So, to recap: evil Chicago entity Lord Mantis spawns from three-quarters of Blackened Sludge quartet Indian. In 2014 the band split spectacularly with troubled yet horrifically effective vocalist Charlie Fell: upon which the parent band folds and becomes the new incarnation of the progeny, Indian vocalist Dylan O’Toole assuming the role of the heinous rasp. Moreover, since the recording of new EP Nice Teeth Whore (New Density), guitarist Scott Shellhamer and bassist Will Lindsay have also departed, with Alletta Ergun moving in.
Got all that? The debris from the Fell departure has finally settled and it’s now time to see if the Mantis can silence those who doubt the credibility of the band without him. Initially Nice Teeth Whore seems something of a return to the excellent days of sophomore album Pervertor (Candlelight Records): the slurring, quickened Black boom of ‘SIG Safer’ swelling to a final crescendo and highlighting O’Toole’s hostile bark, spearing the mind yet missing that sense of ‘serial killer’ depravity Fell exudes so effortlessly.
The title track runs at a more familiar and ominous, Doom-laden pace: the sheer violent malevolence of O’Toole’s delivery complementing Bill Bumgardner’s colossal drums; the switch between rumbling riffs, shimmering Blackened passages and some wonderfully emotive yet spiked leadwork utterly compelling. It’s this reined-in brutality, desperately attempting to break free yet unable to escape from the choke-hold, that is the essence of both bands and leaves the listener fraught, nerve-shredded and exhausted in a blissful fashion
Bumgardner’s drums are again to the fore in ‘Semblances’, pummeling their way through a savage, sawing chorus from which screams resonate and slice the skin. It’s the languid, funereal hostility of ‘Final Division’, however, where the heady days of this terrifying outfit truly return: vocals so oppressive as to clog up the throat; a hateful, slow-burning intensity crawling lazily through the gut, leaving hungry leeches in its wake.
The warm, beefy production and undercurrents of howling leads may steal a little menace, but make no mistake: Lord Mantis are back to their punishing best. Let’s now hope that some stability can allow this febrile ferocity to fester…
He was so deeply huddled under a blanket that it took a while to locate the source of the voice hollering my name. Eytan Wineapple, curator of the rumbling beast that was the NOIZ All-Dayer, initially celebrated its second incarnation looking like death warmed up. After a long couple of days, with Wineapple escorting eventual headliners Dukatalon to Sheffield and back, they eventually bedded down in today’s venue. “They got here around 3 a.m., and I tucked them all in!” joked Rebellion manager and event collaborator Hayley. Five minutes later, the flat-capped Wineapple was bounding around like a madman: putting to serious shame Ghost Cult’s scribe who, twelve hours later, and still nearly three hours from the denouement, interviewed said host in a rather weary and addled fashion…
NOIZ is not your average festival. Displays of album-style art and guitars in various stages of completion (one of which is raffled off later in the day) stand beside the S.O.P.H.I.E. merch stall in the upper level of the club-style venue. A dedicated handful, meanwhile, witness the pulverising Industria of openers Khost: looking for all the world like a couple of local scallies bumbling about on a stage, yet laying waste with a mystical power which deserved a better slot and much more attention. The Birmingham duo’s ambient, crushing set, its implosive chords and guttural scours blending with a wonderful and passionate line in Middle-Eastern vocal samples, ended bang on time: a courtesy that some of the festival’s other performers could have tried harder to match.
Spawning out a Long Island music scene that introduced a number of cutting edged bands at the time, Vision of Disorder was part of an era that introduced a modernized version of hardcore and heavy metal that helped shape a sound that eventually morphed into what is now known as the metalcore genre.
Raze To The Ground is the band’s latest album (out now via Candlelight Records) and following the release of their 2012 comeback record, The Cursed Remains Cursed, the band channeled their energies into crafting a record that brings out the aggression and heaviness longtime fans have followed over the years.
Bassist Mike Fleischmann explains how this record came together and whether any new methods were input towards creating the songs.
“We did the same thing we always do, which is we lock ourselves in a dungeon like studio and everyone brings in ideas for a song and work on it. Usually the music’s first and then Tim [Williams] comes down and sees what he can do on it. If it sounds good, we keep it. If it’s not going anywhere, we toss it. That’s how it’s been since the beginning. That’s the way we work on songs.”
Pure angst has played a huge role in their sound over the years, and Raze To The Ground is no different than past material. Channeling their inner aggression, the band has stuck to a formula as on past recordings and is felt throughout the album and rarely letting down along the way.
“Right now we all live boring lives. It’s about bringing excitement to our lives and playing music. We’re all similarly taking our frustrations out on our instruments. Tim channels that energy into his lyrics and frustrations pent up stuff. I think that’s our thing. That’s how it comes out. We don’t purposely set out to write any kind of style. It’s just the music that comes out when we all get together.”
With Williams being the lyricist in the group, they chose the album title based on the state of the world and the negativity surrounding it all. Fleischmann explained how all of that factored into how the album came out.
“Tim does all of the album naming and the song naming, and it has to do with the title track, which he felt summed up the inspiration for this album. They took a lot of inspiration from recent news and the turmoil going on, which is still going on unfortunately! The past couple of years you see the news is flooded with civil unrest and rioting. I think he felt that summed up the feel of the record and a lot of the lyrical content.”
Aside from the music, Vision of Disorder did face a lineup change with longtime guitarist Matt Baumbach bowing out of the band. While over the past few years he was missing from some of their live shows, the band decided to move forward to record the album without him.
“This time Matt our longtime guitar player – he doesn’t want to do it anymore. We were making another record and we moved on without him,” he explained about the departure of Baumbach.
“We weren’t really sure whether he was going to be there. He was in and out. When you’ve been in the band this long, you can always come back at any time. After 20 years, if you’re having a bad year then you might as well have a year off. Until we were making the album and he wasn’t there we were like already he’s really not doing it.”
While the band recorded Raze To The Ground as a four piece, they employed Josh DeMarco for live shows. A familiar face within their scene, he became an obvious choice for Vision of Disorder and filled the shoes nicely.
“We didn’t have anyone replace him on the album. Live we’ve been playing with this guy Josh DeMarco who’s in a couple of other bands and he used to play in adayinthelife in the 90s. We toured the US with them and he’s also in a Long Island hardcore band called Mind Over Matter. He’s a very skilled guitar player. We were lucky he was available and he used to help us out sometimes roadie wise. I used to play in a band with him back in high school so I go back 20 plus years with him as well. We’re lucky to have a guy on deck that’s still a good guy that we all get along with and can step right in.”
Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi
Prior to the release of the new album, their 1995 EPStill was reissued by Dignified Bastard, and for Fleischmann, he is still surprised how much their fans have loved a recording that marked the early era of the band.
“It’s crazy that people care about a little seven inch that came out in ’95. People still talk to us about it so we knew some people would be happy that it came back. We pretty much have kept a lot of those songs in the set over the years so we know people are familiar with it over the years. It’s still crazy. That’s what we did before we got signed – before anything we did that Still seven inch. That was one of the first things that put us on the map. The first time we played in New York City the shows we played was based around that.”
He shared his memories of that era of Vision of Disorder and what that time period meant to him. Being that the Still EP was their first attempt at recording songs towards an actual recording, hard music fans from that era became hooked over a raw sound that helped shape a generation of hardcore metal.
“We did our first attempt at touring. We bought our first van and it broke down on the road – so many memories from back then. The New York City shows playing at Coney Island High and Wetlands, and playing with bands like Crown of Thornz and 25 Ta Life, and doing a lot of tri-state area shows and VFW Halls and skate parks. We weren’t playing real venues then. They were all makeshift Sunday matinees shows. It was totally different then what we ended up doing just a couple of years later.”
Vision of Disorder was one of the bands who took part on Ozzfest in 1997, in support of their self titled full length album. While this became a high profile exposure for the band at the time, Fleischmann had mixed memories about that experience.
“Unfortunately the first memory that always jumps out is the very first day of the Ozzfest we got kicked off the tour,” he said, with a laugh. “Our manager at the time rented us this RV, which wasn’t ready to go until the morning of the show. At that time in ’97, the side stage bands played twice a day. You could play two 20-minute sets. You’d play once at 11 am and then once at 3 or 4 o’clock would be your set time.”
“So we picked up our RV and raced down to Washington DC, where the tour started. We were the first band to play on the first day and missed it, so Sharon [Osbourne] kicked us off. We did a lot of crying and begging and they let us back on.”
Aside from the rough start, he recalled some other surreal stories about bonding with a variety of musicians he never imagined to be bonding with during a tour. The Ozzfest experience became a life changing moment for the band.
“That tour was crazy. We were hanging out every day with Neurosis, Pantera and Downset. We were all friends with them. Every day was crazy. We were watching Black Sabbath play every night. It was surreal. It was like a heavy metal summer camp.”
“Every day we’re walking through the cafeteria and we would see guys like Pete Steele or Vinnie Paul eating lunch and we’d feel like ‘what are we doing here?’ We were all 20 years old. It was crazy.”
Photo Credit: Kurt Christensen Photography
While his stories about Ozzfest sounded positive, he recalled some of the troubles the band encountered at the same time, including communication issues with their record label and management. Despite those flaws, they survived it and lived to share these stories.
“We had problems from the get go with our first album. We really didn’t like how it sounded and we still aren’t happy with how it sounds and how it came out. From the very beginning of the Ozzfest, the day before, we couldn’t have even been there that first morning. They met the day before. They had a whole soundcheck and a whole meet and greet our manager didn’t even tell us about. We went on Ozzfest without a sound man, which was insane. We were already making mistakes.”
“We were on the Ozzfest and Tim is hooking up this microphone directly into the delay pedal and the speakers are feeding back. So we got no help from anyone. Everyone was holding their ears,” he said, with a chuckle.
Photo Credit: Kurt Christensen Photography
Over 20 years have passed since the EP was released and the band has come full circle since then. Some of their peers from their era are still going strong and some others have returned after time away from the scene, but Fleischmann was happy where Vision of Disorder stands within the current scene.
“It’s great for a lot of the bands that we played with are still around, like Earth Crisis and Candiria is making another record. [They were] a lot of the bands we cut our teeth with are still around. It’s great.”
“We went to Australia a few years ago. We did the Soundwave Tour and we got to play with Madball and Sick Of It All, and we did side dates with them too. It was like on our off days we were in hotels and in planes with Madball and Sick Of It All.”
As for current live dates, Vision of Disorder try to play out live as much as they can. Due to personal lives and job reasons, they have a brief Southwestern US run in February and an appearance at Hellfest 2016 in Clisson, France scheduled at this time.
“We really don’t play very often. We all work full time and we have family stuff. It’s hard to get away. I would say it’s more of an older crowd. I don’t think there’s too many younger kids. We don’t play with too many bands that would draw them in either. I think we’re playing for our longtime fans. There are definitely some new people in there but I would say these days we are more playing for our fans that have been around for a long time. I think the percentage of people discovering it now is pretty low. I mean of course we’d appreciate it but we don’t really do the things that would take to get discovered by new people like hitting the road. It’s tough for us,” said Flesichmann, about the realities of balancing music and real life.
“We’ll try to do what we can do with that. It’s got to be worthwhile. We try to do weekends and try to do some international stuff. For five guys with different schedules all to get time off of work at the same time for the same amount of time, it’s tough. It’s harder than we thought it would be for it to get things together.”
Lastly, Fleischmann and Williams launched a podcast called Dead Bloated Morrison in 2013, where the two of them attempted to delve into talking about all things music. While they temporarily set aside this during the writing and recording of the new album, Fleischmann said they may try to do new episodes in the near future.
“We’ll probably end up doing it again. When we got serious about writing the record, we did that when we were bored in between. So when we got serious about writing, we had to use a lot of our free time on VOD. The podcast ends up being work. We’ll get together, schedule people for interviews, do some research…we had to figure out our priorities and do the band at the time. We’ll end up doing it again I’m sure. I’m sure when we go away and do some shows on tour we’ll get some good stories to include them.”
Neill Jameson of Krieg is one of the more fascinating people you will ever come across. Outspoken, articulate, philosophical, funny, and mild-mannered could all describe the man based on meeting him say, if you bumped into him at the bookstore or record shop. However, anyone witnessing him perform or create music, has a very different image in their mind. As one of the most important figures in the USBM scene, he clearly is more about “the work” and not about the accolades. In an exclusive interview with Ghost Cult’sHillarie Jason, Neill discusses some changes going on in his life, the next Krieg album due in 2016, his thoughts on coping with mental illness, and other topics.
Neill recently moved to Virginia from southern New Jersey, and we opened things up by discussing how that is affecting the creation of a next Krieg album.
“Virginia is a nice change from Jersey in a lot of ways but mostly it’s just been a much needed change in my life that I’m hoping continues to stay positive. Plus I’m fortunate to live in a city that has a good music scene so there’s always something to look forward to.”
“Having a different place to work through ideas always helps. I have a lot of different places I haven’t explored yet but I’m able to take long walks that ease my mind and let me think through the ideas I want to convey with this next record, both sonically and lyrically.”
Krieg, by Hillarie Jason
The forthcoming new Krieg album, entitled Guilt is due in 2016. It promisesthe progression of Krieg’s growth from Transient (Candlelight), which was definitely a different animal sonically than Isolationist (also Candlelight) was. So should we assume that Guilt will be just as different? “Yeah, we’re going to get together to start putting it together after the new year. There’s been less time between the two so I imagine there’s going to be more similarities between those two than there was between Isolationist and Transient. But I’m more inspired this time around by hardcore and crust than even the last one so there’s probably going to be a strong emphasis on that, without the shitty tough guy posturing.”
Speaking of shitty tough guys, Neill has commentated on the foibles of such men in the metal scene in his occasional op-ed series for Decibel Magazine. He was equally praised and condemned by keyboard warriors regarding his past observations on bigotry, chauvinism, and elitism in metal. We asked how he dealt with the praise and backlash:
“I’m happy to have some kind of platform to speak out about stupidity in general, be it about stupid shit like horse masks and chicken costumes or the heavier stuff I’ve dealt with the last few columns. I’m also very used to people talking shit about me on the internet so this isn’t anything new nor will it be something that goes away. So I don’t particularly care one way or the other. I’m not interested in being a social justice warrior nor do I think censorship in case someone’s fucking feelings get hurt is a good idea. I’m all in favor of freedom of speech and expression but I’m also aware those come with consequences, an idea not a lot of these dry dicks hollering at me while their mothers are upstairs drinking away the memory of having a failure of a child can seem to grasp. But I’ve spent long enough being a shithead myself so now’s my chance to atone a bit I guess.”
Neill has been candid about his struggles with mental illness publicly and in past interviews. So much so that it may have paved the way for a public discussion in the music community on these topics, since a lot of heavy music imagery and lyrics focuses on madness. We asked what, if anything if the underground music community can do to break the stigmas attached to mental illness, bipolar disorder, etc.?
“Odd you bring that up right now. Yesterday I made the decision after five years off to go back on meds to treat my bi-polar depression and anxiety. I was going to try to use my writing to document the experience and try to follow in a lot of people’s footsteps and keep the dialogue about mental illness in music and art in general open and flowing. There’s less of a stigma to it now than ten years ago, but also everyone’s doctor has them on something for shit they probably don’t even need treatment for and that’s what kept me from being on them for so long, it had stopped making a difference and I felt the whole thing was a fucking sham, I still do for the most part, but I’m also at a place in my life where I know I need help otherwise I’m going to fucking ruin things for myself which I almost did when I did Blue Miasma and again after The Isolationist and I want to see if exploring this will somehow be beneficial to myself and maybe others through sharing the experience.”
Neil is well known for a slew of collaborative projects and split releases. We wondered if it’s easier to run your own band with no interference: “I don’t just have myself to think about anymore, that’s a big part of it. A lot of people who suffer from these conditions aren’t aware how it affects those close to them, I have been aware for a long time and that’s where the “guilt complex” comes in but it’s been recently that I’ve decided it’s not a cycle I want to keep reliving. It doesn’t add to my “creativity” or anything positive.”
“The collaborations I do have each been so entirely different that I focus on them more as a way to learn new methods and techniques from other artists and how to incorporate them into my own music. So they’re entirely different experiences to me so I can’t say if one is necessarily easier than the other.”
Krieg, by Hillarie Jason
On working with working with Thurston Moore (in Twilight):
“One of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve ever had. Plus he’s such an open and excited collaborator that it made what we were doing all the more vivid and dynamic. I would love for the chance to work with him again on something.”
“As opposed to other previous Twilight members, two in particular, who just dialed it in and sat back to collect praise and whatever money was available.”
Krieg, by Hillarie Jason
Krieg recently left Candlelight Records and signed with Profound Lore Records: “Jef Whitehead brought up that we were about to be released from our Candlelight contract to Chris Bruni and it went from there. I’ve had contact with Chris since he wrote for Metal Maniacs and I’m a big fan of some of the bands on his label, and also just how he has built an empire with his own two hands in the image of exactly how he wants it to go. I look forward to causing the label to lose a lot of money and respect worldwide with this next record.”
In general Neill has had a fairly prolific couple of years. What is his regular creative process like or does he prefer to work project to project?
“It’s sporadic. For most of this year I barely picked up a guitar or wrote any lyrics. Other times it’s like I can’t turn it off. I don’t know what causes this to happen, it’s like the seasons change. It’s always been like this.”
“I could sit and force it but you can tell when I do that. I’d rather just let it come naturally.”
Commenting further on the release date: “Sometime next year. Same with the split with Integrity. The split’s been recorded for about a year and is the best song we’ve ever recorded and the general basis for the next record so they tie in nicely with each other.”
For all the crushing, Iommi-like riffs, occasionally rampaging pace, and seemingly universal homage, the trouble with No Light, Only Fire (Candlelight Records), the third album from Hampshire heavyweights Witchsorrow, is the lack of both atmosphere and identity. Often prosaic structures negate the undeniable power and weight of the tracks and although the sinister crawl of ‘The Martyr’ and ‘Negative Utopia’ has the sinister feel of pure Electric Wizard-esque horror about it, the sound is too often uninspired and subsequently robbed of some of the punishing might one expects.
Nick ‘Necroskull’ Ruskell is at times a vocal ringer for Jus Oborn, and similarly tries to project his well-known despair and loathing for modern life through his medium. Despite an oft decent, sonorous roar, sadly his gravelled emanations are somewhat limited in range and depth: the epic ‘…Utopia’ sees a titanic performance from the rhythm section, its supremely squalling leads also deserving of a better vocal performance than the stunted bellow in evidence. As is the filthy, horrific crawl of the standout ‘Disaster Reality’ and the primitive rumble of ‘To the Gallows’.
It’s not impossible to fathom the album’s many plaudits. There’s a largely fiery nature to the music: the blend of devilish Doom and NWOBHM patterns grooving into the mind, the almost psychedelic riffs of ‘Made of the Void’ creating a warm cocoon from the evil intent outside, while Necroskull’s solo work is staggering throughout. His earthshaking riffs are also very reminiscent of the Wizard, and maybe this is part of the problem.
There’s a glut of wonderful, imaginative Low-end stuff out there right now…and even more copycat-style, slightly above average thundering. There is a real beastliness to much of this album, perfectly embodied by epic closer ‘De Mysteriis Doom Sabbathas’: a slow, prime slice of Sabbath at their finest with some incredible leadwork. This monstrous power may ensure that the album grows more attractive after repeated listens but the heavily derivative sound, together with Ruskell’s vocal limitations, sees it fall short of the lofty expectations created by the panegyric heaped upon Witchsorrow’s very name over the last couple of years.
Ghost Cult Magazine is proud to team up with our pals at Candlelight Records to celebrate the addition of tons of first time ever titles for digital release from killer bands such as Kontinuum, Opium Lord, Alfahanne, Coltsblood, Anient Ascendant, Galvano and more on streaming services such as Spotify. Follow candlelightusa on Spotify to be entered to win one of 25 sets of download codes for the the exclusive “Candlelight Cult” playlist. Winners will be chosen at random and announced on Ghost Cult!
Today, we’re taking a look at Las Vegasdoom metal Demon Lungand their new album;A Dracula (Candlelight Records). You won’t find multiple Draculas here, just one, lone, Dracula. I don’t mean the Leslie Nielsen kind either. I will fully admit that the doom general is not usually my cup of tea and rarely manages to catch my interest beyond a song here and there.
One of the songs that stands out is ‘Mark of Jubilee’. This is the longest track on the album and starts off slower than most others but it’s worth sticking with until the end because it’s just wonderful. It is hauntingly beautiful at times and I can’t get enough of it. Let me just say that I don’t typically care for female vocalists either but Shanda Fredrick is fantastic and absolutely shines on this song.
‘Raped by the Serpent’ closes the album on a high note. This song showcases the band’s ability to switch between quicker and slower tempos without losing the interest of the listener. Once you hit the six minute mark or so, Fredrick comes back to serenade you with those incredible pipes of hers. I could listen to the last minute and a half of this song over and over again. Ignore the name, this instrumental work is soothing and will fill you with all kinds of good feelings which may be the complete opposite of what Demon Lung set out to do, but, there you have it.
I am still not much of a fan of doom, but this album has grown on me a bit more with every spin. There is a lot of material there to digest that you won’t be able find in your first few listens. Fans of doom metal are encouraged to pick up a copy of A Dracula of their own and check it out for themselves.
At this point, what do you really have to say about Sigh? After being approached in 1990 by Euronymous to be the only Japanese band on his Deathlike Silences Productions label, they proceeded to spend twenty five years releasing experimental, varied, frequently genuinely eccentric albums that have now spelled out their name almost three times. With the exception of 2005’s Gallows Gallery (Candlelight) – which they’ve since admitted wasn’t really recorded with banned WWII sonic weaponry – “Black Metal” in some form has always been part of their sound, but the exact style has often changed wildly between albums.
This time around, the guiding theme seems to be a combination of rawness, progressiveness and symphonic majesty that calls to mind Venom playing Yes songs with Bal-Sagoth’s keyboardist, and works an awful lot better than you might be expecting from that description. The core of the album is a raw, savage but rocking “Black” Metal built on simple catchy riffs and Mirai’s always recognisable acid rasp, but one of the things that makes Sigh so successful is that they don’t simply litter their Metal core with extraneous garnish as so many of their “experimental” peers are content to do. Electronics, progressive and symphonic arrangements and even Pop song-writing is woven meaningfully into the tracks, creating an album which is both sinisterly understated and gloriously savage. In the context of their previous albums, the best comparison would be the band from Scorn Defeat (DSP) playing the songs from Gallows Gallery, but once again they have created something new.
I suspect that this review is largely unnecessary – by this point most listeners have already decided whether Sigh are any of their business or not, and if they are you’ll be listening to this album whatever I say. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid them until now, however, Graveward(Candlelight) is a strong, distinctive album with its own character and some genuinely excellent songwriting and works well as both an introduction to one of the most genuinely interesting metal bands of the last twenty years and an album in its own right.
Japanese avant extreme metallers Sigh is streaming their new album Graveward in its entirety. The album will be out in North America via Candlelight Records on May 4, 2015. It pays homage to Italian zombie and Hammer Horror classics and features guest performances from Trivium‘s Matthew Heafy, DragonForce‘s Fred Leclercq, Shining‘s Niklas Kvarforth, Rotting Christ‘s Sakis Tolis, The Meads Of Asphodel‘s Metatron and more.