CONCERT REVIEW: Swallow The Sun – Abigail Williams – Wilderun – Live at The Sanctuary


It was a cold, rainy evening last Sunday in Motor City, but that didn’t damper the spirits of those attending the metal show happening at The Sanctuary. Residing in the humble hamlet of Hamtramck, next to Detroit, this music venue is the pulse of the heavy scene for the whole city. Many gathered in the quaint sized concert hall because the Doom Metal masters, Swallow the Sun were in town. This legendary act of doom ‘n gloom is on the road promoting their new album Moonflowers (Century Media Records). Plus, they brought along Abigail Williams and Wilderun as their supporting acts, making it a night filled with decadent heaviness.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Swallow the Sun – Moonflowers


Swallow the Sun is one of those bands that has created a notable amount of music over the years while remaining true to their own unique sound. They have managed to consistently innovate their thoughtful voice while maintaining their originality. For over twenty years, this Finnish act has been a wheel and stern to the Doom Metal genre. They have steered their ship into the darker depths of this vast category and beyond. It has only been two years since we were given their last album, When a Shadow is Forced into the Light (Century Media Records), yet the founder and writer for the band, Juha Raivio still has a lot to say. The group’s eighth full-length record, Moonflowers (Century Media Records) is coming out to expose their deeper levels of heartache and affliction. Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Seven Sisters – Shadow of a Fallen Star, Pt. 1


In contrast to the mythical themes that defined their first two albums, Seven Sisters’ third full-length presents itself with a more otherworldly sci-fi aesthetic. However, the music on Shadow Of A Fallen Star, Pt. 1 (Cherry Red Records) ultimately sustains the classy approach to Heavy Metal seen on its predecessors. Comparisons could be made to groups like Iron Maiden, Aria, and Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath with some helpings of Power Metal in the vein of Hammerfall and old school Kamelot.

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EP REVIEW: Fierce Deity – Power Wisdom Courage


Having established itself with a series of singles since their 2019 formation, Tasmania’s Fierce Deity takes an epic step forward with Power Wisdom Courage (Self-Released). Having three songs total to a thirty-two-minute runtime puts this release on that weird line between an album and an EP and seeing these tracks sprawl to ten-plus minute lengths results in a release with an epic scope and a compact execution. Fortunately, these seemingly contradictory elements end up coming together well to form an incredibly triumphant work of Stonerized Power Metal.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Lavaborne – Black Winged Gods


The last few years have been very good for Trad Metal bands and their fans. Be it the maturing of the old school heavy metallers, or the young hipstery bizarro mustachio, vest metal crew that have formed a new age fanbase, it’s been heartwarming to see a horde of fans support so many worthy bands of late. One that has gotten on my radar the last few years is Lavaborne; mid-western warriors who eschew the vanilla tropes of the style in favor of originality, top songcraft, and true Trad reverence.

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DOOM METAL ROUNDUP: Mourn The Light, Bottomless, Lucifer’s Fall, and Purification


Mourn the Light Suffer, Then We’re Gone

Mourn The Light offers Traditional Doom Metal with a few twists on their first full-length album. It doesn’t quite hit the full operatic scope of Epic Doom or reach the speeds of Classic Metal, but influences from both at work throughout Suffer, Then We’re Gone (Argonauta Records). The riffs and song structures are in line with the busy nature of Psalm 9-era Trouble while the vocals offer a husky but theatrical bellow, drawing further comparisons to groups like Altar Of Oblivion and Argus.Continue reading


ALBUM REVIEW: Thronehammer – Incantation Rites


 

For the most part, Thronehammer’s second full-length is poised to offer the same colossal Battle Doom as 2019’s Usurper Of The Oaken Throne. Incantation Rites (Supreme Chaos Records) features a similarly expansive runtime at seventy-five minutes long with the individual songs putting in the same mix of drawn-out lengths and monolithic tempos. This continuation would raise concerns of recessing into stagnancy, but the band hones their focus while picking up a couple of new tricks along the way.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Possessed Steel – Aedris


 

While Toronto’s Possessed Steel approached Epic Metal with a rough attitude on the EPs they released in 2014 and 2017, their first proper full-length is much classier in comparison. The style is as grandiose as ever, but a greater emphasis on intricate guitar harmonies and polished production gives Aedris (Temple Of Mystery Records) more in common with a band like Wytch Hazel than Atlantean Kodex. Further comparisons could also be made to The Lord Weird Slough Feg and Hammers Of Misfortune with the free-flowing structures and pastoral air throughout.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Eternal Champion – Ravening Iron


It”s been four years since Eternal Champion unleashed The Armor Of Ire in 2016, but the hype has only intensified with their sophomore full-length. Ravening Iron (No Remorse Records) continues the Austin group”s Epic Metal aspirations as the coarse but melodic guitar work casts a dungeon friendly atmosphere and the vocals forever echo Manilla Road”s Mark Shelton (RIP) with their nasally yet bombastic character. Thankfully, there are enough alternate approaches explored that keep this album from feeling like a retread. Continue reading


Alan Averill of Primordial – Older. Wiser. Angrier. Part I


Nemtheanga 7 - by Gareth Averill

 

Just after midnight, UK time, and the hour finally arrives to bridge the gap twixt Blighty and the US West Coast with the indomitable Alan Averill, aka AA Nemtheanga of Irish extreme metallers Primordial, who discusses with Ghost Cult the veteran band’s eighth album, Where Greater Men Have Fallen (Metal Blade), and its powerful messages; the band’s legendary anger and intolerance of their homeland’s modern culture in his always thoughtful, forthright and occasionally provocative manner.

I began by commending the band on such a powerful album and wondered what the reaction had been across The Pond? “We have a small following here, we haven’t really toured enough to have a big one. It’s entered into US charts – the Newcomer’s charts, the Heatseeker charts and so on. There is a groundswell of people over here in the States who are really fascinated with what some European bands represent: we are a part of that, but it’s a terribly hard place to come and tour effectively, especially when you’re middle aged!”

The Americans do seem to see the British and Europeans as having a uniqueness, a quaintness about us, that maybe doesn’t buy into the mainstream. “Oh yeah. We toured with Korpiklaani and Moonsorrow in the States and some people there were chuffed to be seeing ‘Viking bands’. We had to explain that these guys came from Finland and Vikings didn’t! There’s always been a deep fascination in the States with European bands and obviously, being Irish, it means the times we’ve played Boston or New York have been almost like a riot. You can depend on ex-pats to show up in places like that.”

Primordial-Where-Greater-Men-Have-Fallen

One word I’d use to describe the music is ‘impassioned’. I wondered if Alan felt that was appropriate?I think it’s a good word to use. To me it’s always been a no-brainer: you mean what you say, and you say what you mean, and that is the way your music should sound. Obviously with us there are cultural and historical reference points within the music that are fact, not fiction. Fantastical escapism has never interested me in any way whatsoever: I couldn’t engage the same way if I was singing songs about killing prostitutes or killing zombies! That’s probably Primordial‘s biggest stumbling block with some sub-sections of the metal society: most people don’t want to be reminded of how dark the world is. If you take a song like ‘Ghosts of the Charnel House’ [from the new album], which is about institutional child abuse by the Catholic church, for most people that’s not Saturday night entertainment. We’ve never wanted to be!”

‘Babel’s Tower’ and particularly ‘The Seed of Tyrants’ from the new album is surely some of the most angry, heartfelt music of this year. How do Alan and the band maintain that anger after doing this for so long, and how do they control and direct it? “People told me that the older I’d get, the mellower I’d become, but the opposite has become true. We’re living in a dark world, and Primordial obviously reflects that. So yes, maybe this album is grimmer than elements of the last few. But whether it’s a war in the Ukraine, whether it’s ISIS a mile from the Turkish border, the rise of the religious Right and rise of the Left…this world is full if evil and some bands will do their best to block that out. We don’t.”

Primordial 6 - by Gareth Averill Being surrounded by so much pain and suffering, I felt that there must indeed be no end of grist for Alan’s words at present. “I’m maybe hard-wired a little more intensely than others and it’s not my place to generally want to switch off from it – which can make things a bit tiring! We’re not without a sense of humour of course, we’re not completely drab, but from the get-go, Primordial has always had a serious, dark tone. ‘…Seed of Tyrants’, for example, is about the Arab Spring. There’s a naive view in some sections of the West that somehow Democracy would be bloodless in these countries. All the rejoicing that occurred in Tahrir Square after the Egyptian uprising, and then this vacuum of corruption, this epidemic of rape, all the dark things that followed… We’re just saying that ‘Look, if you remove one tyrant, twelve will take his place’. So yes, there’s an awful lot to be occupied with.

“That said, I’m always on the side of the committed. If you want to write about 60’s and 70’s zombie exploitation movies, good: go for it. I don’t want every band to have the same tone as Primordial but what I do ask is that they be committed to an ideal at least, and to be passionate about it.”

There’s a tremendous sense of emotion gained from listening to Alan’s phenomenal vocal performance. I wondered how the power of the music affects him and the rest of the guys, especially when performing live?We’re five very different people: hardened, cynical guys who bring five very different things to Primordial. We’re committed, y’know?! Music isn’t created in some sort of emotional vacuum: you get out what you put in, and if Primordial sounds emotional or powerful, this is how we are. If you think what ‘Babel’s Tower’, for example, creates within the listener is real, then that’s what you’ve placed into the song. It’s not really meant to be entertainment; there’s an artistic value as well.”

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Words by PAUL QUINN