Tag Archives: Metal

Luguber, Suriname Metal on the Rise!

You wouldn’t think about the Caribbean as a place where metal music is blooming. Maybe blooming is a bit too early to say, but there’s something stirring under the soil in Suriname for sure, where Luguber is making strides with their unique, dark sound.

This interview was originally published on Echoes and Dust. Check out that version here

Suriname was up from the colonial days until the independence in 1975 part of the Netherlands. It explains a connection and influence from the old country, which can be seen in the music of Suriname. For years the country was also a dictatorship after a military coup. It’s all things to take into account, when looking at a relatively young scene that is still finding its ground.

But bands like Luguber are hitting that ground running, playing their own blend of various genres, mashed into a wild punkrock infused barrage. It’s the sound of anger and dissent, of frustration and depression. That makes it high time to get in touch with these guys and get to know a bit about them and their scene. Most questions were answered by Shavero Ferrier, except when noted different.

So meet Luguber!

Who are Luguber and how did you guys meet?

Luguber is a metal band from Suriname, we play a mixture of hardcore, thrash and grunge. Luguber has three members, who are Reguillio Norman Padma on bass, Akeem Smith on drums and Shavero Ferrier on guitar and vocals.

I met Akeem at school in Nickerie in 2014. He had the same interest in music and he heard that I was playing in a band. We got talking and found that there was definitely chemistry between us so… Luguber was born. Reguillio and I had been playing in a band together in Paramaribo, named Skafu, so I’ve known that bastard for years.

Before that I played in a punkband called De Rotte Appels, who released a single named ‘Punkers’ on compilation albums ‘Punks Not Deaf’ and ‘Suriname Punks Meet Guyana Punks’, which came out in the Netherlands in 2013. I and Reguillio still play in Skafu together.

After that first jam session with Akeem we started penning some songs, so Luguber started as a duo. With just guitar, vocals and drums we played 4 successful gigs in 2015. Reguillio joined on bass in January 2016. We play music that takes a bit from sludge, hardcore, grunge and thrash, as long as it makes it heavy, dark and depressed.

luguber2

What’s the story you’re telling with your music, what are the songs about? It seems that there’s some personal demons unleashed in the lyrics.

My parents had to move in 2011 from Paramaribo (the capital of Suriname) to Nickerie. You can’t compare Nickerie to Paramaribo. It’s smaller, there’s not much to do during the day and in the evenings. When my friends left Nickerie to study I was left alone there in Nickerie. Moving from Paramaribo to Nickerie, from a busy life to a really calm life is what I’m expressing in my lyrics.

Why did you pick the name Luguber?

Originally we had the idea in mind to play doom metal, so we picked a name that would fit in well with that style. It worked out differently, we started playing completely different styles, but decided on keeping the name. We do a lot of lyrics in Dutch, so keeping the band name in Dutch made sense. We’re kind of breaking a taboo by having a Dutch name. Most bands in Suriname use English names. It’s sort of different in that way.

What bands inspired you to make music and are there any local ones that you looked up to?

Shavero: For me a local inspiration is Bitter Confessions, a metalcore band from Suriname from around 2001/2008. Apart from that I listened a lot of Black Flag, Bad Brains, Black Sabbath, Nirvana and Slayer.

Akeem: For me the song ‘115’ by Elena Siegman, was what inspired me to start drumming metal music. Other music that inspired me is Pantera, Asking Alexandria and Killswitch Engage.

Reguillio: For me its Mark Tremonti, Creed, Social Distortion, Metallica, Slipknot and Green Day (before 21st Century Breakdown). Local heroes for me where the bands Apoplectic and Morrighon.

If Luguber could tour Europe with a three band package deal, what would that package be?

Regillio: So, this is hard to answer… Creed, because of Scott Taps voice, wow! But…they split up. De Heideroosjes, awesome Dutch punkrock group that also split up I’m afraid. So I’d go for Korn, because that would mix well, since both us and they deal a lot with personal demons in the music.

Shavero: For me it would be Neuk! (Awesome Dutch hardcore band). They inspired me to write my lyrics the way I do. I also really dig Expire, I listened to all of their albums. I’ve been a huge Bad Religion fan since my teens though, so as a die-hard fan I’d add those.

Akeem: I’m a big deathcore/death metal fan, so for me Infant Annihilator is on that list. The drummer Aaron Kitcher has been a huge inspiration for me. Currently I really dig the band Eye of the Enemy and I suppose Slipknot, because it’s my big dream to see them play live.

What is it like to make metal in Suriname? The image of the region is usually one of sunny music and a relaxed atmosphere. The music of Luguber is very dark instead.

It’s always great to make music that is different for the masses, something they’re not used to. Mostly the audiences don’t appreciate it very much, but Suriname has a small underground scene that appreciates what we do. Those are the people we make our music for. No one is making any money out of this, we’re more likely to pay to play. It’s all about the love and passion for the music.

You guys are from Nickerie, on the first EP there’s a song titled ‘Nickerier Song’, what textually seems to fit more into a setting like King 810’s songs about Flint, Michigan (Murder City). It sounds pessimistic and the lyrics mention it as a hell hole. What kind of place is it you guys come from?

Nieuw-Nickerie is not such a bad town really, but for a city boy it’s a place that can get pretty boring. Maybe a good example is the UK Subs song ‘Down Here on the Farm’. It’s a fact that Nickerie is the second city of Suriname when it comes to suicide rates. To make a long story short, Nickerie can really bore you to death…

How available are facilities like instruments, studio’s, labels and record shops? I’ve learned from bands in surrounding countries that these can be serious issues.

It actually is a big issue. Not just for people playing rock or metal I have to say, but for any genre. Instruments are ridiculously expensive and the studios have no experience at all with the kind of music we are making. There are people who have been into the metal scene for decennia, who have a studio, but they’re simply unwilling to invest. They fear that they won’t make back any money they put into it. So we have to make do with what we have and that’s not a lot unfortunately

Can you talk about a metal scene in Suriname? What does it look like, is it segmented by genre or is it a mix?

You can’t really talk about either a metal scene or a punk scene in Suriname. It’s more or less a rock scene, where everything is mixed up a lot. The scene is not really bound to one specific genre. It’s also not very big, so you see the same people at every party, regardless which band is playing. People like a good atmosphere and a good mosh.

The rock subculture really becomes visible when there’s a related event. Everyone knows each other and respects each other’s musical tastes. We discuss a lot of stuff, but at the end of the night we share a bottle of beer and a joint and just have a good time.

How did the metal scene get started in Suriname? Is it possible to point out a starting moment?

The rock/metal scene in Suriname started in the seventies, when people were jamming in their garages, playing covers of Sabbath, Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad. It really took off in the eighties, when the band Allegre Fortissimo played an official gig and was actually on the radio for a while.

We don’t know that much about Allegre Fortissimo to be honest. In the 70’s people played funk more than anything and that band was the first one who dared to organise a show. For me personally the band Bitter Confessions has been one of the first bands that I saw live and inspired me to start this band. That was around 2007/2008.

Which bands from Suriname should people check out and why?

Bands you could check out are Asylum, Tidal Wave, Morrighon and Ravech. Tidal Wave is one of the oldest, still active bands from Suriname. Asylum plays shows full of energy, you could call them the Suriname version of Slayer.

Morrighon has been working on their sound for a while now and last year they released an album which sounds pretty amazing. They’ve been at it for ten years or so. Ravech is an up and coming band, they have a lot of potential. You can check out their EP online now.

You guys played the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean recently. How did it go and what is it like to play on a stage like that?

I can hardly find the words for it. It’s a night we’ll probably never forget, an evening full of top class metal music with great bands. Everyone was nice and encouraging towards one another, but there was definitely competition. I needed to visit the toilet like seven times, that was how nervous it made me. We played a great show in the end and probably one of the biggest we’ve done this far. Many doors have opened now and I think we’ve gained a lot of connections through our Caribbean brothers.

What is the connection between the surrounding countries, say the region that was part of the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean? Is there a connection to the Dutch scene?

Before the Wacken show, we were familiar with bands from the region, but contact remained limited to Facebook connections. Now, after having played together at the show, the contacts have been strengthened and we have a wish to collaborate more.

As mentioned before, the band De Rotte Appels released a compilation in the Netherlands. A Distant Head Disorder can also be heard on that ‘Guyana vs. Suriname punks’ compilation. Jerrie Orie, who organises the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean plays also in Dutch metal band Disquiet and Cypher.

You can say that for us (Skafu/Luguber) there’s a good connection to the Netherlands, which lead to the compilation albums ‘Punk’s Not Deaf’ and we’re pushing each other’s music on social media. Jerrie Orie is definitely an important connection for us. Not only did he play in those bands, if we hear his name we think of long hair, metal and beer.

He invested heavily in the scene he has said, without making much in return and has been trying to make rock bigger in our country for years. He would like to make Suriname the centre for the music in this Carribean region. The Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean is the highlight of that this far.

What future plans does Luguber have?

We want to tour the whole fucking world, but mainly we would love to play Europe (yes, we’re talking about you too Netherlands).

But first we want to record our album, make some merch and plan local gigs. We also really hope to do something more with our Caribbean brothers.

If Luguber was a dish, what would it be?

We’re like a McDonalds meal, that you’re craving and afterwards you feel bad until the craving comes up again. You’re definitely never going to forget us.

luguberbigmac

Sounds of the Underground #44

Let me entertain you with some underground tunes by Ashbringer, Wederganger, Laster, Wilderun and Eternal Khan. Hopefully you find something you dig in there.

Ashbringer – Yūgen
Avantgarde Music 

source: Bandcamp

The name Ashbringer resonates to me due to the obviousl link to Warcraft. The name of the legendary blade is almost as enchanting as the music of this band, which is unique, atmospheric and grand, but always staying on the edgy. Their debut was ‘Vacant’, released in 2015, by the Minnesota group. That already intrigued me, but ‘Yūgen’ is a whole different beast. The group formed around Nick Stanger (Astral Blood, No Heroes, ex-The Broken Are Crowned), who decided to pursue his solo dreams. To my dismay I found that I never got around to penning some words about Ashbringers debut, but do check that out if you have a chance. 

Deep melancholy oozes from the sound of Ashbringer. Its’s full on, blazing black metal, swelling up like a roaring fire and rolling over you, but in there is a layer of synths. Those create that feeling of magic. The band is also not afraid to add folky elements to the music, not necessary hidden behind bushes of distortion, but offering an intermezzo in a track (even the opener) or soaring high throughout a song like ‘Oceans Apart’. It adds a postrock vibe to the atmosphere that Ashbringer delivers, but the twangy steel sound of the guitar on that song takes it somewhere else. It places the band completely on its own path. I think you can compare them to a Deafheaven, Woods of Desolation and ilk, but to me on ‘Yūgen’ the band has found their own sound, which is distinct. As the Asian word they chose as title indicates, it’s mysterious and profoundly expressing a sort of suffering. This is a glorious record.

Laster/Wederganger – Split
Ván Records 

source: bandcamp

Laster is a Dutch band, earlier I discussed their previous release. That was an experience in itself, there’s a poetic side to the bands sound and words. On this new ordeal, the band unleashes a song that lasts close to 20 minutes.  ‘Vederlicht Verraad’ is their contribution to this split, so I’ll split this review up as well. There’s something unorthodox about this track, mainly on the rhythm section, which sounds almost like wooden drums. Full on salvo’s are unleashed, but there’s a continuous measure of control to the sound, as if the band tempers the energy they unleash.  From there the band slowly works towards a repetition that slowly dulls the listener, bringing on a trance that is ended by the harsh buzzing noise that remains at the end of the track.

Wederganger is a whole different beast. Steeped in the clay of their region, closely connected to more historical orientated bands and up for a bit of dirty, grimy black metal, this will not be a pleasant experience. Their song ‘Klaroenen van den dood’ translates as ‘trumpets of death’ (roughly). It opens with a languid, sizzling riff that electrifies your spine. There’s a feel of something looming in this track, it never really gives you a moment of peace and calm. The ghoulish vocals are accompanied by a galloping rhythm, that keeps a slow melodic pace. Rattling drums crawl under a soaring, buzzing guitar riff that sounds really like it’s charged heavily. Clean vocals in Dutch chant about death, it’s a typical morbid day in Wederganger land.

Eternal Khan – Lost in the Night of Ages
Independent

source: Bandcamp

I think that Eternal Khan is the musical equivalent of taking a bat to the face, that’s how intense the Providence black/doom metal band comes across on their second full lenght ‘Lost in the Night of Ages’. The band takes on themes like absurdity of man’s existence, which does intrigue me. The artwork and other promises also suggest that there’s an element of mythology to the band. On previous covers a Mongolian warlord is depicted, hulking and brandishing weaponry. That feels different on this album, with a more fantasy like creature adorning its front.

The feel of the magnificent riffing might be dirgelike, there’s an urgency and commanding element to the steady horse-back galloping riffing on the record. Maybe I’m just interpreting the ‘khan’ title in the album, but the threatening tone is more than just creating a languid atmospheres. In that militant element, there’s definitely a wink at Satyricon you could suggest. Vocals are much more barked and guttural and there’s definitely more of a stomping feel to the doomed up  beats. Still, this is no step back in black metal history, this is a record in its full right, exploring a new avenue from that direction. It’s brutal, atmospheric and one big pit of swirling chaos.  I only miss the real mythological elements that everything seems to hint at.

Wilderun – Sleep at the Edge of the Earth
Independent

source: bandcamp

I’ve kinda left Wilderun for what it is for quite a while, untill I saw it pop up on some EoY lists here and there. The lustrous green hills on the cover did attract my eye, so I finally decided to give it a spin. Expecting something akin to Wildernessking I was surprised by the sound of this Boston group. The Americans produce their own specific sound of folk metal with symphonic elements. Now, this is a slippery slope that might lead up to a massive cheese fest of tacky, over the top metal music, but these guys manage to pull it of.  Time to dig in and listen to the majesty that is Wilderun.

Combine the penchant for the dramatic storytelling of Turisas with the grandeur of musical brilliance of Opeth and you have a pretty adequate  description of what the sound of this group is. Vocally and lyrically the work of Evan Anderson Berry is very strong and theatrical, but a bit too slick for my tastes. The same goes for the bombastic arrangements. When finally a shreddin guitar enters the fray on ‘The Means to Preserve’ I think I sigh audibly every time. Equally for the more gruff vocals by the way, but I can’t escape the notion that this is a majestic record, filled with grandeur and beauty of it’s very own kind by a band who are masters at their craft. It’s grandeur and picturesque nature remains unsurpassed and this is indeed a great album that I would recommend to those who like their music epic and sountracky.

Sounds of the Underground #38

So Underground sounds, I’ve been silent but I need to tell you about Rorcal, Zhrine, Sun Worship and Unru. 

Rorcal – Creon
Lost Pilgrims Recordings

This four track album by Swiss doom masters is by now their number four of the full lenghts. De group from Geneva has a  sound that hits you like a brick in all its glorious majesty. The albumd deals with the tragic death of four greek heroes. The names are the songtitles, written in Greek, which offer a record lasting over 50 minutes. The names are Polynices, Antigone, Haemon and Eurydice. The record was recorded in three days and mixed in Sweden, it’s out on vinyl now (just ordered mine!). Check this out.

The description invites you to immerse yourself in the savage fury and beauty of this album and I think that this is exactly what the record offers. Four turbulent tracks full of blackened sludge/hardcore that feels quite on the bleak side most of the times. Continuous, surging riffs give that typical sludge feel, but the tempestuous blast beats link it to black metal joined by the vocals. The riffs lash down upon the listener, sometimes giving way to those high rising atmospheric moments, while the drums batter on. This would seem to be one hell of a consistently strong record, offering no rest for the listener in the ever dangerous mythical age of Greece. The vocals scream and sear you even further, landing like blows to the face. This record is a black pit of tar, once you fall into it, you’re doomed.

Sun Worship – Pale Dawn
Golden Antenna Records

source: bandcamp

One of my favorite metla bands for suer, these guys from Berlin. A while ago I did conduct an interview with the trio and their hipster black metal approach. I think that whole label is nonsense by the way, rarely will you find a band that so profoundly makes music from the heart that sounds so dark and oppressive. It’s the second full lenght of the band, who played Roadburn last year and are generally pretty awesome. You can read my interview here if you like.  Artwork for this album was once more done by the people of View from the Coffer. It looks pretty cool as we’re used to with these Germans.

I don’t know if the band in some way intended their cover to give a slight reference to the cosmic music of the 70’s krautrock movement. One can detect something like that in their music though, with a lot of repetition an an almost ‘motorik’ beat in the opening track. Maybe its just being highlighted in the music of these guys, who also use a lot of distortion to create this cosmic, cloudy feel of air filled with electricity. This brings me to ‘Lichtenberg Figures’, which is a the name for electric emissions that can be captures.  The use of cymbals evokes that feel, but it all lingers in the wide, melodic play of the band. This is not black metal for a black night, it’s for that starry heavens above us, filling us with wonder. The tremolo guitar play and hoars, far away focals are an expression of facing that. The words echo despair. It’s one hell of a record, do take your time to listen to it.

Unru – Als Tier ist der Mensch Nichts
Monotonstudio Records

source: bandcamp

When you look at this weird collage cover, you may think that this whole record is just some joke gone wrong. I doubt that though, because ‘As Animals mankind is nothing’ is a blistering assault on the eardrums by Bielefeld black metal/crusties Unru. The band has released some surprising demo’s and then came out with this piece of unholy matter. Many fans the band has attracted with their vitriolic sound, but this album kind of tops it all I think. Judging by their facebook pictures, we’ve got another band like Sun Worship here, that has little scene pretense, but probably an artistic statement to offer.

Chaos, that’s where you dwell on ‘Zerfall & Manifest’, with a continuous onslaught of blast beats, wavering guitars and agitated, bestial barks. What might be the typical cascadian riffs, just melts into this distorted blanked of sound. Radid screams add to this grotesque experience. ‘Hēdonḗe’ offers an opening of crushing riffs, that make it sound like some shattered speakers are being tested. Add to that guttural howls through broken microphones’ and you get the illuminating experience this track offers. It’s an abbrasive, punitative ride down on this abbrasive record. With a torturous thred the song marches on.  I don’t know what it is, every time the band seems to produce somehthing that sounds mildly intelligent, a blast of noise has to be woven around it, like ‘Totemiker’. Still a great record though.

Zhrine – Unortheta
Seasons of Mist

source: bandcamp

Iceland offers many natural wonders. It also has a shitload of good black metal bands and Zhrine is just the next kid in town, that’s gonna blow you away with their grand blackened death. On first hearing they might remind you of a mixture of Behemoth and Skepticism, but there’s much more violence to this sound. The band is not a bunch of young dogs, but have already earned their name and are earning it in various others like Naðra, Svartidauði and Ophidian I. The good label is there already. This appears to be bound for glory already after having changed the bandname from Gone Postal to Shrine and now Zhrine.

There’s a majestic side to the dragging sound of Zhrine, but there’s also the bite when they speed up and chase you with overwhelming force into a corner. Brutal with so many subtleties, that’s the cool bit about these guys. You can definitely sense some of the experimental elements on the more straight forward tracks, but it’s the other songs that mesmerize you. Both dissonant and harmonious, imposing and gentle, the record goes in all directions without ever losing its intriuge. Unconventional and progressive, this is one hell of a record to give a spin.

 

Sounds of the Underground #33 Iceland Edition

A special edition of underground sounds from Iceland, with Naðra , Wormlust, Auðn and Abominor . Am I jumping that Iceland black metal bandwagon? Well atleast for this round up, I guess I am.

Naðra – Allir Vegir til Glötunar
Vánagandr Records

source: bandcamp

The stars are right. The serpent has awoken. This band from Reykjavik features an all-star line-up from the Icelandic black metal scene (which, to be honest, makes it easy to get an all-star line-up). Members are active in Misþyrming (4/5) and other acts that make up that typical sound. The title means ‘All Paths to Oblivion’ and is the first full lenght effort of this band. The artwork is a copper engraving and the band does have a bit of that Celeste or Deathspell Omega thing going.  Those are the facts.

I mention those names, because the sound blends atmospheric, vibrant sounds with a brutal, full on wall of sound to create a mesmerizing spectacle from the first tones of ‘Fjallið’. Relentless the sound surges on and it does take a few listens to get through the primal roar and experience the hidden majesty of the band. It takes all the way to ‘Fallið’ to get a moment of the clean, folkish roots of that form the sound of this band, which is brought as an intermezzo during the 9 minute song. The pace slows down on that track and brings a purifying experience back to a slow wind down. Absolutely a great record, so recommended listening.

Auðn – Auðn
Metallic Media 

source: Bandcamp

“I mean, if you’re on the fringe of the black metal scene in Iceland, what does that leave you with?” said vocalist Hjalti in this cool piece on Icelandic black metal (grapevine.is). It describes well the position of this atmospheric band, who are on the fringe of a fringe genre in a fringe nation. The band is one of those who get lumped into the post black corner here and there, which is a bit hard to explain. Maybe its the interest in landscapes and not showing band pictures that makes them unique?

Bleak and barren are the landscapes that the band paints in their music, with melancholic and merciless music that cuts you like a knife. Their soaring guitar work combined with meandering rhythms forms imagery in sound, though the band also manages to sound brutal and fiery now and then. Then there are the mild passages, with gentle guitar play. They are brief, but offer a glimpse at the beauty that the band also embodies. Though harsh, the bittersweet melancholy of the songs is convincing and easy to pick up. Even though the lyrics, presented in a hoarse but controlled bark, are in Icelandic this band speaks to you in all their glory. Outsider art is the best art, am I right?

Wormlust – The Feral Wisdom
Demonhood Productions

source: Bandcamp

This record hits you like a brick to the fucking face, after which you feel the psychedelic display on its cover is a much more logical thing to behold. The record has been out for a while, but a re-release was inevitable. The band has two members and has been around in Reykjavik for about 13 years, playing a very distinct, very own brand of black metal. I mean, this shit is real, it’s not something for the weak to listen to and the first time I put on some wormlust, I turned it off after about 5 minutes.

The album is cathartic, as in surviving it is something you do willingly and decide to actually strive for. It’s torture in its aural intensity and refusal to form any true musical rules. Psychedelic means something totally different if you enter the black spheres of WOrmlust. For example, the track ‘Á Altari Meistarans’ is filled with woozy effects, surrounding a blastbeat fueled orgy of screams and riffs that feel like a black hole sucking out all life from the universe. It’s intense listening, dear readers. This is hefty material. Despair, mortals, this is the soundtrack of your darkest dreams.

Abominor – Opus:Decay
Vánagandr Records

source: Bandcamp

Abominor is anoter group, hailing from the city of Reykjavik. Not much has been released this far by the group, apart from a demo in 2010 and this ep in 2015. A meagre harvest, but not a disaster if the quality is right. The main tipic is death and all its futility for the band, which explains the swirling cover, depicting a sort of emptiness after all. Noticable about this band, is the fact the band moves into post-black metal and black/death crossover with their sound. An intriguing listen.

After a brief intro, all gates are open and thick, layered slabs of sound are delivered over doomy rhythms. The fat, textured feel of this sound is clearly different from the other bands I’ve been checking out, offering more of a chunky, heavy handed approach by creating dark and overwhelming soundscapes. This sound envelops the core of the black metal assault as a misty blanket when the torrent unleashes. This full and grand approach is probably how the end-times will sound. Turbulent and wild, this is some heavy stuff.

Interview: Indoraza from Peru

Metal is a global phenomenon that takes all forms and shapes. When it connects to indigenous cultures, beautiful things can happen, but it can also inspire refreshing things elsewhere. One of those intriguing bands is Indoraza from Huancayo, Peru. This interview appeared originally on Echoes & Dust.

Bandleader Luis Pariona Avila was kind enough to answer some questions about their music and projects, vision and background. The band has been around since 1998 and released mostly demos and ep’s, but now is working on a bigger project.

Normally you’d associate Peru with the pan flute tunes and the colourful robes, but there is room within that culture to combine those indigenous elements with furious metal that tells the story of the darker days the country has faced, but also connects to the present.

Read about inspiration from Norway, Andean history and tradition and making metal in a place like Peru.

Can you introduce yourselves and tell us how you got into metal music? Do you have any other bands / projects you are working on?

Thanks for the interview, hello from Luis Pariona “Pishtaco” leader, guitarist and founder of the band. I was involved in other bands like Yana Raymi, which plays death folk metal and Ancestral, which makes pagan black metal … but now we’re doing hard work with Indoraza.

How did Indoraza get started as a band? What does the name mean?

Indoraza was born in 1998 with the sole intention of paying tribute to our ancestors, our culture and Andean worldview. Indoraza comes from two voices “indigenous and race”. Those voices refer to the blood lineage we trace to the ancient inhabitants of our American ancestors. Race we define as identity, not a term that can be mistaken as racism.

indoraza2

What is the history and the concept that you are telling us as a band? What inspires you?

Indoraza (indigenous race) traces back to early 1998 taking from other projects such as As Ayllu, Danger, Psycho. Back to the year ‘99 with a stable group and under leadership of Luis Pariona “Pishtaco” we started writing songs with Andean lyrics that speak about situations, that we witness and experience in various regions of countryside Peru. We also focus on customs, myths and stories of the land. The musical orientation is hard rock on a basis of rock’n’roll, blues and heavy metal.

 After a while the group split and there was a break in the months following that. Luis Pariona (guitar, vocals) recruited Abel Fares (drums) and Jim Castro (bass), who were later joined by Jhon Castro as a second guitar. Indoraza kept this lineup for some time and recorded demos like:

‘The Inca and Ñusta’ on tape (2003)
‘Coro de leyenda’ on CD (2004)
‘Ayllu Sañachkan’ on CD (2005)
‘Ethnic death metal’ CD (2006)

 The band also toured across Peru and Bolivia in 2007 with a tour titled ‘Ethnic Holocaust’. In 2008 Boris Camayo (drums) and Carlos Miranda (bass) were recruited, with the goal to record those themes that were in the air and for the fans that were waiting for that moment. On the 1st of june 2009 our CD ‘Yarawi’ went on sale, which is the first opus of a hardrock Indian trilogy made in Ayllu Sañachkan (Saño) – Huancayo-Peru.

In 2010, the following two discs ‘Miski Simi’ and ‘Chosheck’ were released. Our first album came out in 201, titled ‘Todas Las Sangres’, which is part of a new trilogy: “Los Andes No Creen En Dios” (“The Andes don’t believe in God “).

In 2015 the next opus ‘Ayahuasca’ will be released in honour of the ancestral people!

Don’t the Andes believe in God? Why did you pick that title for the new trilogy?

During the time since the European conquest and invasion they brought religion which was forced upon our land with violence and lies. Many communities and ethnic groups today have ceased to believe in the mercy of that European god and that omission of it remained deep in their heart.

The trilogy the band is producing now speaks about all that feeling covered in the harsh reality matched with the customs and traditions in danger of extinction. In the Andes it is not enough to believe in a single god but it still remains more ancestral gods’ beliefs because there is a need and faith in them. Ayahuasca is the title of our new album the second instalment of the trilogy “the Andes do not believe in God”.

Especially in this production we are including numerous Amazonian themes and atmospheres. We implement instrumental and lyrical stories that deal with the ritual of Ayahuasca, which is a drink that transports you to other dimensions to proper focus and balance your body, mind and spirit.

You describe your music as Andean metal, ethnic pagan metal and hard rock indigena. Can you describe or explain what you do musically?

Technically, the instrumental structure of our music includes many styles, such as thrash, death, heavy, power, etc. but the main theme and ideology of the band is based on our ancestral culture and Andean worldview. Our fans classified us as indigenous hard rock, folk metal or pagan metal etc. We prefer to call ourselves, following what we do, as Andean metal.

You’ve mentioned the Andean man a few times. Can you describe what the Andean man is like and where he comes from?

The Andean man is a human being who was born, inherited from the nature and remains alongside the rivers, niches, and homes that make up the Andes Mountains which extend throughout South America.

What are the bands that inspired you to get into metal and inspires Indoraza as a band musically?

We admire the greats as Manowar, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, AC / DC, Dio, Death, Slayer, Judas Priest, Bathory, Immortal … etc. and they inspire our band.

 Can you explain a bit what the traditions and history are that inspire you for people unfamiliar with them?

We start with the history of the Inca Empire, its science, agriculture, astronomy, medicine and religion. These things we inherited from other nations such as Wankas, Chankas, Tiahuanaco, Nazca, Chachapoyas and many more cultures. Each of them contributed much to the development of a people with great goals. At some point, these  cultures were cut short by the European conquest but they still achieved a balance and their legacies remained.

What do you think of metal as a global thing? Do you feel it is global or very local? Can you relate to a band from Norway or Russia?

The metal is a global overall musical structure that is shaped emotionally, ideologically and spiritually with local features that every artist wants to capture and honestly, it fits properly.Possibly by merging our national folklore and metal like the Norwegian or Russian bands do. We admire bands like Arkona, Turisas, Moonsorrow, Korpiklaani…

 What sources inspire thematically (not musical)?

The sources are the traditions, our history and worldview of the environment where we live and what we witness every day. The Andean history was always a source of inspiration for the man of the Andes, Andean music is magic and fits perfectly to the heavy metal.

 Can you tell me how metal music started out in Peru and how it developed? What bands were more influential and important to the national scene?

I’ll explain in a very broad sense about metal in Peru. It has its traces back to the late 70’s and early 80’s with a great wave of bands that appeared nationwide, but mostly in the Peruvian capital of Lima. Obviously, before that, there was hardrock, blues and punk music, which has its own history. Bands that came up then were Mortem and Kranium for example, who are still going strong and considered national metal icons. You would also start seeing bands in the provinces, like Hadez, Inri, Armagedon and Masacre.

What is the scene like these days? Are there important clubs, labels or venues that are worth mentioning? It is bigger in certain cities?

The scene is growing. In the last few years the country had the opportunity to bring great icons of the metal genre over and organise some festivals with a good reputation. It’s still all about maintaining clubs and labels and make the profitable. Maybe there are some doing that successfully in the capital, but it’s difficult to maintain this in the provinces. On the other hand, there is a lot of considerable talent, creativity and musical skill in Peru. This country is rich in music and art, there are bands that keep up the fight, regardless the limitations.

Does metal culture face any form of censorship or repression in Peru? From either the church, the state or society itself?

Not really, maybe because the metal scene is still growing and there are other major issues for the churches and the government to deal with. There is no tangible repression or censorship at the moment, but it might be worth mentioning that metal is not very much distributed by the media. Probably because it’s not as marketable in comparison to other countries. That might look like repression in Peru, but it’s just a disinterest of the media in this music. Another reason for its lack of visibility is a lack of proper instruments and affordable recording studios.

Though I can’t make out everything on your page on Facebook, it seems you are a band socially aware and active. Can you comment on that?

Well, we aim to pay homage and tribute to our culture and our ancestors, making and perfecting our art spreading it in the most honest way we know doing this kind of music. Our country had to go through many stages: one was civil war or revolution but it brought great harm from the government and it still subsists political elites who are even now trying to rule unfairly at the mercy of peasants and poors, thing that we do not tolerate and that we raise in our songs.

Can you name some bands that are now active in Peru, which you think everyone should listen to? And why?

The bands that I am listing should be mentioned because they have displayed great talent and originality.

Traker (Huancayo -Peru- Heavy Metal).
Chakruna (Tarapoto – Peru – Amazon Metal Fusion).
Rockpata (Puno -Peru – Hard Rock Altiplanico).
Ayahuaira (Huancayo – Peru – Pagan Black Metal).
Anal Vomit (Lima – Peru – Death Metal).

Do you think there is something typical about metal from Peru? That makes it different from the main stuff from the USA and Europe. Could you describe it?

Indeed, the history and culture that originates and comes out the veins of every Peruvian and the heritage which they carry in them are reflected in the “riffs” and songs. It contains a unique essence in its music that makes it fully different compared to other bands from other places in the world.

What does the future hold for you guys?

We do not know exactly, but we are dreaming about playing with great artists in great metal festivals all over the world.

indoraza

Please use the space here to share anything you want to add. Also type where people can find your music.

I’d like to thank you for the interview. We hope it will be well spread. You can contact us directly and easily on our Facebook page.
www.facebook.com/indoraza

Indoraza Folk band Metal / Hard Rock indigenous Peru
Original members: Pishtaco (voice guitar), Chosheck (drums), Illapa (guitar), Ccarccar (bass).

Pictures with kind permission from Indoraza

Seal Of Solomon Interview

I got in touch with Turkish metal band Seal of Solomon. The band hails from Istanbul, which is often described as the ultimate bridge between Europe and Asia. Geert Mak described the city as a metaphor for exactly that in his book ‘The Bridge: A Journey between the Orient and Occident’.

This is also found in the band name. Solomon is not only a biblical figure, but also a prominent feature in the Qu’ran. Something I was quite unaware of in fact. The seal of Solomon is also known as the star of David in modern use. It does sound a lot more brutal when you regard it as a means to control demons through this very seal. Stripping away the religious components, what remains is the story of a king that is totally metal.

Answering questions are the three main members of the five piece, Can Berk Öcalır (vocals), Ozan Murat Özfen (rhythm guitar) and Önder Dülger. We conducted the interview over a period of time over e-mail

How did you guys come together as a band? Have you played in other bands before?

Önder: We’re all active members of the Turkish metal scene. In fact, that’s one of the reasons we were able to get together in the first place. I met Ozan during a Undertakers gig. We were both in the audience back then. After I started playing with Undertakers, I started to see more of Ozan. We even fought together in the Turkish resistance Occupy Gezi Movement. After the resistance he invited me to join the Seal of Solomon project.

Ozan: Me and Can Berk (we are cousins by the way) wanted to work on a joint project for a long time. One day we decided to form a band. Other members as drummer and guitarists are people we used to or still work with on other projects, so it was not hard to gather a band. I played in plenty of bands (Nefas Lacus, Blaspheron, Razor, Yabgu, Furtherial) in the past and I still play in another band called Magilum.

Can Berk: We were in a band called Aggregate Pain, which played blackened death metal. Most of the current members of Seal of Solomon played together in that band until 2010, when it split up. While we played together, I established a band named Unfurling, which became Seal of Solomon. It was formed with the current members, except for one guitarist.

Can Berk
Can Berk

Can you tell me a bit more about this Occupy Gezi movement and what it meant?

Önder: Occupy Gezi actually started with 50 peacefully protesting environmentalists, trying to stop the demolition of one of the last green areas in our hometown Istanbul. That 50 people got brutally attacked by the cops (their tents were burned while they were sleeping in them) Ozan and I went there the next day to protest with maybe another a few thousand people.

And the riot force cops came to kill that day… We were stuck in the park with all 3 sides barricaded by the Special Forces aiming our heads with teargas grenade guns, shooting to kill. How we made out of there alive is a whole other long long, LONG story.

In May 31st, MILLIONS (literally) of people came out to the streets to avenge our asses. And to this day, I still feel like they’ve all came to save MY ass. We took over the Taksim Square with them and fought for almost a whole month to keep the cops out.

So I feel responsible for all 11 deaths and more than 8000 injuries caused by the fight we started there that day. Some were tortured, some are still missing. It’s not something you can forget or not be inspired by, when people you don’t even know stands up to guns with bare hands, ready to die, just because they think what was done to YOU was wrong. I don’t have the words to describe the terror we’ve been through together with those brave people for the whole month. I can say that i lived the best days of my life in that period. (Especially June 2nd).

I saw for the first time that I was not alone in what i’m standing for here in Turkey. Nietzsche said that, “Weak people won the fight when they made us feel ashamed of our power”. Ignorant people won it when they’ve made us feel ashamed of our knowledge. But the Gezi Park protests were the explosion of the anger of every silent fed up intellectual in Turkey. It was the beginning of the days we begin to finally win. And we were able to made it with the help of our foreign friends and fans we we know, with our instagram, facebook etc. pages, while our own media was ignoring the terror we were facing on a daily basis.

Where does the name ‘Seal of Solomon’ originate from? The concept has complex roots and connotations that can be found in various religions.

Ozan: Metaphysics and demonology are some of my personal interests. King Solomon is one of my idols in a way, who I feel envious of. I’m sure that people who share these interests will understand where this comes from, but the reason for choosing this name has nothing to do with religions.

We have all grown up with tales and stories of demons and djinns, which are a huge part of our culture and religion (for some of us). For the concept of our band, we didn’t need to do too much research, because we were raised with this.

Can Berk: The Seal of Solomon was the enchanted ring of Prophet Solomon. One day Ozan came up with the concept for this band and the name Seal of Solomon with it. The name was about the magical rituals, performed by the prophet Solomon, where he made demons his servants. We liked this idea and decided to keep it as a band name. When we reflect on the ideas about Solomon, we are not trying to use the religions that implement this figure in their stories. Still, the religions are part of the world, but we try to keep our own perspectives.

What inspires Seal of Solomons music? What themes do you put into your sound?

Can Berk: The concept is growing day by day, and includes things like the magical rituals and demons. We compose our music over a certain time, to evoke the right feelings. The notes must feel like complex algorithms in our minds.

Önder: We all have our own instincts to what we serve up musically. Speaking for myself, I was in a dark period of my life during our pre-production and recording sessions, which led me to contribute a bit aggressively I guess. One of the songs I wrote was “A Leader’s Indignation”, which helped me a lot to express myself lyrically at the time. “Leader” translates literally to my name “Onder” in Turkish, and all my inspiration came from the indignation I felt during that time.

Other than that, I worked on the pretty much completed guitar parts and lyrics, mostly written by Can Berk. He told me to feel free to change and even re-write parts as I saw fit. I tried to stay true to the blackened death metal roots of the band, while representing my own hardcore-based playing style.

The most signature sound of the album I think is what I called “Hell’s armies”.

Which is an octaved, ethnic slow guitar groove on a palmed hardcore guitar riff. Literally sounds like armies of hell are marching in. It can be found in songs like “Providence” and “I The King v2”.

You’ve released your album ‘I the King’ in 2014. Can you tell us more about the contents and story of this record? Did it grow from your EP, which contains some of the songs on it?

Önder: The idea of writing a tribute LP album to King Solomon was always an idea Ozan and Can had in mind. It has all the songs in the previous EP and much more new ones. I believe the album speaks well for itself.I feel like, it is a solid “Fuck You!” on both personal and general levels.

Can Berk:  We released this full length with some doubts at first, but after a short time the comments and reviews came in and were quite amazing. I think this is only a taste of what’s to come. Our new single and second full length are on their way and I think they completely convey the idea behind our music. You’ll know what’s going on behind the curtains in our lives and the place where we live. We will all put something from there in the music.

Önder Dülgur
Önder Dülgur

What was the writing and recording process like?

Önder: It was therapeutic, for me at least. It helped me to cool down and channel my anger into more productive things. It gave me a routine to follow. Wake up, get to the studio, start writing, and start playing. Play again, again, again and again. And since the recording studio was our own, we’ve played and hung out there for hours and hours a day.
Ozan: Can Berk recorded the guitar demos, then we get together with Önder and retouch the sounds and shape the songs into some final demo recordings. After that, they are shared with the other band members, who then write their own instrumental parts. Can Berk and Önder do most of the work on the lyrics. When all this is done, we get to the studio and record our parts.
Can Berk: It’s not complex, but a little complicated to explain. Önder writes the lyrics together with me, but the music is composed by everyone together. I establish the general structure of the songs, but everyone adds a bit of themselves to them. We have the luxury of recording in our own recording studio, so there’s no hassle with time and money when it comes to recording.

Musically, what are your biggest inspirations as ‘Seal of Solomon’?

Ozan: As you probably can hear in our music, the texture of the sound contains a lot of Turkish folk music. In Metal I think Behemoth is out biggest inspiration, because Behemoth brought, as you heard, texture of our sound contains a lot of Turkish folk music. In metal, Behemoth is out biggest Inspiration. Behemoth is one of the most successful bands which brought oriental music and metal together.
Can Berk: Behemoth and Dark Funeral are our biggest metal inspirations, but the local music is the most important. Our country has a wide range of oriental music with a long history and profound culture. We build every note on that cultural heritage.

Ozan
Ozan

What is the perception of extreme metal music in Turkey? Is there any censorship you have to deal with?

Ozan: I don’t think the scene is as big as it is in Western and Northern Europe, but it’s also not as small as in in Asian countries. The late 2000’s were probably the golden years for metal in Turkey. We had plenty of festivals, even Sonisphere was organised in Istanbul twice. It would be better if Erdogan was not ruling the country, but the metal community is getting stronger. It may take a bit of time. We’re still flexing with 1KG dumbbells, but at least it’s better than none at all.

If you don’t have Turkish lyrics or a bizarre stage show, you don’t have to worry about censorship. The majority of society won’t understand the lyrics.

Önder: Television and radio are mostly scared of anything that comes from the heart in Turkey as well as anywhere in the world. I think that we’re all okay with that. I don’t think any of us would want to play to a daytime TV crowd. I’ve played in pop music festivals or contests with my other metal bands a few years ago and it’s not really a good scene when your audience looks at you like a dog that’s just been shown a card trick (lovingly stolen from Bill Hicks).

Most people who would want to censor our lyrics in Turkey are ignorant scum, who don’t know shit about English. So we didn’t really have any problems with that in Turkey.

Can Berk: The metal scene is still very underground, so there’s no real control mechanism dealing with extreme metal in Turkey. It’s relatively unknown this far, so we try to be friendly and accomodating, so extreme metal can have its place in Turkey.

Can you tell a bit about the general metal scene in Turkey and what the key bands or places are for its development?

Önder: There are a few metal bars and venues to follow, like Dorock Bar, Rasputin Live etc. that only put on metal bands and supports them. University gigs like Ege Rock Fest and Uludağ Music Festival are also about as good as it gets for a metal band, in terms of stage and crowd quality.

Ozan: Metal came up in the nineties here and got itself a bad name. A few people called themselves Satanists and in 1999 a girl was raped and killed by this group. This really put the focus on this subculture and the following years were hard for metalheads. We were harrassed throughout the country.

In the middle of the 2000’s, some alternative rock bands popped up on Turkish TV and people got more familiar with rockers and metal heads. We have one or two metal fests happening during summer and plenty of rock bars in Istanbul, though only few have a stage. Dorock bar in Istanbul is probably the best known rock bar of Turkey. It’s still hard for local bands to get on the stage. There are however the spring festivals at universities that offer a great opportunity for local bands, even if they only get to play in front of 20 people there.

The heart of the metal scene is Istanbul, smaller cities have very little. I can mention a band like Pentagram as a key player in the Turkish metal scene. There is also this one guy, who is not a metalhead, but really important for Turkish metal music. His name is Hayko Cepkin, who is one of the mainstream rockers that makes a living with his music. He is also the first person with screamed vocals, so even a peasant in the small villages of rural Turkey has heard this weird kind of singing.

Can Berk: There are some main places to play live, but they are limited. We are trying for a metal revolution in Turkey in the close future.

Many extreme metal bands in Western Europe have in some way or another opposed religious establishment. Is that something you let enter in Seal of Solomon too?

Ozan: Not really.
Can Berk: We are not especially opposed to any of the religious views but Seal Of Solomon always will have its own perspectives, which will be more clear on future albums. We’re not opposing religion, but we do oppose religious pressure and brutal religious ideas. In our band some of us believe in God and some do not. The conclusion is that this is not a problem, while it does feed and affect our concept and musical sound.

What intrigues me is that the name of your band takes a figure from Biblical/Abrahamic religions as the name. For a band from a country that is 96% Muslim, that strikes me as peculiar. Can you say something about that?

Önder: First of, I’m glad to say that this 96% is an overstatement by the government. A recent study of the Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey showed that 20% of a test group of 22.000 people have never even touched a Qu’ran and 60% of them haven’t read it in Arabic (they don’t know the language). Even if 80% still considers themselves Muslim, they hardly know the texts well enough to either like or dislike Solomon as a figure. The same goes for any other character.

King Solomon, as you know, is kind of a unique character in history. He’s also largely mentioned in Qu’ran too. Everything about him sounds quite dark. The band choose to tell a post-biblical, fictional story about this king, losing faith in humanity and gathering an army of djinn to fight them.

Can Berk: That 96% is indeed not a measurement that corresponds with the actual views of every person. Also, if you think you’re a real Muslim, you shouldn’t close your eyes and mind to other ideas from the world.
Today’s problem is that people don’t think about where the borders are for what the holy books contain. Whether you are a religious person or an atheist, you’re free to think about things and have your own way of figuring things out. Solomon is a historical figure you can make up your own pros and cons about. Ideas can be held against other ideas, just uttering bad words makes no sense.

Ozan: Can Berk and Önder said enough about that percentage. About the main question, I can say this: Muslims accept all prophets of the four holy books, so Solomon is as much our prophet as Jesus, Moses and David. According to my own view, we are all playing in the same man’s garden.

What bands from Turkey should people really be checking out and why?

Önder: I’d say Furtherial is one to watch, along with TEC and Seth Ect.
Ozan: Pentagram (a.k.a Mezarkabul), Raven Woods, Furtherial, Baht, Soul Sacrifice, UCK Grind, Pagan, Infected, Mekanik, Thrown To The Sun.

Why? Because I like their sound hehe.

What future plans do you guys have as a band?

Can Berk: We hope to get more well-known in the future and make sure people have heard of us. At least everyone who likes extreme metal. We’re trying to get more support from local communities and hope to play around the world or at least Europe. I also see it as one of our main tasks to kick off the metal revolution in our own country.

Any things you’d like to add?

Ozan: Thank you for the interview and thanks to everyone who is reading it.

Can Berk: This was a great interview. Wish to talk again.

On behalf of the band: Check out our new album when it comes out in the late summer or early autumn of 2015. We’ll release a single before the EP, follow us for any news on our website and facebook page.

The reading of books #13

Another series of books read, this time Plutarch, Greg KeyesDayal Patterson and Richard A. Knaak. From Ancient Rome to the Elder Scrolls and Warcraft.

Plutarch – The Fall of the Roman Republic

source: Goodreads

Yes, another book by Plutarch. This time focussing on the transferral periode from the late republic to the empire, describing the lives of Marius, Sulla, Crassus, Pompey the Great, Cesar and Cicero, who brought an end to the Republic. It’s a fascinating bit of storytelling, where Plutarch clearly shows he’s not in love with Cesar. In fact, he barely manages to keep it out of his words. Then again, none of the figures in this book appears to carry his favor, maybe Marius a little bit in most of his life. Sulla doesn’t get of lightly and Crassus looks like a buffoon. Pompey is the tragic figure in this version of events, together with Cicero I suppose.

The one life missing would be that of Cato, who opposed Cesar for as long as he could. It was a great read, that I enjoyed very much. Enough to order some more actually. What is lacking here, is the pairings with Greek lives. I’m also very curious about those and I must say I doubt the way the publishers dealt with that. All in all, it gives good insights in a highly confusing period of our ancient history.

Dayal Patterson – The Cult Never Dies: Volume 1

Source: Goodreads

Dayal Patterson started something big with his first book ‘Black Metal: Evolution Of The Cult’. It was not enough, he had the desire to catalogue the entire black metal scene and its aspects, so here is the second book and first in a continuing series of looking at the blackest music genre you can find. Patterson takes a clean, journalistic approach to bands like SatyriconSilencer and Mgla and many, many more. It opens up the scene to new investigators, without disclosing all and keeping its edge of mystery in place.

The print looks minimal, which is good. The pictures are only in black and white, which is also rather enjoyabable and fitting. Patterson illuminates specific sections in this book, like the Polish black metal scene and the SDBM scene that emerged as a progenitor of post-blackmetal. He does this by taking out pivotal bands, but also interesting marginal acts to illustrate the broader whole. A well worth read for fans of the genre and intriguees.

Greg Keyes – The Infernal City

Source: Goodreads

This is the very first novel of the Elder Scrolls franchise by Bethesda (known for their game Fallout mostly, but also Skyrim). The book tells the story of a human character Annaïg and an Argonian called Glim (Lizard people) in the world of Tamriel. A strange floating city approaches and brings doom to the lands. Annaïg and Glim decide to assault this city and try to warn others of the coming doom. While being captured by the dark denizens of the city, they succeed in reaching prince Attrebus.

Another story there unfolds, with the Prince’s life being under threat and his carreer an apparent illusion to facilitate Empire propaganda. The central imperial city has little interest in helping those under attack by the floating city on the fringes of the empire (even just outside it). Attrebus sets out to carve his own destiny and to become the person he is supposed to be as a prince. The book is well written and the characters do get some background, though sometimes they are a bit foggy in personality. The work introduces the figures and peoples of the Elder Scrolls universe and thus makes for a nice read and introduction. Now I should get part two though.

Richard A. Knaak – Night of the Dragon

Source: Goodreads

I felt this urge to read the only Warcraft book that was still unread on my shelves. Probably I was not up for some literary masterpiece, but the writings of Knaak for Blizzard are always fun and catchy. So I started reading this follow up to Day Of The Dragon, the very first in the novel series of Blizzard. In this book we return to the doomed mountain where the first novel took place and the same key players converge, unwittingly of eachothers whereabouts on Grim Batol. Krasus, the dragon/mage, Vareesa Windrunner and a bunch of angry dwarves.

The plot deepens, when another of the black dragon flight emerges and plans to…dare I say? Take over the world. This time the book does not involve Deathwing, but some familiar elements of his evil will return in this story. It rekindles and connects other  storylines, which is always very pleasant for an afficionado of the game like myself. The series of near-death escapes is a bit too dense for my taste though, but you can’t win ’em all, can you now? Looking forward to maybe playing some more in that fabulous world of Azeroth.

 

Sounds of the Underground #18

Another session of delving into the underground, with Bong, Deuil, Wiegedood and Suðri. Great releases and great fun listening to them. I’m always eager to hear more new things ofcourse.

Bong – We Are, We Were And We Will Have Been

source: bandcamp

A new album from the arch-stoners Bong. Drugged out, stretched out like lukewarm tar and always so hypnotic, this album is not a shift of pace in any way for the Britons. Basically the albums opens with a  drone, that seems to go to infinity and beyond. For seven minutes it’s just that with a minor bit of percussion going on. Suddenly a dark voice launches itself, proclaiming dark words, like a high priest of an occult, old ceremony. This ends a couple of minutes later, leaving you to drift of on that same drone for the rest of opening track ‘Time Regained’.

‘Find Your Gods’ starts with a spoken word element, but from there on it slowly rund away in a long, reverberating drone that takes you to far of places. Hypnotic and transcendent, this record is definitely a work of art from the masters of its kind. I have to admit that I’m impressed with this band and I might be willing to check some more of their stuff later on. Later… I ‘m comin back to earth now for a bit.

Suðri – ReiseReise cover art

Ukrainian DSBM that sounds a bit Burzumesque, well I’m going to give that a spin. I know nothing of this band, just that this came out yesterday. Turns out this is a Ukrainian label with a Chilean band, a one man project. That is surprising, because from the whole aura of this release, you expect it to be continental stuff. The opener ‘Die Reise’ is one of those minimal, quasi-acoustic dreamy tracks that prompted me to use the Burzum reference. That slow, atmospheric feel remains throughout the four track record, but its always nice to find that Burzum inspiration again with bands playing this niche sound.

The depressed element becomes clear rather quickly with ‘Ashes and Solitude’, a seven minute lasting drag with barked vocals that convey the despair. The creeping tone is that of a desperate, malformed being clawing at the light. Wafting riffs are like a cold rain. ‘Im Regen’ utilizes the piano for its intro, creating the ambiance suited for this kind of muic. It’s surprising how powerful these elemetns are on a record like this, the acoustic part. ‘An Endless Journey’ wraps it up with tha typical barrage of layered, tremolo guitar and the hoarse vocals. An impressive record, using the interplay between two very different sounds with succes.
Deuil – Shock/Deny…

Source: Bandcamp
Only two songs, but for some bands that is more than enough to convey the message. These Belgians from Liegè combine doom, sludge, drone and stoner to a potent brew of fucking sonic magma. Screeched vocals, landslide riffs chugged out and a constant feeling of discomfort is what ‘Shock’ opens with. Blast beats keep slapping you in the face later in the song, while the guitars are crying out in despair. Around the seven minute mark, the sound gets lighter, warmer as if the sun gets a moment to illuminate the blackness, reminding you more of post-rock. Then the door shuts and dark, looming riffs fall like curtains. From there on its a dark way down.
‘Deny’ is the frenzied twin brother of the opening track. Furious riffs and pummeling drums create a more black metal atmosphere on this track with continuous blast beats and atmospheric density. Eerie tones fill the air and the band drudges on in their typical way to construct a big song with some, epic passages. A whispering female voice enters the fray, speaking mysticly over the churning bass lines. The song slowly fades out with only buzzing and then only whispering. A great record for those who love the dirty, dark Roadburn sound.
Wiegedood – De Doden hebben het Goed
source: bandcamp
Yeah, that name means ‘crib death’, the word for parents finding their child in the crib deceased, after being apparently healthy. It’s a cruel and sad thing, but also a great name for a black metal band. These Belgians from Ghent picked it up and made some intriguing music on their debut ‘The Dead are doing well’ (losely translated). The opener ‘Svanesang’ (Swan Song) is a burst of flurried riffing and tremolo guitarplay, that seems to shift between minor and major at some points, leaving behind a trail of ice and fire.
The 13 minute epic dwindles down for a minute, but then ‘Kwaad Bloed’ (Evil blood) launches again, with those particular sunny passages and the screamed vocals (which are very tight btw). This song sinks away in a swamp of distortion and guitar picking notes, gently ending the suffering. There the slow-paced, gloomy title track starts, with an eerie, meandering riff soaring high above. Super fast tremolo gives it that gloomy feel. Its doom pace makes this a slow descent into hell, depicted by the creeping rhythm section. Final track ‘Onder Gaan’ (going under) picks up the blistering riffing and majestic sound again.

Dynamo Metal Fest: The personal review you might not care for

Dynamo Open Air is a festival that touched many, many lives, but also those of the kids who didnt make it. I was quite late coming to the metal world, but Dynamo has been a landmark, an iconic thing that put me on my musical path. I loved it.

Some kids are blessed with parents that hate their music. It’s glorious, because you know exactly what it is your opposing or rebelling against. I was not so fortunate. My mom would watch the big festivals on TV throughout the nineties and pointing out the cool stuff to me. So there was this Brazilian band I had to see, they were really special. There I was, gaping at Sepultura. I’ve always thought it was at Dynamo that year, but it was old footage from 1990 or somehing. Then there was this other funny band called the Heideroosjes, that I had to see. Suffice to say, my parents got me in touch with most of the music I listen to nowadays.

Looking back, it seems like a planned thing. There was a nudge here, an Iggy Pop album for that birthday, concert for the next… I would watch all the footage of these big festivals on TV and enjoy it, be amazed by the extreme music, the long haired people and the energy. I saw Sepultura again on Pinkpop and I always had a special place in my heart for that band. Truth be told, I didn’t get the music back then, I just knew it was cool. I guess you need that one band to hit you at some point to get into it. The prequel for me was Sepultura. It was much later that I got into metal seriously, through punkrock in fact. I read all I could and watched videos whenever there was something on TV. Dynamo was always there. Later, when I missed those last few editions, the old posters were my guide to what stuff was good and should be listened to. I will always regret not visiting it when I had a chance. Still, it was my guiding light into the world of metal.

So thats what I’m thinking today, when I’m riding my bike towards the Ice Sport Centre in Eindhoven. Lots of memories of that place, but I’m not thinking of any of them. I’m thinking back to what got me here, on my bike, going to my very first Dynamo Metal Fest (which feels like Dynamo Open Air). I’m thinking of how my mom stole my Finntroll CD and how my parents went to see Rammstein on Pinkpop. I’ve been enabled to explore and discuss music freely from childhood onwards and now I’m full of energy and excitement. I’ve left my meds at home and I am hoping my back is going to hold out today, but I’m going to be at my first Dynamo. This is awesome. It doesn’t even matter that I’ve seen pretty much all the bands on the bill play live a bunch of times.

The crowd at any metal festival is one big bunch of weirdos, strangers and mad men. It’s that strange bunch that makes me feel so much at home. I’ve tried the other stuff, the dance music, the indie crowd and even the scifi conventions, but this is my home. I’m anxious almost anywhere and big groups of people are a bit intense for me, but not here. Even though I have little friends in the metal scene as yet, I feel like I can relate to everyone here. In reality, sure, that is not true, but I like the feeling that it is. I’m just enjoying the atmosphere. Old friends meeting up, telling stories of the past. One guy is telling me how everyone had their hair cut or got grey and he cant recognize his old friends. Another tells me that they all got fat and bald (to which I go over my own head with one hand). It doesn’t matter though, the bands hardly matter (though I love the old thrashers from Nuclear Assault and Death Angel). It’s all about the community, the atmosphere and the guitars playing loudly somewhere. This is not just your next run of the mill festival, this is a festival with a whole lot of love for music and this city of Eindhoven.

Ok, I guess I’m being a bit too softy on this article. It would be so much more borin to put on those rational goggles and complain about the stuff that was not great. That would spoil my whole experience, though. I had an excellent time on this festival, because it felt like everything was done with love. The whole thing, it’s not about making money, it’s about this crazy music and everything attached to it. I got to enjoy this festival with my girlfriend and some real good friends, some I have not spoken to for too long. I heard stories, which were about Dynamo, metal and why it means so much to people. I’ve been in this thing for years now, mostly as a writer, but first and foremost as a fan. It’s all love, you know. I think that is the best review any festival can get.

PS. Line-up:
Facelifter, Bodyfarm, Orange Goblin, Alestorm, Biohazard, Nuclear Assault, Death Angel, Arch Enemy (without Angela Gossow, it wasn’t the same for me*)

*Not that I think Gossow is hot, she just looked powerful and had a certain aura that this new girl doesnt have.

Cyaxares Interview: Death Metal From Kurdistan – Iraq

Metal arises in the most surprising places. One of the most unlikely locations for this kind of music to spring up is Iraq. Mir Shamal Hama-faraj is like a katalysator for metal in the country we know mostly for its dictator Saddam Hussain and the war-torn recent history of it.

Mir Shamal Hama-Faraj
Mir Shamal Hama-Faraj

The musician got into metal and started making music on his own, by himself. Metal in Iraq was the theme of a documentary, dealing with the band Acrassicauda from Baghdad. The band Cyaxares hails from Sulaymaniyah though, a predominantly Kurdic town in the northern part of the country. A region with a strong identity and historic awareness.

Mir Shamal Hama-faraj is thus pionering metal in a part of the world that this far has barely been touched by the genre. At this moment, his home is extremely close to the troops of IS and thus under threat. His other band, Dark Phantom, is from Kirkuk and has taken politics and religion as themes for their music. Unfortunately the contact with Mir Shamal Hama-faraj is lost at this moment. The last e-mail he wrote contained the following words:
They Are Extremely Close, Neighbours With Kirkuk (Dark Phantom’s) And The Kurdish Peshmerga Is The Only Thing Holding Them Back.

All The Members Are Ok, For Now.

For the sake of getting his music out there, the interview should go out now. So enjoy reading about one of the most unlikely metal bands out there and be sure to check ou the music.

 What does the name Cyaxares mean?
Cyaxares was the third and greatest king of the Median, the most capable ruler and the Great Father of the Kurds. I chose this name, because it’s a proper name for this band and  it matches what I do in my view. 

The band started out as Voice Of Silence, with three members. We didn’t have any original tracks back then, because we just had gotten into metal. Some things then changed and we had a new name with three members, which was Beneath The Oceans Of Sands. Some of the swongs written for that band can be found on my album, namely ‘Whores Of Babylon’ and ‘Temples Of Fire’. Both songs where written by me.

After that I continued by myself as Cyaxares.

How did you get into metal music?
It was in 2008, when I got into rock music and so I decided to get myself an album. I heard of a store that sells that kind of music, so I went searching for it to buy an album. My choise was: Iron Maiden. I bought the record A Matter Of Life And Death.

Listening to that record, I knew that this was what I wanted to do to. It actually took a while for me to learn that this music was called metal at this point, which was what I got more into. I moved on towards more extreme metal, after I started listening to Cradle Of Filth and Amon Amarth. They inspired me to do extreme vocals and music.

Mir Shamal Hama-Faraj
Mir Shamal Hama-Faraj

Do you do all the music yourself for Cyaxares? How do you go about recording stuff?
Indeed, I played and recorded everything on the album myself. As far as recording goes, I recorded it in my room without any professional or semi-professional equipment or what so ever.

Are there for you as an artist from Iraq any limits technically to what you can create?
In fact I’m very limited to what I can do. It’s pretty much impossible to get good instruments and equipment let a lone a decent studio. I’m also not able to see a real live Metal concert or get a good teacher. I have to do everything by myself and the whole project rests on my shoulders. That means writing, recording, rhearsing, learning, funding and whatever comes with being a band.

Iraq is ofcourse for the ‘Western World’ (sorry for not being able to define this any better) one of the most unlikely countries to find metal. How do you regard this fact? Are there more metalheads and bands around?

True, metal is a very rare thing in Kurdistan and Iraq. The amount of bands from this region is in total six and thats it. The skills of most bands are limited, so they don’t really catch any attention, simply because they don’t live up to the global standard.

Is there any sort of repression you have to deal with, doing this in your country? How does being from Kurdistan matter? And how about your other band Dark Phantom?

Metal over here, like anywhere else, is fought by religious and old-fashionate people. As Dark Phantom, we’ve received multiple threats and Cyaxares is actually the only death metal band from Kurdistan, making it a band with ten times as much obstacles as bands in other parts of the world.

Dark Phantom
Dark Phantom

Is there anything typical for metal music from your country? Do you draw inspiration from where you come from that you put in the music?
Metal is a very obscure thing here, so there is too little to speak of typicalities. Yes, I have inspired others to start playing metal music, but it’s very limited at this moment. What I try to put in my music is the ideologies and mythic elements of my culture and I hope to make a difference and change things in this way.

Musically I draw inspiration from oriental music and the mythology. The metal influences, I would say, are mostly Behemoth and Lamb of God.

What are the main themes you try to weave into your music?
The main themes are derived from ancient mythology and historical events in the Babylonian, Sumerian, Persian and ofcourse Median tradition. The call for leaving behind religion is a big theme in my music, but I’ve also put some classical poetry in there.

I’ve checked out your album ‘Whores of Babylon’. How did the writing and recording proces of that take place? What story are you trying to tell the listener on it?
The writing process took me about four years, because I started from absolute zero. Actually I had to start by teaching myself all I needed to play this music, you know? It took me about three days to record everything by myself.

Every song has its own message, My message as Cyaxares is ‘Temples Of Fire’, a call for Zoroastrianism as an ideology. What I want to achieve is to make my culture known, to give the Kurdish people an independant voice and show its strenght as well. We are a people that have always managed to do so much with so little.

I did an interview with the band Melechesh a long time ago, who also indicated that they made ‘Mesopotamian/Assyrian metal’. Do you feel related to this band in any sense?
“Melechesh” Is An Authentic Mesopotamian Metal Band, I Enjoy Most Of Their Work, But We Both Have Different Sound Of Our Own.

Would you be so kind to tell a bit about what ‘Mesopotamian metal’ is and what makes it so? Can you also elaborate a bit on the stories it involves and entities discussed in the lyrics?
Mesopotamian metal is a combination of Arabic scales and rhythms in the music, combined with metal ofcourse. The oriental atmosphere in th esong and the lyrical themes then make up what I think is Mesopotamian metal. The themes should also incorporate mythology. A good example of a band playing this specific style of music is Aeternam.

What part does religion play in your music and are there dangers involved in it?
I’m an atheist myself and my opposition to religion will always be a part of Cyaxares. It’s not a safe thing in this country to be an atheist but I will refuse any sort of religion, with or without music.

Can you also tell a bit about Dark Phantom, your other band?
Dark Phantom is a thrash metal band from Kirkuk, that I joined last year on vocals and bass. We’re woking on an album right now. The main themes of the band ar war, and terror and it has five members. The situation in our country is part of the theme. I keep that out of Cyaxares though. [Video below – Dark Phantom]

What are your future plans for Cyaxares?
The future plan for Cyaxares right now is a new album, titled ‘The House Of The Cosmic Waters’ and hopefully go abroad, get a label and create a full band.

The second album is progressing slow, three songs have been finished this far. I’m not sure how many songs will be on it, but it will probably take me about eight months to finish it. That’s mostly due to a lack of time and economic means to finish it faster.

You can hear the music of Cyaxares on Reverbnation.

https://www.youtube.com/user/behemot1993/videos