Category Archives: Music

Underground Sounds: Belenos – Kornôg

Label:Northern Silence Productions
Band: Belenos
Origin: France

The Celtic mythology is not the most common topic for heavy metal music, though bands like Eluveitie definitely allowed it to become a part of the folk metal world in a more serious manner. The trick is just to avoid becoming the new party band and sounding too much like Alestorm and Ensiferum. I think that Belenos will not soon succumb to that with their dense and atmospheric pagan metal.

It’s the seventh album by this band of Loïc Cellier, which has been around for 21 years now. The sound is a blend of black metal with folk/pagan elements. The bandname refers to the Celtic deity of the sun Belenos, often mentioned in the Asterix and Obelix comics, if you happen to know those. Because… he might drop the sky on your heads, which is a fitting bridge to starting to tell you how heavy and dense ‘Kornôg’ sounds.

The sound of Belenos is grand, majestic and still holding on to the essential blackened pagan vibe that the band is going for. Still, the manage to tell their story very well thanks to the thick layers of atmospheric guitar riffs. Thet band from Brittany can do the deep guttural passages, while still throwing whirling synths at you, keeping your interest peeked on all fronts.

All blast beats aside, I feel this album does allow you to dream away to ancient days where the Celts roamed these lands. The deep baritone chanting now and then brings that forward a bit like Heidevolk does. Another band that manaes to avoid the cheesy (though sometimes barely). The rabid progressions are sometims a bit odd, catching you unaware, like on ‘E Donder ar mor’. It may be my personal interest, but when listening to ‘Armorika’ I find myself wishing for more clean parts and folk elements. I think its a personal thing.

Belenos does not bore for a second on this epic album, neither do they stray far from their sound. That makes this record so much fun to listen to. It’s raucous fury, but also its beautiful passages take me away on its waves. A grand record for sure, though admittedly an acquired taste.

Underground Sounds: Sol Sistere – Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum

Label: Hammerheart Records/ Graven Earth Records
Band: Sol Sistere
Origin: Chile

Chile always has surprising artists to offer in many genres. The long stretched land on the far coast of South-America (from where I’m sitting) is as diverse in its musical output as must be its climate. Sol Sistere is an exceptionally good atmospheric black metal band from the city of Santiago.

Sol Sistere is releasing their debut with ‘Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum’ and that’s always a good thing. Why? Because new bands have new ideas and interesting sounds. Sol Sistere has their own take on black metal that I’m keen to explore on their new album ‘Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum”.

That new sound is definitely something that the Chilean band offers in their captivating balance between intensity and control. Though at its churning core, the band can be brutal and relentless, like on ‘Relentless Ascension’ with its guttural barks and blast beats, the nuance is its specialty. On the outside tapestries of sound are spun out and landscapes are painted with a sonic brush.

A bit of groove isn’t strange to the band either, who use a nice bass line on ‘Sight of the Oracle’, which soon merges into a flow of unmistakable melancholic beauty. A bit akin to some of the work by Winterfylleth, the vocal work is much more black and abyssal. The combination is majestic and haunting at times, but undeniably black metal. An album full of great atmospheric music

There are some more bands in that direction, creating something beautiful while retaining the essentials of black metal, but Sol Sistere is standing head and shoulders above most. Though there is still a little catchiness missing perhaps, but this is the debut. Who knows what more may come.

Live Shows, Beers and Record Shopping in Gent

Yes! I finally had my weekend away from home and I went to Gent in Belgium to check out a live show by Earth and buy records at Consouling Store and Music Mania. Let me tell you a thing or two about it.

Gent is a beautiful city, brimming with life and vitality thanks to its student population. There’s always people about and things to do. I was especially happy to climb the Belfort tower and see the dragon (that was on top of the tower), which used to literally spit fire. How cool is that? So most of the weekend was spend with music, so I’m going to write a bit aout that.

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Earth Plays Belladonna Of Sadness

The film ‘Belladonna Of Sadneess’ is a fascinating Japanese animated film, based on french Writing and heaviyl influenced by a specific style of art like that of Gustav Klimt and Tarot cards. The film is an obscure production with many violent and sexual images of rape and erotic suggestion, but also bloody battle. Now, this film is in need of a soundtrack, so the showing of the film as part of the Film Fest Gent needs something special. Getting doom/drone pioneers Earth to take the honors is a pleasure indeed in the magnificent concert hall/cinema of Vooruit.

Trailer: without Earth soundtrack obviously

Frontman Dylan Carson introduces the bands effort today and stands with his back to the audience in front of the screen. When the film starts playing, the band kicks of with a droning music that melts in with the film. As a listener you sink away into the endless drones that keep pumping onwards, while the footage on the screen unfolds in its own special way. The combination is so fitting and completely allows the listener to submerge into the film. For a good one and  a half hour I’m mesmerized by the film and the skill of the band to keep working those notes without ever really shocking you out of the grasp of the screen on your eyes. A great experience.

Consouling Store

On the Baudelostraat, connecting to the Vrijdagmarkt where you can find the excellent café Dulle Griet (you can drink their house beer from a special glass, if you hand in your shoe), you will find Conosuling Store, the store connected to the well known label Consouling Sounds. Consouling Store is not a huge store, with an enormous collection, but has a clear own identity and also, something most record lovers will agree is a big plus, great coffee.

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Illustrative of its particular style was that a metalhead entered the shop with a bag of cd’s and owner Mike looked at them, seperating them in two piles: “These are the ones that I have an audience for, for these I don’t”. He explains, putting a Parkway Drive record on the ‘not’ pile. The strength of the shop and the label, but also of connected artists, is the strong identity. It’s somewhat dark, underground and ritualistic, but also strongly connected to art and creating something unique. This is also what you’ll find in the store, a load of gems that will speak to those who like the material that Consouling is releasing. So if you’re around, drop by this little record store and just submerge in the sounds that are playing and sort through the vinyl, cd’s and casssette’s, you’ll find treasures there.

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My purchases were mostly within the Consouling stable, so I purchased vinyl from Jozef Van Wissem, Kiss The Anus Of A Black Cat, The Black Heart Rebellion and some more… Yes, I’ve been enjoying them while writing this.

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Around the corner of the Vooruit venue, you’ll find a small, but remarkably well stocked record store. On the day I was there, they had a vinyl market outside with 50% off. That was obviously a welcome surprise, so I purchased that Burzum best off record (‘From The Depths Of Darkness’) and another release in the series ‘The Abyss Stares Back’ with Hessian and Primitive Man (probably more of a breakfast record I suppose).

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The store itself is very well stocked, but also on the pricey end with many more popular releases. Unfortunately, I think this is not entirely the shops fault. Some artists just go for those prices, also through their own web shops or the labels. But there’s plenty of great stuff for good prices there. For the crate diggers and vinyl flippers, this is a great store to hang out, but due to its relative stuffiness, prepare to have to move aside for others a lot instead of easily browsing. The huge selection makes up for that for me (or the fact that I’m really a crate hogger, once I’ve found my section).

Food/Drinks

Gent has an exceptional amount of great bars, where you can enjoy the Belgian master beers, but be wary, their is a price difference if you visit the ones like the ‘Dulle Griet’, which are very popular among tourists, and the more ‘local’ bars. In the Vleeschhal, you can eat traditional meals, but I can’t say that the Gentish Uufflakke was really my thing (sour head chease). There’s waffel stands and places to buy ‘Gentsche Neuzen’ everywhere.

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What is most special about Gent is its vegan/vegetarian tradition. Apparently the public institutions even have a day a week when its really just vegetarian food they serve at work. Pretty cool huh? I’ve had my view of vegan food reshaped this weekend, after eating at a place where they made vegetarian burgers (walnut burger, oh boy) and a place where we had mashed sweet potato with toppings. For vegetarians the city of Gent is a must visit. I guess the same goes for those who love beer, make sure to try the local goodness of Gruut and Crabbelaar (and gosh knows what other great breweries).

Great place, go there!

 

Photo’s: Justina Lukosiute

Jupiterian: Cosmic crushing doom from Brazil

Though we may know Brazil as a country well known for its amazing death metal and passionate fans, there’s more to it than that obviously. Jupiterian is a whole different monster that landed with their debut EP ‘Archaic’, which was followed by their album ‘Apothic’.

The sound of Jupiterian is black as the depths of the cosmos and solid like a thick slab of meteorite hitting you in the face. Devoid of any frivolities, it’s a heavy listen, but well worth your time. So time to get to know them a bit better, before they head to Europe for some shows, where I hope to see them again.

I first met V. from Jupiterian at Roadburn and soon I got to know his newly founded band Jupiterian. An avid music fan and lover of science and sci-fi, V. is a creative force with plenty of inspiration from music and literature. Their sound is to me rather unique and unforgivingly heavy, so let’s hope they can head back to play Roadburn soon, because this band belongs on that bill. Time to get into it.

How did Jupiterian get started and what brought you guys together as a band? Did you have any previous projects that you would like to mention?

We started in 2013 while I was still playing with my previous death metal band The Black Coffins. I started to work on some riffs with a borrowed guitar I had at home, so I asked some friends if they would be interested to join me in this new project. When the band suddenly split up that year, I decided to focus 100% in this new project which would become Jupiterian. By that time, the band was called Codex Ivpiter, we were 5 guys, I was just doing the lead guitar and we had a lead vocalist, but I felt it would be easier to work only as a four piece, because I was working on the songs, themes and at the same time creating the vocal lines. After this line-up change, we also changed the name to Jupiterian and we entered the studio to record our first material, a 3 songs EP called ‘Archaic’. That was pretty much it.

Can you start by explaining the name and the concept of the band?

I have always been fascinated by mythology, especially the Greek-Roman mythology. I also love astronomy and as an amateur, I try to study and read about it as much as I can. But I am also into sci-fI books, authors likes Arthur C. Clark, Frank Herbert, Asimov, William Gibson blew my mind as a kid as much as Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard did with their cosmic horror novels. When I started the band, the first thing I had in mind was to create more than only the music, but an entire journey through all of that.

Jupiter is part of ancient mythology in the form from many gods for many extinct cultures and it could sum up all the references I had in mind. So the name Codex Ivpiter came up, but as you presume, it was terrible to speak and explain how to spell it. Jupiterian was a name that I was already about thinking for a while. When I talked to the other guys, it made much more sense and we thought it would fit perfectly for our purpose.

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What are the musical inspirations for you guys, both for the band as well as for yourself?

We have a very different background in the band when it comes to influences. I try to keep my mind opened to everything concerning music. New bands, old bands. I still feel excited when I listen to something new that blows my mind, be it metal or not and it inspires me a lot to try to reinvent the way I play or the way I want to create new stuff. As a band I could name a few like Jacula, Fabio Frizzi, Arvo Part, Anathema (their firsts albums), Graves at Sea, Asunder, Worship, Winter, Deathspell Omega, Iron Maiden, Whitehorse, Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine, Blut Aus Nord, Mercyful Fate & King Diamond, Funeral Mist, Goblin, Antaeus, Cathedral, Celtic Frost and, Svartidaudi, Thergothon and so on…

You’ve just released some new music. Can you tell a bit about the recording and writing process? Who does what and how does it unfold?

Yes! We recently release our Anathema’s “Mine is Yours To Drown In” cover. Well, more like a version. We started to work on that and I didn’t want to just emulate the original version, so we tried to put some of our DNA on that. And I am really proud the way it came out.

Where do you guys get your inspiration from further, because it seems that the inspiration is a dense mixture of the fantastic, absurd, horror and science fiction. Do you derive your concepts from books or films?

That’s for sure! As I told you, I read a lot sci-fI and horror books. Also I am really into those movies, and my love for the genre is very specific. I am really into all Ray Harryhausen’s animated monsters, and also am obsessed with David Cronenberg’s work, John Carpenter, the Hammer Films movies, Amicus.. you know, the victorian-era horror movies, also mixed with some steampunk style like “First men in the moon”, “The Time Machine” and everything I can find from the gold age of sci-fI movies.

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When listening to your albums, the sound is so overwhelmingly heavy and devoid of most other elements. The returning themes makes me feel like that’s a very deliberate choice, also related to the subject matter. Is that so?

That’s true. This is the core of the band, we want to deliver all the heaviness with a dark, yet melodic atmosphere within it.

I would like to know a bit about your visual expressions. Rarely does a band pay so much attention to artwork, logo’s and thus creating such a complete picture. Can you tell a bit more about that?

Thanks a lot. I am glad it called your attention. Well, we are telling a story with the band I want it all to make sense to the listener, be it with the music, the videos, t-shirt and everything. For me, music is much more than what you are listening in a moment, It’s a journey.

Most of the time I am the one behind the imagery, but we are very lucky to work with great artists that get our idea and deliver a great work for us.

You’ve done some covers for the new release. Why did you pick those songs exactly?

Yeah, ‘Mine is Yours to Drown’ In was the first one and the other one is Black Sabbath‘s Behind The Wall of Sleep’. About the Anathema version, when we started the band, we talked about choosing a song to cover and this one was my first idea. It was one of the firsts extreme metal songs I ever heard when I was a kid, so recording it felt like retribution cause it means a lot to me. About “Behind the Wall of Sleep”, Cvlt Nation invited us to their new Cvlt Nation Session, and the chosen album this time was Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath”. We chose that song for two basics reasons: 1. It’s Lovecraft; 2. It would be very challenging to record a song so different from what we do cause it’s a faster song. As we did with “Mine is Yours”, we re-think the entire song and made it slower and with our approach and way to do things. Both will be available on digital format in our bandcamp in October. They are part of this 2 songs EP called “Urn”.

Like before you’re working with Mories (Gnaw Their Tongues) on this new release. How did you get in touch and get to work with him? What do you think that the impact on your sound is of his contributions? 

The first time I talked to Mories was in 2010 when I interviewed him for a metal website I used to keep here in Brazil. But I met him personally for the first time at Roadburn 2013 and then we became friends. The sound of his bands is outstanding, he is always releasing amazing albums, always working on something new and all I can say is that I am lucky enough to work with someone I admire and respect that much. I think Jupiterian sound so much darker, dense and intense because of his final touch in the process. Sometimes he also creates some extra textures and it’s by his will. Yeah man, he is definitively a big part in this band.

If you could do the soundtrack of either a Lovecraft film or a sci-fI horror combi, which would have your preference and why?

Good one! I never thought about it but when I read the question, the first movie that came to my mind was Deep Star Six. I think the movie has an overwhelming claustrophobic atmosphere. Maybe Andrzej Żuławski’s “On a Silver Globe” (wich is a movie we already used for the “Archaic” video) or Tarkovisky’s “Stalker”. I’d love to do the soundtrack for a lovecraftian movie if there was any good for his “dream cycle”, specially “The Dream-Cast of Unknown Kadath”.

What can people expect from a Jupiterian live show? What kind of experience are they in for?

We like to think our shows are like painful processions, an experience that hurts the soul cause it’s about heaviness but it’s also about sadness and darkness. It’s the worship of what doom metal means to us.

Brazil is known as a firm and established metal nation, maybe even one of the biggest in the world if you may believe the documentary ‘World Metal’ by Sam Dunn. Can you spare a few words on how the Brazilian scene looks and how doom metal fits in there?

I think there is a romantic vision about the Brazilian scene because of all the amazing bands that came out from here in the past decades like Sepultura, Sarcofago, Mystifier, Krisiun, Violator, Facada, Rebaelliun and so on, but I don’t think we can say its firm and established. There’s a lot of passionate people doing their stuff but in a very amateur way, you know. Brazil is a continental country and yet, we cannot arrange a proper tour here at least you are a real DIY band. Of course you won’t make real money and you probably will play with shitty amps on shitty venues. We have only a very few pro labels actively working nowadays, but we are still surviving because everyone involved in this, be it thrash, death, grind and so on, we are used to that. That’s how things are and still love it

We know Brazil from its death metal scene of a while ago. Which bands from Brazil are on the rise and should get our attention (and why)?

Facada is one of my favourite grindcore bands of all times. They are relentlessly brutal, it’s like a mix of the best things Napalm Death, Brutal Truth and Nasum ever released in one band, and of course with a strong (and relevant) politic approach on the lyrics. I recommend their last album Nadir. My favourite track is “Amanhã vai ser pior”.

Thy Light is amazing. They are one of the most relevant bands in the DSBM scene world wide and Paolo is a great guy. He also plays in a Death Metal band called Desdominus, which is also a fantastic band. “No Morrow Shall Dawn”, their last album, is perfect for cold and grey days.

Abske Fides is a great Funeral Doom metal band from São Paulo and reunite some of my oldest friends in the scene. N., the bass player, joined us for the Chilean tour we did this year. He also plays in Noala and Au Sacre Des Nuits and is always delivering amazing music, be with his bands or with his solo projects. We’ve been working together for many, many years now in a lot of projects and you can hear a jam we did on the track “Daylight”, in the end of the song.

Mythological Cold Towers is legendary. They are active for more than 20 years now producing great albums and putting amazing shows. Their last album, “Monvmentvm Antiqua”, is fantastic!

Infamous Glory is an old school death metal band featuring K. from Abske Fides. “Bloodfeast” is a death metal worship with all the elements we love in the genre.

Rakta is a brilliant – way beyond any label – band from São Paulo. I love what these girls do and to see them live is an incredible experience. One of the best active bands in Brazil nowadays.

Deaf Kids just released their last album called “Configuração do Lamento” and it’s one of the best 2016 albums so far in my opinion. This power trio deliver an hypnotizing punk with a lot of tribal-driven rythms. A trully unique band.

What future plans does Jupiterian have?

We have 4 shows in Europe in late October, it’s a mini tour with our brothers from Mythological Cold Towers. We’ll play 2 gigs in Belgium, one in Czech Republic and the last show will be at Dutch Doom Days in Rotterdam, NL. After that we will focus on finishing the lasts songs for our next full length and record it in the beginning of 2017. We have 3 new songs, one of them are on our setlist, and 2 structures not finished yet, so i’d say the next album is 70% done.

If you had to describe Jupiterian as a dish (food), what would it be and why?

Maybe it’s a Brazilian feijoada, cause it’s black, dense, fat, it’s hard and slow to digest. Actually it looks like a disgusting swamp haha

 

Underground Sounds: Trna – Lose Yourself to Find Peace

Label: Elusive Sound
Band: Trna
Origin: Russia

Though they describe themselves as blackgaze, there’s something to say for just calling it postrock. This Russian band has no vocals and creates the soaring, huge soundscapes that you would associate with the genre in its glory days. I’m not sure if that is a period in the past, since there’s still great material out there, but Trna brings it to its origins.

This album is the second one by Saint Petersburg group Trna, which is a Russian three-piece postrock band. The group has been playing live around Eastern Europe and describes itself as a hurricane of emotions, referring to their music. Bass player Anton Galaullin is also active in Show Me A Dinosaur and sludge group Pwyll.

The record kicks of with the almost 20 minute mark breaking ‘Gale’. A fuzzy wall of distortion is raised up gently and through it a dancable rhythm and repetitive riffs soar in a very free falling way. It reminds me a bit of the band Amusement Parks On Fire, on their first album. It is also like standing in a gale, with the distorted guitars soaking you like it happens when you face the wind near sea. Slowly the song becomes more tense, thanks to more intense drumming. Towards the end, the sound becomes indeed like a hurricane, raging about you, only to slowly disappear towards the end.

‘Calm’ offers indeed what it claims to do. The trickling guitars and the slow progression at first create a sense of tranquility, but then the barrage of drums and bass launches, building up to the typical black metal static realm of hyper speed playing, to achieve a more frantic plane of that same tranquility. It becomes a thick, sonic tapestry that somehow retains a calm indeed. Slowly, but with much drama it then stars building down with great heaves to end up with that tranquil silence again.

Underground Sounds: Mesarthim – .- -​.​.​. .​.​. . -. -​.​-​. .

Label: Independent (Bandcamp)
Band: Mesarthim
Origin: Australia

Yeah, the name of this album is weird, but in morse code it might mean something like ‘Absence’. A fitting title for the places where the astral journeys of Mesarthim are taking the band. There is no other like the sound of this Australian band. Mesarthim (Gamma Arietis) is the name of a binary star system in the northern constellation of Aries. The name is of obscure origins.

That last bit is from the band themselves, which is a unit of two unknown Australians. Well, that’s that then. Shrouded in mystery, the band is the next in line next to Darkspace and Mare Cognitum to delve into space metal, continuing the work of Summoning and Agalloch into unearthly realms. This they do well, by letting go of most of the more earthly elements in the music.

The music is therefor hardly grounded in a foundation of heavy concrete rhythm section, but soars freely with synths and vocals that work more as part of the texture than spitting venom at the gods. It’s the sound of majestic nothingness, of floating amongst the stars with riffs that though fast and tight never really urge you in any direction. It’s liberating to listen to this band, who create a completely catchy and enveloping sound that borders on the cheesy but never goes over.  It’s like Darkspace is jamming with Jean Michel Jarre, amazing.

A record to get lost in, with a production that feels like a poofy pillow when you land your head in it. The keys are the most prevalent amidst the woolly production and offer you moments of introspection, to think of the meaning and insignificance of it all. Maybe this is in fact the most nihilist you can get in black metal, where everything just becomes specs of dust… Those thoughts enter my head when the organ sound fades away slowly on ‘…–‘.

The bombast of the synths and layers on layers of sound is a bit overwhelming, maybe a bit too much for some listeners even. It’s as if the band is trying really, really hard to do something completely new and in doing so they probably lose much of their following. But… In a way it expresses best the thing that it wants to express, which is an experience of space, of the sublime and overwhelming category of experience. Something almost impossible to grasp.

Winterfylleth: Finding the Green Cathedral

On Eindhoven Metal Meeting 2015 I was trodding along in my Winterfylleth shirt and ran into Simon Lucas and Chris Naughton from Winterfylleth. During an interesting conversation we discussed various topics, which rapidly go from history to politics and metal theory.

I was already sold on the music of this band, but the sharp wit and keen minds of the duo made me even more interested in what lies behind the music and the band. As I’m still a major fanboy, I often forget to get to the point on these moments, but luckily I was able to throw in my question if I could do an article on them. They luckily said yes.

While I was working on this, the band announced the coming of a new album, titled ‘The Dark Hereafter’, which will be out soon on Spinefarm and Candlelight. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to go too deeply into that, but I’m well excited for that record. Having faced their share of controversy in the past and being the band that they are, not every topic was up for discussion.

I hope you enjoy reading about one of my favorite black metal bands around. Chris Naughton, singer and founder of the band answered my questions.

How have things been for Winterfylleth lately?

Great thanks. We’ve been a little quiet this year as we’ve been writing for the new and upcoming releases. Also a few of us became new fathers so we’ve not had the time to commit to being on the road as a result. But we are all now looking forward to the new release and to a fresh run of shows and press – with everything that brings.

You and Simon Lucas (drummer) played together in various other groups like Men Scryfa & Atavist so it seems like you guys go way back. Can you tell a bit about those projects and what they were about? Did they help you find what you wanted to do with Winterfylleth?

For me those projects are largely unrelated to what we’ve done, and become, in Winterfylleth. Simon and I used to do Atavist (and I still do, having resurrected the old line up of the band this year) but that band was much more about exploring Nihilism and Inner Darkness rather than any of the themes we have in Winterfylleth. We did a few albums with Atavist on Profound Lore & Invada over the years and stopped doing anything with the band (until this year) around 2008 (after our tour with Nadja & Satori) to focus on Winterfylleth. Men Scryfa was slightly more related to Winterfylleth, although only because they lyrics to it were about the ‘Men Scryfa’ standing stones and the folk lore and significance to our history. This was a one off song written for a label called small doses records and was a tribute to the work of Julian Cope and his ‘Modern Antiquarian’ book. We never did anything else with this band.

Your music is clearly heavily influenced by historical themes, the same seems to go for your other bands. How did you get into this? I understood there’s a professional background to this work.

Winterfylleth is the only band where we have a really strong link to history and historical themes. We’ve talked about this many times before, but Simon and I met over a mutual appreciation for elements of history and that is what sparked our interest in doing a project together. Initially Simon joined Atavist on the drums, but as we were winding down our attention on that band & starting to form what would become Winterfylleth we also began to solidify the themes around history and heritage that had brought us together in the first place. There is no professional background to this and we are both just interested in these topics and continue to be; linking them to our political awareness to formulate the themes of the band.

It’s been 2 years since the wonderful album ‘Divination of Antiquity’. Are you working on anything new currently?

Yes, we have a few things in the pipeline actually. The main thing is that we have a new record called “The Dark Hereafter” coming out on September 30th in UK/Euro. Around this we are also working on an Acoustic album (which will follow The Dark Hereafter) and then another Black Metal album to follow the acoustic album. As I mentioned before I am also working on a new Atavist album and have also completed work on 2 news songs for 2 new releases for my other band Nine Covens.

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Listening to your music, I find it’s very much giving the feeling of paintings from the Romantics of great landscapes, the majesty of nature and such. Is that in a way what you’re going for?

Absolutely. The idea is, and has always been, to connect people with their history, with landscapes and with nature. There is a song on the new release called “Green Cathedral” that really sums this up for me. It’s about how we should focus more on localism and not globalism in our daily pursuits, steering power and influence away from a few people in big companies and moving it back towards people. Returning to nature, at least to some extent, is inevitable for us at some stage. Particularly as the world is so chaotic and resources are so finite. We will have to do something at some point to curb our excesses.

There’s something really upbeat to your sound, there’s an element of empowering in it. I feel, when listening to it, that I want to straighten my back a bit more and get my chin up. I especially like listening to it outside and experience it. Is that something you feel is in there?

Yes I think so. Lyrical themes and imagery can only get you ‘so far’ as a band. I feel like the music itself also has to live up to the beauty and sorrow of the tales we are telling, otherwise the message doesn’t get across. So we use upbeat melodies to highlight and accent the elements of the ups and downs of the stories we are telling as a band. I think that we firstly connect with music as listeners, rather than lyrics etc, so if you get that bit wrong, then the whole point it lost.

You guys took part in the compilation ‘One and All, Together, for Home’ with a lot of similarly minded bands (to an extent at least). Do you feel a connection between bands that are doing something similarly to yourselves?

Of course, particularly bands like Drudkh & Primordial from that line up. They are bands who seem to share similar sentiments about their history and folklore, as well as caring deeply about it. So I think we’ve stuck together to some extent and I think it’s right that bands support one another as some of our content is important around current affairs and is another way of getting the truth out to people.

What is your recording and writing process like? Do you have defined roles and where do you get your subject matter from?

We all write together in my home studio and demo everything before we try it live. Usually Nick or I come up with the initial song ideas and then we build on them together. Although now we have Dan and Mark D in the band, we will start to see some of their influences coming through, I’m sure. Once we have done all of the pre-production, I write the lyrics and we take the songs to the studio and let Chris Fielding help us bring them to life. Lyrically, the themes are about ancient history and how that relates to the struggles of the modern world. So sometimes we talk about wider global themes and sometimes we relate them to pressing issues. All through the lens of ancient poetry and prose, adapted for modern means.

When we met at Eindhoven Metal Meeting, we discussed some of the accusations you’ve faced as a band, being labelled nationalist and even NSBM. Can you tell a bit about what that all was about?

I think – to our earlier discussion – that there are still veins of people who think we are evil because they have seen some reactive nonsense on the internet about us from 2007. Things happened that are well documented and we took steps to distance ourselves from them, so while there is a bit of a back story, it’s behind us and was 8 years ago. The kind of people who dredge this up are usually just virtue signalling ‘right on’ types of people who have never bothered to dig deeper and find out the real truth about us; and who seem to like having a cause to post on social media against. People that read our lyrics or engage with what we have to say in interviews are typically much better informed about what we truly stand for, and are the kinds of people who would defend our points, and our name, to others who know very little about us. I try not to get involved in things like this online anymore but I am happy to speak to anyone and answer their questions (in interviews or to our band page) both positive and negative because I think it is important to confront accusations like these head on and to address our critics honestly.

You explained to me that the t-shirt with the Warrior herd print had a specific meaning behind it. Can you relate that story and is it representative for your views?

The Warrior Herd shirt visualizes how there is always an evil behind the banners of war. The image depicts an evil being behind the flag of men charging into battle. It basically shows how we send our troops off to war under the pretence that they are defending our country, or our way of life from tyranny, yet usually we are actually invading another country for their resources or for some kind of financial or political gain. We revere our soldiers (and rightly so) as they give their lives for what they believe. It just happens that usually they are sent to do that under false pretences and there is usually a hidden agenda at play. I think that is an important lesson for how the world works and is something we are keen to make people think about when considering the topical issues of the day.

Winterfylleth notably doesn’t use much of the black metal aesthetics that are traditionally associated with the genre. What prompted that decision and how do you feel about bands still adhering to the ‘traditional’ look of black metal?

We are a BM band from England who formed 15-20 years or so after that kind of aesthetic was used and it just doesn’t represent who or what we are. Also, it has been done to death by too many bands now as well. To me, the corpse paint/traditional aesthetic of BM is the property of the bands from that era and was a reaction to their musical/political/social landscape at the time, and represents a feeling they had. To me we shouldn’t be trying to emulate that, as we are from a different era, a different country and have different issues that we are confronting in our music. The genre started around nihilism and satanism and reaction to religion etc. To me now, we are discussing issues of nature, of environmental distress, of socio-political importance, of history repeating itself and of power structures. It doesn’t work for me to utilise their aesthetic to do that, we have to find our own. So that is why we choose to be as we are. Our outward personal image is less important to us than overarching image of the albums and the message of what we are saying. Thus we avoid the traditional aesthetics.

Recently I watched the documentary ‘British Black Metal: The Extreme Underground’. A really enjoyable view on the British scene. What bands do you think are currently carrying the torch for British black metal?

With no ego, I think we in Winterfylleth have always tried to lead the charge in terms of contemporary British BM and have strived to bolster and promote the British scene for as long as we’ve had a platform to do so. We’ve helped get lots of key bands signed, we’ve A&R’d lots of bands for labels and taken as many of them on tour as we could to widen their influence and exposure. That said I don’t think UKBM would be anywhere without the combined efforts of a key group of bands… Wodensthrone (RIP), Fen & A Forest of Stars – who were other bands that really helped to re-ignite the British presence on the global BM map around the same time we were forming.

I think what we and those other bands have done is to create a platform on the global stage for British BM again and have allowed other bands the space (and possibly the inspiration) to bring their own spin on it to the world. As a result, lots of bands have come to the fore over the last few years that are really starting to strengthen the UK’s position in BM. Bands like, Cnoc An Tursa, Saor, Eastern Front, Falloch, Old Corpse Road, Wolves of Avalon, Ethereal, Necronautical, The Infernal Sea, Mountains Crave, Kull, Arx Atrata and lots of others.

In the documentary you also mention travelling the country for inspiration. Which are the best spots to listen to every Winterfylleth album?

You should travel to the places where the cover images were taken (Castleton in the Peak District, Snowdonia National Park and the Lake District), go for a walk and take in the beauty and majesty of those areas while you do. They inspired us to write the music, so hopefully they’ll creatively inspire you as well.

What does the future hold for Winterfylleth?

A new release called “The Dark Hereafter” is due on Sept 30th 2016, and we will follow it up with some shows and touring next year. We are also working on 2 future releases as mentioned above, so we are busy with what comes next before the new release is available.

Final question, if you had to describe Winterfylleth as a dish, what would it be and why?

I think we’d be a satellite dish, as we help connect people to each other around important issues. 😉

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Underground Sounds: Sylvaine – Wistful

Label: Season of Mist
Band: Sylvaine
Origin: Norway

Myrkur has opened the floodgates it sometimes seems of more ambient, folk and soundscape oriented dark music, but maybe I’m just imagining that Sylvaine is of the same cut of cloth, but definitely aiming for a more shoegazy sound on her second album ‘Wistful’, which is out on Seasons of Mist.

The term doomgaze has always been a bit peculiar to me, but listening to this album I can see where it comes from and how it fits in with the compositions of the fey-like Norse lady. The artwork also speaks of the musical experience, with a foggy painting of a natural setting. Misty in the early morning light, amidst the trees. Atleast, that is how I picture it.

The sound of Sylvaine is deeply melancholic, regardless if its a single piano playing or a barrage of guitars. The songs build up rather gently, offering a glance into the unknown at first, before rising up and fully overwhelming you as a listener. The dreamy voice of Sylvaine lures you into the mist, into the swampland. Throw in some comparisons, like Sinead O’Connor‘s rendition of ‘The Foggy Dew’ or maybe even Sigur Rós, it is all in there.

photo by Andy Julia – © Sylvaine

Once there, the heavier sounds start. Even wild schrieks can be heard on ‘Earthbound’, never follow the faeries… They’ll lure you to the waters and the wild, but what for?  Interesting fact, on this album the multi-instrumentalist gets help from Stéphane ‘Neige’ Paut (Alcest), which might have a more significant impact than you’d think. Shoegaze is a term that doesn’t fit anymore for music like this, it moves on to something between ambient, black metal and folk with a hint of doom. Doomgaze just feels too hip sounding.

The listener of this album will feel as if lost in the mist, trying to grasp at the essenence of Sylvaine’s music, but never fully reaching it. You feel confused, lost, introspective even and weary by the end. It’s so dense with atmospheric elements that sometimes the fog just too overwhelming. The rare part where you get some direct contact with the vocals, is like a sunray piercing the roof of leaves and illuminating for a brief moment the shining truth, the angelic voice and those moments alone make this album such a mesmerizing experience.

Underground Sounds: MASTER BOOT RECORD – C​:​\​>CHKDSK /F

Label: independent
Band: MASTER BOOT RECORD
Origin: Italy

Somewhere in Rome a rogue computer has started producing or assimilating heavy metal and chiptune music. Yes, all gates are open now, with the arrival of Master Boot Record, which/who dropped 4 records in a short amount of time. I decided to check out ‘C:\>CHKDSK /F’ as a topic for a bit of writing, because it just souned weird.

The occult imagery is blended with DOS-screens and circuit boards, that is pretty cool. Also, MASTER BOOT RECORD has been doing some stuff for a while, covering hit songs like the soundtrack of old DOS games. Think of DOOM, Syndicate and Turrican. I do suppose that some people think this is silly, but if you’ve grown up in that time and age, you know how awesome this record is to me.

So what you get is pretty awesome. Remember how good those game soundtracks, even in midi could be? Everyone can hum along with the Mario and Zelda tune, right? Well, imagine combining that with guitars, bass and drums, to create a driven, electro rock sensation! The typical thing about the game music is that it’s always pushing you forward, it’s energetic and upbeat, so this is one whole record of invigorating music that easily fades to the background, while you engage in the mundane tasks.

On ‘Config.Sys’ there’s even a bit of classical music, played in midi with raw, shredding guitars and then suddenly picking up the synthwave beat. It’s just all there, everything blended to it’s maximum effect of awesome. The superfast riffing, mixed with the midi sound, it just works great. Sure, this is probably one of the most geeky things to enjoy, but the way the record is made is just incredibly catchy and captivating.

I may not know the exact words to describe this record, but it’s the combination of oldschool gaming sensation with the balls to the wall approach of heavy metal and that works like a charm. Enjoy the other records of MASTR BOOT RECORD for free on Bandcamp!

 

Underground Sounds: Barshasketh – Ophidian Henosis

Label: Blut & Eisen Productions/ Darkness Shall Rise Productions
Band: Barshasketh
Origin: New Zealand

By now, the band Barshasketh has relocated from the Lord of the Rings-y New Zealand to the similar, but more rainy Scotland. The man behind the band is Andrew Campbell, more well known under his moniker Krigeist. He’s been active as well in bands like Belliciste and Bròn. It actually seems that Campbell has now relocated to the Czech Republic even, but it’s a bit hard to tell. Maybe Belgrade, based on the info on the Belliciste page? I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter that much either when we get to the music.

The sound of Barshasketh defies the local anyways, even more so on this new endeavour. To create a full band members were found in FallochHaar and Finnish Hautakammio. It allows for an album that will not soon be forgotten. Of that I’m sure. I’d like to point out that there’s some excessively amazing art work in use by Barshasketh, done by Daniel Valencia of Fomeno Design.

There’s a hint of melodic black metal bands like Keep of Kalessin hidden in the music of Barshasketh, thanks to the combination of familiar elements of distortion, tremolo guitar play and feisty blast beats with a thoroughly melodic element and a willingness to create a harrowing type of beauty through sound scapes. This is all woven into the fabric of the album and overridden with the bestial, raw roar of Krigeist himself.

In the music, one often hears that a repetitive static is created. This allows for other elements in the music to paint fantastic realms in the sound, allowing the listener to really sink into it as in an almost meditative state. Even the most furious parts have that calm hidden behind it in the form of melodic lines that gently weave through the ferocity that is Barshasketh. Sometimes the static sound almost feels like doom metal in its slow, foreboding progressions.

It combines the old and the new in the sound, which has excellent production. Interesting fact is that the titles are numbered, which creates the feeling of one piece of art, based in chapters. It works very well to express the long stretch in separate elements. This is an album that will surely appear in some End of Year lists. Great stuff!