Friday, September 17, 2010

Nekrasov - Extinction (Crucial Blast Records 2010)

Extinction is an experience of absolute chaos and apocalyptic events through a blend of power electronics, black metal, and dark ambient. Three of my absolute favorite musical styles that go together so beautifully to create the perfect mindfuck come together into this science fiction, horror masterpiece.

Starting off with a really aggressive and raw (not in production quality though) black metal track “We are just an indifferent interpretation of the black plague”, I’m reminded of Ash Pool and Dodsferd (Fucking Your Creation). The machinegun battery of the drums and they belligerent guitar storm of angry distortion and almost hallucinogenic melody.

“Disillusion” sees us in a full-fledged barrage of symphonic black metal horror, artillery shell showers of percussion, and a diesel motor sounding chugging guitar. This track sounds like a surreal and cinematic alter reality of someone experiencing the end of the world first hand. You almost envision buildings collapsing and tsunamis crash over the shores and flood the cities as the sky changes through all of the shades of nuclear reds and yellows and bright flashes vaporize things into oblivion in less than the blink of an eye.

“Matter is the Bastard” is the soundtrack to the post-apocalypse moment when you gaze across the charred black, still smoldering and smoking landscape of what once was considered the center of the universe by arrogant and ignorant beings. Here we have a dark ambient atmospheric track that is perfectly designed for the post-traumatic events yet to come. All the while in the background there’s a hammering or stomping, sort of like footsteps or minor distant explosions muddied as you fight to regain consciousness.

“Void into Non-Void Master” launches us back into brutal black metal chaos and bloodshed, so apparently the war was not quite over, the next assault was heading towards us from across that span of rubble and debris. The almost diesel powered machine sounding guitar chords shredding and expelling shell casings all around as this swarm descends upon you.

“Pre-fetal Non-Mantra” brings us back to the aftermath of another massive annihilation attempt. Bodies are strewn all over, well pieces of what once were bodies, painted through a gusting wind of ambient and post-industrial drone.

All eight tracks on this disc switch out between nihilistic and ritualistic symphonic black metal, suicidal, genocidal, and maniacal post-industrial landscapes to form chapters of complete destruction in this diabolical story. I’m not over exaggerating here in this review either so if at any point you stopped and said “oh…shit!!!!!” then you’re right about where I’m at in my response to listening to this. This here is one the truest accounts of apocalypse and complete ruin, so if you think that you’re black metal is the real deal prepare to be humbled and destroyed by this holocaust!!!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Benighted in Sodom - Hybrid Parasite Evangelistica (Bad Mood Man Music 2010)

Benighted in Sodom is “Desperate atmospheric black metal”, and from first listen this album jumped to the head of the pile of new releases and I’ve been deeply focused on it for the last week or so that I’ve had it. It could be considered suicidal black metal in sound, but when listening to it in entirety it’s actually more of a narrative of being driven to suicide through pain inflicted and ending with the realization that your life was in fact worthless to those around you. This is some intense and driven creation that will captivate and disturb you as you can feel each word spoken and each painful gash made, it just aches with heaviness and burden. Some time has passed since something spoke to me as clearly as this release does and I cannot recommend it enough.

This album is dense and very emotive, you can actually understand their frustrations tribulations and they don’t try to mask them or muffle them either. The overall feel is supernatural and cerebral, but still very human. The opener, ”An Angel Circles the Drain” instantly slits your ephemeral artery with it’s jagged riff lash to open you and the album up. The way the layers of distorted and abstract guitar melodies swirl about as you listen, you can actually imagine the blood pouring out and flowing down a drain in much the same way. The vocals are furious expressive of pain, but this is not suicidal black metal….it’s vengeful and bitter instead.

“Liquid Flowing from a Slashed Wrist” starts out with a great almost horror film feel in the “unplugged” sounding strumming of the guitar over atmospheric effects. The vocals kick in with a frustrated yell and then speak in a demonic tone over classic buzzsaw guitar chords followed by a sudden pause to symphonic loomings and then the demon resumes his reciting. It’s almost like listening to the sound of some spirit torturing someone to the point of suicide as it chants out and bellows for one to kill themselves. This song reeks of torture and agony and definitely brings to mind some
sort of lunatics hallucination as he/she fights to avoid the inevitable self-demise to come.

“Nightshade and Arsenic” is a lighter guitar led instrumental piece that almost sounds like the final mortal resolution as the death has finally occurred and the soul is temporarily at rest.

“Solarium” comes in as a drifting wind with the synth and percussion, sort of like a soul moving on to its afterlife existence in some form or other. This track begins to feel more celestial and floating debris after a massive storm and then the theatrical spoken vocals burst out from beneath the debris almost as if they are the words of that soul condemning and cursing those from its former existence who caused the pain and suffering: “…Abuse yourselves and the ones you love…all I ever wanted to be was truly alive, and now before your eyes I will truly die!”

The final chapter of this saga is “The Surrogate”, comes out as a very bleak and melodic black metal soundtrack to a sort of psychological battle within oneself. The howling and raspy vocal line of “I was never there” repeated over a raw, churning and buzzing guitar riff makes one think of eternal pain and suffering, perhaps even irritation at the realization that no one cared that they were gone or were affected by their passing.

Again…this is some seriously intense listening, if it doesn’t make you feel something than you’re high or in denial. This was recently released this month and is monumental in my opinion, devastating, provocative and honest!!!!!

Fans of: Leviathan and Bethlehem, Krohm, Krieg, Xasthur, Carrion Wraith, and Benighted Leams take note.

Benighted in Sodom contact/audio samples:

Conversation with Immortal Empire

I do this mainly for the artists and those of us who really give a fuck about the music so some of these might appear on Metal Maniacs eventually, but due to the lenghty wait for them to post on that site I'll be posting them here as well. This solo black metal artist came to me and has been receiving praise throughout the underground for his compositions and rightfully so as this stuff is definitely old school classic bm the way we still love it.

(note) This conversation is casual and shows my usual griping about something, although it's actually not in reality, it just reads that way so view it as sarcasm and don't dwell on it as much as the info given and be sure to check the links out at the end to hear his work.

DOTDR: I was so thrilled when you found me, in fact the more I write reviews and such it seems that the better artists come out of the shadows and I get to work with them. I'm completely surprised that so much good metal, in terms of black metal, is coming out of England these days, although it was sort of the birthplace of metal and has always been a huge exporter of extreme music in all of the styles that I dig, so how's it over there being a solo black metal artist that has managed to continue releasing truly dark and haunting sounds since 2002?

Immortal Empire: Hi, well thank you very much!
This all started off with just having a few ideas that didn't go with my other bands, even though I have always been in metal bands of this sort, my ideas were different and to be honest I don't think anyone (including me) really understood where I was going with them, I just knew I wanted dark and atmospheric and that was it.

Immortal Empire never really started officially until I had stopped playing with other bands in 2008, I came up with the name in 2002 when I decided I wanted to start a solo project and from then it was slow due to commitments for my other bands.

I write stuff with a live set in mind, for example I would plan out each part and as I have played just about every instrument in my bands it helped me to do this.

A lot of solo Black Metal artists don't seem to think about their material purely as a band and just go and record their bits and leave it as that just because it is a solo project (I did at first), but to me really, a recording is supposed to demonstrate what it would be like played live and I've known some people to record something that ends up totally impossible to recreate live. There are so many solo Black Metal artists around these days and I have only just realized the amount looking on Myspace etc. There are way too many for the slightest amount to be realized, but then again some people think it is "true" to be a lost shadow in the underground and lots of them state "looking for label" , but personally I think if you can get somewhere with your passions then it could be done, but due to the masses of bands now, getting anywhere is a long road.

I will continue to look for members for live sets again as playing live is definitely a reward, but again… if it did start to be a band, I would have to be the main decider on the music and I have my personal touches that would need to be understood.

DOTDR: I totally agree with you about the oversaturation of solo bands, I see a lot of it with the drone doom type stuff, which I’m not even a fan of myself, it has to be something truly worthwhile like Fleshpress where it’s a weird almost psychedelic and dark ambient nightmare-scape. I love doom …it’s a weakness of mine, but most of drone metal is just disposable overall and only a few good acts that are rooted in other metal styles can pull it off well.

As for the black stuff, the rawness and adolescent angst that defined the early stuff made it easy for people to just grab an instrument and bang around on it and then call it something like “cult” black metal, but what they fail to realize is that those bands developed and very quickly into the standards we hold others to today, where many of these random acts don’t do it for me period. If these people read up on the old school and actually listened closely to some of the current raw bands that get my foaming at the mouth because they are so awesome like: Prosanctus Inferi, Profantica, Vomitor, Perversor, and even more ethereal stuff like Brown Jenkins , Velvet Cacoon, and Xasthur, they’d see that it’s not just putting something out, there’s a definite melody and/or rhythm and true atmosphere created that makes these acts strong even if the overall sound is lo-fi. There’s a very bold and wide line between say: early Darkthrone, Burzum (although that really is the cut off), Celtic Frost, Satyricon, early Bathory, and what many try to emulate these days, so it shouldn’t be so hard to really miss the distinction between crap and respectability.

So anyway, how's it that really strong acts like yourself are unsigned? There's a few others that are unsigned that I'm working with currently (Ebonmillumini being one) and the level of talent can be substantially greater then when compared to much of the stuff being released by labels, it’s sad to a certain degree. But on the other hand there are also many who choose to stay independent which is the way to go I say, depending on what you really want out of it in the end.

Immortal Empire: I have been asked lots of times by small labels to work with them and many of them are based in places that I didn't even know existed! I am very weary of that sort of thing. I also get approached with emails, etc. by people from companies that claim to be distributers but I have heard so many stories about people getting screwed that way and really only the big bands seem to get the right support so I just carry on as I am.

The benefits of being signed and having CD's produced (for me) would be the funding (having someone do the producing and distributing and paying for recording and advertising). It gets expensive on your own and the first few CD's will always be of a poorer quality sound, but as more merchandise gets sold I save it for better equipment and for better recordings. I do spend lots of hours printing off CD's and sometimes I get so many people ordering stuff that I just lose track and get muddled up with what's been sent out. Advertising takes all year to save for! I suppose if I really wanted to I could find some slaves to take care of these operations so to be honest I would definitely consider a decent label and it would probably give me even more drive as well as help. But, I do cope and I am content in doing things myself, as it is very rewarding although you never know what will happen in the future.

DOTDR: The whole reason that I started Defecation on the Divine Radio was to create a site that gave good labels that put out my favorite stuff a free place to advertise on and also to show support for the true artists through reviews and the webstream. It’s been a year now and at many points feels like I’m getting my wisdom teeth yanked out again, but this time with no anesthetic and done with a pair of household pliers and brute strength. Every other week I want to flush it because some asshole label won’t work with me because they think that writing reviews for them is asking for a handout, some band wants a review and /or interview and then never sends the files in an email or mails the disc and even worse…I spend hours writing up an interview for them and it never comes back, I really can’t stand bullshit period regardless of whose crap it is. I also can understand frustrations on the side of labels as well as bands/artists because you really never know who’s what and it just takes time and caution to get through it all, but no matter what there’s always someone out there looking to screw someone over. Plus, these days there’s really no new band that is good enough to shit on other people like many do, but the ego is too strong for so many.

When you came my way and I checked out the audio on your page, which I obviously liked, I also saw that you have had some pretty positive reviews from Terrorizer and Zero Tolerance, not bad for a solo indie project in a crowded pond. So what is it actually like in the routine and creative process of DIY? Are there any words of advice, encouragement or discouragement to others considering the same route?

Immortal Empire: There are so many Black Metal solo artists about nowadays which makes it harder for each one to achieve success in the industry, but it is also something that incompatible people and loners can do. It is freedom to create and it is taking care of everything the way I want to and there is nobody to say, "that bit sounds wrong".

On the other hand, a lot of the time (in just about every track) I delete parts, I alter parts and change my mind about the feel of bits and change guitar bits for keyboard bits and vise-versa and sometimes a track will totally transform into a totally different song by the end of it. I've never had a plan in mind and stuck to it. Sometimes I do destroy a whole lot and start again if it don't go right and I have recorded tracks and left them to be forgotten because they didn't seem good enough and found them later and thought, “I like them now”.

The reviews though have been very positive and there is always concern at the thought of a bad review, which may come in time. The songs end up like your children, in the fact that you create them and then send them out to the world to be ripped apart. It is very exciting to see your review in a magazine as a solo artist and most reviews that I have had have made me feel that I have accomplished something once more that I was born to do and it has been accepted- that is a satisfying feeling!

I read a lot of the reviews and feel very lucky and also very sorry for some bands as the reviewers can be absolutely relentless and if they are not feeling in the mood for listening to a certain band, then the band is gonna get it! I have been lucky so far but that is also where it is good to have the chance to get a track on the covermount CD so the listeners can judge for themselves and having that chance is a goal in its self too!

There should be more reviews coming up, I think one in Zero Tolerance is next month.

DOTDR: I know how you feel about putting something out there with the chance of having your pound of flesh and liter of blood tossed around or devalued by some stranger. It happens to me in the chemistry thing, you will always have to prove your point and fight egos and moods, including you own, but at least there you have a saving grace that if the data is good people can only argue so much against your presentation. You can also misrepresent the data and that gets ugly really quickly too as you make an ass out of yourself for not for “not knowing what the hell you’re presenting, yet you got those results”, sort of like writing a prize winning novel and not knowing how to read.

I find reviews to be a mixed bag myself, so many put them out there, but they don’t always listen to the album or look into that style or the bands info. Prior to doing so and it weakens the review. If it’s out of my league, or like half of the new Moribund releases… I know Hacavitz and Godless Rising by name, but am not familiar enough with their sounds to feel fully confident reviewing those albums regardless of how much pressure is applied by the PR company to get them done so I haven’t yet.

As you pointed out already, there are so many bands period that even ones like I have just mentioned who put out solid stuff just don’t come my way are sadly one of thousands until someone directs me that way or I just find it on my own.

I’ve also bought my fair share of disappointments based on wrong reviews, I’ve also seen many like most in Decibel that rarely give really solid albums better than a 7 but will rank some juvenile stoner thing like Torche as a 10, I love some of the heavier and better stoner stuff as well, but that band and Floor just don’t work for me and I don’t see the hype in it myself.

I put my full efforts and hours into everything that I do, and it’s not easy to listen to music all day everyday and analyze it, it takes a lot out of me, but in the end it does become worth it when I find that awesome sound and also help a band out who deserves it. I guess it’s safe to say that nothing worth having is easy regardless of what you choose to do, but as this is about Immortal Empire and not my rambling on about everything else under the damn solar sphere, although it’s hard not to get off subject when things really strike a note, talk about what releases you have out, anything that's currently in the works and general info on where we can get some of your stuff?

Immortal Empire: The first CD to be completed was the demo, “Between Necropoliptic Realms”. I made the word “Necropoliptic” up with the words "Necro" and "Apocalyptic". I also have used this idea to create a few words that I have used in songs. The CD really is just demo versions of “Nocturnal (Cursed Rites)” and “Mist of Centuries” along with a couple of "airy" dark ambient tracks. This was also a home recording and really a test run for recording from home.

The next CD was one that kept changing it's title- “Beneath Frozen Forests”, and “Howling Skies” or formerly- “I Await or something similar”, back in 2006 and has been slightly re-mastered and revisited in 2009 to be worthy of releasing. This CD was actually the first plans of Immortal Empire and includes the tracks “Benight the Howling Horde (which was the revisited track)”, “Dark are the hours”, and “I Await (The Ravishing and Flame Adorned)”, which the last two were formed using the first ever ideas I had for my solo stuff that I didn't want to waste.

In the winter of 2009 I recorded the self-titled album. I had stopped playing in other bands by this time as people tended to lack commitment, and not having enough members to do things right and drummers were always very few in these parts, and one drummer always had at least two bands going already and could never fully commit so I concentrated on my own stuff.

In November 2008 I saw a message from Terrorizer asking for a track to be put on the “Terrorizer Unsigned CD”, so I re-recorded the two tracks from the 2005 demo (which were my personal favourites) to submit and I used my new ideas to create the rest of the album. These tracks were heavily influenced by Hammer Horror films and put together with poems/lines that I had written. There are some main parts of this CD that were influenced by classical music too. That CD was written and recorded within two months which was quite an achievement as far as recording goes!.

The next CD was the latest EP. titled , “A New Darkness Begins”, which was a more experimental one with different tunings and a more varied use of lyrical concepts including writers such as: Tolkien, Lovecraft and very old poetical works (Not too many direct influences I must say but more so of language use). The main body of literature was still the old horror films and fantasy (Satan, Witchcraft, and one thing I am always including -Vampirism, all things from a fantasy point of view). This has six tracks: an intro, an outro, and four main tracks. The outro track I had put into a visual piece that was a short video of walking amongst an impressive early morning snow-filled local graveyard in mid-Winter, which is also on the Myspace page.

I am currently in the process of writing a new album, which is a little heavier and a little faster. Elements of old and new are there and with the personal touches that I have become accustomed to it will definitely be recognized as Immortal Empire.

There are CD's and t-shirts for sale on the Myspace site and occasionally there is some stuff available on eBay but generally if I get an email asking for stuff I'll give a Paypal address and use Paypal.

DOTDR: Wow, you have quite a catalogue going so far!!!!!
And as mentioned already, you've been around as a strong solo act for some years now, so do you think you'll keep it going? I think it'd be worth it.

Immortal Empire: Definitely, for as long as I am still able to play!

DOTDR: I miss being able to play, I just don’t have the time these days, but I have nice equipment.

Aside from dark literary inspirations, mentioned earlier, what are some of the bands that you find yourself inspired by, even if you don't try to sound like them per se but want to create a certain feel and experience in the track that you produce? I'm completely obsessed with Italian Doom/Horror/prog stuff and kraut rock obscurities, and have a beautiful 5-string jazz master bass that never gets used to do groove along with that stuff .

Immortal Empire: To me, music is all about atmosphere… something to be immersed in. I have been inspired by a lot of different things and I think a wider scope is better for development and finding a personal style. With music, I have interest in progressions / changes / certain patterns especially diminished or classical sounding. I think as I've developed my own techniques I don't find myself looking for inspiration from others as much as I did.

Some of the bands that I have listened to in the past and recently that I have admired for energy and atmosphere are bands like: Theatres des Vampires (early years and especially live), the ruggedness of bands such as Possessed and Desaster(for the AngelWhore album), the older Hecate Enthroned with their heavy synth sound and bands such as: My Dying Bride, Creaming Jesus, The Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, Alien Sex Fiend, Cinema Strange and Wolfsheim; all for their personal strong atmospheres and dark tones.

No doubt I will have some sound changes in the future but it won't stray too far from what it is now.

DOTDR: I’m a huge Alien Sex Fiend fan, I really dig a lot of the old post punk/dark.death rock stuff like ASF, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Siouxsie and the Banshees, all of the early forms of The Cult including Theatre of Hate.

I also saw that you are on ReverbNation, a lot of great bands do a lot on there, but I've never asked about how well it works. I have an account but I haven't used it, is it at all worth the extra effort for or is it another free site for bands to throw away valuable time on and still be one diamond among millions of turds?

Immortal Empire: (laugh) Personally I think if you have the time then like any site -yes, it is all good promotion and advertising. ReverbNation is kind of an all in one control panel for all of your music sites as you can link all of your profiles/sites up to keep an eye on the overall progress. I don't know a lot about how it works yet but the good thing with this site optionalit the things like widgets and the media player that you can paste into any profile on the net and I haven't yet done it but you can get your tracks made onto professionaly made CD's to order including booklet/inlay etc. The site deserves credit, you can see which band is in what position in the local and worldwide charts (I had been number two in the Eastern region for quite a while until The Rotted crept up and took it though that was inevitable, I'm happy at number three:) and as it is worldwide there's bound to be benefits if used correctly because the intention of this site is mainly for putting stuff about not just on the site.

DOTDR: I’ll have to reset my account and update it for the website, I just have so little time that even that small effort can be a drain. Then again, the more people who read and hear about the great stuff out there more support will start to show, and that’s what I do it for. I also do a lot with power electronic/neo-folk/dark ambient/post industrial stuff on that site as well as metal so it has a great mix of obscurities as well.

As for the interview part, that's pretty much it for me, is there anything you'd like to add?

Immortal Empire: Yes, thank you very much, I kind of plan Immortal Empire one year at a time, I take the first part of the year experimenting and writing and the end of the year recording. I have drafted out the new album for maybe the start of next year. Setting deadlines never works for me so I will always say "the end of the year or start of next year" but keep an eye out for progress on the Myspace page and there are some compilation CD's coming up that will include some Immortal Empire tracks on so that too will be posted on Myspace page and most probably be for sale there too.

Cheers! and thanks too to anybody that reads this far:)

DOTDR: Thanks so much for the great responses and insight into what you do, it interests the hell out of me as I never went into seriously making music due to my never having the drive or opportunity and love to hear the inside info on what REALLY goes on. It really sheds light on what really goes on and that to me is just as important as squawking about an album for 10 lines.

Immortal Empire info,contact, and audio samples:

Interview with Ebonillumini

Lurking somewhere between the realms of life and death, floating between both existences dancing among the shadows and drizzle of an English morning comes this amazing band, Ebonillumini. Having been around for a few years now and also releasing a phenomenal demo, The Ebon Channel, this duo is another avant-garde black metal band to surface. I’ve been a HUGE fan for the last 6 months or so since I discovered them on a compilation of UK Black Metal bands and was instantly engulfed by their sound. Many bands that go this route are successful as their background is generally in another form of metal of neo-folk/pagan and these projects become an outlet for a change and expression of something different. On the other hand there is a decent amount of exhausted mediocrity or just plain weak attempts to create a more neitherworldly or dreamlike environment within the music that will begin to surface as does with most good things, although drone doom never caught on with me too well.

It seems as if half of the stuff that I’ve reviewed as of late have been more of the atmospheric/pagan/avant-garde black metal and they have all been promising and so far delivering on that promise even with the nay-sayers labeling it all as weak and the labels promoting it as “shoe-gaze”. Maybe it’s just my personal bias as I’m a huge neo-folk/pagan/ambient fan and always have followed that stuff fairly closely and enjoy literature, and love to see some of that influence in music and art. I was wrong about Germany winning the World Cup and was almost certain that it was a sure bet because of a weird dream but I still couldn’t bring myself to make that bet, but I would be willing to make this bet that many will find this band to be as enthralling as I do regardless of their personal preference in metal/music. So without further delay, here’s my brief interview with the band and one of my most recent and longer lasting musical obsessions:

DOTDR: Although some elements of black metal are present, especially from the more ethereal and folksy styles of BM as heard in artists like: Alcest, Lifelover, Finnr's Cane, Sorgeldom, Lik. You fit perfectly in that void between the neo-pagan/neo-folk sound as heard from artists like: Ataraxia, Olen K, Allerseelen and the other artists mentioned. How do you guys view your sound and what do you want to portray through it?

Christina: I view our sound as Avant-garde black metal neo-classical folk!
The lyrical & musical concepts are intended to fascinate, disturb, evoke and entice, to reveal emotions & visualizations. The atmospheres created are the reactions of light illuminating deep inside all things dark, forbidden & shadowy. Our task as The Monk & Maiden is to convey and release the hidden stories, secrets, sadness and beauty hidden therein. The theatrical decadence of the avant-garde black metal domain has given me balance as a performer, writer, singer and musician to experiment into greater depths with the darker sides of my creativity.

J.D. Tait: I’ve always had a love for In The Woods… but only had the chance to express some of the atmospheres in small parts through my other projects. Ebonillumini gave the opportunity to create an entire release awash with dusky dark atmospheres. I would of hated to just imitate ITW so I tried to incorporate some stranger elements but the element which is most unique to our sound is Christina’s dark jazzy vocals which as far as I know no avant-garde Black Metal band have incorporated thus far. We wish to portray our journey through our part fiction part non fiction travels through areas of the world with elements of personal, historical & fantasy based concepts.

DOTDR: What do you guys have planned for the band?

Christina: We are planning on continual creative works which will expand endlessly in the form of our conceptual approach to be discovered with our forthcoming debut album.

JD: Our debut album is the next stop & will be following close to our demo but with some blacker moments as well as some stranger avant-garde moments. Once this release has birthed its gift we may start to think about the possibility of performing live. One thing you can always expect from us is the unexpected & to never close the door on evolving the bands sound.

DOTDR: Are you hoping to stay unsigned and independent (I totally support that route myself if a band can do it successfully)?

Christina: I am hoping that the work we produce will obtain optimum awareness; it is very difficult to achieve this without label backing.

JD: You can only successfully self release when you have built the foundations & gained a solid fan base. This is what we’re in the process of doing right now.

DOTDR: Are there any other releases out there besides "The Ebon Channel" and I've gotten several people ask me directly about how to get that release because they read the review and heard the tracks on the show/audiostream?

Christina: At the moment there are no other releases available out there ‘The Ebon Channel’ is our only release, which can be purchased through our myspace. However our debut album is now 90% complete.

DOTDR: Is there anything that you'd like to touch on that hasn't been so far ?

JD: The avant-garde BM scene is flourishing at the moment & as always when a scene grows a lot of good but unoriginal bands start to appear. Your job as the listener is to discern between the dross & the truly unique bands that have something new to bring to the table, mediocrity is not something to praised.

DOTDR: I honestly can’t thank you both enough for your time and creations, your visions have begun to manifest themselves already and I’ve gotten massive responses to your music from my site. I’m looking to the album and everything that you guys create, as it is more of an experience than just another atmospheric black metal album. Best of luck with all of your prospects and keep evolving and being

For band info,contact, and audio samples:

You really HAVE to check this stuff out!!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Interview with Mystified

DOTDR: Upon receipt of your album Passing Through the Outer Gates and reading the info card, I was really interested because the whole idea of that Eulogy Series by FFS was to have each artist express their perception of the death experience in their music. Death is a fascinating concept to work with and it’s always pretty intriguing to see what peoples own perceptions are of it. In listening to Mystified I was pleasantly surprised at how meditative and celestial your take on it was, it really wasn’t very dark but more of a sense of achieving enlightenment. How do view the concept of death and what did you really want to convey in this release?

Mystified: Well, death is usually seen as an ending point to life, and in a lot of ways it is one. We lose our consciousness of this world (apparently) and leave our earthly connections behind. In another way, though, maybe death is a new beginning-- a transition of the soul away from the body. If it is our fleshy forms that cause so much suffering, then to depart the body might actually be a relief, though a scary one. In "Outer Gates" I imagined I was portraying the journey of a soul, from the moment it left its body, through various stages (or "gates"), until it found a place of rest at a distant quiet point. Actually, to me, the music is dark, though not as oppressive as some dark ambient releases.

DOTDR: I actually view death the same way as you do, as a sort of freedom as opposed to an end. This release definitely had the feeling of a souls journey and was still dark in sound, just not so ominous and morbid. Was there any specific response that you had wanted to invoke in the listener? What do you aspire to create in your artistic form of Mystified?

Mystified: I definitely wanted the release to be enjoyed as a whole. A person is welcome to listen to songs individually, if they like, but part of the point of the cd is to portray a complete transition. This involves a sad and moody beginning, changes and transformations both exciting and scary, and finally a peaceful resolution. So I was hoping the listener might find this trip to be engaging and might find a point of resolution at the end by listening. As for my artistic goals as Mystified, there honestly have been many, but one of my main goals has been to find music in the world around me, and to fuse different ideas of what might be called "atmospheric". For example, I have used data I gathered from flowers and star patterns to create music, and even actual radio waves generated by lightning. I did not use these techniques in "Outer Gates", but I did try to create a broad picture of atmosphere, with lots of expanse, and nice, graceful subtleties going on.

DOTDR: The album definitely is best as a whole and I really can’t see it in parts myself. The whole thing about using star patterns and radio waves generated by lightning, that’s completely awesome and is one of those facts that will make me run and get a copy of something. I’m always up for the unusual and new, so the most bizarre and intricate audio is more than just sounds for me, I really enjoy Japanese noise and experimental and have always been a big follower of Nurse With Wound, Einsturzende Neubauten, Monolake, and Biosphere, with all of them there is a change in styles from some groovier bits, jazz even, minimal, and so on. It’s as if each album is still distinctly them, but it’s not like the others either. Tell us a bit about Mystified as a whole (past, present and future)?

Mystified: Mystified is my main musical entity. I've been around for over a decade, and composed in many different styles. Looking back, I would say that the main element of Mystified is one of growth, which I feel I can observe through the years. I'd also hope that there has been a consistent insistence on a certain quality, especially in terms of sound and achieving atmosphere. If you were to listen to my releases in chronological order, you could definitely notice trends-- such as primitive ambient, phonographic, minimal drone, droney techno, and so forth. At this point, I have quite a few pieces. Rather than discard them, I keep them, for various purposes. I like to listen to the best pieces from each phase of growth.

DOTDR: I’ve always found ambient in all its forms to be fascinating because the compositions are generally cinematic, even the most minimal of them. They somehow conjure up images in your mind and play out a narrative derived from your unconscious and conscious responses to the sounds; it’s almost psychedelic in many ways as well. How do as an ambient artist view the style?

Mystified: I think your description is excellent. With "Outer Gates" it was especially interesting, because, for me, true ambient is abstract. It goes back to the original notion-- something quiet being played in the background, barely heard. Ambient music is a lot like elements of the world around us-- the sky, moon, stars, and such. They beautify or transform our surroundings, sometimes with us hardly noticing. But in "Outer Gates", when I submitted some minimal, "naturalistic" bell drones, Chris at the label First Fallen Star pushed me to add more to them, striving for more power and complexity. So I think especially with this release I explored the cinematic style of ambient, rather than the strictly abstract.

DOTDR: I definitely noticed the bells and found that they fit the compositions well, but I also really enjoy the abstract aspects of the music and this release was definitely abstract. I’m really drawn to most things abstract, I don’t typically go for simple and straightforward unless it’s something specific. Aside from this album and the theme of death, what themes/ideas influence your music, if they are anything specific?

Mystified: Certainly nature and the world around me, which I believe stems from some cosmic consciousness, or at least a great primal source. In this respect, I have done lots of stuff about urban environments (since I live in one, and it's also part of my atmosphere), tribal environments (for me pretty imaginary, but indicative of some primal atmosphere), science fiction, carrying with it a fascination with space as a part of the universe we are just beginning to explore, and many other themes. I would say I tend to be less emotive. I am moody, but not emotive. There is a trend in ambient I would like to call "Emo-bient". It's been around from the beginning. But I tend to shy away from that, a little, from the syrupy, gosh golly pieces. Feeling in Mystified is usually tempered by darkness, or maybe maturity.

DOTDR: I’ve been really inspired to start creating art based on urban environments and even did some architectural stuff for a conceptual art class that involved sketching of dilapidated old industrial areas. I really love the concrete and clutter of the urban environment, graffiti, trash, it all has a sculptural aesthetic I think. For me art is very personal and it’s not always easy to express what you want to and then be open to explaining it to others who might find it confusing or in my case disturbing. How do you view music, do you see it as something that can be very personal?

Mystified: Well, I do attribute a certain importance to the stuff I've done, which may be silly. But it is part of the human ego to connect with its creations. Honestly, most of my music is abstract and theoretical, so I feel less like I am exposing myself emotionally and more like I am interpreting or re-creating the world around me. "Outer Gates" is an exception, as with Chris at the label pushing me I really had to dig deep so you are seeing more of Mystified as a person in this cd.

DOTDR: I really respect what you have created with Passing Through the Outer Gates and look forward to hearing more of your stuff in the future. In closing, is there anything that you’d like to add?

Mystified: Thanks to Chris at First Fallen Star for his inspiration, to my fans for their dedication, and thanks also to you Janet for interviewing me and for your thoughtful and searching questions. Don't forget to visit me at

Monday, September 13, 2010

An Interview with Phragments

DOTDR: I see that you’ve had a good number of releases prior to Earth Shall Not Cover Their Blood, so tell us about Phragments (it’s inception, motivation, and anything that you feel relevant).

Matej: Phragments is a duo from Bratislava, Slovakia. It's a project of me and my wife, where I am responsible for the musical output and my wife Sonia takes care about the visuals at live events. We have started Phragments in 2002. Our first material (EP "We are all beasts", live CD "Switzerland Occupied", full-length "Homo Homini Lvpvs" and the second live CD "Awaken the Wolves") was released on our own label Construct.Destroy.Collective.
The second full-length album "The Burning World" was released on the Israeli label The Eastern Front. After that there was the three-way split "Scontrum Act VIII" on the Polish label Rage in Eden. Finally the third full-length album was released on the US label Malignant Records. My last piece so far is the collaborative album "Mysteries of the Greylands", created together with the Slovak dark ambient project Korinth, released on the young Italian label Greytone. I have also contributed material on a number of compilations.
As for my motives - well since my childhood I was always into music. In my teenage years I started to love the darker areas of art. Back then I was a lot into doom, black metal and gothic rock. Around 1996 I discovered Cold Meat Industry with it's amazing roster of artists. The Swedish scene has influenced me a lot and I think you can hear that on the overall sound of Phragments. Later I discovered other areas of industrial music, noise, PE and all sorts of other genres. I'm very open in terms of style, but I am very picky as well. The need to start Phragments was motivated by the need to express certain difficult emotions and ideas. This has not changed since I started the project. I'm glad that my music did find it's way to listeners all around the world. Their feedback is one of the things that keeps me motivated to create more music.

DOTDR: There’s definitely an emotional power contained in the music, which is one of the main factors in making it so strong. I’m also hugely interested in those labels and sound you had just mentioned.
Upon first listen your sound is intense and also archaic, there’s a lot of soul in the tracks created and each one sort of forms this experience of the angry dead resurrecting themselves to wage a plague upon those that did them wrong. On your MySpace Page under Sounds Like you put “Victims of genocides spitting fire into your eyes”, which is absolutely true in what I hear in your sound. It’s sort of the ideal combination of In Slaughter Natives with Arditi, you get the industrial militaristic and nihilism effect of one mixed with the more haunting and ethereal orchestral of the other. Obviously you intend to provoke a response within the listener and that for me, as already said, is what makes your sound so powerful so in your words: what do you want to create with Phragments?

Matej: Honestly, I have to say that what you just described is probably the closest anyone has got to what I want to communicate through my music. True, I put a lot of my soul into my music, sometimes almost too much. The music of Phragments has a lot of ingredients. There is the orchestral pathos, the mournful melodies, the noisier outbursts and last but not least, the ever-present darkness.
When I compose music, I tend to think of it as very visually evocative. I was always fascinated by large spaces created within music - that is probably why I use so much reverb. My music is music for dreaming, for contemplation in solitude, and even though nowadays it sounds as a cliché, through my music I try to create movies for the mind. I tend to perceive my music as very serious, dealing with serious topics and difficult (yet not necessarily negative) emotions. I never thought of my own music as fun, although I myself have a lot of fun during the creative process. It's hard to see my compositions as "songs", since they are often quite long and repetitive. This is one of my compositional tools - I lead the listener into a slightly different state of perception and after that I can have a better access to his / her emotions. I have always tried to provoke responses with my music - in my opinion all music is political, since it communicates some sort of stance or worldview. Even the stupidest pop music communicates things - it often evokes a vision of a perfect world, ideal people, well-structured relationships, etc. My music, on the other hand, points out the aspects of human nature and the world as such which people don't want to see. My music is a sort of mirror - I hope people end up feeling and thinking a lot after listening to it. And in regard to the projects you have mentioned - I have been fascinated by In Slaughter Natives since the mid-90s, yet I'm not a big fan of Arditi.

DOTDR: It’s really great to hear someone, an artist, say that they intend to invoke some sort of experience through their creations whether it be audio or visual, and of course some thought. I think that’s part of why the dark ambient/power electronic/martial sounds continue to grow and prosper, there's a lot of responses that are triggered while listening to it making it more than just audio most times. As for the darker atmopsheres, there’s something more to the darker and more disturbing emotions that makes them so enticing, there’s a thrill associated with them as well as mystery and a primal urge toward conflict. I also agree with you fully that music is political as is all art to some extent.
In my art I tend to want to create images that are intense and disturbing. Many people feel compelled to like them because of the detail and skill but can’t always get past the expressive content. I rarely finish them becuase hte feeling fades and I either emss them up and throw them out or just leave them unfinished. I’ve always had really strange dreams, I’m talking vivid ones where your entire family, friends, and even enemies sit down at a table made of carcasses and they openly plan on executing you next, and that's my main source of visual imagery. I’ve also always been able to find a soothing aesthetic in things that are solemn and dreary or even morbid and diabolical, just as there’s ugliness in much of what we deem as desirable, especially the superficial nature of our being. So given that, what influences in your life do you feel come out in your compositions?

Matej: Another cliché comes to my mind - I am influenced by the world around me, haha. But seriously, it's stuff that I see, hear, feel, read about that influences me. Psychology, anthropology, history are the main sources. There are personal issues as well as global ideas that I try to reflect with my music. I like to keep the interpretation of some of the meanings within my music on the listener. Politically though, I try to keep things simple and clear - my music is anti-totalitarian in every sense. I would be happy if all listeners of Phragments would see it the same way.

DOTDR: I saw that statement you made about Nazi’s and totalitarianists not being welcome and I really liked it. I didn’t know if it would be too upfront to mention it here at first but now I see that you’re pretty open about your music and expressions. I don’t support arrogance and stupidity of any kind, ignorance is curable but stupidity is forever.
I definitely feel a sort of freedom and space in your music that lends itself to more of a trance inducing state or a film, as you mentioned earlier, then anything political and appreciate that as much as I do some of the political stuff ( I really love crust punk stuff like Discharge and Doom, there was a real message and it was actually quite positive). For me when it comes to music and art, there’s so much to say but I have to stop somewhere, so in doing so is there anything left that you’d like to mention?

Matej: Well, there is a lot of stuff to talk / write about, so if any of the stuff that I wrote has provoked any questions for you, let me know and I will be happy to answer them ;-). Thanks a lot for the interview so far, I really liked your questions.

DOTDR: Honestly, thanks so much for your time and a brief look at what you create, it’s really remarkable and definitely deserves recognition. I actually love to correspond and interview the artists that make a huge impact on myself, it’s interesting to get the creators actual perspective on what they do. Studying visual art as a minor, I always hated critiques, but now I actually understand why they are so important and try to really develop my ideas and output and can really see it in other peoples work (or lack of it). I’ll definitely check out your other releases and wish and your wife the best with Phragments and any other artistic forms that you create.

Phargments online@

Phragments review here:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lamentations of the Ashen – In the Burden of the Hearts Plaint (Basement Cult Records 2010)

Yet another solo atmospheric metal project that combines the intensity and skill of a full band within a single individual, Lamentations of the Ashen brings the somewhat warm and beautiful melodies of the more avant-garde black metal of Alcest, Lifelover, Celestia, and the stripped down, howling and turbid antics of say Xathur or Burzum.

The album opener, “ Tresses of Enamoured Auburn”, is a 17 minute dense and misty indulgence through tragedy, isolation, and even hope. There are ambient textures, haunting cries, and a solemn melody that all together make this track complex in theme and sound but never distract one away from unintentionally being swept up in it.

“See My Struggle” continues with the howling cries and muddy solemn atmospheres, but showcases more of the tremolo picking and distorted guitar elements that really bring in the ancient and cryptic sound of a skin and bones black metal track. The funereal organ and the echoing of the vocals from behind the mix create a whirlpool of the chills of a deep autumn night approaching.

What really draws me in to much of the avant-garde and atmospheric black metal is the incredible amount emotion that they can capture in the tracks, plus my long running obsession with Ambient/martial/post industrial tunes. There’s almost always a forlorn and tragic feel present, but then there’s some sort of hope or inspiration that shows face for a brief moment, and all the while the tracks are still able to remain in the shadows and exist in condemnation. This album, as do many that go by this style, sounds more like a classic horror, tragedy, or ghost story novel than purely a collection of audio tracks. Essentially, In the Burden of the Heart’s Plaint is a soundtrack for deep thought and inspection.

Band info and contact, audio samples:

Haeresiarchs of Dis - Denuntiatus Cinis (Moribund 2010)

Haeresiarchs of Dis is a one man US black metal project that manages to stir up massive furors of Emperor (circa In The Nightside Eclipse). The tracks are total hell storms of absolute symphonic black chaos but with every bit of sophistication as would be expected from a full band and yet Cernunnos and a few contributors manage to launch a full scale sonic storm that can not only hold it’s own weight but definitely devastates many acts out there today.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for anything that reminds me of: classic Emperor, Limbonic Art, Dark Fortress and the like, but I’m also pretty stoked when a new black metal release strays from the notable minimal, raw, and avant-garde styles and just brings me back the occultic and epic sounds of years past. There’s an atmosphere of an almost pure morbidity and cinematic existence within this album that cannot be ignored nor denied.

Band contact/info/audio samples: