Thursday, October 31, 2013

…an evening of redness in the West: IN THE COMPANY OF SERPENTS – ‘Of the Flock’

By mixing laid-back, ominous swamp guitar licks with the hazy, sun-scorched twang of the American Southwest, Denver’s own In the Company of Serpents have succeeded in pushing beyond the limitations of the straight-forward yet unrelentingly heavy sludge of their self-titled debut into a realm of brimstone, lost souls, and abandoned faith that would leave Sergio Leone and Cormac McCarthy cowering and at a loss for words. ‘Of The Flock’ finds the duo of Grant Netzorg (vocals, guitars, fuzz) and Joseph Weller Myer (drums, apothecary) tweaking the band’s brand of boot-to-the-teeth, doom-as-fuck sludge by including regional influences that ultimately provides a soundtrack suitable for terrorizing a village, avenging a tragedy, or simply to finding redemption through blood. It’s clear that the band has evolved and progressed and ‘Of the Flock’ has a unique, distinctive tone and style that was missing from their debut.

The majority of tracks that comprise ‘Of the Flock’ have been rigorously road-tested in a live setting prior to the band entering the studio. Recorded locally by Jamie Hillyer and mixed and mastered by none-other than producer/engine-ear Billy Anderson, ‘Of the Flock’ manages to successfully capture the essence and live sound of the band—a recording feat previously achieved and rivalled by Tad Doyle’s accomplishment with Uzala’s excellent ‘Tales of Blood & Fire’. The five tracks of In the Company of Serpents’ latest burn with an intensity and ferocity that nearly matches the band’s live performance, particularly on the album versions of live staples “Craven” and “Of the Flock”. “Craven” manages to almost perfectly reproduce the busy, frantic drumming style of Myer along with the harsh, damning bellows of Netzorg, not to mention the guitar tone which is spot on. The title-track “Of the Flock” is another example of the band’s intense live sound caught on tape. The unassuming Spaghetti Western-style guitar lick is soon replaced with blasts of fuzz and huge, spastic drumming—a potent combination underscoring Netzorg’s throat-shredding demand to know, “What makes a man abandon faith?”

‘Of the Flock’ is, in essence, the sonic equivalent of damnation and Hellfire for the high plains drifter. Fans of the band’s self-titled should have no problems making the leap to the more expansive and progressive sound that encapsulates their newest release. And, consequently, anyone who has caught their live shows and have dug what they heard will definitely be on board. The dirty, low-end riffs and drumming acrobatics have remained intact, but the duo has managed to incorporate additional influences to carve out a unique sound and vision all their own. In what has been a stellar year for heavy music, In the Company of Serpents have managed to release an album that is easily “Top 10” worthy. ‘Of the Flock’ manages to be huge, ugly, and uncompromising while still remaining accessible and engaging—a balancing act that few bands can successfully manage. Get the album digitally from the band’s Bandcamp page, or better yet, order the vinyl.

Words: Steve Miller

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

... STONE MAGNUM "From Time...To Eternity" (DCD special edition Review)

After several features here - including Interviews and a review of their new album a few months ago by Andreas Schiffmann, do I need to present STONE MAGNUM again ? Well, in a few words, S.M. is a five piece Heavy/Doom Metal band from the Chicago area founded by much respectful Dean Tavernier of Skullview ... and if you're not aware of their 80's Heavy Metal infused form of Doom, this special edition of their last album "From Time...To Eternity" released this month by Witches Brew - includes the brilliant self-titled debut album (for the first time on CD) as kind of (very) special bonus and is a perfect introduction to the band, also this is an essential purchase for the fans as a unique piece, gathering both albums with lyrics and separated booklets including nice artworks and pics of the vertical quintet... !!! 

Where the debut contains an underlying feeling of bleakness and negative sounding with at times rough anger and despair in the delivery - including from vocalist of the time Dean Tavernier, new album is finding a surgical balance between ominous and dynamic pieces of cursed and nasty Metal. An evolution in the overall mood and in cohesiveness after some line-up changes. 

From the 1st notes of the opening title track, things are as obvious as the cover let suggest, we're in here for a real trip in the true grand Metal court - the one of no stretched-to-sleep droning riffs, no extravaganza, no keys, no precious chorus... Stone Magnum is rather consisting in an overwhelming abundance of slow to mid-paced rolling metallic Doom played with a lot of integrity and tightness, filled with tense atmospheres within a perfect representation of obscure Heavy Metal codes where guitars and vocals predomine but always to serve the composition and never turn demonstrative or as a perpetual duality.
The delivery is faultless, nothing akward, it clearly hides lots of hours composing, harmonizing lyrics and melodies and this you can hear and are used to if you know the Tavernier's manic-sharp style of 80's guitar attack, it's just that in Stone Magnum he magnifies his darkest side and this time the dude has found a pefect team of old brigants (great work of the whole rythmic section really) - respect to all of them cause each song is here a pure flow of heavy pounding hooks making you headbang hypnotically in a fusional sweating bath of doom !!! An association of names is nothing without unity and collective faith in your own sound, in that sense it's really palpable that with this album Stone Magnum made a big step forward...

There's a foreboding atmosphere on 'From Time...To Eternity' which makes songs sounding much darker and crafted collectively too. Dean is still on guitar naturally and compose + write lyrics for a great part but the comings of ex Kommandant's Nick Hernandez and Ben Elliot on bass ('Lonely God') have strengthened the band's identity.
Hernandez is vocally very close a reference of the genre - Johan Langquist (listen 'the Gallows of Ohrdruf', that's impressive) and finds here a perfect playground in the traditional yet refined soundscapes of his comparse, not only Candlemass comes to mind but also Black Sabbath (Heaven and Hell period), Trouble, Rainbow, Solitude Aeturnus... But he's not trying to clone anyone, it fits just so well with the music and probably is that his latin origins coupled with woeful stories to tell about (those rolling rrrr are amazing - especially on a very vocal-driven melodic song like 'By an Omen I went') or simply he has an awesome voice - in any cases now I understand why Dean was so deeply convinced of the benefit resulting from his introduction!

I can not end without coming back on the very nice addition of the first album which was a pretty memorable debut and deserved a CD treatment - 'Fallen Priest', 'Savior in Black', 'Grave of Cryptic Sorrows', argh I still fucking dig those ones... thanx to Witches Brew for this nice and essential release of masterful haunting Metal !!!

... Now on Full streaming : DOUBLESTONE "Wingmakers" (debut Album)

Doublestone is a 70’s Retro Heavy, Doom-Rock band from Copenhagen, Denmark. On the 6th of November Doublestone will release their début album “Wingmakers” on Levitation Records.
The latest EP, “S/T”, from January this year (very few copies left) was very well received throughout the scene and helped Doublestone establish themselves as a band to keep a close look out for.
This summer Doublestone recorded their debut album in a dirty basement in Copenhagen, with Tony Reed of Mos Generator/Stone Axe/Heavy Pink. The year before, Tony recorded the doom legends in Saint Vitus and loved to work on tape (reel-to-reel). He was the perfect match for the band.

The heavy grooves of “Wingmakers” takes you back to the early days of Doom/Heavy rock, while following up on the new Scandinavian wave of Stoner/Retro Rock. The simple trio set up proves itself once again and through the raw sound of live recording and tape, Doublestone blast’s out one great track after another.
In the 3 years Doublestone have existed, they have released 3 EP’s and played gigs with acts such as Orange Goblin, Endless Boogie, Sabbath Assembly, Sienna Root, Spiders, Toner Low, and 3AM.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

.... POSTURES 's/t' (Album Review)

Sweden, vintage rock debut, female vocals ... again. Don't be prejudiced, though, as Gothenburg's Postures don't belie the promise their name might suggest to some of you: within the nine tracks on this first effort of theirs, there's nothing to be found of false gestures and poses, no caveman (and -woman) rock clichés and no average rehash of allegedly glorious days. In fact, Postures take the best from times gone by (warm synthesizers courtesy of keyboardist Mikael Edebro, who's apparently quit by now) and spice it up with their very own playfulness in a distinctly modern or rather timeless context. This is better by far than your umpteenth Graveyard, Witchcraft or Horisont rehash.
Paulina Nyström's stellar voice is, of course, the group's main characteristic, but gets highlighted by simply strong musicianship and creative songwriting to boot. After the ethereal introduction "Circles", Postures romp into "Heavy Tremor", a perfect playground for the vocalist to show off her range. It's these longer tunes - also the psychedelic "Solipse" and 13-minute monster "Quakes" in the end - which show the outfit's affinity to Progressive Rock in the classical sense, but there's no typecast fare to be had here. The music is eventful not only on the surface yet also when listening closely. The rhythm section in particular shines brightly throughout, always bridging the gap between more improvised-sounding parts and concised "don't bore us, get to the meat"-ditties like the short "Clouded Sight".
With respect to the latter, "Are We Still Breathing?" and "Clusters" (fans of flying Dutchies Gold may like this) are practically indie rock at its most condensed - another penchant, it seems, of Postures. Lastly, they don't need even the voice per se to impress (take the Floydish instrumental "Falling Into Place", where indeed everything falls into place) and prove themselves to be a safe bet if you are into oldish ambience (as conveyed by Mellotron and Hammond) in a room full of juvenile energy. Already now, Postures shine brightly, even though they lack the hit qualities which you might crave and maybe walk a bit too far on the "jammy" side of things ... Who knows,though, what the future brings? A jointventure, perchance, with the likeminded Katla?
words by Andreas Schiffmann

Monday, October 28, 2013

... from the depths of Rotomagus : Interview with FATUM ELISUM

Tired of keyboards, violins and female choirs in Doom/Death Metal ? Wanna come back to old-school stuff but with an ambitious approach ? Then, Fatum Elisum from Rouen (Fra) should be what you need with their slow, dark and tormented form of Doom/Death ! 
Reminding more Bethlehem or Evoken than old Paradise Lost or Anathema, their nice debut album - released a couple of years ago - had shown a captivating personality with a real emphasis on aesthetic arrangements and solemnly mournful moods... A true promise for the future that still didn't find a suite to this day, whereas many bands become too quickly pervasive, F.E. is probably too discreet ! just a couple of gigs this year proved they were still active but Aleksey Evdokimov wanted to make sure of this and asked Alexandre (bass) a few questions about "Homo Nihilis", the band's present and future... thanx guys ! 

Salut Alexandre! How are you comrade? I would like to ask you introduce yourself and your band mates to our readers, so who are Fatum Elisum crew?
Hello Aleks, I'm quite fine even I'm a little bit tired of the work, I'm an educational advisor in a technichal high school. I play bass guitar in Fatum Elisum since the very beginning, and do a few clean parts on vocals. I also play bass guitar in Mhönos and in a yet not named post-black metal band, and sing in Forsaken Peddlers. The other members are Ende on vocals, Chrisophe and Hugo on guitars and my brother whose name is also Christophe who joined us in october 2008.

Fatum Elisum was born in 2007 and your first full length album “Homo Nihilis” was released in 2011, what does slow your creative activity?
Even Homo Nihilis is our first full length which was released two years ago, we did release a demo, called Fatum Elisum, in november 2008. The length of this demo was about fifty minutes, so you could see we were already working on long songs. This was re-released by Aesthetic Death in september 2009. All the songs on “Homo Nhilis” are all different than on “Fatum Elisum”. In fact, we'd rather take our time to write songs, to rehearse them a lot and to work hard on them. For example, the writing process for the song “ TheTwilight Prophet” took about ten months, because we did lots of changes on it before the final result. The song “Homo Nihilis” was also a long work before we got the final result. We haven't got any deadline from Stu, the boss of Aesthetic Death, that's the reason we are slowly but surely working on new songs for our second album. But the more we are growing as a band, the more the songs are longer with many parts on them. More over, when you write songs whose length are between fifteen and twenty minutes, you have to be plenty satisfied with all the riffs and the songs structures. That may explain the slow creative activity.

Band’s name, the name of your debute release, it’s art-work – all of these have a similar conception, may you open it for us as one of it’s authors?
I am responsible for the band name, which means broken destiny. Ende writes all the lyrics, and when it was time to chose a name for the album, our choice was to be Homo Nihilis, as the songs on this album and because we are very found of latin words. Maybe, that could be a tribute for the first Candlemass album in a way. More over, Ende is inspired by authors such as Nietzche, Cioran, Camus, Artaud, ancient philosophy and lots of mythological or religious facts. It's something you could find on our lyrics, on our artworks. Anyway, we are doomed, aren't we?

Of course we are! So what does drive you to play slow depressive music from philosophical point of view?
I’m not sure the fact we are playing slow depressive music came from philosophical point of view, even authors like Camus or Cioran have some pessimistic visions. By the way, it’s something important for us to be free to play the music we enjoy, and we’re not as happy as society wants us to be. I think we’re not living in a joyful world. I speak for myself, but playing that kind of music is something cathartic and it let me express some negative things that I witnessed everyday, maybe while reading some news or maybe some stories I saw at work, as I have some pupils who have to endure some bad situations in their life.

By the way, how did you find such art-work? It’s damned remarkable, who is it’s author?
Ende, our singer, is the author of the cover and all the paintings you could find on the booklet of Homo Nihilis. The cover painting is called “To dig in ourself”. He has a master degree of the Art School of Rouen, so that's why we used its abilities of painting on our artworks. Each songs on Homo Nihilis has its paint, so that's why you may find some unity between our music and our visuals. It's something important for us, maybe a key for the listeners to dig our music.

Fatum Elisum performs good old death metal with epic vibe and …. Who were your teachers? Can you suppose that may attract attention of old school fans to your vision of death doom?
Our teachers were old Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Cathedral, Anathema, Mournful Congregation, to name a few. We just wanted to play doom death metal as the elders did it at the beginning of the nineties, nothing more, nothing less. By the way, one thing important for us when writing music, is that each of our songs, because of their length, have to tell a story in itself. I'm quite disappointed with the trademark “epic vibe”, because we are not sounding like Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, Solstice or Isole, I'd rather used the word “tragedy” to compare with old books from Antiquity. This is also the word that came to me while listening to bands like Mournful Congregation, Mourning Beloveth, Asunder or Worship. In a way, I do not care to attract attention to old school fans of doom death metal. I know, we're not following the trend of nowadays death/doom metal with shorter songs that bands like Asphyx, Coffins or Hooded Menace play, and which I really enjoy. And we are not trendy at all, but the main goal for us is to play the music we want to hear and not giving attention about anything else. I think our music is quite cathartic for us, we can express some feelings with it.

Do you listen to new albums of Old Ones? Or “Icon” and “Turn Lose The Swans” are enough for you?
I still listen to the new albums of the Old Ones. For example, I think “The Last Spire” from Cathedral is a huge album and the perfect end for this band. “The Barghest of Whitby” from My Dying Bride was a good long song that reminded me “Turn Loose the Swan”. By the way, I listen to more often old albums from the Old Ones, notably the ones from the beginning of the nineties. It’s good to see that these legends are still in activity, and I still follow them, excepted the last Anathema albums who are too soft and shiny for me.

Do you see any highlights of death doom scene nowadays or does it stay in a state of stagnation? It seems that some bands have modern melodic touch as it ruins some important elements of this genre yet really strong newcomers are rare on the scene.
As I'm growing older, I become more and more nostalgic of the early nineties, not only for doom death metal, but also for many kind of music, like black metal and death metal. Maybe, this period was a kind of golden age for doom death metal, with the beginnings of Paradise Lost, Winter, My Dying Bride and Anathema, not to forgot some good bands like Ceremonium and Enchantment. But, I have the chance to see the rising of the “second coming” of this genre during the last decades. Perhaps, there used to be too much melodic and keyboards oriented bands that came out, but that's a matter of taste, even I'm not very kind of these bands. I agree that newcomers are rare on the scene, but I really enjoyed a band like Anhedonist. Anyway, I will not say that we are seeing stagnation in the scene nowadays. For example, the last album from our fellow countrymen Ataraxie is a huge piece of doom death metal with the good mix between old school vibe and new things they did not do previously. And for me, one of the best album released since the beginning of this year is “Formless” from Mourning Beloveth.  As said before, it's not hype nowadays to play that kind of doom, as bands would rather play stoner doom metal like Electric Wizard, proto hipster doom metal with female singer or sludge. Well, that's not a big problem, as there are some cycles, so maybe the next big hype would be doom death metal.

Alexandre, you also play in new epic doom band Forsaken Peddlers, what’s the story of this project?
I used to sing in a doom metal band called Devil's Bride during the year 2009, and Christophe, the guitar player of Fatum Elisum, was our bass player in this band at that time. The drummer of Forsaken Peddlers, Rolland, used to play with Hugo (guitarist of Fatum Elisum and Forsaken Peddlers) in a thrash metal band and also in a tribute band to Kiss. Rolland wanted to play epic doom metal, as he enjoyes Candlemass. So he spoke about this to Hugo, who agreed to form this band and said to him that I could fit for the vocals. When Christophe heard we were going to form this band, he joined us on bass guitar. That's the story.

Why did you start Forsaken Peddlers when you could concentrate onto Fatum Elisum? What are main differences between these bands?
The main reason is that we love listening to epic doom metal bands like Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, Solstice, Griftegard, DoomSword, and also bands like Manowar (Ross the Boss era), Manilla Road and Bathory (viking period). I think we are the sole band in France to play this kind of doom metal. Even three of us are playing also in Fatum Elisum, we really enjoy playing songs more powerful and less darker and depressive than with Fatum Elisum. The main differences between those bands are clearly audible: I only sing with clean vocals, there are not growls or shrieks on Forsaken Peddlers, and we are influenced by bands mentioned above, with more heavy metal parts, notably the speed ones. It's also something vital for us as musicians to play in many bands, as we could do different things with different people. We expect to record our first album at the end of this year.


What is the current state of Fatum Elisum? I see that you’ve finished two new songs – how do they sound? And how long do you plan to work over new album?
Even we are forgotten and ostracized by mostly gigs organizations, for unknown reasons, we are still searching for gigs everywhere. By the way, we are working on new songs. As you said, two of them are mostly finished. You could expect long songs, maybe darker and a little bit extreme than before, but with also new things we did not do yet, something more intricate. As said before, we'd rather take our time to write songs and to be entirely satisfied with them, but I hope we could record our second album next year.

Are these new songs decorated with sonorous parts of clean vocals as before? Did you record only vocals for “Homo Nihilis” in church or were other instruments recorded there too?
On these new songs, you will find clean vocals parts, and a little bit more from myself, but also more extreme parts. So, you will have to be patient to hear the final result.
Only the vocals were recorded in the church, it’s too hard for the instruments.
We are currently thinking about our sound for the next album, something cruder, heavier and louder than on Homo Nihilis, we bought some new materials for that. We will record once again with Julien Bous, who recorded our demo and Homo Nihilis. As he knows the band and as he is a good sound engineer, we will still work with him.

Let us finish this interview onto this strange question: what book do you read now?
I’m reading some fantastic novels, like Le Horla, from Guy de Maupassant, an author of the ninetieth century who lived in Normandy. You should read from him, he had good stories, and it’s sometimes the best way to know the living in countryside and in Normandy from this period.

Alexandre, thank you for your time! Please let us know when you have new releases of both Fatum Elisum and Forsaken Peddlers. Good luck mate!

... IN THE COMPANY OF SERPENTS 'Of the Flock' - streaming now in its entirety on Bandcamp !!!

Limited edition virgin VINYL pressing on clouded black/white vinyl. Artwork by Mike Lawrence Illustration. The album and sleeve will come in a custom black-on-black envelope hand sealed with signet wax. 

Pre-order includes immediate download of 5 tracks in the high-quality format of your choice (MP3, FLAC, and more), plus unlimited mobile access using the free Bandcamp listening app. You'll also get the complete album the moment it’s released.
Pre-order Now  $20 USD or more
shipping out on or around 31 October 2013
edition of 475 

Digital Album
Pre-order of Of the Flock including immediate download of 5 tracks in the high-quality format of your choice (MP3, FLAC, and more), plus unlimited mobile access using the free Bandcamp listening app. You'll also get the complete album the moment it’s released.

Pre-order Now  $7.77 USD  or more

releases 31 October 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

... courtesy of Kent Stump , enter THE FUZZ LAB !!!

"My name is Kent, lead vocalist and guitar player for the band Wo Fat. I originally started the Fuzz Lab website to sell Heavy 70's t shirts, since I am a big fan of 70's rock, but then decided to expand the Fuzz Lab to selling vinyl and CD's from some select bands for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I realized that there are a lot of realy cool European bands whose albums, especially on vinyl, are not easy to get in the US without either paying very high prices for them here in the US or ordering them internationally. Also, being in Wo Fat, we have played with and gotten to know a lot of great bands that aren't on labels or don't wide distribution. With the Fuzz Lab, I'm trying to offer a little marketplace where some European titles I really dig are available to people in the US while trying to keep the cost as low as I can, and the Fuzz Lab is also a place where people worldwide can hopefully discover some cool bands that they may not see in some other stores, especially som eof the great bands that we know here in Texas.
Musically here at the Fuzz Lab, we are focusing on Stoner Metal, Psychedelia, Doom Metal and heavy fuzzy, riff-driven rock.
Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have regarding the Fuzz Lab or Wo Fat."

Those are the good words I found on the Fuzz Lab website a couple of days ago and I thought they had to be shared with you all!!! Check out the site, there's already very good stuff available : Diesel King, Dopethrone, Stoned Jesus, Las Cruces, Cortez, Bite The Bullet, Switchblade Jesus, Orthodox Fuzz, The Cosmic Trigger, etc... 

I wrote a little mail to Kent to congrat him and warn about an imminent post about this exciting new project and the riffmaster added:
"Yeah, the Fuzz Lab things is kind of an experiment at the moment to see if it works out. I'm hoping to reach out to some other unsigned bands and if I do okay with sales, I'll be able to expand the catalogue and carry more European titles. We are planning on coming back to Paris in May/June and I think we're probably going to play a couple French cities further south as well, like Lyon and/or Toulouse. Speaking of which, do you know any venues/ promoters in Lyon? We're also going to start recording a new album in about a month that will hopefully be out next spring."

I guess this new album will come out on SSR again ? any exciting details to reveal yet ?!
"Yes, our new album will be released on Small Stone again. We're still in the writing process so we don't have a title yet, but we plan on beginning recording in late November. Rest assured, there will be fuzz. There will be riffs aplenty and there will be heavy jams. We're hoping to release it in the spring before we come back to Europe."

This new distro lauch is following another major event which happened a couple of months ago :  Kent became with Tim and Michael - his partners in Wo Fat - the new owners/operators of Crystal Clear Sound, the best full service recording studio in Dallas !!!
"Yes, we did just buy a studio and everything is going really well with it. It's a first class studio with some killer analog gear and its where all of the Wo Fat recordings have been done. We offer recording, mixing, mastering as well as cd duplication. We also offer online mixing, meaning that you can send us files for mixing from anywhere. 
Here's the website:

Finally, I did forward te message to the great local Stoner band
Slut Machine to Kent's request about contacts in Lyon, but also precised to Kent that other towns like Bordeaux (Make It Sabbathy) and Rennes (Blood Rites) could be interesting possibilities too -  but there's a lot of factors to deal with when touring...
"Regarding the tour, thank you for the info. Let me know if you hear of anyone in Lyon. The way our routing is working out, the last part of the tour we'll be coming from southern Germany and Switzerland headed for Spain, which is why I'm asking about the Toulouse/ Lyon area because they're both on the way to Spain. We will be doing the tour with Mothership so it's a package deal. I don't know that we'll be able to fit in Rennes, though, because we're doing Paris earlier in the tour and going to the Netherlands and Freak Valley right after that...".

In any cases, I'll be coming again in Paris my friend !

Saturday, October 26, 2013

... Hacking into your emotional mainframe : SADHAK demo 2013

In the Indian religions, a sadhak (or Sādhaka) is someone who follows a way of life to achieve its ultimate goal, “to accomplish” something. What this has to do with these Norwegians? Well, they definitely know what they want to do with their music. Apparently, it's some (or one guy, no idea, really) from High Priest of Saturn (reviewed HERE - and interviewed HERE too !). While there's some similarities with its brother band from Trondheim, it's still another beast.

Despite the hypothetical links to HPoS and Resonaut, Sadhak is not as inspired by the likes of Electric Wizard or Om. They play a very atmospheric sort of doom metal with drowned out emotional vocals. Of course, they'll probably remind you of Warning/40 Watt Sun but they're not as overtly silly and whiny. They're clean and a bit mundane at times but they're not really the focus and it wasn't really an hassle or shouldn't be for anyone. It fits though, harsh or scream vocals wouldn't work here.

The demo, released on tape and digital download, is composed of two eight to nine minutes tracks. Both tracks are quite slow and misty, there's this dark but seducing aura around the veil of their sound. The production, adequate for their songwriting, is airy and just distorted enough to be heavy. The riffs are repetitive and spaced out but it's pretty damn enjoyable. Were you expecting some technical prowess here? Who the hell cares if you can play some Necrophagist solos, go impress your friends. In the end, you'll still end up playing a sloppy rendition of Wonderwall.

The first track “On the Arrival of Man” has this cool psychedelic solo giving the band an interesting edge and although the second song “The Perfection of Wisdom” doesn't deviate from the sound created by its brother, it has these subtle keyboards parts which are almost reminding me of Summoning. A doom version of the Austrian duo would possibly be the best thing on Earth after beer and bacon, just imagine it. I guess we could simply slow the epic Rush track “The Necromancer” and add some keys and be done with it!

“Sadhak” is a pretty nice 18 minutes release and another nice add to the growing doom scene of Trondheim, there is something else than black metal in Norway. Check it out if you're a doom fan, worthy of your time. 

words by Antoine Richard (review originally posted on Metantoine's Maigckal Realm  - thanx man ! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

…haunted by the shadows: SubRosa – ‘More Constant Than the Gods’

Following a two-year hiatus Salt Lake City’s SubRosa have resurfaced with the intact core lineup of  Rebecca Vernon, Sarah Pendleton, and Kim Pack along with the addition of a new rhythm section consisting of bassist Christian Creek and Andy Patterson on Drums. 2011’s sublime ‘No Help for the Mighty Ones’ was a doomy, post-apocalyptic journey that was equal parts beauty and despair. For the band’s latest, ‘More Constant Than the Gods’, SubRosa have retained their otherworldly, atmospheric approach, though the soundscapes have a heightened nightmarish quality as if awaking from a dream only to realize what was tangible in sleep is disappointingly ungraspable in wakefulness. The balance and ultimate collapse between yearning and disenchantment provides a surreal tension for the duration of the band’s latest.
From the beginning, what has separated SubRosa from other acts is the band’s tasteful use of violin. The addition of a second violinist for their second full-length, ‘No Help for the Mighty Ones’, helped to elevate the band’s overall sound to soaring new heights that effortlessly shifted from majestic ebbs-and-flows to melancholic, dirge-like meditations that were simply unattained on the band’s initial outings ‘The Worm Has Turned’ demo and ‘Strega’. Together, Pendleton and Pack have helped to transform SubRosa into the hauntingly beautiful entity that it is today. With ‘More Constant Than the Gods’ the violin duo take on an even more atmospheric role by providing a darker, more claustrophobic backdrop for Rebecca Vernon’s voice and guitar to enact her shadowy, esoteric tales of death, doom, and decay which is best represented by the dizzying, phantasmagorical din of album highlight “Fat of the Ram”. This nightmarish journey heaves and swells around the unmistakable guitar tone and vocals of Vernon who manages to exude glimmers of light as well as casting impenetrable shadows—a duality that SubRosa has managed capture perfectly on their latest release.
The six tracks of ‘More Constant Than the Gods’ have been painstakingly composed and each one flows as a unique eddy amidst the tumultuous current of the album. “Cosey Mo”, perhaps the most straight-forward track of the release, is most representative of the sound attained on ‘No Help for the Mighty Ones’. Similar to “Borrowed Time, Borrowed Eyes” in both sound and structure, “Cosey Mo” is carried by the distinct, heavy riffs of Vernon with the violins serving a similar accenting role. Not only has SubRosa released a darker album, but they have pushed their boundaries into new and exciting territories. While the final track, “No Safe Harbor”, is the “softest” tune to be found on the album it is arguably the most interesting musically. Melancholic piano opens the track and is eventually joined by flute. Initially, what really elevates this track above being a mere diversion is the vocals and lyrics of Vernon who is eventually joined by Pack and Pendleton to stunning effect. As the track progresses the melancholia gives way to paranoia, torment, and defiant sacrifice with the inclusion of electric guitar, cello, tortured violins, and hammered dulcimer. What began as an ode of adoration, “For you I would give up mountains of gold/And possessions untold, health of body and of soul” turns woefully sour with the lines “A perfect mirror tells no lies/That's why I shattered you/The truest mirror in my life”. Amidst the collection of haunting tales, “No Safe Harbor” is perhaps the most persistent and indelible of the lot.
Whether it was the break following the demise of the band in 2011 or simply the logical trajectory following the release of ‘No Help for the Mighty Ones’ that is ultimately responsible for the darker, more expansive sound of the newly invigorated SubRosa is uncertain. Regardless of the reasoning, the band has crafted an ominous, heart-rending release that sticks with the listener long after the album has stopped playing. While ‘No Help for the Mighty Ones’ was initially more gratifying and straight-forward—a relative concept as far as SubRosa is concerned—‘More Constant Than the Gods’ is a worthy successor of unparalleled depth that makes this one of the year’s finest albums.
 Words: Steve Miller

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

... Interview with Nick Davies of SERPENT VENOM - revealing New album details !!!

Past weeks have been extremely exciting in the Serpent Venom camp - with the recording of their new 2nd album and a participation at the Barcelona Day of Doom with Trouble and Pentagram... more than enough to put the band again under the Temple lights !!! 2013 will be soon history and it's already time to think about a few much anticipated albums of early 2014 with excitement, the follower to "Carnal Altar" - the best english trad' doom album of the few past years - is one of those (along with their buddies of Sigiriya!) and Nick Davies (bass) kindly agreed to speak about it ! Watch out SERPENT VENOM are back with a big dose of heavy Doom for you all ...

- Hi Nick ! Man, what a crazy first half of October for SERPENT VENOM, you’ve been recording your long awaited sophomore album and the day after it ended you were playing in Barcelona with Trouble and Pentagram… did you recover from those exciting but certainly exhausting times too ?

Hi Steph! Yeah it’s been completely mad! The whole year has. Although we haven’t been incredibly active this year due to commitments in real life, we have done a lot of very, very cool shows. Not just gigs in the UK with all the great bands our island offers, but massive shows like Hammerfest, Doom Shall Rise and, as you mentioned the Day of Doom. All of them were pretty amazing, but the last weekend was just one of the best. Recovered? Not really. I got home on the Monday and went back to work on the Tuesday and have been ever since. There's no rest for the wicked!

- Well, let’s first speak about the new album; this time you recorded at Skyahmmer studios, was it different from working at the special Foel studios in Wales or the fact of working again with Chris Fielding was the most essential ?
Foel is in a lovely secluded part of Wales and a very cool studio, it has a lot of pedigree surrounding it for sure. We had 4 days to do Carnal Altar and so it was perfect for concentrating without distraction at that time. After Chris worked with us for that album, we always had him at the forefront of our minds to do the new record, so I guess you can say that yes, his involvement was very essential to what we wanted. He loves doom, he gets it, he understands the bands he records and always does a great job. Skyhammer differs from Foel because it doesn't have the same live room set up of Foel, where bass and drums were entirely live for Carnal Altar, as was some guitar parts jammed together there and then. This worked out in our favour time wise. But Skyhammer works just the same as any studio where parts are usually layered: Drums; bass; guitars; vocals, as is the standard practice. It is a perfectly well equipped studio with a great setup and is in a lovely place too. It has everything you need to get on with it and in location that is just as relaxed. I couldn't recommend the place enough, it's spot on.

- There’s quite many expectations on this new album which will come out almost 3 years after your excellent debut “Carnal Altar”… First I’d like to know what happened to this split release that you were announcing late 2011 the same day of the official introduction of Roland Scriver to replace Pete Fox on guitar ?
Well we had talks with different bands and were going to record a couple of new ones and do a split. Probably involving Church Within bands. A lot was going on in our personal lives and so we had to have a bit of a rest. After touring the first record for a couple of years and only introducing one new song in that period we felt that it was about time to knuckle down and get a new record done. The split wasn't a priority any more.

- I guess that naturally as friends you were happy for Pete’s opportunity to get to live in the US but maybe had a bitter taste in the mouth for the band’s situation as SV was kinda in full ascension at this time ?
At the time we were upset and felt some anger, particularly as we were about to go on the road in Europe after all the hard work everyone put in, and we had to cancel two shows two days after he quit, which was bad form, but shit happens. Ultimately those feelings were the symptom of the shock of his decision to leave. A while later we met in London for the Pentagram show and all had a chat and made sure that we all saw him off on his new adventure in good standing. It was a little cathartic, but we are glad he's made the changes in his life and that he is settled and doing well.

- did it take some time to get working on new songs ?, I mean in a 1st time probably the most essential for Roland was to be ready with the 1st album songs for gigs that kept regularly coming ?
Paul called Roland after Pete left and within a week he had figured out the whole album and he jammed it with us a few days later. There was no problem there as he's a magnificent guitar player. When we got back from the tour we decided to carry on (at the airport) and a week later, we were writing what has become a new song on our new album. There is a live recording on youtube from a gig we played in Liverpool a long old time ago, but the song has evolved a bit since then. As said before, we had real life to sift through, so we took a bit of time to get back around to the band stuff. The songs took no time at all really. Roland and I would sit down with a couple of guitars (and usually a bottle of Gin - or two) and one of us would play a riff and the other would and so on. We sent riff ideas to each other via microphone recordings on our mobile phones and so we would have a massive pile of riffs. We'd piece the ideas together and then present them to the other guys. That's when the riffs started to really take shape and become songs. Everyone put in their opinions and ideas and so the album is the result of our communal effort and thoughts.

- So, Nick, could you please give some details about this new album ? maybe some song titles, if there’s a concept or something special behind it…? 

The album is called 'Of Things Seen and Unseen' and we are releasing it on Church Within records. We had some other label interest, but wont name names out of respect, but Oli has been a very fair and hard working man, a great friend to us all, so why go anywhere else? We recorded and mixed the album in 7 days.

The Penance you Pay 
Sorrow's Bastard 
Death Throes at Dawn 
Lord of Life
I Awake
Let Them Starve 
Pilgrims of the Sun 
Burning Free.

With this album we have maintained what Serpent Venom is about, the bleakness and traditional leanings that make the band what it is, yet it is a lot more pissed off and heavy. We have naturally progressed a lot and are very proud of what we have written. Soon enough we will be giving everyone a big dose of heavy doom and then coming to get ya!

- Are you thinking about something special again for the album artwork ? the work on “carnal altar” was so beautiful that you guys need to do something as good now !
Roland actually designed the album cover for Carnal Altar and again the Vinyl artwork. He is already working on concepts for this record. The ideas he has spoken to me personally about sound very cool and again, Oli at the label wants to make it a special thing. He does this for all of his bands, so we have a record that is also a keepsake. It is very cool of him to allow us the freedom for this and not just a jewel case that I'd end up treading on, or breaking.

 Credit: Adelina Gehenna (Music Trespass)
- Talking again about gigs, as you told me today, you’ve been lucky enough to keep a regular Live activity during those 2 last years including nice festivals with awesome bands like last week at the Barcelona Day of Doom… was that a kind of dream to play in such place with such legends like Pentagram and Trouble ? it looks like you had great times with Trouble !?
Of course it was! The guys who organise Day of Doom have actually made history by getting Pentagram and Trouble on the same bill in Europe. To be part of that was truly an honour and seems so unreal. The day after the gig we went and had some beers and lunch with Trouble, we did some sightseeing together, and then went out for dinner with them in the evening. It was pretty awe inspiring to say the least, but you could not ask for finer gentlemen to spend time with. The guys are all very friendly, warm and receptive to new people. I'm quite glad to say that we made friends with legends that day. It is something I will never forget and cannot wait to see them all again.

- In Barcelona, your set only included one song from « carnal altar »… this was pretty audacious, considering also this was your 1st spanish gig ! was the excitement to test a great number of new songs live after the new album recording that big ?
We have been playing mainly all new songs all year and decided to do the same. It was quite awkward as we were announced 'here is Serpent Venom, Carnal Altar' we played 'Four Walls....' and then launched into a set of all new stuff. But you know, why the hell not! We've done Carnal Altar for a long time and want to play the new stuff for everyone. Sure it's a huge risk and we maybe didn't please some for the lack of those songs, but the general crowd response was good, so we must be doing something right haha!

- What merchandising is still currently available ? Thanx Nick for taking the time to answer this! all the best to you and Hail the serpent!!!
We still have a limited amount of tee shirts, patches and beanies left. We have copies of Carnal Altar on regular vinyl, the special edition one and on CD. If anyone wants to speak to the band email: about bookings, merch and anything else and we'll respond as soon as we can.
I must thank you for taking your time to write to us again and it really is a pleasure to answer your questions.

Hope to see you all on the road soon!