Sunday, February 27, 2011
In case you couldn't tell, sitting between the Scotts was rather intimidating and I was super nervous and fidgety. Thanks to Dave and Liz of Earsplit PR for this awesome opportunity! Be sure to pick up the Scott Kelly/Wino split 7" from Volcom (yes, the skating/clothing company)
-Jon & Johan
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
How are you? It is an honor to have you speak with us!
Hi Bjørn, It's nice to talk to you again as well.
What made you want to start this label?
I started Hypnotic Dirge out of the relatively simple idea that I wanted to be in control of my own destiny when it came to releasing my music under the moniker 'Ancient Tundra' when that project was active. Writing this now in 2011, this feels like a long time ago, as I was 18 at the time and things have changed with the label and in my own life quite a lot since then. Over time, the work with the label overtook my desire to continue writing new music for the Ancient Tundra project, and at this point I am taking a pretty long break from music to focus mainly on the record label as well as other creative mediums such as photography or video projects whenever possible. Actually the label has become much more of a full-time thing then was originally intended. Some people might be able to balance running a label and a full-time music project at the same time but I don't think I'm one of those people. Not at the moment anyway, especially with university also taking a large chunk of my time!
Can you tell us about what your label is about?
Hypnotic Dirge Records aims to release emotional music within the metal genre. That sounds like a really broad generalization, but I feel like that is the best way to put it. By emotional music, I do mean "emo", nor do I mean "depressive black metal." It's not like there is anything wrong with Depressive Black Metal and in fact I have realeased some albums in the past that could be defined as such, but as a whole, the genre is way too restricting, so I don't like to define Hypnotic Dirge as having any specialties within any particular genre. Real art is meant to break boundaries, and not fall within a "safe zone" so I just want to keep releasing music that I feel deserves an outlet for as long as possible.
Tell us about the bands on your roster.
The active bands on Hypnotic Dirge Records at the moment are Exiled From Light, The Foetal Mind, netra, Ekove Efrits, Funeral Fornication, Astral Luminous, Neige et Noirceur, Old Forgotten Lands, and One Dark Curse
The roster has actually thinned out quite a bit lately due to the fact that there will not be any further Ancient Tundra, or Winds of Sorrow albums, and it's likely going to be quite a while before there are any new Exiled From Light, or Astral Luminous material, and also because of the fact that Immundus has moved on to Quartier23. Actually at the moment, for the first time in a while, I'm in a position where I am able to accept 1-2 new bands onto the roster so I am slowly going through demos, and listening to new ones even though I'm relunctant to make decisions since roster space is limited due to time and money restraints. (I just want to be sure I make the right decisions seeing as I'm only able to add a couple bands) I'm particularily looking for a couple of already established bands that are looking for a new label as was the case with Ekove Efrits whom I signed earlier this month.
Going back to your original question, I think every band on the roster brings something fresh to the label as a whole. netra, and Ekove Efrits - the two latest signings on HDR are both extremely unique and interesting projects and both of them represent EXACTLY the kind of music I want on HDR. Not in the sense that I want every band to sound exactly like these two, but in the sense that they are both unique projects who convey real emotions without being restricted by genre bariers.
What do you hope to accomplish with your label?
Keep a steady release schedule for years to come, Watch and help the current bands on the roster grow and develop, slowly find new and interesting additions for the roster, contribute whenever possible with videos, photography, and maybe the odd music project, and above all NEVER make any money from the label for personal things. Always feed money from sales back into new releases and merchandise, and never comprimise artistic integrity for fancy looking pieces of paper with official looking designs on them. Asides from that, no major plans and goals, don't look too far into the future!
What are your favorite bands on your roster?
Right now, I'm really into netra. I got a demo from that project back in June this year I think and I've been listening to the album pretty steadily ever since. I have probably heard it well over 50 times by now, and I have not gotten sick of it. The project has been active since 2003 and finally the debut album was released on December 16th in 2010. It's been nice to finally get this album out and hear what the press and listeners have had to say about the album that I fell in love with when I first received the demo. Generally, it's been about 95% positive, with one person in particular calling it the album of the year. Steven (of netra) and I worked pretty closely for a while in preparing things for the release of Mélancolie Urbaine, first on creating a music video for the track 'La Page' which is online now, and also on a promo video for the release specifically which was a lot of fun to shoot and edit. It's definetely an interesting project, and netra's music gives me a lot of inspiration for videos as well so I feel pretty close to it at the moment!
Another project that I'm really into at the moment is the latest signing to HDR, 'Ekove Efrits' which is a black metal band from Tehran, Iran. I'll be releasing his latest album 'Conceptual Horizon' this summer, and it's such a fantastic album. I've been listening to that non-stop over the past month as well. (There's also 3 songs from this album streaming on the Ekove Efrits page on the HDR website, so I encourage people to go there and have a listen for themselves)
Funeral Fornication, and Old Forgotten Lands are also projects I'm listening to a lot lately, as they both have fantastic new albums coming out this summer on HDR.
In truth though, I like all of the projects which should be pretty obvious since they are on my record label. There's also the latest album from The Foetal Mind which was released in December 2010 which has a lot of really good songs on it.
Tell us a little about yourself as a person.
What would you like to know? I'm going to university at the moment, so I'm unemployed which is nice as it gives me plenty of time to work on the label and deal with school stuff but it also has some downfalls as I know longer have extra money to throw into the label like I did a couple of years ago. I'm living off of student loans at the moment, and spending some of the government's money on printing CD's and the rest of it on food, and coffee! Usually I might have more exciting things to say, but for the past 3-4 months I have been pretty antisocial. Not to be cliché or anything, but a lot of times, I really don't like people very much.
My main interests lie in music, film, photography, philosophy, and (pseudo?)intellectual discussions. I fucking hate shopping malls, jersey shore, business, politics, and the fact that my personal information can now be found with a simple google search! (oops)
(I get the feeling that I'm signing up for an online dating service with all of these I like/I hate answers. haha)
What does the future hold for HDR?
Actually, 2011 is pretty up in the air at the moment in some aspects. However, I do plan to release the new Funeral Fornication, Old Forgotten Lands, and Ekove Efrits albums in the summer of 2011, and hopefully two or three more albums in the second half of the year. I think an album by Neige et Noirceur, and/or Astral Luminous may be ready by then and if not, I'm sure there are other options. So in that sense, my plans are not concrete yet, and rightfully so as it's only February now, so there's lots of time for things to change. Also in 2011, I do plan on finally releasing some new t-shirts on my label including a Funeral Fornication T-shirt to go along with the Pandemic Transgression release, a netra T-Shirt, and also the first ever Hypnotic Dirge Records T-shirt. Hopefully I'll have enough money through sales to make all of this happen!
Also in 2011, I'd like to make some time for a trip to Quebec in the summer, as well as giving myself a bit more time for photography, and video projects while deciding what I want to take in school in the future.
Also, I do have plans to open a blogsite for lay down my ramblings including essays and discussions on philosophical, social, and anti-economic subjects with literary, historical, and philosophical connoctations which I have written in the past year or so. While this is not really connected to HDR in any way, it's something that I have in the works which I hope to have online soon, as I've been pretty interested in such topics as of late. One of these essays was made available on the free HDR compilation album 'Melancholic Epiphany (The Trance Formation is Shattered) which was released last November and has lots of really cool stuff on it, so I encourage peopel to download it if they have not done so yet. (You can find the link on the downloads section of www.hypnoticdirgerecords.com
Generally though, the future is in the air. We'll see what happens!
Thank you for talking with us! Do you have any final words?
Thanks for the questions Bjørn ! I'd like to encourage the random passer-by reading this interview to take a few moments to go to www.hypnoticdirgerecords.com and browse around. There is lots of additional information about the label, the releases, the bands on the roster, a moderately extensive distro section, some streaming music and videos, and free downloads!
I don't like to end this with a cliché, but I feel as if it's neccesary... Please support the music you listen to, as it is becoming extremely hard for small labels to stay afloat, and this affects artists too. I get a lot of worthy demos on a regular basis but I am unable to add any new bands due to a lack of funds. If this happens with a lot of record labels (which it does, as I have had conversations about this) then a lot of worthy artists can not get their music printed on a physical medium. If Justin Bieber can sell millions of copies of regurgutated formula pop music, surely real artists conveying real emotions can sell 100 copies in order to break even on costs and keep physical releases alive.
The more people buy CD's, the more I can release in 2011.
Mikko Kotamäki is the lead vocalist of Barren Earth and many other projects, most notably Swallow the Sun. Shane (Inarguable staff writer) and I met him in spring 2010 at a Swallow the Sun gig and have kept in touch ever since. When he came around Chicago again with Swallow the Sun in September 2010 with Katatonia, he asked us, “So when are we drinking together?” That was amended February 19.
Barren Earth is a new band that is basically a super group that actually rocks. Olli-Pekka Laine assembled a group of friends to create a metal band with lots of 70’s progressive rock influences and atmospheres in 2007 and have released an EP and a full-length thus far.
They performed very well and had great energy. They performance was near flawless, minus the fact that the crowd was not that energetic, but time and more albums will only amend this issue. We were fortunate enough to have a chance to talk with Mikko for quite some time. He is a soft spoken musician who has great insight, incredible vocals and who is the kind of performer who is humble and friendly to fans. I strongly recommend checking out Barren Earth and Swallow the Sun, along with any of his other projects.
(I am working on fixing the video position, please be patient, it will be fixed.)
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Starting with "I Hope You'll Pick Me Out," an homage to unrequited love, PfB presents one of the most beautiful and heartfelt "metalgaze" songs I've heard in a rather long time. In it's short 4 minutes and 24 seconds a sonic wall is constructed with layers of guitar, keyboards, an organ, glockenspiel and gut-wrenching screams (which are pushed forward in the mix this time, unlike Leaving), slowly lurching forward in horrible majesty. As beautiful as it is crushing.
Track #2 is a bass-heavy, droning post-punk song entitled "Annick," which, for Joy Division nerds like myself, is named for none other than Ian Curtis's lover, Annik Honoré. Everything about this track is distant and filled with longing...and I'm not kidding about the bass-heaviness of this track - all of my car windows rattle when I play through this beauty.
After eighteen seconds of silence, at least, for those of us who have one of the 60 copies of the now-sold out "Untitled," we are surprised with a 27-minute long version of the previously-released song "Leaving." Absolutely blissed-out, reverb-drenched, reality-melting dronescapes.
Yet again, Planning for Burial succeeds in making a memorable release to tide-over fans until their next (probably soon, knowing them) release. Though the super-limited CD is sold out, you can stream/purchase both tracks at the Music Ruins Lives Bandcamp and be sure to keep an eye out on their Bigcartel webshop.
For over five years after the release of Heralding: the Fireblade the mysterious hooded skald, Vratyas Vakyas, remained silent. Then, from somewhere in the wilderness, the deep, familiar voice of a battle-horn rang out and echoed off the cliffs once more, shaking the roots of the World Tree; Tiurida, “Glory,” colored its call and signaled the return of Falkenbach!
Vratyas has certainly carved out an effective template for the folk-viking metal of Falkenbach. Each album is similar; the minimalist epic style provides for continuity across the catalog which can be built upon to whatever degree he feels necessary for each release. 2011’s Tiurida is familiar Falkenbach, rife with triplets and heavy hypnotic riffs, but with a fresh brightness about it. This brightness often goes under-represented, however, and as with all Falkebach albums, there are some depressingly weak moments scattered among the strong.
The mood-setting “Intro” leads into the excellent “...Where His Ravens Fly...” This track plays upon the expectations of Falkenbach’s initiate but manages to sound fresh and exciting. The power from this track is somewhat lost on the following, “Time Between Dog and Wolf,” which is also similar to “Runes Shall You Know.” Both are catchy, but they lack a certain feeling of completion. It is important to be in the mood for minimalism when listening to them in order to get the right effect. In all, they are successful tracks with their individual strengths, but they may be the most stock-Falkenbach tracks of the album, lacking the interesting variations one might have come to expect, judging by Heralding: The Fireblade.
Two of the highlights of the album are “Tanfana” and “In Flames.” Both display great examples of the bright, indeed glorious tendencies of the album. “Tanfana” is an instrumental that sounds like a happy feast of abundance; the trickling water in the end only completes the sense of verdant warmth. This track is also a bit more structurally complex which may be why some of the more repetitive songs feel incomplete in comparison. “In Flames” is not a musical tribute to the Swedish version of Chimaira, but another strong track which features a nice middle section that can only be described as “pretty.” Unfortunately this part only happens once and Vratyas sees fit to repeat the main sections for the remaining four minutes.
The official final track “Sunnavend” is proper acoustic Falkenbach and harkens straight back to Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty. But that is one of the issues I have with it. Fine track though it is, I feel as if “Sunnavend” is a weak closer to the album, and this where my small rant begins...
Those lucky enough to have purchased the digipack or any other special edition of Tiurida will be treated to a far more appropriate album closer than “Sunnavend.” Apparently reconstructed from the Læknishendr demo of 1995, “Asaland” is offered as a bonus track that buyers of the regular jewel case edition will sadly be denied. To me, this instrumental is the true ending to Tiurida. If not for lame marketing decisions, “Asaland” would provide the perfect degree of balancing brightness to the album and make it feel well rounded upon completion. Without this track fans are likely to be left wanting after “Sunnavend.”
It is difficult not to compare Tiurida to its predecessor. Heralding: The Fireblade”, with its narrations and balance of repetition and variation, felt like a natural and dynamic product of years of development. Perhaps because it was intended to be released long ago, Vratyas seems to have really used his time to perfect his ideas for that album. It is, of course, imperfect but it leaves me feeling satisfied at the end (no doubt thanks to the brilliant closer “Skirnir.” Tiurida brings a number of fine new things to the table, many of which satisfy, but overall feels as if Vratyas focused on some areas more than others to such a noticeable degree that in certain places it is simply lacking.
I am not terribly disappointed in Falkenbach or even in Tiurida but more in the fact of there being yet another album released in the last year-and-a-quarter that feels like an unfinished step in an interesting direction. I enjoy the album and believe that fans will, too; rejoice in the good bits, but be prepared to skip some tracks.
-Bryan A. Wysopal
Sunday, February 13, 2011
But you'd be wrong. Dead wrong.
This low-key three-piece band (featuring none other than Nameless Void from black metal legends Negative Plane on guitar, organ and backing vocals) was brought to my attention by none other than artist extraordinaire Justin Bartlett on Facebook of all things, which is the last place I would expect to find a band.
Their social networking sites all classify them in the progressive metal realm, and yet I really feel Occultation is really cutting themselves short here. Taking cues from krautrock, Diamanda Galas, darkwave, and Italian zombie movie soundtracks, Occultation's off-kilter yet undeniably catchy and memorable tunes are unlike anything I've ever heard. E.M.'s (Nameless Void) piercing guitar and organ create an uneasy wash beneath drummer V.B. and bassist A.L.'s rather occult-sounding (there's something I thought I'd never say) vocal harmonies. This is pop music you'd hear echoing within a buried Satanic chapel; a 70's psychedelic rock band on a bad acid trip. Perfect for those long nights of dark rooms, sitting in a makeshift pentagram on your floor.
Occultation has definitely carved their own niche as far as I'm concerned, and these three songs indicate a bright (well, "bright") future for this kvlt trio.
If you want a copy, feel free to e-mail them at email@example.com. Totally worth it.
Massive Slavery, sounds like another band that praises the ideals of the white race and propagates the longevity of the true race, doesn’t it? In fact, this is quite the opposite. This band is a melodic death metal band with metalcore influences. They also do not glorify white power or its ideals. I was sold on listening to this band’s debut release because of the name, Massive Slavery. Despite the talent displayed on this record, this album just wasn’t my thing. My 16 year old self would probably have jizzed myself dry over this album. Yes, I admit it. Eat your fucking hearts out. I was a metalcore dude during my high school days. However, I am now at the age of 21 and my taste in music has drastically changed, matured, and grown since 16, and this type of music doesn’t have the appeal that I once thought it had (I still can’t really tell you the appeal I found with metalcore even today).
The band is from Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec City, Quebec. Overall, the Canadians have showcased a number of bands that I greatly respect. This band can play melodic death metal very well. They have a powerful, crushing sound and the songs move at a very fast pace. Usually, each song is very enjoyable, until they begin to use break downs. I have outgrown the one chord breakdown. I outgrew it long ago when I discovered Cannibal Corpse in high school. These break down sections of their songs completely messed with the overall flow of the song. Even though the band seemed to place them in the correct spots, they would still disrupt the flow of a good groove by using a break down. They didn’t use just one either, sometimes it was as many as 3 per song. In my opinion, 1 is too many.
I normally name notable tracks, but I am not going to with this release. The only sections of songs I can remember are the break down sections. Whatever catchy, melodic death riffs these guys played were ruined by the use of not one, but multiple breakdowns. Despite the talent this band has displayed, I am just not into the metalcore genre anymore. I am also not a fan of deathcore genre, as a whole, and to hear to breakdowns in death metal only makes me thing of all the shitty deathcore bands that have hit it big today. In summary, I am not a fan of metalcore and this album did not strike the proper chord within me.
I must say I am truly not into the whole ‘Djent’ or core stuff I personally see it as nothing more than a trend nothing more nothing less. But a few months ago I was watching a subscription on my youtube from a guitar player I am subscribed to and he played a song called ‘Icarus Lives!’ and I was impressed with the song. I then looked up to see who the artist was and this is where I found Periphery.
Well After hearing a few songs from these guys I have to say this is not that bad. The members of this band are very talented. This album has a fair balance between Djent and Progressive metal. One thing I noticed while listening to this album is that they do not use 8 strings or tune their 7 strings to G tuning they just tune a half step down and tune the low B string down to A flat. Which is good because there is no CHUG CHUG CHUG riffs it is mostly just the guitarists doing groovy riffs on the low B string though the Meshuggah feeling and sound is there but at least they are not going on with the rest of the band wagon in the Djent trend trying to make everything chugs and low F sharp every second of the song on every song like most Djent bands seem to do.
At times the vocals remind me of Linkin Park some times which is really shitty but that is just my thought on it. This album does contain breakdown which I do fucking hate but it is something you can get past. The Dream Theater influence really sticks out like a sore thumb on this album at least in the leads and solos.. speaking of solos they are really great the only thing I dislike about bands like this is that the leads sound like random chromatic scales. Their clean and ambience guitar tones are really fantastic I do enjoy those 80s clean tones and the ambient guitar atmospheres..
I liked this album It is pretty cool that the founder Misha Mansoor started this band and did all of the music by him self and then received notice from forums and music web sites and now is touring though it is a shame this does not happen to many other great artists.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Fen are a band that I can not get enough of lately. The Malediction Fields was quite a tour de force and I am very excited about how the band is progressing upon hearing this new split. Fen was formed in early 2006 by Grungyn, Theutus and The Watcher, and were joined by Draugluin in 2007. In early 2010, Draugluin was replaced by keyboardist Æðelwalh.The band have released one EP, “Ancient Sorrow” (2007, under Northern Silence), and one full-length, The Malediction Fields (2009, under Code666). Their second album, Epoch will be released in early 2011.
A new more experimental direction is apparent right from the start. Post-punk and 80’s new wave influences are showcased throughout Fen’s side, especially on the track “Soilbound.” The black metal heaviness of Fen is still apparent, but it is being pushed and pulled in so many interesting directions instead of the standard blast beat fury, as in “Ageless Thenody.” The Watchers screams are a highlight on the track and around the 4 minute mark he lets out his most tortured scream to date.
Fen is clearly continuing their musical journey with these 4 songs. I am even more excited for Epoch after hearing this split. Along with the Agalloch influence, there is the ever-growing progressive rock and post-punk/goth influence. The clean guitar passages give off a nice 80’s vibe without sounding out of place. Fen knows what they are doing when it comes to combining influences. The Fen half closes with an all-acoustic, instrumental rendition of the closing track “Bereft,” from The Malediction Fields. This is another aspect that makes this split more special and a reason to purchase. Lush acoustic guitars strumming major chords flow with piano and acoustic bass lines. It is always an interesting time hearing another version of a song you know from one specific form.
The cinematic influence of Fen’s music is also growing. Sweeping atmospheres that are so visual and thick are always present and I can tell the band is only going to move forward and continue to push the envelope and evolve.
This is my first time hearing the band and I am pleasantly surprised with the output. They produce solid atmospheric black metal with a great overall feel which is definitely a good compliment to Fen’s half. The riffs are a good mix of the standard trem-picked Darkthrone-inspired rhetoric and honest, creative black metal.
I am reminded of Ulver’s Bergtatt at times, especially when this Swede sings clean vocal passages. That Scandinavian 'epic' feeling is showcased throughout and the three songs are a great capturing of a band that has a lot of potential. I really enjoy the melancholic passages that have floating clean vocals over the top. It is a nice touch that really keeps the songs from falling into the ‘trve’ niche too far. It is no surprise that De Arma is on this split. The three songs again, reflect the Fen tracks well and are a great addition.
Overall this is a solid release and a great tease for Fen’s full-length, Epoch, due out February 15. Recommended.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Austrian Ambient/Black metal masters Dornenreich have once again managed to bottle the magic elixir that has proved so successful for them in the past with their seventh full-length, Flammentriebe. Due to be released in a few short days, this disc is quite a knockout. Containing just over 50 minutes of the perfect blend of brutality, atmosphere and artistry, Flammentriebe showcases some excellent composition and wonderful emotion.
Though the group has been known in the latter part of its existence for its ambient/neofolk, Flammentriebe marks a return to the more traditional symphonic black metal sound that characterized their early releases. Despite this, Flammentriebe exhibits a certain sense of musical maturity and grace in that it weaves together the broad, sweeping sensibilities of ambiance found in Dornenreich’s more recent works with some undeniably HEAVY shit. The guitar work here is much meatier and less atmospheric than in the past, with plenty of chugging blast beats as well as heavily syncopated blackened death riffage. Although some ethereal trem-picking magic remains, the majority of the electric guitars on this album are much more bassy and chunky-sounding.
Of particular note are the string arrangements on Flammentriebe. Every song incorporates some element of string orchestration, usually one or two violas or violins. In terms of composition, this allows the songs to have a lot more contrast of light and shade. A large part of the melodic themes on this album are driven by the strings and their sonic interplay with the guitars.
All in all, this album is definitely a grower. Due to the massive nature of the compositions it takes a while for everything to sink in, hence why it was impossible for me to single out two or three tracks to highlight as I normally would. However, I can definitely say without a doubt that Flammentriebe is a great record and well worth checking out.
You have been creating music under the moniker Jääportit for a good number of years now. I've watched the sound transform and progress quite a bit [since I heard the Kauan Koskematon tape back in 2001 or so]. What was the original intention or goal of the band back in the beginning and how has it changed over the course of it's time?
Tuomas: Greetings Casey. It's been nice to have a conversation with you, for it has been a long time. This time we're going a bit deeper I guess. Yes, there's a musical personality inside me, mostly above the majority of things but sometimes buried deep within. I started to create music under the moniker Jääportit back in 1997. I released my first demo in 1998 and the first album “Kauan Koskematon” on a tape in 1999. The original intention was to reach out for the more tranquil, peaceful and harmonic music that I was hearing in my head. At the time I also did different kinds of metal and industrial tracks and this was supposed to be a project opposite to the other harsher stuff.
I have always been very interested to find new music, discover new styles, dimensions and go far beyond the commercial stuff most of the people listen to. That reflects to my music as doing experiments with the sounds. During the years I have gotten a chance to use better instruments, hardware and software, and make experiments with different ways to approach the progress of creating music. During the process, style and sound has changed a lot and I like to do what I want to, take distance from the known music genres or sometimes combine others.
Cathasaigh: I think you have succeeded quite well in your goal. It is interesting to hear that you have dived a bit into heavier territories. What types of scenery/sounds/thoughts do you find most influential when composing your music?
Tuomas: I get influences from the many-sided nature of Finland on different seasons, life and death, reality and dreams, light and dark, sun and moon, melancholy, five elements, visual art, films and music. Different sounds inspire me too, like on our last album I found the sound of a Rhodes piano driven through a lot of distortion very influential and all songs were based playing with it. It's quite close to electric guitar.
Cathasaigh: These are certainly some types of imagery that your music produces for me. Alternately, what types of thoughts and imagery does Jääportit invoke within you? Does it hold any spiritual connotations?
Tuomas: Mostly it invokes imagery of frosty winter landscapes, dark places in the ancient forests reaching out beyond the lines of realism, sometimes also imagery converse to all that like realistic, technological and futuristic landscape glowing in neon lights. Thoughts of the coldness within almost melting when all of those unspoken words are told with sounds. An atheist summons spiritual connotations by creating music, deeply concentrating and letting out the creative energy, enjoying to be able to play and hear the most beautiful notes that can describe the moment.
Cathasaigh: It sounds as though you are deeply intuned with your own music, as it should be. You have a new track coming out on the first in a trilogy of compilations dedicated to Mr. Harold Lovecraft, titled Gate 1: Yogsothery - Chaosmogonic Rituals of Fear . I noticed that this album is comprised of mostly metal material. Does this mean that Jääportit will be taking yet another turn in the development of it's sound or will you be standing out [as per usual] and sticking with your ethereal soundscapes?
Tuomas: Yes, it's a brand new compilation album release including our 25 minute long track called Kuihtuman Henkivi. Actually the making of the track was started back in 2005, if I remember correctly, and finished a few years later. It kind of takes place in the same times when sound and material was in development for our album “Avarrus” (released in 2006). The track lacks of beats and sounds quite different from all other material. Original meaning was to stand out as individual release, give a try to make a horrid tribute to the famous writer. The person who compiled this album had reasons to delay the release and it took quite a long time to actually release it. Now when looking back, I don't mind about it, because everything turned out nicely after all.
Cathasaigh: I am really excited to hear your audio interpretation of the strange works of Mr. Lovecraft as well as the rest of the compilation as I am also a fan of Markus Marjomaa's projects Aarni and Umbra Nihil. I notice you delve a bit into photography. Besides that and music, are there any other mediums that you enjoy expressing yourself within?
Tuomas: Sure. I enjoy expressing myself through the visual side of art also. Currently I do graphic design for print and web as a part of my day job. I would delve more into photography if I only had a proper camera, but currently I don't have one. Besides visuals, I also do sound design and sound engineering for films and albums.
Cathasaigh: It is refreshing to hear that you keep busy with other mediums of expression. I'd be interested to see some films you have worked on. Up until recently, you have been writing music mostly alone. How has the addition of another member [who also happens to be your significant other] changed the songwriting process?
Tuomas: Actually one short film, including my music and sound design work, is called Ihmisiä Tiellä (Hit the Road) and it can be watched online at http://www.indietaivas.fi/movie.php?videoid=1160
Although dialog is in Finnish and English subtitles are available only on the DVD version. More information about the film can be found from here http://www.ihmisiatiella.fi/inenglish.php
Also during the year 2011 will be released a Finnish game called “Cities in Motion” which includes some music produced by me.
The addition of another member has happened little by little by doing experiments with recording the voice of Mindy and her playing violin. There was no grand plan to make it this way, it just kind of happened, songwriting process evolved and took those elements in. It has been interesting to me to be able to use live instrument as addition to electronic ones. The human voice aspect brings an organic feel and personality to the music, takes it to an another level. Actually when making tracks for Voimasuo album it was the first time when I started to think of using the basic verse-chorus-song structures on some of the tracks.
Cathasaigh: I will most certainly be looking into the films you have spoken of. In addition to the 2011 project, what does your creativity have in store for us in the future?
Tuomas: In the future I try to develop my skills as music maker, sound engineer and music mixer to make everything sound as good as possible in the way I want it to sound. I am going to finish sketches of the new songs made in the spirit of Jääportit and will try to release them in a form or another. Personally I see the physical form of albums fading away and being replaced by digital form. Sure there is a lot of folks that prefer to have their music as an object to hold with their hands and buy it from a record shop. I used to be like that too but when MP3's were introduced to me it started to change and these days I find myself buying physical albums very rarely. However, I do make graphic design work for other artists physical album covers and like the format, especially digipaks. It's just that time goes by these mediums so quickly.
Besides my personal creations, I work hard with my own company to earn bucks needed to sustain everyday life. After I have finished the work on a project I usually wrote news about it on my Twitter page at http://twitter.com/tummastudio
Cathasaigh: I am glad to hear you are developing yourself and your arts. Though it may sadden me as a music buyer to not be able to purchase a physical copy of your music I am still quite excited to hear what your have in store for us. I want to thank you for taking the time to have this interview with me and will give you this opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
Tuomas: Well, I'm not saying that I would ditch physical form completely, just giving out my current thoughts. You never know how things end up. As a question to you, I assume you don't understand our native language, so what do you think about the fact that we are using band title, album titles and even song titles in Finnish language?
Cathasaigh: Though you are correct in your assumption, I have always appreciated when bands write lyrics in their native language as opposed to submitting the the rest of the world. I find Finnish, as well as many other languages to be unique and beautiful and capable of various forms of expression that others such as English are not. I enjoy the fact that you are so dedicated to your roots.
Tuomas: Thank you for doing the interview, it was nice to have a chat with you. When more information about us and our music is needed pay a visit to these sites:
Official website at http://www.jaaportit.net/
Facebook-pages at http://www.facebook.com/jaaportit
Stream and download music online at http://jaaportit.bandcamp.com/
Sunday, February 6, 2011
The newest offering by America’s Chaos Moon, The Ouroboros Worm EP, is an interesting attempt at a sort of “progressive” style of black metal with hints of Blut Aus Nord’s discord and the ever popular “post” elements of the day. There is competence in all of the compositions on this recording, however, it must be said straightaway that the majority of the vocals are inferior to the music and do it little justice. Particularly, the clean vocals are troublesome. At times they can sound chaotic and frightening, though more often they sound off-key and almost comical in their attempts to appear “tortured.” Truly the effect is similar to the experience of listening to Tom G. Warrior’s stomach-ache-vocals on Celtic Frost’s classic Into the Pandemonium. Neither do the blackened vocals add much of anything to the music (though the lower growls are quite well done when layered with higher ones). There is a sense of wandering in the way the vocals are handled that is common to many DIY bands (I know I have been, and in many ways still am, fretting with that myself). Unfortunately it is problematic enough to be addressed right away.
The vocals are certainly not Chaos Moon’s strong suit, but the music itself features several moments that will call the listener back for seconds. How memorable these tracks are will be a matter of personal taste, but there is clearly some understanding of musicality evident; at times what Chaos Moon is capable of is truly impressive. A variety of moods are accounted for throughout the course of this EP placing it a cut above the typical buzz-saw bedroom black metal so often marketed as “atmospheric.” Everything from discord to pleasant harmony, technical skill to effective simplicity, is here in this compact presentation.
Perhaps my favorite tracks of all are the truly well done intro and outro, “The Worm Ouroboros,” (Head) and (Tail), respectively. These ambient tracks display true competence in exploiting different synth textures and playing with simple yet emotive melodic ideas. Both carry a more “accessible” and less dissonant feel than the metal tracks which can make them seem out of place but also add to the aforementioned scope of feelings. In many cases the “ambient” tracks on metal releases are skipped over (sacrilege, usually!) and perhaps stupidity here because those of The Ouroboros Worm are truly enjoyable.
The Ouroboros is an exciting symbol that I personally have always found fascinating, so I was drawn to this recording based on the concept before I had any experience with the actual music. Whatever it is Chaos Moon is doing with the idea, though, I cannot really say. There does not seem to be any connection between the title and the pleasing Ouroboros-themed artwork to any of the music besides the first and last tracks on the EP. It is an interesting idea to play with the “full circle” symbolism of the Ouroboros by tying the EP together with two similar tracks of the same name, however. The remaining tracks seem to be feeling around near something thematically interesting but mostly the lyrics seem stock.
In brief, Chaos Moon’s The Ouroboros Worm is certainly worth looking into for anyone interested in a more technical and speedy variety of atmospheric black metal. It is not completely perfect and it features a few glaring botch marks, mostly in the form of weird vocals, though it is otherwise interesting and enjoyable. For those unfamiliar with the band, this EP is a fine place to start as the material, though different in many ways, owns up to the standards of earlier releases. The vocals seem stranger and less well handled here perhaps because they are attempting to be a bit more complex than is generally the case with Chaos Moon. Still, here is a decent place to begin looking into a worthwhile USBM band.
-Bryan A. Wysopal
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
A lot of death metal today, while brutal, really lacks in the hellish atmospheres of its forefathers. Remember the first time you listened to "Onwards to Golgotha" and about shit your pants? Sure, there's been a resurgence of "eerie", "ancient" death metal nowadays with Teitanblood, Portal, Dead Congregation and a handful of others, but overall the genre's really lost its original, creepy appeal, instead handing it off to black metal (which, in the past few years, has concentrated way too much on being pretty).
Well, remember Matron Thorn of Benighted in Sodom? It turns out that, with the help of his live bassist (and a close friend of mine) Ascaris, he's been making some of the creepiest fucking death metal I've heard in years.
Masses, meet Evangelist, whose EP "Oracle of Infinite Despair" is a view into your worst nightmares. Dissonant, chaotic, plodding, and brutal, we see an extremely heavy side of M. Thorn's psyche that not even I could have foreseen.
If you can, imagine if Blut aus Nord's album "MoRT" (hint hint, drum machines) was performed by Incantation, but there was a keyboard player who was having a bad acid trip and Craig Pillard's canonical brutal vocals were even lower. Everything is sludgy and disgusting, much like the cover art above. What's not to like about a decaying, crucified angel?
My one complaint about this EP is that it is so damn short. 16 minutes isn't enough to really whet my pallet, you know? Get cracking, Thorn and Ascaris!
PS) These guys aren't signed. Change that, please.
Ah, doom metal… it never gets old when done right. This selection, “An Introduction to the Black Arts”, is a combined offering from Virginian sludge/doom masters Cough and the excellent British doom metallers The Wounded Kings. Clocking in at just over a half hour, the gargantuan proportions of the two compositions presented here makes the album seem like a much longer trip.
The aptly titled “Gates of Madness” (Cough) starts the disc off nicely with a few seconds of nauseating feedback. The track is classic stoner doom through and through, although instead of emulating the cliché “really fucking blazed” vibe, Cough prefers to make you feel like you’re coming down off the worst heroin binge of your life. Spirit-wrenching screams puncuate simple old school doom riffage while slowly chugging towards a great Electric Wizard-esque peak. The track features some great clean vocals towards its midpoint, flowing nebulously over the wonderfully retro crushing guitar chords. A wah-saturated guitar solo follows immediately, really topping things off before the drums drop back into half time and the screams return in full force.
Although “Gates of Madness” is a well-written piece, I feel as though the band could have taken in many more directions musically over its 19:34 duration. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the repetitive, trance-inducing aspects of music like this, but at a certain point this track loses its sense of direction and thus does not hold my interest all the way through.
The Wounded Kings’ contribution, “Curse of Chains”, takes a much more Candlemass-derived approach to doom. The overall mood of the song is somewhat softer and more somber than the chaotic, unsettling feeling of “Gates of Madness”. However, the tracks do share a bevy of similarites, the most obvious being the bombastic, slow drumming and downtuned crunch that typify most genres of doom metal.
I felt that “Curse of Chains” outshines the former track, having much more varied composition and instrumentation. The track begins with a long instrumental passage featuring some excellent organ, mellotron and tubular bell work (or perhaps synthisized versions of the afformentioned). In addition, the drumming on this track is much more composition-consciouss, with changes in texture and color puncuating and anticipating chord and key changes very nicely. Operatic vocals reminiscent of Robert Lowe-era Candlemass records provide an excellent atmospheric contribution to heavily layered soundscape. At around ten minutes in, the track fades to an eerie quiet; slowly building on organ chords and peaking with the reintroduction of vocals and a heavily distorted lead. After it’s all over, a beautifully simple piano melody takes the track to its end.
This split is definitely a winner; combining the harshness of contemporary doom with the drug-induced stupor of classic 70s stoner metal and the bombastic quasi-symphonic compositions of classic doom metal. Though a bit unbalanced in terms of song strength, it's well worth checking out if you like your metal slow, heavy as fuck and saturated in the influences of the greats.