Psychedelic Prog-Folk band Hexvessel will release a new album this spring via Svart Records. Kindred is due out on 17th of April 2020, with cover artwork by renowned artists Thomas Hooper and Richey Beckett, which you can see below. A new single will be released on the 24th of January and full album details and pre-orders are coming soon. The bands back-catalog will also be reissued as well. The album promises a darker sound and owing to that, they returned to their original studio in Tampere, Finland, where they recorded their cult classic No Holier Temple, which fused Hexvessel’s folk roots with an occult undercurrent, with the new album mastered by John Davis (Gorillaz/ Led Zeppelin/ Lana Del Rey) in the UK. Hexvessel was formed by English/Irish singer/songwriter Mat McNerney (Beastmilk -now known as Grave Pleasures, The Deathtrip, Carpenter Brut, Me & That Man, Code, Dødheimsgard). Continue reading
Hellfest has announced its 15th-anniversary lineup for summer 2020, and it looks like a dream! Already announced Faith No More, and Down will be joined by Deftones, System Of A Down, Incubus, Korn, Mastodon, Opeth, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, The Offspring, Infectious Grooves, The Darkness, Obituary, Death DTA (the Death tribute featuring members of Death), At The Gates, Entombed AD, Sacred Reich, Devin Townsend, Meshuggah, The Black Dahlia Murder, Dying Fetus, Misery Index, Mayhem, Abbath, Rotting Christ, Primordial, The Great Old Ones, Wardruna, The Hu, Taake, Watain, Alcest, Borknagar, Gaahl’s Wyrd, Electric Wizard, Baroness, Om, Witchcraft, Black Mountain, Elder, ASG, Envy, Mono, John Garcia & the Band of Gold, High On Fire, Pelican, Killing Joke, Perturbator, Life of Agony, 3TEETH, Inter Arma, Body Count, Suicidal Tendencies, Youth of Today, Slapshot, Jesus Piece, Higher Power, Social Distortion, Anti-Flag, Agnostic Front, Reverend Horton Heat, Grade 2, Code Orange, and many more. Hellfest takes place June 19-21 in Clisson, France near Paris and ticket info is coming soon! Continue reading
One of our favorite underground record labels is Agonia Records, releasing killer music from bands like Arsis, Visceral Disgorge, Varathon, Lucifer’s Child, Demonical, Ragnarok, Halcyon Way, King Parrot, Aboyrm, The Moth Gatherer, Code, Glorior Belli, October Tide, Impiety and many more. The label is having a huge sale of all their digital releases and CDs on the label right now at a deep discount. Head over to their Bandcamp page right now to check out the sale, and support these great bands. Continue reading
The Ghost Cult album round-up is back in town, for your vulgar delectation… Continue reading
London-based Progressive Black Metal group code wanted to revisit some older material on their Lost Signal (Agonia) EP to see if they could cast it in a new light. This EP is six songs in total, comprising of three from the album Mut (Agonia) and three from their first three records. The band produced and mixed the EP themselves to show rich power melody and dynamics. Continue reading
Swedish atmospheric doom/sludge metallers The Moth Gatherer is streaming their newly released album The Earth Is The Sky, out now via Agonia Records, here. The album was recorded over a period of two years in three different studios. Mixing & mastering duties were taken care of by Karl Daniel Lidén (Dozer, The Old Wind, Switchblade, Terra Tenebrosa). The artwork has been made by SCG, while Swedish printer, EJG, prepared the layout, creating an exclusive painting for each of the six tracks on the album. The album features David Johansson (Kongh), Wacian (Code), The Cuukoo (Terra Tenebrosa) and Thomas Jäger (Monolord).
01: Pale Explosions
02: Attacus Atlas
03: Probing The Descent of Man
04: Dyatlov Pass
05: The Black Antlers
06: In Awe Before The Rapture
Alex – Bass and Vocals
Victor – Guitars, Electronics and Vocals
Svante – Drums
Boasting members from illustrious UK acts such as Fen, Binah and Code, London doom/death dealers Indesinence are packing a pretty impressive line-up. Having been lurking in the shadows of the underground for nearly fifteen years now, their previous two records Noctambulism (Goat of Mendes) in 2006 and Vessels of Light and Decay six years later won numerous plaudits but were too far under the radar for most people to take notice of the ominous darkness contained within. Third record, the imaginatively titled III (both Profound Lore) is unlikely to win many new admirers, but for those who already dwell in the shadows, it’s a welcome treat.
While most doom/death acts are content to rip off My Dying Bride and hope the listeners are too miserable to notice, Indesinence have their own clearly defined sound; one that uplifts as well as bruises, with shades of dappled light amidst the stygian gloom. They’re still slaves to the lengthy track however as songs evolve over several minutes, with riffs unfurling languidly to strike at their own pace, while the stark, pounding drumbeats batter the listener into submission.
First track proper ‘Nostalgia’ is appropriately titled, for it calls to mind the sheer bleakness of US masters Evoken, as the devastatingly sad lead guitar work provides the perfect counterfoil to the gut-punching of the rhythm section. ‘Embryo Limbo’ sets the scene with some stately clean-picked notes before giving way to some crushing riffs that flirt with mid-paced mid-90s death metal, like Incantation after a heavy dose of lithium.
The first real burst of pace occurs on ‘Desert Trail’ with brisk blastbeats and strange melodies contributing to a strong feeling of malaise but the best is saved for the end of the album as the tortuous crawl of ‘Mountains of Mind/Five Years Ahead (Of My Time)’ soon gives way to a frantic chugging section, aided by eerie keyboards before a gloriously exuberant solo emerges from the mire and it becomes apparent that the band have wandered into full-on dark prog territory. The triumphant end-section is worth the price of the whole album.
Most bands would call it a day there, but Indesinence decide that things need to remain grim, which they do with aplomb on the seventeen minute dirge of ‘Strange Meridian’, an oppressive crawl through agonized soundscapes. The riffs are depressing, the vocals are truly anguished and were it not for another burst of soaring lead-guitar to end things again on a breathless, stargazing note, the whole thing might get too much. There really is no need to tack on a ten minute dark ambient closing track to finish things off though.
A difficult and undeniably too-long album, III is nonetheless a masterful and imposing piece of work. Doom/death is a naturally restrictive genre, but Indesinence have proven themselves to be one of the finest acts working in its field. Full-on misery can often get a bit one-note without some other forces to counteract the despair, and there are enough ideas going on here to ensure that even for an album approaching eighty minutes in length, attention will be maintained and engaged. The heirs to Disembowelment? Why not, eh?
Since its controversial rise to prominence, in the early ‘90s black metal has continued to engage and challenge listeners’ preconceptions by mutating into challenging new forms. Acts like Arcturus, Borknagar and Dødheimsgard have pushed the limits of the genre by incorporating techno, opera and folk into the mix but while DHG’s Aldrahn provides the vocals on The Deathtrip’s visceral Deep Drone Master (Svart) that is where the similarity ends. Arising from the ranks of black metal legends Thorns, The Deathtrip is the brainchild of Host (A.K.A. Paul Groundwell of pioneering UK label Peaceville) who has sought to plough a more atavistic and primitive furrow.
Host explains how this elite meeting of minds, lead to one of the genre’s most invigorating debut records. “Kvohst (A.K.A. Mat McNerney, ex <code> Graven Pleasures, Hexvessel, Ex DHG) was going to do vocals for The Deathtrip, but he played some of the instrumental demo songs for Aldrahn, as they were in touch at the time. Aldrahn was really into them and ended up taking over the vocal duties instead. The Snorre [Ruch] connection came about because of Aldrahn’s involvement in Thorns. Aldrahn played Snorre some of the demo songs with his vocals and Snorre loved what he heard and has been a great supporter since. In regard to putting the band together it didn’t make a difference as they weren’t people I knew through Peaceville. The band grew simply from people hearing and liking those old raw demo tracks. It feels like only the music did the talking, and for that I am most grateful. The very origins of The Deathtrip though, go back to around 2003 when I made some songs just for myself to listen to, as I heard barely anything at the time which brought much magic to these ears compared to what came before.”
Founded on hypnotic, repetitive riffs and beats Deep Drone Master, may not be a throwback to the genre’s origin’s but Host maintains that keeping the sound primitive was key to recapturing some of that old magic. “Well I’m sure there was some Burzum and Darkthrone in the early days as far as creating and maintaining a ‘feeling’ goes.” Host agreed. “Some of it was also simply because when programming drum beats I didn’t want to take too much time on that, so I made a primitive pattern, looped it, and made the riffs over the top. As the tracks unfolded I just thought that maintaining that same pace and beat brought a good hypnotic element, so why mess it up for the sake of ‘creative diversity’? It’s about having time to digest the riff and fall into the monotony of the patterns.”
To some Deep Drone Master may sound like a homage to the past but as Host explains the album contains some extremely uncomfortable personal moments:
“The song ‘A Foot In Each Hell’ came about because of somebody’s suicide, but the song isn’t concentrated on or about the act itself. It is more about the fabricated kingdoms we invent to fortify the self and the powers of human control and persuasion.”
“Mostly they deal abouta sentimental relationship between myself and my own subconscious mind. As well as the subconsciousness of humanity.”
Vocalist Aldrahn clarified. “It is the connection between myself and humanity as well as the disconnection. It would be easier to answer for each song, but still it’s emotions and thoughts on paper. Many of these thoughts and feelings are difficult to describe, as they belong to my own perception of time and space an dare thus very personal.”
“Making Me” for example, deals about the complete absence of love, the total isolation from all warmth in life and then becoming it, like wearing it as an entity. A lot of them deal about journeying through the darker aspects of the mind, facing up with all sorts of ugliness inside and then forcing through it until it’s done.”
This all-star Norse/English act also feature the drum work of sometime My Dying Bride and Thine sticksman Dan ‘Storm’ Mullins and bassist Jon T. Wesseltoft. Host clearly valued the input of friends who brought his vision to life! “Well it was great to have Jon involved as he was another person who was a big appreciator of the demo tracks from early on, which he heard from Snorre I think. Bass was non-intrusive, so was sitting underneath nicely, keeping the pulse. It was the same for the drums. The idea was to keep the beat simple and keep it running. No prog rhythms for us thanks! ha-ha!”
The icy minimalistic approach does well to convey a harrowing sense of isolation. Much speculation surrounds the question of if The Deathtrip will continue to function as a studio project or if live ceremonies are on the cards. “I see it as more of a band.” Host cautiously approached. “There will be much more music regardless. We have had some interesting offers but it depends on many things such as DHG’s schedule.”
The clandestine nature of its creation and the pleasantly unexpected re-appearance of DHG to the live circuit this year, it will come as a surprise that a second record from The Deathtrip may not be that far away. “Well I had made quite a lot of songs and they were going perhaps even more trance-like and simplistic, but since then, the new riffs I’ve been making have reverted back a little more towards what was being done on the earlier demo tracks, with a bit more ‘attack’. It’s certainly not just replicating the old style though. There is more depth and feeling to the formation of the riffs. Some songs will need to be re-arranged but there is easily an album’s worth of ideas to focus on.” Host exclaimed. “A new album for this year seems rather optimistic even though I’d originally hoped it might’ve been possible. Will just keep writing, and maybe start some of the recording later in the year, as it is a busy year for Aldrahn anyway.”
WORDS BY ROSS BAKER
I’m going to just come right out with it – I’ve never really seen the appeal of Dødheimsgard (I refuse to call them DHG – that’s non-negotiable). Their third album 666 International created a considerable wave in the late 90’s Black Metal scene, heralding a cyber-future that had the fans wiping off their panda-paint and buying glowsticks and leather trench-coats, but neither it, nor its equally feted follow-up Supervillain Outcast (both Moonfog), really clicked for me. The “progression” seemed too forced, the electronic elements awkwardly realised and the whole thing just a little too redolent of the Emperor’s new clothes.
I point this out simply because I’m about to lose my shit over A Umbra Omega (Peaceville), and I want to make it clear that I’m not just buying into the general consensus here – with this one, they’ve finally caught my attention.
Despite opening with the glitchy, fragmented electronics of ‘The Love Divine’, one of the first things that becomes apparent about A Umbra Omega is that the “cyber” elements of the last two albums have been dialled down noticeably, replaced with a much broader selection of influences. The songs move jaggedly but with surprising fluidity through Jazz breaks, modern classical music, more restrained electronics and some good, old-fashioned box-of-angry-wasps Scandinavian Black Metal.
It will doubtless anger some fans to say this, but there’s something almost backwards-looking or quaint about A Umbra Omega’s approach to progression. The face of “avant-garde” Black Metal in 2015 is very different to what it was in 1996, and Dødheimsgard’s approach still owes more to the carnivalesque playfulness of Arcturus or goth-tinged drug babble of Ved Buens Ende than DeathSpell Omega or Blut Aus Nord’s chaotic black-hole worship (this review brought to you by hyperbole.com). This is by no means a criticism – indeed, Dødheimsgard remind us of the one thing that the newer style of “experimental” Black Metal bands often forget to include in their time-shifting trans-dimensional horror; character. Despite how wacky things get here, there’s a constant sense of personality, wit and style that pervades each track on A Umbra Omega, drawing together what could otherwise be disparate musical elements into a genuinely effective whole.
As I observed in my recent review of the new <code> album, being weird is ultimately a fool’s quest – each year it gets harder and yields diminishing rewards. Perhaps that’s where Dødheimsgard lost me on previous releases – being experimental and breaking new ground seemed to be the primary objective – but on A Umbra Omega they sound like a band who’ve come to terms with their own weirdness and focussed on the task of writing a really excellent set of songs around it, rather than showing off how wacky they are. A genuine master-class in why Black Metal can still be interesting without having to choose between retro-traditionalism or forced experimentation.
Being weird used to be so much easier. In the 80’s and early 90’s all you needed to do was throw in a bit of keyboards, some cod-operatic singing and the odd electronic boing noise and you were a maverick genre-bending genius. Unfortunately for the weirdos, there’s nothing like two decades of repetition to normalise even the boldest experiment, and in 2015 being weird is harder than ever.
That was a very round-about way of saying that, although Code seem desperate to be seen as “progressive” or “avant-garde”, there’s very little on Mut (Agonia) that you won’t have heard before. Having now entirely shed their Black Metal origins, the core sound here could best be described as [cough, spit] “post-rock”, though more dynamic and catchy than is generally the case. A strong grasp of theatrics and a tendency towards the carnivalesque often calls to mind a more straight-laced, Rock-steady take on La Masquerade Infernale (Misanthropy) era Arcturus.
Whether or not Mut is truly “experimental” or “weird” is, of course, much less important than whether or not it’s actually any good, but I’ve been putting that off so far because it’s a considerably harder question to answer. Code have a solid grasp of song-writing dynamics, and there are some effectively catchy tracks on here, but they also have a tendency to indulge their “quirky” side to an extent that can become tiresome quickly. They also haven’t quite reconciled their catchy, carnivàle instincts with their new-found “post-rock” contemplative side, which can lead to some rather dull passages stretching between interesting sections.
If this review has leaned towards the negative so far, that’s only part of the story. Mut is a boldly written, tightly performed album with enough of its own identity to bring it out – at least partly – from the long shadows cast by its “avant garde” Black Metal forefathers and the Nerd Kings of post-rock, and there are going to be plenty of people out there who will enjoy it a lot more than I did. Ultimately, however, the overriding impression at this end was that of a band so enamoured with their own strangeness that they don’t quite deliver enough beyond it.