Seneron – Parasites and Poets (Review)

SeneronSeneron are from Northern Ireland and this is their début album. They play Rock.

Infusing their Rock with Grunge and Punk, Seneron have produced a richly melodic 28 minutes of enjoyable music.

Not wildly dissimilar from fellow Irish bands Therapy? and, (in particular), Kerbdog; Seneron inhabit the same stylistic space as these heavy-hitters. Add in bit of Helmet, Foo Fighters and…yes, Seneron would have fit in very well in the early 90s.

The songs are catchy, memorable and easy to digest. It’s very easy listening, and I mean that in a good way. You can just turn this on and zone out to the infectious melodies. Before you know it, you’re rocking around in your seat and singing along with rawkus abandon. Or something.

The songs are short and sweet, never outstaying their welcome. Parasites and Poets succeeds in being very easy to like and very easy to recommend.

The songs are well-crafted sugar-coated slices of Rock. The guitars are pleasingly loud though and it’s to Seneron’s credit that they’ve given their guitarist permission to add a bit of a bite to his attack. Compared to most of the stuff on this site you wouldn’t call it aggressive, but it’s not a passive, weak delivery like a lot of this type of music thinks it can get away with.

A thoroughly enjoyable album. Check out Seneron.

Interview with Ashtar

Ashtar Logo

Ashtar’s highly recommended début album Ilmasaari successfully treads the line between occult Doom and Blackened vitriol; a 46 minute ritual that will leave you begging and gasping for more. I decided to find out a bit more about the creative force behind the band…

For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!

Marko: We are a duo from Basel, Switzerland, playing some kind of blackened sludge doom. Before forming the band, Witch N. was the bassist of the female doom band shEver, I am the drummer of the space doom band Phased. We met for the first time when these bands played together four years ago.

Give us a bit of history to Ashtar

Marko: We started to rehearse in 2012. Witch N. played the guitar and I sat behind my drums. Like that we developed some first ideas but didn’t really know where the way would lead us. We knew we wanted to stay a duo though. After a while we had some songs together and recorded them between December 2013 and April 2014 in a studio in Greifensee, Switzerland. It was the studio of a guy called Mäthe Imboden who’s very much into the Zurich black metal scene and friend of bands like Bölzer. We played all the instruments on our own. That means: We started with the drums and rhythm guitar riffs as basics and recorded the bass, growls, clean vocals and lead guitars as overdubs. Later Greg Chandler of Esoteric, whom shEver had already worked with, mixed and mastered the album in his studio in Birmingham. And in January 2015 we played our first gig with two guest guitarists.

What are your influences?

Marko: We love the modern intellectual metal bands that mix black metal and doom. Many of them come from France or Finland.

Witch N.: Beside other sources of inspiration we like bands such as Glorior Belli, Oranssi Pazuzu, Wolvserpent, Blut aus Nord, Dark Buddha Rising and Eagle Twin.

Ashtar BandWhat are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?

Witch N.: I am constantly trying to discover new underground bands in the sphere of sludge, black and doom although I was a bit neglectful recently… I’d like to mention Laster, Atriarch, Portal, Altar Of Plagues, Sea Bastard, Inter Arma or Bastard Sapling. Besides I do listen to older bands like The Chameleons, The Jesus And Mary Chain or Samhain.

Marko: I also listen to a lot of music that doesn’t sound like Ashtar at all: 70’s prog, kraut, shoegaze, 80’s new wave, modern jazz. It’s difficult to recommend something particular at the moment – well, I always go for Pentagram.

What did you want to achieve with your new album?

Marko: Nothing particular, actually. We just wanted to play other parts in a band than we had before as bassist and drummer. We wanted to do a record with our own songs and play all the instruments on our own. We just felt the need to do our own thing finally.

Are you happy with how it turned out?

Marko: Yes, we are very happy with it. Most of all it wasn’t self-evident for us that the guitars would work that well because they’re not our main instrument. I mean, of course you could always do something better or different if you listen to a record afterwards, but at some point you just have to let loose and hope it still feels good later. And we think it does. It does have a dark atmosphere that spreads through the whole album.

What’s your favourite song on the album and why?

Witch N.: I honestly like all of our six songs, but if I had to decide I would say «Des siècles qui éternellement séparent le corps mortel de mon âme». It’s the most personal song regarding the lyrics, and from the musical approach it starts as the most «black metal» song and then develops into the most representative song for the music of Ashtar. And last but not least: It’s great to scream and growl in French!

Marko: My favourite song is «Celestial» because of its many mood and rhythm changes and because I’m particularly happy with my guitar work in the second part of the song. But I think every song on «Ilmasaari» has it’s own character. So I really like all of them.

What can you tell us about the lyrics?

Witch N.: Generally I do not like to analyse my own words – the listener should be as free and unprejudiced as possible. For sure I don’t want to tell a story with my lyrics, I’d rather want them to be some sort of poems. I see them as an addition to the musical atmosphere, even though I write my lyrics without listening to the specific song. I try to create a special feeling, mood or vibe, to draw a certain picture.

Give us a bit of information on the songwriting process.

Witch N.: The songs on «Ilmasaari» emerged from one or two riffs and jams in the rehearsal room. We always knew quite quickly if a riff had the potential to become a song or not. When a song developed we defined the structures and recorded it as a basis with one guitar, drums and lead vocals. At home, we listened to the recording and tried to add some bass lines, more guitars and vocals. The songs were not completely finished when we entered the studio though – «Celestial» for example developed mostly in the studio. That it turned out to be one of the most intense songs of the album was the proof for us that spontaneous creativity worked very well!

How do you see your songs/direction developing in the future?

Marko: We have no idea because we never plan where we’re going musically. We don’t say: Now we want to sound like Glorior Belli or whoever. We just play and see what happens next.

And what’s next for Ashtar?

Marko: After the release of the CD and tape version of «Ilmasaari» on June 8 we wait for the vinyl to come out in early autumn. And then we plan to tour in winter and spring.

Mekigah – Litost (Review)

MekigahThis is the third album from Australia’s Mekigah. They play Industrial/Classical Doom.

This is a tortuous combination of Doom, Noise, Industrial, Ambient and Classical that somehow ends up pulling you into its embrace before you even really know what’s going on. I’m not a huge fan of Noise and a lot of Ambient leaves me cold, usually because there’s nothing to draw you in. Litost is different.

Here we have elements of Noise and Ambient but they’re joined by the usually far more spirited Classical style. Orchestral sounds and emotive synths provide these minimalistic elements with a vibrancy, albeit a dark, malevolent one.

On top of this we have the Industrial aspect to their sound, and, of course, the Doom. This is not a guitar-oriented project though. It’s there, but used just as one instrument of many. Guest musicians aplenty feature on this release, providing everything from vocals, to mellotron, to taishgoto.

Vocals are few and far between. When they appear they’re quite varied and performed by multiple singers across the album. They’re usually quite low-key and are frequently employed as just another method of delivery; another instrument in this disturbing symphony.

This album is surprisingly emotive and engaging. The layers of synths and orchestral sounds work perfectly with the harsher Industrial base to fashion songs that work their way into your subconscious like hooks into flesh.

There’s a Gothic element to this music, but it’s one that has been killed and buried so that its influence is felt through the remainder of the thing that’s growing in its place. Almost as if the remains of a Gothic ancestry were feeding the music we hear here, so that the influence seeps into the cellos and Industrial sounds almost without anyone noticing at first.

If you’re into music that fuses the Industrial and the emotive with a dark atmosphere then this is definitely one to track down. Whether you’re a fan of Ævangelist, Axis of Perdition, Cloak of Altering, Ulver or Indian, Litost has something to offer you.

A very impressive release; I wasn’t expecting something to merge darkness and light so completely. Litost is a thing of grim beauty.

Albatross – Fear from the Skies (Review)

AlbatrossThis is the début album from Indian Heavy Metal band Albatross.

We’ve met Albatross before, on their split with Vestal Claret. This is their first full length so it’s a pleasure to be reacquainted with their particularly interesting brand of Heavy Metal.

The songs on this release are all full of character and Albatross certainly put their own spin on things.

It’s the intention of Albatross to tell a story; while some bands who do this do it purely through the lyrics, Albatross strive to ensure that the music talks just as loudly as the words.

This is an album of two halves, with each half having its own story and theme. In line with the album cover, there is somewhat of a carnival feeling to the music on occasion, at least to the first half of the album. The second half is more straight-faced but just as compelling. Albatross are talented song-smiths and have a good ear for a good tale.

Quirky Heavy Metal is the name of the game and here Albatross are playing in the big leagues. Iron Maiden, King Diamond, Queensrÿche and bits of Thrash Metal are all melted down and consumed in some sickly-looking broth, only to be regurgitated in multicolour and in new and glorious ways by the band.

Taking these starting points, the band inject their own colourful personalities and passions into this lively release, resulting in an album that is a feast of delights. It’s extremely well-played and delivered, with some choice solos and vocal performances.

The track record of albums with concepts such as this is chequered at best, but Albatross have produced a winner here.

Blaze of Perdition – Near Death Revelations (Review)

Blaze of PerditionBlaze of Perdition are a Black Metal band from Poland. This is their third album.

The music on this album combines malevolent atmospheres with occult stylings to create a masterpiece of supreme Black Metal art. Blaze of Perdition manage to simultaneously remain true to Black Metal’s heart of darkness while being bold enough to fashion it to their steely will.

If you worship bands such as Deathspell Omega, Watain, Marduk and Funeral Mist then this is for you. Like the aforementioned bands, Blaze of Perdition take the listener on a journey through Blackened soundscapes and rarely-explored musical vistas.

It’s not that the band are wildly innovative, very few bands are; it’s more that they have a gift for twisting Black Metal into shapes that are perfectly recognisable yet still manage to impress and have their own warped personalities and identities. Bands like this manage to create their own dark worlds that you seem to fall into, emerging once again only when the journey is complete and the music has had its way with you.

Near Death Revelations succeeds in capturing the essence of what makes Black Metal so exciting and provocative. The band infuse this with their unique vision without losing the core identity of the style. The songs are compelling and engaging compositions that are diverse enough to retain interest without straying too far from the central stylistic themes.

Black Metal is an ever-mutating beast that throws up challenging new interpretations almost as much as it pumps out those who seek to recreate the core style of the genre. Bands like Blaze of Perdition are exceptional in that they not only create their art at the precise point where both avenues of exploration overlap, but they also use this point to diverge into their own full-fledged existence, and take up the mantle as leaders, not followers.

Near Death Revelations may have been born out of tragedy but its coming of age will be a thing of dark, resplendent beauty. As the phoenix arises, all shall cower from its terrible, glorious form.

Rejoice, for Blaze of Perdition has come.

The Negation – Memento Mori (Review)

The NegationThe Negation are a French Black Metal band and this is their second album.

French Black Metal always has something interesting to add to the genre and there are a large amount of quality and interesting Black Metal bands that call France home.

With this in mind, let’s have a look at The Negation. As becomes swiftly apparent, this is another gritty jewel in the French scene’s horned crown.

The Negation play grim-ridden Black Metal that stylistically speaks of bands like Deathspell Omega and Funeral Mist, mixed with the more orthodox Black Metal delivery of someone like Dark Funeral and the raging hatred of a band like Anaal Nathrakh.

Raging hatred is a good term for The Nagation; this is music that definitely rages and you can almost feel the heat come from the guitars. There’s an ugly brutality to this and the songs on Memento Mori are like dangerous slabs of spiked hatred-made-manifest.

Occasionally breaking out from the band’s onslaught are dark melodies and even the odd solo. These fleeting attempts to escape the nihilistic vacuum that the band creates are quickly drawn back into the fold though and smothered with darkness, not to be seen again until the next brief escape attempt.

Blackened screams that are seemingly filled with bile and disgust infest the music like malignant growths.

This is not pretty Black Metal. This is raw, evil and devastating. It’s also a damn fine listen.

French Black Metal wins again.