‘War, war never changes…’ But it did, and particularly in 1914, it showed that advanced technology and ancient battle tactics can combine into a horrible cocktail of death and decay. That is the theme taken by the band 1914 from Ukraine.
Their live shows are a spectacle, somewhere between re-enactment and death metal extravaganza. Their latest album, after a long time fighting to get their own sound heard, here is ‘The Blind Leading The Blind’. A work that tells of the folly that is war and the horrible situations it created, This definitely get the sound noticed, which is something I’m very happy about. The band takes their sound further though, and the fascination with World War I goes much, much further. You can re-read the interview I had with singer Dmytro Kumar about that here.
The blood-soaked fields and trenches
1914 delivers a firm death metal masterpiece with a sense of melancholy and despair woven into the very fabric of the songs. Repetitive riffing, stomping rhythms and firing on all cylinders, the band marches on and on with tunes like ‘Arrival. The Meuse-Argonne’ and ‘High Wood. 75 Acres of Hell’. Every song adhering to the theme, as cavalrymen swing their swords while galloping towards machine guns. Mighty tanks getting bogged down in the mud… It’s a blind dash for death. The only spark of hope is in the Exploited cover, ‘Beat the Bastards’, as a sense of rebellion emerges, but it soon submerges as the war continues.
Obviously, there’s a link to be made here to the mighty BoltThrower. No wonder then, that on ‘Passchenhell’ we have Dave Ingram (also Benediction of course) singing along with the Ukranian battalion. But perhaps my favorite track on the album is ‘The Hundred Days Offensive’, which derives, like much of the album, a lot of force from the introducing sample. Here we hear a soldier talking to the man he just killed. “When you jumped in here you were my enemy, I was afraid. But you were just a man like me, and I killed you.” It’s here that we feel so deeply the disgust of the human tragedy, which we failed to learn any lessons from.
Musically, the album is versatile and very catchy. From fierce, pounding death metal, to harrowing melodic passages. 1914 has everything and more to offer. No wonder they just got signed to Napalm Records.
Label: Independent Band: The Flesh Origin: The Netherlands
TheFlesh made their first appearance on the main stage during Netherlands Death Fest. I forgot who they were replacing, which is a good sign. It means I do remember the replacement very vividly. Though the lights could have been a better effort and the stage is really big for such an intense, threatening live act, they ruled.
Now, finally, you might say, the band has released their debut album. Titled ‘Dweller’, it’s one big jar of hot sauce with death and black elements and a lot of groove and thumping hardcore vibes. Featuring former members of Herder, BloodDiamond and Feast, no real surprise there I suppose.
The slow, crushing intro of the record is an instant hit on ‘Tot In Den Treure’, with that jangled, buzzing bass-line curdling up from below. When the band picks up the pace with those vitriolic, venomous vocals it’s a straight-up hell ride. They stick to a hardcore pace with songs clocking in under three minutes, as ‘Black Rain’ and ‘Siren’s Call’ ramble past at break-neck speed and intensity, with muddy, sludgy streams surging through the dense guitars and drums.
‘Dweller (In the Dark)’ is a truly harrowing track with a doomy premonition whispering through its cosmic horror-infused tunes. The inhuman roar on ‘Salax’ helps keep that vibe going onto the next half of the album, with that thick, death metal sound, barrelling onwards onto the high-paced ‘Thrones in the Sky’, where the bellowing vocalist takes the band to a whole new level of awesome and overwhelming. Full-on killer ‘A Knife To The Conformist’ is the closing cut for an excellent debut record. Where are you, label bosses?
Label: Life Lair Regret Records Band; Unravel Origin: Australia
Australian youngsters Unravel are ready to storm the world with their debut album ‘Eras of Forfeit’. The group set forth with a fresh sound in 2015 and has made a few releases since then. However, this is their first full record out on Life Lair Regret Records.
Blending a sound that contains death metal, grindcore and the vibrancy of hardcore, there’s a vitality to the sound of Unravel. Having played with bands like The Black Dahlia Murder to ParkwayDrive, these guys clearly have a sound that resonate with whats going on today.
This record just grips me instantly, from the very first rumblings of ‘Arbitrator’. The pace and vibe of the record is much more that of a hardcore record, with its violent breaks and tormented screams. Yet, the ingredients are screeching death metal solo’s, guttural vocals that crack through the surface and an overall catchy groove. Not metalcore, it lacks the slickness to my ear at least. Relentless, the band barrels onward at that energetic, high pace, with ‘No Validation for Violation’. Sheer brutality and muscular riffing.
By the time you hit ‘Mortal’s Thrist’, you are pretty much black and blue from the continuous beatings by Unravel, who never really let down. Every mellower passage only serves to warm up the pit for the next unbridled clash with perfect paced rhythms and guitars that shoot from ominous to an almost jagged, prodding sound that makes you want to smash and destroy. Lyrically the band mostly deals with the fucked up state of the world around us. Fitting, because that should fuel any furnace of anger. This is a record, you shouldn’t play in traffic.
Label: Satanath Records, Cimmerian Shade Recordings, Murdher Records, Black Plague Records Band: Neter Origin: Spain
The titanic stone slabs on the cover may suggest a more doomy sound, but Neter plays straight-up death metal and has been doing so for a good 14 years. The band has had some line-up changes through the year but appears to be still going strong with this release of ‘Inferus’.
The production of music will never be called prolific for these guys. That’s fine of course, but with a mere two albums to their name, you’d be surprised to find that there’s not a lot of other projects going on. In no way does that say anything negative about the gents, who produce a solid slab of death metal with this release, reminiscent of Immolation and Nile.
After a gentle piano intro, we launch fully into it, with crushing riffs and melodies, that hint of a mysterious oriental theme on ‘Faceless’. The sound of Neter is threatening, dark and ominous, but also very clean polished and full of technicalities. The thudding drums never seem to stop and prod the songs forward with a steady surge of heavy bass behind them.
Perhaps the tunes by Neter sound a bit stiff after a while. The steady pummeling doesn’t really show much variation, apart from the melodic guitar parts that appear here and there. On a tune like ‘Galvanize’, they are slightly more present, but still swamped by the rhythm section and the barked, guttural vocals. During a song like ‘Endemic Warfare’, it even goes down to a fragmentary presence, as the drums keep hitting hard and pushing the song towards it’s end.
If you are from a country that most of the world doesn’t know how to find on a map, it’s probably best to go for a name that sticks. SarcotrofiA started out as Sarcomaticaposa, which would definitely not help them any further. Playing metal music in Mozambique is definitely not an easy thing, which is part of the reason why the band has relocated to Sweden. Still, the ties run deep.
Though things are relatively quiet in Mozambique, the climate has still been rocky since conflicts have been erupting again since 2014. This has not affected the band much, since they decided to leave years ago. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out as planned and drummer Goro Fast was the only one to locate to Scandinavia. Having rebuild the band, he is now eager to pursue a heavy sound of Mozambique death metal.
Goro Fast was kind enough to answer a bunch of my questions. Enjoy!
Mozambique death metal
Hello Sarcotrofia, how are things going for you?
Hey! We are doing great!
Can you tell me how the band started and about the history of the band?
Well! Long story but will try to sum up. The band comes from the ashes of another past band called Sarcomaticaposa founded by Goro Fast (Drummer) in 2006…then after several lineup changes it became SarcotrofiA…from there until now we have been working hard trying to bring the best-unexplored side of music to the listeners and lovers of this musical genre in attempt to create an identity as SarcotrofiA!
How did you guys get into metal music and what bands inspired the sound of Sarcotrofia?
Each member got into music in a different way, some by influence and others by self-interest, guess. we got many influences through everything connected to the music in general and some weird sounds/rhythm that’s why we don’t have a specific base just because we are from a society within a vast multicultural music background and we are always open for whatever may contribute to make us versatile musicians. So we individually might have specific bands that pulled us into metal, but SarcotrofiA is more into TechGrind and brutal death metal.
Your themes are listed as ‘Ghost Monks’ on Metal Archives. Can you tell me what that is about? What are the overall stories you want to tell with Sarcotrofia?
Ghost Monk track is more a metaphoric metamorphose theme within a contest that can be inserted or used in an imaginary situation.
We normally don’t have a specific contest or storyline, we mostly write about what comes to mind at the time, within all the issues involved from politics to a daily bases.
I’m particularly interested in the logo you use with the elements of the Mozambique flag. Can you tell me more about these symbols and what role Mozambique plays in what Sarcotrofia is about?
We had all those elements in our logo as identity and also to honor our nation due to we were all Mozambicans in the band at the time, but now with a new line up within new members from other nations, it will also be changed.
Yah! The symbols according to our constitution has its political meaning, but for us, it expresses a determination, focus, objectives, and goal.
You moved to Sweden as a band. Why did you move and how was it to start again over there?
Yeah well! to make it clear, only one member moved. we were supposed to move as a band within all original members of the band but unfortunately only Goro Fast the Drummer moved to Sweden and the other members of SarcotrofiA decided to step back and fall apart from the band to pursue a different paths in life because combining a normal life and a job became too stressful for some members to manage a SarcotofiAs heavy tour schedule and future plans.
We moved because we got a proposal from a record label that wanted to work with us, in a terms agreement of two years contract and a full-length album to record and promote.
It was Fucking hard to start over here, due to at first we had to get new members that would fit in the band and above all those which are willing to take further steps with us in serious and professional level, we had to face cultural shock, atmosphere, communication, lifestyle etc…it was a big challenge to face. But we are getting there and we are making any opportunity that will make it all worth it.
You know: no risk, no fun! ☺
How do you go about creating music. Is it a collaborative effort or do band members have their own separate roles? Do you start with lyrics or music?
We basically make music together, but most of the tracks were created by Goro Fast the drummer, which is weird, because he makes songs out of rhythmic melody then he makes a transposition of the rhythm to a bassline tab and transcribe it into guitar charts afterwards, then the other member collaborate in making arrangements and give it a music sense line. So and about the lyrics, we don’t have a sequence, can be both at the same time or one task at the time no particular order.
Are you currently working on anything new? What direction are you taking Sarcotrofia in?
YES! We are still focusing on our length album, it takes time but we are working hard on it and soon will get there. The new material is more into Tech, grindcore, and brutal death metal, so let’s see where is it going to take us.
How did metal music originally come to your country Mozambique? What bands pioneered the genre in the country? It seems that the scene is very young, but various bands are doing things now.
How it came? I can’t precise! Because we don’t have archives registered. But, we grew up while metal music was there already and there were some bands from the 80’ & 90’s, such as: Panzers, Ostais, Moz-artes, Violent Desire, InvadersStrangers, Rude, Garganta, PneusFurados, SPuG, PunkVibration, Paranoia and etc…Then on the 20s’ we had new wave of metal as well which is still active so far.
Yeah, our scene is comparably young but is very solid and it ’s growing each day either in a number of bands or the crowd, we are in a good way, I can’t complain.
How is it now in Mozambique with facilities like recording studios, rehearsal space, availability of instruments etcetera…? Was or is there any censorship, either institutional or social? How much are you still in touch?
We don’t have a metal recording studios so far, the few recording studios we have are more focus in the Mozambican tropical vibes, jazz and traditional stuff and never rock and its ramification.
We have some public rehearsal space, just need to book it and go there to bang bang, but most of the metal bands have their own practicing spot where they get together their gear and go to practice to keep in shape and sharp.
We also have some music stores, where it’s easy to get whatever instrument you want either acoustics, electrics or digital, otherwise, we order online. We are constantly in touch, the roots are there and need to be updated time to time.
Which bands from Mozambique should people really check out and why?
This is a very tricky question, but there are lots of bands out there, and also depends on what music genre is on the bill. The easiest way is to dig them into social media or google about Mozambican metal scene lots will pop up.
What future plans do you currently have with the band?
The band is now focused in getting sharp and steel with new members, we also have a recording session on the go and a MASSIVE Attack tour for near future.
If you had to describe Sarcotrofia as a dish, what would it be and why?
Would be ‘Nhapfutela or Xipatsinheta’ because is a multicultural super joint band within a huge miscellaneous of everything, kinda all’in.
Is there anything you’d like to say that I forgot to ask?
…for those who want to follow us, check our FB page, click ‘’like’’ and get informed about everything related to the band and stuff.
Apricity took their sweet time making this album. Most of it was recorded in 2014, but the whole vibe of the record fits the prevailing sound of that melodic death metal era a while earlier. Now, I’m not calling this a retro act. They sound great and the recent production is awesome. It just happens that they clearly take their inspiration from a very melodic corner of the metal scene.
The band originates in Klaipeda on the Lithuanian coast and should not be confused with their American counterpart in name. The album was produced this year and finally unleashed on this world. I for one wish them a lot of luck and success with this release.
The style of Apricity fits best in something that is both technical and melodic, bearing with it influences from melodeath and metalcore alike. The way they implement this in their sound from ‘The Afterflow’ onwards creates a strong sound. The vibe is that of a narrative with gritty effects and interesting effects. As if we’re in a sci-fi horror film. When the riffs kick in a moment later, they sound smooth and clean. A very accessible sound for a metal band. This reminds me of the days when I’d listen to this endlessly while gaming. This is the kind of band that lures the kids in. That’s not a bad thing.
So with the grunted, roaring vocals, the particular arch they take, I have to think back to bands like Norther. Particularly on ‘Bridging The Infinite’. I’m less impressed by the vocals on ‘The Human Hive’, where they seem to try a bit too hard, even on the clean parts. The keys are ever so present by the way, which is noteworthy. This avenue of metal was sort of abandoned years ago, but Apricity picks it up on their album like it never left. It’s a dangerous sound, like on previously mentioned song, where the listener really surfs along on those clean waves. The catchy melodies, the production, it all promises way too much. That is what makes Apricity so damn nice to listen to. The catchy riffs, the smooth drums, this album is just super slick and a great lure for future metal fans.
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.
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 MorbidAngel, 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 DefLeppard 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 IronMaiden’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, HateEternal, Katatonia, Obscura, Defiled, Metallica, InFlames, Testament, Sepultura, IronMaiden, Mastodon, Opeth, Motorhead, Fleshcrawl, Megadeth, Korn, MachineHead, 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, EskimoDisco 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 MusicRoom supporting the almighty ParadiseLost 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.
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). UnaussprechlichenKulten 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 BoltThrower (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.
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.
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 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 SpiritualDemise. 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.
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 MorbidStench and ConceivedbyHate, 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.
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!