Badass Italian Progressive Stoner/Sludge band Void of Sleep is bringing forth what promises to be an immense new album on March 27th when they release Metaphora, via the Aural Music label. Their third full-length and fifth release overall will be the culmination of nearly ten years of creating spaced-out, heavy, and complex jams. Get hype right now with this new teaser video, created by Francesca Bonci, and pre-order the album at the link below. Continue reading
While bands such as Pallbearer and Khemmis have been roundly lauded as the prime exponents of modern Progressive Doom, Boston’s Magic Circle has received less attention but is no less of a creative talent. The third album Departed Souls takes up where predecessor Blind Journey (both 20 Buck Spin) left off but sees positively lumimous advances from a whole host of instruments. Continue reading
Having slowly transformed themselves from ’60s/’70s psychedelia into a full-blown Occult Rock/Doom Metal act, as well as having undergone several changes in personnel in their eight-year existence, it makes perfect sense that Sabbath Assembly see new album Rites of Passage (Svart Records) as a reflection on the transitional stages of life. Continue reading
Sevillan duo Orthodox are respected in underground Metal circles as a Progressive Doom outfit. The band, however, see themselves as much more than the descriptors would suggest. From a chilly quadrant in Salford, Marco Serrato and Borja Diaz talk about their first tour of the UK, their transition from a trio to a duo, and the influences that vary their sound ahead of their as-yet-untitled fifth full-length, due in November.
“We have played Birmingham before, around 2008 and 2011; but this is our first full tour of the UK” states drummer Borja. “Here, we are playing five shows as Orthodox, and another with our other project, a free improvisation group called Sputnik Trio. Some people seem to have enjoyed us, but it’s not been too crowded so far: we’ve played in front of about 40 people in both London and Birmingham. England is sometimes a hard place for a small band as you have many big bands, and a busy gig culture compared to ours in Spain.”
The guys are still getting used to being without their former guitarist and founder member Ricardo Jiménez, who left the band last year after a decade of playing together. “It feels strange, and we miss him” reflects vocalist / bassist Marco, “But if we were still a trio we wouldn’t be here today. Ricardo is a schoolteacher, and could no longer play as often as we wanted to as he has other priorities. There were creative differences also, and these two things meant we had to part. It’s painful for both sides: I’ve known him since school, we have children who are friends with each other: but we are still friends.”
The band’s last album, Baal (Alone Records), was a more traditionally Doom-based outing than their previous three albums, and the duo have mixed feelings about it: “After two steps forward, Baal was a step backwards”, opines Borja, “though it was absolutely deliberate. We were so energised after our third album Sentencia (Alone Records), and a number of festivals wanted us including Roadburn. We have to write tunes that we can play live as a duo and a trio, as we usually require trumpets, horns, and all kinds of things, and many venues don’t pay us what we need to provide the extra musicians.”
“If we had money, we could afford to tour and show all the faces of Orthodox”, laments Marco. “Sadly, we will probably lose money even from this tour. People have this impression of us as a schizophrenic force that plays Metal, and we have managed to put this together in Seville where people can see how one thing speaks to another, a kind of Pink Floyd mentality, an organic flow from one thing to another. We like both Metal and Jazz, and like to incorporate the two. We both feel that our second album, Amanecer en puerta oscura (Alone), is the album which most represents our core. Baal is definitely our ‘Metal’ album!”
So how do Orthodox describe Orthodox? “Everything”, states Marco somewhat arcanely. “Sometimes I still feel like that teenager who listened to Sodom and Sacred Reich, but I listen to many things and I’m tired of some of the stupid clichés that are often given in underground metal. You need freedom. I don’t feel offended when people call us a Doom band: I understand that people need labels, and as a point of departure maybe it’s correct. When we first started out we had bands like Cathedral and Sunn O))) in mind, but there’s more to our sound. I can probably identify more with Earth because they play slower and with hard riffs, but they think in ideas. I don’t connect so much with, say, Reverend Bizarre, which is a cool band but a little more generic. I personally am not that kind of musician!”
Both Marco and Borja are excited about that upcoming album, which recent single Crown for a Mole (Alone) indicates will be slightly more up-tempo: “There are a couple of faster songs on there”, asserts Marco. “We’ve wanted to play fast for some time. Overall, however, it is the closest album to Amanecer… that we have done. We have put all the faces together again in one album. You have the heavy stuff but you have horns, clarinets, we have a strange African-influenced song on there…we have missed a couple of things from Ricardo, like some of his crazy chords, but it sounds again like our vision.” So how is that rhythmic, sonorous balance achieved? “We play our instruments without many rules”, states Borja, “And sometimes they clash.” “When we were a trio” continues Marco, “we were three soloists playing together but there was always something happening: here we have lots of collaborations, with a guitar player, clarinetists, and saxophonists, so again we have so many different things in our sound.”
It sounds like a remarkable experience, which an Orthodox album always is. If you like your Low-end rhythms shot through with a sense of mystery, adventure, and no little beauty, this Spanish duo are most definitely worth your investigation.
WORDS BY PAUL QUINN
German Doom-meisters Ahab, quite appropriately considering their chosen method of musical communication have, like the slow roiling tide, gradually and steadily progressed, increasing not just in terms of exposure but also musically, with each release improving their status (“It’s because we’ve been around 11 years, so people heard our name often enough to think “ah, they’re still around, now I’ll listen finally!””) and growing a stoic brand of progressive doom metal, all linked by the retelling of literary tales with marine and disturbing themes.
Having covered Edgar Allan Poe, and ridden the leviathan of Moby Dick on previous albums, this fourth time around matters took on a more obscure twist, as The Boats of Glen Carrig (Napalm) takes its tales from the William Hope Hodgson book of the same name. “I don’t know if he and HP Lovecraft were friends but they knew each other”, begins guitarist and lyricist Christian Hector, a quietly spoken man with a very likeable self-deprecating and calm manner.
“What I like about the book is there are some real strange creatures, slug-like man-eating monsters, and kraken type monsters. It is psychedelic, but on a different level, Hodgson wrote about social differences between the crew members, and how this was gone when they were in this special situation. I found this really interesting, especially because this also fits the time nowadays where, for some people, it’s more important who you are, what colour you are, and we dislike that, so it was a good point for us too.”
Asking for directions in a second language is difficult enough, though I’m sure I could find the beach in La Rochelle thanks to secondary school’s legendary Tricolor text books (all coming with standard dick and balls drawn on everyone’s foreheads), let alone retelling an epic, dark tale, a feat Hector has managed with some success. There is a pleasing Olde poetic feel to lyric, reminiscent of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. “There’s nothing more embarrassing than to write something poetic in a foreign language that sounds cheesy!” he laughs modestly. “My problem is not being a native speaker, so I never know if my lyrics are cheesy or if they are appropriate. I’ll take some expressions from the book to get the right vibe of it, and when I’m finished I send them to a native speaker to look over them.
“There were some changes, some weird expressions that were German, but normally I try to capture the vibe of the book, and the story of the book but also try to get something into it that are emotions I have in mind, or something that happened to me and was important to me, but in a way that it still fits the book so you don’t read something into it that isn’t there.”
If the concept is impressive, it’s swamped (pun intended) by the remorseless churning atmospheric riffs and doomy passages that show why Ahab are held as genre-leaders; at one point during ‘The Weedmen’ the song feels like it’s physically restraining an ancient giant moss-beast that wants to escape! “The Weedmen was actually a pain in the ass in the studio!” chuckles Hector, ruefully.
“Because Cornelius (Althammer – drums) and Stephen (Wandernoth – bass) played live together when we recorded, and they were so fucking laid back, and they play behind the click, you have to concentrate on what they’re doing, and this click is in your ear and you’re thinking “Ah, now they are coming!” and “Ah, I’m too late!”
“So this song is a pain in the ass to play that slow, cos if you miss a millisecond, you hear it in doom!”
Taking everything into consideration, with it’s atmospheric, doom metal combining seamlessly with a progressive lilt, is this the defining Ahab album?
“To some extent, yes. The Giant was, we feel a little over-produced, so we tried to have a bit more of an authentic harsh sound, mixed with warmer clean sounds. Some of the songs, too, have things that are new to us; it’s not prog rock, but there’s plenty of progressive music in there and ‘Red Foam’ is, for us, something different; a really fast song.
“The Giant shouldn’t sound like The Divinity of Ocea\yhhhns (both Napalm) and The Boats of Glen Carrig shouldn’t sound like The Giant, because they’re different books, a different feeling”, confirms the guitarist. “If you create these things, you should at least sound in your small universe a bit different. It’s not scientific, more like using what you’ve got in your feelings and the feelings from the book and trying to capture that.”
Adding to the development of the Ahab sound and the Glen Carrig atmosphere is a stand-out performance from vocalist Daniel Droste, whose turn is really impressive; varying sweet cleans, scary growls, atmospheric gravels, and some almost Norwegian, …In The Woods styled alternative cleans…
“We didn’t hear any of the vocals before recording, because like on The Giant Daniel did everything in the studio, so when it was finished we were really impressed. Now, he sounds quite different to the last albums, there’s a bit more 80’s in the clean vocals, and his shouting stuff is more like Gorefest style, which is great. I’m a bit of a vocal fetishist. If the vocals don’t work, I don’t like the whole album. He has a special voice for it. He really did something really good.
“This album probably sums up our whole career and these songs actually sound like they are the bridge between our first album and The Giant.”
Ahab in Europe 2015
Oct 29: Elfer Club – Frankfurt (DE)
Oct 31: Bambi Galore – Hamburg (DE)
Nov 6: Club Cann – Stuttgart (DE)
Nov 11: Schwimmbad Club- Heldelberg (DE)
Dec 12: Eindhoven Metal Meeting- Eindhoven (NL)