When Axl Rose waxed romantically about cold November rain in back in 1992, he clearly wasn’t singing about Leeds on a Saturday morning. A cold, depressing day darkened by oppressive black clouds showering their misery relentlessly from above, there is nothing romantic about Leeds city centre. However, above the sound of rain pelting against umbrella canopies, and cars splashing through ankle-high lakes of dirty water, there is hope. Somewhere out there is Damnation Festival. Continue reading
Twenty-five years on from De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (Deathlike Silence) and Norwegian Black Metal act Mayhem still face the unenviable task of living up to their infamous debut. Steeped in arson and murder, the legend of De Mysteriis… will never be surpassed, but with new album Daemon (Century Media), the band have arguably crafted their finest collection of songs since that tumultuous time.
The roots of supergroup Sinsaenum date back to 1998 when DragonForce bassist Frédéric Leclercq decided he wanted to try something a little different, and a little nastier. The project lay dormant for years, but in 2010 Leclercq eventually made things happen by joining forces with fellow Frenchmen, Seth, bassist Heimoth, and guitarist Stéphane Buriez of Loudblast. Now playing guitar, he also recruited the dual vocal partnership of Attila Csihar of black metal titans Mayhem, and Sean Zatorsky of Dååth. The bands’ line-up is completed by former Slipknot drummer and general legend Joey Jordison. Continue reading
The Ghost Cult album round-up is back in town, for your vulgar delectation… Continue reading
Sinsaenum, the group featuring Slipknot‘s former drummer Joey Jordison, Frédéric Leclercq (Dragonforce), Attila Csihar (Mayhem), Sean Zatorsky (DÅÅTH), Seth Heimoth (bass), and Stephane Buriez (Loudblast), will be releasing their new EP, Ashes, on November 10th. Continue reading
Regardless of the quality of the output, it is a feat of creativity and ambition to cultivate a fully realized Black Metal theatrical production; a concept story spread over five “scenes” and amassing nearly 100 minutes of occult, evil music to unveil the full “play” that is Coven, or Evil Ways Instead of Love (Hells Headbangers). Continue reading
It’s a staggering yet frequent reoccurrence: the hardest music to explain, often due to an apparent lack of infectious hook or because of the fact that little is actually happening, sees its orchestrators revered with an almost pathological devotion. Such is the case, of course, with US Drone gods Sunn O))). An overwhelming crush of Ambient noise, their worshippers hang onto every note, every sparing chime, as if it were a word from the heavens: their live shows remarkable for an inhuman level of sonic pain; each new recorded output more of an event, an experience, than a mere album or EP.
Latest full-length Kannon (Southern Lord) evolves in three movements, the first a sequence of pedal-strewn, cosmic, soaring chords. Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley take turns in expanding the eerie yet soothing soundscapes whilst positively terrifying guttural sounds emanate from the mouth of Mayhem’s Attila Csihar. Save for the brief introduction of didgeridoo and the atmospheric air coursing through this fifteen-minute opener, not much else of note occurs: yet it is inexplicably euphoric, haunting, muscle tightening; a spiritual epiphany which the guys conduct with almost superhuman understanding and control.
The opening chords of ‘Kannon 2’, just as economical, are nevertheless more ‘fuzzed’ and allowed to howl over an almost undetectable bass resonance. Chilling chants are intoned across a throbbing, fulminating body in an almost mournful yet Zen-like expression of emotion: an overtone of synthesised harmonics adding a barely recognisable sense of intrigue to an already hypnotic, captivating sound.
If ‘…2’ is the lament, ‘Kannon 3’ is the grave ascension. A similar structure sees that minimalist riff spike and clash with horrific anger, whilst the chanting bass voices become more sinister yet, paradoxically, reverberating to the verge of messianic celebration: a triumphal, fearful tribute to a returning, victorious tyrant. The intermittent Blackened roars, terrifying yet beatific, are both the counterpoint and the embodiment of the ability to stir and surprise while retaining control of an almost unbearably slow pace.
Masters of their sphere, legends of the galaxies, Kannon sees Sunn O))) display every shimmering ounce of their resplendent power.
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Forming in 1992, Belphegor have been seen as an icon, as one of the most fearless projects within the black and death metal scene. After the grandiose Pestapokalypse VI in 2006, and the well-received Blood Magick Necromance, in 2011, the band returns once again at the top of their game with Conjuring The Dead (Nuclear Blast) Are you able to say Belphegor is at their best? Every band always says their latest album is the best they’ve ever done. In the following interview with co-evil overlord Helmuth, he goes to great length to discuss the shifting tastes and style of the band, how important experimentation is to him in writing, shred guitar, Classical music influences, utilizing guest stars on the album, and other topics of interest.
It seems death metal is more present than black metal nowadays. Is this the path Belphegor will continue to take?
Belphegor has always been a Death Metal band. Those familiar with our discography should be able to see that it is not a new path for us.Yes. This album is more Death Metal focused than the past few releases
This was not due to a trend. It was inspired by my actual dance with death and our need to raise the bar and experiment further with each album. The process to create this lasted ages. A lot of sweat, blood, and energy flow into Conjuring The Dead. I never worked so hard on another release. I always had in the back of my mind,and feared after my life threatening health issues, it could be the last Belphegor album. So I didn’t want to fukk around, I wanted do things absolutely right.
The press sometimes describes us as a Black Metal band, maybe because of our brutal stage rituals. I never understood the misconception as the Death elements clearly lead. If you turn the volume all the way up, it’s as if the band is in the same room with you. I guess people that want to hear extreme Musick will dig it and understand the Death Metal approach. Don’t want to end up as an epic or melodic band. It just was time to return to our roots and celebrate and glorify Death musick.
Belphegor’s lyrics are mostly embodied by obscene and sacrilegious themes against Christianity, but the single ‘Gasmak Terror’ leads into a nuclear holocaust. Is there any particular reason to write something like that in 2014?
No wonder why when we can see the world being destroyed right before our eyes more than ever. The blasting ‘Gasmask Terror’ doesn’t reflect all of the content or entire concept of the full album. I just wanted to do some war-related and downfall of humanity themed verses once again.
14 years ago, we did the first track entitled S.B.S.R with war-related lyrics on Necrodaemon Terrorsathan ( 2000 ).
We wanted to go for a fast, typical Belphegor track, that’s why we decided for ‘Gasmask Terror’ as first single. It has everything we stand for. The 2nd single will be the monstrous ‘Conjuring The Dead’, a double bass assault. Totally different than ‘Gasmask Terror’.
I dare say Belphegor’s riffs are the nearest to the powerful classical music, like that which was written by giants like Tchaikovsky – for instance. I recall the track ‘Chants for the Devil 1533’ from 2006 or ‘Rex Tremendae Majestatis’ off of the new album. When listening to songs like these I hear an entire orchestra in my mind.
Great man. Thank you for your appreciation, an honor.
For ‘Rex Tremendae Majestatis’ we added a lot classical tones in the guitar department. The title is taken from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s last composition, ‘Requiem’. He wrote it on his deathbed. He knew he would die soon. It shows how good artists can get when they feel threatened, or know their time is up! The song has influences by this composition when it comes to the intensity of the atmosphere. I have to be careful with such statements, I don’t want to be, as often as it happens, misinterpreted. I’m not a composer like Mozart, he was a genius. But this exalted, majestic track is exactly what I felt as I started creating ‘Rex Tremendae Majestatis’ and when I listen to ‘Requiem’.
We approached the music more maturely than ever before. All was very serious this time because of my health issues. You also hear a lot of tri-tones, dis-harmonic tones that were forbidden in middle ages by the church- they really feared those tones. Back then, these sounds were called the “Diabolus In Musica”.
The most known song, in my opinion, that is based on the tri-tones is the riff ( 3 tones/ including the octave) of the song by the name of its band, ‘Black Sabbath’.
‘The Eyes’ is an instrumental song with a very melodic guitar riff delivered by shredding. What’s the message you want to give by including such song in the album? What are The Eyes?
‘The Eyes’ is an intermezzo,classical guitar picking and a lead guitar.It calms everything down after the first five brutal sound collages. After ‘The Eyes’, starts the most complex and technical song on this LP, ‘Legions Of Destruction’. Brutal!!
Besides that track and the epic finale in ‘Gasmask Terror’, do you feel Conjuring The Dead is Belpeghor’s most extreme and less melodic album so far?
Yes, exactly. That was the master plan as I started this new project back in December 2011.
For the first time, you’ve decided to invite two heavyweight musicians: Deicide’s Glen Benton and Mayhem’s Attila Csihar. Do you feel those additions help the album to be more popular than you imagined?
I had this vision for a long time, wasn’t a marketing thing. It was just to please my ego, hahahrrr. Truly, it’s really cool to me. I respect what their work brought to the extreme Metal community.
I wanted to have those two guys, not just any dudes from some other bands. My plan was either them or fukk the plan. Thing is, Glen is my favorite Death Metal vocalist and Attila my favorite Avant-garde/Black Metal singer. I think I first asked Attila about it in 2007, as we recorded ‘Bondage Goat Zombie’. With Deicide we did two big tours, one in the US one we conquered and devastated Europe. And Glen liked the idea, which was awesome. There was always this schedule problem, they were on tour, or we were on tour, it was difficult, but finally it worked out. Both bands in the beginning were very important and inspiring to Belphegor.
This is an honor to me to have these two guys putting their magick on the track. The listeners can decide what impression it makes upon the entire album.
Let’s be honest, the chances of a new Mayhem album being given a genuinely fair hearing in 2014 aren’t high. Even if you can overlook the murder, suicide and hilariously drunk interviews that still follow them around after two decades, their debut album – still considered by many to be THE defining moment in “second wave” Black Metal – casts an equally long shadow. Their career in the twenty years since Euronymous’ death has been both patchy and divisive, each new album being hailed as a return-to-form and dismissed as a betrayal of their legacy by roughly as many people.
In terms of sound, Esoteric Warfare (Season of Mist) is closest to 2007’s Ordo Ad Chao – sinuous, hypnotic riffs and Attila Csihar’s rasping, muttering vocals over drums so precise that they almost sound mechanised. Aesthetically, however, it is perhaps closer to the abstract science-fiction vibe of 2000’s ambitious, but unsuccessful Grand Declaration Of War, the violence and supernatural horror often associated with their work side-lined in favour of an ambient, industrialised kind of menace.
Esoteric Warfare is an altogether more sedate and balanced album than its predecessor – while that raved, gibbered and howled through a series of highs and lows with uncharacteristic emotional depth, the tracks here are mostly content to remain mid-paced or slow, building up an effectively sinister atmosphere. There are some moments of genuine power here – the threatening surge of ‘Psywar’, the thunderous march of ‘Throne Of Time’ – but they’re offset by moments around the middle of the album where momentum almost seems to grind to a halt, trading in dynamics for background atmospherics and pauses that are rather less pregnant than the band probably intends them to be.
Esoteric Warfare is a quietly impressive album highlighting a band who refuse to chase past glories, and deserves considerable praise for that. Many will dismiss it simply for not being De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, and they’re wrong to do so – this is very much its own album, and offers plenty of its own rewards to those who persevere – but it’s hard to silence the selfish inner voice which wants Mayhem to be more dangerous than this.