This week is a busy concert week for me and I decided to add one more show to the schedule when Winterfylleth hit Eindhoven. On a Wednesday night in Dynamo? You bet I have to be present at that one!
So we head down to the Dynamo basement for some fine UK black metal. Now, for those that are not aware, UK black metal has always had a distinct flavor. Winterfylleth was among the bands featured in below-linked documentary (check it out, it’s cool). The band can be considered an integral part of the Brittish sound.
So we kick off the night with Necronautical, a relatively young band in the genre. These guys from the northwest of England play a bit of an eclectic kind of black metal. The sound is mostly solid, but combining symphonic elements, grand clean vocals with heavy and raw passages seems to sort of clash and never find that special chemistry during this live show. Specially the intense performance of their vocalist I liked. The delivery is passionate though. The band sticks it out and plays some blistering riffs, but never really manages to get the crowd on their side. These guys have potential I believe, but I feel that they need to find the right modus for that.
While waiting for Fen to set up, I had a chat with Dan Capp from Winterfylleth and Wolcensmen (which you pronounce as ‘Wol-Ken-s-men). Dan is a very friendly guy and he informed me that Wolcensmen will be playing live. If you can be there to see this (sorta this, I hear it will be different), you’re lucky. I also got that Winterfylleth was going to play work from all their albums. Excitement rising for me then.
First Fen is up and this band makes some music that really deserves praise. On record, the sound doesn’t really get the right treatment it seems, since I found them sort of hard to get into. Like when you read some heavy literature, for example, just heavy material. They play some fierce atmospheric black metal, but here and there you can detect particular Fen-isms, like a little funky bass loop or a bit of Pink Floyd-esque riffing if I may call it that. The problem arises on parts where their sound is quite dense. On those passages, three musicians are bound to have limitations in a live setting. That is clear from the switches between clean vocals and screams, but for a bit, the band is really almost losing control of their material. Still awesome though and very happy to have seen them play finally.
Winterfylleth captured me with the album ‘Divination of Antiquity’, but obviously they’d been at it for a good 6/7 years when I found out about them. Bumping into drummer Simon Lucas and singer Chris Naughton at Eindhoven Metal Meeting a few years ago was very cool. Meeting Dan Capp and bass player Nick Wallwork this time was also cool (it led to this interview). Both sing along live, to give an extra wealth and cadence to the folkish parts. Those have become an integral part of the Winterfylleth sound.
The band live is a continuous flow of great songs and let me emphasize how I really mean flow. The black metal of this band is not hooky and harsh, but melodic and hauntingly beautiful at parts. While Naughton takes on most vocals, a lot of harsh parts are done by Wallwork. Capp focuses on the intricate guitar parts that give the music that special polished shine. Listening to the band play, I think of the landscapes on the covers. The wide, beautiful vista’s depicted there have a lot in common with the beauty of their music, it’s stretched out candor that invites the listener to dwell in it.
The set covers every album, with some particularly good old tracks dropped in to celebrate the 10 year anniversary. Though the band has obviously shifted their sound throughout those years, the set is cohesive and worked into a strong story. The magnificent drumming is not overwhelming, even not in the small basement of Dynamo, with a remarkably balanced and harmonious sound. Hearing personal favorites like ‘Whisper of Elements’ totally makes my night worth it. When we toast to 10 years I did get myself a beer as a little token of respect, because this band nails it every time. Closing the set with a mighty display of force.
A remarkable night with black metal that sounds just perfect to me. Thanks, guys, congrats on 10 years and onward to the next 10 I would say.
Now and then you find a band that is approaching music from a very own perspective and position. With experience in Winterfylleth, it is no surprise to find that Dan Capp is one of those that likes to find the root of things and go from there. Wolcensmen is essential Englishness, but without the stereotypes. There is no superiority, just a thoughtful and captivating story of its identity.
It’s noteworthy that though Dan is active in Winterfylleth, his own journey with Wolcensmen started way earlier and has its roots exactly where I felt they came from. But why spoil information that you can read below from the source. What I would like to address in this brief introduction is the album that Wolcensmen has released recently, titled Songs from the Fyrgen. This record is a collaborative effort that takes you as a listener far, far away from England that you may imagine to something more essential and pure. To a pastoral vista that you may only still find in novels these days. I think it’s an album that you can fall in love with.
First off, let me ask you how the idea of Wolcensmen was conceived. I understand it’s been a work of multiple years actually? Dan: Musically, the roots of Wolcensmen are in my teenage years, around about 1998. I’d recently been introduced to the early works of Ulver, Opeth and Empyrium (as well as ’90s Norwegian black metal) and I was particularly taken by the mood created in these bands’ acoustic interludes. I was inspired to create something similar and would use my stereo Hi-Fi system to record dual-guitar parts onto cassette. Friends at the time said I should do more of this but I instead chose to make more aggressive music for some years. Then in 2010 I found myself in a Dublin pub watching an Irish folk band perform and it dawned on me that England lacked this sort of culture and perhaps I could be someone to resurrect it – this was the conceptual beginning of Wolcensmen. I remembered how much I’d enjoyed writing acoustic songs in my younger years, wrote some songs for a demo and… here we are.
How did you get into making folk music like this? Is that a long lasting desire you had and where does your inspiration come from? Are there artists that you would cite as influences? Where do the other elements come from?
Dan: I guess I pretty much answered this in response to your last question, but I’ll add a few things. I was introduced to folk music by metal bands who had veered from the trodden path and used acoustic instruments to enhance their dark, romantic atmospheres. It’s only in recent years that I’ve familiarised myself with more traditional folk (usually in the form of acts like Steeleye Span and Blackmore’s Night who perform many traditional songs from around the British Isles and Europe). Wolcensmen’s primary influences will always be early Ulver and Empyrium in particular. However, Songs from the Fyrgen wouldn’t sound the way it does were it not for classical music and black metal (related) bands such as Summoning, Burzum and Bathory.
What is the goal, the purpose that you had with the project? The feeling you wish to evoke? Where do you draw your inspiration from? Dan: The purpose of Wolcensmen, thematically, is to remind the World that England exists as a people and a culture, and that its original culture is Heathen and Teutonic. Obviously that is not to say that it is music only for Englishmen – far from it. Most of the people who seem to have truly connected with it on a spiritual level are from all over the World. But because of this purpose, the feeling I want to evoke is one of a pre-Industrial England where mysticism reigns supreme and man can still lose himself among quiet, pristine hills and forests. ‘Fyrgen’, from the title, means ‘wooded hilltop’ – remembering a time before dense human population, industry and farming had removed much of the woodland.
In 2013 you’ve released a demo, how did that help you to get to the final product and did you get in touch with the other artists before or after this production? Did it help in conveying the idea you had? Dan: The demo was very much a solo project – an experiment more than anything, as I’d never even sung lead vocals on anything before. I had no idea whether the songs would even turn out well. It certainly set the mould for Wolcensmen, undoubtedly. The concept was already very sure and strong by the time of the demo recording. The only contributor I was talking with at that time was Jake Rogers, who was offering me feedback on the mix (via email) as it unfolded. During that time he offered to perform flute on any future songs I wanted him to, which is how he ended up contributing to the album.
Can you tell me how the collaboration worked? I understand you are in charge of the final product, but in what way did different people from various countries contribute to something that is quintessentially a British folk album? Dan: It was a different story for each of the contributors really. As mentioned, Jake Rogers had offered to play flute for me, which I was very keen on as I only play guitar and wanted a variety of real instruments on the album. With most of the parts, the good men involved performed and recorded with real instruments what I had written in MIDI, set to a MIDI tempo map. They’d then simply send me the digital files and I edited them into place. On ‘Snowfall’ I gave Jake a blank canvas to compose a flute part over the top of, and the result almost brought me to tears. Likewise with ‘Neath a Wreath of Firs’ where I asked Grimrik to create an intro and outro – whatever he wanted as long as it fit the song. Again, he amazed me with what he conjured. Nash Rothanburg was given a section of the song ‘Hoofes Upon the Shymmeringe Path’ to add some ritualistic vocals to and did just what was needed. Mark Capp, my brother, is a drummer and helped me to write all the percussion parts as well as performing Bodhran on two of the songs. Dries Gaerdelen brought a wonderful human touch to my MIDI piano compositions. And the most difficult instrument to coordinate the recording of was Raphael Weinroth-Browne’s cello, because it is present throughout most songs. I needed to give him a big set of files and time to learn it all (which he did masterfully, as expected).
Songs from the Fyrgen is quintessentially English, but I didn’t need all performers to necessarily be English – Englishness is just the foundational, conceptual concept behind the project.
What does the heathen aspect mean to you? And where do you get the stories and themes from for those willing to delve into this? Dan: Well the Heathen aspect is vital, because I am a Heathen and Wolcensmen is essentially a cultural statement. It is meant to be romantic, and I simply can’t see that there’s anything to romanticise about post-Christian England. It was the beginning of our decline. The stories are mine, except for ‘The Mon o’ Micht’, which is lyrically traditional, and ‘Hoofes Upon the Shymmeringe Path’ whose lyrics are based on the names of the horses belonging to the Asa (Aesir) gods, on which they ride across Bifrost, ‘the shimmering path’, to Asgard. My other lyrics are inspired by folk tales, natural phenomena and esoteric concepts.
You’re also active in Winterfylleth, a group that (although not always as explicitly) draws inspiration from the land and heritage very strongly. Has that helped or affected your own project in some ways? Did they help you with ideas or such? Dan: Surprisingly, no! I joined Winterfylleth two years ago at the start of 2015 and Wolcensmen was already well under way. Myself and the other guys in Winterfylleth are long-time friends and happen to have a similar worldview, which I suppose is one of the reasons they felt I was a good choice when they needed a new guitarist. They were always on hand to offer feedback while I made Songs from the Fyrgen, and I value their support. But composing for Wolcensmen was a very personal process and only those who performed on the album had any real influence on the music.
You’ve recorded in various places. There are other artists in the folk realm who’ve done this in order to captivate something in the music. Is that something you had in mind as a goal or did it become part of the result in some way? Dan: No. There was nothing desirable about recording different instruments in different parts of the World. My collaborators did a stunning job which I’ll forever be grateful for, but given a choice I’d rather record everything in one place and time – preferably in a good studio.
When I listened to the record, I immediately felt a connection to the way Tolkien depicts the Shire as a sort of pre-industrial England in The Lord of the Rings. Very pastoral, calm and natural. Does that make sense to you in a way? Dan: Absolutely!!! I touched on this earlier in the interview without having read your questions ahead. Tolkien is without a doubt the earliest, most key influence in my cultural and creative mind-set. His books set the scene for all of the language, art, landscape and mythology I would go on to love. He was deeply regretful of England’s industrialisation, as am I. In some ways – and without having mentioned it anywhere – Songs from the Fyrgen should really be in honour of J.R.R. Tolkien. Furthermore, my target audience would tend to be the types of people that also fell in love with his books; so I hope with this album to have given a little ‘boost’ to that part of someone who felt magic when first reading The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, but maybe hasn’t felt it too often since then.
What future plans do you have for Wolcensmen? Will there be a live experience? Dan: There are no future plans, only vague dreams. Composing is what I love most, and I hope I can make another album sometime. I wouldn’t be short of ideas, but I simply can’t bring myself to self-record again (even if the result was pretty good). Unlike a lot of modern musicians, I don’t enjoy the production side of things, and I would need a producer to work with – someone who understands this music well. This would depend on future label support so I’m not holding my breath. Deivlforst are wonderful, but these days, in the musical underground, many labels often count on musicians to self-record their music in home studios.
As for live performances… I really don’t know. At first (when I watched that Irish Folk band perform) I envisioned it being very much a live thing. But then as the project took form I knew it couldn’t be recreated onstage. Now there are a few people calling for it so I’m not ruling it out. The demand would have to be high though, because the preparation required for even a single show would be quite a task. Another possibility is some kind of stripped down two-man version, which I’d say is more likely.
Finally, if Wolcensmen was a dish (food), what would it be and why? Dan: Haha… Let’s go with: Fried mushrooms in wild garlic, with a desert course of berries. Mushrooms because they’re wild, mysterious and have long grown in the indigenous forests of northern Europe. Garlic because of its healing properties. Berries because they’re linked with Yuletide, as Songs from the Fyrgen seems to be.
Thanks for the thoughtful questions and interest in my answers. Wæs þu hæl to you and your readers Guido.
On Eindhoven Metal Meeting 2015 I was trodding along in my Winterfylleth shirt and ran into Simon Lucas and Chris Naughton from Winterfylleth. During an interesting conversation we discussed various topics, which rapidly go from history to politics and metal theory.
I was already sold on the music of this band, but the sharp wit and keen minds of the duo made me even more interested in what lies behind the music and the band. As I’m still a major fanboy, I often forget to get to the point on these moments, but luckily I was able to throw in my question if I could do an article on them. They luckily said yes.
While I was working on this, the band announced the coming of a new album, titled ‘The Dark Hereafter’, which will be out soon on Spinefarm and Candlelight. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to go too deeply into that, but I’m well excited for that record. Having faced their share of controversy in the past and being the band that they are, not every topic was up for discussion.
I hope you enjoy reading about one of my favorite black metal bands around. Chris Naughton, singer and founder of the band answered my questions.
How have things been for Winterfylleth lately?
Great thanks. We’ve been a little quiet this year as we’ve been writing for the new and upcoming releases. Also a few of us became new fathers so we’ve not had the time to commit to being on the road as a result. But we are all now looking forward to the new release and to a fresh run of shows and press – with everything that brings.
You and Simon Lucas (drummer) played together in various other groups like Men Scryfa & Atavist so it seems like you guys go way back. Can you tell a bit about those projects and what they were about? Did they help you find what you wanted to do with Winterfylleth?
For me those projects are largely unrelated to what we’ve done, and become, in Winterfylleth. Simon and I used to do Atavist (and I still do, having resurrected the old line up of the band this year) but that band was much more about exploring Nihilism and Inner Darkness rather than any of the themes we have in Winterfylleth. We did a few albums with Atavist on Profound Lore & Invada over the years and stopped doing anything with the band (until this year) around 2008 (after our tour with Nadja & Satori) to focus on Winterfylleth. Men Scryfa was slightly more related to Winterfylleth, although only because they lyrics to it were about the ‘Men Scryfa’ standing stones and the folk lore and significance to our history. This was a one off song written for a label called small doses records and was a tribute to the work of Julian Cope and his ‘Modern Antiquarian’ book. We never did anything else with this band.
Your music is clearly heavily influenced by historical themes, the same seems to go for your other bands. How did you get into this? I understood there’s a professional background to this work.
Winterfylleth is the only band where we have a really strong link to history and historical themes. We’ve talked about this many times before, but Simon and I met over a mutual appreciation for elements of history and that is what sparked our interest in doing a project together. Initially Simon joined Atavist on the drums, but as we were winding down our attention on that band & starting to form what would become Winterfylleth we also began to solidify the themes around history and heritage that had brought us together in the first place. There is no professional background to this and we are both just interested in these topics and continue to be; linking them to our political awareness to formulate the themes of the band.
It’s been 2 years since the wonderful album ‘Divination of Antiquity’. Are you working on anything new currently?
Yes, we have a few things in the pipeline actually. The main thing is that we have a new record called “The Dark Hereafter” coming out on September 30th in UK/Euro. Around this we are also working on an Acoustic album (which will follow The Dark Hereafter) and then another Black Metal album to follow the acoustic album. As I mentioned before I am also working on a new Atavist album and have also completed work on 2 news songs for 2 new releases for my other band Nine Covens.
Listening to your music, I find it’s very much giving the feeling of paintings from the Romantics of great landscapes, the majesty of nature and such. Is that in a way what you’re going for?
Absolutely. The idea is, and has always been, to connect people with their history, with landscapes and with nature. There is a song on the new release called “Green Cathedral” that really sums this up for me. It’s about how we should focus more on localism and not globalism in our daily pursuits, steering power and influence away from a few people in big companies and moving it back towards people. Returning to nature, at least to some extent, is inevitable for us at some stage. Particularly as the world is so chaotic and resources are so finite. We will have to do something at some point to curb our excesses.
There’s something really upbeat to your sound, there’s an element of empowering in it. I feel, when listening to it, that I want to straighten my back a bit more and get my chin up. I especially like listening to it outside and experience it. Is that something you feel is in there?
Yes I think so. Lyrical themes and imagery can only get you ‘so far’ as a band. I feel like the music itself also has to live up to the beauty and sorrow of the tales we are telling, otherwise the message doesn’t get across. So we use upbeat melodies to highlight and accent the elements of the ups and downs of the stories we are telling as a band. I think that we firstly connect with music as listeners, rather than lyrics etc, so if you get that bit wrong, then the whole point it lost.
You guys took part in the compilation ‘One and All, Together, for Home’ with a lot of similarly minded bands (to an extent at least). Do you feel a connection between bands that are doing something similarly to yourselves?
Of course, particularly bands like Drudkh & Primordial from that line up. They are bands who seem to share similar sentiments about their history and folklore, as well as caring deeply about it. So I think we’ve stuck together to some extent and I think it’s right that bands support one another as some of our content is important around current affairs and is another way of getting the truth out to people.
What is your recording and writing process like? Do you have defined roles and where do you get your subject matter from?
We all write together in my home studio and demo everything before we try it live. Usually Nick or I come up with the initial song ideas and then we build on them together. Although now we have Dan and Mark D in the band, we will start to see some of their influences coming through, I’m sure. Once we have done all of the pre-production, I write the lyrics and we take the songs to the studio and let Chris Fielding help us bring them to life. Lyrically, the themes are about ancient history and how that relates to the struggles of the modern world. So sometimes we talk about wider global themes and sometimes we relate them to pressing issues. All through the lens of ancient poetry and prose, adapted for modern means.
When we met at Eindhoven Metal Meeting, we discussed some of the accusations you’ve faced as a band, being labelled nationalist and even NSBM. Can you tell a bit about what that all was about?
I think – to our earlier discussion – that there are still veins of people who think we are evil because they have seen some reactive nonsense on the internet about us from 2007. Things happened that are well documented and we took steps to distance ourselves from them, so while there is a bit of a back story, it’s behind us and was 8 years ago. The kind of people who dredge this up are usually just virtue signalling ‘right on’ types of people who have never bothered to dig deeper and find out the real truth about us; and who seem to like having a cause to post on social media against. People that read our lyrics or engage with what we have to say in interviews are typically much better informed about what we truly stand for, and are the kinds of people who would defend our points, and our name, to others who know very little about us. I try not to get involved in things like this online anymore but I am happy to speak to anyone and answer their questions (in interviews or to our band page) both positive and negative because I think it is important to confront accusations like these head on and to address our critics honestly.
You explained to me that the t-shirt with the Warrior herd print had a specific meaning behind it. Can you relate that story and is it representative for your views?
The Warrior Herd shirt visualizes how there is always an evil behind the banners of war. The image depicts an evil being behind the flag of men charging into battle. It basically shows how we send our troops off to war under the pretence that they are defending our country, or our way of life from tyranny, yet usually we are actually invading another country for their resources or for some kind of financial or political gain. We revere our soldiers (and rightly so) as they give their lives for what they believe. It just happens that usually they are sent to do that under false pretences and there is usually a hidden agenda at play. I think that is an important lesson for how the world works and is something we are keen to make people think about when considering the topical issues of the day.
Winterfylleth notably doesn’t use much of the black metal aesthetics that are traditionally associated with the genre. What prompted that decision and how do you feel about bands still adhering to the ‘traditional’ look of black metal?
We are a BM band from England who formed 15-20 years or so after that kind of aesthetic was used and it just doesn’t represent who or what we are. Also, it has been done to death by too many bands now as well. To me, the corpse paint/traditional aesthetic of BM is the property of the bands from that era and was a reaction to their musical/political/social landscape at the time, and represents a feeling they had. To me we shouldn’t be trying to emulate that, as we are from a different era, a different country and have different issues that we are confronting in our music. The genre started around nihilism and satanism and reaction to religion etc. To me now, we are discussing issues of nature, of environmental distress, of socio-political importance, of history repeating itself and of power structures. It doesn’t work for me to utilise their aesthetic to do that, we have to find our own. So that is why we choose to be as we are. Our outward personal image is less important to us than overarching image of the albums and the message of what we are saying. Thus we avoid the traditional aesthetics.
Recently I watched the documentary ‘British Black Metal: The Extreme Underground’. A really enjoyable view on the British scene. What bands do you think are currently carrying the torch for British black metal?
With no ego, I think we in Winterfylleth have always tried to lead the charge in terms of contemporary British BM and have strived to bolster and promote the British scene for as long as we’ve had a platform to do so. We’ve helped get lots of key bands signed, we’ve A&R’d lots of bands for labels and taken as many of them on tour as we could to widen their influence and exposure. That said I don’t think UKBM would be anywhere without the combined efforts of a key group of bands… Wodensthrone (RIP), Fen & A Forest of Stars – who were other bands that really helped to re-ignite the British presence on the global BM map around the same time we were forming.
I think what we and those other bands have done is to create a platform on the global stage for British BM again and have allowed other bands the space (and possibly the inspiration) to bring their own spin on it to the world. As a result, lots of bands have come to the fore over the last few years that are really starting to strengthen the UK’s position in BM. Bands like, Cnoc An Tursa, Saor, Eastern Front, Falloch, Old Corpse Road, Wolves of Avalon, Ethereal, Necronautical, The Infernal Sea, Mountains Crave, Kull, Arx Atrata and lots of others.
In the documentary you also mention travelling the country for inspiration. Which are the best spots to listen to every Winterfylleth album?
You should travel to the places where the cover images were taken (Castleton in the Peak District, Snowdonia National Park and the Lake District), go for a walk and take in the beauty and majesty of those areas while you do. They inspired us to write the music, so hopefully they’ll creatively inspire you as well.
What does the future hold for Winterfylleth?
A new release called “The Dark Hereafter” is due on Sept 30th 2016, and we will follow it up with some shows and touring next year. We are also working on 2 future releases as mentioned above, so we are busy with what comes next before the new release is available.
Final question, if you had to describe Winterfylleth as a dish, what would it be and why?
I think we’d be a satellite dish, as we help connect people to each other around important issues. 😉
Once more I’ve tried to pick out some new interesting records from the underground to inform you of what is out there. This time I’ve got for you Sea Witch, Drudkh, Laster and Frown.
Sea Witch – As Above (demo 1)
I like the band name Sea Witch. It immediately feels like one can easily get into the greatest depths of doom. The bottomless sea and its many mysteries forms a great basis for a band that plays the clean and deep sound of the abyss, like Sea Witch does. The band from Nova Scotia incorporates atmospheric black metal, drone and a pinch of folk into their ‘nautical doom’. Inspiration obviously comes from the sea. There’s also a video released recently.
The full demo can be listened to on their bandcamp and is part of a series of two, the second titled ‘…So Below’ (like you didn’t see that one coming). The element ‘nautical’ is fairly important here, since it inspires the distinct sound the band demonstrates. There’s a threatening element to the sound, something looming in the dark. The slow sound is clear but full of reverberation. The listener loses sense of up or down on ‘The Atlantic’. Or the slow and atmospheric ‘Out Of The Depths’. It’s a haunting and wonderful experience, to get submerged in their music.
Drudkh – Eastern Frontiers On Fire
Drudkh from Ukraine has never shied away from a little provocation in their words and titles. Obviously, the dangerous NSBM tag has been mentioned in relation to the band. This record is a collection of songs from the EP’s ‘Anti Urban’ and ‘Slavonic Chronicles’ and their work released on the split the band did with Winterfylleth “Thousands of Moons Ago / The Gates”. Slow mesmerizing black metal opens on ‘Fallen Into Oblivion’, followed by the jangling ‘Ashes’. The tracks feel grey and dry.
The tracks ‘Tam gdzie gaśnie dzień… (Sacrilegium cover)’ and ‘Indiánská píseň hrůzy (Master’s Hammer cover)’ are more raw, but brought in an unmistakable Drudkh way. The slow, cascading sound has an epic quality and atmosphere to it. The atmosphere is like the far lands of Ukraine on a dusty summer day. What no one seems to wish to get into is the title of the compilation, which is a clear reference to the current situation. It is unclear to me why only the title and probably cover refer to this. That does however not diminish the beauty of the music that Drudkh shares us. It does serve as a reminder of the harsh place the origin of their sound has become.
Laster – Die Verste Verte Is Hier
The Utrecht atmospheric black metal band Laster has released their debut album with four tracks, seemingly lasting forever. Their slow and dense sounding tracks have little agression in them and focus mainly on a cold and thought provoking atmosphere. The lyrics are in Dutch and have a wonderfull poetic quality to them.
‘Tot de tocht ons verlicht’ is a torrent of sound, swirling around the listener who will get the feeling depicted on the cover of the album of falling down through this haze. The sudden clean singing marks a shift to more shoegaze-like atmospheres. There are some industrial elements towards the end of the track. ‘Mijn Masker’ is much more furious and hectic, though maintaining the static, sonic layers of sound. Screams pierce the cloudy sound, creating an grim atmopshere of depressing and dark sound. The music ebbs away, giving room for gentle piano play which wraps up this intriguing track. ‘De Verste Verte Is Hier’ stands out with its gothic chanting and postpunk/shoegaze rhythm. Howling vocals and clean sounds mark those influences even more in what is the most dreamy song on this album. The impressive sound of Laster makes them clearly an intriguing band to take heed of.
Frown – The Greatest Gift To Give
Though I have to admit to finding the name Frown a bit awkward, the unique sound of this band was quite impressive and captivating. The raw and abbrasive vocal style is what stands out most. After the prayer bells sound, the opening riffs of ‘Trial By Ordeal’ storm in with a kolossal strenght. The nasal and barked vocals of their singer reminds the listener of primitive black metal. The sound lacks the muddy, full sound of a sludgy doom band. It’s really the atmosphere that counts and the reverb in the guitar sound.
‘Harpocrates Unborn’ is a reference to the God of Silence of Greek mythology. The venomous dripping sounds that open up the track are a prelude to the gloomy sound that the guys produce. A dark and mesmerizing descent into despair follows. Apparently it takes up more muscles to frown than you need to smile. That says something about the complexity the band looks for in their different and unique sound. The Australians blow distorted and gravelling guitar sounds through the thrudging doom of ‘Cold Gail That Blows My Lonely Grave’. The slow and droning track is calm but full of this feeling that something wicked this way comes. ‘Offering’ closes the record with an almost ten minutes lasting drag that would not be amiss on a Sabbath album.
So much good music, so little time. Let’s focus on some great underground metal that has been coming out lately. This time I listened to Winterfylleth, Alkerdeel/Nihill, Fogg and Goatwhore.
Winterfylleth – The Divination Of Antiquity
I first came across Winterfylleth in the most unusual way, through a scholarly article on black metal by Caroline Lucas. I have to admit, that I have since also read some work of Miss Lucas, who writes catching and academic pieces. At first I felt reluctant to listen to this band, due to the white supremacist link in the article, which is ofcourse mainly refuting it. After reading the lyrical words about the band in Metal Hammer, I checked out Winterfylleth. They paint the English country in sonic patterns, describing its inherent complexity and beauty.
There’s a touch of grey skies and misty forests in the dense sound of Winterfylleth, which feels a bit like Wolves In The Throne Room. Granted, they sound very little like them, but the same love for their surroundings and the earth they live on is totally there. Listen to a song like ‘Whisper Of The Elements’ or the warm tones of ‘A Careworn Heart’. This is not your ordinary grimdark black metal band. Recently they also released a split with Drudkh, which might tell a bit more about where this band comes from. It’s a love that drives these guys, not hatred and not death, to make beauty. Beauty that unfortunately very little people will ever fully understand.
Alkerdeel/Nihill – Split
The label Hypertension Records is releasing some excellent splits. They are named ‘The Abyss Stares Back series’ and this is prat IV. Combining the nihilistic onslaught of these two bands brings a record that is hard to listen to, but so rewarding in its ferocious katharsis. I mean, listening to this record feels like a journey through the dark pits of your own existence in some way. Facing the grim and dark reality of oneself through intensity and continuous sonic violence.
Alright, more detail to the two sides of this record. Dissonant tones anounce the start of Alkerdeel’s side. Threatening and dense atmospheric guitar sounds create a constant tension. The mad torrent of chaos that slowly envelops you is like the swirling chaos in which Azathoth dances according to Lovecraft. The wicked screams haunting you from all sides, while perpetual riffs seem to accelerate the speed in which you are flying about. Alkerdeel manages to sound both subtle and Celtic Frost-like blunt. The Nihill part contains swirling and intense black metal, so thick that it merges into a continuous swirling stream of sound. The songs surge ever onwards, creating atmospheric patterns woven through the pattern the rhythm spills out. The songs sound static in one moment and spiralling out of control in a wild crescendo on another. I can tell you its worth waiting for that new Nihill album in a few weeks.
With a title that leaves no questions, you’d expect something more intense, but the foggy, fuzzy psych-doom of Fogg is just fine the way it is. The Texans play a dirty bit of music on this new record, with a lot of eerie reverb and wooly sound patterns. They sound a bit like the general generation of hipster garage/psych bands that has been enveloping the world in recent years. The difference is that these guys sound creepy and slightly evil in thier songs.
The sound is a bit oldschool and reminds me as listener a bit of bands like Blue Cheer with the full on aural attack. Think of the primitive punk and metal sounds and that is somewhere in between where Fogg has its sound. Lazy, drugged out riffs swirl around in an attempt to grasp the spirit of the past. This is a perfect record for your friday afternoon, just to chill out and lean back a bit before the weekend finally hits.
Goatwhore – Constricting Rage of the Merciless
The raging sound of Goatwhore is one that combines black metal raw with rock’n’roll power. Think of Venom and pretty much that is the closest you get to what this strange NOLA band sounds like. Yes, the band from New Orleans was part of the recent documentary on Noisey that was aired online. The music is played in a high pace with understandable, but barked vocals. Blistering and grim guitars rage throughout the song.
There’s a particular swag to the sound of Goatwhore, that distinguishes them from others. They might have made the album here that even Darkthrone didn’t feel comfortable releasing. Atmospheric in darkness but always full of speed and energy, full of vile words and satanic praise. Oh, they were also pretty incredible live and such nice guys in person. That is the thing with this band, they are not being some strange act, just some guys playing some nasty metal.