Sounds of the Underground #6

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.

HOD – Book of the Worm 

source: Hod bandcamp

Violent, intense riffs open up the new album by black death band HOD on ‘When The Ghouls Feed’. The daring sound of the Texas is definitely not for the feeble listeners and gnaws away at your eardrums. Unrelenting the band slashes and burns through their songs like ‘I Am Destroyer’ and ‘Death Whores’. Musically this is the black coffee I need around 11.30 in the morning when the lunch break begins to sound very attractive and motivation is low.

There’s a specific raucous and energetic feeling to the combination of Death and black metal that comes close to a clean sounding grindcore record, without the attempt to mask bad instrumental prowess by layers and layers of distortion. Not that these guys need that, they sound tight as a chokehold on ‘Beneath the Mountains Of The Scorpion’. What their whole message is eludes me, the titles seem to be pissed off and angry, but also a bit weird. No matter, the record is awesome.

Home is Gone – Triptych

Source: Home Is Gone bandcamp

Nothing like some bleak, minimalist black metal to shake up your day. I’ve enjoyed my listening experiment around 11.30, so I continue by checking out Home Is Gone from New York. The cover alone is amazingly minimalist. Like the three panel painting the title refers to, it has 3 songs of uncompromising metal. Windy distortion and almost blown away screams make up an almost comforting melody. That is however hidden in the mist.

The end result feels very minimal, very little is actually happening apart from the careful weaving of a tapestry of sonic force, that makes up something totally different. I feel it’s as those huge parades where everyone holds up a coloured square to form an image. That’s how the seperate sonic endeavours compile the warm sound that is the end result of this beautiful, but brief record.

MC Frontalot – Question Bedtime

Source: wikipedia

What? No Metal? Yes, it’s time for some nerdcore hiphop with the new release from my favorite MC. Rocking some highly intelligent lyrics, complex rhymes and corky homebrew beats, MC Frontalot has invented the genre and put himself at the forefront of it for years. So we have a quirky list of songs that critisize a lot of things, like disagreeing with your bedtime as an expression of the democratic concept of disagreeing with authority and justice. It’s funny, but there’s always a validity, relating to the real world.

There’s a bit more soul to this record, compared to previous straight up flows it seems. Frontalot always focusses on great rhymes and very, very catchy chorusses. I mean, they are sometimes so wrong that they’re awesome. Some skits are in between, to raise the fun level even further. MC Frontalot makes a lot of fun about himself too. So why would you check out this CD? Well, I love hiphop, I’ve said so before and written about it. I do however, not have a gun or deal drugs, nor do I have a lot of  bitches hanging around. I do play WoW, love Star Trek, enjoy watching hockey, reading books and feeling Irish in the Irish pub. Most importantly, I’m a full on geek who reads science for fun. So I love hiphop that speaks to that. This is just the latest album, where the Front reaches a whole new level of weird.

The Scintilla Project – The Hybrid
I’ve always had a weakness for Saxon and their vocalist Biff Byford. His epic style was always quite an attraction to me. The band he started on the side, inspired by a sci-fi flick titled Scintilla, was interesting to me for that reason. However, it is not really something I’ll advise you to check out. It really was not a good idea.

The old voice of Biff gives everything an epic edge, but the cheesy piano’s and extra singers just make this a drowsy Disney soundtrack with very little balls and power. Let me put it to understandable words. Why did no one like the albums Maiden did with Blaze? Well, this is it. The overproduced sound makes the riffs into ready made candy bars of artificially flavoured goods. Nothing good comes of this record, trust me.

If you don’t like metal, then probably this is your album though. I’m sorry, perhaps for those who really dig the most mellow songs of Therion?

Gone

Now you’re gone
I realize my love for you was strong
And I miss you here,
Now you’re gone
I keep waiting here by the phone
With your pictures hanging on the wall

– Basshunter, ‘Now You’re Gone’

Yes, it’s the first night in a long time when I’m alone again. An excersise for what might be the future if everything goes as planned. My girl is in Brussels for an internship and I hope fully that she’ll get it. Still it is a bit frightening, to be alone with Lenny the cat. It is the warmth next to me in the bed, the little things I notice when I get home, the pack of coffee milk that should have been put back into the fridge…. Those are the things I miss now.

It’s only for three days now, for a training that may get her an internship. Maybe she’ll come home on friday and nothing will happen. If she gets it, what would be awesome, she’ll be moving to Brussels for atleast the weekdays and for a year. Now, there is one way out of my canundrum. That would be a job in Brussels, moving there and living our life there from now on. I wouldn’t mind I think.

Source: Quoteswave

I’m so proud she got there. I will try to not let my fears get in the way of that. We’ll be fine, change is always a great thing because it shakes up the status quo you’ve started growing accustomed to. If they actually come, I’ll be sure to post about it when this becomes an option.

Probably with a better bit of lyrics. I do actually like Basshunter, sorry, guilty pleasure.

The Reading of Books #3

It’s been holiday times, so I had time to read some more than normally. I always love to see the pile I’ve gotten through afterwards. Currently enough other things to read and listen fill my shelves, so time to get on it.

Charlotte Brönte – The Professor

source: amazon

There is something specifically cozy about reading books by the likes of Charlotte Brönte. It feels like this book requires you to have a cup of tea or coffee with it and really get cozy with a blanket and some nice singer-songwriter (preferably British) playing on the radio. The story is the inner thoughts and experiences of a man, devout of real heritage, who flaunts his unwanted families offers to make his own fortune in the world. It’s a story that takes us from the grimy industrial towns of 18th century Britain to the warm city of Brussels where he finds occupation as a teacher.

It is a story of character building and growth, of love and loneliness and in the end of  a righteous set of affairs happening. While I wouldn’t recommend this as a very complex work that completely blows you away, it is nice to just feel cozy and homely once in a while.

Ryszard Kapuscinski – The emperor 

Source: Rastafari.homepage.eu

Many people might know Haile Selassie as a figure that is much revered in reggae music by the rastafarians. He was also the last emperor of a 1000 year dynasty in Ethiopia. A reformer and totalitarian in one, the man could not read or write, but ran a country as effective as possible in the limited time that was given to him as a ruler.

I bought this book in Poland, due to it having  a Polish author and also a topic of interest to me. It gathers up stories of the courtiers from Haile Selassie after the revolution. It was quite a dangerous undertaking to gather these stories in a country ravaged by internal strife, corruption and crime. Still it paints a clear image of an impossible empire that lasted much longer than it would have, it not for the smart rule of an emperor who wanted to bring together tradition and progress in an impossible marriage.

We speak of a man who dreamed of a united Africa, while maintaining an underfed population and an ever expanding nobility. A man who built palaces in the desert, while drinking water was not obtainable. He built highways and universities, but ruled without pen and paper. An amazing journey to the past.

Hannah Arendt – Eichmann and the Holocaust: It was sheer thoughtlessness that predisposed him to become one of the greatest criminals of the period.

It is hard to say something about this book. Let’s start by saying I purchased it at the Jewish History Museum in Warsaw. Tight security and still not fully open for the public, it is a book about the aftermath, about Eichmann who was considered responsible for what we now know as the Holocaust. Arendt describes a man who is a true bureaucrat, a man who loves procedures and papers and has little to no actual intellect to guide him. Stuttering and muttering his way through life, only being understandable when uttering movie one-liners, all the way to the gallows in Jerusalem.

Arendt analyses the stupid and sometimes unconscious and silly kind of evil, committed by people who just don’t think. She also discusses if it was right what happened to Eichmann. Did Israel have the right to just execute the man on their own ground? No, they did not and they knew it. If he should be executed in the end? Maybe he was the neck that had to carry the weight for all those thousands of bureaucrats who ‘just did their job’. I find it hard to judge, but so does Arendt, who leaves the reader to form an own verdict. Was this right? Was Eichmann guilty or was he just a victim of the zeitgeist? Did he ever fully understand why he was walking to the gallows? We can ask ourselves this and maybe become slightly better people ourselves in the process.

Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities

source: Ecenglish.com

I guess this might be the most important work of Dickens apart from the fairy tales. Maybe it is not, I found that it was very poignant. Dickens shows the other side of the Revolution in France as an event that created an upheaval in society even though it might have rational and righteous causes. Dickens makes the common people picturesque and the nobility sensitive and full of class, but also gives a distinct charm to both. He doesn’t judge I feel, in his book, about the situations in France and England and whatever he may think of it.

The tale of Two cities juxtaposes the city of Paris and London with one another to the effect of showing the differences and also the effect. In truth, the English royalty reformed and reshaped with the social changes. France missed the ball on that and got itself into a nasty revolution that ended it’s royal family. Not that much changed. After the terror new tyrants arose and spend fortunes on war.

Still, the book deals with the small people. It has the romance and sacrifice of the times, but also stupidity, rigid rebellion and vengeance. Everything is in there, except lazers. I think this is a book that everyone should read and try to learn something about opposing views. Mostly that making enemies only brings grief.

Grey Days

My eyes seek reality
My fingers feel for faith
Touch clean with a dirty hand
I touched the clean to the waste

– Metallica, ‘Low Mans Lyric’

Depression can be crippling sometimes. It makes me end up staring at walls, not even screaming at them, just staring at them. I’ve started reading a lot lately, currently enjoying the great book ‘The Happiness of Pursuit’, by Chris Guillebeau, which has given me a lot of good thoughts. The book deals with finding goals, finding things that really matter to you and then pursuing them. I like that idea a lot, it sounds so powerfull, so invigorating.

Source: Wazafied.blogspot.nl

In the meantime I’m stuck where I’m at and not seeing where to go. I’ve received the results of my personality test and they were not too pretty either. I pretty much am stuck between ‘oppositional’ and ‘avoiding’. Probably I’ve changed bits of that, but I’m not sure where the whole change is going if I don’t find a purpose that I want to follow. I have the accepted research proposal for Helvete magazine (scientific mag about metal), which I should embrace. It’s only a little thing, but it would be a great step for me as a person and affirm my capacities. I don’t seem to be the fast thinger, so I’m also reading a book on that.

I noticed that I’ve been getting reclusive, to the point of me almost hiding from colleagues and friends. I’m even hiding at home from my cat and my girlfriend. When I’m asked what’s wrong, I have to answer truthfully: “I honestly wish I knew…” That’s the worst about it, there’s no puzzle to fix or quest to complete to get through this. I hope the Incubate weekend will bring me a bit more energy and happiness. I’ve started feeling sick today, also not good. Let’s hope it passes soon. It’s hard to describe the feeling of that depression. It’s like a clowd is at the edges of my vision, also pressing down on my brow, making me frown deeply. There’s a general unwill to speak, I’d rather whisper or not talk at all actually. Everything looks black, there’s a powerless feeling in my body and mind. It’s truly grey days I experience. Anyone recognizes that?

I have the desire to do something with my life and on the other hand I want security. I want to make sure I can pay the bills and I can take care of my little family here. I also want to do stuff, go beyond what I’ve done this far. I feel powerless when it comes to that. What can I do? What is it that I really enjoy? I love working with people, it is my only true source of energy. Perhpaps there is my hook, so to say, to find something. I also love writing. I enjoy penning down stupid crap for hypothetical readers on my blog.

Today I got a call from a TV show about my tattoo piece on  The Post Online. I have to say, I didn’t read any comments, because they can really unnerve me. Same goes for facebook discussions, I avoid them. No reason to get angry all the time. It was a good chat on the phone, I had answers to the questions and I think I was interesting. We’ll see, it could really help my carreer. I also was turned down for a copy writer job and as the writer for Roadburn today and for some reason that weighs  a hundred times more on my conscience.

Glimmers of hope, they’re totally there. A good weekend of music and then again to gym and such, it’ll do me good. This book too, it’s really great. Maybe I’m just overly tired. I’ll just get a good nights rest. Thanks for sticking with me.

Sounds of the Underground #5

Time for some new revelations from the underground. I feel forced to not pick mysterious bands that no one has heard of this time, since there simply happen to be some brilliant bands I need to tell you about.

If you happen to have recommendations for me, they’d be most welcome. Leave me a comment!

Earth – Primitive and Deadly 

Source: echoesanddust.com/

The band from Washington has been a defining and genre-shifting force for ages and thus already captivated my attention in the past. Particularly the album ‘The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull’, from 2008, was amazing to me. Every album the band has produced since their conception in 1989 has been brilliant and different. This one has captivated me so much, that I’ll go into every song for a bit.

Starting with “Torn By The Fox of the Crescent Moon”, the cascading riffs wash down slowly but full of foreboding. The colour of the music indeed feels pale like the moon. Darkness is in the end the main element with which Earth is playing, but there’s a light as well in that darkness, which is tangible in this songs beaming peaks that pierce the clouds. The description of a serpentine approach in music is embraced to the fullest in “There Is a Serpent Coming”, which has some riffs that give the song a movie soundtrack quality. Mark Lanegan with his charcoal black rasp provides the repetitive vocals on this track, that is filled with anticipation and warning. Bleak sound is embraced by warmth in the voice and music, which leads to a magical musical experience.

“From the Zodiacal Light” features the warm and captivating vocals of Rabia Shaheen Qazi from the band Rose Windows. Though musically far distincts, the vocals show similarities with those of The Devil’s Blood. Mystical words over soaring music and droning rhythm. Southern rock flavor is definitely detectable in the weeping guitar sounds of ‘Even Hell Has Its Heroes’. The sound seems to slow down while the chords are reverberating in the air. It’s the sound of the desert, with the sun shining in your eyes and twisting your vision, hallucinating and shrill sounding. The slow beat dragging on in the endless space around you. A similar sound can be heard on ‘Rooks Across The Gates’, featuring once again Mark Lanegan on vocal duties. This landscape is bleaker though and after almost ten minutes it just fades away.

Oh, check this interview by Steel for Brains with Dylan Carlson.

the xx – the xx / the xx  – Coexist

source: wikipedia

When the debut of this band came out, I was very keen to get my hands on it and review their sounds. I thought it was beautiful, haunting, cool and the sound of a drive through a city in the very early morning or in the deep of the night. Recently I got back into the xx and decided to listen to that other album, which I sadly ignored at the time.

The hazy youthful sound of the debut already demonstrated something unique that probably would not be reproducable. The band was on that fragile moment between youth and adulthood, expressing the sublime angst of that point in an excellent album.  That foggy, misty feeling of an early day, fresh and new, was captivated in the sounds on that first record.

That is the downfall of Coexist. Though it takes on the mellow beats, the minimal sound and gentle tones with whispered vocals, it lacks that fresh sound. The crisp break of dawn has been lifted and the monring sun has made the fog evaporate, it feels like a rehashed version of that moment when the fog was on the leaves and the cold was still in the air. When the words are whispered, no clouds appear from the mouth, just sounds. This time the angst is replaced by adulthood, certainty and a carreer. No longer is the magic in the air. It was a moment in time, that has now past. We still have the songs though.

Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden

source: Stereogum

The epic doom of Pallbearer is much appreciated in the world that adores it, so that makes it worth mentioning on itself. I like the epic quality of their sound, which reminds me a bit of Candlemass, even if it’s only a feeling for me as a listener. The clean and strong vocals are a main reason for that opinion I would think.

Oh, the pallbearer is part of the ensemble that carries a coffin. That’s kinda the drag they put in their doom, minor and sadness. It’s really everything you could want from a doom record, including its accessability. This is easy going stuff, nothing harsh, just bleak and heavy as you would want it. If you are even slightly into doom and you love feeling a bit sad with some heavy, slow guitarwork, check this band out for real.

High point is in my opinion the song ‘The Ghost I Used To Be’. Check it out. All crushing riffs, soaring guitars and picturesque vocals and strenght. Power metal meets doom? I don’t know, but this song I love.

source: austin chronicle

Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love

What got me tuned in to the band Perfect Pussy was not their music, but their charming singer Meredith Graves. An interview passed around on UPcoming (with a tacky headline in that ‘You won’t believe’.. line they’ve been pumping out like there’s no tomorrow), where she undressed while being interviewed. It was so captivating, that you forget that a beautiful lady is undressing. She spoke about punkrock, identity, looks and the self.

The music reflects that peculiar nature in a way I think. No distortion, just violent, wild passion is what the music expresses. An eclectic mixture of punkrock, noise and lofi rockmusic. The sound is energetic, uncompromising and light. The jangling guitar and the rattling drum form a warm tapestry of ragtag sound, that for some magical reason still sounds like a song.

Songs like ‘Big Stars’ and ‘Dig’ feature the almost proclaiming vocal style of Graves in their best shape. Powerful and relentless blurting out words of defiance. It is a great record and a great band that doesn’t seem to have many problems being out there and against the norm.

My Suitcase: AYS

Source: Reverb nation

Back in 2010 I did an interview with German punk-nutters AYS. Back then they were the first band on the bill for the Persistence tour, for which we did a whole dossier on ROAR E-Zine. We would write about pretty much every band on the bill and I got to do an interview with AYS.

The interview was rewritten in Dutch by me and can be found over here on the website. This is the raw interview. By now AYS is pretty much one of the leading punkrock acts from Germany, so well worth seeing where they were at in 2010.

Who are you and what is your job in AYS? And how are you doing?

Yo, my name is Gummi. I’m doing the lead guitar and a lot of the songwriting stuff in AYS. I’m fine, but I have to go to work today… that sucks!

What does AYS stand for? And what does it represent for you? How did you pick this name?

AYS stands for “Against Your Society” and was founded 2002 by our singer Schommer, who played bass, our drummer Pietz, and two other guys. One of them is our ex-guitar player Felix who left the band some months ago. They were playing melodic punk stuff like Good Riddance or Pennywise. After some lineup changes I joined the band in march 2007 as a bass player and our second guitar player Henne joined us at the beginning of 2008. Our newest member is Chris of Black Friday 29 who replaced me playing the bass when i changed to the guitar. We all have our roots in being Punks. So this name is still representing our punk attitude, being against racism and also not being satisfied what’s going on in this world. And of course: ACAB

What has the band accomplished this far? Who have you played with and where?

In the actual lineup we released an EP (“The Path Of Ages” – 2009) and two LPs (“Wreck My Soul” – 2008) and the newest one is called “Eroded By The Breeze” which was released 3 months ago. There are some old releases but they are not worth to be mentioned.

We played 7 tours in the last 3 Years and saw a lot of cool parts of europe like belgium, netherlands, france, spain, czech, poland, austria, switzerland, sweden, norway and england. At the moment we’re planning some tours and trips for 2011. In february we’ll be back in the UK and we’ll do an Australia/Malaysia Tour in April/May.

On our shows and tours we played with bands like No Turning Back, Sick Of It All, Have Heart, Carpathian, Trash Talk, Rise & Fall, Black Friday 29, Ritual, Born From Pain, The Effort, Swamp Thing, and too much more to name them all. Propably we played with almost everything what’s famous up to day and became friends with a lot of them.

What does AYS Sound like, what are your main inspirations?

I think it took a lot of time to find the sound that we’ve got today. It’s very desperate and pissed. We tried a lot to find out what we want to do, invested a lot of time and I think everybody who knows our old releases can see our development.

I think it’s important to be kinda incomparable and don’t sound like every second existing band what’s really hard because there are a lot of them who are doing a great job. Certainly we are inspirated by everything we listen to, which is not just Punk and Hardcore music.

How did you come together as a band?

Schommer, Pietz and I know each other from school, hangin around, skating, drinking, etc for 8 years. In our hometown was a quite big punk/hardcore scene at that time.

Henne is a friend of us for about 4 years and we know each other from shows in our area and his brother Chris used to play in Black Friday 29 who became good friends of us in the last 2 years.

What’s the German Hardcore scene like?

The german hardcore scene is pretty big. A lot of the kids are doing bands, setting up shows or do labels, fanzines, etc. Also they just support bands by showing up on shows whats propably the most important part. A lot of bands from oversea like our scene and appreciate the support of the german kids.

You’ve got a new album out, called Eroded By the Breeze, what can you tell us about it?

“Eroded By The Breeze” has got a tough and pissed sound combined with melancholic melodics and a lot of experimental parts. It got 13 Songs with a 35 minute playtime.

It was released on the 17th of August 2010 on LP and CD by Cobra Records (LP – Europe), Coretex Records (CD – Europe), Purgatory Records (LP – UK) and soon on Dead Souls Records (CD – Australia).

How did the writing and recording process go. What were your inspirations for this album?

After the release of our “Path Of Ages” EP in July 2009 we didn’t know how we could beat it. We had the goal to write those songs on the same level as “Snowblind” and “Nemesis”, which where re-recorded for the LP again, too. But after 10 Month of writing new stuff we we’re very satisfied with the outcome. The songs hadn’t been finished completely when we arrived at studio and the best ideas we had were while the recordings, breaking edge, playing Super Street Fighter 4, watching football and hooligan Films and eating a lot of pizza. We had a lot of time to try different sounds, settings and effects.

Who does your artwork?

Our singer Schommer is doing all the artwork stuff for us. He also made some designs for other bands as well, but at the moment he’s very busy. Schommer is studying media design so he decided to concetrate on that and just doing sick artworks for us in his freetime.

Who’s the guy with the AYS tattoo on the inside of his mouth?

That’s Schommer, too!

Apparently you guys bring a wicked show to the stage. What can people expect from you guys live?

A short set with the most possible energy we could give and hopeful withouth broken strings… fuck that.

Who are you going to watch at Persistance tour? What bands do you recommend to people?

I’m definitely looking forward to Cruel Hand. I really like their new album and of course their live shows. Also i’m glad to see the guys of Sick Of It All again, cause we just played some dates on their last europe tour together. And last but not least Blood For Blood, I think I don’t have to comment that!

If you don’t know our Album yet, you should really check it out. But you also should take an eye on bands like “Brutality Will Prevail” (UK) and the rest of the Purgatory Records bands. If you don’t know our friends “Carpathian” from Australia check their new EP “Wanderlust”, “Ritual” just released some new stuff, too, and also our friends “Man Overboard” from the US who will be on their first europe tour soon.

Sounds of the Underground #4

I listen to music, so you don’t have to. You can decide if you want to check out what I’ve been checking out by reading what I thought about these sounds. All taken from the underground, these are the sounds for this edition. I will write a new intro text next time.

Saor – Aura

source: metal-archives.com

Scotland offers us some great music now and then. It normally does require you to accept the peculiar accent and rugged elements in it. On the front of black metal, I didn’t hear much about the North. If the first connection you make to their black metal sound is Saor, you’re in for a good one, like your first fried candybar. The music feels like the landscape of Scotland, with the subtle folk melodische woven into the fabric of the land as well. Powerful and subtle at the same time, the music offers a timeless journey.

The band describes their music as Celtic metal, which I think does justice to its organic, natural sound. The songs feel like  a storybook, the album is like a unity. Focus seems to be a ful immersing in the atmosphere Saor has in mind for their listeners, which works out great in my humble opinion. The departure from the sound they embraced under their previous moniker Àrsaidh  seems to have been left behind partly, continuing the whole postrock vibe, but making things more intense and rougher. I’m totally impressed by this, by the way One Man, project. It will blow you away. Andy Marshall, also known from Falloch, did a great job.

Jungle Rot – Terror Regime

Source: Metal-archives.com

So today I learned that the band who’s name I’ve seen around a lot of times is a death metal band. I also learned that Jungle Rot is a nasty disease that yields a lot of gruesome imagery, which I’ve never been too crazy about. Sorry, I’m not into gore and I really can’t help it. This band is frigging brilliant though.

Though called a death metal band, there’s something different going on here. It’s been called death rock in some spots and I guess some comparisons to that rock’n’rolling style of Entombed cannot be discarded. There’s a fun factor to their sound, the band also happens to have been around forever (well since 1994). The clean producation makes this a perfect album to drum along to, slap your air-guitar like it’s ‘yo bitch’ and just bang your head to.  It just sounds tight and in my opinion very accesible. I wrote before that I’m reluctant to listen to death metal and I haven’t really found my hook on the style yet. This band is not on Victory Records without reason. Their sound is almost poppy to me, like many of the hip metalcore/deathcore stuff, but simply more real and pure. Enjoyable record taht I would recommend to most metal fans who also need to find a gateway record for DM.

Source: Metal-Archives.com

Tryptikon – Melana Chasmata

I love Celtic Frost. I don’t know if it was the amazing titles of their albums (not the stage names, Tom G. Warrior still sounds like it was made for gay porn), or their distinctly oldschool sound with touches of genius distinctive experiment or perhaps just their aura of grandeur. I didn’t like Tryptikon much at first though, but it grows on you and so does Melana Chasmata.  I’d love to somehow bash the establishment a little, which is perfectly possible with this record since it somehow doesn’t pack the punch it was intended to have. That doesn’t make it less awesome.

Let’s call it a doom record, translating sludge to the Swiss bands flavour with the old gothic demeanor.  Tryptikon never sounds dirty like a damp, grim black metal band. Nor does it feel like the abandoned graveyard where doom bands lurk. It dwells in castles and cathedrals, in grandeur and might with a touch of despair and decay. There is a nobility to the sound of this band that has a lot to to with its frontman. I think that Fischer doesn’t want to shock, but just show the stories he wishes to tell to the fulles. Leaving nothing out, holding nothing back. That is the raw core of the record that delivers its powerful message. So yeah, everything stays a bit mid-pace. Heavy metal is not reshaped, but there’s refinement here.

Source: Wikipedia

Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn

I’ve enjoyed listening to Summoning for years, but it has always been on and off. I was amazed to discover bands playing music inspired by Tolkien and making it seem dangerous, exciting and totally new. I reckon I wasn’t ready for the atmospheric black metal at first from these Austrians. Now perhaps I am, but maybe their 2013 album just leaves behind a lot of the danger. It almost seems like a soundtrack when listening to it. Less raw, more atmosphere and synthesizers.

The songs are filled up with the mysterie from Tolkiens ‘Silmarillion’, inspired by the daring of the Mariner Earendil who sailed into the unknown. Some moments its foreboding, others gnashing and grim but always captivating and beautiful. I guess it might sound pretentious to those who are a bit purist about their black metal, but as far as I’m concerned, this album is a masterpiece that combines the best of ambient, atmosphere and black into one mesmerizing whole.

That was all for this time, lets see what else we can pick from the underground next time.

Anykščiai / Panevėžys #2

After a lovely day in Panevėžys, it was time to see something more. Our lovely hosts took us and their two kids for a ride to the beautiful town of Anykščiai. The town lies in the north-east of Lithuania.

After quite a drive from Panevėžys, we arrived at the church in the middle of the town. It was possible to climb the tower here, to get a good view of the valley in which the town is situated. Everywhere you find the names of two writers who lived in this town and had a major impact on Lithuanian literature. Those are Antanas Baranauskas and Jonas Biliūnas. One has to take in mind that Lithuania has no such things like theme parks, so what you do find is a map of the town and surroundings, full of little things to do. This is really a fun day for the kids, since they get to see and learn a lot.

some good titles there!
some good titles there!

After the tower we cross the street for the Museum of Angels. A collection of paintings can be found here and a collection of angel statues. It’s not as impressive as it’s counterpart ‘The Devil Museum’, but that’s alright. We checked it out and it did have some pretty things. Props for the cool little library, with some great literature. The museum was also rather small, leaving us enough time to move to the next destination, which is the biggest rock (or second) of Lithuania, which has been turned into a memorial for the two pilots of the Lituanica (which I mentioned earlier). The trick is ofcourse to climb that rock, which I did without much problems.

Source: Baltictravelnews.com

The beautiful nature around is currently yielding its first treasures in the form of mushrooms, which are much loved by the Lithuanians. Our hosts are on the lookout for these nature treasures as well. We continue to the Horse Museum, which is a miniature open air museum, showing the history of horses and their use, but also the crafts related to it. The blacksmith is always interesting to me, due that I did some of that in the museum I worked for a while. This blacksmith smells a bit like alcohol though, and his work is sloppy and bad, but the kids love seeing the fire anyways. It’s still a win, just like the apples that grow on the trees and the games that can be played.

The internal traveller also needs something now and then, so we head back to town to get a bite. First we dropped by the bob sledges ride (sledges on rails really that go down a hillside). Unfortunately it is so busy that we have to wait for an hour back to town it its and on the dam in the river we have a bite at the restaurant. Potato pancakes with meat are a great filler for the stomach. They’re a bit greasy, but that is not taking away much of the satisfaction. Back it is to the slegde rides and after a long wait its full throttle down the hill. It feels a bit more exciting than what we did in theme parks actually. It was also a great occasion for a selfie.

Boblelfie
Selfie!

The final destination was the grave of Jonas Biliūnas on top of a hill. A tower is built over it, named the ‘beacon of happiness’. Apparently it is a popular site for newly weds or hen nights, since there’s 1 group of hens on top of the hill and two new couples climbing up when we are there. After this final visit, it is time to head back to Panevėžys. Tired but satisfied after a long and interesting day.

Panevėžys #1

We enjoyed a good evening with family in Panevėžys. The next day we took a walk around town. The unofficial capital of the region has been here since around 1500. It doesn’t look grand and lacks the so called ‘Old Town’, but Panevezys is nonetheles very neat and clean.

The lake in the centre of Panevezys
The lake in the centre of Panevezys

The town is named after the river that flows through it, the Nevezys. We wandered around town and a lot of information about the city was provided by our host. This was after watching some interesting training footage from the Lithuanian airforce, I have to mention. Interesting is one particular beer bar, where the owners nailed hundreds of keys to the tree in front of it. The place used to be abandoned and bums took over. They restored it though and now it sells local brews (which there are a lot of!).  We also visited an international exposition of ceramic art, which I think failed to impress.

The Bison says hi
The Bison says hi

Later we drove out of the city to see some views around. We visited a place of preservation of the European Bisons. A bunch of the big fellows were walking around here and one came up to greet us. They are magnificent creatures and amazing to see them in the wild. After this we also visisted a place were the partizans used to hide out in the forest. It was one of the biggest groups hiding out at this location, but eventually they were captured. The partizans were the ones to fight the soviets after World War II had been concluded. Something that rarely makes it into the history books, but this form of resistance lasted up to 1955 (some places longer).

reconstructed bunker
reconstructed bunker

After this it was time to have some food, which we did in the restaurant Cincinskas. Originally started as a beer bar for Soviet soldiers, it later became a restaurant that has been a succes the last 30 years. The menu is practically as unchanged as the decor and that still pulls the punters in. Not that strange though, with a main course for 3,- euro and a pint of beer for 1,20 euro. Visit this place if you ever end up in Panevėžys!

After that we enjoyed the town celebrations, with some live music and a lot of people around. A visit to the beer bar with the tree, mentioned earlier, was ofcourse also part of the plan. It was another long evening.

Kaunas #3

On the final day of our visit to Kaunas (we would later take the bus to Panevezys), we still had some time left. After coffee, breakfast and conversations it was time to head out.

rumsiskesThe open air museum in Rumšiškės shows a broad range of buildings and dwellings that were normal in the past two centuries in Lithuania. The museum is divided in the four historic regions and a central town. It’s quite a walk, since the parts are hundreds of meters apart. In the houses are some old people seated, who can tell you  a little about the places. Unfortunately most are not too keen to. That is a shame since the information is mostly rather limited.

Fortunately I have some knowledge of historical farm structures and such and I was not the only one in our company.  Quite impressive was the Yurt, a dwelling made in Siberia, where many Lithuanians ended up in past days. There are some more pictures on the wiki page of the town. Interesting fact is that the original town is flooded by an artificial lake. The place is popular for ethnographic parties and celebrations.

Kaunas busstation
Kaunas busstation

From there it was time to go to the bus station and say good bye to our great host. I had a great time exploring Kaunas, which would be a lot harder if it wasn’t for the great guidance. In the bus I finally had time to catch up on some reading on our way to Panevezys, where we were greated with great beers and food.