Tag Archives: United Kingdom

Underground Sounds: Sárr – Ávitun

Label: Mystical Infernal Cult Productions
Band: Sárr
Origin: United Kingdom

Sárr is the voice of lonely madness, presented by Þórir from Nyss, Nihilisticon and Över. A solo project so to say, from a musician who already holds tight reigns over various other projects. I’m always amazed when, within the narrow means of extreme metal, artists manage to find as many voices as this man does.

Originally based in France, Þórir relocated to the United Kingdom a while ago and has been producing various strains of black metal. With Sárr, he focusses on a more personal expression with black metal that is both raw and primitive, yet also holds a deep yearnful darkness.

The lo-fi production on this record creates a muddled, yet harrowing wall of sound that approaches a continuous flow and push with the battering drums and somber guitar lines. The vocals are exclaimed over that wall during the title track, with an intensity that never wavers. Those frantic wails and tormented screams truly take the sound to places it would otherwise not go in sheer power.

On ‘Vakr’, that continuity takes on a melodic movement, equally fierce and primitive in its utterance, only to launch back into the same turmoil with minute changes here and there. The blistering pace and apparent simplicity make this record a black metal beauty. After a brief intermezzo and Gregorian chanting, we continue towards oblivion with the equally strong ‘Sakna’. A brilliant trip, this 3-track debut EP of Sárr.

Underground Sounds: Warren Schoenbright – Excavations

Label: Vacant Fulfillment
Band: Warren Schoenbright
Origin: United Kingdom

Inspired by the Egremont region in Cumbria, Warren Schoenbright created an exceptional record after a residency at the Florence Art Centre, situated on a defunct Haematite mine. It captures the environment, the depressive mood of an industrial site fallen out of use, leaving its remnants behind. This is captured on the record ‘Excavations’.

The band is three-piece, consisting of Daniel McClennan on drums, Alex Virji on bass and vocals, and Iker Ormazabal Martínez on Guitar. While they create drone/noise, their music is quite easy to listen to. Imagine something in between 5F-55 and Godflesh, and you kind of have it. Add the human nihilism to a sort of found organic sound in the industrial decay, and there we have Warren Schoenbright.

The album opens with minimal sounds and a more ambient like atmosphere, up until the droning sound swells and unleashes in a torrentuous, sludgy mass of guitars. A massive, industrial water slide, that is both heavy and hypnotic, disgusting and harmonious at the same time. No wonder that the group collaborated earlier with Caina on their ‘Christ Clad in White Phosphorous’ album to add a heavy foundation of urban despair of nauseating, gritty firmness. Exactly that is what they bring to this release too.

The album only contains one, ongoing track, so it is like being caught in the worst and most grim water slide you could ever imagine. The clanging sounds of metal, the pulsating beats of machinery and the constrictive nature of the music emulate the work that once took place on the location that served as inspiration for this record. For just under 25 minutes, you are stuck, completely held in thrall by the beating, surging rhythm, and darkness of Excavations.

Underground Sounds: Underdark/Antre – Split

Label: Grandad Records
Band; Antre/Underdark
Origin: United Kingdom

Underdark is a gritty sounding band from Nottingham, who combine screamo and black metal. Their message seems to be both in the Forgotten Realms and anti-fascist, with a name referring to the dark under-realms of evil dark-elves. The Britons have one EP to their name and plenty of shows on the calendar.

Antre hails from the same parts, and you can find the bands Bandcamp page here. These guys, likewise, have one EP out. Both groups add one song to this split, with pretty bad-ass cover art that I find, makes the record more appealing instantly.

Whether it’s a nod to Mortiis or not, ‘The Smell of Autumn’ by Underdark has an environmental take on the topic of rain and the unique scent it leaves in the air. The hazy riff sounds lazy, it hangs in the air as the omnipresent smell the autumn brings, with its lingering haze. Thudding drums keep the focus on the sharp guitar play, thanks to the dulled sound, as the atmospheric black metal progresses slowly. When it does pick up the pace, it somehow feels muffled, distant and reminds the listener of the distance between the self and the natural realm. One we slowly destroy with our human inventions.

Antre takes a more melodic approach, bringing down vast waves of sound, that surge over the listener. The sound is pleasant, yet remains strong and comes on in full force during this track. The vocals are uttered in a foul, harsh bark, which makes them mildly hard to make out, but then again isn’t that a regular feature in the genre? In a constant onslaught, the band hammers down on the listener. Never relenting with a harrowing beauty to their sound.
A small taste of a new breed of bands. Make sure to check them out for more endeavors.

Underground Sounds: Mountains Crave – As We Were When We Were Not

Label: Avantgarde Music
Band: Mountains Crave
Origin: United Kingdom
Maybe it’s the rich cultural melting pot Britain has become over the centuries. It might also be the ancient myth and wonder, still hidden in some hidden parts of the land, but somehow bands from the island seem to have a special approach to black metal. Mountains Crave is no different, with a very particular approach to the genre and distinct theme. Their album ‘As We Were When We Were Not’ is special and well worth listening to.
The band is actually delivering their debut with this record. The group from Leeds has been around for a bit and did drop an EP in 2014. It might also help to know that there’s two members of A Forest Of Stars in the line-up, a band that never ceases to amaze me. Other members had previous experience too, amongst them in Old Corpse Road.

Opener ‘Ynisvitrin’ immediately sets the bar with passages of Mongolian throat singing (or something very close to it), woven into the fabric of the song. That is strangely working out well and sounds pretty natural as some unearthly vocals. For this record, the group drew inspiration from Aldous Huxley’s 1962 lecture on visionary experience. This is part of the exploration this album undertakes in its dense and heavily atmospheric sound. The lyrics read like mantra’s, fitting right into the hypnotic sound of guitar walls. The drums really make you feel it all in your gut as you ponder these cosmic ideas of death, spirit, and afterlife the band is hinting at.

On ‘Clear Light of the Void’, the band samples a recording of Gerald Heard. A historian, scholar, and LSD-expert that fits in with the enlightenment-seeker theme of the album. Such facts seem trivial, but to me, the interwovenness of theme, music, and material is what can make an album so much more convincing and attention-grabbing. The flow of music, the odd little pace shift in the track and it’s overall harmony make you easily float along on its notes. Whether it’s in the bath of sound that is the guitars or the haunting female vocals, there’s peace and tranquility to be found in the music of Mountains Crave.

One of the highlights is the instrumental title track. Minutes long only the cosmic experience of the music. At the end of the record, there’s a glimpse of that light. A sense of the enlightenment we seek as normality returns.

Possessor: a horror film disguised as a band

Did you hear that awesome album by Possessor yet? You should, because it blends all styles into a potent cocktail of gritty,  grimy horrorcore sludge.

You can probably rant on about the Sabbath-esque influences and noisey southern swagger, but these Londoners sound unique and awesome, so I thinought it would be a good thing to get in touch with them and get into it with these gentlemen.

Graham Bywater, Matthew ‘Bean’ Radford and Marc Brereton were keen to answer some questions about their music, horror films and their new album.

How did Possessor get started? Were you guys involved with other bands before?

Marc: I was in quite a few bands before Possessor and I still am, but this is definitely the most fun. I’ve known Graham for years as we met back in college and used to record stuff in his bedroom. We always talked about playing together, but it took until now to come into fruition but when Graham asked me to be a part of Possessor it didn’t take long to commit when I heard what he was pumping out.

Graham: Marc was the only person I met at college who didn’t really have strict guidelines and restrictions to what he was into. He wasn’t ashamed to say he loved Green Jelly. The dude had literally no pretensions. He also immediately reminded me of Sasquatch so that was good.

Bean: I know that Graham and Marc have known each other since they were very young, but my personal involvement with Possessor began shortly after Electric Hell was released. I met Graham by complete coincidence. We were both on our way to a Fu Manchu gig in London and had stopped at the same pub before the show for a few pints. My Iron Monkey T shirt was enough for Graham to start a conversation and we soon started talking about music. Graham mentioned Possessor. I’d actually heard of them and had really liked them; they were also looking for a permanent drummer so I offered my services.
My “audition” consisted of a night together, drinking beer and talking about Guns n’ Roses. By the end of the evening Graham had gone missing and Marc had seen my girlfriend naked. This pretty much set the benchmark we have followed ever since!

So what bands do you guys like and influenced your sound?

Graham: It varies greatly depending on the mood. We drove through a rain storm listening to ‘Canadian Metal’ by Darkthrone on the way to a gig recently. That was a very heavy and inspiring moment and has kinda stuck with me. That album, ‘F.O.A.D’ seeped its way into the sound of Dead by Dawn. Other bands that have been on repeat recently are Midnight, Pentagram, Enslaved, Death Evocation, Misfits and some band called Metallica. The Shrine and Bongzilla have been on my iPod a fair bit and that new Kvelertak album is crazy. I normally aim to discover a band a day if possible. Even if they suck.

Marc: Everything.

Bean : I feel really passionate about music. I listen to blues, classical and jazz but at the center of it all is a love for heavy metal. Black Sabbath are the beginning, middle and end for me and they are a huge influence on my playing. From there my tastes go in a lot of different directions. All the way from LA Glam to Death Metal. Classic stuff really. Obituary, Priest, Black Flag, Iron Maiden, Love/Hate, Entombed; I could go on and on.
In terms of influence on Possessor: For me it’s about those bands who can capture an energy and put that on tape. Motorhead’s Overkill comes to mind as does Charles Mingus’ Blues and Roots. On the Mingus album you can hear the band whooping and howling as they play. It’s such a live, un-tampered, vibrant sound. It’s an odd comparison but it’s exactly how I’d like Possessor records to sound.

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I understood that you guys are not originally London folk from an interview with Doomed and Stoned. Where do you guys hail from and is how would you say it impacts your sound?

Bean : I’m originally from a small village in Kent. It’s fair to say that it was a fairly isolated place without easy access to town. As a result my childhood was spent reading and writing stories and playing in the nearby woods, close to churches and graveyards! All of this helped me to develop a good imagination which in turn guided my interest towards fantasy tales and horror stories. Ever since I’ve had a disposition towards the occult as an aesthetic, which is why I find Possessor so appealing. It’s also why I’d love people to experience the band in the same way as they would a ghost story or slasher movie!

Graham: Kent. Staplehurst via Sevenoaks. I’ve always been more inspired by nothing than everything.

Horror flick are as I understood an inspiration too. How do you know you’re catching that vibe when writing a song?

Graham: Possessor are basically a horror film disguised as a band. It’s just a natural part of our sound and is effortless. I guess it has a lot to do with the decade we were born in and to this day I don’t really know anyone who isn’t totally nerdy about cinema. I got into bands like Maiden and Helloween around the same time I discovered films like The Terminator and Re-Animator and I knew from a very young age that music and film go hand in hand. People seem to pick up on that with Possessor which is good.
When we younger me and Marc used to spend our Sunday afternoons watching Hills Have Eyes and Evil Dead and the natural instinct was to follow it up with a beer and a jam.
Maybe we should write a musical. I reckon we could do a gig within a film, like in the woods with the Blair Witch or in the kid’s dreams in Nightmare on Elm Street.
Bean : For me, a good example of this would be The Creeps (from Dead by Dawn). It started as a jam on some percussive ideas for another song, but hearing the drum played back in isolation was so evocative of all things voodoo. It put an image in my mind of cannibals dancing under a volcano while their cooking pot boiled. I think the best Possessor songs can make a direct connection to the mind’s eye.

How do you guys pick your artwork? Because it instantly gives off that film vibe. Is it created from scratch or do you use existing images?

Graham: This album took a bit longer as we wanted to outdo our previous concepts without losing the originality. We always go for simple and mysterious imagery but the idea of the faceless character of past releases has become something else with this design as it reveals slightly more.
We often use really old public domain photos that just jump out at us. I normally edit and rework the image until it looks like something new and creepy but always surreptitiously empowering. We don’t talk about the art much as it really should just speak for itself. We like mysterious figures and forms, not blood and gore.

 

If Possessor was allowed to do a live soundtrack to a film, like bands have been doing on Roadburn Festival for example. Which film(s) would you love to do the score to and why? (and how would it sound)

Marc: Lord of The Rings!! (needs no explanation)

Bean : Something thrilling, visceral and brutal. Texas Chainsaw Massacre would suit us perfectly. That, or a compilation of machete attacks from Friday the 13th.

Graham: The Lost Boys or perhaps Motel Hell? Something trashy and eye catching. Or perhaps it would be even more insane if we played a heavy set to something like Open Water or even a collection of bits from Jurassic Park. Dinosaurs stomping and sharks chomping to the riffs!
A festive gig set to Christmas Evil could be good too.

How would you describe the writing and recording trajectory for your latest album (which is so awesome)?

Graham: Pretty natural. There’s a certain sound, style and spirit to Possessor that writes itself. Having said that this album is definitely edging more towards being filmic and the end result certainly feels more like a group effort this time round. We took a while creating this album because of time restrictions and work but the actual performances themselves were done live and on the spot. One take on most tracks.

Bean : It was recorded really quickly. The drum tracks were done in a single afternoon and in the majority of cases they are first takes. We really wanted to retain the energy and spontaneity of those fresh takes so we deliberately moved through the process quickly without poring over the details or refining them. We wanted this to be a brutally real album with imperfections and accidental highlights. I’m proud to say I think we really achieved that.

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If I say that you guys sound like Black Sabbath and Kyuss meeting at a Danzig show, how does that score on the chart of interesting comparisons you’ve heard?

Graham: Well I love Kyuss and Sabbath so that’s fine with me. I’ve noticed we have been compared to Venom and Therapy? a fair bit, and to be honest I don’t get that at all. One review said we sounded like early Electric Wizard crossed with Bathory (?) I think I prefer your description mate but to be honest I don’t really think much about comparisons. We sound like Possessor.

Bean : One of things I really value about Possessor is the wide variety of comparisons that have been applied to us.
People have said we sound like Metallica, L7, Prong, Ministry, Slayer, Pantera and Rob Zombie too. I love that it is difficult to pin us down. The best bands always have something unique about them which is exactly what I think Possessor are striving for

What is a Possessor live show like and are you guys planning to hit the continent soon?

Bean : The Possessor live experience is a heavy one. Our hope is the audience gets on board in the same way we are; basically to celebrate heavy music and have a good time.
We would LOVE to play future shows on the continent. Our recent show at Sonic Blast in Portugal was a huge success. European metal fans made us feel so welcome and really seemed to “get” what we do. I’d be happy to experience some more of that.

Graham: Yeah, that was great fun. I think our live performance often depends on how well we are rehearsed. We like to keep it raw and exciting and ever so slightly theatrical. Depending on the night and the beer intake we may wear a form of war-paint or corpse paint purely because it amuses us and brings to mind the old school craziness of Alice Cooper or Gwar. Other shows can be pretty slick with heads down and feet on the monitors. I think that sometimes a sloppy gig with shit loads of passion and energy is more memorable than being a predictable and routinely structured one. I don’t know why anyone would want to see the same exact performance twice.
We would love to travel and play more outside of the UK, so…

Marc :..Set us up with some dates.

What are the future plans for the band?

Graham: Have some fun and try not to go insane in the meantime. We will be releasing a special something for Halloween this year so keep an ear out for that. One thing we really want to do and have discussed in depth is put out a covers EP. That would be fun, but it could go either way. The songs would have to be weird enough to be worthwhile. We wouldn’t just be covering Ace of Spades and War Pigs.

Bean : In the immediate future? Hopefully more shows. I’d really like to take Dead by Dawn on the road and see people react to these songs. We’re at a stage now where we’re trying to build the profile of the band and that means getting out there and showing people what we’re all about. Beyond that… Write. Record. Do it all again, only bigger and better!

Marc: Burn stuff!

Finally, if you had to describe Possessor as a dish, what would it be (and why)?

Marc: Spicy shepherd’s pie, it’s heavy and hot.
Graham: Fajitas. Loads of heavy flavors with some added cheese.
Bean : Old fish heads and beer – because our food budget will ALWAYS be weighted towards beer.

Any other thing you want to share? 

 ALL: Thanks for having us. And Stay heavy.