Monthly Overview – the Best of May 2018

So, every month I say something along the lines of “this month has been a strong month for metal, blah, blah, blah…”, but May really has been a ridiculously strong month for metal! I really have struggled to keep this list down to manageable levels this time, and removed a few potential entries simply to keep the numbers down, (I’m not happy about this). So anyway, in no particular order, I give you my top picks for May 2018… Continue reading

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De Profundis – The Blinding Light of Faith (Review)

De ProfundisDe Profundis are a death metal band from the UK and this is their fifth album.

If you haven’t encountered De Profundis before then you’re in for a treat. This is 43 minutes of timeless death metal, combining old-school classic appeal with forward-thinking progressive enhancements and striking melodies. Continue reading

Formicarius – Lake of the Dead (Review)

FormicariusFormicarius are a Black Metal band from the UK. This is their first release.

Here we have almost 12 minutes of music, made up of two originals and an Emperor cover. Formicarius’ Black Metal is Symphonic, Old-School and dark. Harking back to an early era when bands like Cradle of Filth, Emperor, Dimmu Borgir and Emperor were still young, Formicarius are attempting to herald a return to such times.

Featuring veterans of the UK Metal scene, (including the guitarist of the excellent De Profundis), this is a band who are starting out from a very strong position, so although this is only their first release it very much sounds like they have been together for a lot longer.

The songs have a streamlined darkness that flows and winds around the ostentatious keyboards like vines trying to strangle the life from something. The grim music pulses against the throat of the bright orchestration but doesn’t dampen its enthusiasm. Indeed, it seems spurned on by its antagonistic partnership to even greater heights.

One thing that was largely missing from this style back in the day was guitar solos, so I’m pleased that these make a brief appearance here. Played well, the music in general is accomplished and enjoyable. The songs are relatively simple homages to the Old-School Symphonic Black Metal style, (a bit of a mouthful), that are well-written and perfromed by people who clearly know what they’re doing.

Although there is a good helping of nostalgia with music such as this, (very much so for me), this is still a band who are doing their best to bring the style into the modern age. Admittedly, there’s only so much of this which can be done before changing the music into something else entirely, but on Lake of the Dead it’s the small touches here and there that give the band a certain edge; a short melody, a certain riff or keyboard addition…it distinguishes them as a band who are from the here and now, regardless of how old a style it is that they play and clearly love.

And the Emperor cover is fucking great, too.

12:00 minutes of quality. Get it.

Interview with De Profundis

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Paul Nazarkardeh, (guitarist), was kind enough to answer a few questions about the latest De Profundis stormer Kingdom of the Blind. This is the second interview I’ve done with this exceptional band, the first occurring shortly after their Frequencies EP was released; I think it’s important to support good music wherever and whenever you can, and De Profundis are one of the best Death Metal bands in the UK at the moment. A bold claim? Not if you’ve heard Kingdom of the Blind…

For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself

As the interview title probably suggests – we are De Profundis. We hail from the United Kingdom and play an intricate, mercurial form of death metal, free of gimmickry and bullshit. In truth, the best possible introduction to De Profundis can be found in the first song of our upcoming album Kingdom Of The Blind – Kult of the Orthodox. It introduces us better than I possibly could here.

Give us a bit of background to De Profundis

De Profundis has existed for 10 years, and have evolved and transformed much in that time. Kingdom Of The Blind will be the band’s 4th LP, following on from last year’s Frequencies EP. The band have played in 24 different countries alongside names some familiar names such as Immolation, Marduk, Rotting Christ, Malevolent Creation in 2009 supporting the legendary Iron Maiden in India. Needless to say, the band has kept busy.

De Profundis 4Where did the band name come from? For me it will always remind me of a Vader album!

Haha – some would say Vader, some might say Abruptum, some might even think of Oscar Wilde. The term translates from the original Latin as ‘From the Depths’.

What are your influences?

Since De Profundis hasn’t always been the same collection of 5 individuals (hell, since I joined on guitars in 2013 in the grand scheme of things I’m pretty new) the collection of influences in our music don’t remain constant. The name Death is often mentioned in reviews, which is pretty justified. Chuck Schuldiner’s work has had a massive influence on me, as it should on any extreme metal artist with a functional pair of ears. Other than that it varies. Personally, when we wrote Kingdom of the Blind I was listening to bands like Carcass, Akercocke and Atheist as well as copious amounts of King Diamond/Mercyful Fate. I’m sure the other members of the band would give very different answers.

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

Well, as I’m writing this I’m listening to Ulver’s Bergtatt. I’m not sure why I find myself listening to so much black metal in the summer months – testament to the farce that is the British summertime I suppose. As far as new releases by bands, that becomes a lot harder. The new Paradise Lost is a great return to form, and I’ve high hopes for the new My Dying Bride. What I’d prefer is for some new music to be recommended to me!

There’s a lot of involved, intricate playing on Kingdom of the Blind, including some quality bass-work. How do you go about writing and arranging your songs?

The beginnings of a song usually come from me or Shoi. We’ll bring some guitar riffs we’ve been playing about with along to rehearsal and start bouncing those ideas off each other. As you can hear, Arran is by no means a typical bass player. Rather than us prearranging lines for him, he works alongside us to come up with bass lines that compliment our playing. Our frontman Craig then handles quality control, which he’s rather good at as he certainly isn’t afraid to tell us if an idea that we’ve been working on sounds like shit – which keeps us instrumentalist musos in place.

De Profundis 3Do you ever see yourselves writing ever longer and longer songs in the future? I can imagine, potentially, you becoming more and more Progressive in the future.

Way ahead of you – De Profundis have a whole discography worth of longer more drawn out songs. With this album we’ve sought to do quite the opposite – trim the fat and leave only muscle. Earlier De Profundis material is full of longer, slower songs, but that isn’t what this current incarnation of the band represents. Kingdom of The Blind is the first De Profundis album that I feature on, and I can say both as a member of the band and a fan for many years that this streamlining in favour of the acute over the obtuse is part of the reason why Kingdom of the Blind is undisputedly the best De Profundis album to date.

Progressive is an interesting adjective. Although I agree with you, I think it’s a word that is horrendously abused in metal, especially in this day and age. It seems that every ten minutes I hear another flavour of the month band regurgitate the same hackneyed and insipid clichés under the supposed buzz word of “progressive” music, when anyone not sucked in to the paper thin marketing can clearly hear that the far more fitting term would be “regressive”! On the contrary, I think that De Profundis has been a band that have been progressive for the majority of it’s existence and I think that on Kingdom of the Blind this is rather evident, as it also is in the bands previous record The Emptiness Within. That being said, no two De Profundis records are the same – which is an ideal any truly progressive band has. No-one calls the early Morbid Angel records progressive, but at that time there were very few bands who would have the nerve to write anything as unorthodox as God Of Emptiness, and that’s what I consider to be a progressive mindset.

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

I have a few. I’ve a special fondness for Illumination, as it was the first full song I was part of the creative process for. I can’t possibly neglect to mention the sheer ferocity of Kult of the Orthodox or the morbidity of All Consuming, but another favourite of mine is Thrown To The Wolves, with it’s juxtaposition of left-field guitar work with straight up old school death metal aggression.

What does the future hold for De Profundis?

Kingdom Of The Blind is finally set for a release on September the 28th of this year under our new label Wickerman Records. Though we’re looking forward to the release, we don’t like to sit idly by waiting around either. We’re already well into the creative process of album number 5. De Profundis will also be hitting the road shortly after the release of the album with two of death metal’s biggest names, where we intend to help as many people unfortunate enough to not know of us as possible by exposing them to the Kingdom of the Blind.

De Profundis – Kingdom of the Blind (Review)

De ProfundisThis is the fourth album from UK Death Metallers De Profundis.

After 2014’s EP teaser Frequencies, (two tracks of which make an appearance on Kingdom of the Blind), this album fleshes out their Progressive/Technical Death Metal sound to a fuller 52 minutes.

The band continue with their technical Death-worship and have created an album that’s a comprehensive overview of their Death Metal worldview. Like their heroes, De Profundis make sure that the song is never lost within the technical framework and have the talent necessary to play such ambitious music. Like the wonderful Execration, they are doing their best to keep the spirit of Death alive while putting infusing the style with their own personality and spin.

De Profundis like their songs technical and involving, with plenty of syncopation and off-kilter ideas amidst the blast beats. The songs are all around the 5-minute mark, or longer, giving the band ample time to show off what they can do. The performance levels are high and the entire package is very accomplished. I must also mention the bass, especially; I really like what the bassist contributes to these songs.

The deep vocals are like thunder claps and punctuate the songs like bruises. These help to provide a different identity for the band than if they had opted for higher, more Death-esque vocals, and act as a blunt counterpoint to the sharpness of the music.

Kingdom of the Blind is an impressive release from a band who are not content to be average.

Highly recommended.

Interview with De Profundis

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De Profundis have recently released their latest EP Frequencies, which has been receiving a lot of praise from every quarter with the band even being involved in a promotional tie-in with fabled UK Extreme Metal magazine Terrorizer. I asked Shoi Sen some questions and here’s what he had to say…

Give us a bit of background to De Profundis

De Profundis started life in 2005 when Craig (Vocals) and our ex guitarist Roman met in a pub to discuss how to take over the metal world, the meeting was interrupted by Roman’s father who wasn’t happy that his underage son was in a pub with a older man, maybe he thought his son would be ‘followed home then killed’! The band released its first album Beyond Redemption in 2007 followed by 2 more albums and more recently our first EP ‘Frequencies’. The band evolved from playing some form of Progressive doom and now is firmly entrenched in delivering bone crushing progressive Death Metal.

What are your influences?

This is always the difficult question because our influences are so diverse. On the metal side the usual suspects like Death, Morbid Angel, Maiden, King Diamond etc. But also our schizophrenic side would come from early Queen and Zappa so you see difficult to really pin down. Its fair to say De Profundis operates like the Borg, we are a collective of musicians, with well assimilated influences and once you hear us all resistance will be futile 🙂

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

We’ve just toured with Demonic Resurrection from India, they are very good and an awesome bunch of guys. Otherwise if I was to recommend you stuff it would more old school music, I don’t tend to listen to current stuff much to be honest, nothing really grabs me. I can tell you what I wouldn’t recommend though, that one string wankery called Tech Metal/Djent with shit autotuned pop vocals.
What did you want to achieve with your new EP?

We have a number of goals for this EP. Musically showcase our new ethos of going for the throat earlier. Commercially although this EP is free we wanted a maximum of people to hear it share it and create a buzz around us, which is actually happening. Generally the reviews so far have been very positive but a few have questioned our more direct approach. What I can say is that the album which is also ready covers the wider range of De Profundis’ music, with this EP we wanted to showcase our more direct songs.

Your style has changed over time; how do you feel this release has progressed your sound since your previous work?

As mentioned previously our songs are more about going to the point earlier in general, that’s the major shift or progression from the previous album. Also with the arrival of Paul (Guitar) last September we had a new toy to play with (I am referring to his musical talents), his riffs were even more crazy than what I came up with so the sound of the EP has a lot to do with the way this new line up just gelled instantly.

Are you happy with how it turned out?

Yes once we got rid of Roman and Paul joined the writing went really quick and it was an awesome creative period. In previous writing sessions I always felt drained with all the infighting caused by one person in the band, and basically couldn’t get myself back in a writing mode for over a year. Now I can’t wait to start writing again.

De Profundis BandWhat can you tell us about the lyrics?

Craig our vocalist is the man to talk to about lyrics but unfortunately he is currently away on holiday so won’t be able to contribute and I don’t want to interpret his lyrics for him.

Give us a bit of information on your songwriting process.

We write as a band. Either Paul or myself will bring some riffs to rehearsal and then we jam the ideas we have and looks at what would work together. We spend a lot of time thinking about transitions, we have a real fear of writing songs where parts don’t transition into each other smoothly, which some prog metal bands tend to do.

How did the link with the Terrorizer promotion come about?

Miranda Yardley the owner of Terrorizer is a fan of De Profundis so when I approached her about using Terrorizer’s distribution to release the EP she was very receptive so it worked out great.

How do you see your position in the wider Death Metal musical framework/genre?

We are here to become a major player in the death metal scene. I think there are too many bands our there playing Death Metal forgetting about writing songs, so we are there for people who want their death metal to be brutal, melodic and technical with full of hooks which makes them come back to our music over and over again.

I hear you’re planning a new album – what can you tell us about this?

The EP and album were actually written and recording during the same session so the album is also ready. We are now trying to sort out a label to release it. Hopefully we will be in a position to get the album late this year early 2015.

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

At the moment its too early to say as we’ve just finished writing this album a few months ago, but I think we will carry evolving into the death metal genre whilst maintaining our progressive elements. I imagine in the future we will come back to longer song structures but at the moment we are enjoying playing shorter punchier songs. And it’s a lot easier to build a set list with shorter songs.

What’s next for De Profundis?

Well we are playing Bloodstock in 2 weeks time which we are very excited about. Its been 6 years since we last played that fest and we have done so much in that time. After that we are currently in negotiations about a tour with a pretty big name in Death Metal so if that happens it would be a great opportunity for De Profundis. When we are planning this EP and Album cycle we had one word in our mind and that’s touring, touring and touring. So our agents Nazgul are working on a whole bunch of potential tours for us so expect to see us everywhere over the next 18 months!

Thanks!

De Profundis – Frequencies (Review)

De ProfundisDe Profundis are from the UK and this is their latest EP of Progressive/Technical Death Metal.

The band have a deep sound that showcases the technical riffing and aggressive nature of their music.

The drumming is all over the shop, but in a very good way; they’re not afraid of using unusual rhythms and off-kilter beats.

This description also applies to the rest of the music, although the band do throw in some melodies and leads here and there when needed.

Apart from the vocals, which are low and deep, the band remind of Death at their most Progressive and Experimental. Indeed; the last song out of the 4 tracks here is a Death cover of the song Crystal Mountain.

Brutality is still a factor in their sound though; this is Death Metal after all. This brutality is offset with sharpened riffs and fretboard exploration that never allows it to become too bludgeoning; rather this is extreme in a different way. It’s technically precise and musically demanding.

At 20 minutes in length this is a decent showcase for the band and allows them to display their musical wizardry to good effect.

A worthwhile listen.