Emissary Of The Anunnaki: The Tale of the Fire King is an epic graphic novel based on Sumerian mythology and the real story of the pioneers of Sumerian metal Melechesh is making its debut this week. Premiering at the Moscow International Book Fair, the book will appear at several prestigious book fairs and events worldwide this month. Produced by Metal Depot, after two years of production, the 128-pager features Ashmedi of Melechesh as the protagonist is now available at the link below. Watch the teaser for the book now! Continue reading
As we dash towards the holidays and the end of the year Ghost Cult is feeling good about this season of giving. So we are giving our fans a chance to get to know our partners, peers, and friends from bands in the world of music. They will chime in with some guest blogs, end of year lists, and whatever else is on their minds as we pull the plug on 2015. Today we have Atli Jarl Martin, promoter and digital go to guy for Eistnaflug Festival, who happily lives with his 19 computers and has a huge affection for his ThinkPads, shared his list of favorite releases of this year with us.
It’s been a strange year for me personally and a bit hard to keep up with as many releases I’ve done in recent years, Nevertheless I managed to build a list of some 70 releases which I have now filtered down to my final Top 10, whereas the top 5 releases could have all ended up in my top slot. I guess that most releases that made the cut won’t come as a surprise to anyone that knows me, but I hope that there are at least a couple that you haven’t listened to yet, and might give it a spin. 2016 is looking tremendously exciting already, first and foremost with the release of Rotting Christ’s new album Rituals early in the year. But for 2015, here goes…
1. Thy Catafalque – Sgúrr (Season Of Mist)
Definitely the most delightful surprise of 2015. Following the incredible 2011 album Rengeteg, I became a huge fan of the talent and musicianship of Tamás Kátai, as this is a one-man project, and his vast and diverse musical wizardry is way above and beyond what most other musicians present. The musical direction Tamás takes on Sgúrr is hugely different than what is presented on Rengeteg and the earlier albums, one might say colder, bleaker and harsher, where ‘f.e. Jura’, a straight forward blisteringly fast black metal track made my jaw drop, as it was wholly unexpected. I can really say the same about pretty much every track on the album, which is a phenomenal roller coaster ride through amazing variety of styles and sounds. Just listen to ‘Oldódó Formák a Halál Titokzatos Birodalmáb’, a 15:21 minute ride through a sublime variety of styles and a showcase track on just how multi-talented Tamás Kátai is. A beautiful work of art.
2. Lost Soul – Atlantis: The New Beginning (Apostasy Records)
Yes, they fucking did it again. These Polish wizards, led by mainman Jacek Grecki, pretty much blew everyone’s mind back in 2009 with their absolutely phenomenal Immerse In Infinity album, which shared the top-slot on my list back then with my favorite, and ever so lovable Finns in Amorphis (more on them later). Lost Soul are finally back after 6 long years, but the wait was so worth it. Atlantis is every bit as fast and brutal, yet Grecki and his merry men have managed to push their music further into the technical and progressive realms, bringing you one, if not THE pinnacle of technical death metal offerings of all-times. Listening to this album leaves me dumb-struck with awe, every-single-time, such is the wizardry performed here. Perfection!
3. Melechesh – Enki (Nuclear Blast)
5 years after the release of the fantastic The Epigenesis album, and after a plethora of lineup changes, Melechesh return with Enki, yet another masterpiece of an album. Uncompromising as always, adhering to their sublime Middle Eastern music influenced extreme metal concoction, Melechesh apparently can do no wrong. While The Epigenesis took a tad more progressive turn, with sublimely heavy and thundering songs, Enki returns back to the faster, more intense songwriting as presented on their earlier albums, such as Emissaries and Sphynx. I was fortunate enough to finally see the band on stage last May, and the experience was mind-blowing. Among the best musical entities on the planet. Period.
4. Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud (Nuclear Blast)
As a very, very long time fan of the band, their current lineup, starting with their absolute best album, Eclipse (2006), almost every album since has been a tour-de-force, showcasing the enormous capacity of the bands collective skills in songwriting and musicianship, as well as being one of the hardest working bands out there, as this is their 6th full-length album in only 9 years. Under the Red Cloud very much takes up the thread from the stellar 2013 album, Circle, but the band is in absolute top-form here, as every song on the album is outstanding. Songs like ‘The Four Wise Ones’, ‘Bad Blood’, ‘Dark Path’, and the phenomenal ‘Tree of Ages’, have made the album my most heavily rotated album from the band since 2006, and there is no letting up on how often I spin it. Masterpiece.
5. Clutch – Psychic Warfare (Weathermaker Music)
Yes indeed, here‘s another super-hard working band which has been dishing out release after release of superior quality since, well, forever. Their 2004 album Blast Tyrant is perhaps my favorite rock album of all-time, and their subsequent albums, albeit all having different qualities, none really came close to it in overall groove and fierceness, until now. Psychic Warfare absolutely hits every mark of excellence that Blast Tyrant presented. Every song is superb, the lyrics are fantastic, and the whole album pops and clicks on every beat, every groove, and infuses that good old feeling of strapping on an air-guitar and do a bit of headbanging while singing along to Neil Fallon’s often hysterically funny rants and phrases. As I write this, there are only 2 days until I see the band onstage for the first time, and the anticipation for seeing the tracks from this album presented is making me all giddy. Woohoo!
6. Keep of Kalessin – Epistemology (Indie Recordings)
This is an album I actually had high expectations for, specially after hearing the 2013 EP Introspection, which was the first release from the band following Arnt “Obsidian C.” Grønbech taking over the vocal duties after Thebon‘s departure earlier that year. Their first full-length album in 5 years, I was supremely happy to hear that Keep of Kalessin is very much up to the task as a three-piece outfit, and musically, the album is a healthy blend of the more commercial aspect of 2009‘s Reptilian and the earlier fierce and blazingly fast Armada (2006) and Kolossus (2008). Stand-out tracks and passages on the album are many, but the pinnacle is most certainly ‘The Grand Design’, a track that easily rivals the best of their earlier works, and was absolutely amazing to witness on stage. The band is in top-form at the moment and I can‘t wait for the successor, just hope that I won‘t have to wait 5 years for it.
7. George Kollias – Invictus (Season of Mist)
This master of extreme metal drumming certainly has had a busy schedule in recent years, touring and playing with Nile, as well as releasing drum lesson videos and attending drum clinics, but there were a couple of his own songs available on YouTube, rough mixed and non-vocal demos. Very cool stuff, but nothing that really prepared me for the delicious death metal assault he put together on this first solo album of his. It is a showcase of enormous death metal talent, as Kollias plays every instrument on the album, as well as performing vocals, but the album also features guest performances from many prominent musicians, such as Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade (Nile), George Emmanuel (Rotting Christ) and Efthimis Karadimas (Nightfall), to name but a few. Overall a fantastic death metal trip, modern in technicality, speed, sound and feel, blended with a healthy dose of some old school riffing, but what really amazed me the most is Kollias‘ vocal performance, which ranks among the best I‘ve heard in a long time. Highly recommended.
8. Hate – Crvsade: Zero (Napalm Records)
Being a very early release this year, as it came out in late January, this album has had way more spins than many other albums on my list, but it is definitely to its credit that it ends up on my Top 10 list, as the re-playability of the album is phenomenal. Mainman Adam “ATF Sinner” Buszko and his band mates strengthen the already very impressive legacy of the band and their highly energetic style of death metal getting stronger with each subsequent album. One of my favorite bands for sure.
9. Nile – What Should Not Be Unearthed (Nuclear Blast)
Another album I had really high expectations for in 2015, and they were not betrayed. Nile have been on a remarkably consistent roll since the release of Those Whom The Gods Detest in 2009, followed by At the Gate of Sethu (2012) which has since then bulldozed its way to being my second all-time favorite album by the band. The band pulls no left hooks here, plowing onwards and upwards with their instantly recognizable brand of death metal mastery. Super-heavy, blazing fast and tremendously well executed, track after track just thunders through and the confidence and coherence displayed by the band is absolutely why they are one of the biggest extreme metal acts in the world today.
10. Malevolent Creation – Dead Man‘s Path (Century Media)
Aaaah, like a warm blanket, listening to a new Malevolent Creation, one of my all-time favorite bands, is always a very pleasant experience. I’ve been following these old masters almost since the beginning of their career, and despite the very turbulent history of band members, they always manage to land on their feet, providing me with that deliciously violent old-school death metal that I love so much. Dead Man‘s Path is pure Malevolence, and the band and the music sound better than they have done since the magnificent Envenomed came out in 2000. No-one can destroy this Malevolent Creation.
As we dash towards the holidays and the end of the year Ghost Cult is feeling good about this season of giving. So we are giving our fans a chance to get to know our partners, peers, and friends from bands in the world of music. They will chime in with some guest blogs, end of year lists, and whatever else is on their minds as we pull the plug on 2015. Today we have Bidi van Drongelen, Dutch booker and manager who has worked with the likes of The Devil’s Blood, Saint Vitus, Ghost, In Solitude and many more. Every year a multitude of his bands get booked at the excellent Roadburn festival, and we have asked him what he feels were the best releases of 2015.
1. Klone – Here Comes The Sun
Great songwriting, amazing vocals, and a crystal clear though heavy production blending prog and post metal.
2. Ghost – Meliora
Ghost has it all to become one of the leading melodic heavy rock bands in the world
3. Bliksem – Gruesome Masterpiece
If you like Metallica’s Master of Puppets of Death Angel’s ACT III….with the a raw female voice like Doro.
4. Royal Thunder – Crooked Doors
Great atmospheric rock album with the amazing voice of Mlny Parsonsz
5. Tribulation – Children of the Night
Melodies of occult rock like The Devil’s Blood drenched with a satanic black voice which reminds of Satyricon.
6. Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss
Refreshing approach of doom & drone. ART with capital A!
7. Paradise Lost – The Plague Within
8. Steak Number Eight – Kosmokoma
9. Melechesh – Enki
10. Enslaved – In Times
11. Clutch – Psychic Warfare
12. Thy Catafalque – Sgurr
13. Amorphis– Under The Red Cloud
14. RAM – Svbversvm
15. BRING ME THE HORIZON– That’s The Spirit
16. Mgła – Excercises In Futility
17. Baroness – Purple
18. Leprous – The Congregation
19. Graveyard – Innocence & Decadence
20. Hangman’s Chair – This Is Not Supposed To Be Positive
Part two of the Ghost Cult Magazine countdown to our Album of 2015.
And now the end is near, and so we face 2015’s final curtain, and once more the Ghost Cult army got together to vote for their favourites. The results? Over 20 writers pitched and voted on over 220 albums ranging from indie pop to the most horrific savage tentacle laden death metal showing the depth and breadth of the official Ghost Cult Album of the Year for 2015.
The countdown (to extinction) continues…
“Once again every track has its own theme and spirit – the “carnivalesque” sound that has been part of their image since LMI is still present… but in terms of musical excellence and thematic power it matches or even exceeds that classic album. Whether or not you’ve ever engaged with Arcturus before, do so now.”
“Throw (it) on at the end of a long day and just let fuzz consume your mind…The Night Creeper is an album worthy of a place in your doom collection. It’s got all of the darkness and foreboding of regular doom but without putting you (me) to sleep.”
A swirling, enchanting brew of post-rock with touches of blackened metal and psychedelic swirls, as melancholia most vivid is wrapped in progressive motions and dreamy epics and delivered to the sub-conscious in swathes.
“Qliphoth is a snapshot of a ferociously dedicated and hardworking band continuing to carve out their own unique sense of what Grindcore can be. Cloud Rat have offered something both rare and interesting, and have made themselves genuinely the best new Grindcore band in years in the process.”
A cocktail of stoner, progressive and doom metal, unafraid to stretch it’s mighty wings to allow an epic to pound and unfold, and proud to worship at the altar of The Riff.
“If ‘Ethnic Metal’ is a poor fit for Melechesh’s music, Black Metal is almost as inappropriate. The snarled vocals and trebly guitars put it superficially in that style, but the song-writing owes more to classic Thrash and Heavy Metal, filtered through the ever-present Mediterranean voice.”
Album of the Month – November “Puscifer delivers money shot after money shot in the form of aural enjoyment. So, instead of pounding away at your keyboard on social media bitching about the next Tool album, maybe you should hit up YouTube and try out Puscifer.”
“Produced by Kurt Ballou, the album crawls, kicks, stamps, and screams abuse into your face, pulverizing you in a variety of different ways; never dull with the slower parts merely serving to accentuate the chaotic flurries of speed and aggression when they do arrive.”
“Hammer Of The Witches is a competent enough album by a band who know exactly what they’re doing, and fans of their most recent material will find something worth listening to here, but those still waiting for a return to former glories may need to decide whether we’re happy to settle for the next best thing”
“Nightwish, the rulers of symphonic metal have returned and are ready to take over the world with their new album Endless Forms Most Beautiful. Trying to pick out highlights from this album is like trying to pick needles out of a stack of predominantly needles – there is not a strand of hay in sight.”
Saudi Arabian Black Metal? I know. The guys of AlNamrood deserve full marks for merely attempting it, right? When you consider that Melechesh felt forced to depart the allegedly less extreme Israel after fierce opposition to their fiery output, these fellas must have been shitting themselves at times. And Diaji Al Joor (Shaytan) is their fifth album…
If those new to the band are guessing at some nasty old ranting with a middle-eastern influence, you’re on the right path: mystical sounds course through the album, with the percussion of ‘Zamjara Alat’ possessing a hollow tone and augmenting the exotic winds. It’s this blend of such haunting beauty with a sinister horror that grabs the ears from the outset and the eerie, scene-setting opener ‘Dahleen’ is adorned with Arabian chanting and the stirring pipes which grace the region’s music.
There’s an element of the theatrical and (whisper it) comedic about certain aspects: Humbaba’s vocal delivery is a crazed, blustering shout rather than the expected evil rasp; and the swerving riff of ‘Hawas Wa Thuar’ is augmented by what appears to be the sporadic bursts of kazoos. It’s a little like Hail Spirit Noir finding Khaleeji Folk: that outfit’s mad switch of obsidian MOR given a hefty Asian groove in the infectious melodies of ‘Ejhaph’, the album’s rough production and those angry bellows adding an almost Pirate metal, ‘singalong’ element to proceedings.
Those indigenous rhythms and instruments add wads of intrigue and originality to the fire however, and it’s here where the strength of the album lies. Despite a ferocious riff and vocal ‘Adghan’ would be merely a bizarre, Doom-laden take on Rotting Christ without those enlivening Eastern overlays. Here is a true melding of cultural styles and this makes for a curiously joyous experience.
Many will undoubtedly dismiss this as Extreme metal novelty or, even worse, worthy of attention for bravery alone, which would be a travesty because there’s real gravity and a stunning inventive ability at work alongside the rampant hostility. Together with those wonderfully hypnotic melodies, this makes Diaji Al Joor enthralling and, in a ‘mad genius’ way, quite brilliant.
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“Man, I always wanted to do a song about metal!” proclaims bone fide metal legend Max Cavalera, a vocalist, lyricist and pioneer of playing a four-string (non-bass) guitar, whose humble beginnings began in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and a band with a first album that had song titles such as ‘Funeral Rites’ and the exceptional, death metal anthem ‘Troops of Doom’. Subsequent lyrics have seen him exploring tribal, um, roots, slavery and national tradition, making political comment, discussing personal tragedy and drawing religious inferences and references. And now metal. “30 years and I’d not done one song about metal! And I’m so passionate about metal, so I had to do a song!”
And the song in question, ‘We Sold Our Souls To Metal’, is a fitting opening track to the tenth album from the band Cavalera formed in the aftermath of Sepultura some eighteen years ago. It’s partnered on the record by ‘Live Life Hard’, featuring Matt Young of King Parrot, which is “about how we live our lives. It’s a crazy, hard, insane way of living but we love it and can’t get enough.”
“To be on the tenth record with Soulfly feels quite amazing, really!” continues Max, running through the themes behind the songs of the album in a voice that surprisingly isn’t thick, deep, or yelling, to the point that at the start of the call I had to clarify twice to whom I was speaking (nor does he bellow he wants to “forksheetorp”, more is the pity). “‘We Sold Our Souls To Metal’ is better late than never! ‘Titans’ is about Greece, and there are Babylonian things in ‘Ishtar Rising’ and ‘Shamash’.” Which brings us to closing track, ‘Mother of Dragons’; surely Cavalera outing himself as a Game of Thrones fan. “Yes and no. The song is actually about what people called my wife a long time ago. The song is dedicated to her. I wanted her sons to sing something thrashy in a metal song about their mother, in a cool, heavy way.”
As well as the aforementioned Parrot guesting, a band Max has previously pushed and highlighted, the vicious Nails are also involved. “We had Todd from Nails, who I really like, a brilliant brutal band, one of my favourite albums of the last couple of years, so I had to get him in. We did ‘Sodomites’ with him. I really like the guests on this album because they’re a little bit newer. I also like that I sing on the Melechesh album, Enki (Nuclear Blast) because it’s one of my favourite records that came out this year and I got to be part of it, which was such an honour – it’s a brilliant, brilliant album, particularly the last song ‘Outsiders’.”
It’s interesting to talk to Max about his tastes and the influences on Archangel (“Melechesh and Belphegor and Order of Apollyon; all these crazy bands I’m listening to, we know that influenced the sound of the record.”) and how metal, now more than at any point since he kicked off ripping off Celtic Frost and Venom riffs in 1984, is back coursing through his veins and into his grey matter. “I listen to stuff now I didn’t listen to a long time ago. I am more into metal than I was before. As people get older they get less into metal, I get more into metal!” confirms the 47 year old, thirty one years into a career playing in metal bands and on his twenty-first album. “It happens naturally, and the result is, what I’ve been listening to goes right into the writing and ends up bleeding on the songs”. And Cavalera has been listening to more extreme metal now than at any point since the release of the seminal Sepultura pairing of Beneath The Remains and Arise (Roadrunner).
In order to properly capture the more extreme metal leanings, Cavalera turned to producer Matt Hyde. “I really like the Behemoth record, The Satanist (Metal Blade) and Matt was involved with that, so when I said what I wanted to do with this, that I was influenced by it but not into ripping off, he said “I know exactly what you want, and I’ll give it to you.
“Some (producers) can help get something more out of you that isn’t coming naturally, and that happened during the vocals with Matt” continues Cavalera, talking about what Hyde brought to the table. “There’s some kabbalah on ‘Archangel’, he helped me throw those words in there to make the song even more exotic. We did some chants, like on ‘Sodomites’ and ‘Shamash’ that were really cool.
“That’s the kinda thing I love doing with a producer – exploring new ideas and every producer that’s up for doing that will have fun with me on a record. I’m like a kid in a candy store when recording. There’s no limits with me, in the studio, everything drives me crazy to try it out. I want it more, to make it crazier, over the top, it’s always fun to make records! We had an Iranian singer on there too, very over the top, and I love it.”
Above all, Archangel is perhaps the archetypical “Max Cavalera” album. From the blend of big grooves, hooky deep powerful growled vocals, technical thrashy riffs and stomping anthems, where they say pets resemble their owners, this album is a pure expression and representation of all things that are distinctively Max Cavalera.
“We went in with a very clear head and wanted to make a very different record, and from the beginning we wanted to shake things up. As much as I like Savages (Nuclear Blast), I wanted to do something quite different from that. My own tastes in music has changed through the years and there’s now more extreme metal in Soulfly than before and from the beginning of the writing of the riffs, from the influences that got into the making of Archangel, to the producer we used, it was all new and different.
“I’m very pleased, it’s the right album to make – it’s the perfect tenth album.”
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For Part II of our interview with Adam Zaars of Tribulation, Ghost Cult’s Armen Haczmerian touched on a few more topics surrounding the new release, The Children of the Night (Century Media). It will be released in a few different formats. Century Media has also prepared a special box release with extras such as… a pendant with cord. But jokes aside, the band has added a couple of extra tracks to that release.
“There will be two bonus songs on the CD. One of them is ‘Laudanum Dreams’, we had released on our last 7″ we were selling on our last tour in America. The other one is a cover of The Cure’s ‘One Hundred Years’. We like this song and recording it went really well. There are also two demo songs on a 7 inch EP, which is also included in the box release. Also, we might publish another cover we recorded in the future. I can’t reveal anything now, you will find out soon (laughs).”
Signing to one of the biggest players in heavy metal market, Century Media, which is another shift from band’s recent stance on big labels. But Adam offers a firm clarification.
“Century Media has been great so far. To make things clear – we wouldn’t have signed a deal with any label that didn’t put us in full control when it comes to song writing. The reason we signed was purely commercial – to get a better promotion… and so far it seems to be working! We don’t regret not signing to a bigger label before releasing The Formulas of Death. But we’ve always known we’re something else… shape-shifters, I guess”, Adam chooses his words carefully but with confidence. “I think it was the right time for us to show everyone what Tribulation is really about. It was great to work with Invictus and Ajna Offensive, but we can’t stay in one place for too long. So when we got a real chance to show everyone what Tribulation is, we made the decision.”
Tribulation hit the road again in April, before going on European tour with Melechesh and Keep of Kalesin in May. Adam speaks of the band’s touring plans for the next few months.
“We have not many festival dates confirmed as yet, but we’re playing at Tons of Rock in Norway in June. We will be at Temples Festival in Bristol in May, and Hellfest in France a month later as well. We are not planning a UK tour at the moment, but we play at London’s Incineration Fest, and Temples so at least we have two dates in the UK now (laughs).”
Speaking of touring, there were huge controversies on Tribulation’s recent Polish tour with Behemoth, who were the headliner. One show in Poznan was cancelled, and all the supporting bands played in a different (and smaller) club.
“Well, it’s quite bizarre, I’d say. Especially for us, coming from a very secular country like Sweden. It would never happen over here! It was a huge shame, that local government was persuaded by religious fanatics, and managed to get the show cancelled. Those groups of catholics were protesting outside venues on every show. But that was fine! It actually helped the tour (laughs). However, it’s ok to speak your mind up, but if you try censoring, it just turns really ugly.”
Tribulation are destined for success, as their music gather new auditorium, and their style expands further beyond the frames of death metal. But while we can be sure the band will be constantly evolving, Adam does not rule out a return to more vicious and primal variety. Perhaps teaming up with Tobias Forge again, and doing another long-awaited Repugnant record would be an idea?
“Of course! I still listen to the extreme music, so I’m still into it. Tribulation is a journey, it’s something else now, and also at the moment I’m quite busy with the band. But in the future, why not?”