Label: Hidden Marly Production Band: Asgrauw Origin: Netherlands
For such a small country, the Netherlands has a wild range of dialects. Not even that far removed from my home, the band Asgrauw at times sounds very alien to me as the titles and idiom offer exciting, unknown ideas on this album ‘Gronspech’. Featuring a foreboding vista of the Dutch countryside in oil painting as cover, an album that shows its roots proudly.
Asgrauw translates as ‘the color of ash’, but also refers to the scythe-shaped shining of the moon. The bass and guitar are handled by Kaos and Vaal, who added Batr to the line-up in 2012, who played in Sagenland and Meslamtaea amongst others in the past. Bands that explored the same mysteries of the past from regional sources in their Scandinavian-inspired black metal.
It’s not the music that sounds refreshing thus, as it is the standard fare of tremolo riffs, ripping guitar salvos and blast beats that rock your desk chair. Still, by implementing some of that Immortal epicness, the sound catches on quickly and easily gets you involved on tunes like ‘Wolvenbloed’, which has a bit of a rock’n’roll groove when the murky atmosphere fades for a moment here and there.
At times a punk feeling shines through in the sound, as the buzzsaw guitars just keep growling and the screamed vocals take on a pitch of frustration and shouts defiance at the listener on ‘Duitenpact’. At times the waters seem to grow calm, but the next outburst of hateful fury is always lurking around the corner. If ever needed, the synths provide an additional layer of atmosphere to their sound.
Asgrauw might be the thing you should check if you dig the more pungent, visceral black metal with maybe a hint of Haïve and Vreid.
Waylander was one of the first bands to pioneer the sound of folk metal. They’ll refuse any credit for it though, nor for the movement it spawned. They are the real deal, genuine in their art, their expression and, as it turns out, their love for beer.
The band sparked my interest in the genre years ago and the fact that they’ve been around for 25 years now is a testament to the lasting quality of their work. Having seen trouble in the line-up through the years, the band has released a number of records and is working on the latest, following in the steps of 2012’s ‘Kindred Spirits’.
Hailing from Northern-Ireland, the band is relatively isolated. This has allowed them, and many other bands on the green island to develop their distinct own sound. This, and much more, I got to ask Ard Chieftain O’Hagan about. As founder, singer and original member, he was kind enough to answer my questions.
Pagan souls and ancient hearts: Waylander
I want to take you back to 1993 and ask how you came up with the musical direction and style that became Waylander. Where other bands inspiring the connection between folklore, folk music, and metal or was it something outside of music?
We certainly had no grand plan in the formative stages, I’d go so far as to say that, we didn’t have a plan at all. In retrospect, I might have named the band a tad prematurely as several months after stabilizing a working lineup the pieces of the jigsaw fell into place when Born to the fight was penned and we realized we’d perhaps stumbled across a path we could follow. Of course, mixing folk music with Metal was no fluke, it was in the subconscious of my brother. the guitarist and had been in my mind since I was 13 years old, when I first heard Horslips. They were a 70’s band who crossed progressive rock with traditional Irish music and used a lot of Irish folklore and mythology. Growing up, folk music was always on the radio in the house, even though by the age of 10 I only heard it when one side of my Metal vinyl had finished. I’d always had a huge interest in the folklore and history of my land, so you can see all the threads which later joined together to point us in a certain direction. In many ways, it was simply meant to be.
What do these legends and myths that you put in your music mean to you and how do you feel they are relevant today as topics for your music? I’ve also noticed you referring to traditional religious occasions, how deep does this run for you?
They mean everything to me, every time I write lyrics I bare my soul. I have been fascinated by the folklore of my land from a very young age and it certainly helps that Emain Macha [which features heavily in the myths and legends], is located a few short miles outside the city of my birth. When you have a background like mine I suppose it is inevitable that I write and have written about this particular subject matter. Of course, the stories and folklore are every bit as relevant today but I am definitely more into seeking out the hidden meanings than simply retelling the tales.
I began following the Druid’s path in 1996 so the references to the ancient festivals and religion run as deep as my soul. The new album, Eriú’s wheel, is actually a concept album incorporating the festivals and solar observances of the year, the four fire festivals the two equinox and the two solstices.
You’ve been active in the pagan metal genre for years now. Waylander is one of the early bands to pick up this style. How do you feel this genre has changed over the years, having started out with it, witnessed the popularity and peak with the Pagan Fest tours and its decline (where we also saw a lot of cheesy bands)? I’ve read some less than lofty thoughts from you on certain bands for example.
In the beginning, it seemed that the bands playing pagan and folk influenced metal were genuine and were doing what came natural to them.At that time there was no internet and bands were a million times more isolated than they are in this day and age, which meant that there was no trend to follow. To discover bands of a similar philosophy meant getting actively involved in the worldwide underground metal scene which involved a lot of letter writing, tape trading and no little expense. There was a lot of mutual respect around in those embryonic days. As time marched on some bands saw the opportunity to perhaps make a living from a genre that went from ridicule in the early years to quite well known by the 2000s. Did these bands sell out or compromise their sound? In many cases yes, the more ridiculous ones even being content to be some kind of joke bands which is anathema to someone like me. I’ve been told more than once that I cut off my nose to spite my face in this regard and maybe they are right but my response is, my nose is quite big enough to endure a few more cuttings yet. It was ironic that when the trend got huge that Waylander were more or less inactive at that time, due to a serious amount of lineup changes. My bottom line is that integrity can never be compromised, no matter what the reward but it’s down to individual choice really. There are so many bands now it would make your head spin, it’s hard to keep up.
Ireland, and in your case (Northern Ireland), appears to have been an early adaptor of the genre with bands like Primordial and Cruachan and yourselves. Why do you think it emerged so strongly there and not in a different country (for example, Greece, where black metal firmly took root, never had this folk tradition)?
There must have been something in the water in the early 90s. It’s no surprise really, Ireland has a folk and literary tradition, which is second to none and yes I am biased. To be honest, though, I remember in 1994 finding out about Pimordial and a little later Cruachan and I was initially unpleasantly astounded that other people on our small island had a similar vision to mine. The reality is that there is just so much history, folklore, literature and tragedy to supply 50 bands with inspiration and subject matter never mind the half dozen or so who have existed over the decades. As for Greece, I seem to recall a few bands who referenced Greek mythology, maybe they played black metal but at least it was there.
Also, being from Northern Ireland has your music ever caused controversy or mixed reactions in your home country, as it would appear it leans to Irish identity. Or have you ever been accused of any political sympathies of ideas? For example, the title of your debut record ‘Reawakening Pride Once Lost’ might in this day and age be lumped in a particular corner
Most of the controversy has been because we have the cheek to mix folk music into our sound. Suffice to say that folk metal wouldn’t be the most popular of genres in Ireland. There have been a few incidents, not all of them negative, over the years but they are a rarity, to be honest. If I’ve been accused of certain political leanings it is news to me, there isn’t a political party here who represents my views anyway. Reawakening pride once lost was more of an affirmation of my Pagan path and a dig at the Christian society we have endured over the centuries, so if that lumps us in a particular corner, well, quite simply, I couldn’t care less.
All your album titles seem to refer both the old and the new, what would you say is the overall message in Waylander’s music?
The message is straightforward enough, look to our past to learn how to live today, if you don’t know where you came from how can you hope to know where you are going.
I understand you are working on a new album. Can you tell something more about this and what has changed in your way of approach since 2012’s ‘Kindred Spirits’?
We’re just about to begin mixing the new album, Ériú’s Wheel. A decision was made to attempt a concept album incorporating the Fire Festivals, the Solstices and Equinoxes, each with their own piece of music and hopefully create something which does justice to the concept. It wasn’t as easy as we’d imagined, and a few false starts took place, but we’ve had the songs more or less ready for almost a year now. It’s been a different writing experience this time around due mainly to the fact there are 6 people in the band who all have lives outside of the band. Getting all of us together at the same time was quite difficult at times and impossible at other times. We had a member who had a serious illness and others who had work commitments but we somehow persevered and slowly pieced together this album. It will be a huge relief when it’s finally mixed and sent off to the Label.
You’ve had some struggles with the line-up through the years, particularly with one member. Now, I don’t mean to drag that up, but what is in your opinion key to keep a band running for such a long time?
I think the key is to be mentally unwell, why else would you put up with the heartache? It’s a very difficult question to answer as each problem scenario is unique.
As one of the ‘original’ wave of pagan metal bands, which acts do you currently see carry the torch for what the music originally meant and captured? What do you think it means to play extreme metal in 2018?
The likes of Saor and Skyforger and NeguraBunget are bands who immediately spring to mind. To be honest, I’m no expert on our scene at all, I’m much more likely to pick up a cd by a band we play with then use mailorder. Yes, I know I could use the internet but I don’t, I’m way too old school for that. Are you asking if the extreme metal is relevant in this day and age? I hope so, most of my musical tastes involve various levels of extremity and I see no signs of things being on the downturn.
I want to ask you about your albums and their separate identities, but in a way that is interesting to you. I read that you are fussy about your beers, so my question is this: If you had to compare each of your albums to a beer, which beers would they be and why?
Reawakening Pride once Lost – old school, yet novel, a beer that has lasted the test of time, let’s go for, OLD SPECKLED HEN
The Light, the Dark, and the Endless Knot – an attempt, though heartfelt maybe doesn’t have the subtlety or refinement to last the test of time, HOBGOBLIN
Honour Amongst Chaos – Has to be something strong, something that takes a bit of effort to appreciate but worth it in the long run, DUVEL
Kindred Spirits – Something more immediate but still packs a punch yet decidedly moreish – FRANCISCAN WELL REBEL RED
It’s too early to say about the new album, will know for sure after mixing
I wonder, would you make the same music, if you lived anywhere else than in Northern-Ireland?
I’d like to think if i lived anywhere on the island of Ireland a similar sound would emerge but living in the north and growing up during the dark days of the troubles has undoubtedly had an impact. For a band meant to be of the land it would be hypocritical not to be influenced by that land.
What future plans does Waylander have?
We plan to begin gigging towards the end of February 2019, i’m organising a uk tour at the minute and so far we have 2 festival confirmations, Celtic Transylvania in Romania and Dark Trolls in Germany. Hopefully, we get out on the road more often than usual, which is certainly the plan.
If you had to describe Waylander as a dish, what would it be and why?
We’d be that dish in your cupboard which refuses to break and becomes useful every now and again for lapping whiskey out of it like a dog.
YES YES, i cheated on a few but i hope you find the answers meet your requirements, amy thanks for the interrogation. All the best.
Ancestral Vision is a one-man project by Warrior. On his activity list, you can also find acts like PeridexionTree, and Stige, but his roots seem to be in crust/blackened hardcore. This is a solo project and it is coincidentally the debut record, titled ‘Akītu’.
The album title refers to the Mesopotamian new years’ celebration, where the poetic texts, derived from the ‘Enûma Eliš’, would be read. That would be the creation myth from these ancient lands. Musically, Ancestral Wisdom combines black/death metal with noise, industrial and drones, to paint a harrowing sound.
Abyssal murmurings emerge on the opening track ‘Erēbu’, where a crunching riff and primitive, almost industrial drum beat create a strangely subterranean atmosphere as the backdrop for the almost religious chant. When the sound swells, the darkness permeates everything. The atmosphere is dense and earthy, yet offers a glimpse into an otherworldly realm that inspires the band in their efforts. You simply drown into their music, bit by bit, through the hypnotic songs.
The industrial aspect of their sound is strangely effective. Hooky rhythms feel like a machine and have a calming effect. I hardly can make out the words though, but since my Babylonian/Akkadian is not really fresh at this time, that is probably not so much an issue. The idea itself though provokes thoughts and makes the noise element of Ancestral Vision’s music strangely inappropriate. Yet, it works. Titles like ‘Tiāmat’ and ‘Marduk’ obviously spark the imagination, due to their metal ánd myth connotation.
Crushing death metal, hammering beats and grim, forgotten words. Great for a record!
Some labels instantly convey a sense of wonder and Nomosdei is one of them. Otherworldly sounds, uncommon music, regardless of trends, and fashion. Their recent release of Spleen XXX is a great example. Did you ever imagine the poetry of Baudelaire set to chilling post-punk music? I didn’t, but it makes a ton of sense.
The French band has dabbled with some themes and directions, but for this they’ve they’ve embraced the abject in art on ‘Poems of Charles Baudelaire’. The wanderer through the storms of the modern world, the delirium of these times and despair of the hopelessness it brings. Cold beats, cold hards, magical words. Let’s go. If you are keen to read the poetry of Baudelaire along with the tracks, find it here.
Notable is that the band has chosen to deliver their lyrics in English, instead of the original French poetry. It adds to the post-punk vibe the cold, distorted beats already display on opener ‘The Possessed’. The neurotic riffing keeps buzzing around your head as the repetition captures the listener. Slowly the sound swells on a track like ‘Spleen’, towards a more grandiose and rise of hope, but soon falls back on the solid bass lines and beats. After the intensity of those tracks, ‘The Hair’ offers seething lust, a yearnful idolation under the flat surface of the song.
It’s not too hard to see the connection of the Spleen XXX sound to that of their main progenitor, which is JoyDivision. Maybe there’s a bit more of that goth swagger of The Sisters of Mercy in there. The hard-hitting beats, twangy, polished guitars and monotonous vocals always hit the spot. My favorite Baudelaire poem would have to be ‘A Carcass’, which is a sung in a gibbering tone (with a peculiar pronunciation). It guides the listener to the end of an intriguing record, that may or may not be your thing. I’m at the end of it still in doubt if I feel the full richness of the poetry in the coldness of the sound.
Label: Pacific Threnodies Artist: World Untouched By Mankind Origin: United States
It sounds like a surprisingly pleasant promise, the name of this project. World Untouched By Mankind, that could be an imagined place where humanity simply never dwelt, but also relates to places in the deep of the forest where we simply haven’t found anything to reap. That is the ambiance and feeling presented on this release by creative entity Night.
The hazy music by this artist meets the particular sounds of the nascent dungeon synth genre. Other projects of the artist include ProcerVeneficus, ambient black metal, MurkRider, HoodedArcher and Startrhall. The record ‘The Forests Are Old With Grief’ was recorded at the same time as ‘Of Starfire and Blackshadows Crawling’ by the Procer Veneficus project and has lain dormant until now, but no longer.
The most uncanny tunes resound when the title track opens with cold synths. This is an instant reconnecting moment with the original synth albums by Burzum. You may have all sorts opinions about that, but when it comes to catching an atmosphere, that maybe some of the best stuff. Yet, World Untouched By Mankind, chooses a more soaring, continuous flow-of-sound approach as intermission moments. More or less stripping the last vestiges of black metal away, Night has arrived at the pure sound of the most praised dungeon synth artists. Bare and boldly stated, without ever really needing to be understood, evoking the natural mysteries.
Where the initial tunes may feel very foresty, it feels like submerging in underwater tunnels on ‘Cold Caverns of Time’. Cold, synth drones and a dazed, warped feeling captures the listener as the dark tunes flow forward. The mesmerizing tones take you so far away from everything familiar and earthy, which is a vastly unknown pleasure for most in this time and age.
Label: Independent/Black Tapes Band: Grafjammer Origin: The Netherlands
Grafjammer has been hanging around Dutch graveyards and shady parts of harbors for a long while now, but only this year we can receive their second full length. The record, titled ‘Shalm & Schabauw’, contains primitive, violent black metal. The way you love it.
The band has members active in a variety of acts. From Wrang and Wesenwille to Kutschurft, it’s extreme all over. The group sticks to Dutch folklore and nautical themes in their music, which feels as vital as ever on this latest musical endeavor.
Oh yes, this record opens with the pounding punky beat you would be hoping for on an old-fashioned, raw black metal album. Tremolo riffs that immediately predict danger, violent vocals that spit venom. Grafjammer is the real thing, with their wonky, primitive sound on opener ‘Het Rottende Schompes’. The band can go to greater depths though, with the true visceral depravity displayed on ‘Drijvende Doodskist’, with vocals that sound truly demented.
With ‘Hijs het Lijk’, the band moves towards the more thunderous, almost doomy side of their sound. Still greatly enhanced by gritty sound and buzzsaw guitars, the song takes a slow pace full of rattling and noise. The lyrics rely on Dutch culture and tradition but bends and twist it to display a rotten core at the center of this. The results are grim and apocalyptic. If you manage to envision some paintings from the classic Dutch school, with Grafjammer playing, everything will turn to ashes.
Georgia is one of those countries, you may not even be aware of. A state with a vast history and rich cultural traditions in the borderland of the former Soviet-Union, it is the home of Ennui, who play monolithic funeral doom in the most dark and melancholic traditions.
Partly untouched by time, the country has one of the lowest crime rates and visitors speak of the friendly reception they’ve had. Yet it also has the scars of the past, proven by the conflicts with Russia . The same goes for most countries in the Caucasus.
It’s not known for its metal scene, but it is there and shaping itself in a distincly own way. Ennui has been around since 2012, as it was founded by David Unsaved and Sergei Shengalia. Their latest work is ‘End of the Circle’, out on Non Serviam Records. Thanks to Qabar PR, I got to ask them some questions about this project and the monumental record.
Ennui: End of the Circle
First, can you introduce yourselves and how you got together? I understand the name Ennui is an old French word. Can you maybe explain why you chose it and how it has evolved with you through the years?
Yes, we are a funeral doom band from Tbilisi, Georgian Republic. Ennui is the band with only two permanent members: me, David Unsaved and Sergei Shengelia. Both of us write music for the band, we always work together on concepts for the songs, etc. We’ve founded Ennui together in 2012. So it happened that we both had ideas for this genre, we both were able to play on all instruments, and we decided to work together. The name of the band came to our mind almost immediately. I had a few propositions on the name, but we settled on Ennui. We liked the meaning of this word, because it perfectly described our spiritual state at the moment. Over time, we put more extensive sense into this word – Ennui is a state of melancholy, spiritual boredom and loss of any kind of vitality.
Do you guys play in any other bands or projects? And what bands inspired you to pursue the type of music you make?
Yes. Sergei is a veteran of Georgian metal scene. He is a front man of first Georgian technical death metal band Angel of Disease, also he’s guitarist/vocalist of his symphonic black metal band SIGNS. My biography is more modest, but I also have several side-projects in different genres. But none of them are released yet, actually it will happen in nearest future. Bands like Esoteric, Skepticism inspired us to make this music. These two bands were what introduced us to this genre very long time ago.
Where you inspired by bands from Georgia to make metal music or did it come from foreign bands? Are there aspects of your home country that shape the way you make the music you do?
No. We were never inspired by bands from Georgia. All influences and inspirations came from foreign bands of course. Also, you shall know that there are no other funeral doom metal bands from Georgia. It’s a little bit hard to name any particular aspect of Georgian culture which helped us in making this kind of music. You know, first of all, Georgia is not mentally a ”metal country”, and also Georgian culture has mostly a ”happy” mood in almost all of its forms. But working on our first album ”Mze Ukunisa” what means ”The Sun of Darkness” in Georgian, we indeed used some elements of Georgian culture, which perfectly suited atmosphere of funeral doom metal.
I want to ask you about the album ‘End of the Circle’. What was the creative process like for this record, did you do anything new or different this time and what roles do you both have in the process?
The songwriting principle was the same as always – we made individual songs independently from each other. But we’ve certainly changed the recording process as well as whole creative process in this album. Here I mean the whole approach to recording in the studio, getting the highest quality, real and ”warm” tube sound, all analogue equipment. This was first experience like this for Ennui. We’re very satisfied with the final result. I hope listeners will be happy with our new album as well!
As I understand it, in the past you’ve often used poetry for the lyrics and inspiration. Can you tell a bit about that and in what way you drew inspiration for ‘End of the Circle’?
The poetry of Terenti Graneli (Georgian dramatist and late decadence movement poet) was used as lyrics only for our debut album. After that, all lyrics are written by us. “End of the Circle” is conceptual work, inspired by some philosophical ideas about life and death, about principles of being and unbeing. We just imagined about what if there is some final point of everything? Final point of the endless. The End of the endless circle of life and death. Mostly these ideas inspired us.
Your record is in a sense such a huge slab of music, that it could easily be split into multiple releases. In fact, each of the 3 mammoth tracks feels like a separate journey. Was this your initial plan when you set out recording it or did it evolve to this enormous shape?
Oh, yes. The whole idea of this album was to write three huge songs with dynamic ups and downs in tempo and unorthodox melodies. First we had a plan to make an album with only two long songs, but later the idea evolved and we decided to split ”The Withering” in two parts to have two song conceptions reflecting each other. For example, the first part of ”The Withering” is about humanity which is lost under the vastness of starlit sky, and ”The Withering Part II” is about the lost and dead stars shining their ghost light upon us. But the title song is about death of whole Universe as it exists in our understanding and imagination.
Can you tell a bit about the start of metal in Georgia? How did metal music come to your country in the first place?
I guess first heavy metal bands in Georgia were formed in early 80-is. Heavy metal bands like Mtsiri (მწირი), Mekhis Kandakeba (მეხის ქანდაკება), also Heavy Cross (მძიმე ჯვარი). Their music was influenced by heavy metal and hard rock bands from all over the world, some records were rare, but still available to listeners in Soviet Union. Extreme metal was formed in Georgia much later, in 1990-is. It was influenced mostly by popular metal bands, because Georgia never had access to high-grade information sources about underground metal music. I mean no labels, no metal stores. Usually, records of new foreign bands were passing from hand to hand between metalheads. It was almost impossible to get tapes of rare bands. That’s why metal in Georgia was mostly influenced by mainstream bands from Europe. Nowadays, with development of social networks, metal is more available in Georgia then it was before. Here are some local metal bands, scene is has developed into different genres. Famous metal bands like Sepultura, Napalm Death, Sodom, Vader and many others played shows here. I hope that metal in George will keep progressing and in future will take its own place in Metal World.
What is the scene like these days and what bands would you recommend people check out?
Please, check out the band ComatoseVigil from Russia, I guarantee you the total desperation.
While your music and founding were rooted in sad emotions, you as a band appear to have embraced a positive life attitude in previous interviews I read. How do those two combine?
I think that such music does not oblige us to be constantly in a negative mood. And to be more precise, such music helps to get rid of the negative state of mind. It seems to me that you need to be able to treat everything with humor, even if it’s a black humor… Besides, I would not say that we are one of those people who are very open about showing everyone their inner state. Usually, we do not share everything with everyone around, but we channel everything into our music.
What future plans do you have for Ennui?
I think now it’s time to prepare for future live shows. We need to work more with session musicians and pay more attention to listeners from Europe.
If you had to compare the band to a dish, a type of food, what would it be and why?
I don’t know, maybe ”Shila Plavi” – this is a kind of Georgian dish made from rice and meat. Usually, here in Georgia this dish is served at a funeral feast in someone’s wake.
Anything I forgot that you’d like to add?
Well, I guess no! Thank you very much for conversation!
Label: Nine Mile Records Artist: Golden Dawn Arkestra Origin: USA or space?
Though the name of the band will already ring enough bells, the Golden Dawn Arkestra has managed to shroud itself in mystery. Bandleader Topaz McGarrigle, acting as Zapot Mgwana, is heralded on the band’s Facebook page as the lost son of Sun Ra himself. The rest is equally disputable, but hey… Who’s counting?
It is in that jazzy, funky tradition that the Golden Dawn Arkestra flows on ‘The Children of the Sun’. A record that is as out of this world as their live shows and as captivating as the revolting of the planets. This is the third record by the body-moving group from the United States… or Nigeria… or outer space.
The record opens with a sound that mixes surf with indie rock it would seem, driven guitars and a buzzing bass. Wacky synths create that spacy feeling. A lot of reverb and hazy passages follow and it’s easy to simply drift off and nod away to the tunes of the Golden Dawn Arkestra. A track like ‘Tropicalismo’ has a bit of a muzak vibe going on and you feel right in a fancy hotel in sunnier places. A definite highlight is the title track ‘Children of the Sun’. A funky, groovy display, with the horns and twirly keys. Nicely catchy, the song just goes on and on it seems.
‘The Ocean’ gives you a nice underwater experience following this, which is great too. Slowly flowing, floating and free of any pressure. Luckily, you wake up to the dancey dance tunes of funky and fresh sounding ‘Cosmic Dancer’. The horns are quite present here once more, with a classic minimal approach to the sound. Nothing woolly, even the harmonious vocals are nicely close-knit and tight. Often the music sounds like a runaway James Bond soundtrack from the seventies, with a sort of fuzzy warmth to the tunes.
A record that is psychedelic, funky and most magical. Enjoy it, it’s out of this world.
This collaboration is particular since it is not really clear where the split between Stworz and Alne is actually split. The voice of one lends cadence to the song of the other and vice versa, creating a mesmerizingly beautiful Slavonic folk album that sounds just right with the sun up in the sky these days.
Stworz has been around since 2007 and revolves around W., who also plays in Kres, Prav and WędrującyWiatr. The band has done songs for various heathen circle compilations and produced a fair share of music, gradually moving to a more folky sound, throughout the years. Alne is also a Polish folk act, with metal ties, that has been around for years. Together they created this album, with vocals provided by Alne’s Anna Malarz (ex-Thy Worshiper).
From the first listen onwards, it is clear that this is not just 2 records thrown together. This is a cooperative piece of folk, in honor of the land of Warńija. An ancient part in northern Poland, bordering old Prussia. Warm waves of acoustic riffs are like the reeds in the wind. The pleasant vocals add a flavor to the repetition, which is typical for ancient folk songs, that usually were sung during work. Ambient sounds and flutes enrich the music, to give it the natural feel. At times, this can create an intensity with the spoken word passages and inherent drama of the music, like on ‘Pieśń Warmianki’. Songs that meander like the river, ever so beautifully.
The songs by Alne are only four, but most notable is the dramatic vocal style of Anne Malarz on ‘Warmińska Noc’. It’s disrupting the tranquility evoked on the earlier songs, but with a powerful, melancholy attached to it. The classic, more grand storytelling continuous on this side of the record with ‘Tęsknota’ and shows a different side of the regional tradition and experience on this all over fascinatingly pleasant record. The words in the traditional language have a power to convey the magid, even if you don’t understand one iota of it.
Label: Vendetta Records Band: Spectral Wound Origin: Canada
Meet the second album of Spectral Wound, which just oozes darkness with a cover that captures a bit of the gloom of dungeon synth it seems. The well-defined aesthetic is definitely a quality for this Canadian group of black metallers on their second full length, titled ‘Infernal Decadence’.
Featuring members of bands like Profane Order and To The Cliffs, it appears that there is plenty of experience in the ranks of this atmospheric company. Little info though… What is clear, is that the group sticks to aesthetic classics in the black metal. Vague imagery, gothic fonts and black and white covers, but that’s not where the conservative nature of the music ends.
‘Woods from Which the Spirits Once so Loudly Howled’ is the sonic equivalent of an ice cold shower that suddenly opens up above you. Pitch-black, earthy and heavy the blasting black metal. The voice is snappy and given space in the mix, which is excellent. No rest, no remorse, just furious black metal that batters you like hail as a scintillating guitar line creates the minor semblance of a melody.
By the time you reach ‘Feral Gates of Flesh’, you are probably gasping for air in this continuous onslaught of tremolo guitar repetition and rattling blast beats. Yet, the melody takes on more interesting shapes and big movements that even bring in some rocking parts on ‘La nuit froide de l’oubli’. The best way to describe their sound, to me, is absolutist. Their overpowering gestures are all pervasive and grand, like those of a dark tyrant. The screeches are horrendously good, which makes this an album to cherish in all its unholy fervor.