Black Royal – The Summoning Pt. 2 (Review)

Black RoyalThis is the second EP from Finnish Death/Sludge Metal band Black Royal.

Black Royal have an interesting style, effectively combining primitive 90s Death Metal with a Sludge/Stoner influence. It’s definitely the path less-travelled and makes for a very enjoyable journey.

The vocals consist of rough, Stoner-esque, semi-cleans, mixed in with deeper growls that have more of a Death Metal slant. Continue reading

Seven Sisters of Sleep – Ezekiel’s Hags (Review)

Seven Sisters of SleepThis is the third album from the USA’s Seven Sisters of Sleep. They play Sludge Metal.

On this album Seven Sisters of Sleep combine a lot of influences from a wide array of nasty, extreme sub-genres into their potent brew of Sludge Metal. Doom, Hardcore, Death Metal, Black Metal, Grindcore…it pretty much all gets a look in at some point in these 50 minutes.

This is nasty music that seems to revel in the filth and dirt, with no stone of depravity left unturned or unsoiled.

This is a wild and dangerous ride through all things heavy, taking pit stops in the aforementioned styles and mashing them together with all of the subtlety of a maniac with a very big hammer. Having said that though, there’s a fierce guiding intelligence at play behind the scenes here, and the band obviously know what they’re doing with the material they have bloodily birthed.

There are a lot of giant riffs on this release and whether the band are playing fast, slow or anywhere in between, they steer this ship of gloom with unerring accuracy through the fog of Sludge. Or something. I think my metaphors got a bit out of control there. Regardless, think of Ezekiel’s Hags as the nastiest form of Doom, shot through with streaks of blast beats and a predilection for terror.

The vocals are every bit as nasty as the music, even more so as they have a real splenetic fury to them.

This is an exceptional release full of horrorful energy and a testament to what you can do with the variety and interest that can be had with Sludge Metal.

I can easily imagine fans of Ilsa, Serpent Eater, Secret Cutter, Colombian Necktie, Cult of Occult, Behold! The Monolith, Nightslug and Eyehategod taking a real shine to this. I know I have.

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