South African post-Black outfit Constellatia arrived just two short years ago, and already last year’s debut album The Language of Limbs (Season of Mist) has earned a power-label reissue. A blast of atmospheric harshness and aching melody with a touch of doomed romance, its four tracks are a paean to the outer edges of Emotion. Continue reading
Yatra‘s 2018 début album Death Ritual (Grimoire Records), rather than being a “grower”, receded in appeal due to the unflinching harshness of their slow, Doom-laden sound and the voice of Dana Helmuth, which sounds as if Gaahl had been gargling on hop-bombs. There were flickers of invention in the Maryland trio’s sound, however, and these are further explored in follow-up Blood of the Night (STB Records). Continue reading
The realm of Black Metal is often noted for it’s colourful, yet usually monochrome, characters, and definitely one of the most infamous is the iconoclastic and enigmatic Gaahl, former frontman of Gorogorth, Trelldom, Godseed. An obvious showcase for Gaahls considerable vocal talents Gaahls Wyrd Debut, Gastir – Ghosts Invited (Season of Mist) is an extremely potent album and well worth a listen. Continue reading
Long in the making, the highly anticipated debut album of Gaahl’s Wyrd, fronted by iconic black metal artist Gaahl (Godseed, Gorgoroth, Wardruna) is finally releasing in 2019 via Season of Mist. Watch a short teaser trailer for the album, created by Aimed & Framed, and hear a snippet of new music too. Continue reading
Black metal legend Gaahl (a.k.a. Kristian Espedal) will host a wine symposium next month. Gaahl will lead “An Introduction To Natural Wine With Kristian ‘GAAHL’ Espedal” presented by Sponfest & Old Empire at TT Liquor in London. Best known as the lead singer of legendary Norwegian band Gorgoroth, God Seed, Gaahl’s Wyrd, and a member of Wardruna, will lead a discussion and tasting born from his passion for wine. Continue reading
So, we’re the Ghost Cult, and they’re a cvlt festival in Bergen ‘The Cradle Of Black Metal’, Norway. It’s a match made in heaven. It’s a solid swipe to the right, and it brings the promise of a romantic walk down that left hand path. OK, enough now. I mean, according to a pilot study conducted by famous Vilayanur Ramachandran there’s potential readers out there suffering from what is known as ‘metaphor blindness’. Keeping it simple: we found ourselves at one of Norway’s hottest underground metal festivals at the very last weekend of August, for four days of a full à la carte metal menu.
Celebrating their 5th anniversary this weekend in Bergen NO, the Beyond The Gates Festival brings the best in underground Black Metal, Death Metal, Doom, Thrash, Occult and Heavy Metal. Headliners include Venom Inc, featuring Abbadon and Mantas from the legendary Venom, Deströyer 666, and Gaahl’s (Gorgoroth, Wardruna) new band, Gaahls WYRD. Consisting of Trelldom material only, the Gaahl has commented “Many of these songs, from frontman Gaahl’s first ever black metal band, have never been played live before, so this will be a unique and unforgettable event.”
You can get tickets for the weekend at this link:
Beyond The Gates Festival -Full Line-up:
Venom Inc (UK)
Deströyer 666 (AU)
Gaahls WYRD performing Trelldom (N)
Infernal War (PL)
Secrets of the Moon (D)
Magister Templi (N)
Black Anvil (US)
Spirit Cabinet (NL)
Saturnalia Temple (S)
Ritual Death (N)
Black Magic (N)
For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the most controversial and iconic bands in the Norwegian black metal scene, for many years the extracurricular activities of Gorgoroth members eclipsed the music being recorded. We had the over-the-top blasphemy of the infamous Warsaw gig of 2004, complete with nude crucified models and sheep heads on spikes, the rape allegations levelled at founding member Infernus in 2006, then the schism a year later which saw imposing frontman Gaahl and songwriter/bassist King ov Hell fail in their attempt to wrest control of the band from Infernus.
Thankfully all these distractions appear to be at an end, although Infernus has been unable to hold onto a stable line-up. Ninth full-length studio effort Instinctus Bestialis (Soulseller), originally recorded in 2013, has finally been released with former Obituary member Frank Watkins (Bøddel) and Thomas Asklund returning on bass and drums, and newbie Atteringer stepping up to the mic. So, after all the drama of the past decade, has the six year wait since 2009’s Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt (Regain) been worth it?
Upon pressing play, it’s instantly apparent that the band’s trademark blasting ferocity has not been reined in one iota. The vicious, clipped riffing and light speed blastbeats of ‘Radix Malorum’ will quite simply pin your ears back. The same can be said of next track ‘Dionysian Rite’ with Infernus doubling-up furiously and one of the three (yes, three) hired lead guitarists adding slick pinch harmonics to proceedings. The breakdown is suitably sinister with Atteringer intoning “Intoxication!” like a deranged, drunken cult leader. ‘Ad Omnipotens Aeterne Diabolus’ starts off slowly and mournfully, playing around with different tempos and ideas including some vaguely Dissection tasting guitar lines.
While the band more or less perfected their style several years ago, somewhere between 2000’s Incipit Satan and 2003’s Twilight of the Idols (both Nuclear Blast), it’s evident that Infernus and his acolytes have plenty more to offer. The naked aggressiveness of the riffing could still blast all the snow off a Norwegian mountain-top with ease and the overriding feeling of being repeatedly pounded by the hammer of Satan is something that you can only get with a Gorgoroth album, and Instinctus Bestialis is no exception. The death metal that infects ‘Come Night’ and ‘Rage in His Light’ are welcome additions that prevent things from being too one-dimensional, with the fantastic solo in the latter raising the bar again.
One noticeable change from previous albums is the vocal style of Atteringer. Opting for a low-pitched growl instead of the high pitched shrieks and rasps favoured by previous vocalists Hat and Pest, his low, unhurried intonations lend proceedings a darker air, especially in the slower moments which allow the tension to build once more. The production is crisp, ensuring all instruments are heard, although the sheer prominence of the guitars and relentless drums in the mix at times threaten to turn things into a stew, but this is thankfully dodged.
Hopefully now the music will be all that matters, and with Instinctus Bestialis, Gorgoroth have re-established their position as standard bearers of the Norwegian second wave.
True Satanic Black Metal has never felt so alive.
From April 9th to the 12th it was time for the festival of Stoner, Doom, and all things Alternative: Roadburn. This was the twentieth edition of the festival, and it was, as always, a spectacle. Music lovers from all over the world congregate in Tilburg and fill the streets with black shirts and beards. One of the streets is even re-dubbed “Weirdo Canyon” in honour of all the lovely and strange people who gather here in between shows to eat and drink. This year saw the return of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, a daily leaflet detailing the previous day’s highlights, shows recommended by members of the organisation, and other interesting titbits of information.
While it is of course impossible to convey the Roadburn experience in mere words, I will share some of the highlights from the main stages of this year’s festival to explain what makes this festival so special. The pictures are by Susanne Maathuis, who managed to shoot a mindboggling 62 acts this year.
The first day of Roadburn, and what a day it was! Opening on the main stage was Solstafír, who celebrated the thirty year anniversary of cult-classic Viking movie Hrafninn Flýgur (When The Raven Flies). Solstafír played the instrumental film score while the film itself was projected onto the screen. Unfortunately the balance in the music was just a little off, as the bass was too soft. This show did make me really curious to watch the entire film, which was hard to follow here since the subtitles were at the bottom of the projection, and thus hidden behind the lovely musicians themselves.
Diagonally opposite the 013 sits restaurant Dudok with the club above it, Het Patronaat. This venue holds about 500 people and really brings people together – much in the same way as sardines are very close to each other. This is just another part of the Roadburn experience, as is either leaving another show early to catch a show in this venue, or waiting outside in an orderly queue in the hope that enough people leave so that you can experience the show. One of the bands that filled Het Patronaat to the brim on this first day was SubRosa, an experimental Sludge-Doom band from Salt Lake City. With three female vocalists and two electric violins, this band has a really distinctive sound which is truly delightful to witness live. Their overwhelming stage presence combined with the quality of the music made this show one of my favourites of the festival.
What I love most about Roadburn is the amazing diversity in musical styles. It doesn’t matter what your favourite style is, you’re bound to encounter it somewhere. This was highlighted by the show that followed SubRosa in Het Patronaat: Spidergawd. This Norwegian Heavy Rock extravaganza encouraged us all to dance to our hearts’ delight with their ‘Post Boogie’ style, characterised by a rumbling saxophone, hard rock vocals, booming basslines, and especially the drumming. Oh gawd, the drumming. Kenneth Kapstad owns his space at the front and centre of the stage, and he gives those drums such a beating that they need to be tightened every few songs or they’ll fall apart.
Another spectacular and genre-bending band to wow the audience in the main stage was Wovenhand, who were as close to a headliner as you can get with a line-up like this Monday. This magnificent dark folk band fronted by David Eugene Edwards sounds as if someone managed to convert the American Gothic painting to music. After their stunning performance in 2011, we didn’t think they could do any better – we have never been quite so happy to be proven wrong. Playing mostly from their latest and heavier albums, the band performed with more energy than ever before, but with the same humility that brings them even closer to our hearts. Edwards may say that they “are out of [their] league,” but we know that there are few bands that can rival the show that Wovenhand gave us.
Friday, April 10th
Every year Roadburn has a curator, one person who gets the chance to handpick the Green Room and Stage01 bands for a day, as well as headlining the main stage. The choice of curator is important, because this person always gives a unique flavour to the festival by highlighting a genre. Last year Mikael Åkerfeldt bought the keywords of Swedish and Prog to life, as well as headlining with Opeth, but this year saw a veritable Viking invasion with its double curators: Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved and Wardruna‘s Einar ‘Kvitrafn’ Selvik. Together they programmed Houses of the Holistic, an incredibly diverse program of bands in wildly varying genres, they all had one thing in common: this was pure and unadulterated music. From the eccentric but oh-so-amazing blues from Pekko Käppi to the onslaught of sound from Black Metal Svartidauði, the intensity and passion burst forth from every single musician and made this day an unforgettable experience for the audience. And these weren’t even the headliners!
For the first time since 2007, Roadburn sold one-day tickets alongside the 3 and 4-day passes and afterburner tickets. And the first day to sell out was Friday. The reason for this is quite clear: headlining the Main Stage were not just Wardruna and Enslaved, but also the amazing combination of the two that is Skuggsjá.Wardruna, by Susanne A. Maathuis
Wardruna’s unique modern take on old instruments and chants is mind-blowing no matter how you hear it, but there are few bands that can rival the intensity of their live performance. Although Gaahl has decided no longer to perform live, the vocals were not lacking in any way. And how could they, when there are up to 9 musicians singing at once! With such a range of percussion, vocals, and traditional instruments on stage, this was an almost otherworldly experience, and the audience, in so far as I was capable of observing it at that point, was completely entranced.
What a contrast, then, was formed by the black metal attack of Enslaved. This is a whole different brand of Viking, but it is no less effective. Despite their heaviness, there was a certain serenity about the music when performed live that I had not anticipated, but that I very much appreciated. During this show I did have a good vantage over the crowd, and the Main Stage was packed with happy music lovers, all the way up to the furthest reaches of the balcony.
Then it was finally time for Skuggsjá, the collaboration of Enslaved and Wardruna, and in this they seem to have found an amazing combination. The balance of which band’s style has the overhand shifts with each song, but the sound always comes together in a meaningful way. The chanting just works so well with the metal. Written by Selvik and Bjørnson for the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution, this truly is the best reflection of the diversity of Norwegian musical heritage. It was an absolute honour to witness this performed live at the 20th edition of Roadburn.
WORDS BY LORRAINE LYSEN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SUSANNE A. MAATHUIS
Since his departure from Gorgoroth, Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik set about creating a project steeped in the heritage of Nordic spiritualism which swept away any preconceptions the scene may have had when this release reared its head back in 2009. The initial chapter in a trilogy of albums based on ancient the Elder Futhark; the oldest form of runic alphabet popularised by northern European tribes, Runaljod Gap Var Ginnunga (Indie) is a compdlling journey throughout its fifty two minute duration.
That an album which features no distorted guitar, drums or modern instrumentation of any kind could capture the imagination of so many metal fans seems curious on the surface, but the nocturnal nature of compositions such as ‘Thurs’, with its mouth harp and homemade percussion delicately embellished with gorgeous hardanger fiddle, creates an experience which transcends genre. The ethereal vocals of Linda Fay Hella are breath-taking, yet over-shadowed by the sinister shaman that is Kvitrafn’s former Gorgoroth colleague Gaahl, whose trance inducing chanting lures the lister into the primordial depths of pre-Christian Norway.
The most apparent aspect of Runaljod… is how authentic it is. Much of this can be attributed to the use of real recordings of wind and other atmospheric effects which Einar himself acquired, rather than relying on synths. Acts like Finland’s Nest may have a similar approach but this work has more in common with the dark ambient genre.
Able to shift mood from menacing to enchantingly beautiful, the album has many stand out moments but is most rewarding when experienced in a single sitting and its strength lies in retaining a uniquely Norse atmosphere throughout which allows these unique compositions to really stand out. The instrumentation here shows a remarkable sense of commitment to recreating the sounds of the early Norse tribes and throat singing, goat skull percussion instruments and all manner of curious items are employed here to great effect. Witness the foreboding ‘Thurs’, for proof.
A majestic journey into bygone times, Runaljod… is a stunning piece of work. This vinyl re-issue should only serve to whet the appetite of fans awaiting the forthcoming third chapter of this epic trilogy.
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