Tag Archives: Metal

Underground Sounds: Mord’A’Stigmata – Hope

Label: Pagan Records
Band: Mord’A’Stigmata
Origin: Poland

Mord’A’Stigmata is one of the interesting bands emerging from Poland, with a tendency to explore the boundaries of what black metal is, seeking to expand, grow and energize the genre in their own way. The band has been around for a good 13 years and has now released album number four ‘Hope’.

For a band that deals with the depressive reality of our lives, its a far flung term, but where darkness is hope lives, does it not? That seems to be the theme for this album. The artwork doesn’t spell that much good for the future though. Gnarled branches reaching upwards in the dark and smoke rising from it. Well, time to give this a spin. Out on Pagan Records, this is an album by a band within the Polish tradition, where conviction and a feeling of glow are part of the sound.

The titletrack that kicks of seems to rely on a sort of post-metal trance-state that the listeners get swallowed up in. Repetitive riffing for about 12 minutes is indeed a heavy experience. But thanks to the catchy sound, the emotional clarity and a certain less-is-more approach to the sound, this is something special to experience. The production is well tight on this first song, allowing you to sink into it almost instantly in the first minutes. The vocals slither in, offering words in a similar tone as Nergal/Johan Edlund (Behemoth/Tiamat). It gives more depth to the music, which seems to combine that hypnotic side with a gothic/doom aspect.

The commanding vocals work well with the constant build up an tension in the music. The track ‘The Tomb from Fear and Doubt’, we hear the vocalist Ion deliver with conviction. The lyrics are a bit peculiar though and seem to be more those of a love song. I’m not sure if that is what they are, but this sometimes is really the language barrier. The track maybe dwindles on some aspects too long, but following tune ‘To Keep The Blood’ gets us back to strength. Though you can feel the black metal aspect in all music by Mord’A’Stigmata, this record is much more a rock album. The way the songs balance out the slow, atmospheric guitar and drum passages and clearly articulated words.

Like the final track ‘In Less Than No Time’, this is a song to just sink into.  That I find the biggest strength of hope, the way they put those endless passages in there that completely suck you in. I really enjoy listening to this album. The music is not overly complex, but catchy. The eclectic nature of the band puts them in a much broader stream of music. This I think will be very good for their popularity. The Polish metal scene is definitely developing a more and more distinct sound.

Underground: Armor Force – Exile

Label: Infected Blood / Kill The Light Productions
Band: Armor Force
Origin: China

Bands froms certain parts of the world just do things differently. That definitely goes for Armour Force, who combine folk with death metal vocals in a rather direct way. And by direct I mean that there’s really no blended terrain or common ground being trodden, it is at times literally death metal grunts over sea shanty passages.

This is the first EP by the Beijing band, which was originally released in 2015. Since then they only did a single, on another label from Inner Mongolia. The music the band makes seems to be an odd mix of various styles, but definitely finds some inspiration in the sword and sorcery movements, I gather from the logo.

So trust me, you won’t know what hits you when the first notes arrive. It opens like a melancholic folk song, maybe even some dungeon synth. meandering, notes that suddenly launch into a blast of bagpipes with a ripping guitar behind them. A flute takes over while the sound lowers and a deep grunt emerges. It’s as if you hear the pining Chinese traditionals with a full on metal riffs. It’s a bit much all in all, but sort of cool if you drop the genre definitions.

The following track is titled ‘Jade Horn’ and features the same flute and a more sea shanty like melody, remniscent of Alestorm. It’s sort of along those lines that the song swings onwards. Cheery folk tunes with peculiarly tight and condensed riffing, but always that almost surreal party sound. It makes for a strange album altogether, of which I can’t really detect much of the real idea and concept behind it. The recorded quality of the riffs and vocals is significantly poorer, almost sounding like midi files, particularly on ‘The Day Of Downthrow’. The band drops the synth for a moment to just get the gritty guitars to the front.

I wonder how this band is sounding on  a proper produced record, because when you really listen closely this has a promise to it. Right now, it feels like a strange gaming soundtrack, but still sort of cool.

Molodost: poetry, youth and life in Lebanon

This interview with Molodost was originally published by Echoes & Dust. Enjoy reading it and check out the music.

When you listen to metal from far of places, you find that views can be very different to what you’re familiar with. To me this is always the challenge and beauty of exploring metal’s unexplored fringes.

But if you are from Tyre in Lebanon and you make black metal, your concept of anti-Zionism isn’t some strange theory from a far right movement. It’s the very real expression of fear of war, which for Tyre was never far from its door and a bit too often in the recent history actually in their country. This runs through the music of Molodost, the otherness, the oppositions and a typical melancholy.

The theme of Molodost’s music is youth. Youth is a broad concept and matches with an open, inquisitive mindset towards the world. Towards wrong and right, towards the self and the other. Youth means being open to others, open to change and learning. Read my interview with the man behind Molodost and make sure to check out the EP.

Molodost

Hi, could you kindly introduce yourself and tell us a bit about Molodost?

Molodost: Hello and thanks for such an opportunity. I hail from Lebanon; a small country in the heart of the Middle-East. Molodost was founded in 2012 as a medium to primarily express some English and Arabic poetry of mine, rather than write and record music as an end-result by itself. The project mainly lasted some months with the release of 2 demos. I have, however, continued writing and recording more mature materials from 2013 all the way to 2015 and eventually released them in the recent release entitled نسيم جبل صنين (The Breeze of the Mountain of Sanine).

(((o))): How did you get into metal music? What bands inspired you to make your music?

Molodost: I have been listening to heavy metal music since 2003 and it was a natural development of an interest when I was exposed to ‘Moonlight’, a song by the German death/gothic band Crematory and carried over since then. However, it wasn’t until 2009 when I have discovered my niche of metal music which have ever since influenced my entire listening experience and my own music; such niche is mainly Slavic folk metal and (atmospheric) black metal with all the variants of being ‘traditional/epic/blackgaze/ambient/neoclassical/etc…’. Folk music in general, neofolk, darkwave and dark ambient, in addition to some Arabic music also had some influences on my work. To cite some influential bands, they were and still are Burzum, Alkonost, Summoning, Agalloch and Fairouz (yes, Google her! The very famous Lebanese lady).

I understand that there’s a Russian connection to Molodost, how did that start out? Can you elaborate on that?

Molodost: Yes, definitely. Molodost (Молодость) is Russian for ‘youth’. This is the title of a song by Ivan Kupala (a Russian ethnotronica band) and was later covered by my ultimate favorite band of all time, Alkonost (a Russian folk metal band). Youth is also a major theme in my poetry and so, since I have a deep appreciation for the Russian culture, geography, language and music, the connection between the name, the music and the themes was natural.

You’ve just released your new EP. Can you tell us a bit about it and its themes?

Molodost: This is actually a compilation more than an EP of the best materials I’ve written over the years (some stuff didn’t make it to the final compilation). Some songs were also omitted out of respect for copyright (since the ‘EP’ is available for purchasing on Bandcamp) since they were cover songs (for the record, I have two covers: Burzum’s ‘Móti Ragnarokum’ and Mortifera’s ‘Epilogue D’une Existence De Cryssthal’). Lyrical themes of this record revolve around existence, anti-Zionism and the support of the Palestinian case, mountains and deserts (landscapes of Lebanon and the UAE, respectively), and poverty.

One of the criticism that I read a few times involves the quality of the recordings. I felt that the synth parts had a fitting dungeon synth-esque vibe and the quality matched the expression, but I was wondering if it was a lack of means or a conscious style choice to make your music this way. Are you satisfied with the result.

Molodost: At the beginning, yes! I was and still fascinated by lo-fi productions as sometimes they can be truly atmospheric! Yet, with the emergence of more high-quality and more accessible stuff in the recent years, I actually wanted to improve my sound, especially the synth (to reflect more natural folk instrumentations) and the drum machine involved. Guitars-wise (since this is the only real instrument in the recording; except for one song as it shall be a secret), I was never able to improve the quality of recording due to my living circumstances. But generally and for the early Molodost songs, the creepy and frightening tone of the synth and the guitars were indeed satisfying.

Can you tell a bit about the recording and the writing process, how do you go about these things and do you involve others in it?

Molodost: I just grab my guitar, unplugged, of course, and start composing riffs. Appropriate stuff are then evaluated if they are more suitable as synth lines, bass lines are then added (and I like them loud!) and the beats are composed next. Vocals were always difficult to be recorded due to logistic issues (e.g. equipment availability, inappropriate recording place). Others were never involved and this was a clear decision I’ve taken from the early days as I just can’t adapt my poetic and musical ideas to the ideas of others. This is something I can elaborate later on but my metal musical taste is far from common in my country (and I actually mean among typical metal fans, and not non-metal fans).

How important is nature, or the land, in your music. In what way do you find inspiration in that?

Molodost: Nature is and will always be the glue that attaches all my ideas, whether musical or poetic, together. The appreciation for nature can express itself in either directly describing landscapes or describing a more desired natural human behavior (like how we should really respond to poverty or understand existence). The influencers can range from the US black metal scene and Scandinavia all the way to the harsh Russian winter and Lebanon’s valleys and seas.

 When listening to your EP (repeatedly) I find that there’s a lot more feeling put into it than you’d initially think. I mean the poetry, the expression, it feels to me as a highly personal expression the way you make music. How do you feel about that?

Molodost: Indeed and I just wish if you could understand Arabic! Mentioned earlier, the primary focus of the project was to express some words I’ve been writing since 2006, rather than make music for the sake of music. Feelings are genuine. For instance and in the anti-Zionist song, the lyrics and the music were written at the height of the Israeli invasion of Gaza strip in late 2012 and so you can’t imagine how much rage one could have during that sad period.

You’ve got one song you describe as an anti-Zionist song on the EP. It to me felt like a sad song, lamenting the situation and the losses. You’ve just written another song with a more violent tone. You’re not going to release that as a Molodost song. How do you determine what fits in the project and what not?

Molodost: I was always a fan of chaos in music (I mean, just check the Italian black metal band Nazgûl!). You know that feeling when a song starts with a mesmerizing flute melody or a harp line where you are taken back to your childhood with all the memories and the forests you’ve once played in (yes, that line is from Nest, the Finnish neofolk project) and so, out of nowhere, violent blast beats interrupt everything and start reminding you again that you’re now living in the present where evil is taking over (Ulver’s Bergtatt comes to the mind eh?)? Yet, the outro is just another piano line where hope is reborn from gazing at the stars and the rising sun behind the mountains (Saor had something relatively similar in their latest album, Guardians). Such a musical chaos reflects the kind of poetry I usually write. In other words, the musical aspects of a record don’t really matter for me. I can place a peaceful neoclasical intro, followed by a violent black metal song, a soothing folk metal song and a farewell neofolk outro without feeling ‘out of context’ as they are the themes of the lyrics that unite the musical aspects of the record and not vice versa as often done elsewhere.

Can you explain what your position on the anti-Zionism is as a musician? I’m interested in why you as a Lebanese musician feel that you need to speak out on this topic.

Molodost: That would be very obvious for any person who has a minimal knowledge of the Middle-East and the modern history of Lebanon and Palestine. As a lyricist and a hardcore music fan, I believe that music and poetry are very powerful political tools. You know that cliché of saying that ‘music should unite all/music should be separated from politics’? That’s bullshit for me. A bit of a context out of my personal memory, I have survived 3 ‘Israeli’ invasions and wars; one in 1993, one in 1996 and the last one in 2006. This is not mentioning the continuous abuse of Palestinians and the Gaza-Strip wars. Put differently and as simple as it can be said, ‘Israel’ is a ‘country’ built on terrorism and crimes. However we fight back, it’s just resistance. Whatever you hear differently, it’s just ‘typical blind western media’. I live 15 kms away from the borders of Palestine and I really know what happens nearby. I don’t really live in the west and remotely preach about what’s going on in the Middle-East.

What is it like to play the music you do in Lebanon. I understand it is a rather tolerant country. Does your music get a different sort of attention due to the language choice?

Molodost: Lebanon is actually a relatively tolerant country, unlike, again, what you could hear in the ‘typical blind Western media’. Many concerts of all sorts often take place in Beirut and heavy metal music is among them. Hell, even Dead Can Dance (a highly respected world/neoclassical music act) had a concert here in 2012. The desire to use Arabic poetry instead of English was actually a very conscious choice as the former language is much more expressionist than the latter one.

Do you plan to ever play live with Molodost. If not why not?

Molodost: Not really. As I said, the project is on-hold and so, frankly, I am not a good musician at all (last time I held my guitar was a few months ago!) due to a lack of interest and time (I am currently more of an academic and work person).

What is the metal scene like in Lebanon? And are you involved in it in any way? What bands should people check out?

Molodost: The metal scene in Lebanon is actually a fine one, in terms of having ‘metalheads’ (which is a super silly term but you get the idea anyway). As I mentioned before, heavy metal concerts do regularly take place. Am I involved? Not at all; neither as a fan nor as a musician. I simply don’t like the common liked styles of heavy metal here in Lebanon. Most fans here listen to traditional, thrash, groove, progressive, death, etc… metal music. Folk metal is under appreciated in Lebanon and, if found, it is more towards the Celtic branch and sound and not the Slavic one which I am a huge fan of. As for atmospheric black metal, appreciation is growing, especially with the explosion of interest in bands such as Alcest and all the -gaze movement since the early 2012. Personally speaking, I loved and still like a Lebanese oriental gothic metal band called Shepherd Of Sheol which was a band in the early 00s who once open for Theatre of Tragedy here in Lebanon. As you have also mentioned them, Blaakyum is a very good band in terms of international exposure but I am just not a fan of their sound since I hate thrash metal and its related sound and songwriting.

How are the relations with metal artists from neighboring countries?

Molodost: It’s fine. Not that I have many to say but supporting is nice, especially if relevant. There’s a good folk/pagan black metal band from Tunisia (a country I really love) called Ymyrgar. That’s a great step forward.

You’ve composed some material that you’ve named oriental black metal. What makes the track oriental? What element do you add to the mix so to say.

Molodost: The track was actually labeled as ‘oriental folk metal’ and so this is because of the theme of the desert, the influence during my stay in the UAE and the Arabic-inspired synth sound of that track, and eventually, the lyrics which were, sadly, never sang!

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

Molodost: Molodost is youth and the dish of the soul is its youth! Clear enough? But yeah, I love Lahm-bi-Ajin. Shoukran a lot and Spasiba again for the opportunity!

Underground Sounds: Forest of Trys – Frostburn

Label: –
Band: Forest of Trys
Origin: Lithuania

There’s  a joke in the name, because Trys just sounds like trees. The profile picture on bandcamp is a fat cat and you might start having doubts about the seriousness of Forest of Trys . Still the sound of the band is not one for light jokes and fun, but a grim affair indeed.

Forest of Trys only has one member listed on Metal Archives, namely Šmėkla. Another fact is that the band hails from Kaunas and did release a full lenght earlier in 2016, titled ‘Architect’.

‘Stars I’ is the opener, which starts with hazy, distorted noisy black metal. It feels like an industrial haze with the lecherous sound of Fat White Family somewhere hidden in the sonic fog (no clue how I take that from it). Then suddenly it merges into an old carnival tune, not dissimilar to the Eraserhead soundtrack by David Lynch. It all sounds just a bit of and wrong, which makes the vibe more slightly unnerving. Guided by martial drumming, the song moves back to the noisey dissonance. Shattering sampling and icy beats follow for the next part of the track, creating a noisy template of assault.

A more gritty sound can be heard on ‘Stars II’, where we seem to move away even further from the noisy black metal sound. Groaning noise pulsates in the air, while string elements create a semblance of style and class in sharp contrast to the colossal noise. Again, such a peculiar sound, but the final song, surprisingly titled ‘Starts III’ really takes the cake. Grim, desolate and full of industrial elements, it consists of more effects and samples of people speaking in an order that feels completely random. Pulsating, humming, squeeking the sont thunders on, with a seemingly random drum pattern offering a semblance of steadiness in the sound.

The record is an almost nightmarish trip. This is a peculiar album, with only black metal as a spirit present. Lithuania seems to have some interesting musicians out there. This record would go down well with noiseheads and experimental listeners too. Nice stuff!

Temaukel: Gods in the sky, Chilean metal

Chile is probably one of the most peculiar countries in the world. You need only look at its shape to get a good idea of its diversity and differences. From the Northern deserts to the southern wilds, a place that would evoke something in men. It definitely evoked something in César Godoy, who is the sole member of Temaukel.

Temaukel is a black metal band, inspired by the ancient past and traditions of the Selk’nam people, an indigenous people who embedded their surroundings into a dense, complex mythology. The Selk’nam lived in the south of Chile, the place called Tierra Del Fuego (land of fire), named by Magellan for the fires he saw burning on the islands.

People that were being driven to near extinction in the 19th century, their culture destroyed by the rampant capitalism that still sets fire to parts of the world. This period is now known as the Selk’nam genocide. Luckily, there are artists who dig through the forgotten bits of our past. Temaukel brings back a bit of the wonderful culture and tradition of the Selk’nam people. The debut album has just been released. Time to find out more.

Let us start with the beginning. Who is behind Temaukel and how did you get started with this project? What other projects have you been involved with?
César: Hi, Temaukel is a solo project of mine, César Godoy. I’m a graphic designer from Chile, with a “normal life”, and all the free time I have I use with music and martial arts. I started with Temaukel 7 or 8 years ago, with another name, Thanatos. But after a while I’ve decided to change the main content, and I chose the new name according to the message I want to pass on.

Yes I have other projects. Thanatos and Kloketen. Thanatos is my side project of noise music, and Kloketen is a post-folk project with a friend Andrés Alday in main voices.

How did you get into extreme metal? What inspired you to go in this musical direction?
César: I got into metal when I was a kid, 13 or 14 years old, with Metallica (Master of Puppets), after in High school I got a cassette of Nocturnus and Pestilence, more death metal. After that I knew Paradise Lost and similar acts, and I discovered Dimmu Borgir, and all the Nordic black metal. After that I got into Behemoth, Vader and all that kind of extreme metal.

I have always loved the music, and I think that every style is related to a specific message. I want to transmit feelings about force, energy, but force in a spiritual and emotional way, the intensity of the feelings inside man, the free expression of the emotions, and I believe that metal is the way it can be put into words.

Can you tell a bit more about the Selk’nam people and Temaukel. Why did you chose this subject matter for this project? For people who have not heard of any of this before, would you like to give a brief overview?
César: Well, the Selk’nam were the indigenous people in the Patagonian region of southern Argentina and Chile, including the Tierra del Fuego islands. They were discovered by Europeans in the late 19th century. They were murdered in 20 years in the rush for gold. Their land was conquered by Europeans who also imposed Christianity on them. They and their language are virtually extinct by now.

In their worldview, they had some gods of which Temaukel was the main entity. He is shapeless, speechless, he just created the universe and the world, but he doesn’t live in it.  He lives in Wintek, the main mountain chain. Selk’nam believed in four sacred mountain chains in the sky for each season. In Selk’nam language, this mountain chains are named like sho’on:

Wintek: Eastern sky. It is considered the most important of the four sho’on, being the residence of Temáukel and source of all that exists.

Kamuk: Northern sky.

Kéikruk: Southern sky.

Kenénik: Western sky.

I chose this subject matter because I’m Chilean, and here we don’t respect in any way our ancestors. There still exist a lot of indigenous people, Mapuches are the main, but what about others? I think we have to talk about our past, the people, the genocide and their vision of the universe and the world.

I found this in the Nordic metal. They talk about their gods, their world vision. So, why can we here talk about the same, but in our way? I think what everything we do affect to each other’s. So it’s important to show my culture to the world, that’s the reason Temaukel is in English, with some words in Selk’nam and other in Spanish. I think it’s time to talk about Selk’nam culture, our original culture, not the culture that Latin-Spanish conquerors imposed on us.

What is your personal relation to the topic and what are the goals you have with this record?
César: I’m Chilean, I don’t like ignorance, the ignorance of our land, our traditions, so it’s time to talk about it, that’s the main relation with the topic. My main goal is to talk about the culture of my land, my traditions, to the entire world, I’m not interested in money or promoting myself as a musician, I just want to show the world the culture of Chile and our ancestors.

Can you maybe take us through the record as the story that is being told?
César: The record is the history of a concept, the relation between two visions about the world, the “industrial – impositive” and the “nature – respect”, the first one the vision of the Europeans who came to South America, the second the vision of the indigenous people.

I noticed some folky passages, for example the track ‘Fires in Karukinka’. From where did you get the inspiration for those parts?César: Yes!, there’s a lot of folk inspiration in the music of Temaukel. Some influenced by my young musical background and with relation with the folk music from here in Chile.

I have done a lot of research about folk music and in the whole world you find many similarities. But answering the question, the inspiration came from the concept. Like I said before, every style represents an special message. Now, these two songs are folk, because I want to bring to present the emotion of being in the countryside, surrounded by nature, silence and wind in the cold south forward. The guitars, are the things and feelings of the Selk’nam, looking for the horizon, searching for food or just contemplating the nature itself. Now in relation to music my main influence is another Chilean band who anyone knows much more about them, more than the name, Uaral, they have 2 LPs, and 2 members, Caudal and Aciago. They’re similar to Empyrium, or Ulver’s Kveldssanger folk; dark sounds, but with reminiscence of the Chilean countryside.

 

You’ve translated this concept to a record, titled Spirit Of Wintek. How did the writing and recording process go for this record? Did you do things on your own or did you meet people to find sources and information?
César: Yes, I did and it wasn’t an easy process, but it was very useful. First I did was study a lot, investigate about original cultures from South America, after that Chile and finally Patagonian cultures without boundaries between Chile and Argentina. Then I introduced myself into the Selk’nam culture, and how they were exterminated in a short time with the arrival of Julius Popper, a Romanian, with the support of the Chilean Government in the 19th century.

After that I began to search for the sound, the feeling, and finally I mixed it, I made a lot of demos, different versions, rhythms… I don’t want to sound like a typical black metal band, and after a while I found the sound I was looking for. After I sorted the “history”, I wanted to retell the story with the music. So I thought about the worldview, their god and beliefs, and I crossed that with the “reality” of the genocide. So that’s the reason of the names of the songs. ‘Wintek’ – the Origin of everything, where lives Temaukel – The Creator. ‘Kenos’ – The son of Temaukel, the creator of the world – Terraformer and creator of life and the Selk’nam people. ‘Howenh’ – The gods-human like of Selk’nam, the human representation of the nature.

With that I had the context of the Selk’nam worldview. This followed by ‘Fires in Karukinka’. When the Europeans cross the The Strait of Magellan, they observed fire in the land from the sea. Fires: fire they observed (the European vision), Karukinka: That’s the name Selk’nam gave to their land. So, the name is a mixed vision of both. ‘Fires in Karukinka’. Final track is ‘Tierra del viento’: A main thing there in Patagonia is the Wind, so that’s the name of the environment the Selk’nam lived in. So that’s the name (land of wind).

As you can see, I tried to mix both visions from the feelings in one concept. Everything was done by me. There was a little work of mixing and mastering, because a want a raw sound, and everything that was recorded is what I am able to play.

You’ve recently got a label, which is good news, so which label is it and what sort of release are you aiming for?
César: Yes, a Polish label, but I left it, it’s too expensive for me for now. So I now have another contract with Sepulchral Silence from the UK for digital distribution (Spotify, Apple Music, etc). I think in about a month the music will be online on those channels. I know that recently the EP was available on torrent sites.

You’ve also released a video, which is a powerful bit of footage. Can you tell a bit about that? All the visual work looks very cool and specific. Do you have a background in that?
César: The video was the first idea for promotion of the EP and the concept of the music. I tried to use explicit images, with some conceptual elements, for both levels of understanding, some explicit, some implicit. Selk’nam had a powerful graphic universe, so I tried to use it.

I’m graphic designer, so I work on visual merch, I understand visual communication, but it was the first time I made a video clip. Also my mother tongue is Spanish, so my pronunciation may not be the best, so that’s the reason I prefer to make a lyric video, so the vocalization can be clear for everyone.

Can you perhaps tell me a bit about heavy metal music in Chile? What sort of scene is there, is it all mixed up or divided by genre?César: Here in Chile there’s a lot of metal bands of every style you can imagine, from rock to extreme metal, and it’s clearly divided by genres, there’s a lot of pubs or bars for playing, the metal was very underground before, but now it takes its place in the national scene. Every weekend you can get access to a lot of bands playing alive.

(((o))): How did metal get started in Chile? Which bands were particularly influential?

César: I’m not really sure how the metal get started here, but in the 70s and beginning of the 80s, there were a lot of rock bands. Metal became visible much later, with bands like Pentagram, Dorso, Massakre, Necrosis y Rust, the first bands of playing thrash metal. The genre emerged in the capital Santiago, but later Valparaiso got involved too. In the 90s the metal was underground, but always present. Like I said Criminal is one of the main bands, and Dorso plus Pentagram.

What other bands from Chile do you think people should really check out (and why)?
César: Chile is the land of metal, jajaja, there’s a lot of good bands here, some old bands like Criminal, Andragon, Betrayed, Dorso, Poema Arcanus, Mar de Grises and some new bands like Kuervos del Sur or Crisalida. It’s really interesting to listen to those bands because they show Chilean metal from different points of view, from old thrash, to death metal, and some playing more the “Chilean metal sound”. I recommend to listen to Andragon, because they’re a band with a very good sound, they got a new LP, Del Interior, they have now video clip for ‘Puzzles’, which you can check out on YouTube.

What does the future hold for Temaukel? What plans do you have from here? Will there be more Temaukel?
César: The future for Temaukel is an LP. I have been thinking about the next step, and I seriously believe it must be at least 12 new songs, maybe opening the main subject matter to other cultures from Chile. But yes, there will be more Temaukel in 2017.

If you had to describe your music as a dish (food), what would it be and why?
César: I describe it like “Paila Marina”, a traditional seafood soup. That’s because this soup contains several seafoods, so it’s like my music with several influences, mixed in a single sound style, and a special taste. Rustic, but complex in the mixing of the single pieces, not a gourmet dish.

Bare chests and weak women: Barbarian metal

Metal has been widely divided into many subgenres, mostly based on sonic elements. We have the death, doom, black, prog and so fort, but there are always certain streams that defy genre but are constant. For example, Viking metal can range from pagan black metal to cheesy folk metal, as long as the Viking theme is present. There’s another type I’d like to mention: barbarian metal!

Disclaimer: This is merely a bit of thinking out loud… excuse me, thinking on paper. I’ve not really delved into the literature on this, I’m just thinking about what our changing society might think of something like barbarian metal. Can it still exist? Sure it can, I think.

Let me elaborate on this subject. It’s not metal about barbarians, it does feature certain imagery and references. The imagery is close to the sword & sorcery themes, featuring strong looking men, often bare chested, wielding heavy weaponry. The sound is also strong, pounding and rarely features subtleties. I’ll elaborate on this in the following paragraphs. What I want to adres mostly is the inevitable question about this stream in metal. Does it have a place in the now? With gender equality and beyond, does Conan metal still have a place?

The Eternal Warrior

I came across the concept of the ‘Eternal Champion’, through a similarly named band. The concept is derived from the work of Michael Moorcock. Wikipedia has defined the champion thusly: The Eternal Champion, a Hero who exists in all dimensions, times and worlds, is the one who is chosen by fate to fight for the Cosmic Balance; however, he often does not know of his role, or, even worse, he struggles against it, never to succeed. But as the man describes it himself:

Now, if we look at fiction, we could define many versions of the eternal champion. Drizzt Do’Urden, Aragorn, Varian Wrynn maybe even. Any sci fi franchise has their own. There is one verson though, that I would like to isolate here and that is the one of Conan The Barbarian. Conan exemplifies the expression found in what I call barbarian metal, whose progenitors are Manowar. A band loved by many, but clearly embracing the essence of this Eternal Warrior.

Conan, Masculinity and Metal

Conan is pure in all his emotions, he is cunning, fierce or benevolent, but he is always a warrior standing alone versus the tide. Bare chested with bulging muscles, he epitomizes the masculine directness that we find in various characters in fantasy and that is embodied in pretty much every Manowar song. Manowar even has a mascotte, named Manowarrior, who is pretty much Conan, standing on top of his battered and beaten enemies.

The music expresses the same values, it features muscular riffing and a straight forward approach. There are the pumping, heavy hitting rhythms and everything about the sound is ment to evoke that same feeling of epic manliness in a barbaric sense. There is little doubt about the inspiration for this, especially if you see the picture of Manowar in their loin-furs:

Mind, this is not a write-up on the whole gender matter. This is a theme that has been present in metal and fantasy for a long time, where masculinity (as we seem to have defined it) is pushed to its human limits with bulging chests, curving biceps and a full display of the male body as an invincible tool. It’s almost resembling the way we end to depict women these days, but this is not sensual in any way. This is a warrior. His body is his weapon, it’s the engine that drives the blade or axe to smithe the enemies.

It’s easy to make fun of Manowar, but their appeal is worldwide. It’s a band that attracts through its particular charm of masculine power, remarkably catchy songs and brotherhood vibe. They’re one of the great bands in the metal history. 

The music is similarly strong, loud and boisterous. It deals with exactly the warrior themes, but without any complexities or discussion, morals or any crap. It’s a straight forward masculine approach. To want is to take, to fight is to win.

Warrior music

Bands following in the steps of Manowar hold on to that notion of aggression and climactic songs. It’s music to pump your fists to, to bang your head to and stand with legs wide and raised fists. It’s empowering in a very pure and direct way. Though some bands might include this in their package, there’s no attempt to be knowledgeable about history as Iron Maiden does. No attempt to incorporate the occult and spiritual, like Led Zeppelin does. No politics and social themes like in Metallica‘s music. It reduced it to force.

Force and power, those are the main values. Domination of the other and the continuous struggle. It oversimplifies struggle to something that can be resolved with fists and bravado. With flexing muscles and the warriors cry. These have always been part of the metal discourse, as discussed by the more academic analysis of heavy metal. But what does that mean for todays attempt at gender equality?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PQ6335puOc

The thing is just, this is something we love. Something primordial that lifts us up and makes us feel better. Listening to a Manowar album or even one by Conan themselves can lift you up. It can make us do things with less fear, because the music makes us feel better. It doesn’t make us feel superior as men, but it does profoundly affect us.

Gender Equality and battle music

Now, we live in a time where gender equality is kind of a big deal. In a sense this would seem to be one of those last bastions that needs to be conquered and overthrown. But does it really? Is this masculinity really something that is bound up with gender that much or is there a place for female listeners too? Do they perhaps have equal desires for some fight, for power and strength? Wasn’t there a Red Sonja next to Conan? Don’t girls play video games, where crushing your opponents is awesome? Don’t they love fantasy and science fiction and playing Dungeons & Dragons? There is no gender bound up with this mentality and love for the sword.

Perhaps we always will have some warrior element in us and probably this is not just bound up with man, woman or whatever one claims to be. It’s a part of us it seems, regardless where it comes from what charges it. We all feel affinity with the warrior, with glory, with brotherhood… or sisterhood?
So if we leave out the manly, maybe this leaves metal as a perfect bonding ground of whatever sex you are or chose to be. We can all raise our horns together.

 

Underground Sounds: Thy Catafalque – Meta

Label: Seasons of Mist
Band: Thy Catafalque
Origin: Hungary

Thy Catafalque is the brain child of mad musical professor Támas Kátai. The avant-garde musician has been active in bands like Gire, Gort, Darklight and Towards Rusted Soil. The Hungarian musician is active in tons of projects, but this is probably one of his most amazing ones as far as I’ve heard. Enter a completely new domain of musical madness with this band.

Kátai originates from Máko in Hungary, but currently resides in Scotland. It may be a climate more fitting to his frantic, rugged music, but maybe it’s a bit of everywhere anyways. The artwork is inviting, and speaks of a medieval and maybe even spiritual atmosphere. Yes, with animals. Agnessa Kessiakova from Bulgaria is responsible for the artwork. A legion of guests is also active on the album.

After a heavy intro with theatrical black metal, the energy dwindles down on the meandering folky ‘Sirály’, with vocals of The Moon and the Nightspirit’s Ágnes Tóth. Gently swooning music allows the listener to just drift off for a bit. A Ghost like chanting greats the listener on ’10^(-20)’, before it launches into a turbulent, battering assault with sharp guitars and a harrowing set of vocals. Then the song almost unnoticable switches around to a dance track with flat, repetitive vocals and a hacking rhythm. It’s exactly that, which makes Thy Catafalque so wildly unpredictable and amazing.

‘Ixión Düün’ is a track you could just as well expect to hear while playing World of Warcraft in an exciting dungeon, looming with danger. There’s the whole Dungeon Synth genre, which seems to be somehow where the inspiration for this soundtracky tune has been drawn from. Amazing stuff again, but not as impressive as the track ‘Malmok Járnak’. This is a 20+ minute epic, with bombastic passages that slowly creep by, a battery of instruments, effects and strange confusing passages. It kind of keeps on building up, slowing down and then rising up again, sticking to that soundtrack feel.

It’s hard to really write about this album, because it goes in so many directions. Every time you listen to this, you hear new things. That’s the beauty of it and also why you should be listening to it right now. Enjoy!

Underground Sounds: Sylvaine – Wistful

Label: Season of Mist
Band: Sylvaine
Origin: Norway

Myrkur has opened the floodgates it sometimes seems of more ambient, folk and soundscape oriented dark music, but maybe I’m just imagining that Sylvaine is of the same cut of cloth, but definitely aiming for a more shoegazy sound on her second album ‘Wistful’, which is out on Seasons of Mist.

The term doomgaze has always been a bit peculiar to me, but listening to this album I can see where it comes from and how it fits in with the compositions of the fey-like Norse lady. The artwork also speaks of the musical experience, with a foggy painting of a natural setting. Misty in the early morning light, amidst the trees. Atleast, that is how I picture it.

The sound of Sylvaine is deeply melancholic, regardless if its a single piano playing or a barrage of guitars. The songs build up rather gently, offering a glance into the unknown at first, before rising up and fully overwhelming you as a listener. The dreamy voice of Sylvaine lures you into the mist, into the swampland. Throw in some comparisons, like Sinead O’Connor‘s rendition of ‘The Foggy Dew’ or maybe even Sigur Rós, it is all in there.

photo by Andy Julia – © Sylvaine

Once there, the heavier sounds start. Even wild schrieks can be heard on ‘Earthbound’, never follow the faeries… They’ll lure you to the waters and the wild, but what for?  Interesting fact, on this album the multi-instrumentalist gets help from Stéphane ‘Neige’ Paut (Alcest), which might have a more significant impact than you’d think. Shoegaze is a term that doesn’t fit anymore for music like this, it moves on to something between ambient, black metal and folk with a hint of doom. Doomgaze just feels too hip sounding.

The listener of this album will feel as if lost in the mist, trying to grasp at the essenence of Sylvaine’s music, but never fully reaching it. You feel confused, lost, introspective even and weary by the end. It’s so dense with atmospheric elements that sometimes the fog just too overwhelming. The rare part where you get some direct contact with the vocals, is like a sunray piercing the roof of leaves and illuminating for a brief moment the shining truth, the angelic voice and those moments alone make this album such a mesmerizing experience.

Underground Sounds: MASTER BOOT RECORD – C​:​\​>CHKDSK /F

Label: independent
Band: MASTER BOOT RECORD
Origin: Italy

Somewhere in Rome a rogue computer has started producing or assimilating heavy metal and chiptune music. Yes, all gates are open now, with the arrival of Master Boot Record, which/who dropped 4 records in a short amount of time. I decided to check out ‘C:\>CHKDSK /F’ as a topic for a bit of writing, because it just souned weird.

The occult imagery is blended with DOS-screens and circuit boards, that is pretty cool. Also, MASTER BOOT RECORD has been doing some stuff for a while, covering hit songs like the soundtrack of old DOS games. Think of DOOM, Syndicate and Turrican. I do suppose that some people think this is silly, but if you’ve grown up in that time and age, you know how awesome this record is to me.

So what you get is pretty awesome. Remember how good those game soundtracks, even in midi could be? Everyone can hum along with the Mario and Zelda tune, right? Well, imagine combining that with guitars, bass and drums, to create a driven, electro rock sensation! The typical thing about the game music is that it’s always pushing you forward, it’s energetic and upbeat, so this is one whole record of invigorating music that easily fades to the background, while you engage in the mundane tasks.

On ‘Config.Sys’ there’s even a bit of classical music, played in midi with raw, shredding guitars and then suddenly picking up the synthwave beat. It’s just all there, everything blended to it’s maximum effect of awesome. The superfast riffing, mixed with the midi sound, it just works great. Sure, this is probably one of the most geeky things to enjoy, but the way the record is made is just incredibly catchy and captivating.

I may not know the exact words to describe this record, but it’s the combination of oldschool gaming sensation with the balls to the wall approach of heavy metal and that works like a charm. Enjoy the other records of MASTR BOOT RECORD for free on Bandcamp!

 

The Reading of Books #20

In this 20th edition of books that I read, which is quite a few over time, I’m discussing Dayal Patterson, R.A. Salvatore (again), Gene Simmons and Marco Martens, who all wrote cool books that I enjoyed.

Dayal patterson – Black Metal: Into The Abyss
Cult Never Dies Productions

source: Goodreads.com

I’m a huge fan of the work by Dayal Patterson, who manages to captivate the black metal scene in his own unique way. Name it scholarly or even ethnographic at times, the man lives and breathes black metal and manages to track down the most reclusive strangers for brilliant interviews. It sometimes seems that the weirder you think they are, the more normal they seem in retrospect. In this edition of the series, Dayal digs up some old bones in Poland for example, finding the roots of that strange black metal scene and continues to search for answers.

I’ve mentioned part of the Polish scene that gets attention in this book, but more or less the outsiders like StigmataFuria and others. Another element are the Norwegian bands of the latter generation, that return to a more purist approach, like 1349 and One Tail, One Head. The best part is how open Patterson gets to talk to some of these artists, of which some never did an interview before. It opens up a scene that has been shrouded in mystery and trust me… It doesn’t take away any of the magic.

Gene Simmons – KISS and Make up
Crown Publishing

goodreads.com

Gene Simmons is an enigma, a character larger than life and hated and reviled as much as he is loved and praised. Gene is a straight shooter and always speaks the truth. No surprise then, that his book details his humble beginnings with as much detail as his later sexual adventures, poverty, riches and glamour. It also features a lot of history of Kiss that before was hidden behind the paint and more or less a mystery. We’ve moved on to a time where things have aged enough for some of the truth to come out. After the accusing books by Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, the book of Simmons feels much less cool and more raw and honest.

Why does that matter? Because for example Frehley, whose book I read, is glorifying his own behavior most of the time and rarely speaks with any warmth of the bandmembers he shared the stage with. Specially Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are depicted as money grubbing monsters, regardles of the fact that Gene Simmons saved his life. Simmons seems to lament the path of the others and speaks as candidly about his own failings and shortcomings, even insecurities and such as about others. This is a book of a sober man, who is honest, but that’s my opinion. It also is a really kick ass story, isn’t it?

R.A. Salvatore – The Sellswords (Servant of the Shard, Promise of the Witch King, Road of the Patriarch)

source: Goodreads.com

It’s surprisingly nice sometimes to take a side step in a long series, and so it is with the Forgotten Realms ‘Legend Of Drizzt’. In the short series titled ‘The Sellswords’ we focus on the characters of Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxle. Two oppertunists, who venture to a new land to reap the fruits of whoevers labour after daring conflicts with the mercenary bands Bregan D’arte. It’s a great bit of reading and a completely different kind of adventure with more depth and knowledge about the characters you might loathe or secretly love already by this point and will get to know and understand much better by the time you finish.

During the first part, Jarlaxle gets challenged for his leadership of Bregan D’Arte, so he has to flee with Entreri. During their flight they meet up with Cadderly (who has met Drizzt and company before, but is known from the Cleric Quartet). In the second part we fnd the duo in the Bloodstone lands, fighting with, alongside and against King Gareth Dragonsbane in an attempt to gain riches while doing rightious things (known from the Bloodstone Pass series from the eighties). In the final part we travel to Memnon with Artemis Entreri to find his past and illuminate the merciless killer he has become, where we will find something new and surprising in the character. A lovely journey for the reader.

Marco Martens – Rubberboot

It’s only a little booklet, but in it we find stories that are recognizable and funny, sometimes touching and familiar. Marco Martens used to be active in hiphop and now in a sort of spoken word setting. Poetry is also part of this short bundle. An enjoyable, though brief read that you can probably still pick up somewhere if you’re lucky. If not, than you don’t.

Marco Martens is a talented writer and story teller. This book is a small display of his talents, but I hope it won’t be his last endeavour in the written word. Like his record ‘Ieder Huis Is Uit Vertrekken Gebouwd’  (out on Bastaard Platen), his writing is a mixture of humor, nostalgia and grief, all packed up into a nice cocktail that sticks. You can read it here.