Wolcensmen: Awakening the Ancients

Now and then you find a band that is approaching music from a very own perspective and position. With experience in Winterfylleth, it is no surprise to find that Dan Capp is one of those that likes to find the root of things and go from there. Wolcensmen is essential Englishness, but without the stereotypes. There is no superiority, just a thoughtful and captivating story of its identity.

It’s noteworthy that though Dan is active in Winterfylleth, his own journey with Wolcensmen started way earlier and has its roots exactly where I felt they came from. But why spoil information that you can read below from the source. What I would like to address in this brief introduction is the album that Wolcensmen has released recently, titled Songs from the Fyrgen. This record is a collaborative effort that takes you as a listener far, far away from England that you may imagine to something more essential and pure. To a pastoral vista that you may only still find in novels these days. I think it’s an album that you can fall in love with.

First off, let me ask you how the idea of Wolcensmen was conceived. I understand it’s been a work of multiple years actually?
Dan: Musically, the roots of Wolcensmen are in my teenage years, around about 1998. I’d recently been introduced to the early works of Ulver, Opeth and Empyrium (as well as ’90s Norwegian black metal) and I was particularly taken by the mood created in these bands’ acoustic interludes. I was inspired to create something similar and would use my stereo Hi-Fi system to record dual-guitar parts onto cassette. Friends at the time said I should do more of this but I instead chose to make more aggressive music for some years. Then in 2010 I found myself in a Dublin pub watching an Irish folk band perform and it dawned on me that England lacked this sort of culture and perhaps I could be someone to resurrect it – this was the conceptual beginning of Wolcensmen. I remembered how much I’d enjoyed writing acoustic songs in my younger years, wrote some songs for a demo and… here we are.

How did you get into making folk music like this? Is that a long lasting desire you had and where does your inspiration come from? Are there artists that you would cite as influences? Where do the other elements come from?

Dan: I guess I pretty much answered this in response to your last question, but I’ll add a few things. I was introduced to folk music by metal bands who had veered from the trodden path and used acoustic instruments to enhance their dark, romantic atmospheres. It’s only in recent years that I’ve familiarised myself with more traditional folk (usually in the form of acts like Steeleye Span and Blackmore’s Night who perform many traditional songs from around the British Isles and Europe). Wolcensmen’s primary influences will always be early Ulver and Empyrium in particular. However, Songs from the Fyrgen wouldn’t sound the way it does were it not for classical music and black metal (related) bands such as Summoning, Burzum and Bathory.

What is the goal, the purpose that you had with the project? The feeling you wish to evoke? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Dan: The purpose of Wolcensmen, thematically, is to remind the World that England exists as a people and a culture, and that its original culture is Heathen and Teutonic. Obviously that is not to say that it is music only for Englishmen – far from it. Most of the people who seem to have truly connected with it on a spiritual level are from all over the World. But because of this purpose, the feeling I want to evoke is one of a pre-Industrial England where mysticism reigns supreme and man can still lose himself among quiet, pristine hills and forests. ‘Fyrgen’, from the title, means ‘wooded hilltop’ – remembering a time before dense human population, industry and farming had removed much of the woodland.

In 2013 you’ve released a demo, how did that help you to get to the final product and did you get in touch with the other artists before or after this production? Did it help in conveying the idea you had?
Dan: The demo was very much a solo project – an experiment more than anything, as I’d never even sung lead vocals on anything before. I had no idea whether the songs would even turn out well. It certainly set the mould for Wolcensmen, undoubtedly. The concept was already very sure and strong by the time of the demo recording. The only contributor I was talking with at that time was Jake Rogers, who was offering me feedback on the mix (via email) as it unfolded. During that time he offered to perform flute on any future songs I wanted him to, which is how he ended up contributing to the album.

Can you tell me how the collaboration worked? I understand you are in charge of the final product, but in what way did different people from various countries contribute to something that is quintessentially a British folk album?
Dan: It was a different story for each of the contributors really. As mentioned, Jake Rogers had offered to play flute for me, which I was very keen on as I only play guitar and wanted a variety of real instruments on the album. With most of the parts, the good men involved performed and recorded with real instruments what I had written in MIDI, set to a MIDI tempo map. They’d then simply send me the digital files and I edited them into place. On ‘Snowfall’ I gave Jake a blank canvas to compose a flute part over the top of, and the result almost brought me to tears. Likewise with ‘Neath a Wreath of Firs’ where I asked Grimrik to create an intro and outro – whatever he wanted as long as it fit the song. Again, he amazed me with what he conjured. Nash Rothanburg was given a section of the song ‘Hoofes Upon the Shymmeringe Path’ to add some ritualistic vocals to and did just what was needed. Mark Capp, my brother, is a drummer and helped me to write all the percussion parts as well as performing Bodhran on two of the songs. Dries Gaerdelen brought a wonderful human touch to my MIDI piano compositions. And the most difficult instrument to coordinate the recording of was Raphael Weinroth-Browne’s cello, because it is present throughout most songs. I needed to give him a big set of files and time to learn it all (which he did masterfully, as expected).

Songs from the Fyrgen is quintessentially English, but I didn’t need all performers to necessarily be English – Englishness is just the foundational, conceptual concept behind the project.

What does the heathen aspect mean to you? And where do you get the stories and themes from for those willing to delve into this?
Dan: Well the Heathen aspect is vital, because I am a Heathen and Wolcensmen is essentially a cultural statement. It is meant to be romantic, and I simply can’t see that there’s anything to romanticise about post-Christian England. It was the beginning of our decline. The stories are mine, except for ‘The Mon o’ Micht’, which is lyrically traditional, and ‘Hoofes Upon the Shymmeringe Path’ whose lyrics are based on the names of the horses belonging to the Asa (Aesir) gods, on which they ride across Bifrost, ‘the shimmering path’, to Asgard. My other lyrics are inspired by folk tales, natural phenomena and esoteric concepts.

You’re also active in Winterfylleth, a group that (although not always as explicitly) draws inspiration from the land and heritage very strongly. Has that helped or affected your own project in some ways? Did they help you with ideas or such?
Dan: Surprisingly, no! I joined Winterfylleth two years ago at the start of 2015 and Wolcensmen was already well under way. Myself and the other guys in Winterfylleth are long-time friends and happen to have a similar worldview, which I suppose is one of the reasons they felt I was a good choice when they needed a new guitarist. They were always on hand to offer feedback while I made Songs from the Fyrgen, and I value their support. But composing for Wolcensmen was a very personal process and only those who performed on the album had any real influence on the music.

You’ve recorded in various places. There are other artists in the folk realm who’ve done this in order to captivate something in the music. Is that something you had in mind as a goal or did it become part of the result in some way?
Dan: No. There was nothing desirable about recording different instruments in different parts of the World. My collaborators did a stunning job which I’ll forever be grateful for, but given a choice I’d rather record everything in one place and time – preferably in a good studio.

When I listened to the record, I immediately felt a connection to the way Tolkien depicts the Shire as a sort of pre-industrial England in The Lord of the Rings. Very pastoral, calm and natural. Does that make sense to you in a way?
Dan: Absolutely!!! I touched on this earlier in the interview without having read your questions ahead. Tolkien is without a doubt the earliest, most key influence in my cultural and creative mind-set. His books set the scene for all of the language, art, landscape and mythology I would go on to love. He was deeply regretful of England’s industrialisation, as am I. In some ways – and without having mentioned it anywhere – Songs from the Fyrgen should really be in honour of J.R.R. Tolkien. Furthermore, my target audience would tend to be the types of people that also fell in love with his books; so I hope with this album to have given a little ‘boost’ to that part of someone who felt magic when first reading The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, but maybe hasn’t felt it too often since then.

What future plans do you have for Wolcensmen? Will there be a live experience?
Dan: There are no future plans, only vague dreams. Composing is what I love most, and I hope I can make another album sometime. I wouldn’t be short of ideas, but I simply can’t bring myself to self-record again (even if the result was pretty good). Unlike a lot of modern musicians, I don’t enjoy the production side of things, and I would need a producer to work with – someone who understands this music well. This would depend on future label support so I’m not holding my breath. Deivlforst are wonderful, but these days, in the musical underground, many labels often count on musicians to self-record their music in home studios.

As for live performances… I really don’t know. At first (when I watched that Irish Folk band perform) I envisioned it being very much a live thing. But then as the project took form I knew it couldn’t be recreated onstage. Now there are a few people calling for it so I’m not ruling it out. The demand would have to be high though, because the preparation required for even a single show would be quite a task. Another possibility is some kind of stripped down two-man version, which I’d say is more likely.

Finally, if Wolcensmen was a dish (food), what would it be and why?
Dan: Haha… Let’s go with: Fried mushrooms in wild garlic, with a desert course of berries. Mushrooms because they’re wild, mysterious and have long grown in the indigenous forests of northern Europe. Garlic because of its healing properties. Berries because they’re linked with Yuletide, as Songs from the Fyrgen seems to be.

Thanks for the thoughtful questions and interest in my answers. Wæs þu hæl to you and your readers Guido.

Temaukel: Gods in the sky, Chilean metal

Chile is probably one of the most peculiar countries in the world. You need only look at its shape to get a good idea of its diversity and differences. From the Northern deserts to the southern wilds, a place that would evoke something in men. It definitely evoked something in César Godoy, who is the sole member of Temaukel.

Temaukel is a black metal band, inspired by the ancient past and traditions of the Selk’nam people, an indigenous people who embedded their surroundings into a dense, complex mythology. The Selk’nam lived in the south of Chile, the place called Tierra Del Fuego (land of fire), named by Magellan for the fires he saw burning on the islands.

People that were being driven to near extinction in the 19th century, their culture destroyed by the rampant capitalism that still sets fire to parts of the world. This period is now known as the Selk’nam genocide. Luckily, there are artists who dig through the forgotten bits of our past. Temaukel brings back a bit of the wonderful culture and tradition of the Selk’nam people. The debut album has just been released. Time to find out more.

Let us start with the beginning. Who is behind Temaukel and how did you get started with this project? What other projects have you been involved with?
César: Hi, Temaukel is a solo project of mine, César Godoy. I’m a graphic designer from Chile, with a “normal life”, and all the free time I have I use with music and martial arts. I started with Temaukel 7 or 8 years ago, with another name, Thanatos. But after a while I’ve decided to change the main content, and I chose the new name according to the message I want to pass on.

Yes I have other projects. Thanatos and Kloketen. Thanatos is my side project of noise music, and Kloketen is a post-folk project with a friend Andrés Alday in main voices.

How did you get into extreme metal? What inspired you to go in this musical direction?
César: I got into metal when I was a kid, 13 or 14 years old, with Metallica (Master of Puppets), after in High school I got a cassette of Nocturnus and Pestilence, more death metal. After that I knew Paradise Lost and similar acts, and I discovered Dimmu Borgir, and all the Nordic black metal. After that I got into Behemoth, Vader and all that kind of extreme metal.

I have always loved the music, and I think that every style is related to a specific message. I want to transmit feelings about force, energy, but force in a spiritual and emotional way, the intensity of the feelings inside man, the free expression of the emotions, and I believe that metal is the way it can be put into words.

Can you tell a bit more about the Selk’nam people and Temaukel. Why did you chose this subject matter for this project? For people who have not heard of any of this before, would you like to give a brief overview?
César: Well, the Selk’nam were the indigenous people in the Patagonian region of southern Argentina and Chile, including the Tierra del Fuego islands. They were discovered by Europeans in the late 19th century. They were murdered in 20 years in the rush for gold. Their land was conquered by Europeans who also imposed Christianity on them. They and their language are virtually extinct by now.

In their worldview, they had some gods of which Temaukel was the main entity. He is shapeless, speechless, he just created the universe and the world, but he doesn’t live in it.  He lives in Wintek, the main mountain chain. Selk’nam believed in four sacred mountain chains in the sky for each season. In Selk’nam language, this mountain chains are named like sho’on:

Wintek: Eastern sky. It is considered the most important of the four sho’on, being the residence of Temáukel and source of all that exists.

Kamuk: Northern sky.

Kéikruk: Southern sky.

Kenénik: Western sky.

I chose this subject matter because I’m Chilean, and here we don’t respect in any way our ancestors. There still exist a lot of indigenous people, Mapuches are the main, but what about others? I think we have to talk about our past, the people, the genocide and their vision of the universe and the world.

I found this in the Nordic metal. They talk about their gods, their world vision. So, why can we here talk about the same, but in our way? I think what everything we do affect to each other’s. So it’s important to show my culture to the world, that’s the reason Temaukel is in English, with some words in Selk’nam and other in Spanish. I think it’s time to talk about Selk’nam culture, our original culture, not the culture that Latin-Spanish conquerors imposed on us.

What is your personal relation to the topic and what are the goals you have with this record?
César: I’m Chilean, I don’t like ignorance, the ignorance of our land, our traditions, so it’s time to talk about it, that’s the main relation with the topic. My main goal is to talk about the culture of my land, my traditions, to the entire world, I’m not interested in money or promoting myself as a musician, I just want to show the world the culture of Chile and our ancestors.

Can you maybe take us through the record as the story that is being told?
César: The record is the history of a concept, the relation between two visions about the world, the “industrial – impositive” and the “nature – respect”, the first one the vision of the Europeans who came to South America, the second the vision of the indigenous people.

I noticed some folky passages, for example the track ‘Fires in Karukinka’. From where did you get the inspiration for those parts?César: Yes!, there’s a lot of folk inspiration in the music of Temaukel. Some influenced by my young musical background and with relation with the folk music from here in Chile.

I have done a lot of research about folk music and in the whole world you find many similarities. But answering the question, the inspiration came from the concept. Like I said before, every style represents an special message. Now, these two songs are folk, because I want to bring to present the emotion of being in the countryside, surrounded by nature, silence and wind in the cold south forward. The guitars, are the things and feelings of the Selk’nam, looking for the horizon, searching for food or just contemplating the nature itself. Now in relation to music my main influence is another Chilean band who anyone knows much more about them, more than the name, Uaral, they have 2 LPs, and 2 members, Caudal and Aciago. They’re similar to Empyrium, or Ulver’s Kveldssanger folk; dark sounds, but with reminiscence of the Chilean countryside.


You’ve translated this concept to a record, titled Spirit Of Wintek. How did the writing and recording process go for this record? Did you do things on your own or did you meet people to find sources and information?
César: Yes, I did and it wasn’t an easy process, but it was very useful. First I did was study a lot, investigate about original cultures from South America, after that Chile and finally Patagonian cultures without boundaries between Chile and Argentina. Then I introduced myself into the Selk’nam culture, and how they were exterminated in a short time with the arrival of Julius Popper, a Romanian, with the support of the Chilean Government in the 19th century.

After that I began to search for the sound, the feeling, and finally I mixed it, I made a lot of demos, different versions, rhythms… I don’t want to sound like a typical black metal band, and after a while I found the sound I was looking for. After I sorted the “history”, I wanted to retell the story with the music. So I thought about the worldview, their god and beliefs, and I crossed that with the “reality” of the genocide. So that’s the reason of the names of the songs. ‘Wintek’ – the Origin of everything, where lives Temaukel – The Creator. ‘Kenos’ – The son of Temaukel, the creator of the world – Terraformer and creator of life and the Selk’nam people. ‘Howenh’ – The gods-human like of Selk’nam, the human representation of the nature.

With that I had the context of the Selk’nam worldview. This followed by ‘Fires in Karukinka’. When the Europeans cross the The Strait of Magellan, they observed fire in the land from the sea. Fires: fire they observed (the European vision), Karukinka: That’s the name Selk’nam gave to their land. So, the name is a mixed vision of both. ‘Fires in Karukinka’. Final track is ‘Tierra del viento’: A main thing there in Patagonia is the Wind, so that’s the name of the environment the Selk’nam lived in. So that’s the name (land of wind).

As you can see, I tried to mix both visions from the feelings in one concept. Everything was done by me. There was a little work of mixing and mastering, because a want a raw sound, and everything that was recorded is what I am able to play.

You’ve recently got a label, which is good news, so which label is it and what sort of release are you aiming for?
César: Yes, a Polish label, but I left it, it’s too expensive for me for now. So I now have another contract with Sepulchral Silence from the UK for digital distribution (Spotify, Apple Music, etc). I think in about a month the music will be online on those channels. I know that recently the EP was available on torrent sites.

You’ve also released a video, which is a powerful bit of footage. Can you tell a bit about that? All the visual work looks very cool and specific. Do you have a background in that?
César: The video was the first idea for promotion of the EP and the concept of the music. I tried to use explicit images, with some conceptual elements, for both levels of understanding, some explicit, some implicit. Selk’nam had a powerful graphic universe, so I tried to use it.

I’m graphic designer, so I work on visual merch, I understand visual communication, but it was the first time I made a video clip. Also my mother tongue is Spanish, so my pronunciation may not be the best, so that’s the reason I prefer to make a lyric video, so the vocalization can be clear for everyone.

Can you perhaps tell me a bit about heavy metal music in Chile? What sort of scene is there, is it all mixed up or divided by genre?César: Here in Chile there’s a lot of metal bands of every style you can imagine, from rock to extreme metal, and it’s clearly divided by genres, there’s a lot of pubs or bars for playing, the metal was very underground before, but now it takes its place in the national scene. Every weekend you can get access to a lot of bands playing alive.

(((o))): How did metal get started in Chile? Which bands were particularly influential?

César: I’m not really sure how the metal get started here, but in the 70s and beginning of the 80s, there were a lot of rock bands. Metal became visible much later, with bands like Pentagram, Dorso, Massakre, Necrosis y Rust, the first bands of playing thrash metal. The genre emerged in the capital Santiago, but later Valparaiso got involved too. In the 90s the metal was underground, but always present. Like I said Criminal is one of the main bands, and Dorso plus Pentagram.

What other bands from Chile do you think people should really check out (and why)?
César: Chile is the land of metal, jajaja, there’s a lot of good bands here, some old bands like Criminal, Andragon, Betrayed, Dorso, Poema Arcanus, Mar de Grises and some new bands like Kuervos del Sur or Crisalida. It’s really interesting to listen to those bands because they show Chilean metal from different points of view, from old thrash, to death metal, and some playing more the “Chilean metal sound”. I recommend to listen to Andragon, because they’re a band with a very good sound, they got a new LP, Del Interior, they have now video clip for ‘Puzzles’, which you can check out on YouTube.

What does the future hold for Temaukel? What plans do you have from here? Will there be more Temaukel?
César: The future for Temaukel is an LP. I have been thinking about the next step, and I seriously believe it must be at least 12 new songs, maybe opening the main subject matter to other cultures from Chile. But yes, there will be more Temaukel in 2017.

If you had to describe your music as a dish (food), what would it be and why?
César: I describe it like “Paila Marina”, a traditional seafood soup. That’s because this soup contains several seafoods, so it’s like my music with several influences, mixed in a single sound style, and a special taste. Rustic, but complex in the mixing of the single pieces, not a gourmet dish.

Underground Sounds: Tetraskel – Preindoeuropean Metal

Label: Independent
Band: Tetraskel
Origin: Spain

Somewhere in time, we became the Indo-European Europe, that we are today. Somewhere in time there was a before and that is exactly which is used as inspiration by the band Tetraskel from Basque country in Spain. A band I have not been able to find out much about, but their sound is colossal.

Whether you believe that before all of this we had the Hyperborean times or such, we know that life was brutal, harsh and primitive in the days before what we now call civilization. I’m not writing here to defend or attack our current day, but trying to paint with broad strokes what Tetraskel is about. The name itself is a shortened form of tetraskelion, which refers to the pagan swastika symbol. The band has a specific kind of artwork they use, with sort of vague depictions of humans, combined with animals in a peculiar harmony that suggests a closeness we hardly understand in this time and age.

The music is slow, droning and progressing with megalithic strides. Slow and laborous, but with a blazing epic sound to it. The music sounds very grand, impressive in its relative simplicity. The fundament is a heavy beating drum, but the calmly soaring guitars are pretty much steadily giving of that same toiling sound. The sound is a bit too wavery to compare with some of the heavy as hell stoner bands, like Conan or such, who have that monolithic heaviness. Halfway through this album I had my doubts about this one-man project.

While not having vocals is often a way of shifting the focus to the music, Tetraskel seems to lack a certain variety in their songs, but do they need it? The majestic doom feels not unlike Atlantean Kodex or even a bit of the later work by Earth at times. The heavy sound of the band has that black edge to it, which feels so incredibly dark and foreboding. It’s perhaps the knowledge that this time of the Pre-Indo Europeans is soon to be over. That’s what Tetraskel is all about, the piercing guitar work, the otherworldliness and grandeur. A forgotten age illuminated with a sound that adresses the tragic passage of time and the

Dungeon Sounds: Old Tower, Thangorodrim, Elves & Dwarves

I’ve been astonished at the range of good, black metal inspired dungeon synth releases coming out in the last months. So here’s a summary of some really cool ones!

Old Tower – The Rise of the Specter

Label: Tour De Garde, The Shadow Kingdom
Band: Old Tower
Origin: Netherlands

Source: Old Tower bandcamp

Though Old Tower has released a steady stream of interesting releases over time, this is the first one considered a full length. The sound of this act harks back to the early days of the genre and fully embraces the epic, crawling nature of the dungeon. There’s also definitely something aethereal to the stretched out synth tones and the beckoning of the angelic chanting. Something  very alluring I would say, that makes it often feel more like dark ruins in the night, with some heavenly, seductive apparition. Something divine and calm you find in the music, which is very pleasant.

The slow progressing sound of Old Tower has exactly that right spot covered. It’s haunting, slow progression, the dark artwork somewhere between fantasy and occult grimoire. I just love it. Immerse yourself in there where the shadows are with this traditional release.

Thangorodrim – Taur​-​nu​-​Fuin

Label: Out of Season, Deivlforst Records
Band: Thangorodrim
Origin: USA

source: Thangorodrim bandcamp

Where Old Forest invokes the early days of the genre with it’s obvious Tolkien reference in both the name and album title. Thangorodrim even has a bit of a black metal cover going on for this release, with a single person in black and white, framed by a black with the name in Gothic font. The sound feels like it was made for abandoned castle halls, enclosed graveyards and dark crypts. The melancholic vibe tells of hubris in a once great keep. A fortress where only bones bare witness to past glories and the churning wheels of time.The chiming sound of bells can be heard on ‘Twilit Fogs on Tarn Aeluin’, which makes it feel a bit more small and intimate than the bass heavy synths on most of the tracks. Soon they’re coming in here too, but it offers a nice contrast from the foreboding, heavy sound that adorns the major part of the Thangorodrim sound.

Dark and dry, but always with a story in tow, this is definitely a record that should be obliged for anyone exploring this genre by themselves. Not just because it is mildly creepy, but because it’s a great piece of music.

Elves & Dwarves – Eidetic Dreams of Sentient Trees

Label: Self Released
Band: Elves & Dwarves
Origin: USA

source: bandcamp

The sound of dungeon synth has become more rich and diverse through the years. Adding ambient sounds like knocking, walking or such simple elements greatly increases the form of story telling the music embraces. As a listener you envision the footsteps in the ages old dust, the beating on the walls and other elements that make up the story.  Elves & Dwarves balance this with  folky passages and eerie soundscapes as the sound meanders on and on. It creates a record that is more rich and diverse in its sonic offerings. From a playful intermission like the ‘Silent Innkeeper’ to the descriptive, D&D campaign fitting ‘Ambush at Orcshead Rock’, the record really tekads the listener to places.

What is different is the general depth of the sound of Elves & Dwarves. The play with droning sounds and soaring effects on ‘Celestial Passage’ moves away from the cavernous, dry sound usually found in the dungeon synth genre. It creates a more  elaborate setting of forests and faery-illuminated lakes. The way the artist creates a story without ever being on the foreground of the whole scenery is pretty impressive and spectacular in itself. Evles & Dwarves play the soundtrack to your next campaign!

The Reading of Books #22

I read some great books last weeks, so I list them here. Books that I read are byt Daniel Ekeroth, Herman Brusselmans, Simon Vestdijk and Barack Obama

Barack Obama – Dreams from my Father

source: goodreads.com

Barack Obama wasn’t always president of the United States, he also once upon a time tried his hand at writing and this book was the result. Published in 1995, it shows the quest Obama had himself to find out who he is and where he is from. To find out who his father was and what kind of man he was to become in the future. His complex relationship with race and the way that stuck in society. Now, this is before the white house, before the big fame and all that stuff. The attempt was genuinely to give something to other black people who were struggling with their identity. It says a lot about the man, who I happen to admire. Sure, there’s plenty of stuff to say now about how wrong I am at that, but it doesn’t change a thinf or me. Specially after reading this book.

The writing style of Obama is very much filled with anecdotes. Going from a general point to a personal experience is something he’s known to do in his speeches as well and in these stories it works just as effectively. Even though here and there he does write things that might not have been to smart for his carreer, overall he’s the man we know with an open heart and open mind, trying to receive whatever comes his way and understand the world around him. The story is well written and cohesive and soon you forget who is telling you this story. The personal tone makes it very accesible and direct, involving the reader easily. The audiobook got special praise, mainly because the reader is the author himself. Obama is a born speaker, so letting his voice carry you away for a few hours is a pleasure for certain.

Daniel Ekeroth – Swedish Death Metal


The beauty of a scene is that it’s fleeting. It’s a moment in time that is absolutely secret. It’s not even considered as the moment, the catalyst it is. And once it’s all over, it is simply gone forever. The only people who can say anything about it are the ones who were there. When Daniel Ekeroth describes a peculiar location in the trainstation, where the teenagers who made up the Swedish death metal scene gathered, he captures that scene in a moment. The Swedish death metal scene might not have been the biggest shift in extreme music, it definitely has made a huge impact on the way we listen to metal today. And this book completely captures what happened in Sweden around 1990.

Ekeroth doesn’t write like a scholar. His book is more of a scrap book and diary in one, where a fan relates his story to other fans. It’s remarkable to see all the early album covers and pictures of the death metal celebrities with their spotty teenage noses. Ekeroth writes with the enthousiasm of being one of those kids. About labels, recording sessions and the remote parts where the scene took place. The book is not just the story of the scene, there’s an enormous catalogue of everything related to it. Demo’s, shows.. the whole shebang. That makes this book a necessity for anyone remotely interested or enthralled with the scene.

Herman Brusselmans – Een Dag in Gent

source: goodreads.com

It seem that the overlying theme of the work penned by Herman Brusselmans is the futility of life. The title of this book translates as ‘A Day in Ghent’ and that is literally what it is. Also, it’s not the day in Gent by someone who has anything to do, so we follow the meanderings through the city of the main character, while he ponders various elements of his life and also a fair share of completely random occurrences and made up facts. It’s just like that, a typical day in Gent that seems to have nothing special going on.

The way the story is told leads you down many side streets and weird stories. I feel that for Brusselmans, mankind is a fairly peculiar and strange being in all its perversions. The main character is in a way often not present. When ladies offer themselves to him, he just watches them. Observing and making notes, that seems the ambition in Brusselmans’ work and it leads to some pretty messed up projections of humankind. All is written in a mildly sarcastic tone, only furthering the estranging effect the words have. Nonetheless, it’s an enjoyable read with a twist and a rather peculiar look at the daily life that we lead. One could even say it’s a stream of consciousness, but it probably lacks the literary pretenses for that.

Simon Vestdijk – Op Afbetaling

source: goodreads.com

This classic bit of Dutch literature was a difficult read, specially due to its dated setting and strange, shifty characters. There was little in the way of getting to sympathize with figures in the book, making it hard to really get to grips with it. The story is that of a man who has caught his wife cheating with his colleague. Instead of confronting her, he wishes her to suffer the way he suffers, in silence. This leads him down a dark path with dark characters and shady dealings. It’s a well wrought story, but with some vague elements to it in the way of how they are a part of the whole thing. In the end things escalate, but life finds its way to continue somehow.

The style of writing by Vestdijk is that of a detective novel, without a case. It’s layered with different signals for the reader, which makes the whole story as hard to follow as it seems to be for the main character Mr. Grond. Now, this gentleman is not very sympathetic and that is completely worked into the way of writing. Cynical, unfeeling and cold. Though it’s not easy reading and some of the descriptions are dated and feel slightly alien nowadays, this is an interesting read and a rather complex and fascinating story in its own right.