Dischord! And it’s not even Christmas

And once inside gonna tear till there’s nothing left to find
And you wonder just how close close-up can be?
Can’t you see? Can’t you see?
I had a dream all my thoughts turned to real lips

– Rites of Spring ‘Deeper Than Inside’

Somewhere in Washington is a house with the most famous porch in hardcore music. That porch is near a house (I’m an avid reader of stuff, but I’m never sure if it’s the house or the house across the street) where a man lives named Ian Mackaye. I’m not even sure he lives there, but it is rumoured he chases eager hardcore kids of his lawn (read about it on The Hard Times).

Now, you may have seen old man Mackaye in pretty much every hardcore documentary you’ve ever seen. There’s a man you can’t avoid if you want to talk about hardcore music. Founder (unwillingly) of the straight edge movement, kicking DIY in the ass to kickoff a movement and sticking to his guns of chosing the alternative to the big money, Ian Mackay is a legend.

I can tell you all about how that Minor Threat record changed my world, I can tell you how much I love Fugazi and what they stood for, but I just love the concept of Dischord Records, the label owned by Ian Mackaye. Fugazi never made their tickets too pricey, because that would keep the kids out. Another thingy…

This far Dischord records have been pretty much available to listen, but some stuff was just rare, hard to get by. Out of print was a common issue. Anyways, it’s not even Christmas, but all Dischord records are available on bandcamp. So thanks Ian, you’re the man!

Let me highlight some of my favorites!

Nation of Ulysses – Play Pretty for Baby

I’ve always felt that the Hives must have listened to Nation of Ulysses, there are so many similarities to be mentioned.  I probably lose scene points for saying that, but I dig this band big time.

Rites of Spring – End on end

So they may have had a hand in kickstarting whatever that thing is that we call emo now, but this full length of Rites of Spring is one of the bes things out there wit those rabid vocals and lyrics that grab you by the neck.

The Evens – The Odds

I wish that Ian Mackay made some more music himself, this last The Evens record is already from 2012, but isn’t it great? Solid guitar work and those great vocals by Amy Farina. A record to fall in love to.

State Of Alert – First Demo

Yes, it’s a demo, so why is this record so significant? I think because of the vocalist, who is Henry Garfield. You know him as Henry Rollins of Black Flag. Oh yeah, that demo….

Dag Nasty – Can I Say

My point is to make you go to bandcamp and check out Dischord. I will hardly do that with obscure shit, because you’re busy and you want to live your life and use your time wisely. So I give you this and it doesn’t need explanation. Look at the list of bands here… Go check this out.

So go forth and hear Fugazi, Fear, Faith, Void and so much more!

 

 

Shut up and go back to your hipster metal cave

There was a little riot in extreme metal land the other day, which probably seems futile and minor to anyone who isn’t into it, but is also, like every confrontation saying a bit more than you’d think.

Even the whole #kimexposedtaylorparty concerning Taylor Swift and Kanye West (and Kim Kardashian, but whatever), is a debate that tries to create something bigger or maybe is. People choose sides on things, its the way it works. I have passionate Taylor Swift fans among my friends, hence me knowing about this… and I have a twitter account so yeah…

So what gives?

Since pretty much everyone I’ve seen debating this issue has retracted their statements and removed facebook posts, I’ll just get to some vague picture of what happened.

A band behaved badly and that was picked up by a metal zine. It then levelled some accusations at the band this pissed of the band, lets call them… SatanGoat. Something with goats, you see… Now, the journalist in question, might have made up some shit about the band or had drawn some conclusions that the band disagreed with. In response, they posted their rant.

But that wasn’t enough for the evil men in SatanGoat, who ofcourse all have pseudonyms and are very secretive. The band needed to doxx the writer (for what doxxing is, check wiki). Meaning, they posted a picture and all personal data of this person.

uncool bra, uncool…. But if you mention that, you’re told to go back to your hipster metal cave.

So…

I’ve never written under a pseudonym, I’ve had bands say they were sad to read I didn’t dig their stuff and had bands say thanks for the nice words. Now, on this blog I cover stuff I like mostly. I don’t see the point in writing about a album I didn’t dig, sorry. Life is short and I have many things to do. But what if I would be doxxed? What if I’d written that SatanGoat was unoriginal (I think I did) and not really doing anything innovative, but was in the end a fun listen… What if I suggested that some lyrics are a bit edgy. I’m talking about a mostly anonymous band… should I be doxxed?

I hope not. I read two responses, one from another blogger who took offense and one from a black metal musician who considered it taking a stand. I have to say, I agreed with both. Branding someone as anything and writing cheap headlines to get clicks is just the sort of stuff that put #brexit in motion and might put Trump in the White House. Two things we will, I don’t doubt it, regret. Journalism needs to be honest, checking their stuff and getting that info others cant get.

Does that make it ok to ostracize these people and put them at the mercy of the audience? Not really, no. Specially from the comfort of anonymity. But this stuff goes both ways. Respect your topic, they are people too and respect people taking the time to write about stuff. I don’t know how it works for the big sites, but I, like many others, do this in my spare time for the love of the music.

I could and should write toaster manuals instead, it would make me some money.

Respect is the absolute key, but it’s only something you can give, not something you can demand.

Carthagods: Tunisian prog metal heroes

Metal has for a long time been a western thing from Europe and the United States. Its expansion to the South-American continent is well known, but particularly the African country is a blank spot when it comes to metal

So it was for a long time, but it’s on the rise now and particularly in the Islamic world. Even in countries where censorship has a hold on things, metal seems to prevail. Tunisia is a rather liberal country at, though persecution also befell the band Carthagods, who’ve faced their share of the weird and want to change the way you look at their country as portrayed by the media (and mainly want you to hear their album).

Carthagods refer with their name to the ancient past of Tunisia as the land of the Carthaginians. They are no folk metal band though, but prog/power metallers who just released their debut album, which features a ton of famous guest musicians. Time for a chat with the gents about what it is they are about.

Hello, can you kindly introduce yourselves and add who is answering the questions?
Here’s Tarak (Guitarist) and Mahdi (vocalist) we’re from Carthagods, a Melodic Heavy Metal band from Tunisia that’s been active since 1997.

How did Carthagods get started? Did you guys have experience in other bands?
Tarak: First Carthagods was a cover band during the late 90’s, then the band had a break of four years and re-started with a different line up, which Mahdi was a part of after he left his first band on 2004.

How did you guys get in touch with metal music? What bands inspired you to do what you do now?

Mahdi: Some friends of us were living in Europe and U.S, and they brought some (Pantera, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest etc.) tapes along at that time and later CD’s. Then came internet… so we started getting more into different genres of Heavy Metal music.

Your bandname is Carthagods and facebook lists you guys as hailing from Carthago. How strong is the historic inspiration of Carthage and why did you pick this name?

Mahdi: You know most of the members grew up beyond the ruins of Carthage and we believe that it was the most interesting civilization in our history (in Tunisia), that’s why we decided to resuscitate the Gods of Carthage through the name of our band and one day we’ll dedicate a whole album to it.

Do you feel that you put historical Tunisian elements in your music or draw inspiration from it? Particularly in regard to your debut album?

Tarak: We didn’t really thought about putting historical elements in purpose, but we’re sure that you’ll feel the difference when you listen to our sound.

What stories are you telling on your record? I feel there’s a bit of NWOBHM on there, but also the epic power metal. Where do you place yourselves sound wise?
Mahdi: You’re right, there’s several influences on this album, cause it contains the best of what we wrote since we started the band, so some are written in 2003 others in 2007, 2009 etc…so we’re in any genre of Metal accept oriental.

What can you tell about your album, its writing process and recording process, how did you happen to get a couple of guests performing on it?
Mahdi: As you now know the album was written over a long period of time, due to our line ups changing and other issues, but the first guy who believed in us was Marcel COENEN (Sun Caged, Stormrider etc.). We got in contact with Marcel in 2007 and we asked him to perform as a guest on the first demo.

After that we invited him to perform with us as a guest star and he came back to Tunisia as a friend after our lead guitarist left the band (after the “revolution”). He joined the band as a performer and a producer on this debut album. After that we invited Tim Ripper Owens (Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen, Judas Priest). Judas Priest and Tim especially inspired us when we’re writing ‘My Favorite Disguise’. He liked our performance, so when told him about the album he didn’t hesitate for a second.

Ron ‘BumbleFoot’ Thal (Guns N’ Roses) was invited during a Metal Battle that we promoted. He performed some of his songs. He was surprised when he found out that Marcel Coenen was performing with us. In the end that resulted in a nice solo battle on ‘My revenge’.

Regarding Zuberoa Aznárez, we’re fans of her beautiful and warm voice. At that time we thought about making an acoustic version of ‘Memories Of Never Ending Pains’, because a lot of fans were asking for it. We thought about it, when Tarak and me were watching a video of Zuberoa performing with Elfenthal. So we sent her the file and she answered within 24 hours!

The last guest is Hans in ‘t Zandt (ex-Vengeance, Mad Max) who is an amazing drummer and just plain nice person. We invited him for a jam night with Barend Courbois (Blind Guardian, Vengeance) and Timo Somers (Vengeance, Delain) and we asked him to help us on the acoustic version of ‘Memories Of Never Ending Pains’ and he was really happy to do it.

There’s also a hidden guest on the album who’s Niklas Sundin from Dark Tranquillity who was invited twice to perform with that band here in Tunisia (2009 and 2013) and he was also responsible for the artwork of our debut.

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Your album was released by Hands of Blue Records. How did you get in touch with them and how is the collaboration working out for you guys?
Tarak: After the release of our first demo in 2007, we got in contact with Hands of Blue and they were interested by the idea of promoting a band from the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, but after they heard our music they got more excited cause they expected some Habibi Metal shit haha! So things got more interesting when they found out that we’re more into traditional power/heavy Metal.

Is there any sort of repression or censorship on metal music in your country? Have you had to face this is in the past? (if so, can you share in what way?)
Mahdi: We were not censored for our ideas or points of view, but we were more censored for our existence in the society. Some people thought that we’re Satanist some thought that we were gays…The kind of things that aren’t going to make your life easier. I remember once in the late 90’s some police officers arrested us and ransacked our rehearsal studio, because they thought we were drinking blood cats and making Satanist rituals…

Did the revolution in 2010 have an impact on your freedom as musicians in some way? Did it affect you?
Tarak: Nothing has really changed politically after 5 years from the “revolution”, but at least today we can talk and express ourselves freely, but talking is never enough.

How did metal get started in Tunisia? Which bands are the pioneers?
Mahdi: First it was some shows promoted by some clubs members in universities during the 90’s, and I remember at that time a lot of cover bands saw the day like Black Angels, Dolls, Carthagods, Melmoth, Metalkatraz, The Out Body Experience, but most of those bands disappeared after some years even us.

It took until 2003 when we decided to write our own music and promote our own shows because there was nobody to do it for us.

What’s the scene in Tunisia like? Is it big, what genres are being played? Which bands should people check out (and why?).
Tarak: Unfortunately the scene in Tunisia is suffering, the number of shows has decreased and obviously also the bands and fans. Personally, I didn’t hear about any important release or project accept some timid trials with limited resources. But you might check out bands like Lost Insen, Nawather, I the Intruder

Is there a connection to neighbouring countries?
Mahdi: There were some cultural exchanges with Algeria and Morocco but only a few times in the past. But we’re trying to work on it with some promoters and artists like Acyl (Franco-Algerian Death Metal Band) to make this kind of connection happen at least once in a year, to gather all the metal heads in the Maghreb (north-western part of Africa, including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania and Libya) and get to know each other more.

In your Christmas facebook post, you guys made quite a statement: “…this can be an occasion for us to celebrate both birthdays of both prophets on the same day to take a look on the common things we have and find a way to a better world for all “human kind”. How do you regard your role in the strife between world views that is going on?
Mahdi: You know our role is very simple, we’re sure that you had a different idea about Tunisia before you hear our music… We want it to happen to as many people as possible to show the contrast between the reality and what the media wants to serve to the people on the other side of the world.

I think that the Tunisian people are kind of diverse when it comes to beliefs and have a long history concerning the differences. Tunisia has some of the most important religious symbols of the divine ones and all of them were preserved all along the centuries. It’s a proof of tolerance and open-mindedness and this is not what the mainstream media is telling to people so playing heavy metal music is a state of mind that we adopted.

Metal is art and art is free. It depends on the persons not on the music genre.

 

Do you guys have any interesting side-projects going on that you’d like to share some info about?

Mahdi: Yeah, I was pleased to be part of a special project with Enio Nicollini (Italian bass player from The Black) this summer, and it’s called « Heavy Sharing », I was invited with a bunch of talented and prestigious artists like Blaze Bayley (Iron Maiden), Trevor (Sadist) GoldFinch (Homo Herectus), Morby (Domine, Sabotage) to perform a song on this album ‘Amir of Madness’. And the special thing about that project is that there’s only bass, drums and vocals. I find it really challenging to work on the vocal melodies and the lyrics to get into the mood of the song. It’s hard to make heavy metal songs sound good without guitars. You should definitely check it out and give me your feedback on it!

What are the future plans for Carthagods?
We’re about to make the release show of our first album on the 9th of April 2016 and we’ll take advance of it to make a live video and present our new EP to the audience…and maybe some dates out of the country will follow.

If you had to describe your band as a dish, what tasty meal would Carthagods be?
Mahdi: That’s a complicated question, I never thought about any relation between CARTHAGODS and any dish but let’s say a fresh grilled fish with some Harissa (spicy Tunisian sauce) in some pure oil olive…simple, easy to prepare, light but consistent.

Anything you’d like to share with the world?
We want to thank all the people who supported us and believed in our music…our manager, and all the guests who didn’t hesitate to join us to make this project happens, and of course thank you for this nice interview and big thanks to all our fans and the readers of Echoes & Dust

 

Sounds of the Underground #46

Another bit of heavy underground sounds with Sojourner, Messa, Vainaja and Korgonthurus. All in praise of the horned one and such.

Sojourner – Empires of Ash
Avantgarde Music

Source: bandcamp

To say that a band, which is partly from New Zealand, sounds Tolkienesque might be pushing it, but there’s definitely magic in Sojourner’s work. Even if only the beautiful cover, which evokes images of far away lands, but there’s much more on this debut. The band lists two locations, namely Dunedin in New Zealand and Malmö in Sweden. Interesting enough, the band has two members from the first location, but none from Sweden except singer Emillio Crespo. Singer and classicist PhD Chloe Bray is listed as English on some places. Ok, lets just get to the music, the origin of this international group is highly confusing to me. Music then, recorded in New Zealand, Scotland, England and Sweden, mixed in Italy, but completely otherworldly. This is the

Chose your realm, name it Middle-Earth, Faerun (where my D&D boys at?) or Azeroth, this record full of epic black metal is layered thick with graciously measured out instruments. Using a tin whistle immediatly plays on my heart strings, but the exactly right scoop of synths and illuminating guitar riffs makes the recipe so good. Between strong, firm bass lines and a clean, pounding drum, it fills up the song with exactly the sounds it needs for that grand, wind swept feeling of fantastic realms. The arrangements are fabulous and the songs captivating. I’ve read comparisons to Saor and Summoning, which I think is missing the point of this bands sound. Sure, there’s a bit of both to be found, but add to that the complexities of other Avantgarde label bands or a Downfall of Nur and we’re more in the direction of thisbands sound. It’s not an immitation, it’s a step further on the journey of amtospheric black metal. Listening to a track like ‘The Pale Host’ with Chloe Bray’s vocals, you can hear how this band adds much more to the music than those predecessors, knowing the strenght of the seperate elements as well as the whole.

Messa – Belfry
Aural Music

source: bandcamp

A belfry is a tower made to hold bells. That seems to be what the cover depicts. Though this tower is sinking. It’s a beautiful depiction, but also strange and different, like the music of Messa.  The Italian doomsters have decided to take their own approach to the doom genre, which results in an incredible album that carries various other influences. The band has only been around since 2014 and seems to be a rather new kid on the block, also regarding its members. Belfry has received praise for its new approach to the stale genre (lets face it, even a band like Pallbearer can hardly be called a renewer) and I was immediately into it. So let’s get to it.

Intro ‘Alba’ immediately demonstrates the special ingredients, a mixture of drone and ambient is used to tone down the heavy elements of the music. There’s an old fashioned feel to the sound of Messa, specially thanks to the soaring vocals of singer Sara. That combined with Pentagram like riffing creates that old fashioned doom feel. The creeping intro of ‘Blood’ is a good example of that Sabbath-y sense of atmosphere. Here and there we get a track that merely offers the droning sounds of instruments or only samples an synths. It helps to lenghten the sound, create more space and texture to the experience. It works very well for this band, who give a more sophisticated and complex feeling to their music. There’s an element of occult in the sound, but also a clear wink to the Chelsea Wolfe’s of this world (you can go a lot of ways, but you get where I’m going with this). Messa never really needs to flex any muscles. Even when they go for a bit more power it’s a clean pounding (battle drums!) and bassing, without any unnecessary distortion. Between atmosphere and old school grand riff material the band hits that sweet spot, the band is convincing and heavy in their very own way. The dreamy mystique of Messa has definitely captured me.

Vainaja – Verenvalaja
Svart Records 

source: bandcamp

I was not sure about covering the 3-headed beast named Vainaja on here, because at first I was thinking that this was definitely not my cup of tea. The Finnish death/doomers do produce a sound that is quite intense and overwhelming, continuing from their previous band project Demolisher. The group decided on a specific heavy doom direction with lyrics in their mother language. The group aims to do some serious story telling and tries to make the albums revolve around certain themes, which probably accounts partly for the vast unity and force the complete work offers. Originally the plan was to add a book but time and money reduced the artwork to what you can hear.

Pummeling riffs and guttural, deeply disturbing vocals greet the listner on this second album of these northern cultists. This is definitely music made to make the cattle run away in fear. The aura of the sound is dark and cavernous, unearthly and archaic. When the clear chanting starts on ‘Risti’, I even get a little feel of Therion in their transitory period from death to whatever it is they do now. It’s rather interesting how the band is putting this concept of a cult that strikes terror into the hears of Finnish farmers in the 19th century to work on this album. There is that sense of being hunted, being followed by the music with only rare occurences of letting it all down for a moment. Clearly the jagged sound takes its drive from the death metal influences, but those vocals…. man, I can’t get used to them. They keep being unnerving, since they are a lot like what you get in funeral doom but rarely with this raucous speed and ferocity. There’s also quite some melody to the music actually. This album is a bit frightning at the start, even overwhelming, but once you get into it I do dig it.

Korgonthurus – Vuohen Siunaus
Woodcut Records

source: bandcamp

Korgonthurus is a band from Finland as well, but one representing the dirty and unholy sound of true Finnish black metal. Including the satanism indeed and originally a logo that could hardly be distinguished from a pile of branches. The band has been going strong for 16 years with a small break in between and plays ferocious music. Members of the band have bene active in other projects like Horna, Sear, Fjell and Totalselfhatred. It seems that after a long time of having Korgonthurus as a side project, the focus is shifting to this unit of satanic, raw black metal with the record Vuohen Siunaus. The record definitely marks a switch from the old and onto the new, apparently worrying some of their original fanbase.

For example the logo and the whole cover seems to have moved to a more general look for the black metal genre. It also indicates a shift in sound, but I like to listen to albums the way I get to hear them so no badgering about the old times. The intensity of this record and urgency is evident from the first minutes of ‘Kaaos’ onwards. The vitriolic vocals cleave through everything, while the static layer of riffing is attaining some momentum akin to postrock structures. Then later on it turns into a complete barrage of spiralling madness, intense raw black metal and bestial fury. There is no subtlety to the sound of Korgonthurus at all, but there are many elements to their sound that have been taken very much care of to create a unique sound of descent into the darkness. It´s inviting enough to join them. Don’t underestimate this band though, on ‘L.U.X.’ a slow progression is audible with eerie walls of guitar. Haunting stuff.

Luguber, Suriname Metal on the Rise!

You wouldn’t think about the Caribbean as a place where metal music is blooming. Maybe blooming is a bit too early to say, but there’s something stirring under the soil in Suriname for sure, where Luguber is making strides with their unique, dark sound.

This interview was originally published on Echoes and Dust. Check out that version here

Suriname was up from the colonial days until the independence in 1975 part of the Netherlands. It explains a connection and influence from the old country, which can be seen in the music of Suriname. For years the country was also a dictatorship after a military coup. It’s all things to take into account, when looking at a relatively young scene that is still finding its ground.

But bands like Luguber are hitting that ground running, playing their own blend of various genres, mashed into a wild punkrock infused barrage. It’s the sound of anger and dissent, of frustration and depression. That makes it high time to get in touch with these guys and get to know a bit about them and their scene. Most questions were answered by Shavero Ferrier, except when noted different.

So meet Luguber!

Who are Luguber and how did you guys meet?

Luguber is a metal band from Suriname, we play a mixture of hardcore, thrash and grunge. Luguber has three members, who are Reguillio Norman Padma on bass, Akeem Smith on drums and Shavero Ferrier on guitar and vocals.

I met Akeem at school in Nickerie in 2014. He had the same interest in music and he heard that I was playing in a band. We got talking and found that there was definitely chemistry between us so… Luguber was born. Reguillio and I had been playing in a band together in Paramaribo, named Skafu, so I’ve known that bastard for years.

Before that I played in a punkband called De Rotte Appels, who released a single named ‘Punkers’ on compilation albums ‘Punks Not Deaf’ and ‘Suriname Punks Meet Guyana Punks’, which came out in the Netherlands in 2013. I and Reguillio still play in Skafu together.

After that first jam session with Akeem we started penning some songs, so Luguber started as a duo. With just guitar, vocals and drums we played 4 successful gigs in 2015. Reguillio joined on bass in January 2016. We play music that takes a bit from sludge, hardcore, grunge and thrash, as long as it makes it heavy, dark and depressed.

luguber2

What’s the story you’re telling with your music, what are the songs about? It seems that there’s some personal demons unleashed in the lyrics.

My parents had to move in 2011 from Paramaribo (the capital of Suriname) to Nickerie. You can’t compare Nickerie to Paramaribo. It’s smaller, there’s not much to do during the day and in the evenings. When my friends left Nickerie to study I was left alone there in Nickerie. Moving from Paramaribo to Nickerie, from a busy life to a really calm life is what I’m expressing in my lyrics.

Why did you pick the name Luguber?

Originally we had the idea in mind to play doom metal, so we picked a name that would fit in well with that style. It worked out differently, we started playing completely different styles, but decided on keeping the name. We do a lot of lyrics in Dutch, so keeping the band name in Dutch made sense. We’re kind of breaking a taboo by having a Dutch name. Most bands in Suriname use English names. It’s sort of different in that way.

What bands inspired you to make music and are there any local ones that you looked up to?

Shavero: For me a local inspiration is Bitter Confessions, a metalcore band from Suriname from around 2001/2008. Apart from that I listened a lot of Black Flag, Bad Brains, Black Sabbath, Nirvana and Slayer.

Akeem: For me the song ‘115’ by Elena Siegman, was what inspired me to start drumming metal music. Other music that inspired me is Pantera, Asking Alexandria and Killswitch Engage.

Reguillio: For me its Mark Tremonti, Creed, Social Distortion, Metallica, Slipknot and Green Day (before 21st Century Breakdown). Local heroes for me where the bands Apoplectic and Morrighon.

If Luguber could tour Europe with a three band package deal, what would that package be?

Regillio: So, this is hard to answer… Creed, because of Scott Taps voice, wow! But…they split up. De Heideroosjes, awesome Dutch punkrock group that also split up I’m afraid. So I’d go for Korn, because that would mix well, since both us and they deal a lot with personal demons in the music.

Shavero: For me it would be Neuk! (Awesome Dutch hardcore band). They inspired me to write my lyrics the way I do. I also really dig Expire, I listened to all of their albums. I’ve been a huge Bad Religion fan since my teens though, so as a die-hard fan I’d add those.

Akeem: I’m a big deathcore/death metal fan, so for me Infant Annihilator is on that list. The drummer Aaron Kitcher has been a huge inspiration for me. Currently I really dig the band Eye of the Enemy and I suppose Slipknot, because it’s my big dream to see them play live.

What is it like to make metal in Suriname? The image of the region is usually one of sunny music and a relaxed atmosphere. The music of Luguber is very dark instead.

It’s always great to make music that is different for the masses, something they’re not used to. Mostly the audiences don’t appreciate it very much, but Suriname has a small underground scene that appreciates what we do. Those are the people we make our music for. No one is making any money out of this, we’re more likely to pay to play. It’s all about the love and passion for the music.

You guys are from Nickerie, on the first EP there’s a song titled ‘Nickerier Song’, what textually seems to fit more into a setting like King 810’s songs about Flint, Michigan (Murder City). It sounds pessimistic and the lyrics mention it as a hell hole. What kind of place is it you guys come from?

Nieuw-Nickerie is not such a bad town really, but for a city boy it’s a place that can get pretty boring. Maybe a good example is the UK Subs song ‘Down Here on the Farm’. It’s a fact that Nickerie is the second city of Suriname when it comes to suicide rates. To make a long story short, Nickerie can really bore you to death…

How available are facilities like instruments, studio’s, labels and record shops? I’ve learned from bands in surrounding countries that these can be serious issues.

It actually is a big issue. Not just for people playing rock or metal I have to say, but for any genre. Instruments are ridiculously expensive and the studios have no experience at all with the kind of music we are making. There are people who have been into the metal scene for decennia, who have a studio, but they’re simply unwilling to invest. They fear that they won’t make back any money they put into it. So we have to make do with what we have and that’s not a lot unfortunately

Can you talk about a metal scene in Suriname? What does it look like, is it segmented by genre or is it a mix?

You can’t really talk about either a metal scene or a punk scene in Suriname. It’s more or less a rock scene, where everything is mixed up a lot. The scene is not really bound to one specific genre. It’s also not very big, so you see the same people at every party, regardless which band is playing. People like a good atmosphere and a good mosh.

The rock subculture really becomes visible when there’s a related event. Everyone knows each other and respects each other’s musical tastes. We discuss a lot of stuff, but at the end of the night we share a bottle of beer and a joint and just have a good time.

How did the metal scene get started in Suriname? Is it possible to point out a starting moment?

The rock/metal scene in Suriname started in the seventies, when people were jamming in their garages, playing covers of Sabbath, Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad. It really took off in the eighties, when the band Allegre Fortissimo played an official gig and was actually on the radio for a while.

We don’t know that much about Allegre Fortissimo to be honest. In the 70’s people played funk more than anything and that band was the first one who dared to organise a show. For me personally the band Bitter Confessions has been one of the first bands that I saw live and inspired me to start this band. That was around 2007/2008.

Which bands from Suriname should people check out and why?

Bands you could check out are Asylum, Tidal Wave, Morrighon and Ravech. Tidal Wave is one of the oldest, still active bands from Suriname. Asylum plays shows full of energy, you could call them the Suriname version of Slayer.

Morrighon has been working on their sound for a while now and last year they released an album which sounds pretty amazing. They’ve been at it for ten years or so. Ravech is an up and coming band, they have a lot of potential. You can check out their EP online now.

You guys played the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean recently. How did it go and what is it like to play on a stage like that?

I can hardly find the words for it. It’s a night we’ll probably never forget, an evening full of top class metal music with great bands. Everyone was nice and encouraging towards one another, but there was definitely competition. I needed to visit the toilet like seven times, that was how nervous it made me. We played a great show in the end and probably one of the biggest we’ve done this far. Many doors have opened now and I think we’ve gained a lot of connections through our Caribbean brothers.

What is the connection between the surrounding countries, say the region that was part of the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean? Is there a connection to the Dutch scene?

Before the Wacken show, we were familiar with bands from the region, but contact remained limited to Facebook connections. Now, after having played together at the show, the contacts have been strengthened and we have a wish to collaborate more.

As mentioned before, the band De Rotte Appels released a compilation in the Netherlands. A Distant Head Disorder can also be heard on that ‘Guyana vs. Suriname punks’ compilation. Jerrie Orie, who organises the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean plays also in Dutch metal band Disquiet and Cypher.

You can say that for us (Skafu/Luguber) there’s a good connection to the Netherlands, which lead to the compilation albums ‘Punk’s Not Deaf’ and we’re pushing each other’s music on social media. Jerrie Orie is definitely an important connection for us. Not only did he play in those bands, if we hear his name we think of long hair, metal and beer.

He invested heavily in the scene he has said, without making much in return and has been trying to make rock bigger in our country for years. He would like to make Suriname the centre for the music in this Carribean region. The Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean is the highlight of that this far.

What future plans does Luguber have?

We want to tour the whole fucking world, but mainly we would love to play Europe (yes, we’re talking about you too Netherlands).

But first we want to record our album, make some merch and plan local gigs. We also really hope to do something more with our Caribbean brothers.

If Luguber was a dish, what would it be?

We’re like a McDonalds meal, that you’re craving and afterwards you feel bad until the craving comes up again. You’re definitely never going to forget us.

luguberbigmac

Sounds of the Underground #45

This edition of Sounds of the Underground features musical gems from Winterlore, In Mourning, Release The Long Ships and Muscle And Marrow.

Some good music for lesser weather.

Winterlore – Winterlore
Slaughterhouse Records 

source: bandcamp

The cover of this second Winterlore record immediately speaks to the afficionado of dark fantasy/history with its gloomy depiction of a moonlit landscape. It says a lot about the sound of these Utah residents and their mystical black metal. The debut of the band came out in 2013, so it was high time for something more. With members of Ered Wethrin, Malignant Inception and many more, its clear that the band draws inspiration from various styles within the genre to create a perfectly balanced sound of their own on this record. Inspired by early Drudkh, Angantyr and Satanic Warmaster, you know what you’re in for! Back to the old underground.

Blending the right elements of oldschool black metal, this band sounds grim like you used to love them. Black, eerie guitar riffs create a static pattern that batters on forever, while the vocalist barks his dark incantations. Taking clear inspiration from their Northern predecessors, the band focusses on similar themes and cultural components. The sound is hardly full of variation, but leaves room for atmospheric guitar parts. Repetitive, droning patterns with a melancholic feel get the listener in a trance. Fascinating is the chanting on the end of the title track and in fact also the closer for the album. It’s almost Viking chanting, in a Wardruna style, which evokes powerful imagery surrounding that cover photo. Though stylisticly a bit retro, Winterlore has released an album that brings all the good from the old favorites in a fresh coat of paint.

Muscle and Marrow – Love
The Flenser

source: bandcamp

It’s a peculiar thing how certain records end up in the black metal category on bandcamp, but for this album I do get it. Muscle and Marrow is an experimental duo, creating music that tugs at the heart strings. On This record the songs are trying to express the complexity of love, but not in the cheesy way we all know and hate. It’s much deeper than that. In this interview with Noisey, singer and guitarist Kira Clark talks about her influences for this record. The sound she produces with drummer Keith McGraw has been dubbed doom-folk, but if you like to call it doompop, experimental music or electronics, it’s all good.

If I have to clarify what this sounds like, I have to mention Chelsea Wolfe and (though many might disagree with me) Björk due to the free form of the music. In a way you can also not pass up on the chance to mention Courtney Love, who is a big inspiration for this album apparently and in some ways her influence can be felt in the music. The tunes feel very ambient, but the vocals are weary and expressive. It creates a feeling of darkness, almost gothy. The shimmering music and haunting vocals express an exhaustion almost, which is very convincing and giving the record a strenght that is hard to really put to words. It convinces you of truly complex feelings that drain you when even trying to comprehend them. Whispered or screamed, Clark is a vocalist with a powerful range and at the core of this record for sure. The rest is just framework. I’m struggling to write down what I hear, it reminds me of the description in ‘Lord of the Rings’ of the ringwraiths, who are stretched thin, almost ghost-like by their greed and the lifeforce eaten away by that one ring… that’s how the music of Muscle and Marrow sounds.

In Mourning – Afterglow
Agonia Records

source: bandcamp

These Swedes know a thing or two about creating haunting tunes that find their way somewhwere in between goth and doom with a tinge of symphonic added. It’s no My Dying Bride, but in a sense that is not such a far shot from what these gentelmen produce on their fourth full lenght in their 16 year existence ‘Afterglow’. Maybe if you add a little Moonspell to that mix you do get the sound of In Mourning. The band from Falun has started moving in a more melodic death direction for a while now, which can be heard on their new album as well. With two original members in their, the core sound of contemplative and intelligent music with a classic hint is obviously maintained on this new outing. I enjoyed listening to this.

The band is hugely melodic, full of majestic arches that depict an autumn landscape of ever dying life. The tracks are notably long and not always leaving the impact you’d be hoping for, but on a track like ‘Ashen Crown’ the band is unleashed. A torrent of minor tunes is launched at the listener, conveying grief and torment in an intricate and beautiful manner. The riffing is pulling at you with grand, sweeping movements and a wide array of tones and layers. I can’t say that the vocals are all that convincing and distinct on every track, but the right approach is taken everywhere with grunts or clean contemplative vocals. It’s the guitars that take the reigns on the tunes with a fierce bit of bass and drums (in the capable hands of
Daniel Liljekvist, former drummer of Katatonia). The song sink down and then rise up again, higher and higher.  Sometimes it’s just swooning and subtle, like the intro of the wonderful ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’. Though In Mourning is not giving the gothic doom the kick in the arse it so sorely needs, it’s bringing out all those elements that make it such a beloved genre.

Release The Long Ships – Holocene
Self released

What draw my attention to this record in the first place was partly the bandname, Release The Long Ships, which reminded me of that stupid Unleashed song. The band is in fact Ferenc Kapiller, a one man musical wonder of multi-instrumental prowess and a knack for the mysterious. Perhaps known for his artwork for post-BM band Nullingroots from the United States, the Hungarian has released a wonderful record with ‘Holocene’. The musician set to work with nothing more than a guitar and a computer back in 2011 and has wrought some brilliant stuff this far. At home in Szombathel he creates simple but imaginative songs and I truly adore them.

Another point of interest for me was a song titled ‘Tesla and Tunguska’. I had heard a song earlier with Tunguska in the title by the T.S. Eliot Appreciation Society. The melancholy and the wide stretched feel of the sound feel similar. The mysterious Tunguska-event, an explosion thought to have been a meteor, has been linked to Tesla by obscure theories. It’s a reworking of an Erudite Stoner song. Kapiller translates this to minimalistic music, with a lot of background distortion and noise on moments when it needs to swell to bigger proportions. The trickling guitar sound is a prevailing element on this album, evoking imagery of fantasy landscapes and deep forests. The kind you don’t see anywhere anymore, but maybe in Hungary a part lingers. The music is layered and laced with emotion, this is not something to listen to anywhere else than at home or on a walk in nature. It has a taste of ambient, the flow of postrock and the organic vibe of folk. It really is worth your time.

Brews that Rock: Põhjala

Apart from a specific enthousiasm about music, I’ve been a beer enthousiast for a long time. I’d like to share a bit about one of my favorite beers, namely Põhjala from Estonia. A wonderful little brewery.

It says a lot if a small brewery is willing to drop by in Eindhoven twice to give people  a taste of their brilliant products. Põhjala dropped by the first time in Van Moll, the local brewpub where you could enjoy a wide range of beers from the Estonians. Lately they returned to hang out with beer lovers in the cosy beer shop De Bierbrigadier. These are also two spots that I really recommend if you drop by in my city and wish to try some beers.

I got a Pohjala shirt, it's really seriously cool
I got a Pohjala shirt, it’s really seriously cool

Estonian Craft Beer

I’ve been to Estonia twice, to visit the capital Tallinn and Tartu. What was immediately noticable was the lack of traditional brews and the more flavorous products. What you’d find was pretty much the big brews like SakuAlexander and the weirdly named A. Le Coq. There was also a beer named ROCK, but it didn’t really rock.

That is indeed the case, according to marketeer Peeter Keek, who dropped by in Eindhoven on the next tour of the young brand. It just wasn’t there: “When we started making beer with Põhjala, we really were the first. No one else was making craft beer in Estonia. Since, it really has exploded in our country.”  It’s true, Estonia has really seen a brewvolution in the last years with with tons of brewers popping up and as a cherry on the cake there’s even the Tallinn Craft Beer Weekend (organised by Põhjala apparently). According to Peeter, the weekend is well worth the trip with a lot of beers to taste. The price is well worth it.

Scottish inspiratin

The secret ingrediënt of Põhjala brews is a very specific one. He’s called Chris Pilkington and he used to brew beers for no other than Brewdog, the pinnacle of craft breweries for many beer geeks. Where Brewdog is pushing out a stable series of high class beers, Põhjala  started pushing the envelope on flavor with interesting, refreshing brews. The brewery was started by four entrepeneurs and a master brewer and clearly has their eyes set on the top, nothing less.

There’s a lot of experiment going on in their brewing, but also a lot of tweaking. What they don’t do is try to make crazy beers, they’re aiming for good stuff. I highly doubt that anyone will reinvent the drink in a radical manner, we already know what is good and so do these gentlemen.

yeah, this is some of the beer from Pohjala with very cool labels.
yeah, this is some of the beer from Pohjala with very cool labels.

The Beers

Peeter informed the visitors at great length about the special flavors and unique beers the brewery is producing: “We are as a brewer focussing on the heavy, black beers. It’s our specialty, which you can also see in our range.”  As he hols up a bottle of the brilliant Öö and the Must Kuld. The first is a imperial Baltic porter, offering the unique flavors of a Baltic porter with the dark nights and the unruly nature of these regions. The Must Kuld is more temperate, but a great porter that is the basis for various other great products, like a Kenya coffee porter and a cherry porter.

I have to mention one other variation of the Öö, named the Valge Öö, which is a white stout. Did you read that? A white stout! It’s a smooth flavoured, but potent drink that will set you back for a moment. The flavor is that of a stout, but the eye tells you differently. I can go on about their favulous beers, but I think this’ll do for now. Go try them yourself!
Ok, there’s this magic double IPA with ever changing hops, which makes the beer so surprisingly different. The edition I had to try was almost like liquorice hints in the beer, curious what you’ll get.

Vibe

Põhjala doesn’t feel old fashioned like a folk band, it’s a bit like punkrock in my opinion. Going against the grain, but in their own respectful way. It’s not bottled violence, but it certainly is a beer that you won’t buy in a six pack and it will surely rise above others in the years to come. Starting a craft brewery in a country that has none is kind of saying: We’ll start our own scene, we’ll just do it ourselves. Which is… the punkrock ethos in brewing.

It has its very own scene, exploring new areas with familiar ingredients, trying to perfect their craft and beers along. They are in complete control of their very own product and I hope to get to try a lot of them. There’s a risky flavor to the beer, something edgy and it really speaks to me as a brewer I dig and a beer to enjoy in winter and summer alike.

(there’s an unnecessary amount of references in the last bit to punkrock)

Don’t take my word for it, this guy says so too.

World of Warcraft is a Feeling #3

Where was I? Oh yeah, I wrote about Warcraft 2 and Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness. For some reason Roman numbers don’t work very well online, so I’ll stick with regular numbers. So, what happened after Warcraft 2?

Well, as pretty much every RTS fan must remember: Warcraft 3 happened. Oh my god, what an epic improvement on the game that was. It was one huge leap forward for gaming and I completely missed its initial release. I had moved away from games for a bit, only playing some NHL 2001 or something like that on the odd chance and some Final Fantasy VI. This was in 2002, the game had been out for a short while and after messing about with some copy I got myself the Battle Chest.

A Warcraft Battle Chest was nothing more than the game and its expansion with two guide books. Warcraft 3 was fully called Warcraft III: Reign Of Chaos and the expansion was ‘Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. The time between Warcraft 2 and 3 was a bit vague, things had transpired but it was pretty tricky to figure it out. Also, the storyline was hard to follow in Warcraft 2 because I never played for very long at one time, so the names didn’t stick. With the fabulous promo video and the epic cut scenes and clearly outlined story, Warcraft 3 was something new, something else and something wonderful.

Summertime Blues

It was a summer holiday and I had to work a lot at the supermarket that year, but during the holiday of my parents I would play all the time when I wasn’t working. I actually threw my matrass down next to the PC so I could save time. Ridiculous, I know, but I was that insanely into it. To follow the whole campaign and learn of the characters like Arthas MenethilThrall and Grom Hellscream (already a favorite from the past along with Korgath Bladefist) and ofcourse Illadan Stormrage. It was miraculous and completely immesive. The game was good for hours and hours of unlimited, unchallenged gameplay.

This was the game you were discussing with your friends, this was a story that you wanted to have retold and tried to trace. It was by far the best thing Blizzard had done this far and the whole sales numbers proved as much. Warcraft III is at the base of the succesful DOTA and League of Legends games and set the bar for RTS games for years to come. So while playing it, I was living in the Warcraft Universe and every moment I wasn’t, I was still there in my head. It was great stuff.

Innovation

Where the previous games had named characters, these had personalities. That was one of the things that Blizzard may have taken from the likes of Red Alert and Command & Conquer. Having characters with personalities helps the player in feeling part of the grand narrative. Something the man from Blizz understood like no other I suppose.

What also helped, was an environment that felt more natural and alive, not the barren wasteland that you were left with in the pervious games. There was a better ambient sound to accompany the setting and critters that you could kill, but also random mobs. Marauding gnolls, rampaging ogres and the ever present Murlocs. Also, the campaigns where you had to rely on skills and fast commanding were so much better and fun to engage in. Landing in Kalimdor with the Orcs really felt like finding a strange and mysterious land, not just the next puzzle. Corrupting the land with the undead felt a bit grimy and wrong, but also awakens the sadist in you.

To me these were major innovations in the game, though probably not as unique as it felt to me, but very significant.

source: Battle.net

Not just single player fun

For me personally, I’ve never been a great online player. Frankly, I sucked on the battle net servers. Battle Net had been launched already for Starcraft players a few years previously, to faciliate online playing. Interesting enough, the online playing was the future and Blizzard was one of the few companies really getting that.

Not only that, the game was so big, that you could discuss it easily with your friends who had started playing it. Funny enough, one of my best friends held the game wrapped up for 12 years before engaging in it, recently finishing the game finally. It was a weird throw back to discuss some elements in the game, since many of them where later sort of rectified in the ongoing narrative of the game in World of Warcraft.

Out of an ocean of mediocre games, this one rose above and beyond and was for me definitely the one that got me hooked forever on the game. It was not long after that WoW was released, which I didn’t start playing at first. I took some time… but I did start with the novels.

It’s just before I got into the biggest and I think best MMO of all time.