PODCAST: Episode 117 – Daniel Beckman of Ages Talks “Uncrown” and Old-School Black Metal

Ghost cult caught up with Daniel Beckman of  Swedish Black Metal band Ages, to discuss their upcoming new album, Uncrown, due out on August 21st via Black Lodge Records. Daniel went into details about the history of the band, their comeback after a gap between albums, the bands’ approach to songwriting, his thoughts on what makes good production for black metal albums, his work as a sound engineer, his favorite old-school bands in the genre, the great album artwork by Chris Cold, what gets him in a creative mood, and much more. Purchase the album here and check out our chat. Continue reading

Monolord Kick Off Scandinavian Tour Dates This Week, Book Spring Dates With Conan

Swedish doom metal leaders Monolord begin their run of tour dates this week in Scandinavia. This will be followed up by an appearance at Desertfest Belgium, and a run of dates this spring in the UK with fellow brothers in heaviness Conan, followed by more touring. Monolord continues to tour in support of their excellent 2017 album Rust, on Riding Easy Records. All tour dates on sale now with the info below. Continue reading

Video: Sabaton – The Lost Battalion Lyric Video, Pre-Order’s Available

Sabaton The Last Stand album cover ghostcultmag

Heavy metal legends Sabaton have released their new single, the first from their forthcoming new album The Last Stand, due this summer from Nuclear Blast on August 19th. You can with the lyric video for ‘The Lost Battalion’ at this link or below:

 

 

The band has provided some background on the lyrics:

‘The Lost Battalion’ is the name given to nine companies of the United States’ 77th Division during the battle of the Argonne in 1918. Even though these 550-575 brave men were completely surrounded by the German Army and subjected to friendly artillery fire, they kept on fighting for a week until they were relieved. Of the over 500-plus soldiers who entered the Argonne Forest, only 194 walked out unscathed. The rest were killed, missing, captured, or wounded.

The record can be pre-ordered at this link: http://nblast.de/SabatonLastStandNB

Or digital: http://nblast.de/SabatonDownloads

The Last Stand can be purchased in the following editions:

– CD+DVD-DIGI

– CD

– 2LP (black, dark green)

– Digital

Sabaton- The Last Stand track listing

CD+DVD-DIGI

CD

01. Sparta

02. Last Dying Breath

03. Blood Of Bannockburn

04. Diary Of An Unknown Soldier

05. The Lost Battalion

06. Rorke’s Drift

07. The Last Stand

08. Hill 3234

09. Shiroyama

10. Winged Hussars

11. The Last Battle

Bonus:

12. Camouflage

13. All Guns Blazing

DVD – Live @ Stereolux, Nantes (France)

01. Intro (The March To War)

02. Ghost Division

03. Far From The Fame

04. Uprising

05. Midway

06. Gott Mit Uns

07. Resist And Bite

08. Wolfpack

09. Dominium Maris Baltici

10. Carolus Rex

11. Swedish Pagans

12. Soldier Of 3 Armies

13. Attero Dominatus

14. The Art Of War

15. Wind Of Change

16. To Hell And Back

17. Night Witches

18. Primo Victoria

19. Metal Crüe

CD

01. Sparta

02. Last Dying Breath

03. Blood Of Bannockburn

04. Diary Of An Unknown Soldier

05. The Lost Battalion

06. Rorke’s Drift

07. The Last Stand

08. Hill 3234

09. Shiroyama

10. Winged Hussars

11. The Last Battle

2LP – 45 RPM

Side A

01. Sparta

02. Last Dying Breath

03. Blood Of Bannockburn

04. Diary Of An Unknown Soldier

05. The Lost Battalion

Side B

01. Rorke’s Drift

02. The Last Stand

03. Hill 3234

04. Shiroyama

Side C

01. Winged Hussars

02. The Last Battle

Side D (Bonus)

01. Camouflage

02. All Guns Blazing

sabaton logo ghostcultmag

Graveyard- Innocence And Decadence

graveyard innocence and decadence album cover

Over the course of a few albums (this one being the latest and fourth), Sweden’s Graveyard have both bypassed and embraced the “retro” tagline they have been lumped with from day one. Never proving nor looking to be a musically revolutionary band, they wear their influences firmly on their sleeves with their brand of familiar and instantaneous blues-rock. At the same time they are more than just a nostalgia act as Innocence And Decadence (Nuclear Blast) shows, they have some individuality of their own.

On the face of it this may prove straight- forward blues-rock which sticks to a recognisable formula (in a positive sense), but scratch deeper this proves a moodier and darker effort than in previous. Innocence And Decadence sees further exploration of their psychedelic and stoner influences alongside moments of pure melancholy next to some upbeat moments. Album opener ‘Magnetic Shunk’ begins with a slow, stoner crawl which proves the album’s only lapse before half way it picks up in to a more confident and catchy strut. The likes of ‘Exit 97’ and ‘Too Much Is Not Enough’ are slower numbers which encapsulate the bleaker side of blues, whilst ‘Hard-Headed’ begins with a brief, but destabilising fuzz of feedback which invokes some of their heavier peers.

All the while this sounds instantly recognisable as their own and is very catchy and immediate throughout. A significant improvement on the previous Lights Out (Nuclear Blast). It feels much more confident in exploring their further influences whilst not deviating too far from their sound, and most importantly it never falters in quality throughout (bar from the slight misstep at the off). As much as they are proud of their classic influences, the want to seek new styles sees them as so much more than a retro band.

7.0/10

CHRIS TIPPELL

Outlasting Trends – Gottfrid Åhman of In Solitude

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Rising Swedish true metal stars In Solitude hit London’s Kentish Town Forum in February with unlikely tour mates Behemoth and Cradle Of Filth, pushing their muscular, melodic brand of classic heavy metal to an audience mostly there to see face-painted men in leather skirts bellowing about Satan. Ghost Cult found bassist Gottfrid Åhman at the back of their tour bus with a gin and tonic to talk about their new album Sister (Metal Blade), perceived trends and their place on an otherwise exclusively death and black metal bill.

 

Your earlier material very much took its cues from Mercyful Fate, but Sister seems to draw on a broader collection of influences – is that a deliberate choice, or a more natural development?

I think it’s very natural… when we did the first album we were 16 or 18, you know – we had just learned how to make a rock song. We grew up together playing Mercyful Fate, Black Sabbath – those bands taught us how to play our instruments. It’s very natural that when you sit down to write a song, it will sound like them. I think moving on from that, as we have on Sister, is a natural thing, and a thing that comes… maybe not with age, but with knowing how to play your instruments, how to express your true self.”

 

When you and other like-minded bands started to emerge in the late 2000’s, you were perceived by journalists as being part of a retro heavy metal trend. How do you feel about this?

At the time we were very annoyed – I think all of the bands who were seen as part of that were. I’ve been talking about this with Enforcer and Portrait, and everyone hated it. I think everyone started to play that kind of music, maybe not consciously, but because there was a lack of bands playing the kind of music that we grew up with. It’s a natural thing, to sound like the bands that you grew up with and loved. It wasn’t a trend, it was just that people with similar influences were getting their albums out around the same time. I really feel like the trend is coming now – in 2007, there were only three four bands doing this in Sweden, you know, but now you have lots of demo bands trying to take part in what they’ve been told is a scene.”

It was the same way with black metal – in the early 90s every one talked about the black metal trend, but you didn’t get the trend until years later, when millions of shitty bands turned up.”

 InSolitude-Sister

As a genre, classic heavy metal is in its fourth decade, and yet continues to find fans and musicians amongst young people. Where do you think that lasting appeal comes from?

Because it’s just great music. People will always discover the great music, however old. I bought this Velvet Underground box set the other day – younger people have been picking up on Velvet Underground pretty much every ten years, purely because of the quality of the music – it’s the same with Mercyful Fate, they’re just one of the best bands ever, you know? It’s natural that people will keep trying to sound like them. Back in 97 and 98 we felt a real hunger for it – no-one was really sounding like that or talking about those groups. When we were 15 or 16 and picked up on it, we were really provoked by that – why aren’t people talking about these bands?”

 

Do you think the perception of being ‘underground’ has anything to do with that?

Definitely not. I think Mercyful Fate should stand alongside The Beatles. I never think in terms of underground or mainstream – I think it’s an unnecessary argument, it doesn’t say anything about what the music is about. Of course, I cared about that when I was younger… all underground movements are important when it comes to exposing young people to culture, making them part of something, but when it comes to writing music it’s completely foolish to think in those terms”

 

The general consensus among fans and reviewers seems to be that Sister is more Gothic than your earlier material. How do you feel about that?

Everyone uses that word! I think it’s funny, because I don’t really know what Gothic music is, to be honest. I know that people name-drop Sisters Of Mercy, who I’ve never heard… I fucking love Danzig, so that reference is not so surprising. But yes, this Gothic thing is hard to adjust to. I think something new happens and people always have to blame something… now they blame the Gothic music scene. I don’t really know what makes In Solitude more gothic than Black Sabbath or The Stooges.

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Not wanting to speak for others, but personally I found the material on Sister to have more of a romantic, even a seductive feel, compared the more straight-forward heavy metal feel of your earlier material.

It’s funny that you should say that… when we did this album we talked a lot about this. After it was finished, we thought it had a much harder attitude, you know, that it was a lot more in your face – the drum sound is a lot more natural and hard, and also the guitars. Most metal productions, to me, aren’t very extreme, or very hard. All those bands using lots of distortion – that only makes the guitars sound smooth. What makes a guitar sound really hard is playing it clean without lots of distortion, then you can really hear it smash. With Sister, we all listened to it after the production was finished, and our response was just… fuck! This is so hard-sounding!”

“It is a really hard soundscape, much harder than
The World, The Flesh, The Devil, for example – which I think is a much more romantic album in a way. The arrangements are more like classical, whereas with Sister I find it more morbid. I think also our previous albums haven’t been that personal, so it was easier to connect them with other metal bands. Now something different happens, and I think people have hooked onto this idea that we’re more Gothic now… probably one person said that and others picked up on it.”

A lot of people are name-dropping stuff that they think have been influences to us, and I have always really hated name-dropping, that you have to describe a band by reference to others. I do think that comparing bands to bands is just really pointless. In bad reviews of the album, people write “I don’t like that they’ve been influenced by this, they’re too into Sisters of Mercy” – it’s like, what the fuck? I’ve never even heard them! They’re just saying stuff that’s not true.”

 

Do you feel this may be attributed to many metal fans and journalists not really having a lot of experience of music beyond metal? That they may be bewildered by outside influences?

I don’t know if people maybe get provoked by it, or if they just don’t get it. I try not to read reviews, but of course you do… most of them seem to be saying that it’s good, so that’s great. You don’t want to complain… I hate complaining. I’m glad that people seem to be enjoying it, but I find the whole Gothic thing really strange.”

 

This is probably a question you’ve been asked before on this tour, but you don’t seem like the most natural choice for this bill. Do you see yourselves as the odd-ones-out on this package?

No, that’s a new question! It’s also true, and I totally agree. Of course you don’t want to sound like an asshole, you know, but it’s like… I can admire stuff that Behemoth or Inquisition are doing, but of course musically we don’t have a lot in common with them, and this tour is really not an obvious thing for us to do. To be honest it came a little out of desperation, we really wanted to do something while the album was fresh, Nergal asked us and I really respect and like him, so it was like, “okay, why not?”

The really good thing is that we have the opportunity to play to hundreds of people every night who’ve probably never heard of us. Of course it’s safe to go out and play to people who already know you, so this feels like risky business, but I think it’s really healthy to take that kind of risk, and at the moment I’m really enjoying it. Of course I’m really looking forward to going out headlining, playing for our die-hard fans, that’s always the most rewarding thing… but hopefully we’ll win some more fans this trip!”

 

In Solitude on Facebook

By Richie H-R

Live photo by Ian Cashman