Norylsk – The Catholic Dictatorship (Review)

NorylskThis is the second album from Polish Grinders Norylsk.

This is ugly Grind for fans of Regurgitate, Brutal Truth and Squash Bowels. It’s fast, brutal and the epitome of savage.

Norylsk largely have an Old-School sound but they do have some modern elements and ideas here and there. This is enhanced by a heavy, modern production.

Growls, screams and something that sounds like gargled broken glass are the main forms of attack from the singer. I worry about the health of his throat.

Norylsk blast, groove and tear their way through these tracks with clinical precision and furious focus. It’s a near-unrelentingly heavy assault and the band clearly know what they’re doing.

This is Deathgrind for people who like the Old-School style delivered in a modern way. It’s an impressively brutal album but one that doesn’t become too one-dimensional thanks to good songwriting and a few non-standard ideas in places, (including clean female vocals and spoken word on Mental Selection).

For Grindcore with weight and substance, look no further.

Interview with Seven7

Seven7 Logo

Seven7’s third album The Follower is a feast of Modern Progressive Metal that’s big on riffs and melodies. I asked Nicolas some questions about the band and their latest release…

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

We are Seven7, from around London. Luke Nelson on drums, Arran McSporran on fretless bass, Dave Brown on vocals, Sally-Jo on violin, Nicolas Meier on guitar.

Dave and Nicolas met about 10 years ago and started to write the basic songs and looking for the sound of Seven7, mixtures of heavy grooves, tribal, with some world sounds and instruments. Big melodic choruses and crazy guitar parts. Year after year, Arran, then Luke then Sally joined the band.

We are now on our third album (The Follower) and we are really happy with the writing and the sound. We also have 4 videos out, including “Free” and “Fall” from our latest album, “Run” from Under Eye and “Changing” from Different world.

Where did the band name come from?

The number 7 has been following me a long time, kind of a good luck number. Then I saw already bands with 7 so we went for Seven7…

What are your influences?

Lots of type of metal, but we can use Korn, Alice in Chains, Dream Theater. But also a lot of world music and classical music too…

Seven7 BandWhat are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?

Well I just came back from Brutal Assault in the Czech Republic and really enjoyed Sepultura, Kreator, Triptykon, Vader, Annihilator and Cannibal Corpse… loved it all.

Otherwise I just got a beautiful album of a jazz pianist on ECM Records called Marcin Wasilewski.

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

I love the song “Why?”, because it’s epic, it’s prog, it’s heavy and has some world music elements and very melodic.

What are the subjects/themes of the songs on this album?

Our singer Dave needs to reply this one… but “The Follower” the song is about sects… crazy leaders and blind followers. It’s about a cult, any cult. A man who joins the cult and he can’t leave.

If you listen carefully to the samples in the midsection of “The Follower”, one of the samples is Charles Manson. He tells you to do something and you have to do it, if not he is going to do it for you…

Each song has different subjects but quite dark; “Free” is about a man who gets accused wrongly and stays in prison, but finally escape; “Fall” is about a plane crash, and 2 men surviving; “Business” is about selling drugs; and “Magic Box”, a box of Hell.

Give us a bit of information on your songwriting process

Well in general, I come up with the music, send it to Dave, get some feedback, and when he is happy we record the demo. Most of the time I write with an acoustic guitar, and we say a good song should sound good with one guitar or with a full band…

How did the recording go?

I have a home studio, so does the drummer Luke, so we can get a great quality ourselves.

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

That’s always a surprise… but I guess it’ll start from The Follower.

What’s next for Seven7?

More concerts, festivals next year, more videos and hopefully a new album soon…

Horsebastard/Noisebazooka – Split (Review)

Horsebastard NoisebazookaThis split is brought to us by the UK’s Horsebastard and Austria’s Noisebazooka. Both bands play Grindcore.

Horsebastard are up first and deliver the goods with 6 tracks of furious blasting Grind in four minutes.

High pitched screams slice through the noise as if made my by some form of giant insect come to feast on man.

The drum sound is unusual and is frenetic and frenzied. Surely this must be the work of a twisted, multi-limbed insect? I think the term insectile Grind must have been invented for Horsebastard.

The tracks blur by in a haze of shrieking, blasting and abrasive guitars. It’s unhinged, unhealthy and reeks of fabulously wanton violence.

It’s all pretty much over before you’ve blinked and Horsebastard have left a funny taste in your mouth that you’re quite happy to experience again.

After that we have Noisebazooka with 7 tracks of even more crazy Grindcore in just under 7 minutes.

The vocals are strange shouts where the singer sounds just a hair’s breadth away from losing it totally. The music is even more manic than Horsebastard; this is not of the insectile variety though, it’s more experimental, almost, with unusual riffs, ideas, effects and time signatures alongside the traditional blasting.

Noisebazooka definitely have an individual take on Grind and theirs is a sound that will not be for everyone, even within Grindcore’s already limited audience; this is due in large part to the shouting-style of the singer.

If you can get on board with their unorthodox style then there’s a lot to like here and the music is very well crafted and pieced together.

Overall this is a good split showcasing these two different-but-complementary bands. Check it out.

Myrkur – M (Review)

MyrkurThis is the début album from this Danish solo Black Metal project, although on this release she is joined by other musicians too.

This is second-wave Black Metal with supplemental ethereal flourishes. Angelic clean vocals and harsh, daemonic screams play out across music that’s as frozen as it is beautiful. Think bands like Burzum and Vinterriket, only with added atmospheric instrumentation and stunning female cleans.

And stunning is the right word, as the brains behind this outfit has an amazing voice. Sounding transcendentally beautiful and uplifting, her voice is an incredible tool that gets used just right. The screaming doesn’t let the side down either; this is the kind of scratchy, static-like high-pitched shrieking that works so well in Atmospheric Black Metal.

If the music was straightforward Black Metal I think that it might be put to shame by her voice. However, in reality the Black Metal core is added to by so many other instruments and elements that the beauty of the clean vocals and the icy nature of the guitars don’t reveal too much contrast as there’s a lot of other music going on to bring the two closer together; in addition to the standard Black Metal instruments we also get piano, violin, horn, tuba and other traditional Scandinavian instruments used on the tracks.

The main juxtaposition comes when the angelic cleans aren’t being used; here we get malevolent Black Metal with frosted fury and malignant intentions. These sections segue nicely into the more atmospheric/Folkier parts though, so there’s no massive disconnect, only a compelling and involving soundscape that contrasts the beauty of a frosty landscape with the dangers inherent in such a scene.

M doesn’t contain songs in a traditional sense; the tracks are movements designed to showcase an emotive musical tapestry that takes the best from second-wave Black Metal and adds extra layers to it via clean singing and bright atmospherics.

There’s not really anyone playing this kind of Black Metal at the moment, certainly not with this level of proficiency at any rate. It’s definitely a less-travelled path that Myrkur is treading and it’s going to be pretty exciting to see where it leads in the future. My hope is that the songs become lengthier and even more epic in scope, as my only real complaint about M is that it is over far too quickly.

But I digress. For the moment let’s ignore what the future holds and concentrate on what we have; authentic Black Metal with an individual and highly emotive take on the source material. M is a success in every way, and after the tantalising glimpse into her world that was her début EP, we have not been disappointed by the promises it contained.

This is a class album; doing something a little different with Black Metal while still retaining the core of the style has worked wonders.

This album will garner all kinds of praise from all kinds of people. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Interview with Behold! The Monolith

Behold! The Monolith Logo

The latest album from US Doom Metallers Behold! The Monolith has landed like a falling box of iron weights. Architects of the Void is a varied and exciting release that takes Doom, Sludge and pure Metal into its emotive embrace and produces an album forged from heaviness and darkness. I wanted to find out more about this album so I cornered their guitarist Matt Price…

​F​or those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!

Hello, I’m Matt and I play guitar for Behold! The Monolith.

Give us a bit of history to your band

Well, it was something I started doing by myself in 2006…just for fun, for myself. Just stockpiling and demoing riffs here and there. I met our bassist and vocalist Kevin McDade in 2007 and just did a bit of off and on jamming with him, then at the beginning of 2008 we decided to make it a band. We just started writing and recording and playing shows. We put out an EP and two full lengths ourselves. Then in June of 2013 Kevin died in a car accident. Our drummer Chase (who has been with us since 2010 or so) and I took a little time off but decided to move forward. We have since added Sasquatch bassist Jason “Cas” Cassonova and Fractalline vocalist Jordan Nalley to the ranks, and here we are about to put out a new album “Architects of the Void”.

Where did the band name come from?

It was just a name I came up with when I first started compiling riffs by myself, just so it had an identity, you know? I originally just wanted to call it ‘Monolith’, but there were already 4 or 5 bands using that name. I’ve always loved the word ‘Behold’. I’ve always listened to Judas Priest’s “Sad Wings of Destiny” starting with what is technically side 2 with the song “Prelude”…I think that was how the band intended. Anyway, the first word in “Tyrant” is “Behold! (tis I the commander)”. It’s just such an epic word. I had forgotten about it and was trying to think of names and someone said it on TV and I was like “that’s it!” and put ’em together. So when we started the band we wound up just going with that.

Behold! The Monolith Band 2What are your influences?

As far as the band is concerned, too many to mention. We all come from different backgrounds and tastes with heavy music. Cas is the Stoner Rock guy and a lot of Jordan’s background is with Prog and Death Metal. Chase and I are into a lot of classic Metal and old Progressive Rock, plus I’m into dark, weird stuff and riffy Doom and Sludge type shit. I think we pretty much all come together on Black Sabbath, but we are pretty all over the place.

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

Since we got done recording I’ve just been mostly listening to a lot of old, mostly Proggy stuff like Yes and early King Crimson. As far as new, new stuff, I’m digging the new Arcturus album, and the new Cattle Decapitation is pretty sick. Not my normal “go-to” stuff but my brain needs a break from the slow and low stuff lol.

There’s a variety of different styles on this album, incorporating Doom and Sludge as well as bits of Classic and Post-Metal. How did this arise from your songwriting?

It’s just a catch all of the stuff me and the other guys like. I’m not a huge fan of the whole sub-genres of sub-genres thing. I get that it serves a purpose to some for categorizing or keeping things pure or whatever. But I think a Death/Doom thing or something inspired by Zeni Geva can co-exist with a part inspired by Angel Witch or Iron Maiden if it’s approached the right way. It keeps things interesting, to me anyway. It’s not like we are truly “genre-splicing”…to us it’s all just Metal or Heavy music at the end of the day.

Behind the obvious fact that it’s being released for wider consumption, this strikes me as quite a personal release. In my review I say “This sounds more like music played for the sake of musical catharsis and outlet than for the need to simply rock out or any such thing” – is there any truth to this?

Yes! Particularly for this album. I know we put a lot into this one. Losing Kevin was really hard on me and Chase, and we really wanted to do right with what we started with him. I think we were all going through our own personal stuff on one level or another, so there was some genuine release there, especially in hindsight. This one just hit a deeper chord in all of us I think.

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

That’s a tough one actually! I could tell you what my least favorite one is, but I won’t do that haha. Right this second I’d say the album intro “Umbral Vale” into “Philosopher’s Blade” could be my favourites because they were actually the very last things we wrote right before we recorded, and they were completely written fresh and with the new lineup in mind. But I really love “The Mithriditist” and I really like the way the song “Architects of the Void” closes out the album.

Behold! The Monolith Band 2Tell us about the album artwork

The art was once again by Dusty Peterson. He’s just great. He’s always gotten what we’re going for and this time he just knocked it out of the park! I had a basic idea or two in my head, and he just nailed it.

How did the recording of the album go?

It was at times awesome and at others really stressful. We had a few technical issues, mostly with equipment and whatnot. But I think some of the frustration may have actually benefited the performances.

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

It’s hard to say. We can plan for one thing but it can very easily wind up sounding like another. I have been going down the Prog wormhole lately – and I feel like we abandoned a lot of our vibey space-rock I originally wanted to do, so maybe more of that. But who knows? There’s a lot of potential and the slate is clean right now.

What’s next for Behold! The Monolith?

Getting this record out! And some touring for sure. We really want to make it to Europe, that is at the top of our list for sure. And there has been talk of getting right back into writing…but I’d say promoting “Architects of the Void” as much as possible is the priority right now!

​ You can order it here https://beholdthemonolith.bandcamp.com/album/architects-of-the-void

Interview with My Silent Wake

My Silent Wake Logo

My Silent Wake’s eighth album Damnatio Memoriae is full of dark magic and heaviness. I quizzed main man Ian Arkley about this latest release…

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

We are My Silent Wake, a UK based death/doom band with many other influences. We were started ten years ago from the members of the final line-up of Ashen Mortality minus my ex wife. I am also the founding member of Seventh Angel and other bands and projects over the years.

Give us a bit of history to My Silent Wake

We were formed in 2005. We have recorded eight albums and 2 split albums and played in various European countries. Although we have had a number of line-up changes I have always been the main vocalist and guitarist in the band so the sound hasn’t completely changed over the years, though it has developed in various directions. We have recorded acoustic and ambient music as well as death/doom and like to keep things flexible rather than be restricted in the style of music we play.

Where did the band name come from?

It was something I came up with and have very little memory of why it came about. I’m sure I wanted the meaning to be slightly ambiguous. I remember our drummer commenting that it sounded like My Dying Bride. I couldn’t see it at the time, but it has been commented on since and I think this gets us compared to them when a lot of our music is nothing like them. It is so hard to come up with a band name that you are always going to be happy with but I think it works fine.

My Silent Wake 2What are your influences?

Having said all that, MDB are (of course) an influence as well as many other doom bands, other metal and rock bands, death/doom and Gothic bands. I would say some of our main influences would include Trouble, Sabbath, Paradise Lost, MDB, Dead Can Dance and Zeppelin. I am also a fan of medieval and folk music which comes to the fore in our acoustic songs.

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

Right now as I type this, Sorcerer. I listen to a wide range of music that has recently included: Obsequiae, Attrition, Hawkwind, Pentagram, Grand Magus, Roy Harper etc….At Bloodstock fest this year I enjoyed: Agalloch, Wolf, Nuclear Assault, Lawnmower Deth, Opeth, Conan, Ihsahn, Enslaved, Godfesh and Rob Zombie to name a few.

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

Not sure which I like the best, but probably The Empty Unknown. I wrote the lyrics and Adam wrote the music to this and I think it has come out well especially with Greg Chandler’s huge vocals which are interspersed with mine and Martin Bowes’s atmospheric synth in the mid section.

What are the subjects/themes of the songs on this album?

There are a variety of thoughts and meanings in the songs but I can put the main ideas within them in a nutshell ‘Of Fury’ is about destruction of property, people and ideas by tyrants, religious leaders etc and those that follow them in this; ‘Highwire’ is about being split in your ideas and directions; ‘Now it Destroys’ is about the end of a relationship; ‘Black Oil’ is about depression and the damage done by certain experiences in life; ‘And so it Comes to an End’ is about infidelity and the after effects; ‘The Innocent’ is about the abuse of vulnerable people such as children; ‘The Empty Unknown’ is generally about the need to rebuild and redeem yourself after a massive loss and it talks about the suffering felt during those times; ‘Chaos Enfolds Me’ is similar in its subject matter to ‘Now it Destroys’

My Silent Wake 1Give us a bit of information on your songwriting process

No set process, just coming up with ideas and forming them into a song – sometimes lyrics first, sometimes music. Sometimes the songs are a collaborative effort and sometimes written by one member so there really are no rules.

How did the recording go?

Great! It is always both fun and productive working with Greg and the studio is a fantastic place to record. I think the sound on the album is perfect for the songs and the results are better than we could have hoped for. As usual we didn’t have much money to spend on this but it was our biggest budget out of all the MSW albums. I love Greg’s production as it seems to retain some rawness and is extremely heavy, unlike a lot of modern production. We had previously recorded ‘Silver Under Midnight’ and the Seventh Angel album ‘The Dust of Years’ there. I knew Greg back in the Ashen Mortality days but we got back in touch when I saw Esoteric in Bristol. That was an amazing performance which required getting my ears syringed.

How do you see your songs/direction developing in the future, and what’s next for your band?

Not sure about direction musically, as this depends on how the songs develop and come together. We have no set rules for the way we want an album to sound but maybe a loose idea of the overall direction. In the near future I hope to get a live album done with at least one new song and a ten year anniversary double compilation. I have been working on some more medieval ideas with my friend Luke, who played with us on the split album with Pylon. We are also making an announcement of a new member very soon.

Thanks for the interview!

Animus Mortis – Testimonia (Review)

Animus MortisAnimus Mortis are a Chilean Black Metal band and this is their second album.

This is an intriguing blend of Progressive and Post-Black Metal that lasts 40 minutes and makes a very good impression. It’s Black Metal for the modern age, taking influence from the aforementioned sub-genres to add to their Blackened pot, creating something unusual.

This sits nicely alongside albums from bands like Entropia, Thaw, Outre, Hope Drone, Tempel, Decline of the I, Wayfarer, Deafheaven and many others that play Black Metal with a non-standard spin on things. Bands such as these take up the mantle of Post-Black Metal, (willingly or not), to expand their musical horizons and add to their Blackened palette.

Chants, screams, growls and all manner of other vocalisations are used to great effect to provide a rich vocal performance. These are multifaceted and varied, allowing the singer ample avenues for exploration and experimentation. Wailing, shrieking and moaning torment appear to be his choicest methods of delivery; these are frequently layered on top of each other to create a nightmarish juxtaposition against the more resplendent music. I imagine it could be somewhat of an acquired taste for some people when confronted with his style, maybe rather preferring the more standard screams that appear less often.

The music is highly emotive and has an understated epic feel to it. It has a heart that’s twisted and warped though, kind of like Deathspell Omega with added Shoegaze. The music can be quite beautiful, with uplifting sections as well as parts that are more barbed and dangerous. The vocals supply the main ugliness and horror to the music, with the singer frequently sounding inhuman or possessed, adding a disturbing aura to the songs.

This is a compelling release due to the fact that it attempts to do something a little different from the norm and largely succeeds. The ubiquitous blast beats, the gleaming guitar melodies and the corrupted vocalisations all merge together to produce something greater than the sum of its parts.

This is music to become entranced by. Let Animus Mortis lift you up and help you explore the less-travelled paths that they wander. It may seem a daunting proposition, but it’s one that’s worth it.

Neter – Idols (Review)

NeterNeter are a Spanish Death Metal band and this is their second album.

This is well-recorded and precise Death Metal that mainly shies away from the faster, more brutal end of the spectrum and instead concentrates on rhythmic execution and melodic accompaniment.

This isn’t to say that the band don’t know how to knock out a blast beat when they need to, (there are plenty of these), it’s just that this isn’t their only or even main mode of assault.

Sharing aspects of bands such as Bolt Thrower and Morbid Angel, Neter combine this with elements of the Polish scene like Decapitated and Vader. As such, Idols covers quite a bit of ground, all in a solid, proficient manner.

The rolling double bass and pulsating guitars are clipped and efficient, lending a vitality and instant-appeal to the music. The guitars knock out riffs with ease and these roll out of the speakers in a very ear-friendly fashion. Solos and leads are done well and add to the songs.

The singer seems more than qualified for his position and growls his heart out alongside the pummelling drums and undulating guitars.

The entire album sounds familiar enough to be instantly appealing, yet not too similar to the band’s Death Metal heroes that it becomes off-putting or derivative.

Idols is competent Death Metal played professionally. Check it out.

Doomed – Wrath Monolith (Review)

DoomedDoomed is a solo project from Germany and this is his fourth album playing Doom/Death Metal.

Doomed’s third album Our Ruin Silhouettes was a good example of quality Doom/Death that ticked all of the right boxes for the genre. Curiously, this new release has a song on it called Our Ruin Silhouettes yet the actual album named this did not.

So how has Doomed progressed on this new release? Well, it’s still the familiar Doom/Death style that lovers of the sub-genre will be so familiar with, (how could it not be?), although on this latest album this seems a bit more riff-hungry in places, with a little more of the Death Metal side of the Doom/Death equation coming to the fore.

The Funeral Doom marches and depressive moods are still present and correct. Doom/Death is a very specific sub-genre, and once you move too far away from the core of this style you’re not playing it any more. The guy behind Doomed knows exactly what he’s doing though and these compositions milk the most from the emotional misery while at the same time allowing for sufficient variation in writing and pacing so that these 51 minutes don’t feel as agonisingly slow as the music can be.

Guest vocalists add further interest to the songs, and these compliment the main Deathgrowls which are as deep and as enjoyable as they previously were.

Due to the ramping up of the Death Metal influence, the guitars have a bit more energy to them in places and as it’s all wrapped up in a crushing production. The riffs seem to jump out of the speakers like eager puppies. Although admittedly, these are dark, misery-drenched puppies determined to drown you in woe.

Hmmm. Misery puppies?

What the Hell, let’s go with it.

Strong leads, melodies and solos abound. As one of the cornerstones of the style, the forlorn melodies are carried out really well. The songs do a laudable job of manifesting the negativity that sits at the core of the music.

The album showcases the Atmospheric side of the band in addition to the depressive. Synths and keyboards add extra layers to parts of the songs and there’s even a hint of a Progressive Metal slant on some parts of this release. If this is further developed even more on future releases then this would be a valuable addition to the Doomed sound, as it already seems to be becoming.

Wrath Monolith is a very impressive album that’s pretty much at the top of its game. I find Doom/Death to be a sub-genre that can easily become a little stale, so I’m pleased to report that this is not the case here. The music holds the attention easily and this is an album that has a lot to offer. As stated, there’s a surprising amount of variety and interest to be had here and it seems that Doomed’s songwriting is just getting better and better.

Very highly recommended.

Decrepid – Osseous Empire (Review)

DecrepidDecrepid are a UK Death Metal band and this is their second album.

This is Death Metal for all of the purists out there. It’s Old-School in nature and takes a good influence from USDM greats like Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel and Deicide, as well as elements of UK legends Desecration.

Featuring a decent sound and plenty of good riffs, the songs on Osseous Empire make an immediate impression. The combination of well-thought out guitars and Death Metal heaviness makes the album an easy listen to anyone familiar with the style.

The songs are very rhythmic and riff-heavy, with the band seemingly conscious of the necessary ingredients for a working, holistic song rather than just a collection of guitar parts.

Leads and melodies are few and far between, although solos are included to add colour and spice to their attack.

The vocals are deep growls that are extremely satisfying in their delivery. The singer’s performance is faultless and there’s even the odd scream included to add flavour.

If you’re a fan of Death Metal then it’s hard for me to understand how you wouldn’t like Decrepid. I suppose if all you care about is the ultra-modern, ultra-brutal, ultra-fast or ultra-technical then they might not be for you, but if you like well-constructed songs that have all of the components of timeless, Classic Death Metal then Decrepid are an excellent choice.

This really is an impressive album. Undeniably Old-School without sounding stale or irrelevant, Osseous Empire has massively impressed me with its charismatic songs and atavistic Death Metal personality.

One to get hold of immediately.