Tag Archives: doom

Underground Sounds: Iron Void – Excalibur

Label: Shadow King Records
Band: Iron Void
Origin: United Kingdom

I’ve actually seen Iron Void play and I think they are absolutely awesome with that slow, classic doom sound they produce. The group sort of revolves around John ‘Sealey’ Seale and Steve Wilson, who continued playing together in Iron Void after So Mortal Be fell apart. The group has been around and is woven into the classic doom network of bands that is still very active and playing live frequently.

I’m a bit astonished to find the group has been in existence since 1998, but only since 2998 is there a steady flow of output with this record ‘Excalibur’ being the third full length available to the listeners. I saw then knock it out of the park (or of the island) during the Malta Doom Days in 2015, which was brilliant. And so is this record, I can tell you that with some confidence.

Indeed, that’s the famous Anaal Natrakh introduction from the ‘Excalibur’ film, this time spoken by Simon Strange from Arkham Witch, before we launch into some absolute classic doom metal on ‘Dragon’s Breath’. Epic vocals with a bit of that folky drama to it, following a repetitive riff that feels sort of easy-going. Not the most fierce track, this opening, which has a bit of the classic fantasy metal vibe to it. Same goes for ‘The Coming of a King’, where I have to restrain myself and not pump my fist in the air as the epic riffage bursts loose and that voice swells in pride and splendor. There’s even a certain tranquility to ‘Lancelot of the Lake’, which fits the narrative well. Similarly, ‘Forbidden Love’ has a gloomy foreboding tone, which is delivered with music that goes very quiet and very loud, taking the listener on an emotional journey.

But this is mostly a storytellers album, yet with a lot of riffs. I really catch up again with songs like ‘The Grail Quest’ and ‘Enemy Within’. Both offer thick slabby riffs, with a crushing weight. The soaring vocals really do their work, even though they’re not that marvelous in reach, they work well within the parameters of the band. But here we come to the climax of the album, with ‘A Dream to Some, a Nightmare to Others’ as the peak. It brings us to ‘The Death of Arthur’, which is a slow-paced track with a sense of finality to it, as it describes the end of the story. The weary, yearning vocals, the big cascading riffs, it’s beautiful. Think of all your doom classics, that’s it.

‘Avalon’ is an outro, our final farewell and it has a tinge of folk to it, like most tunes. A sadness and a traditional side that is well appreciated after this magnificent piece of music. All hail Iron Void!

Ennui: From the tombs of Georgia

Georgia is one of those countries, you may not even be aware of. A state with a vast history and rich cultural traditions in the borderland of the former Soviet-Union, it is the home of Ennui, who play monolithic funeral doom in the most dark and melancholic traditions.

Partly untouched by time, the country has one of the lowest crime rates and visitors speak of the friendly reception they’ve had. Yet it also has the scars of the past, proven by the conflicts with Russia . The same goes for most countries in the Caucasus.

It’s not known for its metal scene, but it is there and shaping itself in a distincly own way. Ennui has been around since 2012, as it was founded by David Unsaved and Sergei Shengalia. Their latest work is ‘End of the Circle’, out on Non Serviam Records. Thanks to Qabar PR, I got to ask them some questions about this project and the monumental record.

Ennui: End of the Circle

First, can you introduce yourselves and how you got together? I understand the name Ennui is an old French word. Can you maybe explain why you chose it and how it has evolved with you through the years?

Yes, we are a funeral doom band from Tbilisi, Georgian Republic. Ennui is the band with only two permanent members: me, David Unsaved and Sergei Shengelia. Both of us write music for the band, we always work together on concepts for the songs, etc. We’ve founded Ennui together in 2012. So it happened that we both had ideas for this genre, we both were able to play on all instruments, and we decided to work together. The name of the band came to our mind almost immediately. I had a few propositions on the name, but we settled on Ennui. We liked the meaning of this word, because it perfectly described our spiritual state at the moment. Over time, we put more extensive sense into this word – Ennui is a state of melancholy, spiritual boredom and loss of any kind of vitality.

Do you guys play in any other bands or projects? And what bands inspired you to pursue the type of music you make?

Yes. Sergei is a veteran of Georgian metal scene. He is a front man of first Georgian technical death metal band Angel of Disease, also he’s guitarist/vocalist of his symphonic black metal band SIGNS. My biography is more modest, but I also have several side-projects in different genres. But none of them are released yet, actually it will happen in nearest future. Bands like Esoteric, Skepticism inspired us to make this music. These two bands were what introduced us to this genre very long time ago.

Where you inspired by bands from Georgia to make metal music or did it come from foreign bands? Are there aspects of your home country that shape the way you make the music you do?

No. We were never inspired by bands from Georgia. All influences and inspirations came from foreign bands of course. Also, you shall know that there are no other funeral doom metal bands from Georgia. It’s a little bit hard to name any particular aspect of Georgian culture which helped us in making this kind of music. You know, first of all, Georgia is not mentally a ”metal country”, and also Georgian culture has mostly a ”happy” mood in almost all of its forms. But working on our first album ”Mze Ukunisa” what means ”The Sun of Darkness” in Georgian, we indeed used some elements of Georgian culture, which perfectly suited atmosphere of funeral doom metal.

I want to ask you about the album ‘End of the Circle’. What was the creative process like for this record, did you do anything new or different this time and what roles do you both have in the process?

The songwriting principle was the same as always – we made individual songs independently from each other. But we’ve certainly changed the recording process as well as whole creative process in this album. Here I mean the whole approach to recording in the studio, getting the highest quality, real and ”warm” tube sound, all analogue equipment. This was first experience like this for Ennui. We’re very satisfied with the final result. I hope listeners will be happy with our new album as well!

As I understand it, in the past you’ve often used poetry for the lyrics and inspiration. Can you tell a bit about that and in what way you drew inspiration for ‘End of the Circle’?

The poetry of Terenti Graneli (Georgian dramatist and late decadence movement poet) was used as lyrics only for our debut album. After that, all lyrics are written by us. “End of the Circle” is conceptual work, inspired by some philosophical ideas about life and death, about principles of being and unbeing. We just imagined about what if there is some final point of everything? Final point of the endless. The End of the endless circle of life and death. Mostly these ideas inspired us.

Your record is in a sense such a huge slab of music, that it could easily be split into multiple releases. In fact, each of the 3 mammoth tracks feels like a separate journey. Was this your initial plan when you set out recording it or did it evolve to this enormous shape?

Oh, yes. The whole idea of this album was to write three huge songs with dynamic ups and downs in tempo and unorthodox melodies. First we had a plan to make an album with only two long songs, but later the idea evolved and we decided to split ”The Withering” in two parts to have two song conceptions reflecting each other. For example, the first part of ”The Withering” is about humanity which is lost under the vastness of starlit sky, and ”The Withering Part II” is about the lost and dead stars shining their ghost light upon us. But the title song is about death of whole Universe as it exists in our understanding and imagination.

Can you tell a bit about the start of metal in Georgia? How did metal music come to your country in the first place?

I guess first heavy metal bands in Georgia were formed in early 80-is. Heavy metal bands like Mtsiri (მწირი), Mekhis Kandakeba (მეხის ქანდაკება), also Heavy Cross (მძიმე ჯვარი). Their music was influenced by heavy metal and hard rock bands from all over the world, some records were rare, but still available to listeners in Soviet Union. Extreme metal was formed in Georgia much later, in 1990-is. It was influenced mostly by popular metal bands, because Georgia never had access to high-grade information sources about underground metal music. I mean no labels, no metal stores. Usually, records of new foreign bands were passing from hand to hand between metalheads. It was almost impossible to get tapes of rare bands. That’s why metal in Georgia was mostly influenced by mainstream bands from Europe. Nowadays, with development of social networks, metal is more available in Georgia then it was before. Here are some local metal bands, scene is has developed into different genres. Famous metal bands like Sepultura, Napalm Death, Sodom, Vader and many others played shows here. I hope that metal in George will keep progressing and in future will take its own place in Metal World.

What is the scene like these days and what bands would you recommend people check out?

Please, check out the band Comatose Vigil from Russia, I guarantee you the total desperation.

While your music and founding were rooted in sad emotions, you as a band appear to have embraced a positive life attitude in previous interviews I read. How do those two combine?

I think that such music does not oblige us to be constantly in a negative mood. And to be more precise, such music helps to get rid of the negative state of mind. It seems to me that you need to be able to treat everything with humor, even if it’s a black humor… Besides, I would not say that we are one of those people who are very open about showing everyone their inner state. Usually, we do not share everything with everyone around, but we channel everything into our music.

What future plans do you have for Ennui?

I think now it’s time to prepare for future live shows. We need to work more with session musicians and pay more attention to listeners from Europe.

If you had to compare the band to a dish, a type of food, what would it be and why?
I don’t know, maybe ”Shila Plavi” – this is a kind of Georgian dish made from rice and meat. Usually, here in Georgia this dish is served at a funeral feast in someone’s wake.

Anything I forgot that you’d like to add?

Well, I guess no! Thank you very much for conversation!

Underground Sounds: Norilsk- Weepers of the Land

Band: Norilsk
Label: Hypnotic Dirge Records
Origin: Canada

‘Weepers of the Land’ is a weird album, in the sense that the band considers it a companion record to the 2017 ‘Le Passage des Glaciers’. It is the third full-length record for the Canadian band but could be called an EP perhaps due to its connective nature. But hey, we love the EP format anyways and all is well on this five track release.

Norilsk is named after a Siberian city, which might explain the fact that some songs on this record have only been released in Russia before. The duo definitely catches a theme of the grim cold in the north, which is expressed through gritty death doom full of forlorn hopelessness and cold riffing. So let’s check this release out.

The cold hits you on the relentless ‘No Sacred Ground’, with the gritty roar from guest singer Damian Smith (Altars of Grief) barking defiance to the winds. Drummer Nick Richer keeps the natural and calm pace that nature takes. It is what it is, right? In that sense, they evoke the imagery on the album cover of man against the uncaring elements. This is pretty much what Nick Miquelon picks up on during ‘The Way’, which is the little hit song on this release, clocking under four minutes.

The lyrics of “Toute la noirceur du monde” are done by Ben Forte from North East Bistro, and Mort Marion from Blood Moon Knights plays guitar solo’s on all following tracks, which is part of the wider cooperative creation of this record. The vocals are in French, which adds a certain snarl to the whole vibe of the track. A notable track is ‘Tomber 7 Fois’, which is, in fact, a Mylene Farmer cover.  Wonderfull! It lets us hear the band in a completely different form, with layered vocals, conflicting sounds and a more gloomy approach compared to the cold honesty of their normal approach. It is fascinating to listen to, but maybe at times a bit overly messy.

The vocals on ‘Weepers of the Land’ come from Joshua Cayer (Longhouse). It’s a tormented scream as icy winds again blas you with repetitive fury and a congested, thudding bass line. This is, again, Norilsk at their finest with their arctic doom, blackened by cold, rigid by ice.

Underground Sounds: Ennui – End of Circle

Label: Non Serviam Records
Band: Ennui
Origin: Georgia

Ennui is a French word, fallen out of use to an extent, that means a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction, which well captivates the work by this Georgian duo. With ‘End of Circle’, they’ve outdone themselves on the magnitude of work and force and therefore the work may be a bit much to chew up for most listeners. But those who delve into it will find sheer majesty.

Funeral doom is a difficult genre to be prolific in, but Ennui has been quite productive since 2012, releasing 4 full-length records and two splits. Serj Shengela who provides guitars and keys is also active in Angel of Disease, Signs and No Regrets. David Unsaved, drummer and singer, also plays in Necropoli and his solo outlet Unsaved.

The first thing that has to be mentioned is the sheer immensity of ‘End of Circle’. The opening track (and title track) clocks in at over 30 minutes of shimmering, dirge-like doom metal. A slow procession towards the underworld it seems, with the guitars just clambering up the heavens. It’s the feeling of being in a pit of sand where the walls keep crumbling as despair sets in. The keys are ever present, providing dungeon synthy intermezzos, further enriching the mournful sound of the band.

The vocals are minimal, but when David Unsaved screeches defiance at the heavens, it is something else. At times, the sonorous sounds of the tracks remind me a little of that Victorian darkness My Dying Bride Brings, but it’s sombre procession remains too level. The synths are often mesmerizing, like the use in atmospheric black metal. Another point of enjoyment as the guttural vocals grate low and dry.  The tunes ‘The Whithering part I & II’ both sound like a lamenting dirge, crawling towards their end for a good fourty minutes of sheer force and magnitude.

A spectacular record and effort by the Georgian duo.

Underground Sounds: The Angelic Process – Weighing Souls With Sand

Label: Burning World (originally Profound Lore)
Band: The Angelic Process
Origin: United States

The Angelic Process is an oddity in the drone doom landscape, with little similarity to the names that must spring to mind right now (Khanate, Earth and the mighty Sunn O))) for example). Their record ‘Weighing Souls With Sand’ is not a new one, and actually was released in 2007. Since James Plotkin remastered it for release by Burning World, we’d better check it out.

The Angelic Process only ever released two records and consisted of two members, namely Kris Angylus and Monica Henson. The suicide by Angylus put an end to the activities of the band, but their legacy is vast with a sound that can hardly be emulated as it veers somewhere between the densest postrock, shoegaze, and doom.

The slow emergence of the sun is the thing most akin to the way ‘The Promise of Snakes’ comes in. The densely compressed synths fill any sort of open space you may imagine with a sonic mist. As the song unfolds, the contrast between the ascending melody and distorted rhythms, crackling with condensed force, couldn’t be greater. The vocals and drums seem to be battling against this tide on tracks like ‘The Resonance of Goodbye’. That is possibly why they hit you so hard as a listener.

A track like ‘We All Die Laughing’ sucks the life out of you completely. The full on screams hit like a hail storm amidst the torrentuous guitars. Every particle hitting you with an icy cold, a fatalistic streak, and deep, deep sorrow.  It’s remarkable how hard it is to describe the music of The Angelic Process, yet it evokes such clear imagery. It’s the same trapped, muffled feeling that you get when you feel at your worst. The oscillating opening for example, on ‘How to Build a Time Machine’ is like a sonic bath, making you feel peaceful and tranquil. Allowing yourself to submerge in it.

Though the history of the record is a sad one, it’s beauty and splendor is undeniable.

Underground Sounds: Spaceslug – Eye the Tide

Label: Independent
Band: Spaceslug
Origin: Poland

Once more, the might slug rears it’s slimy appendages languidly through space, searching for the next cosmic wave to ride. Yes, it’s your favorite Polish stoner-ensemble Spaceslug, returning once more with their next release, titled ‘Eye The Tide’.

Having done nothing bug consistently record and play live over the last few years, I feel bound to cover any work they drop. If only for the sheer simple reason that I love it and think this music is not made enough anymore. After their tight and heavy EP, the band now returns to the cosmic clarity we know from them. Less punch, more wave.

‘Obsolith’ is a spaced-out track of over 8 minutes, where the strings of the guitar seem to be caressed gently. The drums demonstrate the most vitalistic element in the song, as the rest of the music in steady waves just waxes and wanes. That slow, floating movement in the songs is a constant on the album, though the tension in the guitars can be odd and surprising like it is often on ‘Spaced By One’. It seems that every passage awaits some occurrence that never takes place.

I’m not going to put them to the test on it, but it feels like Spaceslug is slowly moving towards a more psych sound on this album. Sure, on ‘Words like Stones’, we get the roaring vocals and all. Yet, the overall vibe leans to tranquility, to permanence and a floaty equilibrium. We return to the heavy on ‘Vialys Part II’, which gives repetitive beatings to the skins and pummeling, star-grasping riffing. The song really drags you back into it, wakes you up nodding your head. We end on a high-note with ‘I, The Tide’, which is another powerful delivery by the band, who just put out a solid piece of music once more.

Underground Sounds: Yob – Our Raw Heart

Label: Relapse
Band: Yob
Origin: USA

Listening to Yob has given many people a special experience and the wait for a new album was long. The trio from Oregon has a solid string of releases in the noughties, had a hick-up before their ‘Clearing the Path to Ascend’ masterpiece in 2014 and after that things dried up for a bit.

Of course, there are always many reasons for a drought in releases, but in this case, the health of singer Mike Scheidt definitely played a part. At least, judging by interviews like this one. We are lucky that one of the most beloved bands in the doom genre has now returned with a fine slab of doom to sink your teeth into. This is ‘Our Raw Heart’, probably to be heard at Roadburn soon again.

Yob doesn’t use cold or eerie sounds, but massive riffing that claws to the heavens in a struggle of despair and grief it seems. Yet these always feel veiled and just the turmoil under the surface. The vocals are capturing an instantly take you into the mind-swirl that is ‘Our Raw Heart’. The music often relies on the heavy pummeling, though never chooses to be sharp and directly expressive. There’s a pensive nature to the music that is undeniable, with that transcendental, meditative quality to it.  An album that sets you to thinking and reflecting.

The absolute highlight is the gentle ‘Beauty in Falling Leaves’, where it’s for large parts just guitar and the wavering vocals of Scheidt. Even when the song swells to its full, climactic sound, it remains an easy flow, with a warm and calming sound. The gruff vocals carry with them a passion that is undeniable. The almost 17-minute epic is a testament to the singular genius, that is Yob. Of course, afterwards some more heavy pummeling is delivered with ‘Original Face’, which relies on the heavy drumming and bass, while the vocals sound more like Amebix‘ Rob Miller. Yet, something in the sound harks to the calm and soothing nature of Earth. Particularly, there at the very end with the title track and it’s languid riffing. Mountainous, rugged but completely flattened out and easy to traverse. A record that meets all expectations, with a final ascending into the clouds, leaving us mortals wondering what it is we’re doing.

 

 

Underground Sounds: Warren Schoenbright – Excavations

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.

Underground Sounds: Noctu/Augu Sigyn – Temple of Decadence

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, Auga Sigyn 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 Djævles Skrig, 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.