Category Archives: Interview

Interview with Kunuk Grønvold from Tempel/ The Perfect Mass

Originally this interview was published on Echoes & Dust.

Greenland is not a place you would associate with music directly. You might not even really know where it is, who live there and what they’re all about. You may never have heard of its struggle for independence and native culture.

It turns out music played a big part in what has been dubbed the ‘Thaw Revolution’, which is the slow shift to self-governance Greenland made in the years after the Second World War, when the United States actually opted to buy the country from Danmark. Music was a lot more important in this process than you might think.

It’s one of the topics I got to chat about with Kunuk Grønvold, a solitary metal artist from the town of Ilulissat (Danish: Jakobshavn). With a population a bit above 4,500 people, it’s the third city of Greenland, which should tell you a lot about its empty, wild stretches of coat and land. If the land shapes the music, there must be some interesting stories to tell. I got in touch with Kunuk about his music with Tempel and The Perfect Mass, but also the tradition of progrock in Greenland, finding out about metal, Greenland’s prog scene and being a metal chef.

How did you get started on playing metal?

I think that I really first started being really metal when I was around 15 or 16 when I first saw the Live After Death concert video by Iron Maiden. Before that I was into The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. But if I really look back to around 1997 I heard the first Greenlandic metal band Siissisoq for the first time when they released their first album. That intrigued me as well.

When I was just a kid, my mother sent me to my uncle’s place to borrow horror movies, and I saw this cover of a VHS cassette. It depicted a zombie breaking out from a grave, in chains, and lightning striking the skull. The back showed a very large zombie above some musicians. Little did I know that this would come back about 10 years in the future. I swapped my Ozzy Osbourne VHS for a Concert footage of Iron Maiden’s Live After Death. This brought back memories, and the instant Maiden started playing after Churchill’s speech, it kind of knocked out a block of rock’n’roll out of me, replacing it with a large chunk of Heavy Metal that has not come off since. Accident, as you asked, may very well have been a touch of fate.

What albums do you find most inspiring, who were your idols?
The most influential albums to me would be Iron Maiden’s “The Number Of The Beast”, as I would daydream day in day out listening to that album and shred along the classics on my guitar. I would imagine playing onstage with the Beast. Then we have “Somewhere In Time”, “Piece Of Mind” and “Seventh Son”.

Apart from Iron Maiden I have found a lot of inspiration from Queensrÿche, Black Sabbath and Megadeth. Recently I have been “in the spirit of” Sepultura and a little bit of Scent Of Flesh, to add a bit of weight and darkness to the melodies and the tones.
But when I played guitar I would always pretend I was Dave Murray. He is the absolute winner in my world.

Do you take anything of your country into the music you make?
I don’t add Greenlandic elements to my music whatsoever at this point. But there is another project I have been planning for a while. This will be mainly inspired by the shamanism and legends of the greenlandic mythology including demons and evil spirits.

You’ve pretty much done everything alone this far. How is that working out for you? How do you go about creating music?
Being alone with the music I make, is both good and bad. Good thing about it is of course that I can put the music down the way I want it to be. I feel very free in that way. Bad thing about it is that I can’t “bounce the ball” to anyone. There are no inputs or advices and it can sometimes get frustrating when I for example want the drum part in a certain way but I can’t play it well enough, so turns out chaotic or messed up. But it suits the music just fine when I master it, because I don’t want my music to be too well structured or something. It’s evil, it’s dirty, it’s chaos and hell, and that is just fine.

So, first I write the lyrics, then I write the music, and record the guitars first, then the bass, drums, guitar solos, and the vocals and additional effects for last. Works for me that way. It is quite difficult to get enough exposure, as of to this day, all that I do promotion wise is merely DIY style, but I am now in collaboration with the Swedish underground label called Salute Records, and we’re looking forwards to releasing a few albums, and if it goes well, this will grow to longer period of time making music. So I can say that, yes, Greenland is isolated but getting the music out there, no matter how long it takes, will surely be worth the effort, especially without the aid of major labels, though the dream is still a major label to carry out the music.

Do you find an audience at home that is like a sounding board for you?
Home offers very little audience, as most people are clearly “brainwashed” from the pop era. Hiphop, rap and that stuff is blinding people all over the world, from the very young, going up. This is bad for the rockers that are trying to get through to a larger audience in Greenland. Via email I get a few response about the music, mostly positive and constructive criticism, and I find that very helpful.

Your projects are Tempel and The Perfect Mass. Both are solo projects, can you tell me about the separate projects and their meaning (idea and inspiration)? Is there any religious component to it?
Tempel was actually the original name for this project. I wanted to use the name “Jerusalem” but there were actually about 3 bands named Jerusalem. So I thought about the temple of Jerusalem. I wanted the name to be linked to the destruction and the rebuilding of the temple there in the past. And for the siege of Jerusalem in 79 AD. People starved and some even cooked their kids to survive.

After a while I had to change the name. I googled stuff about sacrifices and cannibalism. I had to find something evil. Then I came across an article about the Borborites from around 330 ad. They were priests and nuns that would perform orgies and smear their hand with menstrual blood and semen then eat it. When the women got pregnant, their foetuses would be extracted to be consumed as a variant of the Eucharist. A bishop who was defected from that particular group described it to be the perfect mass. So I took it. The Perfect Mass. With the new name, the music got a bit darker and the tones gained more weight and heaviness.

I was raised Lutheran Catholic, but now I am not religious in any way. But it does not stop me from writing music with satanic themes and hell and blood and death and destruction. For all I care, writing a song with the word “God” in it might as well be the equivalent of a song with the word “unicorn” all over it.

What other musical endeavours are you on?
I am also the guitarist with my brother in Ullorissat, a folk/rock band from my hometown that my uncle established in the late 70’ies.

Is there anything that can be described as a scene in Greenland? If so what is there and what is it like?
There are scenes allright. Mainly progressive or folk rock. A little bit of hard rock, here and there, but major events are very rare. And the radio stations just keep playing the same old boring stuff day in day out. The music in greenland is very boring. Nobody really plays to excite or to create an actual show anymore.

Can you recommend some bands so people can get the vibe?
From the older days of rock in Greenland, I would recommend SUME, which has been identified to be the sound of the Greenlandic revolution during the liberation of the Danish state in the 70’ies (for more info,check this page. ed.). Then we have Ullorissat, which is one of my all time favourite bands, with songs that are more melodic, very dear to the people, and just awesome musicianship and wonderful lyrics.

Over the years there have been bands breaking through to the rest of the world, but the most famous these days would be Nive Nielsen and Simon Lynge. Then there is Small Time Giants, My Itchy Little Finger and Chilly Friday. My mother is from the old mining town of Qullissat, and there is a band from the 50’ies called the Vaigat Orchestra that I really love, and they play jazz with the most inviting melodies that just captures you, and the guitarist is none other than Pele Møller, one of the best guitarists in Greenland over the years.

Since there’s not much of a scene in Greenland, is the music frowned upon?
The music is struggling as a result of Danish and American hiphop and pop brainwashing madness. People are brainwashed from childhood to think that rap and hiphop is “cool”. Like when they said that Christopher Columbus discovered America. It’s all a lie and we know that Columbus was a rapist, a thief and a murderer and he never even set a foot on the American mainland. That’s how it is.

Your other passion is cooking I deduced from your posts. Do you find there’s a link between metal and cooking in some way? Do you take elements from one to the other?
I think there must be ways to link both cooking and metal together. But so far, music and cooking have been two very seperate worlds. Good food deserves elegance in flavour balance and presentation, and must be seasonal and creative. Heavy Metal is always the same, though it evolves endlessly.

What future plans do you have musically?
For the future, I would like to make a living with my music. But to really make it a serious project, I have not yet found band mates who would be willing to commit to this the same way that I do.

Ahab interview, on the Boats of the Glen Carrig

Well, sometimes you get to do an interview with a really cool band and it really did feel that way when I go to interview none other than the great Ahab from Germany. I got in tocuh with drummer Cornelius Althammer and this interview appeared on the Sleeping Shaman. Enjoy.

We at the Sleeping Shaman like ourselves a nice slice of doom now and then and who better to provide some of the thickest and most salty slices of it than Germany’s Ahab. The nautical doom pioneers have a new album in store for those who love a good story and it sure as hell ain’t a sea shanty.

The Boats Of The Glen Carrig is a heavy album that carries literary references and a poetic approach to their music. Surprisingly gentle at one moment and surging wildly the other, the band has reinvented itself. We got in touch with drummer Cornelius Althammer and asked him about album number four, literary inspirations, water and other wet topics, so enjoy…

Hello, I hope you guys are keeping well as we creep into the grip of winter.

For my taste that old fucker doesn’t have to appear at all. I like sun and warmth… But inside the rehearsal space weather doesn’t play a big role. So everything is going fine for us, we just spent a weekend rehearsing for our upcoming tour.

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You recently released another great album The Boats Of The Glen Carrig, which is out now on Napalm Records. What can you tell us about the writing and recording process of the album?And what has the feedback so far been like?

Finally we had that kind of writing process all of us ever wanted. Ideas were brought to the rehearsal space where they were composed into songs by all of us. Every song has undergone this process. On our previous album The Giant we already had started to work this way, but about 40-50% of the songs had been composed by Daniel Droste alone at home. It’s not like these were bad ones, but Ahab feel as much more like a band that does things jointly. Each one of us loves to hang out in the rehearsal room and create music with the other dudes.

The process itself went as probably every single band on the planet. Some songs just ‘happen’, other ones need a very long time. We didn’t stop until all the four of us were happy with every single note on the album. The process of recording was very stressful this time. Especially Daniel, he looked like a zombie in the end. It wasn’t so easy to manage getting enough days off from work; the typical shit you have to deal with if you’re not in a famous mainstream act. In the end I have never been that much happy with any record before. It simply sounds … huge… The production is perfect, that’s all I still can say.

Peoples and press reactions to the album were from very good to amazing, judging from what I heard so far.

You’ve also released a video for the track Like Red Foam (The Great Storm), can you tell a bit about it? It feels like it is touching upon political topics, far removed from the album’s theme. Do you face issues making a video due to the length of the songs?

Well, when we became aware of the fact that there will be a video of one song there obviously was only one choice. Like Red Foam is the shortest song of the album, so it had to be this one. I am happy with this choice, because I really like this song (in fact I totally didn’t care which one it would be, because I love them all).

So then we had to come up with ideas. As an underground band you surely can’t produce a € 100.000 video with ships, huge sea creatures and all that stuff. So it had to be something that works on the metal level. The only one who really was involved in the process of creation was Christian Hector. But the main work was done by a team of creative people. The other three of us were not really sure about what to contribute to a clip. It just was a very new thing for us.

What came out in the end is a really good clip that deals with a political topic. Which is no problem for me, because I am a political person. My problem here is that I just cannot find the connection between the clip and our music. I really don’t see it and therefore I don’t like the clip so much… Which is not a problem for me. In the end I have learned how to contribute to a clip the next time.

What made you chose The Boats Of The Glen Carrig as your literary inspiration for this album? Do you ever think of your music as a soundtrack for reading the literary works you use as inspiration?

Seen from our point of view it works exactly vice versa. Obviously the stories function as the lyrical groundwork for our album. They inspire us in mood and vibe. I don’t think any of us read one of the stories we used so far again, listening to the album that was written about this story. But, yes, I think one could easily turn the tables on this. For I am damn sure that some fans read and listen. Which means they ‘use’ our music as a soundtrack for those books.

It was also fan who called our attention to W. H. Hodgson (author of The Boats Of The Glen Carrig). Our bass player Stephan read some of his stories and especially pointed at this one to read. When all of us had read it, it had become very clear that this tale would make it. Perfect in terms of gloom and horror and with a message that comes across when you read between the lines. “Doesn’t matter who you are, within the elements fierce ire” is a line from Red Foam (The Great Storm) pretty much hits the bull’s eye.

What I definitely enjoyed on your album is how powerful the more clean parts sound and the specific gloom it evokes. Do you feel you are moving to a more subtle sound in that sense?

Well, if it comes to clean vocals Daniel obviously likes to surprise us every time for he never shows any single vocal line before entering the studio. This time he was even better than ever before, in my opinion. Next to the idea itself, clean guitar parts depend very much on the sound. During the last three years the guys bought lots of effect pedals and in my opinion, especially their non-distortion, sounds extremely profited from this.

Generally, I can absolutely not make any predictions for our future direction. I only feel what possibly can become during the very process of composing. And for sure we are not composing at the moment. I just assume that the fascination for sound in general will grow on in this band.  And I surely expect Daniel to have great visions for his vocals in the future as well…

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What song would you pick out as illustrative for your current musical course, and why?

That would probably be my favourite track To Mourn Job. I love its flow and diversity. From psychedelic to jazzy, from mellow to brutal. Everything Ahab is about is in there, combined in a very natural way.

What is the origin of your passion for the nautical theme and can we ever expect the concept album about The Rime of the Ancient Mariner?

Why not? Never say never! For I am a huge Maiden fan I’d love to have an album called The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, that’s for sure! The nautical theme just fits perfectly. When Daniel and Christian were writing stuff for their new funeral doom project one day they came up with this idea and the name Ahab. What was just a good idea in the beginning, became our trademark. Surely our personal obsession with the sea grew with Ahab. The sea itself is as well fascinating as its symbolism. Depth… Source of life… End of life… Philosophically looking at it, I could go on for hours now…

And to following on from that, what is the sea/ocean to you?

I consider my music as my personal Ocean. I need it to go for a swim, to escape from the main land called ‘daily life’. Without my art I am nothing, my life would barely make any sense. I never consider it just as music, it’s more like a cosmos. In the first place it is full of those people (= close friends) I create, play and therefore share with. And it’s not only the people. In this very moment I see flashes of grooves, tour busses, vocal lines, interviews, broken sticks, ear plugs, beer, time schedules, weed, clubs, cymbals, my dear, dear friends, cover artworks, laughter, more laughter, gaffa tape, writing sessions, listening sessions, recording sessions…

Doom metal has had a recent surge of popularity so with that in mind, what active bands are you currently listing to and why?

There are tons of great bands, so I have to pick some few ones:

The first one on this list has to be the mighty Black Shape Of Nexus (B.SoN) from Mannheim. These guys started about at the same time as Ahab did and we shared the stage at their AND our first live show ever. They play a very heavy and sludgy, sometimes a little psychedelic style of doom. I just got some rough mixes from their next album. As expected this one will be the shit! I highly recommend to check out these guys!

Esoteric probably are the most horrific band in the world. If somebody would ask me how a nightmare sounds I would give him a random Esoteric album. Besides, they are the best tour-buddies I can think of…

Omega Massif unfortunately split up. They played this more modern, postish, sludgish way of instrumental Doom. Karpatia was their last album and it simply was the best album ever written in this particular style. Everybody HAS to check this one out. Fortunately all of the members split up in different bands: Cranial, Blacksmoker and Phantom Winter which I also would recommend.

For Electric Wizard’s way to present themselves in public has become some kind of ridiculous to me (sucking at live shows, wearing SS Uniforms…) I have the perfect alternative to them. Witchsorrow from the UK play this very, very English Style of doom. And they are fucking cool.

Conan, the heaviest band in the world, also consists of a bunch of lovely guys we always love to meet and have some drinks with. My favourite album of these fine Englishmen is their second one calledMonnos.

Monarch from France are very special. Their droning sound is being enriched in a very unorthodox way by singer Emilie. Also a big recommendation here. Besides, the guys are absolutely lovely folks of course…

There is so much more great stuff to discover. Old farts complaining about the scene just can fuck off. I don’t get which scene they are talking about, but it must be on mars or the moon. There has never been more diversity and quality than nowadays. You just have to pick the pearls from the dirt.

Cough, Yob, Samothrace, Monachus, Windhand, Jex Thoth, Obelyskkh, Chelsea Wolfe, Watered, Lumbar, Mammoth Storm, Generation Of Vipers, Grime, Whalerider… And these are just the more doom or post-like bands…. I could give you a huge list…

What does the near future have in store for Ahab?

First of all there will be a tour in the end of October/beginning of November with High Fighter and Mammoth Storm. For some personal reasons we will take a break in the beginning of 2016. And then we’re hopefully back on the road. For UK… France… There are lots of options and we’re about checking out which ones will work for us…

Shepherd, dirty doom from India

Sludgy doom from India? Yeah, that’s right and it’s as dirty as that fecal pool in Slumdog Millionaire and heavy as fuck. I asked bass player Abhishek Michael and guitar player Namit some questions about their music, India, getting recognition and future plans.

This year the band released their debut album titled ‘Stereolithic Riffalocalypse’, filled with riffs and grooves that would not be misplaced on a Sleep album. This is one of those bands that should be playing Roadburn in the near future. Not recommended for Bollywood fans. This interview was originally published on 3rd-Eye Magazine.

Hey! Can you please kindly introduce yourself and your band? (Have you guys been active in any other bands you’d like to mention or doing any side projects?)
Michael: Ahoy! I’m Abhishek Michael, and I play bass, Deepak’s behind the kit, Namit’s on guitars and we’re all on vocal duties.
I joined Shepherd in 2012, after Muneeb had left, and Dee asked me if I wanted to come jam with them. I still remember Dee asking me if I wanted to play bass, back when they started off in 2011, but back then I didn’t think I could commit to it, as I was playing bass for Inner Sanctum. But, when he asked me again in 2012, I decided to give it a shot. I had always wanted to play this style of music and I felt like I needed to a change from Sanctum as well.
I used to play with a thrash/death band called Inner Sanctum till about a few months back, which was awesome fun too. We released an album earlier this year as well. It’s been a great year for me musically, haha.
Dee also plays with stoner doom heavyweights Bevar Sea, who also released a belter of an album last year. Definitely a shit ton of good music coming out of the subcontinent I must say.

Namit: Sup! This is Namit, and I play guitars and share vocal duties with the rest of the band. Shepherd has pretty much been the only band I’ve seriously been involved in.

How did Shepherd get started?
Michael: Shepherd started out as a bunch of dudes wanting to play some heavy, ballsy, rock n roll. Basically music we enjoyed listening to ourselves. We’re all into different styles of music, but everything slow, heavy and dirty, brings us together. The band started off with Dee and Namit jamming together, and back then the sound was a lot different, it still was Shepherd, and you can hear that from the early demos, but compared to what the album sounds like, it’s really matured over the years.

Namit: Always wanted to be a part of a band that writes the kind of music we do, but there wasn’t that vibe with any drummers in college – in fact there were no drummers at all in the neighborhood. There were quite a few guitar mates with whom I shared the same taste in music – more than anything else that resulted in me filling in on the drums for a quite a stretch.

I had met Deepak a couple of times and had an understanding that if he ever was in Bangalore we should try to do something – the weird acoustic riffy jams that had been recorded and sent over interested him as well. It was really after college, when Deepak moved to Bangalore that we decided it was time to take shit to whole new level. Our initial jams were productive in terms of riff content, on the fly tempo changes indicated good understanding and willingness to adapt – hence we thought that basing the band around an improvisational jam based structure would be a good place to start.

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Why are you called Shepherd?
Michael: From what I hear, a fungus had something to do with that. Crooks in hand, we’re just here to lead the sheeple towards the opium mist.

Namit: It was during a trip to Kodaikanal, where we were lazing around amidst nature and discussing band names. In the distance, there was a dude trying to herd a flock of sheep. Out of all the names that we floated around, Shepherd sounded cool and it stuck.

What is it like to be a sludge/doom band from India, what kind of scene is there to step into?
Michael: Not much of a scene here actually, and if you’re talking specifically sludge/doom, then it’s even smaller. That being said, I think we’ve got this whole exotic factor going, since we’re a sludge band from India. So that probably helps with getting out to an international audience. There aren’t that many gigs here either, we probably play once a month if we’re lucky.

When we started out, I guess Bever Sea were the only other band, that I can think of, that were doing something similar. There have been others who’ve popped up and disappeared just as quickly though. It’s growing slowly though, you see newer bands in the genre slowly popping up, which is a good thing. I guess people realize that there is an audience for this style of music here.

Namit: In a way, it’s good to be doing something that not a lot of people are into. There’s no scene so to speak of and gigs are hard to come by. It is tough trying to survive as a musician in India – especially if you it’s against your principles to sell your soul to the devil of Bollywood.

In the past couple of years there have been more bands that worship the riff – Dirge, Witchdoctor, Grim Mage, Primitiv has elements of stoner doom. Existing stalwarts of doom – Bevar Sea, Djinn and Miskatonic keeping gigging and releasing new stuff consistently.
If you’re a new band, there would always be a show or two to get you started and it would mostly depend and how you would take it from there.

Since most people’s frame of reference of India includes little more than ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, can you tell a bit about your personal background and how you got into heavy music?
Michael: Apart from enjoying the occasional dip in the fecal pool around the corner, we all love the heavier forms of music, and that’s probably what draws us together. All of us are pretty much from what we call middle class India, we’ve grown up in an urban environment, and have had access to tapes and cd’s and we were lucky enough to be part of the generation that witnessed the internet boom. I think without the internet I wouldn’t have really got into heavier forms of music. My brother did play with a progressive rock band while I was growing up, so I had access to a lot of his music collection. I had an uncle who had a nice collection of classic rock tapes, which also played a part in me getting into the music I’m currently into. For me it’s been a musical evolution ever since I was a kid. I’ve always enjoyed music, and it’s a big part of my life.

Namit: I think it was the sight of bands in music videos doing cool stuff with instruments, and just the raw energy that made you want to jump and destroy shit, that attracted me to the music in the first place. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the power of generating music through your own fingers, and hence in a way expressing that fucking rage, is way more authentic and skillful than that artificial pop, Bollywood shit that was being aired when I was growing up – it made me stare in awe at the rack of guitars and drums in any musical store and that was pretty what I wanted to do. Black Album, Number of the Beast were the first few albums that blew my head out of water and really just wanted to play and try to reach the levels at which my idols could. Couple of years in a local music school back home was just an insane learning and mind opening experience – listening to stories from my school teachers – Miles, Giles and Axel about bands like G’nR, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Slayer, Van Halen, Metallica, Jaco Pastorius, etc. was the kind of fodder I’m glad I fed on.

What is happening music wise in India?
Michael: Well, there’s a lot happening. There’s obviously a ton of crap floating around, but we do have some interesting music coming out of here. I guess there are small pockets of good music, similar to everywhere else in the world.
We’ve caught onto the whole EDM boom as well. You can always see what the masses in India are listening to based on what Bollywood goes with, which is our mainstream. Right now it’s a ton of EDM, everything sounds like they just took a turd of a sample from some shitty DJ/producer. But then again, to most people who really listen to and enjoy music, we always are looking for something that you can really connect with and not just LCD radio friendly tunes.
If you look close enough you always find something interesting. I don’t think there are that many artists who are reinventing the wheel or anything, but they are still making good enjoyable music. We’ve got our fair share of good metal, rock, pop, electro and even hipster tunes, haha

Namit: Apart from Bollywood getting mutated and brainwashed by the likes of Yo Yo Honey Singh and the whole disco swag party DJJJ club mentality jing bang, (the stuff of ‘60s and ‘70s is pretty decent), you can find good bands from all genres if you tried to look for it. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a guy who is itching to check out new bands in India, but by the looks of it there are people trying to keep it real and do what they love doing. You could try to say that the blame lies with the apathetic attitude about people – who want new bands and killer gigs but don’t buy your shirts, cd’s, shit and don’t go to gigs. I’d like to blame, if I may, the naysayers that ceaselessly try to put their opinions in a relevant light, crib on social media for pointing out these maybe distorted facts about the scene. Everyone should know what they sign up for, because complaining is not good for your health.

Where do you get your inspiration from, both music wise as well as for lyrics and themes?
Michael: Well, it’s hard to pinpoint specific influences, but I guess everything influences us, from living in India to what’s going on in the rest of the world and the different music we all listen to. With the music, we don’t have any fixed way of writing. We just jam, and see where it takes us. Someone might bring in a riff and we take it from there, or we just jam. That’s what’s worked for us so far.
With the lyrical themes, it’s basically whoever is handling the vocals, would decide the theme and write the lyrics. Dee and Namit have handled pretty much all the vocals on the album, and have written the lyrics for all their parts. We all are really happy with the way the vocals turned out, and with 3 of us singing, we got to experiment a bit.

Namit: Some of it is personal experience, and the way you convey that could be down to how you’ve been influenced by and relate to the material of your choice. It’s tough to know when you’d feel inspired. When you do, it’s kind of rare, but you’re able to get a decent amount of work done. Sometimes it’s just a matter of keeping at it, and over time one fine day everything might just fall into place from your perspective- in terms of the words, the idea or the visuals you want to convey, the brevity of the structure and rhyme. Looking back, most of the lyrics I’ve written are shit and could be better – maybe it was the pressure of just finishing it as soon as we could, but writing lyrics is not something I look forward to. Working on vocal melodies is way more interesting!

How has the reception of Shepherd been this far? Are there things you’ve found particularly interesting?
Michael: The reception has been great! We didn’t expect it to do as well as it did. For a band from India to get the amount of international press we did, was pretty impressive. We’ve managed to make a lot of year end lists, which is really good publicity for us. The rest of the world usually never knows bands coming out of India, so it’s a good feeling having your music get out to a lot more people. Hopefully we can get the music out to more people outside India with a tour in the near future.
One thing I’ve really enjoyed about the whole stoner/sludge community is how supportive everyone is of each other. Bands are always helping out other bands, and the zines and blogs are all very supportive of new bands.

Namit: Getting signed onto Helmet Lady records was sick! Didn’t expect the kind of reception we’ve had so far, but it’s motivating to hear the stuff being said – that helps in us wanting to put in the effort to make a really good next record.

The passion with which people work and care for about the underground has really caught me by surprise.

Let’s talk about Stereolithic Riffalocalypse, what was the writing and recording process like?
Michael: Well the album was written quite a while back, and we’ve been playing most of these songs live for a couple of years now. Most of the music evolved from jams, which later turned into completed tracks.
When we decided to record back in 2013, we pretty much had everything ready before we went into the studio. We started tracking around October, in 2013, and we got done with the drums, bass and guitars pretty quick, and tweaked the songs a bit here and there. But then, we had to part ways with the vocalist. So basically, we had a bunch of instrumentals with us, with no vocalist.
I still remember we were trying to figure out what to do, and whether we should try and find a vocalist. We ended up doing all the vocals ourselves, and over the course of the year we sat down and figured out lyrics and vocals for the whole album. It’s funny, but I remember Dee saying something like “Fuck it, let’s just do the vocals ourselves” which I thought was a joke at the time, since none of us had any real singing experience. But I have to say, that we were all really impressed with the way the vocals turned out on the album, and it seems like a lot of people enjoyed them too.

Namit: The first time I heard Dee belt out the vocals, I was taken aback by how well he could sing and how much better the songs were starting to sound. Yeah, writing the vocals, and then learning to play the riffs and sing at the same time, was insane amounts of fun.

How did you get in touch with Brad Boatright to work on your album? And what was it like?
Michael: We decided to work with Rahul Ranganath, a live/studio engineer from Bangalore for the mix, but we were looking around to find someone who we could work with for the master. Brad was definitely one of the choices all of us thought would really work well for us, not to mention he’s practically worked with every band from the scene and put out some brilliant records. So we got in touch with him and he was quite excited to work with us as well. It was really easy to work with him, and the guy knows what he’s doing. We talked a bit about what we were looking for and the bands we liked, and basically the albums he had worked on that we liked the production on. When we heard the first master, we knew we had gone with the right guy, and we really happy with how it turned out. So everything was done pretty quickly, we did a few runs and we were set.

Namit: Brad is just super quick and super professional with his stuff. Not to mention the initial runs that came out couldn’t have sounded better.

Apparently, I understood from some other reviews, some people feel offended by the song titles ‘ Black Cock Of Armageddon’ and ‘Turdspeaker’. Did this surprise you and do you wish to say something more about these songs?
Michael: Haha! Yeah, honestly we didn’t think about that, but then again, if people want to get offended, they will. Someone is always going to be offended, even if you write a song about magical ponies. So no, we don’t really have anything to say about them, if people were offended by it, fuck that, they can move along. We’re not going to go about tip toeing around everything, just because someone is going to be offended.

Namit: HAHAHAHA! Good for them! 😀

What future plans does Shepherd have?
Michael: As of now, get back to writing some new material, which we’ve already started with. It’s a bit nerve racking since there’s a lot of pressure now to put out a really good album. Haha!
Apart from that, we’re looking to tour Europe at some point and play a few festivals. Also the vinyl of the album will be out soon, there has been a delay because it’s quite hard getting vinyl’s out now with all the delays in production. So look out for that!

Namit: Can’t wait to jam and write some stuff with the guys, because basically there’s a ton of riffs and semi-structured songs / ideas that are in there. Need to take a massive dump, and let it all out.

If you had to describe Shepherd as a dish, what would it be and why?
Michael: Haha, this is a hard one. I’m not quite sure actually. But maybe a spicy taco/burrito? It’s got a lot of different textures, it’s meaty and spicy, and it could give you the shits too.

Namit: Shepherd’s Pie? It’s a good thing to have when you wake and bake, but just like the dish it could get boring after a week or so…

Please use this space for any further things you’d like to share.
Well, people can follow our ramblings and updates on our facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/shepherdrock/

Definitely watch out for the vinyl that releases on Helmet Lady Records

Interview with Sun Worship from Germany

I did an interview with lovely black metal innovators from Berlin Sun Worship. It appeared in Rockerilla magazine (Italian) and on Echoes & Dust 

For this interview Lars (guitars/vocals) and Bastian (drummer) answered some questions, while busy touring and spreading their great music.

Can you guys introduce yourselves a bit, for the ones new to Sun Worship?
L: Sun Worship is a band that started in early 2010, has drums, guitars and voices and was started with the intention to write songs and play them live.

B: We play what pretty much everyone calls black metal. We like to make music that is fast, harsh and dark. It is supposed to generate a trance-like experience.

Why did you guys pick the name Sun Worship?
L: Because the Sun will be the death of everything around it in the end!

B: Yeah man! There is an interesting paradox in worshipping the sun. You’ll never be able to reach it and if you do, there will be nothing left of you. However there is a lot of interpretational dimensions of the name. I like that it refers to the religious aspects of black aesthetics by somehow turning the cliche into the opposite. Also, people think we’re hippies because of the name, I like that this causes some irritation.

Do you have any funny experiences, due to people thinking you’re hippies?
L: We had a funny experience once when people threw their beer cups at us (and missed) because they couldn’t handle the fact that we didn’t look like them. Provocation is not something we actively pursue, that would be kind of dumb and not what we are about. We put our hearts and minds in the music, so it’s kind of offensive when people think we’re about that. I prefer to do things for my own good and pleasure and according to my own rules and standards, and if that rubs people the wrong way or fails to live up to their expectations and upsets them, fine with me. Saying that you enjoy the irritation you stir in people once in a while doesn’t mean that you have to limit yourself to that cause. We are perfectly aware of the fact that we don’t live up (haha) to some of the ‘standards’ people have come to associate with what they call black metal. We see things differently.

How did you get started playing with this band and did you guys have any previous bands (either seperate or together)?
L: We didn have bands together, but we shared the stages and sceneries. That is how we knew eachtother. The idea for Sun Worship had been around for a while, since our drummer and me had been into this kind of music since our teens. It did take us some time to get started with it though. Bringing in a third person was necessary to make it work, because we have rather chaotic minds.

B: In German terms it was a so-called ‘Schnapsidee’, Lars and me got pretty wasted one night in a bar and then the conversation was basically like: ‘Dude i want to play in a black metal band…’ Which got the response: ‘Yeah man, me too!’No further intentions, i guess… We just did it.

L: We had to get wasted a couple of times to remind ourselves of that idea actually.

What is it you guys do when not making music?
L: Sleep, eat, work.

B: That’s pretty much it. I play squash and do yoga… Spiritual enlightenment. I also help organizing shows in a DIY space.

What are the main inspirations for your sound, the main purpose and goal behind Sun Worship?
L: There’s music in my head ever since II roamed the forests around the place where I grew up. Itś been with me since childhood and it wants to get out.

B: Reaching a higher state of consciousness by exploring the limits of speed in relation to physical abilities. Creating a dark and negative atmosphere to gain a positive experience. That’s what I like about it. For me it is a lot about canalizing the concrete nature of Berlin. At some point i realized that living in Berlin can be quite challenging.

I’m interested in the aspect of Berlin as an inspiration for your sound. Can you elaborate on that? Would Sun Worship sound different, if it was from any other city?
L: Would Sun Worship even exist in another city? Probably not… Of course your everyday surroundings are going to influence you no matter what, but I wouldn’t go so far as to claim that this city as a place inspires me. If anything, it inspires negative energy which I need to vent. I am inspired by other things and other places and I’d rather use the music to escape from here. That said, people in Berlin have created an open infrastructure over the years which is both inspiring and helpful. It’s an ambivalent relationship and this ambivalence is an inspiration in itself.

Black metal is a genre known for its amount of cliché elements and such. You guys seem to take your own approach to it. Can you tell a bit about that?
L: I have no interest in dressing up to look tough or whatever. Anyway, there’s a lot of cliché elements in our music (and artwork too) but we celebrate those. We take our art dead serious, not so much ourselves though.

For many bands and fans black metal is more than just music. What do you think about that?
L: I think it’s a bit of a childish concept especially considering the alleged ‘rules’ and ‘values’ of black metal, but hey, for me pizza is more than just food so who am I to judge?

B: For me music is more than just black metal, an emoticon would make sense now. Anyway, I wouldn’t go so far, and judge peoples attitude towards the genre, but I must say that i don’t really like the concept of scenes and their aesthetic rules in general.

How would you describe the genre, what does it mean and what makes a black metal band?
L: It’s been dead for at least 20 years, for better or worse. Once in a while I hear a band which captures the spirit at least musically (Murg would be a good recent example) but generally all the good bands today are black metal influenced (us included) only anyway. I find that a lot more respectful than to try to desperately reenact what some Scandinavian teens did back in the 90s.

B: The last few years it has become very popular again. A lot of kids from the hardcore and punk scene just realized that it’s by far more than just corpsepaint, torches, spikes and full moon nights. I think the genre and its development profits quite well from it.

So do you think there is some sort of core to the genre?
L: There isn’t any. It’s just been canonized one way or the other, for all sorts of reasons and due to all sorts of perspectives. That’s the way I see it. To me, black metal – or the essence of it, if you wish – is closer to ambient music, krautrock and early hardcore punk than to any other heavy metal subgenre. Monotony, minimalism, repetition, that certain kind of atmosphere, a refusal to play by the rules. One of the very few bands that I can actually apply that to are Darkthrone circa 1992-1994 (and they were very much inspired by 80s heavy/thrash/black metal actually.) It’s a complex matter. Suffice to say that you’d rather find “my” essence of black metal on a Swans, Phill Niblock or Mt. Eerie album than on any “black metal” album released during the last 20 years.

How was it to play Roadburn earlier this year?
L: It was a very good experience. Very professional, but very friendly and exceptionally down to earth at the same time. The enthusiasm and attitude of the people there were very inspiring.

In some preview I read that you guys were music nerds, is there any truth to that? (I think its a good thing)
L: Definitely.

B: Can’t deny it. No.

L: There’s so much good stuff out there. And it’s easier than ever to access it. I suppose that ‘music nerdism’ allows us to approach our music with an outsider perception. Not in the sense that we tyr to incorporate all kinds of weird stuff into our songs, but just for the sake of it. It’s the mindset that matters.

Your record ‘Elder Giants’ is my favorite Roadburn purchase. Can you tell a bit more about its creation proces and the general concepts behind the album?
L: Thanks for the compliment. We had five new (at the time) songs in summer 2012 which we went on to record by ourselves. Two of them became the ‘Surpass Eclipse’ 12″ which was released in early 2013. the other songs partly lacked lyrics and were sitting around until we discovered that the rough mix of the recorded versions suited them quite well. So we finished them, vocals and all, and basically sent the rough mix off to be mastered. We added the ambient track and thought we had an ok sort of demo tape (which us and View From The Coffin planned to release in a small edition) to fill the gap between the split 12″ w/ Unru and whatever would become our first album… but then it actually became our first album. So there was no masterplan or that kind of thing really. And no clearly cut out concept either – however, the album turned out to be a very personal retrospective on and tribute to the music which initially inspired its creation, hence the title.

The album feels more like a big whole, a unity, than just a collection of songs. Is this intentional?
L: The songs were all written within three month or thereabout, that would perhaps explain it. As I said, there was no plan to create an album the way it turned out.

B: A huge amount of the songwriting process happens in the rehearsal room. We listened to the same records during that time, somehow we got into a vibe that lasted a few songs.

How has the reception been, both inside the scene as well as outside?
L: I have no idea about the scene to be honest. Reviews were mostly good and people tell us we made a good album. I’m largely satisfied with it myself and that’s what ultimately important.

Black metal from Europe seems to be returning to full power. What bands from Germany do you think people should listen to (and why)?
L: Unru, Ultha, and Antlers, because they’re damn good and because they have their hearts and minds in the right places.

What are the future plans for Sun Worship and what do you hope to achieve with the band?
L: We’re working on new songs and ultimately a new album, getting that one finished and released is the main goal right now. It’s going to be darker and heavier, but we disagree on that.

Interview with Dan of Malakh

While scanning the eternal fields of heavy metal (the internet) I came across a most interesting band, named Malakh. Malakh is Dan’s band, and Dan has an interesting history in the metal scene.

First of all, Malakh is a one man project from South-Korea. Malakh was preceeded by Apparation and Taekaury. The same band, with different themes and names, focussing on the black side of black metal with history and mythology from Korea.

With Malakh Dan approached the music in the form of unblack metal with religious themes of a  Judaic and Christian nature. Where on previous artwork and photo’s Dan would appear with eastern garbs and weapons, this took on a peculiar religious look.

source: garments in the days of Teakaury (source: Metal Archives)
source: garments in the days of Teakaury (source: Metal Archives)

Dan was not too keen to answer my questions and felt that any implication that his projects were connected and that there was further meaning to it, was nonsense. Late in 2015 he dissolved Malakh and also Nemesis Divina Productions, his label. This is the interview without further editing of the answers.

Can you briefly introduce yourself and what it is you do, how you got into metal and what bands youe played in?
Hi, i’m DAN(檀) from South Korea. i playing guitar and singer in MALAKH.

In all your projects, you did everything yourself. Was that a conscious choice?
The reason I do not find is actively seeking members, some guys that
music Cubs are often unrealistic. For me, music is neither faith nor unrealistic fantasy. Just Hobby.

You’ve had 3 bands (or performed under three names). Can you tell a bit about the seperate bands and what they were/are about?
I played Blackmetal and Deathmetal or Paganmetal during 20 years.
Before the current band, or bands, it does not give a significant meaning. The musical inspiration is own thinking. Thus, the musical inclinations take on the concept.

What are your main inspirations as a musician (musically and other)?
I playing my own music style, but when I try to make music with evil thoughts, God destroyed that ideas, thats all.

Can you tell a bit about the EP you did with Malakh? How did the recording and writing proces look and what story are you telling on this record?
I was just creating music normally would. When I do not give meaning creation significantly.

The imagery you use on the cover of the Malakh debut is a peculiar mixture between Jewish and Eastern (Korean) garments, the bandname is Hebrew. Has your music and your own spiritual views developed in this way?
Do not take too serious about music or concept. Music and art is unrealistic. Many metal bands or enthusiasts are captivated by the idea unrealistic. Do not take the concept seriously look at that. And if Christians should respect the Jews. Jews are God’s eyes.

Picture accompanying the Malakh page on Metal Archives (source)
Picture accompanying the Malakh page on Metal Archives (source)

Can you tell a bit about your personal spirituality and how you put this into music?
These guys playing blackmetal Warriors? The battle is one to kill an opponent with a knife and a gun and fists. Not guitar or MIC. Music is just music as the techniques and concepts that will enjoy.

I’m interested in the blend of Christianity and Korean warrior mentality, like you demonstrate on various pictures with traditional weapons and such. How do you feel those two fit together?
My job is a korean martial arts and Israeli Krav Maga instructor. Many young children do not distinguish fiction and reality. If you give meaning to things that are unrealistic it is a psychopath. Breaking in a dream to live in reality a true warrior.

Do you see your three projects as a continuous proces or seperate entities?
All my projects are changed depending on the situation. MALAKH will change in the future as an ordinary metal music of different
genres. Recently there is no time to invest in the making music because of i’m so busy to my work.

Can you tell a bit about Nemesis Divina? What is your aim with this? What kind of releases have you done this far?
Nemesis Divina Production, which avoided the evil words or concepts. Released three albums so far there is no plan until early next year.

How does heavy metal fit in with Korean culture? There’s a stereotype of a strict society here, is metal accepted or is it a rebellious culture?
Metal music is not popular in Korea. I do not think carefully about metal music. North and South is a confrontation situation. Korea people have a lot of people who do not like unreal. South Korea men are obliged to go to the army. I was five years serving in the Korean Marine Corps. too. It will not have time to focus on something metal music.

What Korean bands are worth checking out for people who would want to learn more about the scene?
I have no interest in Korea metal scene.

You did an ‘open rehearsal tour’ recently. Can you explain how that works? What kind of response did you get to it?
My plan Open Rehearsal was to buy a CD for a small number of enthusiasts to better evaluate my music.

Malakh band photo.
Malakh band photo.

What is for you the meaning of the term ‘Unblack metal’?
I rule out the evil black metal music lyrics and dirty values.
So called the name Unblackmetal.

What future plans do you have with Malakh?
I am coming alive with musicians, those who like a little child, I witnessed a lot. Music is art. Art is derived to enrich cultural life of the people. Metal music or anything so do not give meaning to the ideological. The art is unrealistic and you are living in the real world.
I highly do not like to give meaning to human unrealistic. While Christian Metal many guys that this class. That Black Metal and metal music as a missionary? I’m not a missionary in my music. It is the illusion that the mission in metal music. If you want Missions, Put down the guitar and cut your long hair, Go to Palestinians or Syria.
I am detestable humans defile the name of God.

Please use this space to share anything you like to add.
“MALAKH project is not Mission, just a temporary shelter”

Interview: Indoraza from Peru

Metal is a global phenomenon that takes all forms and shapes. When it connects to indigenous cultures, beautiful things can happen, but it can also inspire refreshing things elsewhere. One of those intriguing bands is Indoraza from Huancayo, Peru. This interview appeared originally on Echoes & Dust.

Bandleader Luis Pariona Avila was kind enough to answer some questions about their music and projects, vision and background. The band has been around since 1998 and released mostly demos and ep’s, but now is working on a bigger project.

Normally you’d associate Peru with the pan flute tunes and the colourful robes, but there is room within that culture to combine those indigenous elements with furious metal that tells the story of the darker days the country has faced, but also connects to the present.

Read about inspiration from Norway, Andean history and tradition and making metal in a place like Peru.

Can you introduce yourselves and tell us how you got into metal music? Do you have any other bands / projects you are working on?

Thanks for the interview, hello from Luis Pariona “Pishtaco” leader, guitarist and founder of the band. I was involved in other bands like Yana Raymi, which plays death folk metal and Ancestral, which makes pagan black metal … but now we’re doing hard work with Indoraza.

How did Indoraza get started as a band? What does the name mean?

Indoraza was born in 1998 with the sole intention of paying tribute to our ancestors, our culture and Andean worldview. Indoraza comes from two voices “indigenous and race”. Those voices refer to the blood lineage we trace to the ancient inhabitants of our American ancestors. Race we define as identity, not a term that can be mistaken as racism.

indoraza2

What is the history and the concept that you are telling us as a band? What inspires you?

Indoraza (indigenous race) traces back to early 1998 taking from other projects such as As Ayllu, Danger, Psycho. Back to the year ‘99 with a stable group and under leadership of Luis Pariona “Pishtaco” we started writing songs with Andean lyrics that speak about situations, that we witness and experience in various regions of countryside Peru. We also focus on customs, myths and stories of the land. The musical orientation is hard rock on a basis of rock’n’roll, blues and heavy metal.

 After a while the group split and there was a break in the months following that. Luis Pariona (guitar, vocals) recruited Abel Fares (drums) and Jim Castro (bass), who were later joined by Jhon Castro as a second guitar. Indoraza kept this lineup for some time and recorded demos like:

‘The Inca and Ñusta’ on tape (2003)
‘Coro de leyenda’ on CD (2004)
‘Ayllu Sañachkan’ on CD (2005)
‘Ethnic death metal’ CD (2006)

 The band also toured across Peru and Bolivia in 2007 with a tour titled ‘Ethnic Holocaust’. In 2008 Boris Camayo (drums) and Carlos Miranda (bass) were recruited, with the goal to record those themes that were in the air and for the fans that were waiting for that moment. On the 1st of june 2009 our CD ‘Yarawi’ went on sale, which is the first opus of a hardrock Indian trilogy made in Ayllu Sañachkan (Saño) – Huancayo-Peru.

In 2010, the following two discs ‘Miski Simi’ and ‘Chosheck’ were released. Our first album came out in 201, titled ‘Todas Las Sangres’, which is part of a new trilogy: “Los Andes No Creen En Dios” (“The Andes don’t believe in God “).

In 2015 the next opus ‘Ayahuasca’ will be released in honour of the ancestral people!

Don’t the Andes believe in God? Why did you pick that title for the new trilogy?

During the time since the European conquest and invasion they brought religion which was forced upon our land with violence and lies. Many communities and ethnic groups today have ceased to believe in the mercy of that European god and that omission of it remained deep in their heart.

The trilogy the band is producing now speaks about all that feeling covered in the harsh reality matched with the customs and traditions in danger of extinction. In the Andes it is not enough to believe in a single god but it still remains more ancestral gods’ beliefs because there is a need and faith in them. Ayahuasca is the title of our new album the second instalment of the trilogy “the Andes do not believe in God”.

Especially in this production we are including numerous Amazonian themes and atmospheres. We implement instrumental and lyrical stories that deal with the ritual of Ayahuasca, which is a drink that transports you to other dimensions to proper focus and balance your body, mind and spirit.

You describe your music as Andean metal, ethnic pagan metal and hard rock indigena. Can you describe or explain what you do musically?

Technically, the instrumental structure of our music includes many styles, such as thrash, death, heavy, power, etc. but the main theme and ideology of the band is based on our ancestral culture and Andean worldview. Our fans classified us as indigenous hard rock, folk metal or pagan metal etc. We prefer to call ourselves, following what we do, as Andean metal.

You’ve mentioned the Andean man a few times. Can you describe what the Andean man is like and where he comes from?

The Andean man is a human being who was born, inherited from the nature and remains alongside the rivers, niches, and homes that make up the Andes Mountains which extend throughout South America.

What are the bands that inspired you to get into metal and inspires Indoraza as a band musically?

We admire the greats as Manowar, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, AC / DC, Dio, Death, Slayer, Judas Priest, Bathory, Immortal … etc. and they inspire our band.

 Can you explain a bit what the traditions and history are that inspire you for people unfamiliar with them?

We start with the history of the Inca Empire, its science, agriculture, astronomy, medicine and religion. These things we inherited from other nations such as Wankas, Chankas, Tiahuanaco, Nazca, Chachapoyas and many more cultures. Each of them contributed much to the development of a people with great goals. At some point, these  cultures were cut short by the European conquest but they still achieved a balance and their legacies remained.

What do you think of metal as a global thing? Do you feel it is global or very local? Can you relate to a band from Norway or Russia?

The metal is a global overall musical structure that is shaped emotionally, ideologically and spiritually with local features that every artist wants to capture and honestly, it fits properly.Possibly by merging our national folklore and metal like the Norwegian or Russian bands do. We admire bands like Arkona, Turisas, Moonsorrow, Korpiklaani…

 What sources inspire thematically (not musical)?

The sources are the traditions, our history and worldview of the environment where we live and what we witness every day. The Andean history was always a source of inspiration for the man of the Andes, Andean music is magic and fits perfectly to the heavy metal.

 Can you tell me how metal music started out in Peru and how it developed? What bands were more influential and important to the national scene?

I’ll explain in a very broad sense about metal in Peru. It has its traces back to the late 70’s and early 80’s with a great wave of bands that appeared nationwide, but mostly in the Peruvian capital of Lima. Obviously, before that, there was hardrock, blues and punk music, which has its own history. Bands that came up then were Mortem and Kranium for example, who are still going strong and considered national metal icons. You would also start seeing bands in the provinces, like Hadez, Inri, Armagedon and Masacre.

What is the scene like these days? Are there important clubs, labels or venues that are worth mentioning? It is bigger in certain cities?

The scene is growing. In the last few years the country had the opportunity to bring great icons of the metal genre over and organise some festivals with a good reputation. It’s still all about maintaining clubs and labels and make the profitable. Maybe there are some doing that successfully in the capital, but it’s difficult to maintain this in the provinces. On the other hand, there is a lot of considerable talent, creativity and musical skill in Peru. This country is rich in music and art, there are bands that keep up the fight, regardless the limitations.

Does metal culture face any form of censorship or repression in Peru? From either the church, the state or society itself?

Not really, maybe because the metal scene is still growing and there are other major issues for the churches and the government to deal with. There is no tangible repression or censorship at the moment, but it might be worth mentioning that metal is not very much distributed by the media. Probably because it’s not as marketable in comparison to other countries. That might look like repression in Peru, but it’s just a disinterest of the media in this music. Another reason for its lack of visibility is a lack of proper instruments and affordable recording studios.

Though I can’t make out everything on your page on Facebook, it seems you are a band socially aware and active. Can you comment on that?

Well, we aim to pay homage and tribute to our culture and our ancestors, making and perfecting our art spreading it in the most honest way we know doing this kind of music. Our country had to go through many stages: one was civil war or revolution but it brought great harm from the government and it still subsists political elites who are even now trying to rule unfairly at the mercy of peasants and poors, thing that we do not tolerate and that we raise in our songs.

Can you name some bands that are now active in Peru, which you think everyone should listen to? And why?

The bands that I am listing should be mentioned because they have displayed great talent and originality.

Traker (Huancayo -Peru- Heavy Metal).
Chakruna (Tarapoto – Peru – Amazon Metal Fusion).
Rockpata (Puno -Peru – Hard Rock Altiplanico).
Ayahuaira (Huancayo – Peru – Pagan Black Metal).
Anal Vomit (Lima – Peru – Death Metal).

Do you think there is something typical about metal from Peru? That makes it different from the main stuff from the USA and Europe. Could you describe it?

Indeed, the history and culture that originates and comes out the veins of every Peruvian and the heritage which they carry in them are reflected in the “riffs” and songs. It contains a unique essence in its music that makes it fully different compared to other bands from other places in the world.

What does the future hold for you guys?

We do not know exactly, but we are dreaming about playing with great artists in great metal festivals all over the world.

indoraza

Please use the space here to share anything you want to add. Also type where people can find your music.

I’d like to thank you for the interview. We hope it will be well spread. You can contact us directly and easily on our Facebook page.
www.facebook.com/indoraza

Indoraza Folk band Metal / Hard Rock indigenous Peru
Original members: Pishtaco (voice guitar), Chosheck (drums), Illapa (guitar), Ccarccar (bass).

Pictures with kind permission from Indoraza

Odosha, Venezuela, Metalband

I’m truly excited to bring you an interview with a pagan-metal band from far-off Venezuela, namely Odosha or Odo’sha as it is originally written. The interview was kindly published by Echoes & Dust.

Metal is a global phenomenon, and I cannot stress enough how significant that becomes when you start looking into the more extreme genres in places that are less likely. South-America has in general a violent and intense extreme metal scene, of which most of us only see the tip with bands like Sepultura, Soulfly and maybe some Krisiun and Sacrofago.

In Venezuela the metal scene is much localized, but very aware of the outside world it appears. I found, in talking to the black metal band Odo’sha, that there are remarkable things that a band from a Latin America can derive from the Nordic fury that is the second wave of black metal. If any part of the world can boast of repression and washing away their history, it must be there.

And that is the surprising link and why it completely makes sense that black metal can be so much more than a European thing. Second guitarist Marco Leon was keen to answer some questions and was fortunately quite elaborate in providing information about extreme metal in Venezuela.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIHuPshh1q0

Can you introduce yourselves and maybe say a bit how you each got into metal music, if you played in other bands and such?
First of all, thank you for the interest and support for our musical work. Odo’sha currently consists of Irwin Hernandez on bass, Yonht Figueroa on lead guitar, Marco Leon on second guitar and vocals and Juan Delgado on drums. We all come from bands with different styles. Irwin Hernandez and I (Marco Leon) are founding members of the band, Yonht Figueroa is also playing guitar in a thrash metal band named NWD. Juan Delgado, the newest member of our band, is involved in a death metal project, named Initium Vortex.

How did Odo’sha get started as a band? (is it Odosha or Odo’sha) What does the name mean, both literal and symbolical? It has a double meaning, has it not?
Odosha was created as a band in 2005, with Irwin Hernandez and Marco Leon as founding members The initial idea was to create a band with influences like Bathory, Burzum, Necromantia, Dissection, Emperor and such. These were the black metal bands we listened to in those days. We also were inclined to bands like Moonsorrow and Windir, who had a more melodic sound to them, but from the start we wanted to make our identity about our geographical area. Away from the European styles and copying those, we wanted a sound that was from South-America. This is how we started out and adapted our musical influences and lyrics to the context of our indigenous cultures of our region.

We’ve taken all those beliefs and stories our ancestors held before the Spanish arrived. The band name is taken from the mythology of the indigenous ethnicity of our region. ‘Odosha’ according to its mythology is the protector of the great mountains of the south of our country, but also the god who thought man the art of war and hunting. It’s an evil deity, but not a necessary one. Originally it is Odo’sha, as it appears in our logo, but for easy writing Odosha can be used.

What is the theme or story you are telling as a band? According to Metal Archives your themes are South American primitive cultures and Paganism. I’m very curious what that actually contains for a band from Venezuela and how you bring it into you work?
Well, when we started with Odosha there was nothing like what we wanted to do in Venezuela. Extreme metal bands with indigenous themed lyrics or who represented an ancestral heritage of our part of the world was pretty much unknown. Obviously as musicians we were influenced by the big bands in the scene, which were mostly European bands, but we always kept in mind that their lyrics are from their history and based on their roots.

For us it felt unnatural and even disrespectful to simply copy their styles and pretend we came from the same geographical or historical reality. Our approach has been from the beginning to take all that magnificent musical influence of all those bands and adapt it to our reality and context. This is how we became the first black metal band from Venezuela, who based all their lyrics on ancient cultures of our continent.

Here, as elsewhere and everywhere in the world, is an incredible cultural heritage full of stories of warriors, struggles and ancestral beliefs, mythology and paganism. That is the basis for our lyrics and the essence of Odosha and we are proud to open that way for many more bands with this idea. Many bands in Venezuela now reflect their regional identity in their lyrics,

Can you take us a bit more in debt on those themes?
Well, all of our lyrics focus on aspects of the South American pre-Hispanic cultures, before the arrival of the Conquistadores. There were so many peoples living here before they came, who lived a total pagan way of life in communion and harmony with the elements. They worshipped the sun, moon, rain and thunder. Nature as a whole was very significant in their lives, it was full of superior beings to whom they paid tribute in ceremonies that were transmitted from generation to generation. They built miraculous monuments to those Gods in the forests in honour of them.

They were not benevolent or specifically kind, but they deserved respect and took their places in the balance of the universe. With the arrival of the Spanish a series of massacres started, the colonization was a process which enforced the Catholic Church with blood and death to worship one God that no one knew. The indigenous people fought fiercely, fighting big battles through obvious disadvantages across the continent. It is told in one of our songs, ‘Cultura pagana(Pagan culture)’ says:

The blood of our ancestors was cruelly shed
Our gods were humiliated and defiled our land
The strength of the cross was imposed, and temples to an unknown god rose

The brutal colonization deleted a cultural legacy and we walked away from our roots. We are not Catholic by choice, but by submission. So our lyrics are imbued with these stories, battles and rituals, with beliefs and paganism and the worship of the elements and the natural world. We take this cultural legacy and put it in our songs, which is the basis for our lyrical ideology.

Many black metal bands are trying to convey a vision of sorts, a view on the world or lesson. What is that for Odo’sha?
Everyone should take their own position and accept the consequences of their words and deeds. We are not false prophets or preachers trying to impose our vision of what the world should be like. We are metalheads and musicians and that is our philosophy of life. Odosha is an extreme metal band and our purpose as a band is to transmit through a strong and aggressive sound our cultural heritage, which we believe has been underestimated and neglected.

Are you currently working on something and can you tell a bit about it?
Sure, we are currently working on what will be our next studio album, which will hopefully contain 8 to 9 tracks. It should be out before the end of this year. A couple of months ago we released two songs a s a preview: ‘Solstice Ritual’ and ‘El Dorado’, both can be checked out on YouTube, to get an idea of what’s coming.

source: Courtesy of the bands facebook.
source: Courtesy of the bands facebook.

What are your main influences, both musical as non-musical, to make the music you make?
It’s a bit difficult to define our musical influences, every band member has their own tastes. Those range from the black metal of the 90s to thrash and death from that period. Even folk and viking metal are a part of that influence. Beyond our music, the identity as South-American metal heads, with all the complications and difficulties of doing this kind of music in our part of the world.      

What is a live performance by Odo’sha like?
In the early days of the band we used war paint, but now it’s more focussed on the music. That what is heard live has to be as close as possible to the studio sound for us. So what you can expect is a presentation of Odo’Sha as an extreme, strong sounding metal band with energy discharging with every song. We are a metal band and as such we want to transmit the aggression of the genre in our presentation. We also often play covers of bands that have been very influential for us as Bathory, Emperor, Dissection or the old Samael.

Do you consider the metal scene in Venezuela locally orientated or more outwards? Do you get many bands playing in your country from abroad?
Venezuela is currently going through a very difficult political and economic situation, the “bolivar” our national currency is in constant devaluation and free fall against the dollar, for that reason

Performances of foreign bands in our country have disappeared almost completely. There were better times, in which Venezuela would be a spot for touring bands to play, but this no longer happens. The situation for national bands and the projection to other countries is similar because of the unstable economic situation. Local bands are not able to open doors to other countries, there are virtually no labels or producers specialized in metal music in our country so everything is pretty much do-it-yourself. Some bands have managed to get their music to other places, but the presence of Venezuelan bands abroad is unfortunately something far removed from reality these days. Beyond the bordering countries like Colombia, it is almost impossible to play abroad.

When speaking of metal from South-America, it often focusses on Brazil. Can you say a bit about how the metal scene in Venezuela started, developed and grew into what it is now and what bands were major influencers?
Certainly Brazil is the home of great bands in our part of the world, like Sacrofago, Sepultura and others. The history of metal in Venezuela is very diverse in terms of bands and periods. In the 80’s it was mostly heavy rock with bands like Resistencia, GrandBie and Arkangel. Thrash started as well with a band called SS. It was a period that paved the way for the metal scene that would harden with the passing of years and had this higher moment with extreme music in the 90s with bands like Bahometh, NoxiusNatastor, Krueger and many others. There is now a big and varied movement in Venezuela with great bands in many different styles like thrash, death, black, heavy or any other. 

What is the current scene like in your country? Are there record stores, venues, clubs and such?
The local scenes are quite underground, there’s no big stores, only small distributors in different parts of the country. There are not many places that are dedicated exclusively to metal. Concerts usually take place by renting places that have nothing to do with metal music. In the main cities of the country, you’ll find one or two pubs, but metal head pubs are very scarce. Play or listen to this music in these regions is always tricky, it has not reached the point where it’s respected and supported as an art form. These are lands with tropical rhythms and also with a very outdated mentality, where metal does not own any space.

As a metal head do you face forms of censorship or not being accepted in Venezuela society? As far as I gathered your country has a strong religious practise going on and some strong set values. Does that show in the metal scene?
Yes, that is correct. Venezuela is a predominantly Catholic country and extremely conservative. Metal is seen as an aggressor that violates the values and traditions of the region. The scene is growing though and getting stronger in a significant way. Those who listen to or played metal in this country for real are willing to go against the outdated and obsolete system in which we live.

Fortunately there are a lot of young people that are breaking taboos and opening their minds to a globalized and intelligent world, who start regarding Catholicism as a major obstacle to free thought and integral human development. We hope that at some point these walls of ignorance will be torn down.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpRnjPImImQ

What current bands do you recommend for people to check out?There are a lot of bands here, I personally prefer to let everyone judge for themselves. Pick one and listen, I assure you that you will get very good stuff.

To mention some, Funebria is an excellent band that plays blackened death. Noctis Imperium is another black metal band that has been around for years. Natastor is a thrash band with many years in the scene behind them and Hereja plays a brutal form of dark black metal.

That’s jus to name a few. If you ask others, I’m sure you’ll get some different replies.

Do you think there is something typical about metal from Venezuela? Could you describe it?
Well, I am not sure. Maybe someone from outside the scene could spot something like that from an objective opinion. I think metal is a language that knows no boundaries. You can have a playlist with German, Dutch, Greek and even Venezuelan bands and all of them make you bang your head without even speaking their language, that’s the essence of metal.

Please use the space here to share anything you’d like to add.
First of all, thank you for the opportunity to present our work. We hope this will be a door for many maniac metal heads to meet Odosha! We invite you all to check our stuff out on Youtube or on the Facebook page of the band.

You can also check out our page on Metal Archives. We’ll keep in touch, soon there will be new material from the band. Greetings and raise your horns up!

Vaalghul Interview (Macedonia)

This is an interview conducted with Malthus from Vaalghul, originally published here on Echoes And Dust.

Metal is a many headed beast and mostly we hear about the bands that roam the western part of Europe or North-America. In the quest to find out what else is out there I stumbled onto the band Vaalghul from Macedonia. Now, just saying Macedonia causes bad blood, so usually the country is known as the Former Yugoslavic Republic Of Macedonia (FYROM). That depends on where you come from though.

I find that many people in my country don’t even know this place exists, which is quite interesting. It borders on Kosovo, which is another great unknown together with Albania. The main conflict concerning the countries name is with the southern neighbours, which is Greece. The country has bene heavily investing in its identity, even following a policy of antiquisation. Macedonian identity is a part of the music, Malthus readily admits, it seeps into things.

Vaalghul is a black metal band, which is currently unsigned. In 2014 the first EP was released and work is underway to fix the second release. Malthus answered them on e-mail and through the chat, because he’s currently residing in Australia.

Can you start with where the name comes from and how you started out with the band?
Vaal is the name of a demon, ghul is just an addition to give it a better sound. Vaalghul is the ‘Tyrant Overlord’ (God of Terror). The vocalist got that name when we were wondering about a band name a couple of years ago. There were some other options but we felt this fits pretty well. Back in those days we weren’t entirely sure if we would be doing something serious. Not that it was a joke of course. We came with some good ideas and then recorded the first demo. The production was very raw and almost impossible, but some people liked it.

We recorded the demo in the classic way with one guitar amp, a shit soundcard and then this is the result you get. There are many ideas behind this project, but one of them was making something different in our country. We wanted to be unique in our country with some extreme music.

The lyrics were satanic initially, but the point of them was to provoke people. Shake them up from their regular ways of drinking coffee on Main Street and gossiping. They enter the church when they have to and that’s that. We did enjoy writing the lyrics. I guess the Satanism is mainly provocative, but it also is a tribute to those who want to live free and do what feels good.

You’re using the name Malthus, can you tell me why you chose that name?

Source: Metal archives


In demonology Malthus is a prince of Hell and I liked the name. That’s why I took it.

Which are the bands that inspired you to get into heavy metal?
I’m not sure I remember what I was listening to, but I’m sure I listened a lot of Death, King Diamond,Psychotic Waltz, Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio and Slayer.

I read that you used to have some band members, what made you continue on your own? Which bands inspired you?
Yeah, I used to have some band members. We were three people in the band, but one of the members never had time to record, another had no time at all… It wouldn’t work out that way.

What made me continue was my passion for the music. I also had the time to write and record music. It’s not that I had big hopes, but I wanted to make everything more extreme and more provocative. I guess the biggest inspirations were Mayhem, 1349, Dark Fortress, Isegrim, Leviathan and Setherial for me.

How did you, living in Macedonia, get into metal music? Where there any local bands inspiring you?
I happened to have really good friends who were listening to all kind of metal music, when I was in my youth. My best regards to them! Actualy local bands were my inspiration and drive to record something new and more serious. There are lot of good bands though, but most are not my style but still unique in their own way.

Are you playing live shows?
Back in the early days we never had plans to play live. We did want to at some point, but we didn’t had a drummer who was up to the challenge. There are quite good shows in Macedonia though, even though most are hardcore shows. At least they’re very energetic.

I don’t think the hardcore scene is much bigger, but it’s just more acceptable to people. It’s hard to find a true black and death metal music fan…

I read you’re working on a new album. Can you tell a bit about the record, the artwork and the message you’re trying to convey?
It will take some time before I actually finish this album, it was supposed to be out a few months ago. It’ll be out sooner or later though. The vocalist of Septuagint (kick-ass band from Greece) will perform the vocals on the album as a guest musician. The artwork is going to be done by Gediminas Kiaunė (Manum Diaboli Art) from Lithuania. He is a really passionate artist, who makes the perfect artwork. If you need some artwork, he is your man. He just popped up on Facebook, which got my interest. I checked his work out and was amazed, so I got in touch and we struck a deal. I check his work again for new stuff every week.

source: band facebook

On the new release the lyrics will be more spiritual satanic, the message itself I’ll leave in the middle. Each can figure out their own from it.

What to you makes a band a black metal band?
It’s hard to give an answer to this that feels right. It depends, it can be thrashy, mixed with doom or anything these days. Many bands have been taking black metal to whole different levels. Look at bands like Dark Fortress mixing music but still good kick ass and still black metal maybe not pure like raw one line but still black metal. If you listen to the records ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ and then to ‘Ordo Ad Chao’, you hear two different worlds, but still both black metal. Both completely Mayhem. Uniqueness? I took these because of the good vocal range of the vocalists, Good “scream” “grim” cold evil vocals, good atmosphere in the music.

Can you tell a bit about the scene in Macedonia, its history and what bands are standing out according to you?
Sure, back in the 80’s it got serious here with bands like Orion and in the early 90’s. They played thrash/death metal with some excellent riffs and solo’s. On their tail followed bands like Dismay and Sanatorium. Later band like Arhont and Hall Of Sins rose up in the 00’s. Those are the most important names I think.

I also think they represent the spirit of metal in Macedonia. There’re only a few extreme metal bands, but they have a good history behind them. The same goes for most of these bands. When you have the time, take a listen to each one carefully.

I noticed there are more bands than I thought in Macedonia, but I hadn’t found them due to the Cyrillic writing. What makes bands chose either?
The Macedonian alphabet is in Cyrillic, so many bands just want to represent themselves in their own language, which is their choice. Personally, I prefer the English, because this way everyone can grasp your message, whatever the lyrics are. If you write in your mother tongue, it’s pretty hard for foreign listeners to get your lyrics and translating them is not really it I think. But what do I know, there are people who care nothing for the lyrics, so it doesn’t matter whatever language it is.

If I visit your country, what spots should I as a metal head definitely visit?
There are many great locations in Macedonia to visit, especially in Bitola. The city has a history behind it, but as a metal head I think only summer is a good period to visit. Usually people (metal heads) are gathering in the park, drinking a beer. A lot of people do that anyways.

There used to be some good places to hang out, but not anymore. The new generation of metal heads is trying to change that and I think they are getting there. There are no real record stores you could go to, the only choice is to buy music online or go to Thessaloniki in Greece. That’s an option since my city is close to it. There are gigs though.

I understood there’s quite a rivalry between Greece and Macedonia, based on a name and cultural dispute. Is that in any way tangible in the metal scene?
Yeah, a lot of people are curious and asking about that. For me, I have a lot of good friends in Greece here and there, these days not many people think the way about this as they did in the 90’s (when this was an actual political issue red.). Especially people involved in the metal scene and who don’t care or are against politics from both countries don’t care much for these issues. Governments are the problem I think, not the people.

Do you think anything of the Macedonian identity seeps into the music?
Yes definitely.

What future plans do you have with the band?
For now, it will be the new single that is going to be released. The album will be out later some time. Who know, for now when I think about the album release, I have no clue what’ll happen after.

 

Seal Of Solomon Interview

I got in touch with Turkish metal band Seal of Solomon. The band hails from Istanbul, which is often described as the ultimate bridge between Europe and Asia. Geert Mak described the city as a metaphor for exactly that in his book ‘The Bridge: A Journey between the Orient and Occident’.

This is also found in the band name. Solomon is not only a biblical figure, but also a prominent feature in the Qu’ran. Something I was quite unaware of in fact. The seal of Solomon is also known as the star of David in modern use. It does sound a lot more brutal when you regard it as a means to control demons through this very seal. Stripping away the religious components, what remains is the story of a king that is totally metal.

Answering questions are the three main members of the five piece, Can Berk Öcalır (vocals), Ozan Murat Özfen (rhythm guitar) and Önder Dülger. We conducted the interview over a period of time over e-mail

How did you guys come together as a band? Have you played in other bands before?

Önder: We’re all active members of the Turkish metal scene. In fact, that’s one of the reasons we were able to get together in the first place. I met Ozan during a Undertakers gig. We were both in the audience back then. After I started playing with Undertakers, I started to see more of Ozan. We even fought together in the Turkish resistance Occupy Gezi Movement. After the resistance he invited me to join the Seal of Solomon project.

Ozan: Me and Can Berk (we are cousins by the way) wanted to work on a joint project for a long time. One day we decided to form a band. Other members as drummer and guitarists are people we used to or still work with on other projects, so it was not hard to gather a band. I played in plenty of bands (Nefas Lacus, Blaspheron, Razor, Yabgu, Furtherial) in the past and I still play in another band called Magilum.

Can Berk: We were in a band called Aggregate Pain, which played blackened death metal. Most of the current members of Seal of Solomon played together in that band until 2010, when it split up. While we played together, I established a band named Unfurling, which became Seal of Solomon. It was formed with the current members, except for one guitarist.

Can Berk
Can Berk

Can you tell me a bit more about this Occupy Gezi movement and what it meant?

Önder: Occupy Gezi actually started with 50 peacefully protesting environmentalists, trying to stop the demolition of one of the last green areas in our hometown Istanbul. That 50 people got brutally attacked by the cops (their tents were burned while they were sleeping in them) Ozan and I went there the next day to protest with maybe another a few thousand people.

And the riot force cops came to kill that day… We were stuck in the park with all 3 sides barricaded by the Special Forces aiming our heads with teargas grenade guns, shooting to kill. How we made out of there alive is a whole other long long, LONG story.

In May 31st, MILLIONS (literally) of people came out to the streets to avenge our asses. And to this day, I still feel like they’ve all came to save MY ass. We took over the Taksim Square with them and fought for almost a whole month to keep the cops out.

So I feel responsible for all 11 deaths and more than 8000 injuries caused by the fight we started there that day. Some were tortured, some are still missing. It’s not something you can forget or not be inspired by, when people you don’t even know stands up to guns with bare hands, ready to die, just because they think what was done to YOU was wrong. I don’t have the words to describe the terror we’ve been through together with those brave people for the whole month. I can say that i lived the best days of my life in that period. (Especially June 2nd).

I saw for the first time that I was not alone in what i’m standing for here in Turkey. Nietzsche said that, “Weak people won the fight when they made us feel ashamed of our power”. Ignorant people won it when they’ve made us feel ashamed of our knowledge. But the Gezi Park protests were the explosion of the anger of every silent fed up intellectual in Turkey. It was the beginning of the days we begin to finally win. And we were able to made it with the help of our foreign friends and fans we we know, with our instagram, facebook etc. pages, while our own media was ignoring the terror we were facing on a daily basis.

Where does the name ‘Seal of Solomon’ originate from? The concept has complex roots and connotations that can be found in various religions.

Ozan: Metaphysics and demonology are some of my personal interests. King Solomon is one of my idols in a way, who I feel envious of. I’m sure that people who share these interests will understand where this comes from, but the reason for choosing this name has nothing to do with religions.

We have all grown up with tales and stories of demons and djinns, which are a huge part of our culture and religion (for some of us). For the concept of our band, we didn’t need to do too much research, because we were raised with this.

Can Berk: The Seal of Solomon was the enchanted ring of Prophet Solomon. One day Ozan came up with the concept for this band and the name Seal of Solomon with it. The name was about the magical rituals, performed by the prophet Solomon, where he made demons his servants. We liked this idea and decided to keep it as a band name. When we reflect on the ideas about Solomon, we are not trying to use the religions that implement this figure in their stories. Still, the religions are part of the world, but we try to keep our own perspectives.

What inspires Seal of Solomons music? What themes do you put into your sound?

Can Berk: The concept is growing day by day, and includes things like the magical rituals and demons. We compose our music over a certain time, to evoke the right feelings. The notes must feel like complex algorithms in our minds.

Önder: We all have our own instincts to what we serve up musically. Speaking for myself, I was in a dark period of my life during our pre-production and recording sessions, which led me to contribute a bit aggressively I guess. One of the songs I wrote was “A Leader’s Indignation”, which helped me a lot to express myself lyrically at the time. “Leader” translates literally to my name “Onder” in Turkish, and all my inspiration came from the indignation I felt during that time.

Other than that, I worked on the pretty much completed guitar parts and lyrics, mostly written by Can Berk. He told me to feel free to change and even re-write parts as I saw fit. I tried to stay true to the blackened death metal roots of the band, while representing my own hardcore-based playing style.

The most signature sound of the album I think is what I called “Hell’s armies”.

Which is an octaved, ethnic slow guitar groove on a palmed hardcore guitar riff. Literally sounds like armies of hell are marching in. It can be found in songs like “Providence” and “I The King v2”.

You’ve released your album ‘I the King’ in 2014. Can you tell us more about the contents and story of this record? Did it grow from your EP, which contains some of the songs on it?

Önder: The idea of writing a tribute LP album to King Solomon was always an idea Ozan and Can had in mind. It has all the songs in the previous EP and much more new ones. I believe the album speaks well for itself.I feel like, it is a solid “Fuck You!” on both personal and general levels.

Can Berk:  We released this full length with some doubts at first, but after a short time the comments and reviews came in and were quite amazing. I think this is only a taste of what’s to come. Our new single and second full length are on their way and I think they completely convey the idea behind our music. You’ll know what’s going on behind the curtains in our lives and the place where we live. We will all put something from there in the music.

Önder Dülgur
Önder Dülgur

What was the writing and recording process like?

Önder: It was therapeutic, for me at least. It helped me to cool down and channel my anger into more productive things. It gave me a routine to follow. Wake up, get to the studio, start writing, and start playing. Play again, again, again and again. And since the recording studio was our own, we’ve played and hung out there for hours and hours a day.
Ozan: Can Berk recorded the guitar demos, then we get together with Önder and retouch the sounds and shape the songs into some final demo recordings. After that, they are shared with the other band members, who then write their own instrumental parts. Can Berk and Önder do most of the work on the lyrics. When all this is done, we get to the studio and record our parts.
Can Berk: It’s not complex, but a little complicated to explain. Önder writes the lyrics together with me, but the music is composed by everyone together. I establish the general structure of the songs, but everyone adds a bit of themselves to them. We have the luxury of recording in our own recording studio, so there’s no hassle with time and money when it comes to recording.

Musically, what are your biggest inspirations as ‘Seal of Solomon’?

Ozan: As you probably can hear in our music, the texture of the sound contains a lot of Turkish folk music. In Metal I think Behemoth is out biggest inspiration, because Behemoth brought, as you heard, texture of our sound contains a lot of Turkish folk music. In metal, Behemoth is out biggest Inspiration. Behemoth is one of the most successful bands which brought oriental music and metal together.
Can Berk: Behemoth and Dark Funeral are our biggest metal inspirations, but the local music is the most important. Our country has a wide range of oriental music with a long history and profound culture. We build every note on that cultural heritage.

Ozan
Ozan

What is the perception of extreme metal music in Turkey? Is there any censorship you have to deal with?

Ozan: I don’t think the scene is as big as it is in Western and Northern Europe, but it’s also not as small as in in Asian countries. The late 2000’s were probably the golden years for metal in Turkey. We had plenty of festivals, even Sonisphere was organised in Istanbul twice. It would be better if Erdogan was not ruling the country, but the metal community is getting stronger. It may take a bit of time. We’re still flexing with 1KG dumbbells, but at least it’s better than none at all.

If you don’t have Turkish lyrics or a bizarre stage show, you don’t have to worry about censorship. The majority of society won’t understand the lyrics.

Önder: Television and radio are mostly scared of anything that comes from the heart in Turkey as well as anywhere in the world. I think that we’re all okay with that. I don’t think any of us would want to play to a daytime TV crowd. I’ve played in pop music festivals or contests with my other metal bands a few years ago and it’s not really a good scene when your audience looks at you like a dog that’s just been shown a card trick (lovingly stolen from Bill Hicks).

Most people who would want to censor our lyrics in Turkey are ignorant scum, who don’t know shit about English. So we didn’t really have any problems with that in Turkey.

Can Berk: The metal scene is still very underground, so there’s no real control mechanism dealing with extreme metal in Turkey. It’s relatively unknown this far, so we try to be friendly and accomodating, so extreme metal can have its place in Turkey.

Can you tell a bit about the general metal scene in Turkey and what the key bands or places are for its development?

Önder: There are a few metal bars and venues to follow, like Dorock Bar, Rasputin Live etc. that only put on metal bands and supports them. University gigs like Ege Rock Fest and Uludağ Music Festival are also about as good as it gets for a metal band, in terms of stage and crowd quality.

Ozan: Metal came up in the nineties here and got itself a bad name. A few people called themselves Satanists and in 1999 a girl was raped and killed by this group. This really put the focus on this subculture and the following years were hard for metalheads. We were harrassed throughout the country.

In the middle of the 2000’s, some alternative rock bands popped up on Turkish TV and people got more familiar with rockers and metal heads. We have one or two metal fests happening during summer and plenty of rock bars in Istanbul, though only few have a stage. Dorock bar in Istanbul is probably the best known rock bar of Turkey. It’s still hard for local bands to get on the stage. There are however the spring festivals at universities that offer a great opportunity for local bands, even if they only get to play in front of 20 people there.

The heart of the metal scene is Istanbul, smaller cities have very little. I can mention a band like Pentagram as a key player in the Turkish metal scene. There is also this one guy, who is not a metalhead, but really important for Turkish metal music. His name is Hayko Cepkin, who is one of the mainstream rockers that makes a living with his music. He is also the first person with screamed vocals, so even a peasant in the small villages of rural Turkey has heard this weird kind of singing.

Can Berk: There are some main places to play live, but they are limited. We are trying for a metal revolution in Turkey in the close future.

Many extreme metal bands in Western Europe have in some way or another opposed religious establishment. Is that something you let enter in Seal of Solomon too?

Ozan: Not really.
Can Berk: We are not especially opposed to any of the religious views but Seal Of Solomon always will have its own perspectives, which will be more clear on future albums. We’re not opposing religion, but we do oppose religious pressure and brutal religious ideas. In our band some of us believe in God and some do not. The conclusion is that this is not a problem, while it does feed and affect our concept and musical sound.

What intrigues me is that the name of your band takes a figure from Biblical/Abrahamic religions as the name. For a band from a country that is 96% Muslim, that strikes me as peculiar. Can you say something about that?

Önder: First of, I’m glad to say that this 96% is an overstatement by the government. A recent study of the Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey showed that 20% of a test group of 22.000 people have never even touched a Qu’ran and 60% of them haven’t read it in Arabic (they don’t know the language). Even if 80% still considers themselves Muslim, they hardly know the texts well enough to either like or dislike Solomon as a figure. The same goes for any other character.

King Solomon, as you know, is kind of a unique character in history. He’s also largely mentioned in Qu’ran too. Everything about him sounds quite dark. The band choose to tell a post-biblical, fictional story about this king, losing faith in humanity and gathering an army of djinn to fight them.

Can Berk: That 96% is indeed not a measurement that corresponds with the actual views of every person. Also, if you think you’re a real Muslim, you shouldn’t close your eyes and mind to other ideas from the world.
Today’s problem is that people don’t think about where the borders are for what the holy books contain. Whether you are a religious person or an atheist, you’re free to think about things and have your own way of figuring things out. Solomon is a historical figure you can make up your own pros and cons about. Ideas can be held against other ideas, just uttering bad words makes no sense.

Ozan: Can Berk and Önder said enough about that percentage. About the main question, I can say this: Muslims accept all prophets of the four holy books, so Solomon is as much our prophet as Jesus, Moses and David. According to my own view, we are all playing in the same man’s garden.

What bands from Turkey should people really be checking out and why?

Önder: I’d say Furtherial is one to watch, along with TEC and Seth Ect.
Ozan: Pentagram (a.k.a Mezarkabul), Raven Woods, Furtherial, Baht, Soul Sacrifice, UCK Grind, Pagan, Infected, Mekanik, Thrown To The Sun.

Why? Because I like their sound hehe.

What future plans do you guys have as a band?

Can Berk: We hope to get more well-known in the future and make sure people have heard of us. At least everyone who likes extreme metal. We’re trying to get more support from local communities and hope to play around the world or at least Europe. I also see it as one of our main tasks to kick off the metal revolution in our own country.

Any things you’d like to add?

Ozan: Thank you for the interview and thanks to everyone who is reading it.

Can Berk: This was a great interview. Wish to talk again.

On behalf of the band: Check out our new album when it comes out in the late summer or early autumn of 2015. We’ll release a single before the EP, follow us for any news on our website and facebook page.

Meressin Interview

Lithuania has a small but dedicated metal scene, which can mostly be found in the south around Vilnius and generally in the bigger cities. I found a band from Telsiai, which happens to be where my partner originates from.

I’ve passed by the sole tattoo shop in town a bunch of times and it turned out that the owner is Žydrius “Hidra” Augulis, also frontman of the war metal band Meressin. We unfortunately didn’t succeed in planning a meeting and decided to conduct the interview over e-mail. This took a very long time and a second list of questions was not answered. 

The Lithuanian metal scene appears to be rather introvert, turned into itself in a way and not really understanding or open to outside interest. I think this interview gives an interesting view into that scene and specially the region where Meressin comes from.

Samogitia is the north-west part of Lithuania, it was the last pagan region to be conquered in Europe and rituals have remained largely the same as they were before the conversion. On the west it’s bordered by what is known as Minor-Lithuania, which has a clear German influence due to its original Prussian and later German inhabitants, to the north is Latvia. Samogitians tend to identify not as Lithuanians, but as Samogitian. None as much as Zydrus Augulis, one would think.

Can you guys introduce yourselves? Who is in the band and did you guys play or still play in some other bands too?
Hi, we’re a Samogitian War Metal band, named Meressin. Current members are:

Zydrunas Augulis – vocals / guitar
Endrius Brickus – guitar
Vitalijus “Sovinys” Praspaliauskas – bass guitar
Vainius Cesnauskas – drums (also playing`in the bands Anomaly, Silhouette, Apricity)

Meressin has been around for ages. How did you guys start as a band?
The band was started back in 1993 by 2 brothers. It was Darius “Zhaltys” Augulis (bass guitar) and myself that started the band (Zydrunas Augulis). Over the years we’ve had many different members in this band, composing it in various forms. What we wanted in the very start is to play extreme music, like the old school black metal stuff, so we started doing exactly that.

Meressin was inspired by the music of Venom, Celtic Frost, Bulldozer and other original black metal bands and black’n’roll acts. We also wanted to find our own sound, so some songs on the albums are more experimental.

What was it like to start playing metal in a recently independent country?
We liked metal music already long time and independence gave us chance to play metal without any stress and fear. In the CCCP time we were not able to perform metal music, because that’s would have meant jail time for us.

source: Band
source: Band

On your website visitors can chose between English or Samogitian, do you identify as Samogitian?
Yes, of course. Samogitia is my country, this is my nationality and I love my country. I think that says it all.

You chose to sing both in English and in Lithuanian. What is the reason for that?
The last album I sang in the Samogitian language actually. We started in English and later went for Lithuanian and Samogitian. All albums are different in a way and created with long intervals, so the ideas we had with our band changed in the meantime. I guess that is the main reason for the differences in our choices.

Meressin faced quite some short breaks and problems as a band throughout its history. What do you think caused that?
We come from a small town and people move away from time to time for various reasons. We have some problems with musicians, it is hard to find people that are willing to play metal music. They also have to be good of course. Many good metal heads and musicians have left Telsiai town, because it’s a small town that offers little to the young people as a future perspective.

You’ve reformed the band, and released an album. What can you tell about the new record and how was it written and recorded?
The new album is called “Tik kars yr teisybi” (Only the war is the truth). In way, the album was born before the band reformed with new members, so I wrote the album by myself. I created the music and the words. I wrote the guitar pars as well. I recorded the whole album in my own studio. It did take me forever to do everything myself, about 4 to 5 years but maybe longer. I can’t even remember really. This is the first album in 13 years, the previous one titled ‘Alkis’ came out in 2001. It has 13 songs and is written in the Samogitian tongue. I think it creates a different and unique sound.

What is the story you try to tell on this album?
In 2013, it’s been 600 years since the Teutonic Order conquered the last pagans in Europe in the name of Christianity. Those last pagans were the Samogitians. It took the crusaders 300 years to subdue the Samogitian nation and force them to convert to Christianity.

This album is dedicated to that struggle of the Samogitian people. It talks about the blooded and cursed moment when they took away our identity. Christianity was forced upon us and it should be rooted out. This album is about the Samogitians and who they really are. You can still see it, even in our religious rituals that our nature is still there. It’s in the blood.

You are the only ‘original’ member still in the band. How do you retain your identity as Meressin?
Currently I’m the only, original member of Meressin. I guess I’m a little bit of a despot, which is mainly because I write all the music and lyrics. I believe that this band should not be too democratic, because then Meressin will lose its face and sound. That is just my opinion.

You played Kilkim Zaibu this year, an important festival in the region. Can you tell a bit about the festival and its significance and how you guys enjoyed it there?
Oh yes, this is most important metal festival in Lithuania. We played the festival six times already and we remember the times when the festival started out. We have seen it grow to be the biggest of its kind in Lithuania. Hail to “Kilkim Zaibu” and raise your horns for a long life!

You also run a tattoo shop. Are tattoos in your opinion related to making metal music?
It’s my job, I’m a tattoo artist and so is drummer Vainius. I don’t think it has much to do with my music, its two different areas in my life. I suppose there is some influence to be found in the cover art for albums.

Can you tell a bit about the Lithuanian metal scene and its history and maybe also what it is like to be the only metal band from Telsiai?
Yes, we are the only metal band in Telsiai, we are veterans of the Lithuanian metal scene and I don’t really know what’s happening with young bands around here. It seems like people don’t like to play real metal music anymore and new alternatives are on their way. Good luck to them i suppose, there are still some bands making good music that have been around for a long time.

Some of these are Obtest, Nahash, Dissimulation, Luctus, Katedra, Zalvirinis and Dark Side, they’ve all been around for ever, so hail to them.

What future plans does Meressin have at this moment?
In the future I hope to record some new material, that’s in the plans. We also want to release the album on vinyl and make one or two good videos for the new songs. I lack the time to do everything I plan to do, but I think we’ll do some good stuff.

Anything you’d like to tell us?
Ok people, listen to true metal music and stay rockin’!