). The cover depicts druidic figures, in front of a megalithic structure. The figures are facing away, eyeing the moon, but their inhuman features are clear to see. A notable departure from their previous style of work.

Intro ‘Scuabtuinne‘ offers gentle waves, that just move with an easy grace. Named after the boat of Celtic sea deity Manannán mac Lir, it immediately sets the mood for the whole album in another time and place, far from Instagram-fame and famous vloggers to a place of loneliness and self-reliance. ‘Poll An Eidhneain’ follows with the sound of water dripping, under the earth, cavernous and cold and desperate black metal starts to unfold. When it then launches, the music is slithering, raw and merciless, but also contained. Constricted by the narrowness of its underground domain.

Departing from those realms, we enter ‘Wake of Buzzards’, a tune that takes us to the ambient/drone roots of the group. A story is told about the birds, who are squawking you hear, and what this means. Here we are taken into the seanchai-storytelling that is so much the distinctive part of From The Bogs of Aughiska, which we stick to on the following ‘Crataegus’, which is done in Gaelic. It has a peculiar frantic drumming passage in it, that suddenly breaks through to the surface and just hits home in stripped-down, cold tone. The track unfolds in a bit of a Bal-Sagoth-esque grandeur, where the teller speaks in a booming voice offer hemorrhaging black metal blast beats. The song ‘The One Whitethorn Bush’ deals with o lone faerie bush and its dark story, told by Eddie Lenihan, with the animated voice of an experienced storyteller. The eerie sounds surrounding it, make the track so suspiciously powerful and nerve-inducing. A highlight of the album.

But this only brings us to greater depths, with the abyssal drones and church bells from ‘The Devil is an Irishman’, which builds up laboriously and stumbling to a black metal barrage with a deeply melancholic angle and cold atmosphere. This slides into traditional Gaelic sung ‘An Spealadoir’, with that sensitive waver and shiver in the delivery, drowned in distortion and hazy guitars, that slowly slip away.

‘Lios Duin Bhearna’ is the all-consuming outro, where ambient violently merges with the black metal explorations of From the Bogs of Aughiska. It brings this trip to a close, after traversing the deep realms and the mysteries of the green island. These mysterious explorers of the dark and obscure have definitely found a new place on this record, which will probably haunt your dreams.

Underground Sounds: The Flesh – Dweller

Label: Independent
Band: The Flesh
Origin: The Netherlands

The Flesh made their first appearance on the main stage during Netherlands Death Fest. I forgot who they were replacing, which is a good sign. It means I do remember the replacement very vividly. Though the lights could have been a better effort and the stage is really big for such an intense, threatening live act, they ruled.

Now, finally, you might say, the band has released their debut album. Titled ‘Dweller’, it’s one big jar of hot sauce with death and black elements and a lot of groove and thumping hardcore vibes. Featuring former members of Herder, Blood Diamond and Feast, no real surprise there I suppose.

The slow, crushing intro of the record is an instant hit on ‘Tot In Den Treure’, with that jangled, buzzing bass-line curdling up from below. When the band picks up the pace with those vitriolic, venomous vocals it’s a straight-up hell ride. They stick to a hardcore pace with songs clocking in under three minutes, as ‘Black Rain’ and ‘Siren’s Call’ ramble past at break-neck speed and intensity, with muddy, sludgy streams surging through the dense guitars and drums.

‘Dweller (In the Dark)’ is a truly harrowing track with a doomy premonition whispering through its cosmic horror-infused tunes. The inhuman roar on ‘Salax’ helps keep that vibe going onto the next half of the album, with that thick, death metal sound, barrelling onwards onto the high-paced ‘Thrones in the Sky’, where the bellowing vocalist takes the band to a whole new level of awesome and overwhelming. Full-on killer ‘A Knife To The Conformist’ is the closing cut for an excellent debut record. Where are you, label bosses?

 

Dividing The Element: From Zimbabwe, for Zimbabwe

Dividing The Element hails from Zimbabwe and has been around for a while now, playing a modern style of metal with a lot of aggression and vitality. It’s a young scene, fresh in its infancy, but full of power and drive, which is mostly embodied by the band from Harare themselves.

The group has been around since 2012 and claims ‘From Zimbabwe, For Zimbabwe’. That’s a great sentiment in a world swamped with bands that sound like they were made in the same factory. Afro-metal is another term the band uses, as they implement parts of ethnic music and language into their sound.

In 2018, the band also dropped their debut record and I had the privilege to ask the band about making metal music in Zimbabwe, their self-titled debut and more, as Chris Van was willing to answer all my questions.

A positive outlook for the future

Could you start by introducing yourselves and your musical background? Do you have any other bands you are currently active in?

DTE is comprised of myself (Chris Van)- lead vocals and guitar, Archie Chikoti- guitar, Mat Sanderson- bass and backing vocals and Nick (Newbz) Newberry- drums. With the exception of Newbz playing percussion now and then for our friends Evicted, none of us are active in any other bands.

How did the band get started and how did you meet up?

Initially, the band, or rather the idea of a band was inspired by myself (Chris Van) and Sherlic White. Sherlic and I met online early in 2012 on a Facebook group called ‘Rock and Metal Lovers Zimbabwe’, which was in fact started up by a mutual friend of ours, Valentim Miguel Marques Pereira: another brother in arms hoping to kick-start a metal scene in Zimbabwe. Sherlic and I established a rapport with each other on the group and one day decided it was high time we met up to have a jam. From there, ideas began to flow and it got to the point where we thought it was time to get other people on board so we could execute the ideas in a band setting. Sadly though, Sherlic left the country to study in South Africa. He and I then agreed that I would continue pursuing the project without him.

I had played in previous bands with both Archie and Newbz and because of the long history I had with them, I asked them if they’d like to join.
At that point, we were one musician short so I decided to get an audition advert put up for a second guitarist. A while after that Mat came in to audition at Newbz’s house. Although, to this day I’m not sure Mat was ever aware that he was even in an audition because the setting was so informal – more like a jam session with more beers than any of us could justify than an audition. At some point, we ended up doing a switcharoo experiment putting Archie on guitar and Mat on bass. That arrangement seemed to work better, and it’s stayed that way ever since.

What sort of bands inspire you and are the basis for the sound of Dividing The Element?

For me, Metallica and Nirvana were big influences in my early teenage years, if you listen to our song Kumba Kumusha I’m sure you’ll notice the similarities in James Hetfield’s vocal style in places. System Of A Down also provided a lot of inspiration with the idea of vocal harmonies. When I discovered Numetal bands like Korn, Linkin Park, Disturbed, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot etc. that’s when I taught myself how to scream. As I got older though and discovered more music, my taste got a lot heavier. Discovering bands like Lamb of God, Parkway Drive, As I Lay Dying and various deathcore bands like Suicide Silence and Carnifex inspired me to learn how to growl.

On an instrumental front though we like to experiment with fusing different styles of music so it’s quite hard to pinpoint the exact sources of inspiration because it can basically come from anywhere, but it always reverts back to some kind of metal sound at the core.

Which would you say is the core message behind Dividing The Element. As in, what do you want people to take away from your music?

I guess the most common theme in our music is that lyrically, we write about personal life experiences in Zimbabwe that either one of us or all of us have gone through. That said, it would be nice to know that there are other Zimbabweans out there who can relate to what we write about.

Can you tell me a bit about how you go about making your music? Is it a cooperative process, or does every band member have his own part to play?

Mostly it starts out with me writing the skeleton of a song and then the other guys come in to help bash it out and fill in the blanks at rehearsals. I’d say it’s both.

A few months ago you released your record, which was self-titled. What can you tell about the record, the process of writing and what inspired it?

As I mentioned before, the content of each song lyrically was inspired by life experiences, so the album is quite personal.

Some of the songs seem to contain traditional elements and language. Can you share a bit about that and why you’ve chosen to make this part of your music?

This was an idea my fiancee suggested to me prior to the conception of the band. It was done in order to help initiate a metal scene in Zimbabwe. There was once quite a big rock scene in Zim, especially in the 80’s. It seemed to die a slow, silent death though and then all of a sudden there was nothing left. So because I am a Zimbabwean and a metal head, the idea was to bring the two together and make a metal band in Zimbabwe for Zimbabwe. Using the local vernacular and incorporating traditional themes into the music was the best way to go about it as a means of identity. So when the band eventually formed there was already a direction and sense of purpose in mind.

What sort of scene is there in Zimbabwe and how big is it?

The scene is small. When we first started, metal heads were around, but few and far between. None of them seemed to know each other either, but it has grown in leaps and bounds from where it first started and seems to continue to grow. At every show we play we see new faces which is very encouraging.

Which bands brought the genre to your country?

As I mentioned, there was once a rock scene here in years past. I sadly did not have the privilege of experiencing it though. So I’m afraid I can’t accurately say to be honest, although I’m sure there are other more historically learned people around who are able to offer their opinions on the matter.

What sort of attitude do people have towards your music? Is it frowned upon, censored in any way or so?

No one’s censored us or anything like that but Zimbabweans can be conservative. So I’d say generally people who haven’t heard of us or the genre before approach it with caution, coz it’s new to them and people always seem to have preconceptions. But metal is mostly an underground thing anyway, it’s not for everyone nor is it meant to be.

I notice that a few African countries have a metal scene, notably South Africa and Botswana, with a few bands like yourselves in surrounding countries but then it would seem to simply dry up. Is that also the reality or do you connect with bands from Malawi, Tanzania, DRC etc.? How important are the cross-border connections for you?

Yes, we do connect with other bands, it’s very important. I think there’s always a chance that things could go wrong and all of a sudden the wheels stop turning. Cross-border connections are very helpful especially if we want to tour outside of our own country. Knowing where the scenes are and how big they are really helps. It’s also just a good support system to have, and provides a great opportunity to interact with other like-minded people, in some cases even make new friends.

How’s the availability for everything, like rehearsal space, instruments, music, venues to play at and so forth?

The Zimbabwean economy is still in a fragile state right now so it can be tough. Entertainment doesn’t fall high on the priority list, although there is a lot of optimism that things will make a change for the better, economically speaking. Hopefully, they will.

Which bands from Zimbabwe should people definitely check out and why?

Definitely check out Acid Tears, Chikwata 263, Evicted, Kamikaze Test Pilots, and an industrial melo-death project called Nuclear Winter. These bands range from hard rock to soft afro-rock to mbira punk. All of them have their own flair and character.

What future plans do you guys have?

Our plan is to promote our album in whatever capacity we can, so hopefully a few more shows in Zimbabwe this year. We’ve also been invited to a metal festival in Botswana next year and have committed to it. We’re very excited about it.

If you had to compare Dividing The Element to a dish, what would it be and why?

I’d say classic meat and potatoes with a hint of some kind of fish taste that you can’t pin point why it’s there or where it’s coming from. Reasons for that- we haven’t really reinvented the wheel but there are times where things can get changed up in a very unexpected way. That, and I really like fish.

Underground Sounds: Vreid – Lifehunger

Label: Seasons of Mist
Band: Vreid
Origin: Norway

The triumphant return of Sognametal is here, with the new album by legendary Vreid. Following in the spirit of originator Windir, the band freely creates their own brand of black metal, quite distinct from the overall Norwegian sound but also very much a part of it. ‘Lifehunger’ is the eight full-length of Vreid.

We also have to mention Ulcus, since the Sogndál metal network is small and cohesive. Their music shaped through the years into something more melodic and accessible, with war-themes. In fact, I sometimes have to think of Loits in that context as much as of Kalmah, but hey. I’m thinking out of the box here.

The melancholic intro of ‘Flowers & Blood’ promises much as an acoustic guitar casts a moonlit setting for this album. As a prelude, it opens up for ‘One Hundred Years’, which combines the penchant for the epic and melancholic that Enslaved and Opeth have perfected. The sound is tight and polished, with the occasional marching beat as displayed on the title track keeping everything as tight and organized as possible. In that sense, Vreid follows the trajectory of bands like Satyricon to a more vitalistic and rigid sound.

The vocals are particularly captive, sounding like a vicious snarl that bites and snaps at the listener with fury. Yet, on ‘Hello Darkness’, we have the big outsider track. Clean vocals and maybe even a little nod to the true masters of darkness Simon & Garfunkel here? It’s mellow vibe and acoustic parts are truly dark though and capturing a different kind of melancholy. The rest of the album kinda picks up the pace again with steady quality, catchy riffs and a razorsharp bit of songwriting. I don’t know if anyone ever thought Vreid was gone, but then they’re back with a vengeance with killer tracks like ‘Sokrates Must Die’.

Underground Sounds: Trappist – Ancient Brewing Tactics

Label: Relapse Records
Band: Trappist
Origin: United States

Trappist is maybe one of the coolest bands to come out of the woodwork in recent times with their beer-inspired thrash-core-metal. The group has embraced the moniker (pun intended) of the famous brewing monks you mostly find in Belgium, and plays fast and loud on their debut album ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’.

Having earned their name and fame in Spazz, Infest, Despise You, Crom, Killed in Action and probably tons more, its a group of musicians who work on auto-pilot and I guess also on beer. The guys also had a joined podcast, named ‘Hour of the Barbarian’, which sparked their collaboration for this project of beer-infused thrashing, which is actually pretty damn good when you check it out and get into it.
Much of the tunes are fast-paced, straight-ahead thrashy d-beaty metalpunk, with a lot of fun, tongue-in-cheek and energy. ‘No Soldier Left Behind’ is instant screaming mayhem, with a fast pace and some intense guitar torturing. Meaty riffs, chunky drums and a burly, brawling set of vocals combine for an excellent, fun-packed pile of beer-soaked songs. Titles like ‘This means Wort’ or ‘Giving the Boot To Rheinheitsgebot’ are simply hilarious. The last is actually a strangely mellow song, allowing you to just roar along while raising a pint.
There’s something profoundly visceral about the music, much like a night of intense beer drinking it leaves you wondering what’s what with the almost uncontrolled ramblings on ‘Frank The Tank’. Then it launches into some classic metal riffing, deliciously! Following is the new anthem for hardcore craft beer drinkers ‘No Corporate Beer’, a tune for the masses. Yet, lets not forget ’99 Problems (But a Beer Ain’t One)’, as the perennial classic or ‘Wolves in the Taproom’, an obvious reference to Wolves in the Throne Room.