It’s a given that Cryo Chamber releases are superb. My expectations for this joint release by AtriumCarceri and Herbst9 are therefore high and I expect some exceptional material here on ‘Ur Djupan Dal’, which is a cooperative piece of gloomy ambient music.
The story starts in a harbor, warm and mysterious, perhaps in the orient? But this is a land of magical beings, of giants and dragons, but also of mystic vapors and strange rituals. Atrium Carceri is a project by Simon Heath, known for his involvement with ColdMeatIndustries and founder of CryoChamber. Herbst9 is a mysterious new age/ambient project from Leipzig with various other expressions.
Unearthly mumblings and rumblings open the record and allow you entrance into this realm, as a shrill whistle blows and various ambiance and field sounds seem to fill your consciousness. Slow, gliding and with a sense of immenseness drums guide you forward as the utterances keep disturbing the sense of tranquility. In the sound, there’s always something at the edge of your perception happening though. Something ominous, foreboding even, of other events that might lurk.
That whispering takes a clear shape on ‘Ur Evighetens Pipa’, where an almost mechanic rhythm is disturbed by utterings in an unidentifiable language. This mysterious tongue seems full of mystery. On ‘Drakhuvud’ we even hear ritualistic chanting, as the sound drones onwards with unremitting power and booming strength. That is what draws you into the sound of this record, it’s sheer force and overwhelming ability to captivate and demand attention with heaviness you feel in your gut.
Label: Mighty Music Band: Parzival Origin: Denmark
Parzival can be considered the Danish answer to Laibach, but their inspiration comes from the distant past. Their music is truly Wagnerian, influenced by Gregorian chants and mysticism in a way no other act really ever emulated. Their release ‘Urheimat Neugeburt’ is a piece of art if ever there was any in my opinion.
The group centers around Dimitrij Bablevskij, a musician of Russian origin, who has a booming voice that is the obvious link to the Slovenian avant-garde act mentioned afore. Musically the group takes various topics but always sounds surprising, bombastic and completely overwhelming. Something very special if I may say so, particularly since the band here covers their own original album Urheimat.
The booming sound I remember from their record Blut Und Jordan evaporates from my expectations soon. Sure, the low, sonorous voice is there, but the music seems very minimal, restrained and cut back to nothing more than needed for a visceral effect of marching sounds and a strong, emotional swelling that you get with the national anthem (or that one song that stirs your feelings of pride). It’s the sound that makes you want to puff out your chest, yet the vocals can also bring you down to a brooding, pressing state.
A noteworthy element to emphasize is an operatic quality. On ‘Peitsche und Zuckerbrot’, soaring vocals set the song in an almost Therion-like atmosphere, with the slow progression only further supporting the grandiose impact of the tune. ‘Lord of the Sea’ is the new tune on this record, which instantly stands out due to the melancholic opening sequence and layered sound. More dense and richer than the other material, it is a stand-out track on the record. On ‘Navida Purana’, we are even treated to some bright riff material, that contrasts with the languid, ritualistic chanting with crisp and bright notes. Parzival definitely understands the value of contrast and various textures, which makes this such an immersive, powerful record.
With an atmosphere that switches between the Wagnerian 19th century grandeur and the far eastern mysticism, Parzival conveys a unique feeling. At times a mild playfulness emerges, but overall this is serious music, more suitable for the grand theatres of yore. Immerse yourself, enjoy.
The band Marijannah hails from Singapore and plays a very fresh and catchy style of stoner/doom. Inspired by films, their music is captivating, playful and a bit unnerving at times. Havint checked out their recent release, I needed to know more about them.
Signed to Pink Tank Records, their ‘Till Marijannah’ is well worth a spin if you haven’t heard it yet. To get you started, first learn something more about the band and where they come from.
Marijannah takes you to Paradise
Hey Marijannah, how’s everything going?
How did your band get started and where does the name come from?
We all individually wanted to try something different outside the usual styles of music we’ve been playing for years in each of our respective bands and this is something we’ve never created before.
The name is sort of an accidental double entendre initially. It loosely translates to “come to paradise” in Malay, which is a native language where we’re from and it’s also bluntly a pun to you-know-what.
What inspired you to make this particular sound your own? To me ,it feels very much like a mixture of classic psychedelic rock with a hint of occult rock on a thick slab of stoner, which together gives off this timeless sound. What do you think?
I don’t know if we do but if anybody thinks we sound any different from the usual stoner/doom, it’s really just because half of us never regularly listened to this style of music up until like a year ago. We all have roots in different genres. Some of us come from a punk/emo/hardcore background and some of us almost strictly listen to extreme metal so it’s truly a mash of clashing influences.
Can you tell me how you wrote and recorded the album ‘Till Marijannah’? How did the process go and what sort of working method do you have?
Rasyid writes most of the music and I write the lyrics. We record riffs on our shitty phones and send them to each other on a daily basis and dig em out when we need to. There was quite a bit of spontaneity in the studio as well, using weird, new pedals and ancient gongs lying around the room.
I’m interested to learn what inspired the four separate songs. They all have a distinct quality and theme but differ a lot. So what stories and inspiration did you use for each? I’m particularly interested in All Hallow’s Eve.
Lyrically, they’re all tributes to films. I’m a big “film buff” and they go hand in hand with heavy music aesthetically. All Hallow’s Eve is of course about John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the “Laurie” mentioned is Laurie Strode, portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis in the series.
Tell me more about the artwork. Who did it and what inspired it? I originally thought I was going to listen to something more like Yes!
Again, it was a mash of very different ideas we all had individually backed and executed by a very talented artist in mr. Riandy Karuniawan. Like most metal musicians, we like sci-fi imagery and mystical shit so there’s that.
What sort of response did you get this far to the record and what future plans do you currently have?
They’ve been almost all positive from what I’m aware of. I don’t really pay much attention to reviews, I think the record is dope and so does most of my friends who have a good taste. We’re working on new material right now and have been jamming about 5-6 new tunes, probably aiming to enter the studio by August. We’ll be announcing a short tour really soon, maybe it’ll be announced by the time this interview is out and we have another planned for the year’s end.
Is having a Rasyid in Wormrot in any way limiting for what you can do with Marijannah? Do you feel that your other bands in general have an influence on your output?
Not at all. Neither band is looking to be super busy or touring full-time and I think the rotation works well for Rasyid and the rest of us. I think its inevitable that we will share certain influences amongst our bands, we’re the same people as we are in other projects, just expressed differently through multiple entities.
What is currently happening in the heavy scene of Singapore that the world really should not miss out on? Like exciting bands etc?
Radiant Archery, Bethari, Hollowthreat, HRVST, Yumi, Zodd. None of them are similar to us but all worth checking out.
If you had to compare Marijannah to a dish, what would it be and why?
Bolognese. Rustic, traditional, timeless, best served hot and consumed wearing dark-coloured clothing.
Label: Independent Band: Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean Origin: United States
Chained To The Bottom of the Ocean is a rather new band and the I haven’t found any names connected to the group. The band plays something that could be fit in between crushing doom/sludge and hardcore, with a righteous streak of poison running through its veins.
‘Send every God and King to the Gallows,’ reads their powerful tagline on Bandcamp. This forceful statement probably says a lot about the group from Massachusets in the United States. Their name is derived from a Thou song and the album is titled ‘Decay and Other Hopes Against Progress’. Abandon all hope.
The abyss opens up, when ‘Confusion Hath Fuck His Masterpiece’ crashes down and wrecks the party. All-consuming vitriol is spewed out by the sludge monster that appears, with devastating hits on drum and bass alike, that open up the caverns from which the vocals emerge. What a fucking hellish trip this record is from the get-go with the almost 9-minute track of utter destruction.
As the music settles into a regular pace, the screams keep coming at what feels like random intervals, bellowing defiance at anything or anyone. The words deal with destruction and a nihilistic worldview, yet the fury suggests hope is not lost. The riffs keep their crushing force coming and never cease to be full on, right in your face in their vigorous delivery on tracks like ‘Four Cubits and a Span’. Yet, the words offer complex lyrics, with meaning and direction in a sonic swamp of despair with hardcore muscularity. That combination is what makes the band stand out and a really cool sounding entity.
Label: Pink Tank Records
Band: Marijannah Origin: Singapore
Marijannah is a project that features members from Wormrot and The Caulfield Cult. As their bio says, two of the hardest touring bands from the island nation Singapore. As it often is, these gents had an itch to do something different. That is, to play stoner/doom, which they do surprisingly well and now on their first record ‘Till Marijannah’.
The band started out in 2016 and it being a side-project, took its time to really get going with their heavy, psychedelic sound and release a record. Sounding rather classical and hazy, this band definitely harks back to the retro-doom sound you hear coming up on and off. Think of bands like The Sword and maybe even a bit of that St. Vitus or Goatsnake vibe. It’s helluvalot catchy.
The foundation of the sound Marijannah offers is a rock-melting buzz of bass and drums, that never lets up. A solid stoner bass on which to build the tunes so to say, like the classics. The lyrics are steeped in horror influences with an occult flavor on opener ‘1974’ and the following ‘Snakecharmer’. It’s really comfortable music to sink into and just ride its waves as you listen to their spaced out sounds. I have to point out the cover, with an interesting color pattern. Definitely does its job too.
Powerful repetition shapes the track ‘Bride of Mine’, which even harks a bit to the sound of Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats with its snarling, whiny sound that just clings to you. The snide sound of the track is pretty catchy. ‘All Hallows End’ is the strange big rock anthem on this record. It stands out like a sore thumb, which is exactly what makes it so interesting. The emotional vocals and the ooh and aah backing makes for a pleasant outro, with creepy lyrics of course.
The charm of Marijannah is that they don’t do anything overly complex. It’s pretty straight forward stuff, but with a tinge of their very own mystery. Looking forward to seeing this live.
Back in 2016 Ulvesang created a splash with their northern influenced folk tunes. Their self-titled record was an absolute joy to listen to. The Canadian group takes their influence from the more atmospheric and folkish black metal bands, condensing it into mournful, but clean, clear folk music. This is the same path they still walk on ‘The Hunt’, their latest endeavor.
I was surprised this band was not signed. Although it clearly is not an easy genre to sell, their music was so good and cinematic, that it must be attractive. Luckily, so thought the good people at Nordvis. This album offers the narrative of a hunt, the awareness, effort and also consciousness that is part of the killing for your personal needs. It’s imaginary and powerful, subtle and measured.
A ritual chanting opens the hunt, with ambient sounds taking you to a different place. Tranquil, wavery folk music follows and flows naturally, with mellow sounds and finger-picking guitar play. The drums give a mild bombast to the songs, taking them back to that primitive aspect inherent to the music of Ulvesang. Chanting becomes more mellow and almost Clerical throughout ‘The Dance’, which lacks the urgency the theme suggests up till the point where the guitars become a bit riffier.
One of my favorites is the title track, which meanders and dances in its simple yet beautiful way. The bass line is played with precision and a gentle touch, reminiscent of the galloping run over the wild planes of yesteryear. That is how a song like ‘The Gloom’ really feels like that remniscent moment you experience, while sitting next to a campfire in the gloomy night. When the mists surround you and time fades for just a moment. That is the absolute magic Ulvesang offers.
Russian band Trna have not made things easy for themselves and after their well-received ‘Lose Yourself To find Peace’, they’ve adopted the genre indication blackgaze. A style indicator usually associated with those bands black metallers are eager to avoid. Nonetheless, it seems fitting in the navel-gazing haze that is Trna to use this term.
‘Earthcult’ is a more verdant record, that takes you into the splendor of nature. Not sure if that’s intended, yet it is the effect the music has on me. It is the third release from the Saint-Petersburg trio in a relatively short period of time and like the previous ones it is well worth to give a listen.
The blast beats immediately call you to attention as the record opens with the title track. A brief burst of brutality soon melts away in the lush realm of the dense atmosphere, like that of a great forest. The black metal elements are there, but soaring above is an almost ethereal melody, more akin to postrock bands in both energy and soothing beauty. The music truly flows, even more so on the rhythm driven ‘Everywhere and Nowhere’, which is a great track to just ride along with.
What I find most peculiar and fascinating about Trna, is how they blend that postrock feeling with black metal ferocity, to create something truly strong and condensed. As an everflowing stream, their music rolls ever onward, like a river through the forests, in violent turmoil but with a natural harmony on ‘The Heart of Time’. On ‘Thaw’, the band truly opens the floodgates and I feel like I’m listening to Amusement Parks on Fire or RedSparowes. A magnificent outpouring that touches the heart through the ear. Trna have truly moved on to greatness on this record.
Bolivia is a South-American nation, still struggling at some fronts to become one of the stable entities on the continent. Life is interesting there and the metal they play is fierce and proud. Two words that aptly describe black metallers OscuroMito. Often overshadowed by other nations, like Brazil, in music, they are carving out their place on the map.
Bolivia is a nation without an obvious origin, perhaps even more in existence for the mutual benefit of its elements. South-America, like Africa in a way, was chopped up by colonial powers and when nations declared independence, the shape had little to do with any original ethnicities or state-entities.
Bolivia’s borders have been sifting through the years and even in 2003 a dispute raged with Chile over part of the nation’s borders. Oscuro Mito expresses a particular part of the ancient cultures, which have become muddled through the ages, unfortunately. I had some questions for the band and vocalist Fernando and guitar player Andres had time to answer them.
Dancing untill death follows with Oscuro Mito
Hey guys, how are you doing? Can you introduce yourself?
Fernando here, I’m the vocalist
Hey! Andres, here I’m guitarist and make some chorus
We are the founders of Oscuro Mito
How did Oscuro Mito get started? How did you guys meet and what got you into metal in the first place?
Back in October 2008, Armin, Fernando, and Andres decided to make something different mixing music common among them. They used Black Metal and folkloric Bolivian music (it would be Andean music more precisely). Bolivian Traditions and tales are full of stories, experiences, and myths; we chose to talk about that traditions, but we only took that dark gloomy and those that have mystic energy.
As an influence, you name bands like Bathory and Windir alongside Bolivian folk groups. Can you tell me what you took from these Scandinavian bands and what you found appealing in them? Following that, how did you bring these two aspects together?
It had started as a rebellion, burning churches as a repudiation of Christianity. Throwing what it had been self-imposed and embrace back what you are as sons of Odin, it was the clear message. Oscuro Mito are not Scandinavian, Oscuro Mito is from Bolivia.
In your music, you put ancestral legends of the Inca and Aymara heritage. What made you chose to do this and can you also shed some light on what sort of stories these are for people who are completely unfamiliar with it?
Because Scandinavian speak their own heritage and people from Bolivia should talk about their own.
How do you make sure your sound is black metal, but not in the Scandinavian style. What to you makes your music similar but at the same time distinct?
That’s a really good question you know, I think it’s only the feeling when you do compose the songs. I think music leaves things on your soul and this comes out when you are making music. Music is about feelings it’s been said, and you hear this on Oscuro Mito, it’s music inspired on Black Metal from the north but it’s done by Bolivians and it doesn’t have to sound like the north.
We use traditional instruments on all three songs on our demo. About song structures I’d rather say that we mix traditional rhythms than structures, and example is ‘Danza en trance’, it mixes a traditional rhythm called pujllay and electric guitars and metal riffs, basically in this song we used this rhythm for the chorus and verses.
I’ve been listening to your demo/EP ‘Mientras las nubes ciegan la luna…’. The sound is very specific, very unique and I find it very captivating. Can you tell me how you shaped this sound and of course this record and did you find any inspiration in bands that approached black metal similarly?
The three songs were inspired by Bolivian traditions/myths. We tried to concentrate that energy on these topics on the sound of the music. ‘Murmullos de espectros’ is a very common tale that happens on the countryside in a small town. A goblin that lurks in the trees scares a person who was kind of drunk and was going home. So basically, it’s the energy taken by the goblin and the rush to get home.
‘Danza en trance’ is an old underground tradition where a person dances until dying, mixed with a traditional rhythm called ‘pujllay’ (this word is in Quechua another ancient tongue spoken in Bolivia). I think we have found on this song a good mix between metal and Bolivian folklore. It is also very the preferred song for our fans, it also has a video clip that you might like to see.
‘Danza en trance’ is a tradition that has a person dancing until dead. This idea would call your attention, wouldn’t it? Dancing till dead, who would ever dance till they die. It has to be something else… who would choose dance till dead? The answer comes with the culpability of something. Something that makes you feel really bad until the point you want to die. Betraying and killing your best friend for nothing, Killing your mother or whatever really bad to get you broken and wishing to die. This kind of stories on somehow chills you or scare you. This kind of stories is what we want to talk about.
Then we have ‘Luz naciente’ represents a well-known tradition, it is the Inca’s new year tradition that is celebrated on 21 of June Most likely it is on Bathory music in Twilight of the gods or Hammerheart discs. You can hear in ‘Danza en trance’ some chorus that has been used as Bathory started to use with clean voices.
Also ‘murmullos de espectros’ moves to a more black metal sound perhaps touching something of Windir or traditional black metal.
I think the 3 songs are talking about the same, thanks for asking this question and I think what is explained on this, it’s the key for understanding the Oscuro Mito demo.
I’ve gathered that you use traditional instruments in your music. What instruments are those and can you describe them? Do you also use them in a live setting and what is the motivation to put these in your music?
Yes, they are called Andean wind instruments; they vary in the size and the sound they produce. We can have zamponia, quena, quenacho, malta, zanca and toyos. All of them look like a pipe maiden of wood, quite like a flute but wider and large. When you blow they produce a sound depending on the length and width.
Yes, we use these instruments alive. We are not Oscuro Mito if the winds are not present, we are dependent on them.
What process do you follow in creating new music? Do the traditional elements have an effect on the songwriting? Do you start with a story or maybe with music and what roles do all band members have?
I can say we didn’t follow a specific flow on composing the songs. Each song followed a different way like writing first the lyrics than the music, thinking about the wind melody and then the guitars, or having a complete song then doing the winds arrangements.
We also said we wanted to compose a song for a specific myth and then I came with a couple of melodies, then each one gave the remaining pieces.
What sort of experience is a live show by Oscuro Mito? As you find inspiration in black metal, do you also apply the ritual elements to a live show?
We are making to watch OscuroMito performance a good experience, we have corpse painting as our basic beliefs, headbanging, chorus with the people and I think we transmit the energy set on our music. Once we have a presentation where a person with the same mask that is on ‘Danza en trance’ danced along this song.
South America has a rich and vibrant metal scene all over, but some countries are lesser known here for their metal music. I’m curious if you can tell me a bit about the scene in Bolivia, about its history and bands that really shaped the scene.
It has started in the 90s very narrow, there were a bunch of bands though. Very few are active now: Subvertor, Hate, Bael, Estertor, InfernalMalice, Lilith, and Subterfugio are some names to share on that starting.
Other great bands that are and they are not active I can mention: Necromancy, Katalepsy, Sabathan, Track, BestialHolocaust and AtmosferaFunebre.
What are things like in a more practical sense? I understand there are quite some cool festivals happening. Are there plenty of places to play and is everything like instruments, rehearsal spaces, studios etcetera easily accessible for metalheads or is it more DIY?
The only problem I’d say is that the music is not well supported; you cannot live here doing metal so for that the studio is not quite accessible.
Yes, there are good amounts of places for shows, most of them are pubs. Nowadays the scene is getting bigger I think because of the internet and its easy way to spread the news there.
Often we take liberties for granted here in my country, so I’m curious if you can sing about whatever you want and if the metal music is tolerated in Bolivia. Is there any sort of censorship or public discouragement?
Not at all, there are shows every city most of the weekends. There are many bands here in Bolivia. You can sing whatever you want.
What bands from your part of the world should people really check out and why?
We’d probably lead you to really big bands and you’d probably think we would, but not, I’d say look into the very bottom of the box you will find really interesting things. Such as the case of Al-Namrood or other middle east bands. I think when you feel and like the things you are doing, you will do some of the best work in music, especially if it is metal.
So you have to look for it, sometimes it takes hard but it worths.
What makes it important for you to put your Bolivian identity in your music?
I’d say it’s kind of a pride of our origins, but I’d say it’s something philosophic idea for our lives, ‘first embrace your culture then you will who you really are’. We admire our culture, we try to honor our culture and we think this can be shared with music as well.
Are you working on any new releases? And what future plans do you have?
We are finishing a new work with 10 songs, and then we will start the production of this work. We are planning to have this ready in next three months.
Alright, if you had to compare Oscuro Mito to a type of food, what food would it be and why?
Well… it would’ve been something very traditional very Bolivian. It would’ve been a very spicy ‘pique macho’.
Thanks for the patient, thanks for your time, thanks for all!
Label: Grandad Records Band; Antre/Underdark Origin: United Kingdom
Underdark is a gritty sounding band from Nottingham, who combine screamo and black metal. Their message seems to be both in the Forgotten Realms and anti-fascist, with a name referring to the dark under-realms of evil dark-elves. The Britons have one EP to their name and plenty of shows on the calendar.
Antre hails from the same parts, and you can find the bands Bandcamp page here. These guys, likewise, have one EP out. Both groups add one song to this split, with pretty bad-ass cover art that I find, makes the record more appealing instantly.
Whether it’s a nod to Mortiis or not, ‘The Smell of Autumn’ by Underdark has an environmental take on the topic of rain and the unique scent it leaves in the air. The hazy riff sounds lazy, it hangs in the air as the omnipresent smell the autumn brings, with its lingering haze. Thudding drums keep the focus on the sharp guitar play, thanks to the dulled sound, as the atmospheric black metal progresses slowly. When it does pick up the pace, it somehow feels muffled, distant and reminds the listener of the distance between the self and the natural realm. One we slowly destroy with our human inventions.
Antre takes a more melodic approach, bringing down vast waves of sound, that surge over the listener. The sound is pleasant, yet remains strong and comes on in full force during this track. The vocals are uttered in a foul, harsh bark, which makes them mildly hard to make out, but then again isn’t that a regular feature in the genre? In a constant onslaught, the band hammers down on the listener. Never relenting with a harrowing beauty to their sound.
A small taste of a new breed of bands. Make sure to check them out for more endeavors.
Label: Self-released Band: A Cunning Man Origin: Scotland
This duo of metallers hails from Scotland, where they formed the project A Cunning Man. This is their second EP after the futuristic looking debut. It shows a hint of fantasy-themes in the nifty artwork and all-over atmosphere of the work, titled ‘To Heal A Broken Body’.
Ged Cartwright and Theo Le Derf bring some very different perspectives together in their music, which sounds unique and different from the very start onwards. Thanks to the particular musical expression, they stand out and will definitely not appeal to any listening ear in a positive manner. Something the duo is probably well aware of.
What stands out instantly is the build-up of the songs, which is almost cinematic in its singular grandeur and focussed approach. The music really seems a bit cut and pasty at times, all to provide a frame for the vocals of Cartwright on ‘ Lemegeton & The Leaden Saviour’. The vocal style is more or less proggy with a clear pronunciation of the words that I can only really compare to early Marillion.
Every track refers to ancient books of esoteric wisdom and magic, and so does the second title ‘Picatrix & The Calcine Alchemist’. Noteworthy are the audio samples, where we hear a lady speak words in a thick Scottish accent. The songs have a grand build-up and remarkable charm to them. Even though some of the music feels a bit to contrived, it works in the end in an intense and overwhelming manner. We close off with the sweeping, majestic ‘Abramelin & The Silver Hand’, which sticks to lyrics that play with the title themes, but builds it into something harder to grasp, difficult to really comprehend and grab.
I have to say I really enjoyed this record, regardless of its strange sound and nature. The delivery is powerful and genuine, and the songs are well composed and layered. A pretty odd, but surprising listen.