Tag Archives: music

aMakARtUS: humble roars from Mauritius

Isolation for a metal scene can mean a lot of things. It can mean that there’s simply nothing around it, it can be remote from other local scenes or in the case of Mauritius it’s simply the geography of being hundreds of miles from any other country. In fact, the island nation consists of 4 islands, with equally huge distances in between them. Being a metalhead on one of the Mauritian islands can’t be easy.

No surprise then, that the scene aMakARtUS is part of is small, but passionate. Heavy music is not something you can be specific about in places where there’s only a few to share it with. I got in touch with the band and asked them some questions about the music scene in Mauritius. As far as aMakARtUS is concerned, the scene may have humble beginnings. That doesn’t mean they’re not hungry for more.

Hi, so could you guys introduce yourselves?

We started in June 2010. initially known as Bringing Death. We were high school friends sharing a love for the same style of music.

Eddie had the idea to start a metal band, where we would play things we love and write music. At first, we wanted to create something different, we were really into old school metal and punk. We try to fuse modern metal with its old school counterparts.

The group (to date) is composed of 5 people:

vocals – Rodney Sagore
guitar – Mahesh (Eddie)
guitar – Darshan
bass- Vissen
drums – Evan (Yovesh)
We have one debut studio album entitled: In For The Kill.

the album has 8 tracks:

Cannibal Perversion
Angel… Not.
Stench
I die you die
Traitor
The doctrine of fools
Sin with me
Warrior Rebellion

How did Amakartus get started? Like, how did you guys get together as a band and start making music?

We were high school friends and we had metal in common. We were playing music and fooling around since a young age. It was in June 2010 at the University of Mauritius that we decided to form a band and take things seriously and start working on compositions…

What bands inspired each of you to make this sort of music?

Well, we have Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Metallica, Megadeath, Anthrax etc.

I understand you have been recording some demos. How do you guys go about making music together? Who has what role and how does your writing and recording process look like?

Normally for most of the songs, it’s Eddie who comes up with a riff or idea, then the whole band gets involved in arranging and working the idea. Most of the time we do ditch ideas that we feel are not ‘up to the level’. With that idea, we start to jam until something good comes out and we try to get that recorded with whatever means we have.

What sort of themes do you use for your music, what inspires your lyrics and what message does Amakartus have for the world?

We normally talk about violence, hatred and all this negativity consuming the world. We have a message of peace… live and let leave! For example: Traitor is a song about someone who has betrayed his country.

What does Amakartus mean?

AMAkARtUS is KAMASUTRA turned upside down. kamasutra is the book of love. we are like a manual of hate, explaining to people that hatred leads us nowhere. Moreover, we also wanted to show people that a name is not important as most of the time we tell people that the name is bogus and it does not mean anything!

I understand a lot of your music is inspired by themes like human nature, hate, suffering, and war. Are there particular things in your country that inspire you, as metal is in effect a kind of protest music for many people?

Yes! Our culture here in Mauritius is very diverse, so we get inspiration from everywhere.

Metal is indeed some kind of healthy revolt or protest and a way to let things go and accept others. We also want to show people that metal is not taboo. and today we have more and more people coming to gigs!

Obviously, my source has mostly been the internet, but it seems that Mauritius has a small, hardcore metal scene where punk, metal and hardcore kind of blend together. How dit metal music come to your country and who were the pioneers? Can you maybe tell a bit about the history of this music in Mauritius?

Well, obviously the media has a great role to play in this context. At first, we had cassettes etc. I remember buying Iron Maiden’s ‘Number of the Beast’ and Black Sabbath cassettes in 1999. When I was listening to it, people around me thought that I had lost it! So this scene emerged and more and more young people started wearing ‘metal shirts’ and talked about this music in our society. Before that, people would listen to this music on their own, but this started to bring it out in the open.

We do have bands like Feedback, Scar, Tribus, Humanoid and more, that started way before us. Then again, they all stopped for one reason or another and we are now carrying the metal flag along with bands like Revolt, Cryptic Carnage, and Circle Red.

Is metal a big thing in your country? Is there a bit of a scene around it and can you describe it? Do you have places where bands can perform and where they play this music?

Normally, there’s no ‘specific’ place to play metal. As for metal gigs, bands come together, contribute together and make gigs happen. we do not have event organizers for metal concerts or specific venues for rock and metal. it is a big thing here (not considering the number of people)… it’s a big thing for all the metalheads and for our little metal community. everyone knows everybody and day by day, the numbers are growing.

Do you have everything easily available, like rehearsal spaces, instruments, music, and other related gear? Or are there things that make it hard to make this sort of music there? I’m imagining there are some problems since your country is quite remote from others.

There’s no particular place for rehearsing for metal heads available in Mauritius. We have normal studios and they charge a lot. In AMAkARtUS, we tried to build our own studio for rehearsals, which we try to improve daily. Music instruments are way more expensive compared to other countries. We have little choices when it comes to the variety of instruments and most of the time we have to rely on online shopping.

Are you facing any sort of censorship in Mauritius or can you play this music and sing about whatever you want?

There is no censorship as such as long as nobody tries to incite violence.

Mauritius also appears to be a mixture religiously. Historically metal and religion have not been the best buddies. Is there a sort of clash there for you guys?

Yes! There is always the perceptions that metalheads are Satanists or atheists, but we do have a lot of metalheads going to temples and churches.

Do you put anything typical from Mauritius in your music do you think?

Yes, we put a Mauritian touch to our compositions. For example, the song ‘I Die, You Die’ has been inspired by the sega beat (the traditional music from Mauritius).

What bands from your neck of the woods should people really check out (and why)?

Well check out Shred the Glory: they are currently preparing an album and do check cryptic carnage and revolt!

Do foreign bands play in Mauritius? And if not, who would be the dream band for you to visit and play a support slot for?

Nope. No metal bands, but we do have other artists visiting the country. Metallica would be great!

What future plans does Amakartus have?

AMAkARtUS is currently working on its 2nd studio album. We want to reach more people. and we want people to understand our message and follow us if they feel that connection to our message! We do not want to re-invent metal but add-up to what’s already out there!

Ok, if you had to compare your band to a dish, what would it be and why?

Well, AMAkARtUS would be a Curry Flavoured Lamb Sauté! From the violence it took to bring down the lamb, to the mixture of flavors and cultures… you could not help but ask for more!

Thank you Guido.

 

Heading out to Kilkim Zaibu

At the moment I’m packing up my gear to head to Lithuania for the festival Kilkim Zaibu. A combination of metal, folk and  re-enactment all in a package near a lack in Varniai. I’ll be reporting for Echoes & Dust on this fest and I’m extremely excited about it.

Now, since I don’t have too much knowledge about re-enactment, let me give a little prelude to the music program Kilkim Zaibu has to offer and why it is so exceptionally awesome.

Headliners

A festival is often judged by its headliners and on that front Kilkim Zaibu has a treat in the mighty Abbath as a headliner on the main stage on saturday. The former frontman of Immortal might not be the force of the past on some levels and true, his shows are not always great… but when they are great, they are awesome. I had the pleasure of seeing Abbath play at Netherlands Deathfest this year, where hey was supreme.

For the other days, the program is slightly different. On thursday we have a folk day, with Skyforger sort of headlining the event with a folk set. Now, those acquinted with the Latvian folk metallers know that they have mastered that craft well enough, having even done an album of folk. On friday, we have Mgla from Poland taking the honours, which is since ‘Excercises in Futility’ nothing else but very well deserved.

Baltic Connection

The paricularly interesting thing for me is the Baltic line-up. Having bands from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania filling the bill is a joy, because there’s some excellent material available to see, whether it is folk or metal.

Ūkanose from Lithuania is one of the latest additions to the Baltic folk metal pantheon, with their self titled debut album having come out in 2016. Bridging between folk and metal and truly meeting half way, they are an excellent listen. Loits from Estonia may have caused controversy in the past, mainly based on misunderstanding the artistic vision the band had and the stories they wanted to convey, but is one of the best black metal bands out there as far as I’m concerned.

On the folk end I’m overjoyed to see that Ugnivijas is playing as well as Romuwe Rikoito. Two excellent formations, breathing life into the ever simmering folk traditions on a biggers stage.

Light a Pagan Fire

A festival is more than just the bands lined up on stage, it’s a complete package and the wrapping is the atmosphere. Kilkim Zaibu aims to offer a modern pagan experience, which works extremely well in a country where the roots are so important and appreciated. The combination of black metal and folk is in fact a great combination and I for one am extremely excited about it.

There’s a lot of ritual and tradition to be found at the fest and a lot of work goes into it. Great artwork by the way, which puts it on par with the more cultish festivals around Europe.

I can’t wait and I hope to see you there. Don’t be a stranger and say hi!

How to become a Kiss fan for people that don’t like Kiss

So, it turns out that over the last couple of years, I’ve become a staunch supporter of Kiss. Yes, the band with pyro and make-up on stage, with that obnoxious, unbearable singer that tries to trademark the devil horns.

That’s just one of the challenges that faces you as a person who is into Kiss. Let me tell you how to get over the things that make you not want to like Kiss this far in your life.

But maybe first… Why the hell am I bothering with this? I never was into Kiss as a kid much. I dug their looks, I liked the footage I saw and the comics that were out, but the sound just wasn’t up to par with my expectations. Years later I rediscovered the band, finding that my original snobbism was unfounded and ultimately uncool instead of cool. Kiss is a band that always puts the fans first, regardless of the offstage antics. Having seen the band live recently, I was blown away by the show they put on. I was in awe of the entity Kiss and its dedication and love to what they do, even 40 years down the road. Kiss is a lot of things, but they definitely don’t suck. Kiss also isn’t Gene Simmons patenting the Devil Horn (that is really Gene Simmons on his own). As Kiss, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer are out there to please you as a listener, fan or visitor. Regardles of all the other crap, that is Kiss. That’s a band you can fall in love with.

Well, that and Danko Jones’s podcasts that turned me onto Kiss.

Make-up, show and weird suit. It’s so silly…

Sure as hell, fans of loud music have this demand for authenticity. I don’t mean by that the uniqueness and originality of a band. I mean that a band is genuine in what they do. The history of Kiss has been well documented and though it always seems that the band are more savage business men (Read: Gene Simmons), their concept was always about a cohesive band that was really together as a group, who delivered a show to remember full of spectacle. Even after all the trouble with the band, with members falling out, adding new ones and so on, they remain true to that image as you can see in the documentary ‘Kissteria’. Sure, it is well orchestrated, but they never did any different.

Another great source are the biographies of the band members, to really feel the concept, the genuine passion behind what has become the biggest band in show business. Paul Stanley describes Kiss as a band that makes you forget your troubles: “You’re troubles will be there in the morning, but tonight we can party” (sort of what he says in ‘Face the Music’). Music is after all an emotional experience, as soon as you let go of that and enjoy the fact that you’re watching and listening to a band that is genuinely catchy and that looks like superheroes, you’ll be alright. Did you go see the latest ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘ film? Then you should probably not complain, you’re a grown-up watching men in tight costumes be superheroes. Just enjoy the band.

But I’m a serious music fan, their simplistic muck doesn’t resonate with me.

Give me a break please. People love making that sort of claim about Kiss, that their music is simplistic. And you know… the silly show and all, they would not be about the music. This is a great statement if you didn’t list Ghost, Rammstein and Slipknot among your favourites. Even more underground bands like the ones in the black metal scene are all about theatrics. Theatrics are part of rock’n’roll and Kiss simply is the best that pushed this to the maximum level. If you sell out stadiums, it is hard to argue with the success of that and people would not go see the band if their songs didn’t resonate with them.

That being said, you can write the most technical, complex music and be playing for two people that don’t have anything better to do. That can be really cool, but it was never what Kiss wanted to do. They make songs that resonate with people,  songs that you can sing along to and even sing in the shower. The make music that is simply catchy. This is an art form in itself, because most of the things in this world that catch on are those that stick around. And is it really so that you want to listen to microtonal, experimental black metal based on literature set to a special translation key on your friday night in the pub? No, you want to ‘Shout it out Loud’, ‘Rock’n’Roll all Night’ and so fort. Yes, you do.

They made ‘I Was Made For Loving You’…

You know all the words to that one, you probably do a little dance when it comes on. Shut it and sing a-long. Let it go, they also did a grunge album, hair metal album, heavy metal album and something that sounds like a Disney soundtrack actually.

The endless drama in and around Kiss…

That is quite an easy one to tackle, we all love a bit of drama. We’ve been relishing the Guns’n’Roses drama, we loved the ‘Some Kind of Monster’  Metallica and the same goes for Kiss. Did you hear about the 5 Finger Death Punch show a few days ago, where the band members (well, the singer) didn’t come on to the stage and left early? There’s some important distinction between that band and Kiss here. Kiss would never bring that drama to the stage (well,  not counting the days they were dragging Ace and Peter along, but that was different).

There’s a difference between the entity that is Kiss and the members that make up Kiss. That is the undeniable force of the band and has been for more than 40 years now versus a set of individuals with some obvious flaws. Gene with his money (read his books, it’s all valid), Paul with his dalliances and air of arrogance (read his book, it’s really different), Ace with his substance abuse (yeah, his book reads as a trip) and Peter (haven’t read it yet, is apparently well worth it). Creating those individuals mentally really helps to separate them from the entity itself. It also offers a wide range of entertaining material.

….but Gene Simmons said he was patenting the devil horns and Dio…(And they’re old and all).

Yes, yes, yes… Dio also joked that Gene Simmons would one day claim he invented breathing. Paul Stanley jokes in a similar way about Gene. About the first time he met Gene, Paul said: “Gene seemed to believe that only Gene Simmons, John Lennon and Jimmy Page could write a song” (again, aproximate quote). Gene Simmons spends 24/7 promoting Gene Simmons. Gene has brought his own persona to the absolute hilarious point of patenting the devil horns, just like Dio sort of predicted he would. The result? Everyone is talking about Gene, and probably that is exactly why he started this thing in the first place. Gene is not the totality of Kiss though…

If you look at individual Kiss members, you are bound to pick a favourite and see the others as jerks. Especially this is true for the original four. This is part of the charm, but the same thing  goes for Gene. The problem with Gene Simmons though, is that he actually is everything you imagine him to be. But… There’s one thing though, that people often forget. Gene is 67 years old. You might have family members, grandparents or such, who are way less vital at that age. Gene is still spitting blood on stage, getting shot up in the air and breathing fire. He does that for his fans, he is still touring for his fans and Kiss never plays a shit show. I’ve seen bands in their young days, who couldn’t do what Kiss does for a week. Gene is part of that, so Gene may be an absolute prick, but like his band members, he’s still going strong for you. Kiss must really love its fans, because why else would they still be doing their insane stunts on stage.

So… Kiss loves you, why don’t you love Kiss?

logo source: wikipedia media

Reading of Books #25

I’ve been reading a lot again, so theres a list of the books of this month with writings by Salvatore, Houellebecq, Kinna and Reynolds. Really good stuff, so yeah.

R.A. Salvatore – The Sundering: The Companions

source: goodreads.com

I am not yet certain what my thoughts are on the tragic deaths of the companions of the hall, the long journey of Drizzt Do’Urden to find peace in Irruladoon in the following books and then the strange turn of events where they are all revived. Certainly, I hated saying goodbye to this group of characters from the D&D universe, but the story had ended after the Neverwinter Saga, a journey I started ironically here where it all ended. So this is the book where we start again, once more onto the breach! The characters start their journeys in new body’s after a gift from Miellikki to adulthood for a new and greater challenge at the sides of Drizzt. A fascinating look into the soul of these figures.

The Sundering is a series of novels, preparing the world for the next edition of D&D, which has become the 5th edition. Since that is the one I play, I did really enjoy this shift in the realms. The great part is that the foundations are layed for the 5th edition campaigns, where the companions play a minor role in the shaping of the world. It’s a well written story, and again Salvatore shows to be more than just a bread writer when he delves into the characters of Catti-Brie, Bruenor and Regis. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and now I’m keen to start my first great campaign.

Michel Houellebecq – Whatever

source: goodreads.com

Somewhere in the past I might have read this descent into madness by French writer Hoellebecq. What I like about his writing is the dark edges, the grimy worldview and the inhumanity of humanity. In this book, his debut I should add, he really displays all of that. The book is mostly written in a monologue of the main character, who is experiencing… well… Very little perhaps? Life is a drag filled with mediocrity and the cynicism of the protagonist is all that keeps him afloat. No other human really seems to touch him or get involved with him on any real level. Life becomes very, very gray.

It all changes when the protagonist becomes ill and has to drop out of the tour of France, to train people in the new software the company sells. After a short introspective period in the hospital he joins his colleague again, who desperately tries to seduce some girl in a disco. In a brutal, sick plan he tries to convince his colleague to murder the girl. The colleague fails and dies on his way home in a car crash. The protagonist sinks away even deeper after this. The defeatist story illustrates the view that the sexual revolution has not brought us more freedom on that front, but a system of capitalism. Of offer and demand, where some win and some lose in the tragical desire for contact.

Ruth Kinna – Anarchism: A Beginner’s Guide

source: goodreads.com

Anarchism is a vast political movement, stretching years, but rarely properly analysed. Usually the concept is simply translated into ‘chaos’ or ‘rebellion’. Anarchism is so much more though, but surprisingly hard to understand thanks to our connotations with it ánd our rather brainwashed state of mind. I use that term lightly, because the brainwashing is simply the state of the world we live in. What you know is easily the normal thing, what is new is harder to grasp. In this book Kinna captures the history of anarchism as a political idea, it’s development and its core principles in an elaborate but very clear cut way.

Tracing a route from Proudhon andThoreau to  Tolstoj, Bakunin and Kropotkin, Kinna outlines the great thinkers in the context of their time, moving on to the likes of Nestor Makhhno, Errico Malatesta, Emma Goldman and so fort all the way to Chomsky. Illuminating is the successtory’s of early anarchism in the period from the 1850’s to the 1930’s, where it was fighting over heavily contested terrain with the communists. All in all, this is a great read to get yourself acquainted with anarchism and what it means, can be and how it it shapes the world. That’s a whole lot more informed than posting Rote Armee Fraction pictures on your facebook timeline and calling yourself a rebel…

Simon Reynolds – Bring The Noise

source: goodreads.com

I’ve really enjoyed the book Reynolds made his debut with, ‘Rip it up and start again’. The powerful title really sums up the postpunk movement. In this book Reynolds sort of picks up at the end of that book, but instead of steady chapters we find a collection of the journalistic writings of Reynolds, who lived through the described period as a music journalist. The pieces are journalistic pieces on certain key moments, albums and movements as Reynolds perceived them. The articles also have some current-day commentary added to them, allowing the author to add a modern day look to the equasion.

To me the fascinating thing is how Reynolds weaves together articles about rock music, grunge, hiphop and the growing techno/drum’n’bass scene. The need for noise, rebellion and urban narrative is woven through all these aspects, which Reynolds translates to cultural terms and clarifiers. The link between hiphops lyrical matter, beat and ideology is related to punk, but also to the roots of the movement, it’s location and predecessors in a clear and complete manner. It’s interesting how the author really writes as if he’s the chronicler of the music scene. A worthy read

2016: End of Year List with the best music

So, it’s been out there, but why not publish this for myself as well. It’s one of the great privileges every year to share a list of the best records. My top 20 of 2016, a year of highs, lows and Donald Trump (that’s a special sort of low). Here goes! My End of Year list with music, but of course also some other talk.

2016: A good year for rock’n’roll

I can list tons of great shows that I was able to enjoy this year. From the Roadburn sets of Converge and Amenra to the dazzling display of Kvelertak and The Goddamn Gallows. The most insane crowd I saw during a show of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes in Dynamo and as always the grindcore-mayhem on Bloodshed Fest was a pleasure, but so was the soaring hights of Eindhoven Psych Lab or the metal  inferno of Eindhoven Metal Meeting. There was also the experiment of Avant.Wav and a bit of Incubate… so much good stuff! Oh, did I mention that I got to see Black Flag?

The list

    1. Amenra – Alive
    2. Winterfylleth – The Dark Hereafter
    3. Dälek – Asphalt For Eden
    4. Rebel Wizard – Triumph of Gloom
    5. Possessor – Dead By Dawn
    6. David Bowie – Blackstar
    7. Furia – Księżyc milczy luty
    8. Nails – You’ll Never Be One Of Us
    9. Murmur Mori – O
    10. Wildernessking – Mystical Future
    11. Trap Them – Crown Feral
    12. Kvelertak – Nattesferd
    13. Opeth – Sorceress
    14. Zeal and Ardor – Devil is Fine
    15. Black Tomb – Black Tomb
    16. Rotting Christ – Rituals
    17. Waldgeflüster – Ruinen
    18. Oskoreien – All Too Human
    19. Wędrujący Wiatr – O turniach, jeziorach i nocnych szlakach
    20. Sun Worship – Pale Dawn

Some more words

Truly, 2016 had so much great stuff to offer. I’m glad I could check out so many of the records that I love, but there’s plenty that I feel should be on the list too. Sometimes you have to make choices though. There was plenty to chose from in 2016. I have high hopes for 2017. I feel the underground is stronger and richer than ever. Music thrives in bad times I guess. Punkrock for example was one of those things, so what will the next year bring? Will Trumped up economics  bring back bands we thought lost to us or will a new protest genre rise from the ashes of liberty?

If anything, I recommend listening to these 20 records. I feel that many of them demonstrate return to something more pure, perhaps turning way from the society that produces so much crap. Back to the essence of their respective genres. Well, that’s how they feel to me. Listen to music, listen to new records and if you can buy them. On bandcamp you can purchase music for a few euro’s, but every euro you invest may come back in the shape of another great record. Records make life better, trust me.

What’s your list?

 

Tuesday Thoughts: Discovering music

Back when I was still a much younger student, I was listening to music all the time. Music was carried on my iPod, casually called Archibaldt I (instead of Guido’s iPod, which I didn’t like). Now I have Archibaldt V on my desk. Now extreme and weird music feels home, but it wasn’t always like that. So that’s where my tuesday thoughts drift of to today.

Back before Archibaldt I died in an unfortunate laundering accident, years before Archibaldt II finally stopped working properly, I was in the fortunate environment of people that dug music. I mean, really were into music that I had never heard of. I was pretty much into punkrock and that was the way to go. Punkrock was all you need, not Love. Fuck the Beatles! Well, I was already looking outward, so that was a good time.

Leaving the small town I lived in for university was a big thing, but the amount of music that hit me was even bigger. Suddenly I got to listen to Opeth and Graveworm and both terrified me at first (yes, I was late to the metals at 19). I had been listening to a lot of more accessible metal music, but these really got me reeling back for a while. I wasn’t ready for that. Luckily I had other sources, like the great record stores Sounds and Tommy (or was it Tommie?) in Tilburg. I went there with a class mate, who was more of an music afficionado than me, I think.

“Have you ever listened to Godspeed! You Black Emperor?” he asked me one day, while we took the train to the center. For some reason that moment came back to me today, while I was walking to my lecture and listening to Meshuggah. “Godspeed! You Black Emperor… that sounds dark and heavy!”, I responded. He agreed, but his dark and heavy was something completely different than mine. I thought of black metal, he probably thought of the ‘Dead Flag Blues’. So soon I learned that dark and heavy had many different forms.

Departing from Pink Floyd (thanks dad) and punkrock (through postpunk and other stuff) I found a whole world of adventurous, daring music that I had not known about. I lived in a world of pop charts and punkrock samplers, but I found a dense and rich underground. Soon I was walking around campus with, next to G!YBE, bands like Mogwai, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, The Residents and so much more in my headphones. All that great music, all for me to listen to!

So I’m thinking of that and of the importance of other people in your musical journey. Of discovering and exploring new musical realms, flipping records in a store or discussing tunes over coffee. I miss that… it would be nice to have some more of that.

 

 

Stranger Aeons: An overdue introduction

When I started my own blog, I was over the moon with a broad scope of topics and I named it ‘Wheaton’s Law’. It was a geeky thing, but if you really look at any blog, it’s probably run by a geek of sorts. When I launched that blog, I decided to inform the world of what, why and how. Time to do that for the rebranded Stranger Aeons.

Origin of the name

Like any name, you want it to be original, to be yours. I’ve recently got a tattoo above my knee saying: “with strange aeons even death may die”. Now, this is an obvious Lovecraft reference. I love that phrase, I really do. So that was my first real idea after many, many failed ideas. I mean, I am the guy who came up with a tumblr blog titled ‘Fascism and Fascination’, so I have a history of bad names. Oh yeah, first blog ever was titled Psychosis Safari… Ah well.

So yes, obviously when one finds a unique name, registers it and all, you find out about things. Like an Entombed EP and a Lithuanian band named Stranger Aeons. You can’t win ’em all.

So why Stranger Aeons?

I picked the name because it resonates with the things that fascinate me in life. I’m an avid reader about past or fictional aeons and I feel that we live in a rather strange one as well. There’s a lot of mystery in the world and this is what fascinates me. It allows me to explore places, drinks, books and music and share it under the same banner. Surely, my focus is on music, but even in that I hope to offer the strange and mysterious.

So my focus is on extreme metal, folk and records that are just too unnatural, weird or haunting. I try to get some interviews in with bands that fascinate me and maybe more if my time becomes more liberal.

I think you should write about my band, we’re sort of strange

I would love to, so just contact me and I’ll check it out. Since this is still a one man endeavour, I can hardly cover everything. If I don’t sorry, but I always try to when I’m asked.

Just to be clear, I’m interested in anything that pushes the envelope, anything that is rediscovering our ancient past and roots. Things that explore and evoke thoughts. Be sure to contact me, I don’t bite.

Back to School

I’m just taking the liberty to write a bit of a personal thing here now and then. Though I’m super excited about this blog, I’m also very aware that my busy schedule will not be to its advantage.

Today I went back to school again. Yes, again, after four years I’m back to studying to get my masters in teaching Dutch. It really is quite a big step to take and I have to admit it feels rather scary too. The worst part of it is that you think everyone looks at you.

Most students are young and in the days where you live on a can of energy drink and a bun with ham and cheese and rage on for hours. I feel insecure being older, do they think I failed at life? Do people look at me as some weirdo? All that you have to put aside, but it’s weird not to have that bonding experience and excitement, but I’m here for me now. I’m not here to taste life and enjoy, I’m here to study hard and get ahead with my life.

The upside is that I’m spending quite some time studying by myself, so today I had a good listen to some excellent records.
Listener has done a great job on ‘Wooden Heart’. I never tire of hearing that one. ‘To Ride, Shoot straight and Speak the Truth’ by Entombed is a super motivational record in a way, it really helps you getting through a boring text. That ‘Magma’ record by Gojira was especially helpful in getting through the train ride there and The Hellacopters ‘By The Grace of God’ is an absolute masterpiece!

I did something new today, that I haven’t done since my first week at uni, about 10 years ago. I went to sit on the grass in the sun with my book and just enjoyed the day. I know I’m on the right path and I’ve already got a wealth of life experience. It’ll all be fine.

The Roadburn Experience

This year I went to Roadburn for the second time. Only the second? Yes, goddammit, only the second time. I also reviewed the festival for the second time, but this time as press. There’s a lot you can say about a festival in your review, but I need some space for something more personal.

Home
For me it feels like home, feels like sitting down in a warm bath. There is a calm coming over me when I walk into the weirdo canyon, the small street on which 013’s entrance is. I let go of all my other concerns, because the next four days I will be immersing myself in music. Only music. I look around to see who else is here, but I don’t know that many people to be honest.  Still, I’m home and everyone here is a potential friend.

I take a moment before jumping into the fray by watching my first band. Taking a moment to take it all in, to embrace my environment and bask in it for a moment. I know that when I enter a venue to see a band, I’ll be on a roll for the rest of the day. I check out some art in the hall ways, make mental notes on coin machines and food trucks, so I’m ready for my stampede.

Then I find myself checking band after band after band. I take short breaks to talk to friends and fellow music writers. There’s a gleam in their eyes as well, in which I see reflected my own. If music is a drug, we’re all high as kites these days.  We’ve all come home to a place were music reigns.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxAtHrrt93E

Open minds, open hearts

It’s a strange thing, that Roadburn experience. In a normal situation I’m a critical listener. I can see a band and judge the book by its cover, like most people who’ve seen and heard a lot of music. We’re judgemental and we need to be convinced that your band is going to be an experiental addition to our lives. It sound sour, but for people who review around 200 albums a year it makes sense. Some music is just not very good…

You wouldn’t eat shitty junkfood by choice for days in a row either, would you? It’s slightly different on Roadburn. I feel my mind completely open up to any band on the bill. Why? Because you sort of know that whatever is playing, was picked with great care. It was picked for its uniqueness, for its quality or simply because you need to see it. As a visitor of Roadburn, you completely surrender your pre-judgement to the organisers, you submit to them and just accept what they throw at you. It’s strangely liberating and with an open mind, you let the music into your heart.

Magic on stage
This effect works both ways, it seems like bands realize the kind of crowd they are getting and the way the crowd is experiencing them. No band plays a bad show at Roadburn, because they all try that little bit harder. It might also be the pink glasses that everyone is wearing during the festival. That open mind and hunger for more music, does make everything sound a bit sweeter, doesn’t it.

To me it feels that way though, that every band is just giving it their all. You see bands doing things, they’ve not done live before ever. See the Úlfsmessa this year, by some Icelandic black metal bands or the great Skúggsja performance by Wardruna and Enslaved. Or that haunting Blood Moon session by Converge? Bands reunite for the festival, old arguments are buried for Roadburn and creative fires rekindles. It has to be something else than something weird in the water, no?

Tribe

More than anything, Roadburn feels like a tribe. Going there makes you a member, pretty much automatically it seems. We gather once a year, to feel happy for a few days. To immerse ourselves in that which we love and cherish. It’s like a bond, that runs deeper than you’d think. Through out the year, we nod to the people wearing the shirts or caps they could only have gotten at the festival. A knowing smile is all it takes.

For a few days I feel less lonely than I normally do. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. That’s my Roadburn experience.

 

 

 

 

Sounds of the Underground #39

Let’s bring out some new sounds from the underground, with Rive, Book of Sand, Woman is the Earth and Illyria. Check these amazing records out please.

Rive – Sorg
Self released

source: bandcamp

Imagine being in one of the most desolate places on this earth, in a windswept, frozen mining colony on the island of Svalbard. What music would come out of that? Well, now we know with this release by Rive from Norway. I was not convinced that this depresssed black metal band was actually from Svalbard, but Danthor Wildcrow told me that this was the case. The songs were made there, in the far north where only ice and polar bears can be found.

‘Sorg’ is not a complex record, but it speaks of weariness and being alone. It’s an eerie, subtle recording, leaving room for streaks of beauty and sunlight in its otherwise hazy, white sound. The drums sound a bit electronic and they hold a lulling effect, which very well adds to the vast stretched out effect the music seems to evoke. Imagine the early polar travellers, stranded and hoping for the ice to melt. The hopelessness and vast emptiness they must have felt is embrased by the music. The vocals are howls, getting lost in the gale of distorted sound with minimal riff work. This is the soundtrack of the mining colony of Sveagruva, which is only part of the year inhabited. That makes the song melancholic, as must be the temporary residents of the town. It’s a record full of yearning. Perhaps sonically not laced with complexity, but definitely captivating in its raw beauty and picturesque beauty.

Book of Sand – Occult Anarchist Propaganda
Mouthbreather Records

source: Blackmetalandbrews.com

Let me start with the basics, Black metal usually is pretty right wing, but Book of Sand really is on the veganism, feminism, anarchism and other lefty-isms with their words. The band from Minneapolis has been around since 2009 and may be one of those bands you find hard to really say much about. They’ve been out there, splitting opinions in the black metal world for a long time now. The band has had a lot of unorthodox releases, which to the purists is an offence and an outrage. Sole band member dcrf must have an interesting sense of humor. Then there’s this release.

I sometimes find myself puzzled by what black metal can sound like, but this record is like the absolute essence of that sound. Stripped of any nuances, grooves or other luxurious elements, this is rip-roaring raw black metal. It’s that place where guitars are dissonant cuts and sweeps, blending together with the bass into a droning, static unity. The tortured screams are in the thicket of noise, where constant blast beats reign. It’s a bit like the olden days of black metal, so pure and direct. Here and there the instrumental side of Book of Sand can be heared though, how could it not be. This takes you back to the early days of Emperor and their ilk. Which is cool, no?

Woman Is The Earth – Torch of our Final Night
Init Records

source: bandcamp

Well, sometimes you just stumble on the most awesome things. One of those is the band Woman is the Earth form Black Hills in South Dakota, a remote location which apparently fosters a unique atmosphere in sound and words. The band draws their inspiration from  “inspired by the earth being a powerful creator and provider and man being the one who takes from it and returns to it” according to an interview. There is something very ‘gaia’ in their sound for sure, on this fourth full length of the Americans. I had a listen and couldn’t stop doing so for a while.

The tranquility you feel when the record starts is that evoked by gentle guitar play. It’s warming you untill the sound explodes out, like the sun finally climbing over a hill in the early morning and shooting its beams out. Though the fierce vocals are clearly linking this band to the black metal genre, the music is often warm and nearly jubilant during the lovely passages on a track like ‘Brother in Black Smoke’. There’s a lot of borrowed riffs from postrock in the music, which makes it easy comparing these guys to Wildernessking or Wolves in the Throne Room (for obvious, Cascadian reasons). Take also the melancholic guitar play on ‘Broken Hands’. There’s something truly unique about this sound,  every song has its unique embrace. I can not stop listening to this.

Illyria – Illyria
Self Released

source: bandcamp

Every now and then a band is for some reason unsigned. Thus it is with Illyria, the band released a debut that can’t be denied though.  The Australians aim to blend postrock and black metal, which obviously puts them somewhere out there with Alcest, Deafheaven and other post BM bands. The band name of the Perth group might be derived from ancient times, the name Illyria would refer to a region roughly encompassing a part of former Yugoslavia on its coast. Never fully a nation, the concept has intrigued artists through the ages from Shakespeare on to these guys.

The sound of this band therefor lacks a lot of the typical black metal attributes, embracing more that flowing postrock sound in a more upbeat and pleasant form. Listening to this record makes me realize that blackgaze is a thing now, its an undeniably new genre. Devoid of the traditional characteristics, only atmosphere, vocals and the rare passages offer an inkling of its roots. There’s no feeling of hype or trend to the sound of the group, it’s a mesmerizing completeness that their sound attains. The only dischord in the sometimes even classical sounding music may be the vocals, which never seem out of place at all though.