Ghost Cult 16 front cover largeHuzzah! Ghost Cult Magazine Issue #16 is out now! Featuring our interview with Cynic discussing their new album, philosophy, the creative process, Chuck Schuldiner’s legacy and more! Plus other featured interviews with Skeletonwitch, Red Fang, Morbid Angel, Stolen Babies, In Solitude, Howl, Music Author Neil Daniels, Throne of Katarsis, ,Valkyrie, Sarke, concert promoter Willem Van Maele of TMR Promotions; Lamb of God As The Palaces Burn film, the NAMM Show recap, Sunn O)))) & Ulver EP, Stone Sour, Alcest, Amon Amarth, Long Distance Calling, Chimaira and tons more metal! Check it out! http://ow.ly/uQP2j

4pnl_folder

One of the best bands in recent memory, Howl is a band, despite some critical success and fan respect, is still a bit under the radar. They may not be top of mind to some when you talk about the major American metal bands, but they certainly deserve you attention with their abrasive blend of sludge, doom and other influences. Following up their full length debut Full of Hell in, the band released Bloodlines (Relapse) almost a year ago. Vincent (Vince) Hausman chatted with Ghost Cult about the maturation process of this brutal band, and glimpse of what Howl is capable of next.

 

Out for almost a year now, Bloodlines marked some slight changes in the writing tenor of the band who rode the wave of Full of Hell’s doom and crust leanings:

We wanted to challenge ourselves musically and lyrically. We wanted a more aggressive record. We wanted a more modern sound as well, since we didn’t want to make the same album twice. I think another difference was that we wanted to approach the song writing a little more differently. We tried to give songs more individual character or atmospheres or flavors, as opposed to just piling on riffs. Which I think that worked great for Full of Hell, and there is definitely something to that. But we wanted to make the sound of Bloodlines a little bit more distinct from each other. Overall a more aggressive heavy metal record, as opposed to just a doom/sludge record. That was the big difference, in terms of approach, intent and purpose on Bloodlines.”

howl band2 

Ultimately we’re a band, that doesn’t over analyze things too much. We’re not trying to make a classic rock, or too going experimental either. We are a metal band. We wanted to write metal record and we wanted to write a metal record when we did Full of Hell, too. We always want to hear a certain consistency and have a definite “Howl sound”, even as the band may continue to develop and evolve.”

Some of the development from the album came from the lineup changes that brought new song writing chemistry: “It’s great to be working with Josh (Durocher-Jones), who joined us for the writing of Bloodlines, especially in the lead department. I think his contributions added a lot of texture and variety to the record. Most of all his style of working helped us stay on task a little bit better, when we were in the basement of our drummers house, in our pjs, essentially writing the record. (laughs) Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, but they were really metal pj’s. (laughs)”

 

 

Although at times Hausman has put down his axe just to scream on a song or two in his career, he has transitioned to smoothly to full-time front man now.

We’re touring now where with me just doing vocals, and we brought on our buddy Jonathan (Hall) in to play second guitar. What we discovered in the writing of Bloodlines, the vocals are more varied, there’s a lot more of them, and they’re all over the place in terms of style. So in order for me to do them justice live, we decided that it would be more effective to focus on the vocals and just be the front man. We wanted to make sure the musical chops get what they deserve too. I wrote a lot of the material and I will continue to do that. But I am also at a point in my career where I am ready to welcome some outside influences, and collaborating with other people. So bringing Josh and Jonathan in has been a key step in doing that. I feel like I will come into my own, like never before in terms of the vocal duties. We can put on a hell of a show, and this is the best lineup yet from the band. The other dudes in the band are great musicians and great performers too. It’s been really fun.”

howl band1 

 

One of the biggest changes from album to album, that point to the growth of this band is the move into new lyrical terrain for Hausman: “There is some personal shit in there, but I also leave things for people to interpret for themselves and find meaning. I got an email the other day from this guy, even though we are beer drinkers, this guy was struggling to overcome addiction and got inspiration and help from our lyrics, and from the album which I thought was really awesome. That is not necarilly what I wrote about, but it’s cool that he was able to interpret and extract from that, to find a meaning. So I really welcome that. At the same time, heavy metal for me, hasn’t been so much about fantasy, about wizards and dragons. It’s cool it that’s your thing, but it’s not for me. I got into heavy metal because I was pissed off and and didn’t understand a lot of things. I didn’t like people telling me how to be, how to dress, and how to feel. I didn’t like being told what to do, how they were going to define my sexuality for me. So I found a community of people, and an outlet musically that I connected with. When it’s my turn to write the lyrics, I like to keep it real too. I can’t write about unicorns and goats. That doesn’t really do it for me. When you read the lyrics back from Bloodlines, it will be a reaction to a lot about what is going on in the world.”

 

One example is there will always be the hypocrisy of organized religious institutions. For example people, like the catholic church, who always preached morality and from a doctrine of fear, telling people who they can and can’t love. All the while, shielding each other from being prosecuted for pedophilia. That’s really fucked up world that we live in a word like that. That is kind of the stuff you will find backing my lyrics as well.”

 

 howllogo-e1360688745662

While it’s not an obvious influence on the band, the legendary Providence underground music and art scene definitely played a part in the evolution of the character of the band, at least in subtle ways.

I don’t know if you can hear it in our music, because Howl is not very artsy, or experimental. Obviously, Providence has a thriving experimental art scene. It’s been great to play with vast array of bands that do different shit. It’s been a hotbed for music and performers for years, so it’s kind of underrated. On the other hand, it’s been a well-kept secret in New England for years, so that’s cool too. Our bass player Jesse is playing in a black metal project called Sire, and that’s a band to keep an eye on.”

Howl on Facebook

Keith (Keefy) Chachkes

 

 

 

Tuomas Holopainen - Scrooge

The keyboardist from Nightwish has recorded a concept album about Scrooge McDuck. Read that sentence back again – your response to its very existence will tell you more than I could achieve in a thousand words.

Operating outside his famous alma mater for the first time, Holopainen has here abandoned every aspect of Nightwish’s sound that could be considered – no matter how controversially – Metal, pitching his sound in the kind of symphonic, culturally light-fingered soundtrack territory that suggests a lower-budget Enya. Swathes of mawkish synths hammer home cloying, heavy-handed melodies that seem to demand the listener has an emotional reaction, without providing appropriate reason to do so. Elsewhere, clumsy “ethnic” or celtic-sounding elements give the impression that Holopainen has been raiding the CDs in his local new-age shop.

Pretty much exactly what one would expect from keyboardist-minus-Nightwish, then, but one aspect in which the album fails to live up to reasonable expectations comes, regrettably, on the subject of fun. The concept sounds so ludicrous, so insane that one imagines the kind of tongue-in-cheek, unselfconscious silliness that can make even the terrible enjoyable for a time: Duck Tales samples, cartoonish key changes and the joyous middle-finger waving of a man who’s doing what he loves and doesn’t care what you think. It’s seriously disappointing, then, to realise how sober and restrained it is. Holopainen is taking his inspiration not from the cartoons but from Don Rosa’s well-regarded comic, and he’s at pains to make us realise just how “serious and moving” it is – there’s no Launchpad McQuack here, sadly. If Nightwish have anything to offer – and whether or not they do is a discussion for another place – then it’s surely the joyous, shameless sense of escapist fun that their best material captures, but that’s entirely absent from Life And Times.

An uninspired album of flat, featureless music which doesn’t provide any of the things that the small number of people who’ll actually want to listen to it will be hoping to hear. The soundtrack to a film you’d never watch.

2/10

Tuomas Holopainen on Facebook

Richie Hanton-Rutherford

a900830fb8fbfef0bc63a99dde00a939_large

 

Karyn Crisis. Her name is synonymous with brutal music, creativity, and artistic integrity. As the leader her own band out of New York City in the 90s, hearing Crisis, especially live, was brutal and ear and mind opening experience. Karyn had left the spotlight for the most part until a few years ago, joining Ephel Duath as their vocalist. Now forming the nucleus of what is to become her first true solo-project Gospel of the Witches, Karyn is stepping back out of the shadows. Along with Davide Tiso, she is putting together an amazing lineup of collaborators to bring this project to life. Together they have taken to a crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter to raise the finances to make the album as independently as possible. Ghost Cult’s Christine Hager caught up with Karyn to delve into the creation of this project.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me about your new project, Gospel of the Witches, Karyn. Can you tell me a bit about where the idea came from and what type of musical expression we might expect from this killer line-up of musicians you’ve brought together?

Thank you for your interest, I appreciate your support. In fact, I’m so grateful from the support I’ve been receiving far and wide, starting with the men I chose to be a part of this album. They are all phenomenal musicians, and a dream team for me to work with. Each person has a specific strength that lends itself to the expression of this album, each person has his own power that is important to this album. I’m honored to have Davide bestowing me with the this album. It goes beyond my highest desires and has created a living, breathing place I want to crawl into and be consumed by. I worked intently and trying to imagine the ultimate album I’d want to have and what he’s written goes far beyond my dreams. Davide and I met under the auspices of making my solo album in Tuscany. Instead of making the album then, both our lives would change with the absolutely undeniable presence of a “ghost;” a Tuscan Witch in Spirit who would begin teaching me Ancient Ways while I was in Tuscany, and who’d continue to be my Guide when we returned to the U.S. While our focus was on getting the album made as soon as possible, she had other plans for me; a transformation I needed to undertake.  I needed to experience this transformation before the album would be ready to be received by me and also by Davide. This album is dedicated to my Spirit Guide and symbolically what she endured as a witch, but also as an ode to what any of us endure when we feel we must live keeping part of ourselves in secret. This album is also a sonic symbol of the Union of God and Goddess; masculine and feminine energies unabashedly shining in their strengths. These songs are Incantations; they move energy, they are magick in sound. Davide’s guitars and compositions are like the searing flames that set this whole monumental album on fire and break the listener open; Danny keeps the driving heartbeat, Ross and I (and on 2 track Michael Hill) create the thick and serpentine rhythms, chants, and incantations pulsing forward and within. People are so curious about this line-up, which I think is fantastic. As a Seer I feel the energies in people beneath the surface, and to me this group of people are a recipe of great potential.
GoW logo

Have there been many changes to the direction of the music over the five year period of it’s creation, or has there been a consistent vision throughout?

The vision for the album was always focused, but it was difficult for me to express this to Davide and at the beginning, for me to even imagine it completed. And therefore the song atmospheres morphed quite a bit. I’m not a musician in the same way I’m not an artist. I don’t sketch, nor practice painting yet I paint images beyond my skill set. Musically I don’t jam. Musically I have my voice, my vocabulary, and as a naturally introverted person I have to be brave enough to let this out. Davide, in contrast, is an accomplished musician: precise, technical, controlled, and also wildly emotionally expressive. So to get this album in the desired musical direction, I tried explaining to him the atmosphere I imagined. As with all my creative work, I create it in my mind’s eye first, or my inner hearing. If I can see it there complete, I know it can be manifested. I work from thin air. In this case, it took me time to create an intense enough atmosphere in my imagination and to keep energy focused there so it would grow beyond just my mind, and in someway out to Davide. I know that this process works for me: creating out of thin air, but it’s a challenge when working with others, to be able to express the energy of something, which is more abstract no matter how many adjectives you use, versus showing someone something concrete. I have to be the master builder in my imagination and work with people I feel akin to energetically so the information will be received along energetic lines versus physicality. And while this project began between just Davide and myself, I became compelled to reach out and collaborate once it was clear and undeniable that we’d arrived at our sonic destination as a result of personal growth.

 

What part will Mike Hill of Tombs be playing on the album?

I began to hear Michael Hill’s vocals on two tracks in my mind when I was rehearsing and writing two specific songs. A few months later he let me hear the new upcoming Tombs album, and I felt it was time to invite him into the project. He has a wonderful mid-range with tone that bridges the gap between mine and Ross’s.

 

Davide Tiso had issued a statement regarding how this project has changed your musical and personal lives. How so and in what contrast to working together in Ephel Duath?

Davide is very much in command of all compositions and lyrics and guitars in Ephel Duath. That is his world, and when he invited me to sing for Ephel Duath, I did not want to change the chemistry between ED’s signature rhythmic relationships between voice and guitars. He is very disciplined and dedicated to his music, and he has a strong will to make things happen, and to do them well, keeping in mind they leave a mark in time, so carefully create that mark in your way. He is inspirational to me; I love to watch him so connected to his music, and I’m in awe of the emotional intensity he can unfurl. Just when I think he’s taken a riff or passage to the most gut-wrenching place, he will elevate the breaking point even more. It’s his language, and he has such command over it, but also such a trust.

With GOTW, and in my life in general, my will is irrelevant. I am a very hard worker, I’m very disciplined, but there is a very recognizable force at work with me, and if that force or if my soul doesn’t deem some creative project necessary to be continued, the energy leaves it. So no matter my will, the “right time” for something to happen is a bit beyond my control. I’ve learned that in this lifetime my soul has a specific dance in mind for me, and in Spirit partnerships I can suddenly arrive technically at a very advanced place without having to “practice” the art of getting there. For example, after I left Crisis I didn’t sing for several years at all. And when I felt a clearer picture of GOTW coming into my mind and knew I wanted some very feminine and melodic vocals in these songs, suddenly I had a well-developed middle range to my voice which I hadn’t achieved in 13 years of singing for Crisis. With all my creative projects, when the Spirit assistance is there, things manifest at an accelerated rate and can surprise people. At the same time, this requires surrender, which can be difficult to accept. So Davide and I have waited a very long time for me to be ready to create this album, the lyrics, the visuals, the videos, and everything else around it. We consider this album a great act of love; something we’ve worked towards and it broke us open in many ways, this meeting of will and surrender, and the force of energy created this heart-wrenching, epic album.

 

With David doing both bass and guitar on the album, has there been any talk of how you might accomplish this live or will Gospel of Witches be strictly a studio band?

I certainly have my own desires to take this live, and a specific blueprint to make it happen. However, it’s just too early to say. Right now, the goal is to get this album recorded. Studio time is booked! There’s so much work to do until then. As many people know now that the music business has become more transparent due to bands discussing it more, if GOTW isn’t seen to have any value by the business, we may not have the market value to afford to go on tour. So first things first, creating this musical monument.
GOTW

 

What made you chose to work with Jamie King (Between The Buried And Me) at The Basement Recordings? Have you worked with him before?

I haven’t worked with Jamie before. But as Davide was helping introduce possible producers to me, I felt Jamie had the talent to work with many layers of sound and make them all huge, intense, and listenable. There are some songs that Davide’s composed 13 layers of guitar tracks for, and each song will have at times jul to 6 vocal tracks or more, so it was important to work with someone who can help take the potential here to great heights, and I believe Jamie is the one to make it happen.

Growing up in the country with no high speed internet or access to a metal scene, Crisis’ “Waking The Dead” was one of those random tracks I chose to seek out online and waited days to load after reading about you in a metal magazine. In what way have different forms of media helped your career and how has the use of Kickstarter on this project been beneficial as to who you’ve been able to reach out to?

Technology has certainly changed things and brought us all closer together in some ways. Your story is one I’ve heard over and over again, and it’s wonderful. In my early days of buying vinyl I had to rely on imported zines from other states or countries, and the few record stores who’d carry imported albums. Kickstarter has been a warm welcome into this world even further. It’s reconnected me with many people from my past, and many people who had no idea about my musical past. With this project also, I was able to create these mini films with Davide’s help. I learned, literally over night, how to use video editing software with no previous experience, but again, the internet also provided me with quick lessons on how to use Adobe Premiere Pro Cs6. When it would boggle my mind and stress me out, I’d go back to what I know: meditation, and I’d receive images of certain buttons I needed to press to solve certain problems.

 

Can you tell me a bit about what appeared to be a near death experience, as depicted in the short video on your Kickstarter page and how this life experience has inspired the forthcoming album?

It was a long time ago now that I almost died, but it had a significant bearing on my young adult life. My life was similar to the “6th Sense” movie, where “dead” people followed me around. While they terrified me, at the same time I felt close to the Spirit Guides around me; they helped guide me through this world and all the illusion. There would come a time where I’d have to come to terms with these abilities and how to organize my skills to communicate more clearly with Spirit people of all types and to move through my fear of certain experiences. The Spirit Guide to whom this album is devoted became my teacher in these regards until I began to train as a Spiritualist Medium in San Francisco, giving platform readings in public and training in a traditional Spirit Circle. This long journey from Ancient Ways to modern Spiritualism and everything that occurred in-between is what this album expresses.

What has it taken for you to surrender your voice as a channel beyond you; accept what has been summoned for your projection? Was it a struggle to accept this role if you did not feel like a musician at first?

I call it “the summoning,” when I feel my Witch working through me, especially compelling me to sing. After I left Crisis, I never thought I’d feel that again, mistakenly attributing that “summoning” mostly to the music even though I made it clear that there was some presence watching over the band and supporting us. I felt that “summoning” again with Ephel Duath and it was an incredible joy to be reunited with that feeling. For me, it’s very natural. Even though I don’t consider myself a musician. People have asked me for years how I do the things with my voice that I do, but I don’t think about it. I create from thin air: sometimes I chase the historic trail of a word in a thesaurus, and that trail becomes like a meditation. In these moments of writing lyrics, I begin to hear the vocal lines in my head. Then I have to figure out how to actually sing them, and often they are out of my vocal range. It comes from a place of trust that I have with my inner world. The power of it did overwhelm me during the last years of Crisis’ history, however. I find people drawn to that energy, but in reality my personal energy is much smaller, and that juxtaposition can confuse people.

I’ve recently experienced shamanic breath work and the profound journeying it can provoke into our past lives, fetal memories and future selves. Intense bursts of grief, rage and sadness. Are the toms and double kick meant to be the beat to which we follow own journey within your music?

The drums emulate a heartbeat or a countdown; a steady beat that helps one “lose time” and be present in the moment. When we meditate, we go into darkness. It’s usually a constant that allows us to break through the illusion; a constant silence, a constant beat, something that occupies some part of our attention yet lets us escape the ego and journey elsewhere.  In shamanic work it’s the drum beat that takes us into the trance. Even more on this album will be the vocal choir. When I was in Crisis, I responded as a vocalist perhaps in unusual ways: the drums were what I wrote my vocals against. The guitars provided atmosphere or perhaps a note to jump off of, but it was the drums that I worked with. With GOTW, all Davide and I had were his guitars. So I had to become my own rhythm section and create the beats with these thick, layered vocals.

 

Why was the contrast of the masculine and feminine so important to what you’ve composed and why did you seek out Ross Dolan of Immolation to compliment you in contrast?

I asked Ross Dolan to be a part of the vocals on almost every track. It just felt like his voice belonged there, thick and deep and unbending in his power. While I’ve known Immolation from my early days in NYC, it was a recent track, “A Glorious Epoch” that compelled me to reach out to him. For GOTW, I was inspired by this idea of the layers of vocals holding the song in place against the intense emotions from the medieval monks and Tibetan monks who chant their prayers and mantras, and of the ceremonial magicians who know how to use the “magician’s voice” to move energy with sound. It was ideal for this inspiration to be expressed beyond what I’m capable and to open my collaborative doors to working with male vocalists I admire. Gender, and moving past its limitations, has always been a part of my work. However, in the past I felt more identified with male energies within me, partly as means to protect myself from abuse I endured and to not become a victim of it but to transform these experiences and empower myself. Now that I’m older, I feel safer to identify with a more feminine side of my energy, and I wanted to be free on this album to express that, but to still also have the darker side of things anchored by heavy, deep vocals. As I’ve come to find a balance in my own energies, and the Witch has taught me the strengths of feminine energy and how to empower myself with it, it’s only natural to work with this idea of the “Union” of opposites, the “Union of the God and Goddess” energies; of light and dark, of action and surrender, and blend them artistically for a greater, holistic expression of opposites. I can only do so much with my voice, so naturally I had to look outward to collaboration.

 

Is the number 13 of significance to you and your choice to create that many songs for the album, or was it pure coincidence?

13 is considered to be the number of the Witch, the number of transition of those brave enough to burn in their own fires and be born again.

 

I see you have hand crafted all the gifts involved in this campaign as promotion incentive and must compliment you on how truly innovative and beautiful they are. Have you also started creating the album art as well?

Thank you. I have begun creating the album artwork, and it promises to be just as special.

 

20417b0f803a32201ce52aa800a1da5d_large

It’s been disputed by various historians and folklorists that The Gospel of the Witches ever existed even though they’re documented as having great influence on the creation of Wicca. What is your belief on the matter?

The Gospel of the Witches texts are rightly disputed. Buddha and Jesus’ stories as well. Aradia, Buddha, Jesus..we’re dealing with Ascended Masters here; stories of ordinary human beings who mastered the art of being a limitless soul- energy temporarily housed in a finite physical body. Bringing both into balance is what opens the doors to the Great Mysteries. This is done through Spirit partnerships. So the details of the stories are irrelevant. The broader perspective and the greater truths these stories are trying to tell us is that we all are potential Masters of our lives, and we all have the opportunity to allow our lives to master us and attune us to the Natural Laws of Energy. We therefore have the opportunity to be empowered by expanding beyond what we think is possible for a finite human being. There is no “supernatural,” it’s all a natural part of being eternal consciousness. 

 

Is there a way people can send you their support if they miss the campaign?

 

Absolutely! Starting April 21, I will be launching an Indiegogo campaign for just a few weeks as per fan requests, so that whatever I earn there I keep for studio. You will be able to go to Indiegogo.com and search: KARYN CRISIS. Longterm, in my Etsy shop I will have album pre-orders and some of the special packages available here. All pre-orders go to fund the album recording and expenses:

 

https://www.etsy.com/shop/KarynCrisis

Please also keep an eye on:https://www.facebook.com/Gospelofthewitches

https://www.facebook.com/KarynCrisisOfficial

 

Christine Hager

 

 

Whitechapel album cover

A name often associated with the much maligned deathcore explosion that rocked the metal world in 2006-07, Whitechapel continues to march forward (and slowly distance themselves from the glut of mediocrity within the subgenre) with the release of their fifth studio album, Our Endless War (Metal Blade).

 

Much like their 2012 self-titled effort, Whitechapel once again chose to work with producer Mark Lewis and deliver another ten track offering focusing on groove with tinges of melody, guitar solos and actual hooks. And you can’t really knock on the band for going down that avenue. It’s an approach that’s worked well for the Tennessee collective thus far as its garnered them strong commercial success (with regards to deathcore they’re sales are only surpassed by artistically inferior acts like Suicide Silence, Bring me the Horizon, etc…). However this muscular, groove oriented style marks them as creatively stifled if compared to the likes of All Shall Perish or The Red Chord.

 

While the meat of the record is still in the down-tuned chug of songs like ‘The Saw is the Law’ and ‘Mono’ there are some pleasant surprises in the Whitechapel arsenal this go around. The album’s vaguely political title-track (and best number they’ve written in years), reminds the listener that Whitechapel hasn’t forgotten about the hardcore punk aspect of their musical DNA. This unexpected dynamic shift in sound got me wondering why it so took so long for deathcore bands to dabble in the hardcore portion of their genre.

To contrast the hardcore snarl, tracks like ‘Blacked Out’ and ‘Worship the Digital Age’ are blast-beat filled compositions that channel Whitechapel’s most death metal oriented release, the underrated and recently reissued The Somatic Defilement. Our Endless War is peppered with these gut-punching gems, but it’s never consistent enough.

 

My issue with Whitechapel is perfectly captured with this latest album. They’re perfectly content with being just good enough and showing the occasional glimpse at greatness. But like I stated before, if something is working then why change it? Whitechapel will continue to sell well and get solid tour offers off the strength of Our Endless War. I’ll readily admit that I’ll watch them live again and look forward to many of these new songs, but I’m still waiting for their truly great album that will completely shed the deathcore label.

 Whitechapel band 2

7.5/10

Whitechapel on Facebook

Hansel Lopez

 

 

Sevendust-Time-Travelers-Bonfires

 

Playing “unplugged” as a novelty went of style out a long time ago. From the MTV Unplugged series to all manner of radio stations getting bands in the studio to bash out a few acoustic alt-takes for broadcast or singles, music fans have become accustomed to bands laying back, and getting in touch with their inner Jim Croce, Joan Baez, and Harry Chapin. Even artists as diverse as Zakk Wylde, Wino, Epica, Anathema and, Scott Kelly like to strum a 12-string or a dobro, and often feel liberated by the process. Sevendust has already gone down this road a decade ago with Southside Double-Wide: Acoustic Live and clearly wanted to make this a standalone affair. In addition to writing new material, they also enlisted their fans to choose which of their classics would be re-recorded. Not only that, they had a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign with Pledge Music, netting over 222% above their goal to get this album made. 

Time Travelers and Bonfires (7Bros) features new songs, which fit right in with the best of the bands back catalog. Songs like ‘Come Down’, ‘Under It All’, and ‘Upbeat Sugar’ all sound like they would have fit well into 2013′s Black Out The Sun release. The songs written specifically with this album in mind feel fresh, rather than just playing a batch of rock songs recorded acoustically. ‘Bonfire’ has that familiar 7D sound to it, just more chill, and if they have a song they’d like to reverse this treatment to, this is the one. The pristine production allows rare elements for this band like piano and string arrangements to shine through the mix. The vocal interplay of LaJon Witherspoon, Clint Lowery and the rest of the band are just magical sounding. The new music also continues the wizened, wistful lyrics we’ve heard from them lately. The fan chosen-songs could not represent the history of Sevendust better. Whether it’s re-casting the fierce ‘Denial’ as a doleful ballad, ‘Crucified’ as a countrified shuffle, or adding new flavors to ‘Karma’ and ‘Black’; the band has given new life to these old hits. This is definitely a must have for fans, and a good addition to your music collection if you need to find some balance amongst the all noise.

8/10

Sevendust on Facebook

Keith Chachkes   

ormgard - cover

 

Originally released on tape in 2011, Ormgård are re-releasing the Ormblot demo on CD, via Forever Plagued Records. Ormblot was praised a lot within the black metal underground scene and the band itself was hysterically compared with black metal monsters such as Emperor.

Including three ambient songs and three black metal songs, the entire work is so 1990s that’s hard to think it’s only three years old. The ambient songs instantly put me somewhere between 1993 and 1995 when great projects like Mortiis or Satyr’s Wongraven were born. Of course, they don’t deliver ambient songs with forty minutes, but the ancient essence is so there: it’s slow and cold with dark ruined corridors on sight. The title-track profoundly embraced me with its very slow pace and with its compassed bells tolling that I even jumped on my chair when the ‘Hugsad’ track begun with the frozen and hostile guitar riffs. Hailing from Sweden, a country that has a well settled and modern black metal movement, but the band’s sound is so Germanic featuring fast yet melodic riffs combined with a wall of simple orchestrations that reach our ears through the keyboards. However, there is another characteristic that easily leads me to Finland because of the high-pitched vocals which may remind me a whole bunch of black metal acts.

The gelid landscapes are brought by songs like ‘Av Svartkonst & Fördärv’ which is the most demonic one in the demo. Telling a story about sorcery, Orm goes far and mixes the concept with the evilness of demons, being Satan the center of it all. 

In sum, it’s hard for me to say this is really an iconic item. Yes, it’s worthy to listen, especially because of the ambient tracks and because of the 1990s spirit – now and then I still check the date and I figure out it’s a 2011 demo. Nowadays, I don’t really know what Orm wants to do, but according to the 2012 album, titled ////\, it seems black metal isn’t a priority as we have a dark ambient full-length.

ormgard - pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 7.0/10

Ormgård on Facebook

Diogo Ferreira

KOM_MMXIV_CD_cover_FINAL_600pix

There are no two ways about it, Manowar were responsible for some of the best pure Heavy Metal albums ever released. Take away the posturing and the loincloths (actually, keep the loincloths on… ) and this was a band whose first six albums (and number seven is pretty mighty, too) stand more than the test of time, but take their place at the head of the great hall of Metal Valhalla.

And the original Kings of Metal is the sound of an army of immortals at their peak, raging on ‘Wheels of Fire’, anthemic on the title-track, majestic on ‘Heart of Steel’, epic on ‘Blood of the Kings’, and all of the above on ‘Hail And Kill’. It’s certainly up there with their best, and the best that power/trad/classic (choose your poison of genre-tag) has ever offered. The original Kings of Metal scores a mighty Ten Thor’s Hammers!

Kings of Metal MMXIV (Magic Circle), however, is the Greedo shooting first, of albums.

In every aspect, this comes up the weaker. The tracklisting pointlessly changed; the titles of the songs pointlessly changed; the production is WORSE than the 26 year old version (in every way – the guitar tone is flat and lifeless, the lead tone is annoying, the bass farts, the drums sound like biscuit tins, the volume is severely lacking and the keyboards sound like “My Casio Choir” has parped inexcusably in places); Brian Blessed turns ‘The Warriors Prayer’ into a farce; Karl Logan had yet to show himself worthy of following in Ross The Boss’ footprints and embarrasses himself further still – his re-workings of solos are pitiful; there’s a pointless extra verse listing all of Eastern Europe shoehorned into ‘Blood of the Kings’ AND DOESN’T EVEN FIT! There are about 73 versions of ‘Heart of Steel’ out there, an epic battle-weary emotive track that stirs the heart and spirits, yet here reduced to a lumpen, unevocative and pointless phone-in. Meanwhile, while the 1988 version of the bass solo showcased Joey De Maio’s technical ability, the 2014 take (with the click track inexcusably left in!) just shows how far up his own arse he’s crawled.

The only person to emerge from this fetid disgrace of a re-release with any semblance of credibility is Eric Adams, criminally overlooked and worthy of being feted in the same breath as and seen on a par with Dickinson, Dio and Halford, but even the great Adams has had more triumphant and better days (oh yes, the 1988 version).

Do yourselves every favour, and buy the original of this album. Despite what you think you may think of Manowar it is pure metal gold. This re-recording, on the other hand, is a money-grabbing, tired, in and un credible attempt to paper over the cracks of a creative force that is long since spent. Manowar are now the path-crowders, and should be ejected from their own hall.

3/10

Manowar on Facebook

Steve ‘Manowarrior’ Tovey

 

GOTW

 

Ghost Cult is honored today to bring you an exclusive message from Davide Tiso, known for his work with Ephel Duath. Davide’s current passion is the creation of his ongoing project with his muse and partner, Karyn Crisis: Gospel of the Witches. Intended to be Karyn’s long anticipated solo project, it is being crafted with heavy hitters Ross Dolan (Immolation), Danny Walker (Intronaut, Murder Construct, Exhumed) and super star producer Jamie King (Between the Buried And Me). Davide walks us through the genesis of the project:

 
“I started composing songs for Karyn Crisis’ Gospel of the Witches in
2009: it is now 5 years that I’m working on and off on this project.
Karyn and I dealt with, arranged, recorded, rehearsed and lived with
dozen of songs to choose from and I’m nothing short of amazed at how
good the 13 lucky ones that we picked sound. Most of these tracks are
literally born from bursts of inspiration. There were moments where I
had to run to my desk with the guitar, turn on my laptop, record and
make sure to press the save button. Most of the time, half an hour was
enough. I don’t recall much about the composition process, I was
probably channeling from my good star. What I have stuck in mind are
the following days of arranging process: every bar in this album has
been maniacally shaped and refined to sound heart shattering and
intense. Musically, I feel like the key factors of this work are sonic
layers and mantra-like shapes. To me these songs are like an emotional
vortex that steal you away from reality for much more than their few
minutes of duration. I’m so proud and impatient to finally record this
album. I wanted to offer Karyn the very best I can as a musician and
band member and I feel that my dedication and obstinacy paid off big
time. These songs are what Karyn Crisis proudly sounds like these
days: to my ears, and as a fan, I feel like this album is going to
touch the very core of who has followed her thus far in her career.
Karyn is one of a kind – too challenging for many, too twisted for
others. I say we are lucky to have her around the way she is.”
–Davide Tiso, April 2014

To launch Gospel of Witches and bring it to the masses, the group has launched a Kickstarter. The rewards are mostly personal, unique and crafted from Karyn’s visionary brilliance. There are just 9 days left, so check out their page and give what you can here:

a900830fb8fbfef0bc63a99dde00a939_large 

More about Gospel of the Witches:
http://curranreynolds.blogspot.com/2014/03/karyn-crisis-gospel-of-witches.html

 

Ghost Cult will bring you further updates on this project from now until its release.

Gospel of the Witches on Facebook