Blackened death/doom innovators 1914 have dropped the new video for “Pillars Of Fire (The Battle Of Messines),” the second single off their forthcoming record Where Fear and Weapons Meet (Napalm Records) on October 22nd, 2021. The brutal animated music video can be seen below.Continue reading →
Light the torches and raise the cries as pagan black metal band Macabre Omen return after 10 years with their follow-up to their debut studio album, 2005’s The Ancient Returns (Obscure Abhorrence). Coupled with the ominous cover, the name Macabre Omen brings up visions of cheesy melody lines splattered with lashings of awkwardly placed black metal. This is not a band that should be judged by their cover however, and while they may only be on their second album with just a handful of splits filling the gaps, the band have had a solid twenty years since conception to perfect their craft.
It’s a call to banners as ‘I See, the Sea’ opens the album with rousing calls reminiscent of ancient armies making their way into battle. Gods of War – At War (Ván Records) certainly has a touch of the epic about it, even as the melodic folk-inspired lines give way to more aggressive blasting under scream by vocalist Alexandros. While the opening track remained distinctly melodic, the album takes much darker turns, particularly on the title track where the black metal is dialled up. ‘Man of 300 Voices’ takes a different tone however; an acoustic opening to the track barely seems out of place, particularly as more traditional instruments make an appearance before moving into epic vocal lines that dominate the song.
Pagan black metal can be a hard genre to master, but Macabre Omen have managed to produce a sound that plants itself somewhere between the more Bathory and Graveland. Despite maintaining a consistent sound throughout, Gods of War – At War has successfully walked the line creating an album that has enough variety between tracks, but still maintains an identifiable sound that brings the piece together. While it may not be breaking any ground artistically, it certainly would hold its ground on soundtrack heading into battle.
It’s all been quiet on the front lines recently when it comes to Polish extreme metal band, Infernal War. Forming in 1997, the band took 3 years to produce their first demo, following it on with a small stream of releases leading up to their debut album, 2005’s Terrorfront. For a band that has survived that many years, their releases have always been sporadic with only 2 full-length albums and 2 EPs under their belt since they released their original demo in 2000, but with the quick successive release of their second full length Redesekration (both Agonia) in 2007, it seemed that the band were finally about to start making their mark on the scene.
After Redesekration however the quintet seemed to return to their old pattern of smaller releases, putting out just a handful of tracks across a number of different records, including a split with fellow Polish black metal band Kriegsmaschine. Finally, 2015 sees the return of the band with their third full-length album, Axiom (Agonia).
Where Axiom differs from the previous albums is not a change in sound, but a redefining of the old style into something tight and succinct. Blasting its way though 43 minutes of chaotic drums and staccato riffing, their music takes on a frantic urgent feel, racing through the song as vocalist Herr Warcrimer barks their hateful mantra. While Axiom has its moments, ‘Into Dead Soil’ pausing in the middle for flying guitar solo or the dropping back to half time for sections of ‘Nihil Prayer’, it fails to carve out any kind of lasting impression.
Axiom may have taken on a new level of togetherness in terms of sound but in between the blasting it’s hard to find anything particularly interesting or unique about this band.
With a brand new album entitled One Man Army under their belts and a brand new home on the legendary Metal Blade Records, things in the Ensiferum camp are looking the strongest they have ever been. In the second part, vocalist Petri Lindroos discusses the recording process, and how vigorous yet surprisingly relaxed the whole period was.
Another factor that arguably set Ensiferum apart from their peers is the venturing into the use of orchestral parts previously in their back catalogue, but in an overshadowing manner, but more as in a sense of bulking their palette and trying something new. 2009’s From Afar (Spinefarm) set the precedence for this, before 2012’s Unsung Heroes (Spinefarm) reduced the use. Interestingly, newest album One Man Army (Metal Blade) sees the dynamic of orchestration shift again; an overall process that Lindroos explains.
“From Afar was kind of an experiment with the orchestrations for Ensiferum and it’s pretty full of it now, that you listen to it in perspective and it sounded so cool during the recordings but it got a little out of hand, so after that we kind of learned that you don’t have to put it into every single riff part available, but I think we got it nailed on this one. Its pretty much trial and error, live and learn, every time you make a new album you learn and now we are getting the hang of it.”
“Finding a balance with the orchestration is difficult in the sense that heavy metal itself is already very powerful in its own way and adding a full orchestra to that is a little tricky, and making it sound good without eating away at each other is very difficult and pretty much a balance question.”
Of course, no band’s recording story would be complete without tales of arduous and testing experiences, and with the sheer work rate of producer Ansi Kippo and his supposed super human abilities.
“Our producer/recorder/owner of the studio is a man who can work without any sleep, which is crazy and amazing at the same time, but he can do as long as necessary. If you have enough energy to sing until six in the morning he will stay up too, if you’re on a good run you don’t have to give up, if someone is fired up we can keep going all night.”
“We started a little later in the afternoon, there’s no point picking up a guitar at 8 in the morning, everyone knows that’s not going to work so we would start at midday, so obviously its going to go late into the night. I’d been working with Ansi a couple of times before and its been like that from the start, he just can’t stop, he’s a workaholic.”
Despite the long days, Lindroos is very adamant that this was beneficial in the recording process and on the final result, being an absolute necessity: “Without that we couldn’t have finished in time, it would have taken a couple of weeks, cost us more money which wouldn’t have made anyone happy so a big thanks goes to him that we could do it pretty much on time.”
Speaking of recording, it has almost become cliché for bands to speak of sleepless nights, stress, even arguments and other problems that make for a mantra that Ensiferum clearly didn’t get: “There were no big problems, in our point of view the only thing stopping us was when a tube blew up from a guitar amp that took 45 minutes to change, that was the biggest issue. Otherwise it was a case of whoever is ready to record would do so. It was very relaxed and smooth. It was surprising, but I knew before that Ansi was a smooth guy, he makes it all so easy.”
With a brand new album entitled One Man Army under their belts and a brand new home on the legendary Metal Blade Records, things in the Ensiferum camp are looking the strongest they have ever been. Vocalist Petri Lindroos chatted to Ghost Cult about the the band’s sense of fun, experimentation and THAT infamous disco number.
For all the talk and stereotyping regarding metal music as a po-faced, overly serious and even evil and dangerous form of art there are also as countless moments of whimsy and cartoonish silliness and absurdity with a huge focus on that little word ‘fun’. Folk metal especially has a history of the OTT and tomfoolery with an equal measure of the anthemic.
At first glance, Finnish act Ensiferum may appear one of the genre’s more direct and hardened presences; but as vocalist Petri Lindroos explains, this isn’t the case at all: “We also like to have a lot of fun with the music but also do it very seriously. Having a small moment in a particular song, like we have “Stone Cold Metal” which had a western bridge part and we have a lot of fun with that, and it seems the fans also understood it, they didn’t knock us down”
Compared to the likes of the instantly recognisable image and infamous camp covers of Turisas or the alcohol drenched party vibes ala Korpiklaani as examples, Ensiferum may not be as overtly animated, but a little digging reveals a lot of experimentation and forays into the ridiculous. Even so latest album One Man Army (Metal Blade) throws a number of curveballs; most notably the now infamous ‘Two Spades’.
“So we did ‘Two Of Spades’ and it felt it needed a special bridge part and I think someone said out loud without really thinking “hey lets do disco” and we were all like, sure lets do it.” “If he hadn’t said disco, he might have saud funk and we would have a lot more funk on it. I don’t think even god knows what’s going to be on the next one.”
The aforementioned ‘Two Spades’ encapsulates archetypal sides to the folk metal coin; a rather lengthy epic of powerful and empowering metal, with a bridge segment in the centre based on a disco beat and upbeat tone. On the one hand it’s a segment that makes perfect sense but on the other it remains quite a surprise. A surprise that Petri believes the band have pulled off substantially.
Ensiferum, by Susanne A. Maathuis.
“If they see that coming then they have to be some kind of wizard. It all needs that fun aspect and needs to be entertaining yet done seriously and professionally. I think on this we did an excellent job.”
But it isn’t just ‘Two Spades’ that should catch people off guard, as the bonus edition also features a cover of a well known song that is a little unconventional even for folk metal:
The song ‘Rawhide’ came right before the studio, our label and our management wanted a few bonus tracks for different worldwide releases and we started running out of time; and ‘Rawhide’ is an excellent song and as we noticed digging into it, the Blues Brothersversion is a cover, its actually a song from the 50’s, really old and with dozens of versions. But its very catchy, pretty much everyone knows it already, plus its nice and short and we didn’t need that much time to make it sound good.”