Underground Sounds: Beithíoch – Storms of War

Label: Independent
Band: Beithíoch
Origin: Ireland

Ah, some proper Irish black/death fromt he crew of Beithíoch. The band hails from the north-west of the green Island and has been consistently pushing out records over the last few years. The band name translates as ‘beast’  or ‘animal’, which sort of matches their intense sound.

It appears as if the group has been trying to find a particular sound for their Irish roots, moving through different styles over the albums. This EP appears to be the next experiment in this long line of explorations, titled ‘ Storms of War’. It’s a short but powerful endeavor worth listening to.
What remains is a cavernous, lumbering monstrosity, that shows little to know subtle movement in this dense, atmospheric record. Opening track ‘Morrígan’ has slow waves of distorted guitar crashing into the listener as a crow caws. It’s more a dungeon synthy intro, before ‘The Jaws of Death’ launches in big, wavy fashion. The sound feels very dark, with a shadowy melody line emphasizing the way the sound seems to work within confined space. The song just barrels onward, showing little subtlety or nuance.
Once more, the track ‘Funeral Pyre’ introduces the final song.

‘Dornán Talaimh’ comes on like atmospheric black metal, with lingering and languid riffs. The vocals are almost a whisper from the abyss. The deep guttural barks that roared through the first half of the record have made room for calm and measured murmuring.  It shows another side of the band in this way too short release.

Beithíoch spawns forth some creeping chaos on this EP, that will take you to some dark places.

Underground Sounds: Black Kirin – Nanking Massacre

Label: Cold Woods Productions
Band: Black Kirin
Origin: China
Black Kirin makes a bold statement with their latest album. Earlier I listened to their acoustic album, which I found rather pleasing, but I can’t use those words when we speak about ‘Nanking Massacre’. The Chinese band appears to be particularly productive, but this takes their expressions a notch upwards.
The ‘Nanking Massacre’ is also dubbed the ‘Rape of Nanking’ and can only be described as one of the great atrocities of history. This is the name for a series of events, following the taking of the Chinese capital of Nanking by Japanese troops in the Second Sino-Japanese War. Earlier I also checked out their ‘Xiao Shiao’ album.
Thunderous metal greets the listener, spiced up with mournful strings from Chinese folk music and the wailing singing associated with the same musical heritage. Combined with the quite heavy, rhythmic music, it offers a quite different listening experience. Another aspect is the operatic sections, but all parts seem to find harmony on this album. Black Kirin uses contrasts for maximum effect.
It’s weird for western listeners probably, to hear radical shifts between classical passages and intense, full on heavy metal. Apparently that’s not such a big deal for bands from the far east. After the melancholy of ‘Da Qu’, you’re thrown into chaos on ‘Evocation’. Blistering, crushing riff work assaults you on ‘II. The Song’, with wild sound effects, singining, and screams. Brutal death metal pounds away, in that typical chaotic manner. Personally not my favorite style, but well fitting in this conceptual display of human horror.
And then there’s calm again with ‘Nai He’. Weary guitar picking and chiming sounds in a more free flowing way, never actually trying to build a song structure. The simple expression is enough to convey thoughts and feelings. I am filled with ideas and thoughts at the end of ‘Thousand Years’, the outro of the album. Again, Black Kirin has enchanted me with an amazing record.

Underground Sounds: Jupiterian – Terraforming

Label: Transcending Obscurity
Band: Jupiterian
Origin: Brazil

Brazilian masked marauders Jupiterian are back with a bang…and another bang… and another bang… Their heavy death doom (or doom of death maybe?) has shaken up a stir in the music world and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these gents appearing at the cooler, underground festivals very soon. ‘Terraforming’ is the second full length from the prolific music-making gang. São Paulo must have shuddered and shivered…

If you want to know more about this band, check out the interview I did with them not too long ago. Noteworthy is their continuous collaboration with Mories. The man is known for his project Gnaw Their Tongues (and a dozen other projects)  and he helps to create that eerie, atmospheric sound that makes their doom more than just pummeling violence. Add to that the label Transcending Obscurity from India and we sort of have a global project going on.

Jupiterian is a megalithic sounding monster, that delivers massive slabs of doom. Their atmosphere is much more complex though, mixing something very earthy with the plumes of smoke,like a ritual  or seance might offer. I’d describe the sound they blast out on ‘Unearthly Glow’ as cavernous, but it’s simply too big and massive to fit that description. Their music is densely atmospheric to the point where it is really much like a mysterious gathering. It matches with the hooded live show of the band.
The dark chanting on ‘Forefathers’ is one of those special, heavy moments. At other times, the band sounds like an eruption, as if the earth underneath your feet is cracking at the sheer impact of their heavy riffing and bellowing vocals on a track like ‘Us and Them’. Most of the times, the band sounds massive, but the crushing impact of every riff somehow hits where it hurts. Never does it seem like any hit of the bass drum or drop is reckless bashing, it always is just right. The calculated playing makes this album so exquisitely heavy.
Jupiterian has taken some spices from other genres and made a punchy dish of doom for your listening pleasure. This is a new highlight for the band.

aMakARtUS: humble roars from Mauritius

Isolation for a metal scene can mean a lot of things. It can mean that there’s simply nothing around it, it can be remote from other local scenes or in the case of Mauritius it’s simply the geography of being hundreds of miles from any other country. In fact, the island nation consists of 4 islands, with equally huge distances in between them. Being a metalhead on one of the Mauritian islands can’t be easy.

No surprise then, that the scene aMakARtUS is part of is small, but passionate. Heavy music is not something you can be specific about in places where there’s only a few to share it with. I got in touch with the band and asked them some questions about the music scene in Mauritius. As far as aMakARtUS is concerned, the scene may have humble beginnings. That doesn’t mean they’re not hungry for more.

Hi, so could you guys introduce yourselves?

We started in June 2010. initially known as Bringing Death. We were high school friends sharing a love for the same style of music.

Eddie had the idea to start a metal band, where we would play things we love and write music. At first, we wanted to create something different, we were really into old school metal and punk. We try to fuse modern metal with its old school counterparts.

The group (to date) is composed of 5 people:

vocals – Rodney Sagore
guitar – Mahesh (Eddie)
guitar – Darshan
bass- Vissen
drums – Evan (Yovesh)
We have one debut studio album entitled: In For The Kill.

the album has 8 tracks:

Cannibal Perversion
Angel… Not.
Stench
I die you die
Traitor
The doctrine of fools
Sin with me
Warrior Rebellion

How did Amakartus get started? Like, how did you guys get together as a band and start making music?

We were high school friends and we had metal in common. We were playing music and fooling around since a young age. It was in June 2010 at the University of Mauritius that we decided to form a band and take things seriously and start working on compositions…

What bands inspired each of you to make this sort of music?

Well, we have Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Metallica, Megadeath, Anthrax etc.

I understand you have been recording some demos. How do you guys go about making music together? Who has what role and how does your writing and recording process look like?

Normally for most of the songs, it’s Eddie who comes up with a riff or idea, then the whole band gets involved in arranging and working the idea. Most of the time we do ditch ideas that we feel are not ‘up to the level’. With that idea, we start to jam until something good comes out and we try to get that recorded with whatever means we have.

What sort of themes do you use for your music, what inspires your lyrics and what message does Amakartus have for the world?

We normally talk about violence, hatred and all this negativity consuming the world. We have a message of peace… live and let leave! For example: Traitor is a song about someone who has betrayed his country.

What does Amakartus mean?

AMAkARtUS is KAMASUTRA turned upside down. kamasutra is the book of love. we are like a manual of hate, explaining to people that hatred leads us nowhere. Moreover, we also wanted to show people that a name is not important as most of the time we tell people that the name is bogus and it does not mean anything!

I understand a lot of your music is inspired by themes like human nature, hate, suffering, and war. Are there particular things in your country that inspire you, as metal is in effect a kind of protest music for many people?

Yes! Our culture here in Mauritius is very diverse, so we get inspiration from everywhere.

Metal is indeed some kind of healthy revolt or protest and a way to let things go and accept others. We also want to show people that metal is not taboo. and today we have more and more people coming to gigs!

Obviously, my source has mostly been the internet, but it seems that Mauritius has a small, hardcore metal scene where punk, metal and hardcore kind of blend together. How dit metal music come to your country and who were the pioneers? Can you maybe tell a bit about the history of this music in Mauritius?

Well, obviously the media has a great role to play in this context. At first, we had cassettes etc. I remember buying Iron Maiden’s ‘Number of the Beast’ and Black Sabbath cassettes in 1999. When I was listening to it, people around me thought that I had lost it! So this scene emerged and more and more young people started wearing ‘metal shirts’ and talked about this music in our society. Before that, people would listen to this music on their own, but this started to bring it out in the open.

We do have bands like Feedback, Scar, Tribus, Humanoid and more, that started way before us. Then again, they all stopped for one reason or another and we are now carrying the metal flag along with bands like Revolt, Cryptic Carnage, and Circle Red.

Is metal a big thing in your country? Is there a bit of a scene around it and can you describe it? Do you have places where bands can perform and where they play this music?

Normally, there’s no ‘specific’ place to play metal. As for metal gigs, bands come together, contribute together and make gigs happen. we do not have event organizers for metal concerts or specific venues for rock and metal. it is a big thing here (not considering the number of people)… it’s a big thing for all the metalheads and for our little metal community. everyone knows everybody and day by day, the numbers are growing.

Do you have everything easily available, like rehearsal spaces, instruments, music, and other related gear? Or are there things that make it hard to make this sort of music there? I’m imagining there are some problems since your country is quite remote from others.

There’s no particular place for rehearsing for metal heads available in Mauritius. We have normal studios and they charge a lot. In AMAkARtUS, we tried to build our own studio for rehearsals, which we try to improve daily. Music instruments are way more expensive compared to other countries. We have little choices when it comes to the variety of instruments and most of the time we have to rely on online shopping.

Are you facing any sort of censorship in Mauritius or can you play this music and sing about whatever you want?

There is no censorship as such as long as nobody tries to incite violence.

Mauritius also appears to be a mixture religiously. Historically metal and religion have not been the best buddies. Is there a sort of clash there for you guys?

Yes! There is always the perceptions that metalheads are Satanists or atheists, but we do have a lot of metalheads going to temples and churches.

Do you put anything typical from Mauritius in your music do you think?

Yes, we put a Mauritian touch to our compositions. For example, the song ‘I Die, You Die’ has been inspired by the sega beat (the traditional music from Mauritius).

What bands from your neck of the woods should people really check out (and why)?

Well check out Shred the Glory: they are currently preparing an album and do check cryptic carnage and revolt!

Do foreign bands play in Mauritius? And if not, who would be the dream band for you to visit and play a support slot for?

Nope. No metal bands, but we do have other artists visiting the country. Metallica would be great!

What future plans does Amakartus have?

AMAkARtUS is currently working on its 2nd studio album. We want to reach more people. and we want people to understand our message and follow us if they feel that connection to our message! We do not want to re-invent metal but add-up to what’s already out there!

Ok, if you had to compare your band to a dish, what would it be and why?

Well, AMAkARtUS would be a Curry Flavoured Lamb Sauté! From the violence it took to bring down the lamb, to the mixture of flavors and cultures… you could not help but ask for more!

Thank you Guido.

 

Underground Sounds: Krolok – Flying Above Ancient Ruins

Label: Hexencave Productions
Band: Krolok
Origin: Slovakia

I have to admit, that this record struck me as a little odd at first. The cover artwork and title were a bit strange, but the music didn’t need any of that to be convincing anyway. Krolok is a project by HV from Malokarpatan and Remmirath, that has been stewing for a good 6 years. This is the first record, titled ‘Flying Above Ancient Ruins’.

The title embodies themes that Krolok seems to revolve around. Mysticism, vampires, nature and the night create a particular sound, with a certain tangible aspect to it. Peter and Miroslav from Malokarpatan assist HV in this project and it’s well enjoyable if you like your black metal to be down to earth, but also filled with a folkloric wonder.

Interesting enough, this reminds me instantly of early Mayhem and Darkthrone. The rhythms are jagged, raw and sound pretty much the way they must have come out in the rehearsal space. The vocals on massive reverb sound cavernous and ghoulish, slightly detached from the music, not even trying to find a melodic click there. Then there are quiet parts, where you can just bask for a moment in the creepy atmosphere the band throws about.

Krolok is not so much into the hyperspeed blast beats, but sticks to a formula that has worked since the early days in Norway. That’s also pretty much the vibe they’re sticking with. Static guitars create this feeling of solid waves of sound assaulting the listener, while you always feel slighlyuncomfortable due to the unpredictable vocals. What I do like, is how they put in these short breaks here and there. Nothing is as boring as hearing the steady guitar riff for 40 minutes consecutively and those albums are around too. This is a fierce and exciting record, the way I like them.

Uganda’s Vale of Amonition Interview

Metal’s final frontier lies in Africa and Uganda is one of the unlikely places where something is brewing. Although the scene is extremely tiny and unknown, the passions run deep with artists like Victor Rosewrath. Victor was kind enough to tell a bit more about his band Vale of Amonition.

Most will know Uganda because of General Idi Amin, who was the topic of wide speculation and even the film ‘The Last King of Scotland’. Though that lies in the past, Uganda has troubles of its own like high corruption, severe limitations of LGBT rights and Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. Still, metal music flourishes here and together with Threatening the Vale of Amonition is paving the way for other artists.

Victor Rosewrath is a man of words and he has plenty to offer for people interested in his work. He’s been playing with poetry and various music styles to express what is inside of his mind. Victor has a romantic soul, clouded with dark visions as you will read here below. Thanks to Victor for his time and words.

The Vale of Amonition is very real…

So first off, thanks for your time. Can you kindly introduce Vale of Amonition to the readers? How did your band get started?
Hello Guido, this is Victor Rosewrath. Thank you for this opportunity. Vale of Amonition is very old…thematically at least. I have been conscious of the Vale since I was a child and I have the sense it existed way before I did. But as for its incarnation into a doom metal band; it started in May 2009 in Uganda where I was living at the time. I needed to tell stories about the Vale and music seemed a good medium for that at the time.

How did you guys get in touch with this music, what bands inspired you to start making music yourself?
The band Queen was my first love and my introduction to heavy music. Now you may argue that they weren’t heavy but I’m familiar with their discography well enough to prove you wrong. They were really the first band I ever truly loved when I was young and just understanding music. All other things came later. Black Sabbath came later. Mercyful Fate came later. Celtic Frost came later, and when I heard Candlemass and Type O Negative, I knew I wanted to create a similar kind of music. Solitude Aeturnus is my biggest influence. Solomon Dust likes Insomnium, Katatonia, Swallow The Sun and My Dying Bride.

Uganda has very little metal bands, but you guys have been around for a while and you are also surprisingly productive, releasing quite a bit of music. How do you guys go about writing your music, who is responsible for what and can you describe how you get new material out so often (particularly in the starting period of the band)?
The metal scene in Uganda is indeed quite poor…we are simply driven by the need to express ourselves as artists. We have never really cared for the absence or presence of a metal scene where we’re from as long as we could create and just be ourselves. I wrote most of the music in the early days. I was progressively inclined. Listening to a lot of bands that could be described as innovative and progressive.

I felt weird as a songwriter because nothing I could come up with could be considered a “song” in the conventional sense. ‘Black Cathedral’ for instance was initially a 23 minute song. We get out material so often because there’s a need for it. I think of the metal scene here as the African metal scene, it makes sense that way…and more and more people are interested in hearing metal from Africa. But we’ve had a bit of time off since our last major release.

I understood that your name refers to a valley of warmakers, but there’s also a lot of occult titles. I’m very curious to learn about the themes and topics you put in your music. Can you describe those and explain your choices? How real is this place to you?
Vale of Amonition is a very real place. I go to sleep there and I wake up there. I can’t escape it so I’ve given up trying. It is both a frame of mind and a real place that I take with me wherever I go or that follows me around until I tell its stories and get them right. There’s no point wrestling with demons; you just have to open the door and let them in. My relationship with demons has been very fruitful so far. The lyrics I write have to do with that relationship; with the general relationship with the darkness that most people find themselves cultivating.

So Victor has just worked on the project Doomcast and in general, you guys seem to have some following abroad, but what is it like in Uganda itself? Is there actually more of a scene than outsiders know or are you sort of a lonely band in your own country (together with Threatening)?

We are a lonely band and we are very lonely people. Also, we haven’t heard from Threatening in ages.

So can you tell a bit how the collaboration with Doomcast came together?
Doomcast came from a conversation between me and Tim Salter, Doomcast’s main composer and guitarist. I have known Tim for years and he really is a fan not just of Vale but of the whole African metal scene. He was working on a black metal project with a friend from Angola that was going nowhere and nothing I was doing with Vale of Amonition and African Doomhammer was going anywhere either so out of mutual frustration, we decided to work together. But Tim is a fan of my style, my whole weirdness and I am an absolute fan of his guitar playing so really we just had to work together. Paulo Bucho who Tim knew joined later on drums and we became fast friends.

Can you tell a bit more about African Doomhammer, I didn’t hear about that?
African Doomhammer is a Namibian project I have been involved with since its inception. I have written music and co-written lyrics for African Doomhammer. They released one E.P. in 2014 and are working on some new music. I have a few ideas that I feel fit more with AD than VoA and I look forward to future collaborations.

I understood that you also started a progressive rock project named Otheorem. You’ve read poetry on video (Poe). Do you feel a strong need to express yourself in many ways and what other things would you still like to do?
Thank you. Yes. I need to express myself in a lot of ways and really I haven’t even done half as much as I know I am capable of. One night I read poetry for a bunch of stoners and they liked it. I was a classic literature scholar so I knew a lot of the old stuff and how to relate it to people and make it interesting. I ended up writing a bunch of poetry with respect to the old rules of meter and precision and a lot of stuff later that didn’t care for any rules. I always want to be able to express myself in both a traditional manner and in an iconoclastic format that shits on the rule-book. But Otheorem was the brainchild of Jon Xarg, Vale ‘s old drummer. He was the one who was tired of all the doom and gloom and wanted me to play with him in a more exuberant band so we did that song and then we argued about music and a lot of other things and we never picked it up again.

Listening to your music, I can’t help but hear a connection between heavy, theatric doom and poetry, how did you develop this unique style of music?
I’m into poetry and I love the theatrical bit of artistic expression so it has always been bound to happen as far as how I write and perform with Vale of Amonition.

Do you feel there’s something that you put in your music that is typical for the place you are from; Uganda? Any sort of music writing, topics, words…? Could your music be from anywhere else?
I don’t think at this point Vale can go into a strictly Folk direction but we’ve always had that as part of our identity. There’s still time enough to find out though. But no, I don’t think this band could easily be from anywhere else.

What does it mean for you as a musician to be where you are and how do you feel that shapes your art in the broadest sense?
I have felt frustrated and limited as an artist in Uganda. I feel the scope of what I can do on a day to day basis is constricted by my environment but long-term projection allows me to view this as meaningful and essential to the creative process…and the fact that I am reaching way beyond my location continues to be a great motivation.

Uganda has been in the news for restrictive policies in the past. Regardless of those, I was wondering how free you are as an artist to express yourself. Can you sing whatever you want? Is there any form of censorship?
I can sing about whatever I want. We wrote a song called “Don’t Tread On Me (In Our Darkness Defiant)” particularly about our president signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. It was my big FUCK YOU! to him. I’ve really never worried about censorship and I’ll never censor myself. We are not a political band by any stretch and even that song had a lot of other themes running through it but we’ve never shied away from controversy either. If we want to say something, we’ll yell it. I’m very fond of Wolves In The Throne Room. How they maintain their mystique while being conscious about the things that matter to them as well.

Seeing you guys are very prolific in creating music, do you have everything available like recording equipment, instruments, rehearsal places and venues or is it a lot of DIY?
Yes, we have instruments. Rehearsal space is also actually easy to find, you’d be surprised. Uganda and Kenya are not some holes where you can’t access things. Good equipment is definitely accessible and studios and producers who actually know what they’re doing can be found. It is not really DIY, I’m afraid. We actually work with producers but we play our own material and write it and perform it but we don’t own a studio. We’ve recorded both in Uganda and Kenya.

I understand that you have a lot of facilities. Does that mean you share those with rock and pop groups and do you take any influence from different music styles?
Yeah, we do share space and facilities with all kinds of artists and performers. Do they influence my art? Not at all. I am not easily influenced. I am very specific about what moves me but most of it can’t adequately be defined by words… but when something connects with me, it just does.

So, this question might be a really simple one, but is there a metal scene in Uganda. If so, how did it get started, are there and were there other bands active?
There’s a metal scene in Uganda. Absolutely. It is mostly made up of fans more than bands. Threatening who you mentioned earlier were probably the first band on the scene. They used to be known as Perfect Strangers. The scene developed out of the larger rock scene that was a culmination of expatriates opening radio stations and bars that strictly played rock music and Touch FM becoming a pioneering everyday man’s rock station and then from the woodwork came the metalheads who had always been silent and waiting, I guess for some sort of union to happen. I’ve never really cared for the scene enough to explore its origins but that’s about it.

I notice that there are a few centers for metal on the African continent, but for people from outlying places, like yourselves, it seems that you might have to travel a lot to play or meet like-minded souls. How do you deal with that?
We travel when the opportunity presents itself. Thanks to the internet, there’s so many ways you can connect that don’t need your actual physical presence. It’s all good.

Are there any bands from your part of the world that you’d like to recommend? (and why are they cool)
I like Crystal Axis. They’re really cool. They are a punkish/alternative band based in Nairobi and they write some really cool songs. I have a friend, Peter Larson who is American but really spends a lot of time in Kenya and he’s doing this fusion thing with a local instrument, the Nyatiti on which he plays all manner of things. He has a band called Ndio Sasa. You should absolutely check them out. My friends The Seeds of Datura are also amazing performers. They’re doing some kind of extreme progressive metal type thing.

What future plans do you have with Vale of Amonition and other projects?
Vale of Amonition plans on having some music out soon, I’ve been told. Right now Solomon Dust holds the reins. I am working on my own stuff for Victor’s Death. More poetry and madness.

Isn’t it hard to hand over the reigns for you?
I’ve not handed the reins over. I think we are co-creators, really. That is more apt. It’s just that Dust writes a bulk of the music now. In a certain sense, our current sound has been shaped by his guitar playing and modified by my personality.

If you had to describe your band as a dish, a type of food. What would it be and why?
It would be Mushroom soup with a lot of indefinable, alien ingredients. It would be thick but it would disappear easily in your mouth. I think that is apt because Vale of Amonition music is rather astounding to get into (so I’ve been told), but when you do listen, it connects with some primal darkness within you and yet it never loses its strangeness.

 

Underground Sounds: Khandra – All is of No Avail

Label: Redefining Darkness Records
Band: Khandra
Origin: Belarus

It’s not a huge offering of music, but ‘All is of No Avail’ leaves you fulfilled anyways. The Belarussian duo Khandra drops this first EP, but apart from that, there’s virtually no information available about this band from Minsk. This is a bit of a shame because these 2 songs are one of the most powerful declarations I’ve heard in a while.

In a sense, this record is Khandra saying that they’re here, but not who they are and why. Well, you can’t have it all and this sort of music thrives on mystery.

We start with ‘Where Death Has Settled In Life’, which comes on with the big, echoing sound that I always appreciate so much in a band like Primordial. The bold statement of the grand gesture to announce starting the rites. That’s just before the band completely unleashes a barrage of sound. Like the heavens opening, the sound falls onto the listener. There’s a sense of vibrancy, of writhing guitars that almost feel alive and impossible to grasp. The sound is densely atmospheric at other moments and very easy to digest.

The melody line grabs you by the throat on ‘Presence is no longer relevant’, while you bask in the warm bath of sound. Again, there’s a certain grandeur to the way the sound unfolds. The mix and recording of this record are of an amazing quality, yielding a crisp and polished sound. That’s even more charming actually because the grim necrosound would wreck all the subtleties in the music. This song has a lot of these clean melody parts, which makes it almost catchy. Music to embrace in the colder days, when will there be more?

Underground Sounds: NERATERRÆ – The NHART Demo​[​n​]​s

Label: Independent
Band: NERATERRÆ
Origin: Italy

Frozen bits of Reality from NERATERRÆ

Originally this project by Alessio Antoni was started in 2009 under the name NHART. NHART became NERATERRÆ and after a long period of time the music made in those early days is available to the listener. ‘The NHART Demo[n]s’ offer haunting creations from the past that need to be set free. That is what this release is all about.

Antoni also plays in Alma Flua, a band playing pretty straight forward rock and roll. The beast unleashes in this project though, which is a mixture of ambient, death industrial, power electronics, noise and drone. Te record consists of three demo’s from those early NHART days with truly intriguing sounds and sonic experiences to bask in.

The record feels a lot like being way to close to machines and devices in factories. Trains coming through tunnels and engines rattling. Fluid, mechanized and continuous are terms that describe the way the sound moves. There’s little to no song structure present, you simply get the cold, blaring sounds of an industrialized world presented in 4 minute formats. It chops up bits of that reality and freezes them in time. Some tunes follow a more industrial orchestration, but it remains an unpleasant experience.

If you imagine this music as part of our daily surroundings, isolated and ripped from the daily noise, the oddness sinks in. Otherworldly effects are part of what we hear on a daily basis and yet we hardly manage to distinguish them. The sounds NERATERRÆ  captures on this record are testament to our alienated world. It captures a radical disonnect from the many aspects and layers of our daily experience I might read to much into it, but the almost David Lynch-like (check the Eraserhead soundtrack) quality of this record feels particularly confrontational. Dark and full of despair, a record of clarity.

Underground Sounds: Battle Hag – Tongue of the Earth

Label: Transylvanian Tapes
Band: Battle Hag
Origin: United States

Battle Hag seems like a D&D players fantasy, but don’t be mislead by the peculiar artwork. This band from Sacramento crushes on their debut album. After a demo in 2015, the ‘Tongue of the Earth’ album is their tectonic offering to the world of heavy doom metal. A worthy effort indeed. It’s only out on tape, so that’s quite an interesting thing as well.

The music of the group seems to be inspired by the big, lurching sound of modern doom. Thematically there’s a Lovecraftian eschatological abyss lurking in their sound and words. The record was recorded in Earth Tone Studios in Sacramento by Patrick Hills.

The sound progresses slowly, with minute shifts and heavy, cumbersome movements. Ginormous riffs create a monolithical heaviness to the sound, but the crushing effects are minimal, as the band chooses for a more languid flow in their sound on ‘Necronomichron’. A twelve minute lasting behemoth of a track, it is completely impossible to resist its flow. More force is on the next track, ‘The Book of Thoth’ with gurgling vocals and abyssal riffs that reach for the heavens in despair.

Battle Hag sounds odly melodic at times, not simply relying on being heavy to create their maximum impact sound. The flow of the sound feels weary and haggard at times, The drums take on odd, almost shamanic rhythms  at times, like on ‘The Tower of Silence’. As if they form a summoning rite for a foreboding storm or a dark ritual. The band likes to add subtle things to the music, to enhance its impact. The cavernous vocal effects on the aforementioned song for example, while riffs seem to evoke a torrentous feeling at the same time really work.

Battle Hag offers a great debut full of little surprises. You’ll find something every time you spin this one.

Lynchpin: Bringing Caricore to the masses from Trinidad & Tobago

When we think of the Caribbean region, our first thoughts are not about metal music. We imagine golden beaches, azure blue seas and so forth. In recent years a metal scene has started to really step out of the shadows. At Wacken Open Air, the band Lynchpin made the world aware of their scene.

Lynchpin hails from Trinidad and Tobago, an Island in the Caribbean region that is known for its music culture. Metal may not often be mentioned, but there’s a thriving scene. Lynchpin caught the international eye thanks to their participation in the Caribbean Wacken Metal Battle. Not only did it bring the small scenes in various nations together, Lynchpin became the emissary for the region after that.

A chat with Lynchpin about playing metal in Trinidad and Tobago, but also the hardships of going abroad and the lack of words to describe their Wacken experience (hint: there’s actually a lot of words).

Lynchpin: Heralds of Caricore

How did Lynchpin get started?

In 2009, Sievan realized that there was a drop in the local rock scene in Trinidad. It felt like the rock scene had no bands pushing and fighting for a voice. He met with Aaron, who was previously in local death metal pioneers Necropollis along with him and Overdose (Nu Metal), to discuss the creation of a new Band… a band with an attitude…. something to be in the face and forefront of local media and lead the local rock scene to new heights.

This was the Genesis of LYNCHPiN. Gerard was recruited soon after, coming of guitar duties for Vox Deus (another local mega band) and Jiggy, from Abbadon, for their technical abilities and unique personalities. All members have known each other for multiple years, in their other bands, and now combined their talents to make this new entity. LYNCHPiN was born in 2009… a new era… a new direction. A band and an attitude.

Last year you guys played Wacken Open Air. Can you tell us what the road to Wacken was like since it all started with the Wacken Metal Battle in the Carribbean, didn’t it?

Well, we played Wacken in 2016 actually, and yes it all started in the 1st ever Caribbean Metal Battle, Suriname. Wow, the road to Wacken…. phew… written words honestly cannot express how it all was.

A clear memory was the submission of the documents required for Wacken Caribbean Metal Battle, and then the wait. A wait without knowing when the announcement would be made for the 5 finalists. Thinking that there are 100s of bands in the whole Caribbean and we are one of only 5 to be selected?!? That was a feeling that I can’t express, helpless maybe? Since we had no control of selection process, it was quite amazing. It was Christmas season, very close to Christmas eve (I think) when we got the news that we were one of the 5 finalists!! We were in utter shock and glee, imagine, a CHANCE to perform in Wacken, but before that, in Suriname as one of 5 TOP bands?!!?! Surreal!

If people know us well, they would tell you that LYNCHPiN is a planning machine, LOL! We planned a whole lot for the Suriname competition, even getting 15 fans to move across with us, like carrying our home advantage with us! Well, cliche time:  the rest was history.

We destroyed the Caribbean Metal Battle, but it made us realize how great the other bands in the Caribbean are. We made lots of new friends. But that feeling of being the first Caribbean Metal Battle Winners is something we still cannot fully wrap our heads around….

The key for us is that we came in first and history will always have us there as the first winners!!

So now, we had 3 months (max) to figure out how to reach Wacken. We staged a huge fundraiser called “LYNCHPiN vs the World” as local bands all came together to assist us on this journey. But not just local bands, also other bands from the Caribbean and metal battle supported us.

Particularly This Will Be No More (Aruba), who have become very close to us in LYNCHPiN.

With fundraiser money and personal money combined, we embarked on the long, historical journey to Wacken Open Air. It still feels amazing to be able to say this. We traveled from Trinidad, to Tobago, then to Germany (Frankfurt I think) via airplane and then on train to Itzehoe (upper Germany) and then via Car to Wacken grounds. Trust us, that it is a lot of movement with a lot of baggage. We camped there for 5 days (yes, in tents), walked on stage on the 2nd day and that was indescribable. Just a whole experience. Jeff Waters (Annihilator) introduced us on stage (which was incredible) to over 10,000 new fans.

And that my friends was the sound of Caricore being born to the world…

What does it mean for you guys to play at Wacken? Not just as a band, but also as metalheads from Trinidad & Tobago?

It was significant for all of us. It meant breaking the stereotype of Caribbean bands and what people perceive us to sound like. It also gave the whole region a new outlook on what we as people in the Caribbean can do.

I think it literally changed the rock scene in one step… now every serious rock band is planning to play outside and bring back experience and help upgrade here.

After that, you’ve done some more touring. How did that go? Got any mad touring stories apart from the insane amounts of traveling you guys have to do?

I think the mad tour stories and tied with the insane amount of traveling. Man, luggage and many people make traveling always hard… I think we remember running a lot… to trains… out of trains…. to busses… out of busses… it was a lot!

So, your last EP was from 2014. Are you working on anything new currently?

Yes! Our new album/ EP will be out in Summer 2018!!! It is to be a concept album of sorts. We are really excited about it. It seems like a mature step for us musically and content-wise.

How do you guys go about creating new music? Who does what in the process and how do you get started on a new song?

Honestly, all of us write. Sievan is mainly lyrics whereas the band is music. We always work on the theme of the song and what it is about first, so we have the atmosphere to build on. Well, that’s what we normally do…

What can people expect from a Lynchpin show? What kind of experience do you guys deliver?

It is an overall experience, graphically to performance to content. We try to push the fans to want to be a part of the show! That is really what we are good at, getting the crowd to die for the performance.

So metal in the Caribbean is something that was pretty unknown for a long time. Now, having played at Wacken, that might change. What is the scene like in Trinidad & Tobago?

It is small, but maybe the biggest in the Caribbean scene! Suriname has a lovely growing one also. Still, in Trinidad, we have Soca and other local musical genres that are most dominant in this country. Our rock/ metal scene has always had its ups and downs in terms of size, so it’s on the up for now. We always think that this is the plateau of the rock scene here in terms of numbers. We want more, but we’re unsure of its possibilities.

Is everything readily available for you guys (like record stores, music equipment, rehearsal spaces, and venues to play at) or is it a big DIY thing?

DIY aways!!! Equipment is best shipped! There are no record stores who sell metal exclusively (except maybe the rare in-house merchant). Rehearsal spaces are also always a situation; as one comes, one goes!

How did metal music come to your country and what bands were instrumental in its development? Can you sketch out some of its history?

We’ve always had western influences here, from music to dress to culture (we unofficially celebrate Halloween here, for e.g.) because of our historical involvement with England and the United States, so I suppose it’s only natural that rock and metal appeared here. With the international popularity of Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles (The Beatles actually came to Trinidad once!) and The Rolling Stones etc. people here started getting into it – however these genres were (and still are) seen as foreign, so there wasn’t a very big movement around it. There were no more than about 10 bands in the 70s and 80s, and most were cover bands. The band Touchdown then debuted in the 80s and, with their connection to a successful soca/pop band – Fireflight, achieved great popularity both within and outside of the traditional rock community. The combination of Touchdown’s success and record shops beginning to supply rock records, due to their demand, lead to a surge in rock interest and the formation of bands between the late 80s and mid-90s. Bands like Smith Tuttle and Big Eyed Grieve had more of a grunge sound, while Orange Sky, Jaundis-I and Jointpop began blending rock with regional sounds like calypso and reggae.

The heavier side of rock and metal also started showing up in this period, through cover bands like ‘Infernal Death’ and ‘Tribal Darkness’ and original bands like ‘Bleed’ and ‘Lucifix’ (which actually contained members of Orange Sky!). Later on, in the late 90s/early 00s, the Black/Death Metal bangers Necropolis and heavy hitters Face of Death carried the torch. Nu-Metal also came on the scene with Brown Fox and local legends Incert Coin who, with Orange Sky, are perhaps the two most popular local bands to date. The mid-90s to early 00s really saw a boom in original bands performing heavier music, that many see as the highlight of the scene, with the aforementioned bands being joined by the likes of Tamper Evident, Alexes Machine, Cobolized, Vox Deus, Spectral Vibes, Anti-Everything, Krucifix, Overdose and many more.  These bands all paved the way for the scene today, and a few are seen as icons in our rock and metal history. Because of our small population, you rarely see more than two or three bands playing the same or similar genres of metal, but it also means that we have a very diverse range of rock and metal sub-genres, from pop-punk and punk to death and djent.

Apart from bands and record stores, 3 milestones were instrumental in the development of our rock scene: 1) Emmet Hennessy having listening parties and jams at people’s homes in the 70s 2) The launch of the radio programme ‘Total Local‘ and the ‘Mike Ross Underground/MRU‘ on 95.1fm almost 20 years ago, which had a huge impact on the modern popularity of rock and metal, with Mike Ross bringing these genres over the radio for 2-3 hours every Thursday, when no other station would, and 3) The launch and development of the website ‘The Bandfield‘ by Dexter Banfield, which catered specifically to local rock & metal bands, events and supporters, with its messaging board helping to bring the scene closer than ever before

I would like to thank  Maarten Manmohan for my knowledge of the history of metal here. Maarten actually did a study on it and he’s one of the main reasons I have so much info on the topic!

Which bands from your part of the world should people really check out (and why)?

There are so many relatively unknown bands in our region – Trinidad may have the largest number of bands but the other Caribbean islands are producing some great bands and music also.

The main reason I would tell anyone to check out these bands is the same I’d give for checking out any ‘big, international’ band: depending on your taste in metal, I think you’d enjoy them because they make great music and have recordings that you can access. These are only a handful of bands, as I don’t want to overwhelm you lol, but please let this be an introduction that will hopefully lead you to many more of the great bands we have around the Caribbean.

Mindscape Laboratory – Trinidad – djent

Bound to Oblivion – Trinidad – djent/modern heavy metal

Incert Coin – Trinidad – heavy rock/nu-metal

Feed the Flames – Guyana – Heavy Metal

Aeons of Disorder – French Guiana – Groove/Death Metal

The Supernormal Band – Trinidad – Rock with ‘Trini’ flavour

This Will Be No More – Aruba – djent

Asylum – Suriname – Heavy Metal/Metalcore

Do you feel that bands take something from Trinidad & Tobago in their metal music? Some sound, feeling or themes?

When we were in Wacken, we were told that we are definitely not death metal or deathcore. They said it’s more of a Caribbean groove with death/ black vocals, so we coined it Caricore! So, yes we do!!! Themes… maybe in terms of our realities here with crime etc.

What future plans does Lynchpin have at this moment? What can we expect in the future?

Working on recording and releasing the new EP and heavy touring over the next years. Breaking new ground and barriers for the Caribbean

If you had to compare your band to a type of food or dish, what would it be and why?

Actually thats easy… Pelau! We are a mixture of everything that influences us and is great together!
The band kindly linked some recipes if you’re interested in tasting some Pelau.