Of all the bands on the Gothic Rock/Heavy Metal fusion bandwagon, Poltergeist may be the most committed to those Post-Punk aesthetics. The style on their third EP remains closer to Joy Division than Judas Priest with a heavy emphasis on chilling synths, stiff bass-heavy rhythms, and disinterested vampiric baritones. This is especially true on the first two tracks as the opening ‘Electricity’ goes full Synthwave and ‘Through Clouded Eyes’ follows it up in ominously subdued fashion.
Every album that Moonspell releases explores a different facet of their Gothic Metal style, sometimes responding to the one before it in a constant tug-o-war between darkness and light. Their thirteenth album, Hermitage (Napalm Records), is no exception. In contrast to the grandiose symphonics of 2018’s 1755, the band opts for a scaled-back, atmospheric approach with more Prog influence thrown in than usual. It seems to invoke the band’s early vibe without going full throwback and also reminds me of Tiamat or Opeth in spots.
Ask any Metal music lover that has attended any of the big music festivals in the past nine or so years, and they will most likely tell you they have seen a set or two of Motionless in White. It is safe to say that even most fans of modern Metal at least know the name Motionless in White. Since the band’s initial inception in 2005, the music world has witnessed the metamorphosis of MIW from a raw, unbridled, raging embryo to the cataclysmic musical force evident on the band’s latest album, Disguise (Roadrunner Records). Continue reading →
Banality on stilts is perhaps a harsh way to sum up an album, but this is, after all, a harsh review. And there is no surer way to describe Adore (Season Of Mist), the latest album by Canadian avowed mourn-mongers Numenorean.Continue reading →
Having fronted symphonic Viking metal act Leaves’ Eyes and goth metal legends Theatre of Tragedy, as well as appearing as a guest vocalist on countless different projects over the years, Liv Kristine Espenæs has finally united officially with her sister – who has herself appeared as a guest vocalist on several Leaves’ Eyes releases – and joined Nordic folk metal act Midnattsol.Continue reading →
How to best celebrate that Friday feeling? With a night of slow and Gothic Doom of course. The Electric Ballroom in Camden, London, is full to the brim, and it seems the crowd is somehow wearing even more black than usual to celebrate the morbid tones of the UK’s very own Paradise Lost.Continue reading →
There used to be a time when side projects and “super-groups” were a big no-no in Metal. You had your band, you knew your place, and that’s where you stayed or else. Nowadays of course, you can’t walk down to the shops without another twenty bands trading members and forming new acts in the time it takes to buy a pint of milk and a cucumber sandwich.Continue reading →
Is it possible for a band to take its work a little too seriously? Can the love of eyeliner and theatrical stage attire be pushed past the point of no return? And most importantly, does this make for good music? These are some of the questions I’m left to ponder over a cup of coffee (black, of course) after listening to Beseech’s My Darkness, Darkness (Despotz Records).
And I know the metal genre as a whole is a bit ridiculous. After all I’m a 29-year-old man with a college degree whose wardrobe is made up mostly of black shirts. I willingly own a denim vest with more patches on it than the average Nascar driver.
However, Beseech seem to operate on a level where ridiculous and deadly serious function as one. Just look at the album title, My Darkness, Darkness. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds like something scribbled in the back of a Mead notebook by a 14-year-old goth kid.
And their biggest problem is its inability to move past the ho-hum goth numbers. ‘Mr. Uninvited,’ its title-track and ‘Atmosphere’ are virtually interchangeable and I don’t mean that in a good way. For most of its running time Beseech is confined to muddy tempos, subdued guitar parts, all the while vocalist Klas Bohlin dominates the mix with his weird Christian Bale as Batman whisper-mumble. The most criminal aspect of this record is the underuse of second singer Angelina Sahlgren. We only get brief glimpses of Sahlgren’s range on ‘Beating Pulse’ and ‘The Ingredients.’ Sahlgren’s turns add some color to the drab musical canvas.
‘One Last Call’ has the band finally finds release from its songwriting restrictions as does the unexpected (but totally rad) Highwaymen cover ‘Highwayman.’
Metal is a business that’s always existed on the border of parody, especially when you decide to throw in some of that goth seasoning. Not every band has to go the Type O Negative route and play it tongue in cheek (although it paid dividends for them). Katatonia and Moonspell have had long careers accented by classic albums, but they always relied on the songs. Beseech doesn’t quite have them here.
Edmonton, Alberta’s socially conscious metal band Van Halst releases debut album entitled World of Make Believe on March 4. Their third single from the album is ‘Questions’ which you can stream at this link or below:
Lead singer Kami Van Halst talks about ‘Questions’:
“I wrote Questions with my sister Brittney Grabill. This song deals with victim blaming and how the victims of sexual assault are often criticized and blamed for putting themselves in the vulnerable position, which allowed them to be abused or exploited. This is wrong, we should not be blaming or scrutinizing the victims of abuse. We need to remove the stigma and put the blame where it rightly belongs- on the abuser.”
World of Make Believe track listing: 01. The End (4:31) 02. Save Me (4:12) 03. Ryan’s Song (4:11) 04. World of Make Believe (3:46) 05. Questions (3:23) 06. Denying Eyes (4:08) 07. Monster (3:29) 08. Plastic Smile (5:11) 09. Put Him Down (4:33) 10. Perfect Storm (4:44)
For such a modest gent, Paradise Lost’s Nick Holmes is one such musician who can remember the glory days of record label advances. Surely Paradise Lost wouldn’t have had access to bountiful excess, but they did indulge their rock star side. “When we started with EMI we hired Jane Seymour’s stately home to stay at while recording. We bought loads of studio equipment and had a chef and everything! It was great. That’s was the benchmark of success for us, you could get a fillet steak whenever you wanted! It was fucking ridiculous when I think about it but there was money in the industry and people bought albums! If you think its right or wrong, you get wrapped up in it because you have industry people telling you it would be a good idea. You can enter a different world easily. We did waste money on silly things and spent a fortune on booze! The bar bills were insane! It was a real cliché but we spent a lot of money on booze especially around the Host album!”
“We dipped our toes in the pool of rock stardom but we never plunged in. It was like being Metallica for a day but then it was gone again. Now it’s strict budgets. I remember the first time we went to Israel and did all the tourist stuff and hung out. These days, you’re off stage and on a plane two hours later!”
Having invested Gothic Metal and created a memorable legacy, many bands have come and gone during PL’s career, splitting up and reforming on a whim. Yet Paradise Lost have endured and existed without such issues. “We need to make a living. We forfeited a life doing anything else years ago. We never had the time to have a couple of years off and reassess things. You could count the bands on one hand who could take five years out. You don’t shut down the shop just because you’re fed up.”
Such acclaim for Greg’sVallenfyre project has been well deserved with a spark clearly ignited under Paradise Lost. Surely though at this stage in their career could talk of side projects been a concern to the productivity of Paradise Lost? “I didn’t know what he was doing on his time off. I didn’t know how much he’d got back into death metal. He asked me if I wanted to do the vocals but my head wasn’t in the right place at the time. I didn’t know I’d do it himself. It runs alongside PL fine. I keep missing their shows so I want to catch them.”
Considering Nick’s confession that he could have been a part of Vallenfyre, his involvement in death metal supergroup Bloodbath, were Holmes replaced Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt comes as an even greater surprise. “It was a good two or three years after that. We’d look on the early days of death metal with great fondness. The guys in Katatonia are all four years younger than me, but that was a lot when you were all teenagers. We listed to different generations of death metal. They were listening to Deicide and I was more into the early Death stuff. The tape trading days were a great time, exciting and new. Anything that has happened with PL has been a gradual change. We had written the whole album before I did the Bloodbath stuff and already decided that there would be death metal elements.”
Vallenfyre, by Hillarie Jason
What must it be in a band with the guys from Katatonia, a band who have cited Paradise Lost as an influence? “Half the conversation who can name the most obscure band and who has all the old demo tapes. Jonas is very into that stuff. Bloodbath are weekend warriors, we get on a plane, play a gig then go home. It’s refreshing to play with new people and worked really well for us. Everyone is friends so there’s no negative.”
How Paradise Lost have kept relevant and free of nostalgia. “I never heard the term ‘The Peaceville Three’ until recently. We started before Anathema and My Dying Bride. I think Anathema played their first gig in Liverpool with us. As a band we don’t need to name drop or fit into a scene. We are institutionalised in making music. I’ve blown my chances of being a surgeon long ago. I could write a book but that would be about what I have done with the band. You never know!”