My suitcase: Ensiferum interview

Back in 2010 I did an interview with Finnish metallers Ensiferum.  I was at that point a huge fan of their music and got to have  some interaction with Sami Hinkka, bass player of the band.

The original article can be found here.

  • Who are Ensiferum and what does Ensiferum mean (not just literally)?

Ensiferum is a bunch of people who love to write good music and play their music live. And its the biggest thing in our lives; its our passion, hobby, work and in a way. Its also a family for us.

Source: Press photo/Roar E-zine
Source: Press photo/Roar E-zine

•What is the biggest inspiration for Ensiferums Music (influences, inspiration)?

Roots of Ensiferums music are in folk music (Scandinavian, Irish etc.) and melodic death metal. When Markus found Ensiferum 1995 he was very inspired by folk music and old Amorphis, Dark Tranquillity etc.

•Ensiferum has been rather succesfull and on the forefront of the pagan and folk metal success of recent years. What makes Ensiferum different/unique to any other band?

Our music and ass kicking gigs. Ensiferum is one of the oldest bands in this genre and we really focus when we write music and not just repeat what others have already done. We challenge ourselves to give our very best on every album and every gig.

•In what way do you think the band has grown from debut album Ensiferum until recent release Far Afar?

Obviously lineup changes have changed the atmosphere inside the band but in a good way. Our spirit is very high and Markus is the founder of the band and he has been the main songwriter so musically things havent changed so much as you might first think.

•Can you describe the process of writing a new album to us, for example the latest Far Away?

Like I said earlier, we really put our minds to it when we compose so the process is usually very long. We all bring ideas to rehearsal room and then we arrange songs together.

•How serious are you about the themes and imagery of Ensiferum?

With therecent increase of popularity of folk and pirate themed metal, do you thinkpeople get into it for the wrong reasons?

It depends. Of course we are very serious about making music but we can also laugh to ourselves and being serious doesn’t mean that you cant have any blink in the corner of your eye. I dont really care about whats going on inside the genre, eventually there will be too many copycats and overall too many bands and folk metal will suffer the same fate as trash, death and black metal. But Ensiferum is one of the oldest bands so we have nothing to prove, we love making this kind of music and we will continue making it even after the hype is gone.

•How do you feel of the stigma of being fascist, nationalist or racist that many folk or folk themed bands have been struggling with, such as Moonsorrow or Skyforger? Has Ensiferum had issues with it?

We havent had too much problems with that and thats good because we have no political or religious points in our music. But I have to say that I think it sucks ass that some people label other people as neo-nazis, facists etc. without any reason. Because that stigma might hunt you long time even you dont have anything to do with that kind of ideologies.

•What kind of booze does Ensiferum have on their rider and do you drink it from horns backstage as well?

Hehe, we use pints. Vodka and beer, thats it.

•What is your favorite touring destination?

Impossible to say, there are some many great cities on every continent.

•You played with quite some cool bands, so which were the favorite ones?

All the bands that we have toured and shared tourbus have been great people. But Tyr and Moonsorrow guys are one of the best people I know and I would tour with them anytme again!

•Ensiferum is playing Fortarock this year, any bands you are going to watch live there yourselves?

As much as possible. I love summer festivals!

•How do you feel about the dutch audience?

Its always been great!

•Last question, you’ve made some awesome video’s that suited the vibe of

Ensiferum perfectly. Would you be up for making a movie soundtrack if it could be like your video’s?

It would be nice challenge to write music to a movie, who knows maybe someday…

Thank you for your time. I hope these questions were interesting so you enjoyed this.

With kind regards,

Guido Segers

Thanks Guido and take care! 🙂

Sounds of the Underground #9

So much good music, so little time. Let’s focus on some great underground metal that has been coming out lately. This time I listened to Winterfylleth, Alkerdeel/Nihill, Fogg and Goatwhore.

Winterfylleth – The Divination Of Antiquity 

Source: Metal Archives

I first came across Winterfylleth in the most unusual way, through a scholarly article on black metal by Caroline Lucas. I have to admit, that I have since also read some work of Miss Lucas, who writes catching and academic pieces. At first I felt reluctant to listen to this band, due to the white supremacist link in the article, which is ofcourse mainly refuting it. After reading the lyrical words about the band in Metal Hammer, I checked out Winterfylleth. They paint the English country in sonic patterns, describing its inherent complexity and beauty.

There’s a touch of grey skies and misty forests in the dense sound of Winterfylleth, which feels a bit like Wolves In The Throne Room. Granted, they sound very little like them, but the same love for their surroundings and the earth they live on is totally there. Listen to a song like ‘Whisper Of The Elements’ or the warm tones of ‘A Careworn Heart’. This is not your ordinary grimdark black metal band. Recently they also released a split with Drudkh, which might tell a bit more about where this band comes from. It’s a love that drives these guys, not hatred and not death, to make beauty. Beauty that unfortunately very little people will ever fully understand.

Alkerdeel/Nihill – Split

Source: Hypertension Records

The label Hypertension Records is releasing some excellent splits. They are named ‘The Abyss Stares Back series’ and this is prat IV. Combining the nihilistic onslaught of these two bands brings a record that is hard to listen to, but so rewarding in its ferocious katharsis. I mean, listening to this record feels like a journey through the dark pits of your own existence in some way. Facing the grim and dark reality of oneself through intensity and continuous sonic violence.

Alright, more detail to the two sides of this record. Dissonant tones anounce the start of Alkerdeel’s side. Threatening and dense atmospheric guitar sounds create a constant tension. The mad torrent of chaos that slowly envelops you is like the swirling chaos in which Azathoth dances according to Lovecraft. The wicked screams haunting you from all sides, while perpetual riffs seem to accelerate the speed in which you are flying about. Alkerdeel manages to sound both subtle and Celtic Frost-like blunt. The Nihill part contains swirling and intense black metal, so thick that it merges into a continuous swirling stream of sound. The songs surge ever onwards, creating atmospheric patterns woven through the pattern the rhythm spills out. The songs sound static in one moment and spiralling out of control in a wild crescendo on another. I can tell you its worth waiting for that new Nihill album in a few weeks.

CVLTnation is holding up the stream over here.

Fogg – Death

Source: Fogg Bandcamp

With a title that leaves no questions, you’d expect something more intense, but the foggy, fuzzy psych-doom of Fogg is just fine the way it is. The Texans play a dirty bit of music on this new record, with a lot of eerie reverb and wooly sound patterns. They sound a bit like the general generation of hipster garage/psych bands that has been enveloping the world in recent years. The difference is that these guys sound creepy and slightly evil in thier songs.

The sound is a bit oldschool and reminds me as listener a bit of bands like Blue Cheer with the full on aural attack.  Think of the primitive punk and metal sounds and that is somewhere in between where Fogg has its sound. Lazy, drugged out riffs swirl around in an attempt to grasp the spirit of the past. This is a perfect record for your friday afternoon, just to chill out and lean back a bit before the weekend finally hits.

Goatwhore – Constricting Rage of the Merciless

Source: Metalblade

The raging sound of Goatwhore is one that combines black metal raw with rock’n’roll power. Think of Venom and pretty much that is the closest you get to what this strange NOLA band sounds like. Yes, the band from New Orleans was part of the recent documentary on Noisey that was aired online. The music is played in a high pace with understandable, but barked vocals. Blistering and grim guitars rage throughout the song.

There’s a particular swag to the sound of Goatwhore, that distinguishes them from others. They might have made the album here that even Darkthrone didn’t feel comfortable releasing. Atmospheric in darkness but always full of speed and energy, full of vile words and satanic praise.  Oh, they were also pretty incredible live and such nice guys in person. That is the thing with this band, they are not being some strange act, just some guys playing some nasty metal.

Untypical Hiphop that sounds awesome.

Ok, this title works, better than the 20 word one I had before. I want to write a bit about hiphop from cool places where you probably never knew they made some nor how it sounded. Seems cool? Read on please! Let’s talk Lethal Dialect, Silibil N’Brains, Llwybr Llaethog and MC Lars.

Ireland’s Finest: Lethal Dialect

Irish hiphop is not really something to write home about. In fact, it has not really managed to make a good name for itself, which is thanks to documentaries like that one of RTE & BBC (that you can watch down here. The general impression the rappers in this video make is far from the bitches and bling that they seem to aspire to. What it does speak of is a genuine honest passion for making the music against all odds.

I kinda felt attracted to the irish accent and the general poetic sensibilities of the green island, so checking out some hiphop was not a big step. The first one I found that really appealed to me was Lethal Dialect. Generally considered to be one of the better rappers from the area of Dublin, this guy manages to make rhymes that sound deep and honest. The beats he tends to use are calm, laid back and characterized by a certain serenity that I find really appealing. The track I’d like to share is titled ‘The Sermon’.

The beat is hectic and calm at the same time. The slow raps let the words linger in the air for a moment before they are replaced by the next ones. Lethal Dialect sounds like a preacher, giving you a peace of the truth. It is however up to you to take it up or not. Do you like the sound of this? You can download the album for free here. Or just share it, he deserves it.

Original Pranksters: Silibil N’Brains

The boys who conned the music industry. Two guys from Dundee, making excellent hiphop but just having been born in the wrong place. Damn, that sucked so hard that they came back to London with a vengeance. But let me not spoil everything about that story by telling you. Better watch ‘The Hiphop Hoax’.  That as well, you can just watch on Youtube.

Now, we are a couple of years further and the boys have gotten back together to release some good jams that let you hear the passion for making real good hiphop the boys have. Their aim? To prove that their might have been a hoax, but that their skills were not a hype.

Packed with rude humour, hack’n’slash rhymes and funky melody lines, this is exactly what you’d expect from the dynamic duo. Self deflating, but never under achieving the song is just one of those on their debut LP ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’. Again, this is one to check out and yes, you can! Just not for free, unless listening to bandcamp is enough for you.

Call of the Wild: Llwybr Llaethog

Alright, contrary to the previous acts, this is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever heard. Imagine some Welsh dudes making hiphop over what sounds like Jean-Michel Jarre jamming out some tasty esoteric beats. All this is at the tea table, where biscuits are served. They have been around since 1984 however and come from the deep end of Wales, a town named Blaenau Ffestiniog. Once a thriving mining town, it was by then desolate and desperate. Surfing the waves of what may be called the Welsh cultural awakening, the band gained fame and a general series of confused looks.

So I don’t know if you should check this out. Fo rthe sake of giving them the credit they deserve, I think you should.

Nerdcore can rise up!: MC Lars

Ok, I’m a massive fan of MC Lars. His rhymes are out of this world intellectual and just supercatchy. Taking inspiration from third wave ska as much as he does from Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe, he is a unique rap artist that has released a big amount of records as yet. Being part of the Nerdcore movement, he put the Nintendo controller in the hands of MC’s.  Did I mention he was in Nerdcore Rising? Check that documentary out!

Apart from being a nerdy MC, Lars is also an English major who studied the aforementioned writers. Ergo, he knows enough about them to lecture about hiphop and poetry at them TED talks.

Alright, so here a track of MC Lars, who worked with Weird Al Yankovic, cementing nerdcore as the ultimate music for nerds who also love some tasty rhymes and beats. There is a certain cool sound to his raps and an intellectual twist.

So, that was some weird hiphop for you. Thanks for reading!

 

Sounds of the Underground #8 WoW Edition

For this edition of my look at new music I will go underground into the World of Warcraft and link to you the five records that made playing WoW most enjoyable. Therefor this post is dedicated to Kostas K.

Marduk – World Funeral 

Source: Metal Archives

Some albums are good for grinding. The blundering force of the Swedish death metal band has some added razorsharp guitar work that goes well with slaughtering a lot of enemies in WoW. Specially fitting for those who play a melee class I always felt, or a fireballin’ M.A.G.E. The sheer fury might not matche the questing though.

The songs pound ever onwards, unrelenting and full of rage. The harsh, barked vocals add that warlike feeling to the songs. Marduk is one of a kind I always think. They mix the atmospheric elements of black metal with the devastation of death metal in a unique way. Live it was less impressive I have to admit, but this band is definitely one of my WoW soundtrack ones.

Keep Of Kalessin – Kolossus

Source: Metal Archives

With ‘Kolossus’, the band from Norway has unleashed a melodic and epic masterpiece on the world. The record came out in 2008 and struck me immediately. Perhaps in some ways it was the gateway record for me to get into black metal in the first place. Particularly the song ‘Ascendant’ is a perennial favorite for me. One of the characteristics of the album is the tight sound. The record sounds well produced and clean, which makes it rather accesible.

The second thing is the enormous amount of catchy riffs that keeps pouring out of the speakers. Layered songstructures give space for a lot of those, creating a semblance of the distorted sound commonly used in black metal. It helps that this band looks like a bunch of Elven warriors. I played this music while questing/levelling a lot. Epic black metal is best metal!

Therion – Gothic Kaballah

Source: Metal Archives

Hearing ‘T.O.F. – The Trinity’ the first time opened my mind to a whole unknown side of heavy metal music and to Therion itself. Soon after I downloaded this album and later purchased it. I have listened to this music so endlesly that I pretty much knew every song by heart. I’ve seen Therion live since then 3 times, unfortunately two of those were after the release of ‘Sithra Ahra’ and one after ‘Les Fleurs Du Mal’ (a record I can not love…sorry).

If this band had not been recommended to me, I would never have found them. I’m pretty sure I would not have gotten heavily into Celtic Frost either then and maybe a lot of stuff would not have happened then. The songs are full of occult references, mysterious topics and confusing wordings. My favorite, I guess, has become ‘The Perennial Sofia’. No band really sounds like Therion and Gothic Kabballah is the most unique work they produced.

This record is one of the few that really are essential to my record collection. Without Therion, I would have missed out on so much beauty. I know some people find it easy to hate on them now, but to me they’ll always be a bright light in the scene.

Bolt Thrower – Those Once Loyal

Source: Metal Archives

I guess the whole idea of recommending this record had a lot to do with our guild name. Titled ‘The Angels Of Death’, there was an obvious link to the universe of Warhammer 40k and thus to Bolt Thrower. Their specific brand of death metal has never ceased to amaze me up to a few weeks ago when I saw them live. They’ve only affirmed their greatness to me. Though my favorite song is ‘World Eater’ from one of their first albums, the record I started listening to was ‘Those Once Loyal’. For some reason the order of songs was messed up in my mp3 list, so first was always ‘Anti-Tank (Dead Armor).

The sound is rather clean, compared to their original work, and embraces a continuous, pounding sound that gives you the feeling that a tank is about to over run you. Powerful rhythms and churning bass sounds pave the way for the onslaught that is Bolt Thrower. Particularly suited for the heavy grinding work (with a higher level char).

Ensiferum – Victory Songs 

Source: Metal Archives

Maybe the most WoW band out there, since their folk elements really have nothing to do with any folk music. A bunch of guys in kilts playing a blend of melodic death and power metal about wielding swords, drinking magic potions and sailing out to fight. We even had a tank called Ensiferum in the guild so that adds to the whole things. The epic songs with a big fun factor and not too much complicated elelements were great for a night of questing on your own and enjoying guild chat.

We also had a tank named Fluff, but that’s a whole different story… With this fun band I’ve come to the end of my WoW album list. When I started playing, I listened to a lot of shitty stuff during the levelling. I’m still levelling characters in WoW. Currently a Dwarf Shaman and a Night Elf Death Knight. Soon Warlords of Draenor will be out and I’ll level onwards alone.

But with these great tunes, perhaps more will join the cause.

 

The Things We Leave Behind

Oh but once we were young, and we were crass enough to care
But I guess you live and learn, we won’t make that mistake again, no
Oh but surely just for one day, we could fight and we could win
And if only for a little while, we could insist on the impossible

– Frank Turner ‘Love, Ire & Song’

I’d like to tell you a bit about a place called OJC De Werf, where I used to dwell and that is closing down in a while after 40 years. I stepped in there shortly before its 30 year anniversary and a lot has changed. Last night I thought back of those times.

Last night was a night full of memories, of drinks and remniscing about a past that may never have existed with my two oldest friends in the pub where I practically lived for a couple of years. Friends I fail to tell how much I care for them every time I see them. I wake up in the morning to do what I do now and that is living an adult life. Washing my car on saturday morning. The only thing I carry with me is a headache.

krant werf

There’s this phrase that has kept coming back to me for years, I guess it was  title of a song or a film: ‘Things we lost in the fire’. We lose parts of what we are and leave behind bits of ourselves while we grow and change ever so slowly. We are all flames that burn and we burn away what has ran out of material to fuel us. So was this part something I’m slowly leaving behind. I have started setting my alarm clockin weekends, getting up early to do shopping or go to the gym. Life is no longer one long string of waiting for one party after another. In that pub I’ve learned the worst sides of myself and the, granted that this may be an opinion not everyone shares, better ones. Everyone did, in a way and looking around the empty place, the vacant bar chairs and the meagre amount of half full glasses on the bar I feel everyone is still there.  Some part of them at least.

I miss them, all of them. Those people that challenged me with different views, attitudes and personalities. That were quick with a joke and getting you a drink when you were without one. We’ve all grown up, some of us into everything they wanted to be, some became everything they tried so hard not to be. I have to leave the answer to that for myself open for now, I’m not sure yet. What I am sure of is that this place had a huge influence on me and my personal development. Laughter, tears and everything else was there. Also some of the best live shows that probably pushed me to do the things I do in my spare time now, write about music (a lot, check out my facebook page).

198791_102849113129514_8080968_n

It’s hard to convey to others what that feeling is that I recall when sitting there on my bar stool with my mates. We talk about jobs, relationships and average stuff. Back in the day, we spoke about videogames, music and our grand plans to change the world. We all were going to change the world, there was a lot of idealism there. I have loudly proclaimed to be a communist, an anarchist and something totally different the other day. I guess not everyone felt that way and links the place to all those dreams, but I think some will. It was our place, we belonged there and it was home away from home. I’m different there, then what I’m like when I go to a bar in Eindhoven. There’s a carefree and crass mentality, no longer fitting with my adult status (again, I’m washing my car on saturday morning… what more do you need?). Some part of me that I left behind there I suppose.

I think of great friends I made there. Friends I rarely see anymore, but that know things about me that no one else knows. Things we shared once upon a time and that still linger somewhere in the back of our minds. I miss everyone. I still do and I would love to hear from you all. Maybe not over a pint of beer, but with a cup of coffee. Talking about where we are now.

We did the things we used to do last night and when I closed the emergency door behind me for possibly the last time, I knew I left that part of my life behind. We’ll always have those wonderfull, insane and sometimes ridiculous years and the experiences we shared. Sure, I’m romantisizing, but that’s what people do. It’s part of being human and we all were very much human in those days.

So if you like to get in touch, I’d love to.

 

The Reading of Books #4

Though I’ve been busy beyond busy, I’ve also tried to keep to reading one hour a day. Mainly because time spend reading is never time lost. Here’s what I read lately.

Chris Guillebeau – The Happiness of Pursuit

Source: Chrisguillebeau.com


I am particularly excited to tell you about this book. You might have read my blogpost ‘Ashley‘, which was my action inspired by reading this book. Also, this book inspired me to start my dream of interviewing a band from every country in the world. So, what is this book actually about and why am I so wildly excited about its content?

Chris Guillebeau travelled the whole world, looking to visit every single country. So he did and met along the way a lot of other people chasing dreams. He also blogged about it and started looking for other fanatics. The book describes the motivations and sense of purpose that are part of chasing some big idea. Some crazy dream that others find totally insane and mad. Without ever saying: Hey, here’s the definition of that ‘Happiness of Persuit’., Chris Guillebeau describes it. He makes the love and passion behind dreams tangible and relatable. I talked to people around me about this book and I noticed some people just didn’t get it. They thought a guy running 40 marathons in one year was just sick. I don’t, I get it and I’m eagerly looking for my true, big goal in this life.

Plutarch – The Age of Alexander
I’ve always had a love for history books. If you like to read those, the classics are always a great vantage point. I’ve started reading Herodotes once before, but that book unfortunately started falling apart slowly so I never finished it past a certain amount of chapters. I did however listen to the book at some point in my life so that was interesting. When I started getting into the Roman Empire again a short while ago, Plutarch turned out to be the obvious choice for the job. I enjoyed reading this book, though its dence writing is slow to get through.

Source: rugusavay.com

If you take your time however, this collection of biographic stories is a treasure of information and knowledge about our ancient past. Plutarch decided to write about combinations of figures., like Julius Ceasar and Alexander The Great, to legitimize the Greek era in the light of the Roman.  Penguin publishers decided to cut them up due to time areas. Which might seem like an odd choice, given it kinda takes apart the integrity of the original work. Still, the decision seems to be legit. This way the publisher was able to release the works in a chronological order. Ever tried to read Conan The Barbarian? That can teach you something about the value of chronology…  Wise lessons and vanity, the work is full of it. This is definitely worth the time of someone who loves history and the epic quality of some people in our past.

Seneca – On The Shortness of Life

Source: Wikipedia


After reading the Penguin Great Ideas book by Hannah Arendt about Eichmann, I got particularly interested in this series and ordered the first three books. Seneca was number one. Now obviously Seneca was not unknown to me obviously, having read about him and his place in history many times. This book however, never really relies on the cultural components of its time. The ideas about life that Seneca puts forward in his writing are easy to relate to. For example, he suggests one should not waste time on meaningless activities and that time spend studying philosophy is time used best.

The book contains two other essays, both are to be read like you read a very long letter. It is as if Seneca wishes to speak to us as readers, through this long letter, as if he is speaking to you like a teacher speaking to a student. It feels very much like being absorbed into an intriguing lesson and that is why this book is so good. I probably will try to read it again. I was very tired when reading it and I could not fully appreciate the long lessons about life, the universe and everything in both their elaborate description as well as their beautifull form.

Flowers & Moynihan – The Secret King: The Myth and Reality of Nazi Occultism

Source: Amazon

Boy, what a topic to write a book about. I was sceptical about this book at first because Moynihan is not the most clear cut figure. In fact, I consider him highly dubious in both his ‘academic’ way, but also in his personal politics. Though for the actual ‘reading’ part a lot of this book is simply useless, it offers a wealth of information on a topic that is very often shrouded in nothing but myth and obscure references to Guido Von List. The writers explain why most of those stories are bogus and end up with one figure that actually could be the source of most of these mythical accounts of what may have happened in Himmlers castle.

The figure in question is Karl Maria Wiligut. A peculiar soul who never wrote much and what he wrote was hard to obtain. The book is in that sense more a resource for these writings. The introduction tells more about what is actually the basis for focussing on Willigut and in the apendix one can find notable interviews. For those fascinated with the topic, this is,  next to Goodricke Clarke’s ‘The Occult Roots of Nazism’, an essential read.

Sounds of the Underground #7

In this little segment I review sounds of the underground, music you might not find unless you really go dig for it. From Nerdcore hiphop to depressive black metal, I love music. So check it out and maybe check the albums I checked out for you.

The Wolves of Avalon – Carrion Crows Over Camlan

Source: metal archives

So why pick their 2011 album over the 2014 release ‘Boudica’s Last Stand’? Well, I simply couldn’t get my hands on it. I’m sure this band of Britons had worries about becoming a laughing stock in the whole pagan genre. There’s a lot of things ‘off’ on this record, things that just don’t fit in with the regular sound of pagan black metal bands (under what banner they are apparently labelled). Firstly, the band is making more folk and epic orchestrated music than black metal. Secondly, vocalist Metatron (what???) has a bark that is more a raspy death grunt, like Skyforgers’ Peteris Kvetkovskis. It’s a bit not there.

Still the total package makes the band sound epic and daring. The vocals fit in with the different, folky sound. True, the bombastic sound is inevetably cheesy. The roaring orchestral sound reminds me of the records where Finntroll liked to use that as an intro (not as something to liven up their music).  Metal is the one genre however, where cheesy is not a problem. These guys seem genuine, not a bunch of Paganfest wannabees. That makes their cheesy alright and interesting.
PS: There’s a hint of national prideand historical inaccuracy, so steer clear if these things make you edgy.

Ides of Gemini – Old World New Wave 

Source: The Obelisk

I don’t know how to call the style of music that this the product of this LA trio. What tripped my sensors is participation of music journalist Jason Bennett in this and. It always is intriguing when elements meet and as a music journalist myself (I AM OPEN FOR YOUR PAYED JOBS! CALL ME!) I know how different my look at music is, compared to the one musicians themselves have. The sound is clearly occult, metal infused but also gently rubbing itself agains the cold wave bands of the 80’s, think Siouxi & The Banshees, Dead Can Dance and The Cure?

The slow pace and captivating vocals by Sera Timms are the red line throughout the hazy sounds of Ides of Gemini. Long flowing riffs and dreamy sounds. This is an intriguing record, but it might bore the metal fan who likes some sharper edges to his music a bit. The dreamy sounds for me do start being a bit difficult to stay focussed on after five or six songs. It has a certain static feeling to it, without much energetic moments. There is plenty of stuff happening in their music though, like the steady riffing with the wild drums on ‘May 22, 1453’ or the majestic opening of ‘The Adversary’. Oh, the song is not from the album but represents them well.

T.S. Eliot Appreciation Society – A New History

Source: website band

Seldom I have been so touched by music I picked up on Bandcamp, just because it has one of my favorite writers/thinkers in its name. The T.S. Eliot Appreciation Society is a one man singer-songwriter formation as it’s called. Organic, not entirely in tune, a bit too loud and a rough mix, together these elements make up for what is a warm and pleasant record with a melancholic feeling. It feels like the road, the traveller weary of walking and the heart tired of hurt.

Songs like ‘The Wicked Messenger’ and ‘Heydrich’ are my absolute favorites. I’ve been listening to the preceding EP’s ever since I first heard the music of Tom Gerritsen. Live they were delivered with the same passion that is tangible on the record. There’s a love and sincerity to the music that you can not fake or buy. I would really recommend this record to anyone who loves the guitar playing wanderer and authentic sounds.

Solstafir – Ótta

Source: Napalm Records

Sometimes it just takes a little more time for me to grasp the beauty of music that I hear. Solstafir is definitely one of those cases. I saw the band live a couple of years ago at Fortarock, which was a dreadful show. Every subtle element was blown away by the wind, the atmosphere was missing and the band never really connected with the audience. Their music on Ótta is made for autumn, to be listened to in a dark room, with the right lights and intimate atmosphere. Solstafir is a club band, not a outdoor fest group.

The music is not even that fierce and metal-like. There’s a subtlety ot it, a bit of mystery even. It’s as if the band sings about their land and has translated its unique qualities into song. Dreamy, organic and somtimes a little folky even, it’s as if the band has blended pagan metal with shoegaze or postrock, replaced the vocals and created a whole different beast. The more I listen to Ótta, the more lovely I find it. The Icelandic vocals I do not understand, but it is as if you feel them. The piano, the eerie sounds and misty clouds  of sound, with Solstafir you enter a different world entirely and it is brilliant.

Bolt Thrower, Morgoth, Vallenfyre @Muziekodroom, Hasselt

Source: Metalblade

It is a dreary sunday evening when we get in the car to drive down to Hasselt for an evening of old school death metal with Bolt Thrower. One long, straight road from Eindoven and then we cross a bridge, end up right next to a channel and there is the Muziekodroom. An awesome venue with the old feeling of excitement and danger attached to the experience for us as first time visitors. We get in and start enjoying the noise.

Vallenfyre
Having ex-members in their ranks from bands like At The Gates, Paradise Lost, The Haunted and what not, it must be clear that this band definitely has plenty of experience under their belts. The set is filled with quick jokes by vocalist Greg Mackintosh, about his ex-wife and other silly topics like religion. The death metal of them has an old school quality to it, but feels sludgy as if infused with the gothic and doom inflluences the bandmembers draw from their other groups.

Its interesting how they also pull of a grindcore track in the same vein as Napalm Death in the time of scum. The set is strong and convincing, but with a band fully aware of the sonic violence that is still to come. Taking it easy on the crowd seems to have been the mission, but that doesn’t mean not having fun.

Morgoth
The German band Morgoth has had many names, split up a bit and got together again because they just can not give it up. Well, why should they? The Tolkien inspired group is clearly in the mood to get the audience pumped with their bulky no nonsense sound, pounding and spitting out song after song, giving of a slight punkrock/oi! vibe while at it. Playing songs from over two decades of metal, the band surely has not lost its energy.

Funny element is the well ment enthousiasm of vocalist Marc Grewe, who is obviously of the generation that didn’t fully master the English language, which leads to some funny moments. He never stops firing up the stage with songs dedicated to the other bands, to oppose racism and such and just by jumping up and down and shouting. The music sounds less complex and dense, but is entertaining for sure.

source: Muziekodroom

Bolt Thrower
With an epic melody playing, the band enters the stage. The Warhammer 40k inspired banner decorates the back of the stage, where the band members position themselves, all smiles and cheerfull. Though the band hasn’t released an album in almost ten years, the name remains one of the house hold names for the death metal genre. Starting the set quickly, mainly frontman Karl Willets stands out for his endless smiles and joy. Pictures with fans, hugs and all, everyone is having a ball.

The real kick-off for the set is the obvious ‘World Eater’, pounding ever onwards like a huge all-crushing siege tank. The wide choice of songs from their back catalogue gives the band plenty of liberty to bring a bit from everything. The steady rhythmic guitar play brings a tranquil vibe over the stage, even when heavy songs like ‘Anti-Tank’ make the Muziekodroom shake on its foundations. The steady rumble of the drums makes heads bop and fists rise.

From the epic ‘The IVth Crusade’, to the brawling ‘No Guts, No Glory’, Bolt Thrower could just do whatever they’d do in the rehearsal space and still conquer the venue with their war inspired songs. The tight playing and energetic performance make fan favorites like ‘Warmaster’ (another Warhammer song!) and ‘The Killchain’ to a great experience. This batallion still conquers, wherever they go.

This review was published on Inlog.org

Much Busy, Such Happenings

I’ve been busy, so much lately
That every time I get some time to spend
I end up drunk or sleeping in
And I miss you, you’re busy too
We call each other up, when we’re messed up
And say we’ll meet in the New Year.

– Frank Turner, ‘St. Christopher Is Coming Home’

Wow, so yeah that was a long silence. I’m dreadfully sorry for that, but life sometimes just catches up on you. I’ve stuffed the free time I had with playing some WoW and reading books. There was not much I have to say, so that explains a lot.

Source: The Sleeping Shaman

So what is new? I finally purchased tickets for the one and only Roadburn festival. That was a pretty hefty purchase. As most people know, I usually visit shows and festivals as a journalist and thus my only expense is drinks and food (and merch, lets be honest, I love myself some merch). Roadburn is however something special and I need to witness it. I got to chat with Walter for a moment, might get to do something for their blog if he’s keen on it, so that would be pretty awesome. So much awesome!

The bad stuff is that I also had some costs for the car this month and a fine for parking, while standing a few meters past the sign that basically explains why I shouldn’t be fined. Like, what? Yes. Something like that.

On good matters, I did write my first PhD proposal. Not that I reckon to have huge chances, but I personally feel that actually applying was already a victory for me. A lot of oppertunities seem to present themselves, my girlfriend found a job and more might come. It’s a matter of staying on top and riding the waves.

I’ve also found out I’m rather closed as a person. I thought I overcame that years ago, but I don’t open up, am super defensive and not ablet o make proper connections with other people. This is something to work on. Well, time to start doing that in the next few months.

Should we be moral relativists?

Source: Sytereitz.com

When we answer this question on moral relativism, even there we could be right or wrong based on from where it would be answered. At the core of this lies the idea that truth has two faces. The first would be facts, facts we can all perceive and describe as real and part of the world we live in. The second would be the relative truth, which is related to how one believes the world ‘ticks’. By this I mean, that the views inherent to how we perceive the world, are relative to the beholder. With this argument I’ll proceed to look at morality.

Morality can also be described as something double in the sense how we perceive it. We see morality from our point of view as something that should be universal, but we know it is not. Still we’d be hard pressed to accept the idea that murder would be agreeable in different cultures or situations, sitting in the comfortable position we are in and reading this. So we are aware that our moral views are not universal, however we are not able to accept this fully. In this, relativism poses a problem in itself. But this is not the core problem when speaking of morality, but a problem of the ‘I’ which always mediates between us and the ‘world’.

So basically, assuming relativism is the way to go, this moral idea leaves a big problem in an organized world and society: there is no way to uphold any law. However, this may be the way to fit in relativism with a general morality. Earlier I posed the idea that murder could be ok in different cultures or situations, but at the core everyone believes certain acts, like murder, are bad. We also believe that stealing is bad, but it’s ok in certain situations. From this we may deduce that there is a general view on things that are bad, simply because they are harmful to others. More harmful in fact, than the good it brings. For example, if I’m starving and I’d steal a bread, my life would be saved, but the shopkeeper would loose 1 euro. There’s no question about the balance here.

So this leaves us with basic ideas, about what is wrong and what is right. Murder and theft are bad, but when I’m starving, theft might be excusable. Exactly there is the place we find for relativism, right outside the core moral judgements. Stealing remains bad, but the parameters we uphold to decide on a measure how bad it is exactly can vary between cultures, situations and moral visions. To an extent this is how national law systems already function and what seems plausible as a way of combinining a rigid and objective law system with the relativity of moral judgements.

Now, why would we not let the moral relativism reign? There’s the simple reason of it’s randomness, there would be no general law possible if we let go of the idea that some things are just wrong and unacceptable. If this would be a more fair and better way to go, then we would feel the central authorities on justice are repressing us.

I can’t remember what this was for.