Label: Vacant Fulfillment Band: Warren Schoenbright Origin: United Kingdom
Inspired by the Egremont region in Cumbria, Warren Schoenbright created an exceptional record after a residency at the Florence Art Centre, situated on a defunct Haematite mine. It captures the environment, the depressive mood of an industrial site fallen out of use, leaving its remnants behind. This is captured on the record ‘Excavations’.
The band is three-piece, consisting of Daniel McClennan on drums, Alex Virji on bass and vocals, and Iker Ormazabal Martínez on Guitar. While they create drone/noise, their music is quite easy to listen to. Imagine something in between 5F-55 and Godflesh, and you kind of have it. Add the human nihilism to a sort of found organic sound in the industrial decay, and there we have Warren Schoenbright.
The album opens with minimal sounds and a more ambient like atmosphere, up until the droning sound swells and unleashes in a torrentuous, sludgy mass of guitars. A massive, industrial water slide, that is both heavy and hypnotic, disgusting and harmonious at the same time. No wonder that the group collaborated earlier with Caina on their ‘Christ Clad in White Phosphorous’ album to add a heavy foundation of urban despair of nauseating, gritty firmness. Exactly that is what they bring to this release too.
The album only contains one, ongoing track, so it is like being caught in the worst and most grim water slide you could ever imagine. The clanging sounds of metal, the pulsating beats of machinery and the constrictive nature of the music emulate the work that once took place on the location that served as inspiration for this record. For just under 25 minutes, you are stuck, completely held in thrall by the beating, surging rhythm, and darkness of Excavations.
Label: Bloodcrown Records Band: Noctu/Augu Sigyn Origin: Italy/Denmark
This split features two doomy bands, the first being Noctu from Italy. Noctu happens to be the sole member and also plays in Atra Mors and Necromist. After a full length, this is the first record with an English title by the funeral doom project from Crema.
The slow, dirge-like doom by the Italian artist has a certain cinematic quality and minimalism to it. Only lurching forward with an ever lumbering pace, the vocals are muddled into the mix where they hardly seem to really convey any meaning anymore. On ‘Lacerazioni Tra Le Ombre’, they merely appear as abyssal murmurings, rumbling in the distant haze of the sound. With a long intro and outro to his part of the record, Noctu demonstrates a knack for dense atmospheres and troubling ambient.
Strangely enough, AugaSigyn immediately hits you with a sort of crusty doom sound. The Danish act from Svendborg has released some EP’s before, mostly in the native language too and now the duo, also active in DjævlesSkrig, Blackhorned, Grimnismál and a gazillion other projects, participates in this split.
Instantly noticeable are the vocals by Sarah Lee Berthelsen, who bars and howls as if possessed on ‘Antropomorfisk Form’. it’s unnerving, resounding clearly over the distorted, warped guitar sound of their primitive pitch-black doom metal. The harrowing sound of the Danish duo is definitely for the sensitive souls, particularly on ‘Den Hængte Mands Bøg’ the sound is quite derailed and maddening even. Rabid barks and an almost ritualistic drumming is accompanied by piping guitar tunes. It helps to bring the record to its creepy ending.
Label: Fuck OFF and DIY Band: Basalto Origin: Portugal
Portugal has a distinct scene and produces some really good music, that remains out of sight and sort of underground. Basalto it’s as heavy as the volcanic fine-grained rock and just as black. Active since 2015, they just unleashed their second full-length effort, titled ‘Doença’.
On this album, arriving only 2 years after their eponymous debut, the band explores new, darker themes. It helps them to create something particularly heavy and dense, with a remarkable amount of feeling in its punch and dark vibes. The trio definitely has that down and creates a sound that is very much their own version of stoner/doom.
The ten-minute long opener ‘VII’ is an instant hit, grinding your face through volcanic ash with intriguing rhythms, that never feel like languid stoner passages. A certain jagged aspect makes the beating drive you, always on edge, constantly pushing for something. Listening to Basalto, you instantly detect a need for something primitive in their sound. The almost primal pummeling and dark, oppressive atmosphere permeates everything on this record.
Accompanying the album is a text by Martin Sousa, titled ‘Doença’, which tells the tale fo darkness in mankind. That is emulated in the sound, on numeral tracks like ‘X’ and ‘XI’, which both carry a sense of foreboding and darkness in their ominous sounding guitar lines and blood-curdling bass lines. It’s as if you listen to a stream of magma, which never goes for the big arches or deep drops, but steadily moves forward. On ‘XII’ however, we get to rock out for a bit, with energetic drumming, funky guitars and a driven bass. The record could use a bit more of that energy, but all in all deeply, dark immersive piece of music.
Label: Metal Blade Band: Hamferð Origin: Faroe Islands
Doom from the Faroe Islands
Hamferð is one of those bands hailing from the Faroe Islands. Isolation begets inspiration it seems because the island nation under the Danish crown has spawned various bands in the metal genre that have made a splash. Tyr being the foremost of course, but Hamferð is definitely not an unknown entity, making songs in their own language for the masses. Members have also been active in Barren Earth and Heljareyga, connected to aforementioned Tyr.
‘Támsins likam’ is the second full length of the doom band, after their 2013 debut. Signed to Metal Blade, the group can hardly be called prolific, but definitely has something in their sound that only seems to be found on these islands in the north, something forlorn and melancholic. Not surprising for a band whose very name refers to the epiphany of dead or missing seamen, of which the tales on the island are rich.
‘Fylgistflog’ opens with the class and stature of a bygone age. Filled with a particular mournful mood, the song remains elegant in its opening. Perhaps the sound is reminiscent of the romantic qualities known from My Dying Bride and ilk. Vocalist Jón Aldará has the quality of a story-teller in his voice, which he uses aptly. The story is that of a family in mourning over a lost child. Supernatural entities visit and torment the family, whose sorrow is expounded through the crushing music of Hamferð. Music that is as heavy and cold as the sea.
When the floodgates open, the band reminds me of Ahab in their nautical element. Wave after wave crashes into you, from the depths of the abyss onward. On a track like ‘Tvístevndur meldur’, the grief is tangible, yet the voice of Aldará breaks through the dark clouds with an almost angelic quality, a light that breaks through the turmoil and chaos. The music never loses it’s composure and remains regal and noble in all aspects. Yet the guitar work is so massive and oppressive at times, that even the listener might give up. Even when the darkness completely overwhelms, the northern beauty of this record remains undisputed when the notes of ‘Vápn í anda’ slowly ebb away.
Nothing but appreciation for this exceptionally immersive, but hard record by Hamferð and its fantastic artwork by Costin Chioreanu.
The band Marijannah hails from Singapore and plays a very fresh and catchy style of stoner/doom. Inspired by films, their music is captivating, playful and a bit unnerving at times. Havint checked out their recent release, I needed to know more about them.
Signed to Pink Tank Records, their ‘Till Marijannah’ is well worth a spin if you haven’t heard it yet. To get you started, first learn something more about the band and where they come from.
Marijannah takes you to Paradise
Hey Marijannah, how’s everything going?
How did your band get started and where does the name come from?
We all individually wanted to try something different outside the usual styles of music we’ve been playing for years in each of our respective bands and this is something we’ve never created before.
The name is sort of an accidental double entendre initially. It loosely translates to “come to paradise” in Malay, which is a native language where we’re from and it’s also bluntly a pun to you-know-what.
What inspired you to make this particular sound your own? To me ,it feels very much like a mixture of classic psychedelic rock with a hint of occult rock on a thick slab of stoner, which together gives off this timeless sound. What do you think?
I don’t know if we do but if anybody thinks we sound any different from the usual stoner/doom, it’s really just because half of us never regularly listened to this style of music up until like a year ago. We all have roots in different genres. Some of us come from a punk/emo/hardcore background and some of us almost strictly listen to extreme metal so it’s truly a mash of clashing influences.
Can you tell me how you wrote and recorded the album ‘Till Marijannah’? How did the process go and what sort of working method do you have?
Rasyid writes most of the music and I write the lyrics. We record riffs on our shitty phones and send them to each other on a daily basis and dig em out when we need to. There was quite a bit of spontaneity in the studio as well, using weird, new pedals and ancient gongs lying around the room.
I’m interested to learn what inspired the four separate songs. They all have a distinct quality and theme but differ a lot. So what stories and inspiration did you use for each? I’m particularly interested in All Hallow’s Eve.
Lyrically, they’re all tributes to films. I’m a big “film buff” and they go hand in hand with heavy music aesthetically. All Hallow’s Eve is of course about John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the “Laurie” mentioned is Laurie Strode, portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis in the series.
Tell me more about the artwork. Who did it and what inspired it? I originally thought I was going to listen to something more like Yes!
Again, it was a mash of very different ideas we all had individually backed and executed by a very talented artist in mr. Riandy Karuniawan. Like most metal musicians, we like sci-fi imagery and mystical shit so there’s that.
What sort of response did you get this far to the record and what future plans do you currently have?
They’ve been almost all positive from what I’m aware of. I don’t really pay much attention to reviews, I think the record is dope and so does most of my friends who have a good taste. We’re working on new material right now and have been jamming about 5-6 new tunes, probably aiming to enter the studio by August. We’ll be announcing a short tour really soon, maybe it’ll be announced by the time this interview is out and we have another planned for the year’s end.
Is having a Rasyid in Wormrot in any way limiting for what you can do with Marijannah? Do you feel that your other bands in general have an influence on your output?
Not at all. Neither band is looking to be super busy or touring full-time and I think the rotation works well for Rasyid and the rest of us. I think its inevitable that we will share certain influences amongst our bands, we’re the same people as we are in other projects, just expressed differently through multiple entities.
What is currently happening in the heavy scene of Singapore that the world really should not miss out on? Like exciting bands etc?
Radiant Archery, Bethari, Hollowthreat, HRVST, Yumi, Zodd. None of them are similar to us but all worth checking out.
If you had to compare Marijannah to a dish, what would it be and why?
Bolognese. Rustic, traditional, timeless, best served hot and consumed wearing dark-coloured clothing.
Label: Pink Tank Records
Band: Marijannah Origin: Singapore
Marijannah is a project that features members from Wormrot and The Caulfield Cult. As their bio says, two of the hardest touring bands from the island nation Singapore. As it often is, these gents had an itch to do something different. That is, to play stoner/doom, which they do surprisingly well and now on their first record ‘Till Marijannah’.
The band started out in 2016 and it being a side-project, took its time to really get going with their heavy, psychedelic sound and release a record. Sounding rather classical and hazy, this band definitely harks back to the retro-doom sound you hear coming up on and off. Think of bands like The Sword and maybe even a bit of that St. Vitus or Goatsnake vibe. It’s helluvalot catchy.
The foundation of the sound Marijannah offers is a rock-melting buzz of bass and drums, that never lets up. A solid stoner bass on which to build the tunes so to say, like the classics. The lyrics are steeped in horror influences with an occult flavor on opener ‘1974’ and the following ‘Snakecharmer’. It’s really comfortable music to sink into and just ride its waves as you listen to their spaced out sounds. I have to point out the cover, with an interesting color pattern. Definitely does its job too.
Powerful repetition shapes the track ‘Bride of Mine’, which even harks a bit to the sound of Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats with its snarling, whiny sound that just clings to you. The snide sound of the track is pretty catchy. ‘All Hallows End’ is the strange big rock anthem on this record. It stands out like a sore thumb, which is exactly what makes it so interesting. The emotional vocals and the ooh and aah backing makes for a pleasant outro, with creepy lyrics of course.
The charm of Marijannah is that they don’t do anything overly complex. It’s pretty straight forward stuff, but with a tinge of their very own mystery. Looking forward to seeing this live.
Label: Hathenter/Giliad Media Band: Krallice Origin: USA
How do you even get to this level of productivity, without slacking somehow in your quality? I have no idea how they do it, but here’s the new Krallice, titled ‘Go Be Forgotten’. It’s their second full length of 2017 and one hell of a record, mixing jazzy noise with black metal and hardcore-sludge or whatever.
The band has sort of just released ‘Löum’, together with Dave Edwardson from Neurosis. You’d say that we may have slightly recovered from that piece of work. This is the latest and it actually made it to various end of year lists. Good on you guys, I’d say. I was just a bit baffled after listening to it because these New Yorkers rarely make for an easy listen.
It seems like Krallice is moving in the direction of noise or even something akin to industrial, with the gritty beats on ‘This Forest For Which We Have Killed’. A solid layer of bass forms, like a curtain of pulverized glass or construction residue. Beyond that layer is space, for the vocals to bark into the void. Relentless aptly describes the flow of fury that Krallice directs at the listener. Frantically paced and never opening up for a breath, the band sounds more and more like a blend of hardcore, noise and black metal to me.
Remarkably, a grand experience can also be a part of that violent, abrasive sound. The title track embraces big arches and soaring synths. The wide contrast opens up a whole new space for Krallice to play in. The sound explores restlessness, dynamics, and complex structures, sometimes verging on jazz even? The 10-minute onslaught of ‘Ground Prayer’ for example, seems to meander from different pace as much as in intensity, with every new measure, while the vocals keep insistently barking at you.
Krallice may be one of the most intense and surprising bands out there and like every one of their records, this may take you some time to wrap your head around.
Label: Avantgarde Music Band: Nortt Origin: Denmark
For more than two decades, Nortt has been smothering hopes and sucking the life out of things with all-consuming darkness. The funeral doom the one-man band produces is tinged with black metal grimness, fully overwhelming and absolutely destroying. ‘Endeligt’ is the fourth full length fromt he Danish act.
Nortt has previously played in Apollyon and Strychnos, but works in solitude on his self-titled project. Calling his music ‘pure depressive black funeral doom’ is already pushing it to the darkest corners, but Nortt himself doesn’t see it as trying to inspire any sort of dark behavior. Fair point, there is always a natural beauty in the dark. It’s been 10 years since ‘Galgenfrist’, so this is a good moment for some new grimness.
Eerie drones start forming a gloomy soundscape, when the mournful tones of ‘Andægtigt dødsfald’ crush in, with all their languid majesty. Slow and heavy, they offer that crushing effect, swathing aside any sort of hope and liveliness you may still hold on to. The vocals bubble up from somewhere below the earth, like a grave opening up. On ‘Kisteglad’, the sound almost reduces to an ambient soundscape, with only the sound of winds blowing over a desert plain. As a listener, you feel the sound pressing down upon you as it flows by.
The totality of this record is an overwhelming bath of sorrow, particularly when cold walls of distorted guitar just surge forward. Never really pushing, but looming over you in all their might on ‘Fra hæld til intet’. Nortt’s vocals seem completely out of this earth and being used vary sparsely; they come into major effect during the doomed progressions of might funeral tunes. Melodies are woven in there, sounding fragile but strong, to add even more dramatic overtones to the songs.
Label: Magnetic Eye Records Band: Year of the Cobra Origin: United States
I like that Year of the Cobra is not a regular band. It’s a duo that also is in a relationship with each other. That sounds pretty weird, since relations are always an intense form of being together. To add a band to that, jeez… the fights they must have in the Barrysmith home in Seattle. I would prefer not to get caught up in that. It does result in ample releases though.
But without making light of it, for these two it works and it produces beautiful, harmonious music. The full length is already a little behind us, so ‘ Burn Your Dead’ is a welcome bit of new material after the success of ‘…In the Shadows Below’. The theme seems to linger in warrior/Viking imagery and occult feeling songs, with that typical crawly vibe to them. Now, maybe I’m mythicizing the place a bit, but it’s so typical that a unique sound like this comes from Seattle, isn’t it?
It felt a little quiet around this band, but Year of The Cobra easily regains their status with this new EP. From the first notes of ‘Cold’, the foreboding sound of their psychedelic doom grabs you. The seductive, slivering sound of the bass/drum combo heavily relies on the husky voice of Amy Barrysmith, who can also wail like a banshee if need be. A chill runs up your spine when she wails the words to the songs.
The music moves with the grace of a cobra. Slow and deliberate towards its goal with an almost slithering smoothness. Sometimes, the intensity increases. This happens on ‘Burn Your Dead’, the title-track, where the vocals are filtered through (I suppose) a megaphone, has a frantic pace and energy to it. What is particularly enjoyable about Year of the Cobra, is how there’s a certain kind of groove in their sound. It feels warm, immersive and pleasant to sink into. Check out, in particular, the bewitching ‘The Howl’, which will totally drag you under. Good stuff, so looking forward to the next full length.
Label: Napalm Records Band: Summoning Origin: Austria
Summoning is a must-listen band for anyone who feels strongly about black metal and Tolkien, but Silenius and Protector have long since left behind their musical roots. The band stands apart, thanks to their programmed, composed sound. On ‘With Doom We Come’, that is once more extremely clear and within the dungeon synth world the band is hailed as if they’re venerated, liberators. Unfortunately, the biggest impact this far from their new album came through an interview with Noisey. Well, as long as they talk about you.
Summoning was born out of musicians from Abigor and Pazuzu (and many others), started out as a fourpiece playing black metal, but switched to their current approach in 1995 (two years after starting). Since then the members Protector and Silenius are responsible for the sound of Summoning, which is much more sountrack-like and composed rather than created in a rehearsal space. On the side they duo occupies themselves with some side projects. Silenius plays black metal with Amistigon and industrial with KreuzwegOst. Protector occupies himself with IceAges, creating EDM.
‘Tar-Calion’ is the epic story of the last king of Númenor, told in solumn progressing tones. Spoken passages and grunts illuminate segments of the tale. The song is highly repetitive, which immerses the listener into the unhindred and fatalistic path of this Tolkien-saga figure. A journey towards ultimate doom. That is the overlying theme for this record, the doom-laden parts of the Silmarillion and other writings, with electronically enhanced music, featuring flutes and heralding trumpets. The music is sonorous, slow and never really building to any sort of climax. Vocals are hoarse whispers, grittedly spat at the listener on tracks like ‘Silvertine’ (a reference to the place where Gandalf battled the Balrog, that even movie watchers must know) or ‘Carcharoth’ (Silmarillion).
A swelling sound can be heard on ‘Herumor’, where a choir appears to sing over the meandering, ambient-like metal of the Austrian band. It’s a noteworthily more expressive part of the record, amidst the static sound of the group. They never seem to really waver much from their flowing music. Generally, the atmosphere oppresses and sounds dense and hazy. This is of course one of the main reasons why this band appeals to the dungeon synth genre-fans so much because it clearly bridges between the two worlds. Playful melodies now and then create interesting nuances in the songs, filling the gaps between the vocals on a tune like ‘Night Fell Behind’.
On ‘Mirklands’ we get a bit grimmer, mostly thanks to the vocals, but the song stays synth heavy. With over 10 minutes of music, both this tune and the title track are powerful compositions that evoke Tolkienesque visages and imagery. ‘With Doom We Came’ offers the doomy, grand finale of the album. The voice is raspy, but clear, a bit like Rob Miller from Amebix/Tau Cross. The highlight of the album for sure.