Tag Archives: Metal

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: 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: 1914 – The Blind Leading The Blind

Label: Archaic Sound
Band: 1914
Origin: Ukraine

‘War, war never changes…’ But it did, and particularly in 1914, it showed that advanced technology and ancient battle tactics can combine into a horrible cocktail of death and decay. That is the theme taken by the band 1914 from Ukraine.

Their live shows are a spectacle, somewhere between re-enactment and death metal extravaganza. Their latest album, after a long time fighting to get their own sound heard, here is ‘The Blind Leading The Blind’. A work that tells of the folly that is war and the horrible situations it created, This definitely get the sound noticed, which is something I’m very happy about. The band takes their sound further though, and the fascination with World War I goes much, much further. You can re-read the interview I had with singer Dmytro Kumar about that here.

The blood-soaked fields and trenches

1914 delivers a firm death metal masterpiece with a sense of melancholy and despair woven into the very fabric of the songs. Repetitive riffing, stomping rhythms and firing on all cylinders, the band marches on and on with tunes like ‘Arrival. The Meuse-Argonne’ and ‘High Wood. 75 Acres of Hell’. Every song adhering to the theme, as cavalrymen swing their swords while galloping towards machine guns. Mighty tanks getting bogged down in the mud… It’s a blind dash for death. The only spark of hope is in the Exploited cover, ‘Beat the Bastards’, as a sense of rebellion emerges, but it soon submerges as the war continues.

Obviously, there’s a link to be made here to the mighty Bolt Thrower. No wonder then, that on ‘Passchenhell’ we have Dave Ingram (also Benediction of course) singing along with the Ukranian battalion. But perhaps my favorite track on the album is ‘The Hundred Days Offensive’, which derives, like much of the album, a lot of force from the introducing sample. Here we hear a soldier talking to the man he just killed. “When you jumped in here you were my enemy, I was afraid. But you were just a man like me, and I killed you.” It’s here that we feel so deeply the disgust of the human tragedy, which we failed to learn any lessons from.

Musically, the album is versatile and very catchy. From fierce, pounding death metal, to harrowing melodic passages. 1914 has everything and more to offer. No wonder they just got signed to Napalm Records.

Underground Sounds: From The Bogs of Aughiska – Mineral Bearing Veins

Label: Apocalyptic Witchcraft
Band: From the Bogs of Aughiska
Origin: Ireland

From the Bogs of Aughiska returns with their masterpiece ‘Mineral Bearing Veins’. A harrowing piece of dark ambient, black metal and folklore, with samples, stories and spoken word. After their previous experiments with Irish culture and atmospheric music, the group hereby establishes themselves as frontiersmen in the advancement of dark music.

It is the third record by the act, under the guidance of Conchuir O’Drona. The sound is ever still bleak, full of threat and with an aura of otherworldliness. Ken Soceron (Abigail Williams, Perturbator, Leviathan) mastered the album and the artwork was done by Ken Coleman (Morbid Angel). The cover depicts druidic figures, in front of a megalithic structure. The figures are facing away, eyeing the moon, but their inhuman features are clear to see. A notable departure from their previous style of work.

Intro ‘Scuabtuinne‘ offers gentle waves, that just move with an easy grace. Named after the boat of Celtic sea deity Manannán mac Lir, it immediately sets the mood for the whole album in another time and place, far from Instagram-fame and famous vloggers to a place of loneliness and self-reliance. ‘Poll An Eidhneain’ follows with the sound of water dripping, under the earth, cavernous and cold and desperate black metal starts to unfold. When it then launches, the music is slithering, raw and merciless, but also contained. Constricted by the narrowness of its underground domain.

Departing from those realms, we enter ‘Wake of Buzzards’, a tune that takes us to the ambient/drone roots of the group. A story is told about the birds, who are squawking you hear, and what this means. Here we are taken into the seanchai-storytelling that is so much the distinctive part of From The Bogs of Aughiska, which we stick to on the following ‘Crataegus’, which is done in Gaelic. It has a peculiar frantic drumming passage in it, that suddenly breaks through to the surface and just hits home in stripped-down, cold tone. The track unfolds in a bit of a Bal-Sagoth-esque grandeur, where the teller speaks in a booming voice offer hemorrhaging black metal blast beats. The song ‘The One Whitethorn Bush’ deals with o lone faerie bush and its dark story, told by Eddie Lenihan, with the animated voice of an experienced storyteller. The eerie sounds surrounding it, make the track so suspiciously powerful and nerve-inducing. A highlight of the album.

But this only brings us to greater depths, with the abyssal drones and church bells from ‘The Devil is an Irishman’, which builds up laboriously and stumbling to a black metal barrage with a deeply melancholic angle and cold atmosphere. This slides into traditional Gaelic sung ‘An Spealadoir’, with that sensitive waver and shiver in the delivery, drowned in distortion and hazy guitars, that slowly slip away.

‘Lios Duin Bhearna’ is the all-consuming outro, where ambient violently merges with the black metal explorations of From the Bogs of Aughiska. It brings this trip to a close, after traversing the deep realms and the mysteries of the green island. These mysterious explorers of the dark and obscure have definitely found a new place on this record, which will probably haunt your dreams.

Dividing The Element: From Zimbabwe, for Zimbabwe

Dividing The Element hails from Zimbabwe and has been around for a while now, playing a modern style of metal with a lot of aggression and vitality. It’s a young scene, fresh in its infancy, but full of power and drive, which is mostly embodied by the band from Harare themselves.

The group has been around since 2012 and claims ‘From Zimbabwe, For Zimbabwe’. That’s a great sentiment in a world swamped with bands that sound like they were made in the same factory. Afro-metal is another term the band uses, as they implement parts of ethnic music and language into their sound.

In 2018, the band also dropped their debut record and I had the privilege to ask the band about making metal music in Zimbabwe, their self-titled debut and more, as Chris Van was willing to answer all my questions.

A positive outlook for the future

Could you start by introducing yourselves and your musical background? Do you have any other bands you are currently active in?

DTE is comprised of myself (Chris Van)- lead vocals and guitar, Archie Chikoti- guitar, Mat Sanderson- bass and backing vocals and Nick (Newbz) Newberry- drums. With the exception of Newbz playing percussion now and then for our friends Evicted, none of us are active in any other bands.

How did the band get started and how did you meet up?

Initially, the band, or rather the idea of a band was inspired by myself (Chris Van) and Sherlic White. Sherlic and I met online early in 2012 on a Facebook group called ‘Rock and Metal Lovers Zimbabwe’, which was in fact started up by a mutual friend of ours, Valentim Miguel Marques Pereira: another brother in arms hoping to kick-start a metal scene in Zimbabwe. Sherlic and I established a rapport with each other on the group and one day decided it was high time we met up to have a jam. From there, ideas began to flow and it got to the point where we thought it was time to get other people on board so we could execute the ideas in a band setting. Sadly though, Sherlic left the country to study in South Africa. He and I then agreed that I would continue pursuing the project without him.

I had played in previous bands with both Archie and Newbz and because of the long history I had with them, I asked them if they’d like to join.
At that point, we were one musician short so I decided to get an audition advert put up for a second guitarist. A while after that Mat came in to audition at Newbz’s house. Although, to this day I’m not sure Mat was ever aware that he was even in an audition because the setting was so informal – more like a jam session with more beers than any of us could justify than an audition. At some point, we ended up doing a switcharoo experiment putting Archie on guitar and Mat on bass. That arrangement seemed to work better, and it’s stayed that way ever since.

What sort of bands inspire you and are the basis for the sound of Dividing The Element?

For me, Metallica and Nirvana were big influences in my early teenage years, if you listen to our song Kumba Kumusha I’m sure you’ll notice the similarities in James Hetfield’s vocal style in places. System Of A Down also provided a lot of inspiration with the idea of vocal harmonies. When I discovered Numetal bands like Korn, Linkin Park, Disturbed, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot etc. that’s when I taught myself how to scream. As I got older though and discovered more music, my taste got a lot heavier. Discovering bands like Lamb of God, Parkway Drive, As I Lay Dying and various deathcore bands like Suicide Silence and Carnifex inspired me to learn how to growl.

On an instrumental front though we like to experiment with fusing different styles of music so it’s quite hard to pinpoint the exact sources of inspiration because it can basically come from anywhere, but it always reverts back to some kind of metal sound at the core.

Which would you say is the core message behind Dividing The Element. As in, what do you want people to take away from your music?

I guess the most common theme in our music is that lyrically, we write about personal life experiences in Zimbabwe that either one of us or all of us have gone through. That said, it would be nice to know that there are other Zimbabweans out there who can relate to what we write about.

Can you tell me a bit about how you go about making your music? Is it a cooperative process, or does every band member have his own part to play?

Mostly it starts out with me writing the skeleton of a song and then the other guys come in to help bash it out and fill in the blanks at rehearsals. I’d say it’s both.

A few months ago you released your record, which was self-titled. What can you tell about the record, the process of writing and what inspired it?

As I mentioned before, the content of each song lyrically was inspired by life experiences, so the album is quite personal.

Some of the songs seem to contain traditional elements and language. Can you share a bit about that and why you’ve chosen to make this part of your music?

This was an idea my fiancee suggested to me prior to the conception of the band. It was done in order to help initiate a metal scene in Zimbabwe. There was once quite a big rock scene in Zim, especially in the 80’s. It seemed to die a slow, silent death though and then all of a sudden there was nothing left. So because I am a Zimbabwean and a metal head, the idea was to bring the two together and make a metal band in Zimbabwe for Zimbabwe. Using the local vernacular and incorporating traditional themes into the music was the best way to go about it as a means of identity. So when the band eventually formed there was already a direction and sense of purpose in mind.

What sort of scene is there in Zimbabwe and how big is it?

The scene is small. When we first started, metal heads were around, but few and far between. None of them seemed to know each other either, but it has grown in leaps and bounds from where it first started and seems to continue to grow. At every show we play we see new faces which is very encouraging.

Which bands brought the genre to your country?

As I mentioned, there was once a rock scene here in years past. I sadly did not have the privilege of experiencing it though. So I’m afraid I can’t accurately say to be honest, although I’m sure there are other more historically learned people around who are able to offer their opinions on the matter.

What sort of attitude do people have towards your music? Is it frowned upon, censored in any way or so?

No one’s censored us or anything like that but Zimbabweans can be conservative. So I’d say generally people who haven’t heard of us or the genre before approach it with caution, coz it’s new to them and people always seem to have preconceptions. But metal is mostly an underground thing anyway, it’s not for everyone nor is it meant to be.

I notice that a few African countries have a metal scene, notably South Africa and Botswana, with a few bands like yourselves in surrounding countries but then it would seem to simply dry up. Is that also the reality or do you connect with bands from Malawi, Tanzania, DRC etc.? How important are the cross-border connections for you?

Yes, we do connect with other bands, it’s very important. I think there’s always a chance that things could go wrong and all of a sudden the wheels stop turning. Cross-border connections are very helpful especially if we want to tour outside of our own country. Knowing where the scenes are and how big they are really helps. It’s also just a good support system to have, and provides a great opportunity to interact with other like-minded people, in some cases even make new friends.

How’s the availability for everything, like rehearsal space, instruments, music, venues to play at and so forth?

The Zimbabwean economy is still in a fragile state right now so it can be tough. Entertainment doesn’t fall high on the priority list, although there is a lot of optimism that things will make a change for the better, economically speaking. Hopefully, they will.

Which bands from Zimbabwe should people definitely check out and why?

Definitely check out Acid Tears, Chikwata 263, Evicted, Kamikaze Test Pilots, and an industrial melo-death project called Nuclear Winter. These bands range from hard rock to soft afro-rock to mbira punk. All of them have their own flair and character.

What future plans do you guys have?

Our plan is to promote our album in whatever capacity we can, so hopefully a few more shows in Zimbabwe this year. We’ve also been invited to a metal festival in Botswana next year and have committed to it. We’re very excited about it.

If you had to compare Dividing The Element to a dish, what would it be and why?

I’d say classic meat and potatoes with a hint of some kind of fish taste that you can’t pin point why it’s there or where it’s coming from. Reasons for that- we haven’t really reinvented the wheel but there are times where things can get changed up in a very unexpected way. That, and I really like fish.

Underground Sounds: Trappist – Ancient Brewing Tactics

Label: Relapse Records
Band: Trappist
Origin: United States

Trappist is maybe one of the coolest bands to come out of the woodwork in recent times with their beer-inspired thrash-core-metal. The group has embraced the moniker (pun intended) of the famous brewing monks you mostly find in Belgium, and plays fast and loud on their debut album ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’.

Having earned their name and fame in Spazz, Infest, Despise You, Crom, Killed in Action and probably tons more, its a group of musicians who work on auto-pilot and I guess also on beer. The guys also had a joined podcast, named ‘Hour of the Barbarian’, which sparked their collaboration for this project of beer-infused thrashing, which is actually pretty damn good when you check it out and get into it.
Much of the tunes are fast-paced, straight-ahead thrashy d-beaty metalpunk, with a lot of fun, tongue-in-cheek and energy. ‘No Soldier Left Behind’ is instant screaming mayhem, with a fast pace and some intense guitar torturing. Meaty riffs, chunky drums and a burly, brawling set of vocals combine for an excellent, fun-packed pile of beer-soaked songs. Titles like ‘This means Wort’ or ‘Giving the Boot To Rheinheitsgebot’ are simply hilarious. The last is actually a strangely mellow song, allowing you to just roar along while raising a pint.
There’s something profoundly visceral about the music, much like a night of intense beer drinking it leaves you wondering what’s what with the almost uncontrolled ramblings on ‘Frank The Tank’. Then it launches into some classic metal riffing, deliciously! Following is the new anthem for hardcore craft beer drinkers ‘No Corporate Beer’, a tune for the masses. Yet, lets not forget ’99 Problems (But a Beer Ain’t One)’, as the perennial classic or ‘Wolves in the Taproom’, an obvious reference to Wolves in the Throne Room.

Trappist: Hell bent for brews

Sometimes a band just finds that golden ticket, combining topics that were not before really connected. Metal and punk have a long history with beer. Good beer, bad beer, truly bad beer and so forth, but everyone has an appraisal for the glorious taste of Trappist. Naming your band after the brewing monks concoction only seems natural when you really look at it.

Trappist combine thrashing metal, d-beat punk and tongue-in-cheek humor to create a tasty bit of music to be savored with high-pace and sturdy drinks. The band consists out of Chris Dodge (Spazz, ex-Despise You, ex-Infest, etc.), Phil Vera (Crom, Despise You, ex-(16)-) and Ryan Harkins (co-owner of popular heavy metal-themed burger joint Grill Em’ All), I’m excited to have found the gents willing to answer some questions for Stranger Aeons. So here it goes!

Brew’m all: Trappist

Can you tell me how Trappist got started? And what role does Hour of the Barbarian play in it?

Ryan and Chris were fucking off doing some songs together and we’re going to just release a 7”. They asked me to join and we started writing all kinds of songs and realized we could do a whole record. Hour of the Barbarian is our time to get drunk and bullshit and talk about the crap we’ve been doing and also go on extra long tangents and interrupt Ryan whenever we get the chance.

You’ve all been in other bands, what is different about this project?

All the bands I’ve either played in or still play in have been different that’s for sure. It helps to actually be playing in a trio though. Less fucking people to deal with to get stuff done. That’s a major difference.

Do you guys also actually brew beer? I have the feeling you do. 

Dodge has brewed beer with a couple guys from Eagle Rock Brewery, but I can’t remember what they brewed?

Can you tell me about the process of creating ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’? Over what period did it happen and how did it go down?

We originally did a 10 song demo that we were going to try to put out ourselves, but Relapse was interested so we used some of the demo songs and wrote a bunch more for the record. From the beginning of the recording to the actual release date it took about a year. That includes getting the artwork together, consuming beverages, etc.

You are all in prolific bands, so how did you find time for this record? 

We all got our stuff going on, but we make time for this since it’s a blast to do. We also do the podcast (Hour Of The Barbarian) here and there so it breaks up the whole practice and writing songs monotony so we can just sit around and bullshit.

How did you compose the beer list to accompany the album? How much sampling and testing went with compiling it?

Dodge did the whole composing and compiling of the beer list. He did very extensive research for this (have you seen his Big Year in Beer blog?). (Ed. Now I did, so check it out here).

What would you rather do: brew your own Trappist or tour the Trappist locations in Belgium (and sample their brews)?

Hmmm, that’s a tough call. I don’t think we would be welcome in the actual Trappist locations so I would be down to just brew our own Trappist beer.

If you had to pick one Trappist beer that sums up your band, which would it be and why?

I’m not the biggest beer nerd in the band (I mostly just drink them), but I would have to say the Westvleteren 12. Goddamn, it’s delicious and bold and I wish I had another one right now.

What future plans do you guys have with the band?

We’ll be heading to the east coast in November for a few shows. Trying to get over to Europe as well as Japan next year. Already writing new stuff so we’re not going away anytime soon.

Cover image press image by Paul Lee

Underground Sounds: Cân Bardd – Nature Stays Silent

Label: Northern Silence Productions
Band: Cân Bardd
Origin: Switzerland

Nature is never really silent, but sometimes you find yourself in a spot where only the silent humming, gentle trickling of water and wind is what reaches you. That is where Cân Bardd takes you on their very first full length, which has a cover that kind of gives away something of what you can expect.

The Geneva natives have been at it for 2 years. The band consists of two members, namely Dylan Watson and Malo Civelli, who both share membership of the band Kaatarakt. That means the folky, traditional themes in their music are not really coming out of nowhere, but a more subtle take is definitely there on this recording.

A medieval, folky intro starts the record, including the ambient sounds required. Slightly dungeon synthy keys enrich the sound and create an extra layer of grandeur. The launch into the atmospheric sound is black metal with a lot of space. The sound is like a valley with a lot of open air for it to breathe in between on ‘My Ancestors’. The folk music never really leaves and even more, it takes the forefront on ‘An Evolving Painting’ with a strings effect.

Though the black metal parts of songs can sound dense and heavy, there’s always an element of condensed force to it. The sound never gets the full space of the spectrum, so folky passages and soothing synths are always at the edges. For example, check the song ‘Océan’, which harrowing cries and silent intermezzo’s, but also the waxing of the waves and burly drums of war. On ‘A Gift of Nature’, we leave the album in smooth tones, pleasant and warm.

A remarkable record by Cân Bardd, hard to really pin down as a black metal record but captivating nonetheless. Enjoyable to day the least!

Underground Sounds: Raum Kingdom – Everything & Nothing

Label: Independent
Band: Raum Kingdom
Origin: Ireland

Raum Kingdom is a fascinating act and has been working on their very distinct sound for a couple of years now. I had the pleasure to discuss this with the group earlier and with their latest record ‘Everything & Nothing’, they definitely capture my ears once more.

The influences are the like of Deftones, Amenra and more sludge bands with a mythical vibe to them. On this record, I feel that an addition of Urfaust is in place, particularly due to the vocals and the flood of sound that just drags you along. Though they’ve been around for a few years, this is finally the debut from the Irish band and it’s a welcome one indeed.

The howls on ‘Summon’ are the main reason I mentioned the Dutch black metal band a moment before, as they make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The music is more meandering, more Isis than the bombastic torment of Amenra for this song, but the similar force is undeniable. Heavy and full of that channeled rage, the music just keeps pumping on tracks like ‘Dig’ and ‘Winter’, featuring Mia Govini from Makavrah.

The word you look for when describing the sound of Raum Kingdom on this record is ‘flow’, because that is what the sound does. It’s an endless flow of energy and barely contained emotional tension. The deception of calm and harmony on a tune like ‘Walk With Reality’ is exactly the line that Raum Kingdom likes to walk. Playing with the smooth movements and then harsh, bursting riff-rife explosions, full of tremolo waves, the band sets itself apart in the more blackened sludgy corner. Not particularly driven, the music follows its own path. Lyrically, the songs are personal, highly contextually valid and fierce in their bared essence.

Raum Kingdom has found its place with this record and it is merely a matter of time, before their due recognition is there I hope.