Tag Archives: death metal

Aramaic: Voice of the Levant

The phenomenon of global metal keeps being a point of fascination for me. In the most interesting places you can find bands playing this type of music. Most people might know that metal has a place in the United Arab Emirates, so finding the band Aramaic playing this music there is not entirely surprising.

In the documentary film ‘Global Metal’ by Sam Dunn and Scott McFayden the Desert Rock Festival finished up the film. It showed that metal was even finding its roots in the most unexpected places. For the guys from Aramaic this is as normal as it gets though. Aramaic has been going strong since 2011 and members of the band have worked with internationally known formations like Schammasch (German drummer Hendrik Wodynski joined the Swiss giants live) and Heavenwood (guitarist Fadi Al Shami did guest vocals for the Portuguese goth veterans), while singer Serge Lutfi moved with his other band Abhorred to London and back from the UAE.

Most interesting is that the members are all from neighboring countries (apart from Wodynski of course). Most band members answered these questions about their band, the concept and what it is like to play metal music in the United Arab Emirates. A country is known for its shining city of Dubai, but also with strong religious roots. Thanks to Fadi Al Shami, Michael Al Asmar, Ahmad Rammal and Serge Lutfi for taking the time to respond. Though none of them was born there, they all moved to the country for work and find music as well.

This article was originally published on Echoes & Dust.

Aramaic from the United Arab Emirates

Could you briefly introduce yourselves and Aramaic for those readers unfamiliar with your work?

Fadi: We are Aramaic hailing from the Levant region (Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and neighbors), currently based in the UAE. If you were to describe our music, I feel we do not conform to a specific type of metal genre. We prefer to avoid restricting ourselves and having the classification done by our peers.

Michael: To give you a brief summary on the name, Aramaic is an ancient language spoken by nomadic tribesmen inhabiting areas around the Tigris River (the river flows south from the mountains of south-eastern Turkey through Iraq and empties itself into the Persian Gulf) dating back to the 700 B.C. the Bronze Age. It is from the Semitic family (Arabic, Hebrew, Syriac, Maltese & Ethiopian), and adopted by Assyrians (currently known as the Middle East, including Armenia, Cyprus, Iran & Turkey), parts of Babylonia (current day Iraq), even ancient Egypt and the Canaanites (Lebanon, Palestine and neighbors).

Serge: We, however, adopted the name to best represent our origins and expose the listeners to something that is not typical to modern discussions and music. History has always intrigued us, the more we researched the more fascinated and infatuated we became with this ancient civilization, it brought us closer to our heritage and we wanted to share this with everyone through our incantations and hymns.

How did you guys get into metal in the first place?

Serge: I have to praise my sister for introducing me to metal in 1991, started with Kiss & Danzig, moved to Testament, Anthrax, Metallica & Pantera then straight to Morbid Angel, Obituary & Entombed.
The most memorable albums that I grew up with were Testament’s The New Order, Metallica’s Master Of Puppets, Danzig’s  How the Gods Kill, Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power (I still have the tapes). I started playing guitar at the age 5 and by the time I was exposed to metal (as an 11 years old), my first electric guitar was bought. The rest is history.

Fadi: My first encounter with metal music was when I was 9 yrs. old by getting introduced to Metallica’s Black Album. Yet the reason I learnt guitar was Death’s Symbolic (such a master piece). I started playing guitar at a very late age (27) when I managed to spend 3 hours every day trying to develop better techniques as I moved forward in the music career.

Michael: I got into metal because I liked a girl who listened to Def Leppard and Europe and when I went to the record shop and asked for similar music the guy gave me Metallica’s …And Justice for All and Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.

What are your main inspirations for the sound of Aramaic? There’s a hint of some traditional music in your sound, how did you manage to create this mixture.

Ahmad: We all bring our experiences, influences and capabilities to the table whilst composing the music. That’s what makes it unique, from traditional Arabic music, classical progressions, instrumentals and hymns to extreme diabolical works.

Serge: The writing process takes a considerable amount of time, as we all come together to write the structure of a track and the more we embrace it, the more intense it becomes. We take our time making sure every person involved has his signature and seal on it. We also try and incorporate some native instruments to give a more distinctive element.The lyrical theme is based on myths, legends, deities & tragedies that befell the Aramaens and Assyrians during the ancient times.

Your name is derived from the ancient language, with that also bringing in a culture, history, and people. There are a lot of directions you can go with a name like that. How did that come about and what sources originally made you want to go in this direction?

Michael: Being from the Levant region, we wanted to represent our history & our people in an unorthodox way, completely straying away from religion (of any kind). We wanted to focus on apologues; documented works and myths from that era to expose the masses to our bright and rich past.

It compelled us to dive deep into the realms of these ancient civilizations to bring forth the knowledge bestowed upon us through materials lost in time.

I understand there are various mythologies you use as a theme in your music. Can you tell a bit more about that and maybe share a little light on what sort of stories you really take to put to music, since many people from other places might not be familiar with them?

Serge: The songs are all story-based; each journey talks about the plight and encounters of the protagonists (Sennacherib, Ereshkigal, Shamesh, and others) in our own interpretations. We will shed more light on these stories throughout the album’s artwork and lyrics. Footnotes will be provided for further explanations.  

We stress on this by saying that all the lyrics are based on stories we read and reinterpreted in our own way to suit the music & the image of the band.
We are also using the themes to reflect on the modern and current issues of the world, as the reoccurrence of these subjects happen throughout the millennia.

Your last record is from 2014, which is a great piece of music titled ‘The Fallen’. Are you working on something new now?

Fadi: We released a single called The King single in 2015. Currently, we are finalizing our debut album ( the title is also ready), an update will be given in due time!

How do you guys work on new music, do you start with music or a concept and how does the process follow from there?

Ahmad: We throw ideas around, and once a riff is liked by all the members, we start working on it and adding our styles and influences. The lyrics are usually written after the structure of the song is done. We research a certain topic and elaborate on it.

In a couple of weeks, you guys get to open for Paradise Lost in Dubai. How excited are you guys about this how and how did you end up filling this slot?

Fadi: We were contacted by JoScene, them being the organizers & promoters of the show, to take our place on the bill with Paradise Lost.

Serge: We had the seize the opportunity. They are one of the bands we grew up with and that influenced us musically. It is going to be a surreal feeling and one we have been looking forwards to since day one, even before the conception of Aramaic!

I would like to ask you some questions about playing metal in the United Arab Emirates. For example, I’m very curious what it’s like to make metal music over there? It seems there is quite a scene going on actually. So I guess there might be quite some misconceptions about that, right?  

Michael: Metal in the UAE has been around for 2 + decades (probably unexpected) but there has always been a following. From school kids to the older generation. Being a religious country, some might think that it is forbidden or frowned upon. The government does not seem to be particularly bothered by the music as long as its lyrical content does not offend a particular group or have explicit content. We have had many international bands coming through Dubai to play gigs, most without any issues.

Bands that have passed though the UAE: Nile, Mayhem, Hate Eternal, Katatonia, Obscura, Defiled, Metallica, In Flames, Testament, Sepultura, Iron Maiden, Mastodon, Opeth, Motorhead, Fleshcrawl, Megadeth, Korn, Machine Head, Arch Enemy, Yngwie Malmsteen, Epica, Anathema, Insomnium, Vader and countless others.

Do you have all the facilities available, like access to music, instruments and rehearsal spaces? Are there venues especially for rock/metal shows and do you get foreign bands over?

Serge: In our day and age, Internet made music readily accessible and available. There are a few decent rehearsal spaces in Dubai that are equipped with good musical equipment at reasonable prices (for this city).

Fadi: Not too many venues that appreciate this type of music. We do manage to play at various venues that are equipped to handle the heavy music.

Do you have to deal with any sorts of misunderstanding with what you are doing? Is there any form of censorship or anything?

Fadi: As long as there is no offense against a religion or faith, or against the government. No preaching about the devil, then we are all free to do what we do, within reason.

So, a bit of a history question, how did the metal scene in your country get started? Who were the pioneers?

Serge: Spyne, Eskimo Disco and Abhorred (Serge’s own band, ed.) were the pioneers (started in 1997) soon came Nervecell and we all know who they are \m/!

Nervecell is probably as big as it gets  when it comes to death metal in the UAE. The band was the first ‘local’ group to play at Deser Rock Festival and is signed currently to Lifeforce Records. You should probably check them out (particularly their latest album) (Ed.).

Any bands from your part of the world that other people really should check out (and why of course)?

Serge: Kaoteon – Extreme Black Metal from Lebanon, it is powerful, malevolent & heavy music!

Fadi: Kimaera – Death Doom Metal from Lebanon, heavy riffs, good song writing, catchy and heavy tunes!

Michael: Ascendant – Power & Heavy Metal from UAE, a great bunch of musician with exquisite taste in music

Ahmad: Blaakyum – Coz heavy fucking metal \m/

What does the future hold for Aramaic?

Ahmad: Releasing the long-awaited Aramaic album in the near future. Of course, play gigs, and hopefully, tour Europe in summer 2018

Is there anything you would like to add that I forgot to ask?

Michael: Catch us Live on the 8th of September at the Music Room supporting the almighty Paradise Lost and on the 3rd of November (venue still unconfirmed) supporting the doom legends Saturnus.

If you had to describe Aramaic as a dish, what would it be and why? 

Serge: Lasagna, its layers and layers of intense flavors soft, textured and velvety but certainly a deliciously heavy and intricate meal, full of spice.

 

Underground Sounds: Unaussprechlichen Kulten – Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X)

Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Band: Unaussprechlichen Kulten
Origin: Chile

Lovecraft worshipping death metal from Chile

Lovecraft’s work is alive and well in the hands of multiple obsessed bands (as you can read in my Lovecraft collection part 1, part 2 and part 3). Unaussprechlichen Kulten has been stoking that fire for for almost 20 years. They’ve taken their name from one of the fictional forbidden books in the Lovecraft Mythos and have held to the theme.

On this record, which is not their tenth album (in fact it’s the fourth), the band moves towards the New England stories of witchcraft and connections to more sinister, older forms of evil. That makes for some great material for the ferocious death metal this band creates. They take particular inspiration from the female characters or entities depicted in those stories. As the band says:

“This Chapter is inspired by women, the persecution against them by the Holy Office Sacred Congregation (The Inquisition), their essential role in the myth and legend, their place at the witches’ Sabbath, and the profound fear they spread – and still do – in mankind under the concept of Witch.”

So I use that full statement, because I appreciate it. It is hard to really get that from the ferocious, but regal sounding death metal these Chileans produce. There’s a steady flow to their sound, that reminds me of Bolt Thrower (though their sound is way too foreboding and filled with stop-go moments). The vocals of Joseph Curwen (yeah, that’s another Lovecraft reference) are the kind that feel like scraping the coarse bottom of a dirty puddle. It’s all quite intense.

The guitarwork is constantly peaking, screaming and crying on tracks like ‘Sacrificio Infanticida’. There’s no moment of peace for the listener to Unaussprechlichen Kulten, it’s an onslaught of brutality and mighty guitar work. Sometimes the band uses parts that are pretty classic sounding, but in a polished, controlled manner. Actually everything done by these gents sounds controlled, but there’s a constant threat of them blowing the lid off and creating complete cosmic havoc. Opener ‘Unholy Abjuration of Faith’ is a good example. The track feels like oldschool death metal, in all its glory.

In general I think the band sticks to what it knows. They can easily be placed in a more conservative corner. The sound is more or less like that of Immolation, Morbid Angel and their ilk. Heavy and filled with musical excesses, they embrace the extreme. The result is a solid record, that clocks just under 40 minutes. What a trip it is.

 

Underground Sounds: Cyaxares – House of the Cosmic Waters

Label: Independent
Origin: Iraq
Band: Cyaxares

Mir Shamal Hama-faraj is a musical prodigy, working in one of the most unlikely places of the world on some eclectic and brilliant death metal. Cyaxares, his main solo project, is a band from Sulaymaniyah in the north of Iraq (Kurdistan). Just recently he came out with ‘House of the Cosmic Waters’.

It’s the second album by Mir Shamal, who also sings in Iraqi metal band Dark Phantom. In 2014 he debuted with the album ‘Whores of Babylon’. I had the pleasure to do an interview with this highly motivated musician, who manages to really set himself apart in this current day metal scene with home produced, tight death metal with oriental flavors.

This album sounds even more harmonic, bringing the two worlds together in beautiful unity. The oriental patterns are tangible to the ear. The folkish parts, that give the music it’s inexplicable mystery work in absolute harmony with the razorsharp riffing and the brusk grunted vocals. For opener ‘Luna’ we have a vocalista joining on clean vocals next to those of Mir Shamal. Nawa Mikhaeils’ singing is a bit of an acquired taste, but these passionate vocals are part of the tradition. The songs leave some space for slow, meandering passages. This lets the music breathe a little.

The music has plenty of melody and atmosphere to it, for example on the title track. Lyrically Cyaxares has always been a bit ambigious, due to the attempt at relating elder days to the current day world. Exquisite chanting and traditional passages make the music even more rich and grand. These are woven into their texture to create such great story telling music. I love this album and I can’t imagine for the life of me why no label has snatched this up yet. For one, it’s very melodic and captivating, secondly it has this great mysterious air to it. Overall the lyrics are wonderfully poetic and beautiful. Clearly these are the work of many hours and a lot of patience. Even the riffing on the brutal parts finds its own distinct heavyness, elegant and finely sculpted.

Mir Shamal is a ‘wünderkind’ in the metal scene, having found metal music all the way in Iraq. He created this by himself and that is no small feat. A great record for sure.

Disorder from El Salvador: Rock Stars and Corruption

El Salvador is one of those places that evokes images of amazing nature, beautiful beaches and blue sea. The country also is home to a metal scene, slowly turning its attention outward to the wide world that has been conquered by metal music. Disorder is one of those bands for certain. And Jorge Montesino (M.Q.) loves to tell about his music.

El Salvador may be depicted as a paradise, but up until 1992 the country was racked by a raging civil war. This has been the theme for Disorders lyrics for a long time. The country is still reeling from that period and crime rates are still particularly high. This has an impact on the music that is made in the country.

Like many other countries south of the states, metal music has found a place and expression in El Salvador. For some bands the story of their country can be found in their music. Disorder has been telling that story for years as we’ll find.

Hi, could you first of kindly introduce yourself to the readers.

[M.Q.] Hello this is M.Q. Speaking in charge of the chaotic chords and vomits on this band, thanks for the interest in us and for the interview. Drums are handled by V.K. And that’s it, a two member’s band.

Which bands really shaped your interest in this sort of music and how did you get started in this?

[M.Q.] I got started listening to metal in the early 90s with the 80s heavy and thrash metal bands and then with the 90s traditional death metal bands. There are many bands that influenced me in the very beginning but to mention one of the more important ones is Deceased from USA and of course for the music but also for the passion King Fowley has after all these years and keep playing live and creating music it is just inspiring for me.

Disorder band-boss M.Q. (vocals, guitar, bass)
Disorder band-boss M.Q. (vocals, guitar, bass)

Disorder has been in existence for a good 22 years. Can you tell a bit about the history of the band? How did you get to the point you are at now.

[M.Q.] Well I started to make music for this band alone around 1992/1993, after that I looked for other people to get a live line-up, it was very primitive in that era, no internet, no money to get good music gear but I managed to release a demo and an album independently by the hands of PUS Records, supposedly my first label. Around early 2000’s things went bad with the other members, they tried to kick me out and get the name of band so then I decided to end it in late 2002. We parted ways and at that point I immediately started to work on a new band, named Spiritual Demise. Later it changed name to Conceived by Hate. From 2002 to 2010 I constantly got emails or people asking about DISORDER if there were still CDs or Tapes available and so forth… I saw there was still a lot of interest in the band and in 2011 I decided to bring it back to life as a studio project, as a two member band and that’s it.

I’m very interested in your lyrical matter, I understand your theme is mostly the history of El Salvador. Many people are probably not too familiar with that. Could you elaborate a bit on that, give us some general background?

[M.Q.] Well, at the beginning there was a strong necessity to talk about that window of the civil war. I always try to be natural when composing music and writing lyrics, maybe in the 90s I was very interested in those topics but now time changed and the reality of our country is different. In a way I think some lyrics are still tagged to the civil war but now talking about the effects caused by the end of war, our country is bounded by a lot of violence and at a certain point I think we are used to it and learn how to live with it and go on. Unfortunately this country is trapped in a sea of corruption, mafia, social discrimination, political bullshit and lack of opportunities for most of people.

It’s quite difficult to measure it but I think that most of people are used to see or hear about violent deaths in the country. It’s the daily news here so I think we are used to it so I guess this could translate to the fact that in terms of metal music the extreme genres are more popular in the underground. Maybe because it helps to release that energy or like a catharsis. If we talk about the level of corruption in governments and all the bullshit on political parties, this could translate to the sense of anger on the compositions of younger bands. We can include hardcore and punk bands. There is a lack of trust in all that bullshit and a lot of anger to be released, because of frustration about injustice and the lack of opportunities for people to grow and have a decent life.

So for sure, all these situations translate to having more aggressive music from the local bands and I may say in bands of the whole region of Central America, than scenes you find in other countries that have higher life standards. I was hearing a short interview from a Venezuelan band I like and may work with in the future on my label that the reason why Colombia had the Ultrametal legacy, was because of the level of chaos that was present in that society. That boiling society vomited all that aggressive music called Ultrametal, that’s the legacy Colombia has in underground metal and this guy mentioned this because there is such a similar chaos now happening in Venezuela. That situation is generating new bands who vomit out such evil, blasphemous and aggressive metal. So in general Latin America countries are struggling with all this political bullshit, which causes low life standards which in turn create such level of aggression in the music.

If someone finds himself in El Salvador and in need of some metal music, what are places to go?

[M.Q.] Ten years ago, there were some big stores where you could find metal albums to buy. Most of them were run by people just for making money and I think they were not real metalheads. Since downloads started from the internet all those stores closed, so right now there are no big stores selling metal. People started to purchase directly from internet and there are some people that purchase from internet to resell locally, using virtual webstores as Facebook fan pages. Maybe you can count on your fingers the amount of online stores like the one I have for Morbid Skull Records that sell locally and internationally.

I think the reason for the lack of record stores is that you will not make money out of it. Or if you do make some money, is not so worth it in comparison to the time and efforts you will have to invest on doing it. So now it’s more like doing it for the passion and not for the money. I think there’ll be little people doing that in the next few years.

Disorder drummer V.K.
Disorder drummer V.K.

So, you’ve got plenty of other projects going on (as in bands). Which ones are you working on currently and how do you decide if material you write is suitable for one or the other project?

[M.Q.] Yes, in this decade I started to be involved in many bands and also the label (Morbid Skull Records) again. I just think and do it naturally, but try to keep certain separation in terms of music composition so that each band has something different and may be interesting from a different point of view. I think the process never stop for each band or project it is a constant situation on which you can get inspired and create riffs or lyrical topics that fit one of them so I constantly work in all projects but always try to focus in 2 or 1 to get them finished soon.

How do you guys work on material for Disorder now as a two-piece? What is the writing/recording process like for you and who has what role in this process?

[M.Q.] As mentioned before I reactivated this band back in 2011 as a solo project and at the start V.K., who is also the drummer of Morbid Stench and Conceived by Hate, helped me to record the drums for ‘En El Rio Del Olvido’ (2014). After that I decided the he joins the band as permanent member. The writing process generally starts by putting together the music structure and then the lyrics, when song is ready I get a raw mix with basic drum machine and send it to V.K. And when he is ready we record the drums and that’s it.

Your lyrics are in Spanish, this makes it for many listeners hard to figure them out (those in the Anglophone countries). Was it a conscious choice not to go for English? Or the other way around to go for Spanish and why?

[M.Q.] At the starts I wrote mostly songs in Spanish and a few in English. Since Spanish is my native language I decided to keep it like that, I know it would be hard for the band to get some people interested in Anglophone countries, but I just wanted to keep it native on the lyrics side. Also when I reactivated it I already had other projects where I was singing in English so I kept it in Spanish just to be different from the other projects and keep it interesting to me.

You’ve recently released the album ‘Fuego Negro’. A daunting bit of death metal, with pounding energy and wild thrashing passages a bit of an Entombed like death’n’roll vibe (to me at least). Can you tell us a bit about this album, how it came to be and what story are you telling on this one.

[M.Q.] Yes, it was released on April 21st by Symbol of Domination and Morbid Skull Records, I am thinking about releasing it on tape format on my label soon. Well, I have been working on this album for maybe 2 years and my intention was to make it full of speed and aggression. Not complex structures, just in your face attitude. In the lyrics you find songs talking about one of the cancers of society in Latin America, which are the religious shepherds and congregations that just drain people’s salaries to live like kings. I also talked about the current violent environment we have in our country and how justice and governments are rotten to the core by corruption and the mafia and there are other topics maybe related to personal beliefs.

So what is ‘Fuego Negro’?

[M.Q.] Fuego Negro means Black Fire in English and in my personal point of view is that inner energy that make you see far beyond the written reality, a motivation to improve your strength and move forward while you be on this plane.

I understand that Disorder is currently a studio project. This album however, to me feels like the sort of record that could prompt a crowd to burst into radical frenzy and insane moshing. Do you have thoughts about taking it onto the road?

[M.Q.] Yes reactivated it as a studio project because I do not have enough time to bring it on the road. I also agree these songs have a lot of energy and will be interesting and exciting to play them live but unfortunately it’s very difficult to find the correct people to play with. I really like to be humble when doing this, I mean I do this because I need it in my life. Anything I get back for it, good or bad, is unexpected. Some people just start or join a band as a hobby or to be part of a movement or even to get attention.

My philosophy is to work on this from the shadows and I just hate people that have that rock star attitude and shit like that in their head. I cannot deal with that in a band, so I am kind of tired about that and maybe that is why I find difficult to bring this band onto the road, but who knows…maybe in the near future. So currently I am just working on the promotion of this album and the composition of the new stuff.

What song do you feel most exemplifies the sound and spirit of Disorder and why?

[M.Q.] I like all of them, I mean if I do not like a song then I do not include it in a release. I think the song ‘Fuego Negro’ represents my personal vision and life within the last decade.

Your album came to me through a Bangladeshi promo agency, released by a Russian label (Symbol of Domination Prod.). You’ve recently done a split too with a Swedish band. How did this all come to pass? Regarding the current day metal scene, you guys seem to be extraordinarily international.

[M.Q.] I think that is an effect of the efforts I have been putting on the promotion of my bands. Now with my label’s releases also, I invest a lot of time in that and it seems to work! Today with the internet you can get in touch with a lot of people and bands very easy, cheap and fast. With Morbid Skull Labels I started to get more communication with emerging bands and Total Inferno from Sweden was one of them. We had good connection in terms of what we are doing in metal so the ideas just came out from out of the blue. That became the split ‘Ina Etuti Asbu’ was released on 7”s and a tape version by Deathgasm Records (USA) and Morbid Skull Records (El Salvador) in 2016, there was no big negotiation or shit like that, it was just released by a group a good friends.

You’re also releasing the album on Morbid Skull, your own record label. Can you tell a bit more about that?

[M.Q.]Yes it was also released on my label with help of Symbol of Domination because I like also to have enough copies to be distributed by myself. I always had in my mind this idea or dream to have my own label to release my music. Back in the early 90s my first label was called PUS Records and I released a couple of tape and CD-R demos for Disorder called ‘Voces de la Tumba’ but I just quit the idea for some time. Then around 2012 I think I decided to try it again but this time with better quality on the releases and it has been like 5 years now. At the beginning my plan was just to release my own band’s music, but with time I included bands that I like and more important that are handled by people I think are easy to deal with, no fucking rock stars!

You’ve been active in many bands, how did the metal scene in El Salvador get started? Which bands from your country really count as the more influential corner stone acts and why?

[M.Q.] Well I have been active since the early 90s as a band, I am not sure my point of view is the best one to answer accurately this question but will try. I think in the 80s there were few bands trying to make metal music, but it was more heavy metal and maybe influenced by the US glam scene. The real extreme metal scene I think started in the early 90s. I remember there were not so many bands playing, because it was hard to have the money to purchase instruments. Also maybe you knew a few guys that liked this music, but not all of them had instrument to play with. The first concerts were also organized within that era and has been growing until now. Today I think there are more bands and people involved but too much metal without soul; too much fashion and less passion.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/147960042″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

You could think it sounds egocentric, but it’s the true; I have never been influenced by a local band in my life. I do try to respect all of them, I think this is because in the early beginning I did not have the “connections” to get the help or promotions other bands had so I felt a lack of support. I just focused on doing my thing and literally did not listen too much to what other bands were doing. I also wanted to try to keep my sound natural and “original” to myself. I mean I did not wanted to be influenced by other local bands because I wanted to create my own sound and do the things my way. So I respect the efforts most bands made, but I try to keep isolated in a way. Nowadays this is more related to the lack of time. But I can say that I have been influenced by the classic 80s traditional heavy metal, 90s traditional death metal and for bands like Deceased and Dissection because of the level of compromise they put in their music/art. I feel I might have started a legacy here myself.

So what is the scene like in El Salvador, what styles are most popular, where are the centres of the scene and how big is it. Which bands do you think matter and which bands from El Salvador should everyone be checking out?

[M.Q.] Unfortunately I do not have too much free time to go to concerts anymore, because of the Label and the bands but like I said I see more people involved and that’s a good thing. Also as well as they come, they go also in few years. I mean I do not see many bands lasting 5 or 10 years so it seems like they give up quick and do not have a clear persistency in what they are doing. I think there are many people focussed on the fashion in how they look rather than how they sound. If the music they put out is not really honest and with an own identity, then I think that is one factor why this scene is not boiling like in the South.

There is a lack of passion and honesty in the efforts. Some promoters say they support the scene by doing shows, but the reality is that they do it to earn money but none of them had even purchased a damn $3 patch in the period of more than 20 years! So I think it’s a lot of hypocrisy, but is normal in a way in humans. In general the metal scene in El Salvador has for sure grown, but lacks of quality in the released formats. Many go for the cheap way of CD-Rs and do not take the risks as few others. I have lost a lot of money doing these and in all my releases, but I do not care because earning money out of this is for sure not my vision or goal. Also extreme genres are well received here, anything from thrash, death and black metal, you can check Conceived by Hate, Disorder, Morbid Stench and Antares Death! I’m also involved in a band named Witchgoat, which plays thrash/black and is recording a debut album. Look out for the new albums of the other bands too!

If you had to say what things are typical about metal from El Salvador, what would it be? What really is part of the vibe of your country?

[M.Q.] Maybe always dealing with the extreme sounds.

What future plans does Disorder have now? What happens now the album is out?

[M.Q.] Well my plan is to continue to promote this album and since I feel the inspiration and motivation to start working on the coming one.

IF you had to compare Disorder to a type of food, a dish if you will, what would it be and why?

[M.Q.] Really hard question, a seafood cocktail with a LOT of hot chili to make you sweat hahaha.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

[M.Q.] Thanks a lot for this interview and interest in the band and also to those that invest time in reading it, cheers from HellSalvador!

 

 

 

Underground Sounds: Tuurngait – Untitled

Label: –
Band: Tuurngait
Origin: Lithuania

Tuurngait is a new band from Lithuania, that has just released their debut. Not that much else is known about the group from Vilnius, apart from the fact that they certainly don’t sound as if they come in peace. They did show up at the release show of the last Luctus album, so they might have been around for longer than I can see now.

This EP is noteworthy short with just 3 songs and an intro. It’s the bare minimum relaly for an EP, but the band does not disappoint soundwise on this. They’ve also admitted to be very antireligious. The blackened element in their sound gives them a bit of Behemoth, the grandeur I would say, though not as pronounced as the Poles do it.

Dissonant tones anounce the start of the nameless debut. It’s a jangling sound that forms the introduction, creating a moment of anticipation for when ‘Open Sanctum’ unleashes with some thick groovy riffs and powerful, guttural vocals. A bit of effect over the singing makes it sound as if it comes from really deep. A rolling, thunderous bit of death metal, the way you like and love it. Roaring vocals and thick slabs of guitar, hell yeah.

The opening of ‘Crave For The Vultures’ reminds me a little of Debauchery. A roaring, wild assault of battle lusty death metal once more is unleashed by the Lithuanians. It’s a thick, sla of sound that the band delivers, with some guitar weeping through the sonic mass. It just happens that Tuurngait does all of this pretty good. Final song ‘With Fire’ is another full on track, fitting in the more modern death metal tradition. It’s a shame that Tuurngait is such an unknown, mysterious phenomenon now. I would be keen to hear a full album by this energetic new group. Good stuff!

Underground Sounds: Virvum – Illuminance

Label: Independent
Band: Virvum
Country: Switzerland

“A journey to a place where timelessness reigns and nature blooms in strangest colours; A heavenly place far beyond comprehensible perception.” is the description that Virvum gives on their bandcamp for their recently unleashed album ‘Illuminance’. I can see where that statement is coming from to be honest, it makes sense if you listen to this brand new record.

The Swiss band finds its origins in the band Grofból it seems, who played deathcore (or probably death metal if you’d ask them now). There’s definitely something from that taken along to the sound of progressive death that the band has embraced. Drawing inspiration from bands like FallelujaAt The Gates and Chimera, it’s no wonder that the sound is technical and ear friendly all in one.

Hooked, proggy opening riffs unleash the album upon or hearing organs with a vigorous energy. Dazzling guitarmanship is clearly present in the ranks of this Swiss group, who deliver their tracks with outstanding precision. The battering drums speak of agressiona and fury, but also create a sense of grandeur combined with the tremolo guitar play at times, for example on ‘Ad Rigorem’.

I’m sure that the more frantic prog lover will eat up this album, but I have some reservations about the end mix result. The rhythm section seems to have gotten the shorter end of the stick here, having been condensed so much that little feel is left of them. The guitars sound extremely polished, which fits the sound, but takes away the organic feel described in the bio a bit.

All in all this is a powerful debut by a DIY band, which makes it all the better that they’re getting their music out there and heard. I’m eager to see in what direction they develop, but I expect these guys to find their sound soon enough.

Sounds of the Underground #28

This installment of Sounds of the Underground features Dragged Into Sunlight/Gnaw Their Tongues, Revolted Masses, Dopethrone and Deathmøle. Enjoy these awesome tunes!

Dragged Into Sunlight / Gnaw Their Tongues – N.V.
Prosthetic Records

source: bandcamp

Ok, this is a collaboration that should shake you up from any lethargic status, you may have gotten yourself into when it comes to exciting music. These are two of the most amazing acts in the black metal/drone/experimental niche/corner of the musical spectrum and they do something together? Awesome! The Dutch Gnaw Their Tongues is known for atmospheric pieces, horrific soundscapes and subtlety, where their Brittish partners in crime excel in harrowing, overwhelming black metal. The product is rather staggering in ferocity. Intense and filled with industrial black metal and atmospheric elements to keep things exciting.

The record opens with a sample, which is something that keeps returning. Building site sounds work their way into the music rather quickly. The sound is harsh, the vocals tortured and no rest is given to the listener in the onslaught of sound the band produces. Demonic screams are uttered, above highly distorted guitars and pummeling drums. The songs deal with madness and murder, with the thing just beyond that lurks. It’s beautifully horrible, this record with five songs of the utmost urgency. The songs hit home like a baseball bat to the gut, with swirling patterns and a grizzled feel. This is one hell of an album.

 

Revolted Masses – Age Of Descent
Inverse Records

source: metal archives

Having formed in 2008, the band Revolted Masses blends thrash and death into a potent mix, enlightened by oriental elements. The band actually hails from Greece, which explains the guest appearances on the album (Fotiss Benardo, Septic Flesh). The band has a sound that is blistering, full of fury and well polished. This is the first effort of the Athenians since their last record in 2013. The overal theme of the band is political, as can be seen by their red star bandlogo already.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNUJmV1TlTU

The music is specially good if you are looking for your clean sounding, high energetic melodeath. It’s not as smooth all the time. Though sounding very produced and technical, there are still passages of mere battering, furious assaults of barked vocals, ripping drums and guitars. Unrelenting, the band plays forth, setting up the vibe of standing in the middle of a revolutionairy battle field. Now, for me personally this is not something I’d readily listen to normally… But, this band sounds tight and catchy, it’s the right mixture of groove and brutal to latch on and enjoy the ride. Good work!

Deathmøle – Present Peregrine
Self released

source: bandcamp

Yes, I’ve been surfing the bandcamps and found this gem of weird post-metal with the most odd drum drone stuck to the inside of my head now. The bio reads: ‘Deathmøle is a fictional band that makes actual music. It is all done by Jeph Jacques.’. Jeph Jacques mostly occupies himself with a the most long running webcomic I have yet to find, which is quite fun if you’re a mixture of music geek and nerd with a lot of life questions, like myself I suppose. Then he also makes some music now and then, which is fairly pleasant.

There’s a tranquility to the clean sound of the post-metal produced by Deathmøle. The thunderous bass sounds like it’s not entirely natural, but in a genre where attaining organic vibes is the cool thing, it’s kind of refreshing to hear a sound that really does have a techy vibe to it. Five tracks, no bullshit, just energetic and fun music that makes you want to pound your fist. I like it!

Dopethrone – Hochelaga
Totem Cat Records

source: Bandcamp

Do you like your slugdy, dope addled doom with a particular mix of dirty and fat? Because that’s what you get with the blokes from Dopethrone. These Canadians have sound that is like mudslides, massively, gradually moving forwards and making all sorts of dirty, soppy sounds. The band proclaims to be from the meanest ghetto of Montréal, and definitely aims to sound that way. Heavy, oppressive and dark, which are some words one would definitely use to describe the sound of these guys.

The riff is master of every song. Lingering, dark and slow but mostly superheavy. The vocals are more like screams, barks of rabid dogs in dirty alleys, but I guess that is what the band intends to sound like. Add some elements of black, stoner and crust to the mix and you get this dirty cocktail that is too awesome to miss out on with tracks like ‘Scum Fuck Blues’. A dirty, dragging tune  that actually has a bluesy streak to it.  I personally dig opener ‘Sludgekicker’, but that may be too much Sleep for you. If you want it real slow and dirty, pick ‘Bullets’. A man, just take the whole damn album, because it’s awesome.

Odosha, Venezuela, Metalband

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds of the Underground #25

Thanks everyone for reading my ‘Sounds of the Underground’. It’s much appreciated, so here’s #25 with GravewormMurg, Witchsorrow and Fluisteraars.

Graveworm – Ascending Hate

Source: Nuclear Blast

Things tend to get back to you in time and bite you in the face it seems. Graveworm is one of the first extreme metal bands I got to hear and genuinely scared me at the time. Their album covers fascinated me, specially in the early days. Now, the Italian band is back with a death/symphonic/blackened explosion titled ‘Ascending Hate’, which to me sounds most like Cradle of Filth having a car crash with Therion.

The album is very well produced, which helps bring forward the symphonic and melodic elements in the music, which has soaring guitars and ambience enhancing keys playing throughout the songs. The harsh, barked vocals offer a contrast of brutality, together with the death metal barrage of guitars, but the bands doesn’t shy away from using their softer side when they can, like ‘To The Empire Of Madness’. There’s a beauty to this album, that unfortunately not the whole world will appreciate.

Murg – Varg & Björn

source: Bandcamp

Fuck yeah, black metal the way it used to be made, that’s what I want! This album brings back the fury of the original second wave in the hand of this Swedish company. Blistering guitar play and a dense, northern atmosphre make this a well worthy ride, full of frostbitten grimness. These are songs with blast beats the way you love and cherish them, in full furious swing and high on energy. There over you hear the tremolo guitar play, reaching up to this static buzzing sound.

It is rather hard to find info on the band, but there’s a good interview out there if you are interested. To the sound, though it can be murky and harrowing, there is also a certain beauty and melodic nature to the sound, hidden underneath tones that speak of decay and morbididty. Big, wavy guitar parts speak in no uncertain terms of a grandeur and power of nature, which is an influence clearly to be felt in the music of this mysterious duo. This record brings back the past, but a bit more in its grandeur and passion. A next album might come into being, so I’m rooting for that one.

Witchsorrow – No Light Only Fire

Brittish doom lords Witchsorrow have a new one, which looks rather good on first sight. The eye does not lie with this record, but it’s not just doom. Opening title track is a jagged, heavy stoner anthem with a break neck speed.  The vocals are restrained, as if the full power of the band is waiting to be unleashed as yet on this record, which happens on the thrudging ‘The Martyr’. The celebration of their 10 year anniversary is definitely one  this three piece does by showing the full scale of their skills.

The slow and heavy part is definitely in order with these guys, who manage to combine that element with a certain hardcore vibe. All the sound is crisp, clear and filled with a certain venom. This is however, without ever sounding like anything that isn’t doom. Witchsorrow is one of those bands that reinvigorate the genre with a catchy and open sound. It is not without reason that album immediately resonates with me and I sincerely recommend it to anyone who bears love for the genre as a testament to its enduring longevity.

Fluisteraars – Luwte

Source: Bandcamp

There’s this new wave of black metal in the Netherlands, which seems to rely strongly on a certain poetic aesthetic. I think of Laster and Terzij De Horde, but Fluisteraars also puts on a particular brand of sweeping majesty into the sound they paint. In their bio, the band speaks of windswept black metal and that sort of makes sense when you listen to the organic, wavering sound of the band. The Gelderland collective is definitely taking the listener on a journey with their specific sound.

Continuously surging guitar parts drag you along in a sonic river of grief, remorse and sadness, where now and then an echo of hope seems to be woven into the sound. The band manages to lift that sound up to etheral hights. Without any hesitation the sound then twists and turns around again, like  a u-turn into a shouty cacophony on ‘Angstvrees’. The track then resumes the stream. The record takes an epic approach to the black metal genre, which is truly captivating.

Seal Of Solomon Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can Berk
Can Berk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Önder Dülgur
Önder Dülgur

What was the writing and recording process like?

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

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

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

Ozan
Ozan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why? Because I like their sound hehe.

What future plans do you guys have as a band?

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

Any things you’d like to add?

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

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

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