Jan 12 2018

Over the Voids – Over the Voids…

Of all the genres out of Poland, the death metal-infused style of extremity is probably the most well-known. So it was a rather pleasant surprise discovering Over the Voids, whose mastermind has also been involved in other such prominent bands as Mgla and Mord’A’Stigmata. With his self-titled debut full length album, The Fall brings to life his vision of cold, bleak cold metal that harkens back to the 90s.

The moment the first riffs of Battle of Heaven hits, one is treated to the desperate, desolate vision of black metal as the pioneers of the genres intended to. The freezing atmosphere that Over the Voids conjures is immediately reminiscent of the works of legends like Darkthrone on their landmark Transilvanian Hunger or even Gorgoroth with that slight aggressive edge that is incorporated into the music.

Atmospherics play a large role in the music of Over the Voids, and throughout the record one also can’t help drawing comparisons to atmospheric black metal leaders such as Drudkh or Agalloch. This is often aided by that slight folk/viking metal influences that could be spotted on the album, dropping some hints of Bathory influences at the same time. The acoustic, ambient passages on songs like towards the end of Battle of Heaven can also be reminiscent of the works of Fen or the recent Auðn release, pleasing those who like their black metal cold, and heavy at the same time. There’s even a post-rock moment on Never Again will They Hunger, with the haunting clean vocals that would have sat well with the likes of Amesoeurs or early Alcest.

The production on Over the Voids helps to reinforce that frostiness in the record as the trebly riffs sends shivers down the spine of the listener. The drums also play an extremely key role in the overall vibe of the record, with that huge, reverberating tuning for that additional epic, viking-metal sound that is nostalgic of the 90s.

The mission of The Fall with Over the Voids is to bring about the revival of 90s black metal. With his self-titled album, suffice to say he has more than exceeded his objective, creating an excellent album that brings back the bleak vision of the genre, once more restoring that feeling of hopelessness in every encounter with his music.

Jan 09 2018

Perdition Winds – Transcendent Emptiness

It’s been a damn long while since my last truly enjoyable Finnish black metal. Perhaps it is ear-fatigue, but the black-core route that Finnish legends such as Sargeist or Behexen is going got me feeling rather jaded. So when I first received Perdition Wind‘s sophomore LP Transcendent Emptiness, there was some semblance of hope, with that album artwork being reminiscent of the creepiness of early artwork of Darkthrone or Sargeist. But the question remains – would this rekindle my faith and love for Finnish black metal?

The band starts off strong with Of Smoke and Mirrors, and one is thrown into the classic style of the second wave of black metal. The relentless riffs, and the chilling atmosphere are all reminiscent of pioneering Norwegian bands Mayhem or Darkthrone, though the shrieks of J.I. that are rather comparable to those of Nag helps to bring about comparisons with Tsjuder or Krypt. The material on Transcendent Emptiness though carry a slightly more aggressive edge to them though, and the more martial segments on the album do bear resemblance to the later works of their compatriots such as Behexen and Sargeist.

With all the talk of the influence of second wave black metalPerdition Winds does go back to their roots from time to time. For instance, Malicious Steed brings in some Bathory-inspired riffs, bringing with them a Viking metal vibe which leaks into the lead guitars on the track as well, however slight that influence may be. The Swedish influence constantly rears its ugly head throughout the record, and I swear that the way the band weaves slower, more seemingly contemplative moments into their music reminds me of the recent works of bands like Watain.

The production on Transcendent Emptiness is also brash and loud, and the trebly guitars often take the forefront of the record, reinforcing the abrasiveness of Perdition Winds‘ craft on the listener. Also, rather than taking the muddy route with buried instruments, R.S.’ drums has that highly reverberative effect that provides a certain level of epicness to the album.

Transcendent Emptiness presents to fans of black metal a perfect balance of coldness, bleakness, and aggression in 50 minutes. Suffice to say, Perdition Winds‘ sophomore album has restored my love for this particular style of black metal.

Jan 05 2018

Begerith – A.D.A.M.

Born out of Mother Russia all the way back in 2003, black/death metal band Begerith has since relocated to the land of blackened death metal Poland. 14 years since their formative days, here we are with their sophomore full length album, A.D.A.M. Perhaps it is something about the waters of Poland, but as soon as one presses the play button, A.D.A.M. would instantly sound familiar to followers of the Polish scene.

In a nutshell, A.D.A.M. is Polish black/death metal in its full glory. From the opening moments of the album, one is reminded of the works of legends like Behemoth or Hate, though Begerith‘s works more closely resembles the former. The riffs unleashed by Alexey and Andrey are reminiscent of those that Nergal dishes out, especially of the aforementioned’s later output post-Demigod.  The orchestral elements that the band includes rather gratuitously throughout the record also adds some rather dramatic elements that are not unlike the material on Behemoth‘s The Satanist or Evangelion, bringing me back to the days of Ov the Fire and the Void.

Though Behemoth seems to be the main influence on the band, there are moments on the album where other inspirations seem to be present as well. For instance, the speed and blasts on A.D.A.M. II comes close to the works of the thrashier style that Vader prefers.

Everything about A.D.A.M. screams Polish, and this is not only in the musical style of Begerith, but also in the production quality of the album. The sound is extremely polished (pun intended, hehe), and that lead guitar tone is so Nergal-ish that there are moments where I found it hard to distinguish them and Behemoth. But what I especially liked is how the bass of Egor is placed rather high in the mix, with the heavy tone of his instrument helping to add to that crushing intensity of A.D.A.M. After all, this is an output of the famed Hertz Studio, so perhaps we shouldn’t be expecting any less.

A.D.A.M. is a solid piece of Polish-styled black/death metal, and is sure to please fans of Behemoth or Hate. Heck, even their makeup live also bears that resemblance to those bands. With the last Behemoth release already being a distant 3-year ago, A.D.A.M. is an album that would be more than enough to satiate the thirst for fans of this particular style.

Jan 02 2018

HMT Interviews: Auðn

Icelandic atmospheric black metal band Auðn left me rather impressed with this year’s sophomore full length, Farvegir fyrndar. We managed to catch the band’s guitarist/lyricist Aðalsteinn Magnússon, to learn more about the thought process behind the band and its music, as well as the landscape in Iceland.

Greetings Auðn! Thanks for taking the time for this interview, and we would like to congratulate you guys on the release of Farvegir fyrndar. First things first, for the non-Icelandic speakers, how do we pronounce the name of the band? What is the meaning behind the band’s name?

Thank you, Auðn means ‘desolate landscape’ reffering to most of Icelands terrain which is a cold and barren lava field where nothing grows. The words pronunciation is Au-thn with a soft ‘th’.

 Farvegir fyrndar is the band’s sophomore album, and it is indeed an exhilarating experience listening to it. Farvegir fyrndar roughly translates into “Ancient Paths”, and contains many emotional passages. Where and how does the band draw inspiration when writing the lyrics to the album?

Farvegir Fyrndar would best be described as ‘Ancient Paths’ and is a line from the second song of the album Lífvana Jörð or Lifeless Earth where the earth is a barren wasteland (Auðn) and down the valleys where water used to run only dust and rubble remains. Metaphorically or literally meaning things are not as they were but ruined, desolate.

The lyrical themes focus mainly on depression, loss and the consequences of those emotions, but instead of laying it out literally we use images and metaphors to paint a picture and with our natural surroundings in Iceland the color pallet is dark, unforgiving and harsh but also beautiful. Almost all the lyrics touch on these subjects without being connected they all share the same bleak hope that we deliver with our music.

While the themes seem to be rather depressing, the band manages to retain a beautiful soundscape, like on Ljosaslaedur (my personal favourite track). What is the songwriting process like for the band, and how has this evolved over the years?

You are right the emotions driving the songwriting are depressing and we try to translate that through the music. The process has changed since our debut album where many of the songs were written beforehand and then changed and molded by the band. Farvegir Fyrndar was more of a live effort where we wrote the whole album in our rehearsal space together and went back and forth with ideas creating the songs. All of the song begin with a riff that comes from either me (Aðalsteinn) or Andri the other guitarist and then we compose together with the whole band with everyone’s input. The song is then written and structured, sometimes this happens without effort and comes naturally. We also recorded the album live over three days with the same setup as we use in our rehearsal space, we wanted to capture the energy that sparked the songs and i believe we did just that. It doesn’t have to be perfect the feeling has to be right.

Music-wise, we are hearing lots of influences from bands like Drudkh, Wodensthrone, or even Fen. Outside of these atmospheric black metal bands, are there any musical influences that have gone into the melting pot that is Farvegir fyrndar?

We all come from different musical backgrounds and listen to all kinds of music, I myself rarely listen to black metal bands. There is so much music out there that inspires and things would get redundant with only one element influencing the music, so most of us try to broaden our horizons when it comes to influences.

Photo taken from Shot in the Dark (http://shotinthedark.de/Bands-A-F/Au-n/)

The album lyrics also seem to be written in Icelandic. Were there any particular reasons behind this, and has this affected the reception of the band and its music, especially in live performances outside of Iceland?

Icelandic is our mother language and comes easy, it is a way of expressing emotions without laying them out in the open if people want to dig deeper they can but there is really no need if the feeling translates through the songs. If anything it has helped us gain recognition. The lyrics being in Icelandic don’t seem to bother people as we have people chanting along to our songs live without them knowing Icelandic, in metal music vocals tend to act as more of an instrument than in most genres as the words aren’t always audible and having them in Icelandic adds to effect of mystery and for those who would like to know more can dig deeper.

For those that enjoy the art of Auðn, what are some places that one can visit in Iceland to soak in the atmosphere that is fitting for the music of the band?

If you drive anywhere in Southern Iceland you will experience the landscape that shapes us and our music but the town of Hveragerði is our home and where we rehearse. Who knows we might be there when you swing by.

Auðn with Ghaal

Extreme metal from Iceland is starting to gain some traction in the international metal underground. What has the journey been like for the band, and what is the scene like in Iceland?

 The journey for us has been erratic and surprisingly fast we have gone from playing small club shows in Iceland to performing at some of Europe’s most prestigious festivals in a very short period of time and hopefully will continue to do so, the scene in Iceland is small with many bands but few people. Many bands are sharing members which makes for an interesting melting pot, it has its pros and cons but we could be considered outsiders in that sense as we do not share members with other bands and keep to ourselves. 

Any bands that we should check out from Iceland as well?

Dynfari and Draugsól to name a few from the black metal scene, most people will probably know Zhrine, Svartidaudi and Misþyrming by now but of course they are worth a mention. From the death metal side Severed and Cult of Lilith are gems to check out if you haven’t already. 

We have come to the end of the interview. Once again, thanks for taking the time, and we wish the band all the best in your upcoming endeavours!

Dec 31 2017

Witchseeker – When the Clock Strikes

Witchseeker has certainly come a long way since their debut EP in 2014, as evident from the recent launch of their debut albumWhen the Clock Strikes. They have certainly grown much, not only as songwriters and musicians, but also as performers. Live performances aside, would the band be able to capture that live charm and energy on their studio record, and how far they have come since the oh-so-cheesy Wishing You Were Mine? So here we are with their full length album, When the Clock Strikes.

Surprisingly, quite well. When the Clock Strikes effectively captures the band’s growth, as they further explore their musical influences, and incorporate them into a sound that is proudly theirs. Opener Speed Away immediately brings one into the familiar territory of bands like Enforcer, especially in the speedy riffs unleashed by guitarist Brandon. Sheikh’s vocal styles have also shifted here compared to those on Night Rituals, having a rougher, rawer edge to them, while adopting a slightly higher pitch as well. Because of this, oftentimes one is reminded of the earlier works of Olof of Enforcer, and the imperfections and rawness of his vocals add to that overall authentic feel to the album.

While there is no shortage of moments that lead to comparisons to Enforcer, there are also other influences that could be clearly heard on the record. For instance, the arrangement and the riffs on Angel of Sleeze brings to mind the works of Gezol’s Metalucifer, and Brandon easily adopts his playing style fittingly to the song. Heavier, but groovier songs like The Sniper even bring to mind the works of local heavy metal compatriots Suicide Solution. Also, speaking of ballads and love songs, Witchseeker has also upped their game with Dream Come True, a maturation from Wishing You Were Mine, musically, even if the lyrics remains equally cheesy.

I particularly liked that raw production quality on When the Clock Strikes. Unlike many heavy/speed metal releases of late, When the Clock Strikes manages to retain the 80s charm with that unpolished sound, without compromising any of the instruments on the mix. In fact, Sheikh’s bass is placed rather prominently in the mix, and this often gives songs a nice low-end rumble. The production quality also adds a nice live vibe on the record, and one could easily imagine watching the band live in their rehearsal studio.

It’s been quite a long while since I’ve heard such a refreshing, old school heavy metal release from a local band, with the last good heavy metal album probably being Suicide Solution‘s 2009 release Shake Well Before Abuse. Listening to this has gotten me all worked up and excited for their next live performance, and we don’t see why it won’t do the same for any self-respecting old school heavy metalhead.

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