Friday 31 December 2010


As 2010 came to an end I decided to ask a few notable musicians to point out their personal metal high-lights of the year. They were as well asked to leave a short comment on their album number one. Below is that what they offered.

ED WARBY of Hail of Bullets, Gorefest and The 11th Hour

Too bad Celtic Frost couldn't keep it together but this is the best follow-up to „Monotheist” anyone could hope for. Ultraheavy, pitchblack and simply awesome.

2. Masterplan „Time To Be King”
3. Facebreaker „Infected”
4. High On Fire „Snakes Of The Divine”
5. Dark Fortress „Ylem”  

GARY MADER of EyeHateGod, Outlaw Order and Hawg Jaw

While everybody's old favorites are out there growing up/old and putting out music that is depressing because it lacks urgency and any trace of sincerity, OFF! first put out a 7" the reaffirmed my faith in the possibility of anything new coming out having the genuine venom and vomit of great bands like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, The Germs, or say Wasted Youth. The first time I heard it, I swore I was listening to a "first four years" outtake... it's that real. They extend the greatness of what they started in the late 70's/early 80's here to us now via a few players that know everything about good hardcore. I just got the rest of the collection of four 7"s... Do yourself a favor and hear this pure example of great hardcore music. There is no band better than them right now. You will listen to these 18 minutes over and over.

2. Triptykon "Eparistera Daimones"
3. Black Breath "Heavy Breathing"
4. Arson Anthem "Insecurity Notoriety"
5. Floor "Below & Beyond"
 LASSE PYYKKÖ of Hooded Menace, Phlegethon and Vacant Coffin

This album oozes eerie and foggy atmosphere. The songs are well written, the vocals are great, the production is pretty much perfect, the artwork is awesome... what's not to like? In its mighty haziness this is a very refreshing doom album. Roughly said they are a bit like a mix between Candlemass and Electric Wizard so how could I not like The Wounded Kings?

2. Masakari "The Prophet Feeds"
3. Ramesses "Take the Curse"
4. Ilsa "Tutti il Colori del Buio"
5. Electric Wizard "Black Masses"

 JOHAN SEBENNE of Year Of No Light

Don't know if it's metal or not, but it's simply the best band around today! Huge sound and totally freak out performances.

2. Cough & The Wounded Kings "An Introduction to the Black Arts" split
3. Watain "Lawless Darkness"
4. Twilight "Monument to Time End"
5. Electric Wizard "Black Masses"

 MIKE HILL of Tombs

Extreme music owes a huge debt to Tom G. Warrior who brought us Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Apollyon Sun and now his latest band, Triptykon. I was looking forward to the release of this record and it delivered all I hoped for when I first listened to it.

2. Watain „Lawless Darkness”
Though I still prefer „Sworn to the Dark” this is one of the best records to come out in 2010.

3. Deathspell Omega „Paracletus”
Every record by Deathspell Omega get more and bizarre and uncomfortable sounding.

4. Unearthly Trance „V”
Though I love everyone of their records, this is probably their best record to date.

5. Planks „The Darkest of Grays”
Brutal, extreme and emotional with a slight gothic/black metal vibe. I’ve shared a van with these guys and travelled in Europe, the UK and the US with them. True road brothers.

 JAY NEWMAN of Unearthly Trance

Amazing occult beauty 60's throwback ala Jefferson Airplane psychedelia. Fav track: "Phoenix is reborn".

2. Integrity „The Blackest Curse”
Hellion's return to form! Fav track: "Simulacra".

3. Wooden Wand "Death Seat"
Toth is a master. Best recognize! Folk blues psych be-damned! Fav tracks: "Servant to blues" and "The Mountain" tied.

4. Swans "My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky"
I'm pretty sure this is a Angels of Light record, no? Whatever you call it got that Michael Gira swagger! Fav track: "Eden Prison".

5. Deathspell Omega "Paracletus"
Put more and show you! Fav track: "Epiklesis II"

Thursday 16 December 2010

COUGH - A Thousand Years in a Dopethrone

Records such as “Ritual Abuse”, which was dropped by Relapse in October 2010, are of a rare kind. They tend to grow on you, they become addictive, and they get deep under your skin and stay there. How you get rid of them I don't know, but I don't care and don't want to know. The doom underground scene across the whole world is talking about this four-piece unit from Richmond, Virginia and it's no empty chatter. Taking some serious inspiration from Electric Wizard, the band worked out an extremely depressive form of crawling and grievous doom metal, which definitely resulted in some of the best records of 2010. Vocalist and bass player Parker Chandler tells us how it really is.

What I like about the “Ritual Abuse” sound is the fact that production is not over the top, with everything down-tuned, brutal and loud to the limits. It has been done before, so why bother? Did you do this on purpose?
Parker: Raw, down-tuned, brutal and loud? Sounds like a good combination to us. Why bother fucking with a good formula? That's exactly what we wanted to accomplish.

How did you come up with using an acoustic guitar in some parts? Was it originally written that way, or did you come up with the idea later in the studio?
Parker: “Crooked Spine” song was written by David [Cisco, vocals & guitar] as an acoustic song. It was never meant to be a Cough song until we all heard it and decided we could do something different while staying grounded in doom. Putting the acoustic on the album just seemed appropriate given the roots of the song.

When you started Cough in 2005 what did you want it to be?
Parker: The loudest, heaviest band in Richmond.
“Ritual Abuse” cover art is probably the best I have seen in years. Could you say something about the artist and the work itself?
Parker: Glyn Smyth from Scrawled Design came up with it. Conceptually, it fits with our theme of being trapped in a situation where any move you make will only hurt you but you can't sit still forever. He did a great job on the cover but I think he fucking killed it on the gatefold.

Do you care much about bands from Europe such as Electric Wizard, Hooded Menace or Katatonia? Do people in the doom/sludge/stoner scene in the US pay attention to European bands or they mostly stick to what's happening in America?
Parker: European bands are pretty big over here, at least in the doom scene. Americans love the European doom bands. More of them need to come over here and fucking tour with us.

Is weed an inspiration to you? A means to get creative and write music?
Parker: It is what it is. We've written as much music sober as we have blazed or drunk. It's not necessary to our creative process, we just enjoy it.
Did you read Ozzy's autobiography „I am Ozzy” that came out in 2009?
Parker: No. We like to forget that he survived the 70's.

There are some great bands from Virginia, where you come from. For example, Municipal Waste, Deceased, or Alabama Thunderpussy. Do you hang around with them or stay all day in hiding, worshiping the horned one?
Parker: We run into various Waste dudes from time to time. They're still in touch with the local scene. Asechiah (an original guitar player of Alabama Thunderpussy) is a fucking blast to hang out with and he's in a new band called Windhand. They kill it. I've seen Deceased a couple times but never hung out with them. We mostly hang out with the less successful crowd just because they're around more.

Your first 2008 album, “Sigillum Luciferi” was produced by Sanford Parker – the guy from Minsk, Buried At Sea, and Circle Of Animals. He sounds like an outstanding musician. Is he a cool guy too? How was it to work with him?
Parker: He was really cool to work with, that's why we decided to do “Ritual Abuse” with him too. His studio setup is very relaxed, in a good location, and he takes good care of you while you're there.

Is having an album released by Relapse a sort of a breakthrough for Cough?

Parker: It was enough of a “reward” to keep going. We probably would have given up if things didn't change.

Your “An Introduction to the Black Arts” split with an English band The Wounded Kings contains only two songs within 35 minutes between you. Could that song “The Gates of Madness” be on “Ritual Abuse” as well?
Parker: There wouldn't be any room for it. I guess it could have gone on the album but we wrote it specifically for the split LP.

You have played some shows with those proper doom legends, Pentagram and Trouble. How did it go?
Parker: It was cool but our two worlds (old school and new school doom) are very different. I love Pentagram and I like Trouble but neither band was the actual line-up, so it does take away from the experience. We fucking killed that Pentagram show though.

There are plans for quite a lot of touring in Europe in April and May of 2011. Are you coming on your own or with some other bands from Relapse? Catching any of the bigger festivals?
Parker: We're flying solo. Playing Thursday at Roadburn and the last show of the European tour is the Alerta AntiFascista Fest in Germany. We'll probably be playing with locals at most of the shows so I'm interested to see who's out there.
Your lyrics are depressive and very dark. Do you need to have a fucked up life to write them, or is it just getting into the genre's mood and atmosphere?
Parker: No. I wouldn't say that we have fucked up lives but that's not to say that we don't mean what we say. It's not even about being in a certain genre. It's not like we're putting on this act and projecting these negative attitudes, it's just us. I don't want to listen to happy songs and I don't think that there is any reason for people to write happy shit. That shit is for children who haven't gotten a grasp on reality. The truth is that you will be shit on for the duration of your life, you will experience loss and you will die. Make the most of it but never forget where we all end up.

Would you rather play before Black Sabbath or Saint Vitus?
Parker: Early 70's Black Sabbath or Wino-era Saint Vitus.

If “Ritual Abuse” is included in Terrorizer Magazine's top of 2010 list, will you be excited?

Parker: It would be cool, I guess. The metal market is so saturated these days that it's probably hard for the magazines to pick out the true, no bullshit records. I also don't buy into a lot of what the magazines say because their funding depends on advertising. They can't bite the hands that feed them. I'd be more excited about ending up on some basement-dwelling, lifelong doom fan's top 10 list.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

UNEARTHLY TRANCE - The Goat, the Trident and the Unholy Spirit

First of all – what a bandname! Can you play silly radio tunes if you're called Unearthly Trance? Definitely not! This New York-based powerhouse trio delivers an ungodly and merciless doom sludge assault completed with the full-of-rage vocals of Ryan Lipynsky, who is the band's frontman and six-string axe-master. If you missed their 2008 opus „Electrocution”, go back to it right now and join the cult. Two years later, the band has put out another tough-as-nails effort through Relapse – the epic „V”. Here is what Ryan has to say about it.

Unearthly Trance has been around for 10 years already. You have recorded five albums and a ton of splits. Do you think you could have done more? Could you briefly summerize that decade?

Ryan: Could we have done more? No, I don't think so. Perhaps we could tour more but that isn't always such a wise choice for bands who want to stick around. This decade has been a steady pace since Darren Verni joined in on drums in 2001. Write, Rehearse, Record. We are a band that has been totally dedicated to our own craft. We have not swayed with the trends like so many do. We have stayed true to our foundation and have taken our listeners on what we like to think of as a journey. With „V” there is some sort of full circle feeling that has occured.
„Electrocution” had pretty clear production. With „V” you went for dirtier, less selective and very underground sound. You wanted it to be really different from „Electrocution”?
Ryan: On „Electrocution” we let pur producer Sanford Parker do everything and we sat back and tried not to interfere too much. On „V” we recorded and mixed a majority of the record under our control. I think „Electrocution” was an album focused more on the vocals and drums and this album was focused more on the power trio vibe of rehearsal and live feeling. On „Electrocution” we tried different studio techniques and Sanford is a professional. I'm proud of both albums. Some don't understand „Electrocution” but perhaps in time, people will see it in the scheme of our career as a unique piece of the whole. „V” is raw, honest, and occult. From here... the unknown. We will never do the same record twice.

You are of Ukrainian descent and live in New York. In that context, I would like to ask about „Little Odessa” film with Tim Roth and Edward Furlong. Do you have any experience of such neighbourhoods or issues?
Ryan: I have never seen this particular movie but I live close to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. I'm sure those people don't fuck around. I have lived in Brooklyn for quite a while now, but I grew up on Long Island. My only exposure to Ukrainian culture was through my grandparents and the only thing I know is my grandfather liked scotch on the rocks and my grandmother was a hell of a cook. I am half of Welsh and half of Ukrainian descent. So I grew up in a typical lower-middle class Long Island, New York existence, not in an urban ethnic neighborhood.

Brooklyn is well-known for its hardcore scene. Do you feel attached to it in any way? Do you go to hardcore gigs?
Ryan: Lately, I go to DIY hardcore shows through playing in my other band Pollution. Somehow, we fit in with what young kids are doing and are into in Brooklyn. I have an affinity for DIY music as it is the opposite to the corporate scum that rips bands and musicians off.
Unearthly Trance has that unique vibe and it must be overwhelming during live performances. What do your concerts look like?
Ryan: Our concerts are usual and an anomaly. Occasionaly we have lots of women attend, sometimes no one shows up, sometimes a whole new crowd of people that we have never seen shows up... Basically, over the past 10 years in New York playing shows we have seen a ton of people come and go and everyone seems to want to „climb the ladder” in „the scene”. Unearthly Trance stays isolated and we focus on our own thing only. We barely even have bands that we like around here. I could count them on my hand.

Do you choose shorter tracks to make it as intense as possible or do you play longer and growing ones as well?
Ryan: This is one of the coolest questions anyone asked in a while! I had to actually sit and think for a bit. Unearthly Trance is fun to play as we all embrace the attitude that our sets will always vary. In fact, I doubt we have played the same exact order of songs ever. Even on tour we change it up every night. I like playing the shorter songs and that is why I have written more over the years in recent times. They work better live. Sometimes if we open for a bigger band we only get 30-35 minutes. So sometimes we will just play 4 songs. It all depends on the vibe of the show and what sounds sounded best at the previous rehearsal. Or sometimes we just call out songs and change the set on stage! In Europe we play for longer on demand. But we like it, as we get treated well over there and we seem to have more of a devoted following overseas.

Was the album title „V” a conscious reference to the Saint Vitus record?
Ryan: No more than a reference to a pentagram or venus, or perhaps Crowley's V for Victory to combat the facists. Our „V” is the power of the hidden conquering the oppression of modernity in America. V is for Vengeance don't you know!? The rabbit hole effect is the desired result for the listener’s experience. We want you to wonder what it all means.

You use the symbol of the trident quite a lot in your artwork. What does it stand for and how do you understand it?
Ryan: The trident is of course multifaceted. Simply, we are a three piece and it can been seen as three people joined together to create a unified sonic force. The trident is also associated with Neptune. A symbol of lightning. It can be a weapon used out at sea; the sea is a metaphor the subconscious and metaphysical.

You have done a split with Minsk and recorded Roky Erickson songs. How important is his work to you? Is he an underrated artist?
Ryan: I think Roky is a very underrated artist. His voice used to be incredible. Really haunting and powerful. He wrote some awesome rock songs over the years and he has this unique take on alien/lucifer lyrics. This was a result of the drugs and the cruel shock therapy the powers-that-be subjected him to. First he was tripping and then they locked him up and he connected to demons and supernatural forces. Much respect to Roky and the 13th Floor Elevators.

What pushed you to form The Howling Wind at first?
Ryan: The Howling Wind was formed to have an outlet for the kind of material I did with the previous black metal tinged project I did called Thralldom. I like to play more overtly metallic stuff with two guitars sometimes. Being that this has only been a studio band so far. It frees me up to do things I would never do with a live band.

Would you do live shows with The Howling Wind or is it strictly a studio initiative?
Ryan: No live shows right now. We have yet to play live and I am unsure if we ever will. If we do, we will have Carl from Coffinworm help us out on bass or guitar and I think we would probably need another member as well to pull it off properly. Also, there isn't this great demand for us to play. So for now, unless some amazing offer comes through, we will keep it as underground and distant as possible. I very much like not having to go through some of the annoying things that can be brought out being a touring musician.

There are many memorable and epic riffs on your albums since your style is very guitar-oriented. What are your favourite guitar riffs of all time?
Ryan: Cool question. I will probably list things that many would consider obvious but we should never overlook the pioneers of what we call heavy metal. So, it's Black Sabbath's „Black Sabbath”, „Snowblind”, „Symptom of the Universe” and countless others. To be honest, most of my favourite riffs ever have been done by Iommi, Butler and Ward. Others for example: „Procreation of the Wicked” by Celtic Frost, „Black Diamond” by Kiss, „Under a Funeral Moon” by Darkthrone. There are too many to name!