Saturday, October 14, 2017

Rotem/Fuck Your God/Rot' Em Records/2017 EP Review

 Rotem  are  a  solo  project  from  Portugal  that  has  been   featured  before  in  this  zine  and  plays  a  blackened  form  of  death  metal  with  a  punk  attitude  and  this  is  a  review  of  their  2017  ep  "Fuck  Your  God"  which  was  released  by  Rot'  Em  Records.

  A  very  heavy  guitar  sound  starts  off  the  ep  before going  into  a  very  fast  musical  direction  which  also  uses  a  great  amount  of  blast  beats  while  the  vocals  are  a  mixture  of  death  metal  growls  and  black  metal  screams  along  with  the  riffs  also  bringing  in  a  great  amount  of    dark  sounding  melodie.

  All  of  the  musical  instruments  on  the  recording  have  a  very  powerful  sound  to  them  while the  music  is  heavily  rooted  in  both  the  80's  and  tradition  of  black  and  death  metal  along  with  the  tracks  also  bringing  in  a  great  mixture  of  slow,  mid  paced  and  fast  parts,  when  guitar  solos  and  leads  are  utilized  they  are  done  in  a  very  melodic  fashion  and  they  close  the  ep  with  cover's  of  Black  Flag's  "Terrorist  Story"  and  Anti  Nowhere  League's  "Lets  Start  A  War".

  Rotem  plays  a  style  of  blackened  death  metal  that  is  very  old school  while  also  adding  in  elements  of  punk,  the  production  sounds  very  old  school  while  the  lyrics  cover  war,  anti  Christian  and  anti  Islamic  themes.

  In  my  opinion  this  is  another  great  sounding  recording  from  Rotem  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  blackened  death  metal  and  punk,  you  should  check  out  this  ep.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  "Fuck  Your  God"  and  "Nuke'  Em  All".  8  out  of  10.

Moonspell/1755/Napalm Records/2017 CD Review

  Moonspell  are  a  band  from  Portugal that  has  been  around  for  more  than  20  years  and  plays  a  mixture  of  black,  goth  and  dark  metal  and  this  is  a  review  of  their  2017  album  "!755"  which  will  be  released  in  November  by  Napalm  Records.

  Atmospheric  keyboards  start  off  the  album  along  with  some  whispered  vocals  a  few  seconds  later  as  well  as  a  small  amount  of  stringed  instruments  which  also  gives  the  songs  more  of  a  symphonic  feeling  while  angry  vocals  which  are  also  influenced  by  black  metal  are  also  a  very  huge  part  of  the  recording.

  Male  and  female  choir  vocals  can  also  be  heard  briefly  while  spoken  word  parts  are  also  utilized  at  times  along  with  some  tracks  also  bringing  in  a  small  amount  of  clean  playing  and  electronic  musical  elements  and  they  also  mix  the  classical  influenced  sound  in  with  the  heavier  sections  of  the  music.

  When  growls  are  utilized  they  add  in  a  touch  of  death  metal  while  the  riffs  also  bring  in  a  decent  amount  of  melody  along  with  the  solos  and  leads  being  done  in  a  very  melodic  fashion  and  elements  of  ethnic/world  music  can  also  be  heard  in  certain  sections  of  the  recording,  all of  the  musical  instruments  have  a  very  powerful  sound to  them  and  when  clean  vocals  are  utilized  they  add  in  a  touch  of  goth  rock.

  On  this  recording  Moonspell  remains  true  to  their  dark  metal  style  of  previous  recording  while  also  experimenting  more  with  classical  and  world  music  as  well  as  continuing  their  tradition  of  making  each  album  sound  different  from  each  other,  the  production  sounds  very  professional  while  the  lyrics  are  written  in  Portuguese  and  cover  the  culture  of  their  home  country  along  with  some  poetic  touches.

  In  my  opinion  this  is  another  great  sounding  recording  form  Moonspell  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  this  band,  you  should  enjoy  this  album.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  "1755"  "Abanao"  "Ruinas"  and  "Lanterna  Dos  Afogados".  8/5  out  of  10.  

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Devilpriest/Devil Inspired Chants/Pagan Records/2017 CD Review

  Devilpriest  are  a  band  from  Germany  that  plays  a  satanic  form  of  blackened  death  metal  and  this  is  a  review  of  their  2017  album  "Devil  Inspired  Chants"  which  will  be  released  in  November  by  Pagan  Records.

  A  very  heavy  sound  starts  off  the  album  along  with  some  dark  sounding  melodies  while  the  vocals  are  a  mixture  of  death  metal  growls  and  black  metal  screams  and  when  the  music  speeds  up  a  great  amount  of  blast  beats  can  be  heard  as  well  as  the  music  being  very  heavily  rooted  in  the  90's.
  When  solos  and  leads  are  utilized  they  remain  true  to  an  old  school  style  of  death  metal  while  the  songs  also  bring  in  a  great  mixture  of  slow,  mid  paced  and  fast  parts  along  with  the  faster  riffing  also  adding  in  a  decent  amount  of  tremolo  picking  and  the  music  always  remains  very  heavy  as  well  as  one  track  also  adding  in  a  brief  use  of  spoken  word  parts  and  all  of  the  musical  instruments  have  a  very  powerful  sound  to  them.

  Devilpriest  plays  a  musical  style  that  goes  back  to  the  blackened  death  metal  style  of  the  90's,  the  production  sounds  very  professional  while  the  lyrics  cover  Satanism,  Occultism  and  Blasphemous  themes. 

  In  my  opinion  Devilpriest  are  a  very  great  sounding  blackened  death  metal  band  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  this  musical  genre,  you  should  check  out  this  album.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  'Withstand  The  Holy  Ghost"  "Sacred  Orgy"  "Awaken  In  The  Presence  Of  Satan"  and  "Upon  The  Blasting  Winds".  8  out  of  10.  

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Serotonin Interview

1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the new ep?
We are currently continuing to pursue a course we set out on quite some time ago. The EP was a fairly spontaneous affair that sort of happened in the middle of it. In parallel to recording our previous full-length, ‘Provoke’, we had been writing a lot of the material for the next album. Since some of these songs are particularly challenging, writing them took a considerable amount of time. Moreover, recording, mixing, and mastering our material takes quite a bit of time. We do everything ourselves and we tend to make our lives rather difficult due to our multi-layered sound. In other words: it was always going to take a while before coming up with a successor to ‘Provoke’. To ease the pain of waiting, we decided to release ‘L’Enfer Gris’. We were particularly happy with the way ‘Graue Hölle’ turned out, so it was almost a no-brainer to base the EP around that song.
We completed a lyric video for ‘Graue Hölle’ just a few days ago. It can be found here:
Meanwhile, we managed to wrap up songwriting for the next album. Undoubtedly, the songs will be developed further once we start laying down the basic tracks, but that has been our modus operandi anyway. Once again, the process of making an album is rather painstaking, so don’t expect this album to see the light of day shortly. In the meantime,  there will be another EP. We’ve been writing rather prolifically recently, which resulted in a few new songs that we want to get out there. Also, our recording equipment has just been upgraded significantly, so it makes sense to record an EP rather than a full-length. Working on just a few songs allows us to get comfortable with the new gear and experiment a bit with the sound.

2.In June you had released a new ep, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
‘L’Enfer Gris’ is, first and foremost, a short sharp shock. That is intentional.  ‘Provoke’ was our most ambitious release to date, by a stretch. Several songs on that album are very long and the sheer number of audio tracks is staggering. On the EP we wanted to tone it down a little bit. We still go all out now and then. 12 layers of vocals aren’t that unusual for us, but mostly it’s drums, bass, 2-3 guitars and 1 or 2 tracks of vocals. When we do start adding layers to that, it adds contrast and dynamics. Essentually, that didn’t necessarily make life any easier: when you record less, every note counts.
The opener, ‘Graue  Hölle’ is the song most representative of our sound. It’s a fast and aggressive composition with a few twists and turns, especially in the vocals and the guitars. Overall, it gravitates to the black metal end of our spectrum. Closer ‘Grey Hell’ is essentially another take on the same concept, but the sound of this song is particularly inspired by Aeternus. ‘Hosannas From The Basements Of Hell’ was lovingly borrowed from Killing Joke, but we definitely gave it the Serotonin treatment.

3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer music?
‘L’Enfer Gris’ follows a distinct lyrical concept. The image of Hell in the western world has fundamentally been shaped by Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’. Painters like Bosch visualised it and influenced our perception further. The East has a slightly different view, where it is not so much about eternal torment in the ever-burning flames, but rather a state of being. In particular, this means that when one lives a life devoid of joy and only filled with suffering, they are in Hell. Many people just trudge through existence, stuck in a life they do not desire. Rather than break out and seek joy or happiness, they stick within their own self-styled hell.
The German version references some famous German authors, though we prefer leaving it to our audience to scour through the lyrics and find all the references. The English version was written as a means to check the accuracy of what was intended with the lyrics. Eventually it morphed into its own song and serves as a counter point to German version.
Overall, we are happy to say we have a virtually unlimited source of inspiration: human stupidity. Whether we approach it from a religious, (neuro-)scientific, philosophical, psychological or historical perspective, all our lyrics explore the less than overwhelming, or overwhelmingly oblivious, aspects of humanity.

4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name ‘Serotonin’?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical substance in the brain that allows nerve cells to communicate which each other. People who have been going through some sort of depression might recognise the name, as many antidepressant drugs alter the concentration of serotonin in the brain. It is too simple to say that a lack of serotonin causes depression, but we can definitely establish that serotonin affects everyone’s mood. Moreover, the realisation that our deepest thoughts and emotions are driven by chemical reactions, and vice versa, is vital to understanding human nature and its inherent tendency for stupidity. There is a beautiful paradox to be found in that: humans have always tried to transcend the restrictions of the human body and its chemical reactions, trying to find some kind of ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’. Many people don’t like the thought of being reduced to a set of chemical reactions, even if they describe themselves as atheists. At the same time, this whole search for ‘something’ to transcend the flesh is actually driven by those same chemical reactions!

5.Currently there are only 2 members in the band are you open to expanding the line-up, or do you prefer to remain a duo?
The band started as a 4-piece but that line-up didn’t last very long. The main reason behind that was a significant difference in dedication between the band members. Musicians who are not willing to make an effort to push themselves and the band forward are, frankly, not welcome in Serotonin. We don’t necessarily want to remain a duo though. Communication between us is very efficient and working as a duo really allowed us to learn a lot about every single aspect of composing and recording music. However, we do feel that our live sound in particular would benefit greatly from at least one other band member. Sander plays both guitar and bass on the recordings, which is something we obviously cannot do live.
Most importantly, we are very open to the idea of other people contributing to our sound. We have worked with several guest musicians in the past, which can be really exciting. Allowing someone else to add their own touch to a song can lead to surprising results. We are particularly proud of ‘Gamma Aminobutyric Acid Jazz’, from the second album. The violin part took the song to a whole new level. 

6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
We don’t play live very often, but when we do, a great deal of effort goes into it. Opening for Svart Crown and Ulcerate a couple of years ago was probably our best show in terms of attendance and exposure. However, we have developed our live sound since then, so our most recent shows stand out as the ones we remember most fondly. Also, those shows finally allowed us to play outside the Nijmegen area, which is vital.
Serotonin’s live sound is considerably more stripped down in comparison to the recordings. It’s mostly just one guitar, a drum machine and vocals. That may not sound like much, but we make up for it in sheer ferocity. Our live drum samples are quite a bit gnarlier than their studio counterparts, and the guitar tone is quite abrasive, especially in the songs we play on baritone guitar. Moreover, it has to be intense: if we aren’t completely destroyed after a set, we didn’t work hard enough.

7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
Not right now, but we should definitely make something happen sooner rather than later. We haven’t played any shows this year due to personal reasons but the time is right to change that, especially with the new EP out in the world. As said before, it would be great to expand the line-up with a third member, as this would certainly benefit our live sound, but we don’t intend to wait until that happens.

8.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
We certainly won’t say no to any serious offers from credible labels and it would help a lot in terms of exposure and promotion, but looking for a label is not our number one priority. We are able to write and record our music. We can release it through various online platforms. We value having this amount of control over our releases. It would be great to see our music released on vinyl and to find our albums in stores all over the world, but right now that’s simply not the case. There is no reason to be held back by that though. Rather, we focus on creating music that excites us and allows us to grow as musicians. 
Realistically, most any band is looking to find an ever expanding audience. A good label can be of tremendous value there.

9.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black and death metal?
One of the great aspects of the internet is that our music somehow reaches the most remote corners of the world. We’ve been getting some feedback from very unexpected places.  Overall, most of the feedback has been very positive, and we got some feedback from musicians we respect a lot. That’s always a morale boost. At the same time, one of the internet’s drawbacks is its scale: there are just so many bands out there that it’s virtually impossible to overcome the anonymity of being just one of them. This can be frustrating. We hear even from well-respected musicians with longstanding careers that it’s almost impossible to get their new bands signed or properly promoted. We find the self-promotional aspect of being in a band rather dull and uninspiring and prefer to concentrate on creating music that stands out from the crowd. Whenever we do get recognition for that, it is very rewarding.

10.When can we expect another full length and also where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
As mentioned before, our third full-length is more or less completely written and we expect to start recording it in the next few months. We are very excited about those songs, and quite a few of them already snuck into our live set. Compared to earlier work our new material is a bit more immediate and mostly really brutal. There will be several songs in between that are very, very different though.
Lyrically, it’s going to be a very dark one, as the album will explore themes such as human weakness and (the fear of) death itself.

11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
It’s not easy to keep this short. Obviously, there is a strong black metal element to our sound. Bands such as Abigor, Deathspell Omega, Ved Buens Ende, Dødheimsgard, Obtained Enslavement, and Limbonic Art, to name but a few of our favourites, have definitely influenced us. Our influences reach far beyond the limitations of black metal, or metal in general, though. It doesn’t really matter if it’s metal, jazz, classical music, trip hop or Tibetan chanting; there can be hidden gems everywhere.  The thing that those artists usually push the limits or what they’re doing, not allowing their music to become stale.
A few albums that we find particularly inspiring are Celtic Frost’s ‘Monotheist’ and Killing Joke’s ‘Hosannas From The Basements Of Hell’ (hence our little tribute on the EP). Also, never underestimate Queen. Their approach to arranging and producing music in the mid seventies has been a vast source of inspiration.
2.What are some of your non musical interests?
Again, it’s very tempting to write an essay on this, but let’s not do that. Music is a big part of our lives, but there is more. We definitely enjoy the finer things in life: reading, traveling or a fine glass of whisky. Other than that, we both have very fulfilling professional lives, which allow us to attack and reduce human stupidity by making some smart individuals a bit smarter. At least that’s what we try. It is important to practice what you preach, isn’t it?

13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
First of all: Thank you.
Secondly, in the words of a very distraught man:
O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Samael/Hegemony/Napalm Records/2017 CD Review

  Switzerland's  Samael  have  returned  with  a  new  recording  which  shows  them  continue  the  industrial  style  of  black  metal  from  previous  releases  and  this  is  a  review  of  their  2017  album  "Hegemony"  which  will  be  released  in  October  by  Napalm  Records.

  Epic  sounding  synths  start  off  the  album  and  also  mixes  in  with  the  heavier  sections  of  the  music  while  black  metal  style  vocals  are  added  onto  the  recording  a  few  seconds  later  along  with  the  riffs  also  bringing  in  a  decent  amount  of  melody  and  the  spoken  word  parts  also  add  in  a  touch  of  goth.

  Elements  of  industrial are  also  utilized  at  times  while  back  up  gang  shouts  are  also  added  into  certain  sections  of  the  recording  along  with  all  of  the  musical  instruments  also  having  a  very  powerful  sound  to  them,  blast  beats  can  also  be  heard  briefly  on  a  couple  of  the  tracks  when  the  music  speeds  up  and  the  main  focus  is  more  on  a  mid  paced  direction  and  they  close  the  album  with  a  cover  of  The  Beatles's  "Helter  Skelter".

  Samael creates  another  recording  that  remains  true  to  the  industrial  style  of  black  metal  from  previous  releases  while  also  adding  in  the  heaviness  of  their  earlier  material,  the  production  sounds  very  professional  while  the  lyrics  cover  space,  discovery,  spirituality  and  political  themes.

  In  my  opinion  this  is  another  great  sounding  recording  from  Samael  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  this  band,  you  should  enjoy  this  album.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  "Samael"  "Red  Planet"  "This  World"  and  "Dictate  Of  Transparency".   8  out  of  10. 


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Desolate Shrine/Deliverance From The Godless Void/Dark Descent Records/2017 CD Review

  Finland's  Desolate  Shrine  have  returned  with  a  new  recording  that  continues  their  blackened  mixture  of  death  and  doom  metal  and  this  is  a  review  of   their  2017  album  "Deliverance  From  The  Godless  Void"  which  will  be  released  in  November  by  Dark  Descent  Records.

  A  very  fast  and  brutal  sound  starts  off  the  album  along  with  a  great  amount  of  tremolo  picking  and  blast  beats  while  all  of  the  musical  instruments  have  a  very  powerful  sound  to  them  as  well  as  the  vocals  being  a  mixture  of  death  metal  growls  and  black  metal  screams  and  elements  of  doom  metal  can  be  heard  in  the  slower  riffing.

  Throughout  the  recording  you  can  hear  a  great  mixture  of  slow,  mid  paced  and  fast  parts  while  the  solos  and  leads  are  done  in  a  very  dark  yet  melodic  fashion  along  with  most  of  the  tracks  also  being  very  long  and  epic  in  length  and  as  the  album  progresses  a  brief  use  of  dark  sounding  synths,  whispers  and  acoustic  guitars  can  also  be  heard  as  well  a s the  main  focus  being  more  on  a  heavier  style.  

  Desolate  Shrine  creates  another  recording  that  remains  true  to  the  blackened  mixture  of  death  and  doom  metal  from  previous  releases,  the  production  sounds  very  professional  while  the  lyrics  cover  Misanthropy,  Nihilism,  Negativity  and  Occultism  themes,

  In  my  opinion  this  is  another  great  sounding  recording  from  Desolate Shrine  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  black,  death  and  doom  metal,  you  should  check  out  this  album.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  "The  Primordial  One"  "Demonic  Evocation  Prayer"  and  "...Of  Hell".  8  out  10.     

Friday, September 22, 2017

Kartikeya/Samudra/Apathia Records/2017 CD Review

  Kartikeya  are  a  band  from  Russia  that  plays  a  musical  style  they  describe  as  being  'carnatic  metal'  which  mixes  black,  death  and  groove  metal  with  elements  of  Arabic  and  Indian  folk  music  and  this  is  a  review  of  their  2017  album  "Samudra"  which  will  be  released  in  October  by  Apathia  Records.

  Nature  sounds  start  off  the  album  along  with  some  heavy  yet  melodic  riffing  that  adds  in   elements  of  groove  metal  and  djent  while  also  having  symphonic  synths  in  the  background  and  the  vocals  are death  metal  growls  with  some  groove  metal  touches  and  when  the  music  speeds  up  a  great  amount  of  blast  beats  can  be  heard.

  Elements  of  blackened  death  metal  can  be  heard  in  the  faster  sections  of  the  songs  while  touches  of  prog  metal  are  also  added  into  the  mid  tempo  sections  of  the  songs  along  with  a  great  amount  of  Arabic  and  Indian  folk  music  also  being  mixed  in  the  songs  which  also  gives  the  music  more  of  an  ethnic  feeling.

  Melodic  vocals  can  also  be  heard  at  times  while  a  great  portion  of  the  tracks  are  very  long  and  epic  in  length  along  with  the  riffs also  bringing  in  a  decent  amount  of  melody  and  the  songs  also  bring  in  a  great  mixture  of  slow,  mid  paced  and  fast  parts  as  well  as  a brief  use  of  grim  black  metal  screams  and  as  the  album  progresses  a  brief use  of  female  vocals  can  also  be  heard  and  some  of  the  later  tracks  also  add  in  a  small  amount  of  acoustic  guitars.

  Kartikeya  plays  a  musical  style  that  takes  black,  death  and  groove  metal  and  mixes  it  with  Arabic  and  Hindi  folk  music  to  create  something  very  original,  the  production  sounds  very  professional  while  the  lyrics  cover  Eastern  Mythology,  Philosophy  and  Hinduism  themes.

  In  my  opinion  Kartikeya  are  a  very  great  sounding  mixture  of  black,  death,  groove  metal,  Arabic  and  Hindi  folk  music  and  if  you  are  looking  for  something  very  original,  you  should  check  out  this  band.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  "Tandava"  "Mask  Of  The  Blind"  "We  Shall  Never  Die"  and  "Tunnels  of  Naraka".  8  out  of  10.