Interview with Lethe

Lethe LogoLethe have been responsible for one of the best multi-textural dark-Rock albums of some time in their début album When Dreams Become Nightmares. I asked them some questions to see how it all came about…

Hi! For those who are unfamiliar with your band, introduce yourself!

Tor-Helge Skei (THS): Hi everybody! We are Lethe.. 🙂 We’re a Norwegian/Swiss band, or project, consisting of Anna Murphy (Eluveitie, solo, Fräkmundt, nucleus torn, and heaps of other bands/projects) and Tor-Helge Skei (Manes, Manii, Kkoagulaa, etc.).

As Lethe is comprised of members of other bands, how did this project come about?

THS: Mostly by chance, actually. I posted something on my blog a while ago, about me thinking abut doing an album of cover songs, and wondering where I could start looking for vocalists and contributors to that. Shortly after, I got an email from Anna, and we almost immediately started working on a few songs (among others, ‘Hutterite Mile’ by 16 Horsepower). It didn’t take long before we just knew we had to do more music together…and the idea about Lethe was born..

Anna Murphy (A): A journalist (singer of Three Days of Silence) contacted me because Tor-Helge was looking for musical collaborators. So we got in touch, started on some music, finished some cover songs and decided to do a real project.

Lethe 1Is it important to keep Lethe a fully separate entity from Manes/Eluveitie?

THS: The chemistry in the various bands and between the members are quite different, and that influences how we approach music and presentation and everything, so there’s not much real effort being done keeping them separate, really. It comes naturally.

A: Well with Eluveitie it’s pretty obvious that Lethe has nothing to do with it apart from some members maybe pitching in from time to time, but Lethe and Manes share a lot of the same collaborators so there’s more connection there. I can imagine doing shows together and combined things like that, but of course they’re still to be looked at as separate projects.

What were the influences you drew on for the sound of Lethe?

THS: Oh, the usual, I guess. Life, death, mental processes, nightmares. Everything that happen/s/ed in our lives.

A: Lyrically as well as musically we have no limits, that’s probably what influences us most, because then we can draw inspiration from everywhere 🙂

The songs are multi-textured and very well composed. How did the writing process work for this album?

Lethe aloneTHS: I can only speak for myself, but it’s quite similar to how the ‘writing’ is done in the other bands/projects I’m involved with…chaotic, unplanned, whimsical…the music kind of grows on its own, and we just follow along 🙂

A: All hail the internet. Most of it was done by exchanging files back and forth. Most of the initial sketches came from Tor-Helge and I built my parts on top of them. To finalize everything and also record some things together I went on a trip to Trondheim.

Do you feel you accomplished what you set out to with this release?

THS: Yeah, since we had no concrete plans for the final result. It was more like pushing it in a direction we would like to see it go.

A: Yes!

What would you do differently next time, if anything?

THS: Hmm.. Anna talks about some smaller mixing and audio issues she would like to do better on the next album, but I don’t hear much of that 🙂 She works in a studio, and is a lot more focused on sound quality and frequencies and stuff like that, while I’m obsessed with the general feeling and mood only. I guess we’ll do it quite similar to how we made this album, but with other songs and ideas, of course. Actually, we’re working on a set of songs for the next album already, even if the first one isn’t officially released yet 😀

A: Nothing except maybe the mixing. I’m not quite 100% happy with it and I’m learning more and more each day so I think the next one will sound better 🙂

How do you feel this album fits into the wider music scene?

THS: A little on ‘the outside’ of everything, I guess. Never been interested in being in the middle of any genres or milieus. For me, the exploration of new and unknown musical paths is massively satisfying and motivating, but I have no idea if the ‘general music listener’ thinks like that. Can’t start focusing on the potential reaction while making music! The only thing that would do, is putting breaks on the creative process. No way.

A: I have no idea if it fits anywhere, but I don’t really care either.

Lethe 2What are you listening to at the moment that you want to recommend?

THS: It’s been a lot of Lethe and Manes lately, of course, because of the new albums from both. Apart from that…varied stuff, mainly…Dälek, Shpongle, Blut Aus Nord, Jega, Ggfh, Billie Holiday, Buddy Rich,

A: Frostmoon Eclipse, they’re cool

What does the future hold for Lethe?

THS: New music, new albums, new personal horror stories.

A: No idea, let’s see! 🙂

Thanks!

Megascavenger – At the Plateaus of Leng (Review)

MegascavengerThe latest Megascavenger album, (a project of Rogga Johansson), contains quite the list of guest vocalists – just have a look at the line up, (taken from the promo blurb) –

1. At The Plateaus Of Leng (Vocals by DAVE INGRAM of Bolt Thrower/Benediction)

2. The Festered Earth (Vocals by KAM LEE of Massacre)

3. And Then The Death Sets In (Vocals by AAD KLOOSTERWAARD of Sinister)

4. The Mucus Man (Vocals by MARTIN VAN DRUNEN of Asphyx/Hail of Bullets)

5. Like Comets Burn The Ether (Vocals by DAVE ROTTEN of Avulsed)

6. When Death Kills The Silence (Vocals by FELIX STASS of Crematory)

7. The Hand Of Bereavment (Vocals by ILKKA JARVENPÄÄ of National Napalm Syndicate)

8. Back To The Ancient (Vocals by BRYNJAR HELGETUN of Crypticus)

9. Night Of The Grand Obscenity (Vocals by ROGGA JOHANSSON)

If that’s not enough to get expectations running high I don’t know what is.

This album is full of melodic Old-School Death Metal goodness, but also a few unexpected turns such as the clean vocals/keyboard side of The Festered Earth, or the cleans of The Hand of Bereavement. Variety is a good thing however and these little flourishes and touches just enhance the album as a whole.

At the Plateaus of Leng is crushing and without mercy, stomping and stamping on all who oppose. But more than brutality these songs are surprisingly melodic and succeed well in hooking the listener. The tracks march along easily enough, propelled by the mid-paced barrage of the drums and carried aloft by the tuneful guitars. Each song is well-written, being identifiable from the last and not just because of the different vocals. This is an album of songs rather than just a collection of tracks, and there are catchy moments in great supply.

All of the vocalists do a sterling job and add their own personality and character into each of the compositions. Each song may have a different vocalist but the album flows nicely and doesn’t sound disjointed or like a compilation album, even when they veer into more Heavy Metal territory with clean singing it still holds together well as a package.

A very accomplished release, chock full of classic Death Metal songs, each one as enjoyable as the last.

Chaos Inception – The Abrogation (Review)

Chaos InceptionUS Death Metallers Chaos Inception play such a chaotic whirlwind brand of Death Metal that it’s easy to get blown away by and miss out on just how much is going on in these 9 tracks.

Imagine a band like Morbid Angel only with the technicality and speed ramped up to the max. Chaos Inception mean business.

There is a relentless frenzied feeling to this album that is just short of an animalistic, instinctive craving for destruction. Having said that though there is nothing simple about this music; the band seem to have sharpened their attack to a fine point and the guitars in particular show some considerable musical muscle flexing.

It’s easy to like this kind of Death Metal, (assuming you’re a fan of complete extremity in the first place of course), as it just sweeps up anything in its path and dumps it unceremoniously into the grinder when it’s done. The instruments are all played extremely well, presumably by plague-ridden demons, and the album is just a treasure trove of brutal delights.

All of this adds up to an album that has a feeling of savage malevolence and ultra-violence. Chaos Inception will rip off your face and laugh at your misfortune. And they’ll do it at speed before you’ve even noticed.

For fans of real Extreme Metal only; if this is you then this is a must.

Legions of Crows – Stab Me (Review)

Legions of CrowsUK band Legions of Crows play Sludge Metal with a Blackened outer layer.

This brand of Blackened atmospheric Sludge is greatly enhanced by the presence of keyboards and other effects, which add  a layer of depth to the already thick torrent of misery peddled by Legions of Crows.

They also have an ear for a good riff, the effect of which is never to be underestimated. Second track Fellating the Lamb is a great example of this; it crawls along for the most part sounding really sinister and malevolent, with Black Metal shrieks burning over the top of it. Unexpectedly it then rises above the fog into a mid-song gallop with a guitar solo, before inevitably waning, slowing down and falling back into the murk with dying wails. Great stuff.

That’s one of the most enjoyable things about this album – they have plenty of variety and a grasp of mood and songs to envy.

The combination of Gothic keyboards/Black Metal influences and filthy Sludge may not appeal to everyone. Most bands who combine Black Metal and Doom usually do so from the point of view of the harsher, dirtier side of both genres, making the melding of sounds easier as there is less distance to traverse. Legions of Crows however choose the path less travelled and combine the filthy, dirty side of Sludge with the more Gothic side of Black Metal. The overall result of course is bound to still sound on the grim side, but the keyboards have largely avoided the corruption and the juxtaposition of both is a pleasant surprise and largely works in the album’s favour.

Interestingly Paul Di’Anno also makes an appearance on the album, which in keeping with a lot of Stab Me is an unexpected turn of events, but a good one.

The recording is functional and does the job, and I’ve certainly heard worse, but I would prefer the drum sound to be slightly more hard-hitting next time. This is only a minor quibble though, as the sound serves the album well enough.

A very interesting release with plenty of individuality and character. I’ll certainly be listening to this quite a bit more and watching what they do next.

Pyramido – Saga (Review)

PyramidoSwedish Sludge/Doom band Pyramido return with their third full-length Saga.

Slow, heavy and crushing is the way of Saga. Hulking great walls of guitar noise crash around you as tortured shouts assault your senses, topped off with lonesome melodies that seem at the same time both disconnected and essential to the music.

Haunting passages and gargantuan riffs share space in the songs and all the time the sense of utter Doom and despair is all-pervading. At least it would be all-pervading if it wasn’t for the quasi-hopeful melodic streak that adorns the album like a partially obscured crown, making appearances here and there to spread optimism only to be torn asunder again and again like the darkness eating the light.

Even the album cover draws you in; a promise of a hot fire on a cold night – sanctuary from the dark. All the time the frigid, gloomy woods creep ever closer and creatures stir within, hidden from sight.

This is a release that grows on you like an infection, revealing its next bleak gift with every repeated visit. Each listen brings you closer to damnation while promising redemption. It’s insidious.

Get lost in this album if you dare. You may not return, but what sweet release awaits?

Pus Vomit – Stoned To Death (Review)

Pus VomitPhilippine Brutal Death Metal band Pus Vomit have released their new EP Stoned To Death, packed to the rafters full of pig-noise, slam-downs and slaughter.

This is out-and-out brutality that worships the crushing, mid-paced attack of Death Metal as much as the out-and-out blast; and there is plenty of both. They play fast and slow equally well, but the slower parts can sometimes be so oppressive in their heaviness that they’re worthy of special note.

For only a three-piece, (with no bassist), they don’t half play an almighty racket. Proper Brutal Death Metal played for the sheer bloodthirsty fun of it. 5 tracks in 19 minutes means it doesn’t outstay its welcome; it simply enters the room, kills everyone in sight, stays briefly to molest the bodies and then leaves through a hole in the wall which it makes with a sledgehammer.

There’s even time to tack on a “hidden song” at the end of the last track, which is apparently a re-recorded version of one of the first songs they ever recorded.

There is nothing new here but that’s not the point; this is all about ripping, tearing, slashing and hacking your way through the corpses to the sound of dying pigs. And who can honestly say they don’t enjoy a bit of that in the morning?

Ritual – The Resurrection (Review)

RitualHere we have some Black Metal from the US in the form of Ritual.

It starts off all plinky-plinky, (a technical term), before the drums start and then a mournful guitar sweeps in. It’s an unexpected entry into the album as I was ready for a more traditional blastbeat-heavy entrance, (probably after some perfunctory intro), so this was a welcome change of pace.

This is early 90’s-style Black Metal with a sorrowful NWOBHM edge to it, and highly enjoyable it is to.

The vocalist is full of passion and has a good set of lungs which he uses to scream praises of evil and hate. The vocal rhythms fit perfectly over the mid-paced riffs and the songs are simple but effective.

Short songs with good composition rule the roost and melodic guitars slip easily into the ear.

This is an easy album to listen to; the scything, razor-edged vocals and the Black melodies dripping with scorn and melancholy create an enjoyable listen. Recommended.

Brutally Deceased – Dead Lovers’ Guide (Review)

Brutally DeceasedFrom the Czech Republic Brutally Deceased play Old-School Death Metal in the Swedish style.

Instantly bringing to mind acts such as Dismember and Grave, as well as the fact that the last song on the album is a Dismember cover and they’re named after a Grave song; you’ll soon realise that this band like their Swedish Death Metal. A lot. Added to the fact that the album has that Swedish sound and you’ll soon be unpacking that old chainsaw and setting it to work once more.

Like rediscovering a lost friend, the album explodes out of the speakers with the chainsaw buzz-riffs sawing away at your ears while the short, sharp vocals bite deep into your flesh.

This may not be highly original, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for in passion and enthusiasm. If you’re looking for the very latest in new things then look away as this is not for you, but if you like a solid slab of hero-worship and can’t get enough of classic Swedish Death Metal then you should definitely check this out. The fact that the band don’t actually come from Sweden is irrelevant.

A highly enjoyable trek down memory lane. Taken by itself this is a strong Old-School Death Metal album. The guitars roar, the drums pound and the vocals damage. They’ve succeeded in getting me moving; check them out and see if they can do the same for you.

Root – Viginti Quinque Annis In Scaena (Review)

RootComing from the Czech Republic; Root play Black/Dark Metal and this is a live album spanning the band’s 25 year career.

The songs are veritable feasts of riffery that show the origins of Black Metal and darkened Thrash and are used effectively to create highly enjoyable Old-School Metal. Well-written songs in the hands of veteran Metallers was always going to end well.

The vocals are experimental, playful, varied and above all commanding and powerful – this is a singer who knows exactly what his voice is capable of and revels in showing off its abilities. He lends a very unique sheen to an already strong musical passage.

Boasting a raw yet clear and dynamic sound; this live album really makes you feel part of the show. More than just a recorded document it allows the songs to breathe and flex their considerable musical muscles and expand into your head so that you can feel the blood, sweat and passion exuded by the band.

A lot of live albums fall short of the mark for me, but this one does everything it is meant to do. As an overview and celebration of Root it’s just a great performance.

Coraxo – Starlit Flame (Review)

CoraxoComing from Finland, Coraxo play Industrial Death Metal with a strong Aliens theme running through the tracks on this release.

After a suitable intro we get first song Signal Detected which positively bounces along in a jolly, sci-fi kind of way; melodic Death Metal under a covering of electronics and effects; like At The Gates/Dark Tranquillity and The Kovenant/Deathstars/Neurotech fighting it out.

There are some pleasing riffs churned out, with the effects adding additional depth without smothering the actual Metal. This is a band using the electronica to enhance the Metal and the theme of the songs rather than to be a novelty or for wider commercial appeal.

With this kind of music there is a lot that can go wrong, and as usual this is very subjective so it does depend on the interpretation of the listener of course, (as always). For me this EP tends to largely be on the right side of the potential hazards; the electronics and effects are prominent but not overbearing; the guitars have substance and are not just there for show; the vocalist has bite and is not interested in being the next Marilyn Manson; the music is dark enough to avoid any potential “Cheese Factor”. I’m calling victory here.

The more I listen to this the more I fall for its charms. It has its own character and personality. It’s also very catchy in places. Xenotaph in particular. Tacked on the end of the EP is a cover of Sepultura’s Refuse/Resist that ends proceedings nicely.

If your taste in Metal runs to the less-conventional then check out Coraxo and see if you fall for their sci-fi sound.