Dec 11

HMT Interviews: Witchseeker

Singaporean old school heavy/speed metallers Witchseeker has come a long way since their humble beginnings in 2012. 5 years since their formation, the band finally drops their blazing full-length album this Sunday, 16 December. We have a short chat with founder Sheikh Spitfire, and Brandon to learn more about the growth of the band through the years, and discover their undying love and passion for heavy metal.

More details on their album launch at this location:

Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Witchseeker was started in 2012, and now has gained a steady following in the local scene. Under what circumstances was the band formed, and what does “Witchseeker” mean?

Sheikh Spitfire (bass/drums/vocals): Thank you for having us. Yes that is correct, Witchseeker was formed in late 2012 by myself, initially as a one man project. My idea at that point of time was to just write, record and just release music through social media, but after putting in some thoughts, I decided to evolve the band into a 3 piece act.

At that point, I decided to form Witchseeker because there wasn’t much of a band around here that was doing the music that we play today, Heavy Metal. A lot of them were mainly either being trendy or just trying to be more extreme than the other bands, which gotten really dull in my opinion. Somebody had to take the first step somewhere in making a change. Plus this was the kinda music that I grew up with and made me want to play music in the first place. The name of band really, has no proper meaning. When I was searching for a band name, throwing ideas here and there, the name Witch Hunter came in, mainly derived from Sodom’s former drummer, the late  Chris Witchhunter. So I tweaked it and named the band Witchseeker.

The last release of the band was the three-way split with Sintoxicate and Axagon. How did this unholy trinity come about to release something together?

Sheikh: This whole project idea was from Siddique Headkrasher (Sintoxicate). This was right after, probably a month after  we released our debut EP, Night Rituals in 2014. At that time, our style was pretty much a mixture of thrash/punk/heavy etc. So Siddique proposed the idea of getting all 3 bands to come together and make a 3 way thrash metal split album, to promote the thrash metal scene of Singapore and also because, all three of us were close and cool with each other.

The release date was supposed to be in September 2014. But due to unforeseen circumstances, it got pushed til late February 2015. Time was really limited. I had to put on hold my other demos, and had less than a month to write the 2 songs for the split album.

It’s been 2 years since the band’s last release, and now the band is finally releasing its first full length, When the Clock Strikes. Listening to the first single, Speed Away, the songwriting of the band is obviously much more polished. With the band being a 2-piece now, how has the songwriting process changed from Night Rituals to When the Clock Strikes?

Sheikh: Songwriting changed a lot because we now have one common direction in what we want to do. Not to mention, we’re finally out of National Service so that gave us much more time and freedom. Back when we started off, we played various styles like Thrash, Rock, Metal and some Punk. But after some thought, we decided  to just be simple, straightforward, fast, loud, Heavy Metal.

Listening to Speed Away, and the title track, the band seems to have a heavier speed metal sound this time round. Who are the main influences when it came to writing the album?

Sheikh: Our influences derives from plenty of bands that we grew up to love. There’s a lot to mention but I would say mainly bands like Judas Priest, Exciter, Razor, Saxon, Iron Maiden, Agent Steel, Savage Grace, Angel Witch, Tokyo Blade, Scorpions, Crimson Glory, Loudness, Riot, Running Wild, and countless other NWOBHM bands. I can go on with this. Haha.

Sheikh, you handle the vocals, bass, and the drums on the album. How has it affected you as a songwriter, now that you have to handle an additional instrument compared to before?

Sheikh: It definitely brings a new challenge for me recording-wise, because now I have to learn all the drum parts for the songs. When our previous drummer left, Brandon and I were looking for someone to handle drum duties. But after some thought, I decided to handle drums myself. It wasn’t really much of a hassle. I connect well with Brandon because back then before Witchseeker even started, Brandon and I were in the same band where I was the drummer. We nailed down the songs pretty fast since we were already familiar with each other’s playing style. On top of that, I was having fun again.

There’s a lot of speed, aggression, adrenaline in the lyrics of Witchseeker. Where does the band find inspiration for the lyrics?

Sheikh: The inspiration really comes from everywhere really. I don’t really know how to explain this specifically. A lot of the lyrical ideas just come about at the weirdest timings, like when I’m taking a bus, watching the news, or going to bed. Sometimes fantasy, maybe personal or someone else’s experiences, etc. Sometimes a title just pops in my head and I’ll just scribble down some words here and there, and a song is born. I try not to write too much about a specific, or current events. But what I can tell, that musically, the best inspiration to write music is when you listen to new music. That’s where you’ll get more excited and creative to write more material.

With only 2 tracks as the preview of the new album so far, are there any surprises that the band has packed in the album for followers of Witchseeker?

Sheikh: It is really something different compared to what we have done with our last 2 releases. It’s a new year, a new release, a new chapter of Witchseeker. You’ll definitely hear some of the fastest, yet slow, yet head crushing, riff catching, heart singing tunes. We have more to say than just Wishing You Were Mine. Haha.  In other words, there’s a song for everyone on this album.

Brandon, you’ve also played for local “funcore” band, Truth Be Known. What was the experience like, and how has it helped you grow as a musician and a performer?

Brandon: Unfortunately, I have left Truth Be Known in October 2017. But of course, the experience was great. TBK has been around in the music scene for a long time and being able to play with them was definitely an honor for me. It initially started out to be a session role for their overseas shows in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and they eventually decided to make me their permanent guitarist. It was an unforgettable trip with them, and being able to hang out with other great overseas bands like Charm Charm Chu (HK) and Truth Corroded (AUS), forging friendship and sharing knowledge with each other was something money can’t buy.

Playing with TBK allowed me to acquire knowledge and experience playing locally or overseas, and this was part of what helped me to where I am now, to know the actual preparations needed to be done before each show. As TBK always promises a show filled with stage presence, every show for me was always running, headbanging, jumping and stances while playing, which slowly developed into the way I play live with Witchseeker now.

Finally, the band is releasing its album on 16 Dec, this Saturday. What can fans of the band expect, and where does the band go from here?

Both: What people can expect from us is a full-on high, loud, head-banging set from us! Some surprises but most importantly a good time!

Sheikh: From here on, we look forward to playing more shows locally, as well as overseas. Also, working on new material, perhaps an EP or maybe a second album. It’s already in the works, so let’s see shall we?

Dec 13

Lihhamon – Doctrine

Ever since hearing the last Heresiarch album, Death Ordinance, I’ve been hard-pressed to find another band that matches the intensity that the aforementioned bring. While it’s true that I could always go back to the classic Ross Bay Cult bands, it would be nice to chance upon a new band every once in awhile. So while Lihhamon was a name I have not seen before, coming from the excellent bestial label Nuclear War Now! Productions and the naming of bands like Conqueror and Revenge as influences certainly got me interested. Lihhamon‘s debut Doctrine isn’t a new record per se, having been released previously on Auto de Fe Productions before getting the LP treatment from Nuclear War Now! Productions.

The band spares no mercy in their delivery of their brand of black/death metal. Opening track Decimation sets the foreboding mood for the listener, and as soon as the onslaught begins proper with Genocide Crusade, one is thrown into familiar territory. The two clashes on the splash cymbals as the track kicks off helps to transport the listener into an almost live setting. The battery of drummer A. immediately reminds one of the relentless style of James Read, particularly his works with Conqueror.

The thing that really got me liking Heresiarch on Hammer of Intransigence was the heavy emphasis on the riff works, and on DoctrineLihhamon takes a very similar approach, with moments like on Throne of Eradication even taking a leaf out of Conqueror‘s Command for Triumph. While James Read and his works are obvious influences to Lihhamon, there is only but a slight leaning towards the more chaotic style of Revenge, as guitarist M. only indulges in that frantic style of lead guitars in small dosages, though he tends to indulge in pick scratches that are so signature of the sound of their influences.

The interludes like Splendour and Coronation also help to reinforce that ominous atmosphere, though I would have very much preferred that the band had replaced that minute or so with another intense shot of violence instead. Furthermore, having all 3 members of the band contribute to the vocals on Doctrine gives the album a nice edge, with each member covering a different spectrum of growls (if there is even such a thing). There is often the layering of lower-end growls with higher-pitch pseudo-shrieks, providing a rough, aggressive aesthetic.

The atmosphere is often rather suffocating, aided by the rumbles of F.’s bass that create this extremely warm, almost claustrophobic low-end on the record. Most of the time, this atmosphere helps bring about some Archgoat or Proclamation comparisons.

Lihhamon‘s Doctrine is an intense, 30-minute bestial black metal journey. For non-fans of the genre, Doctrine may seem like just another lame attempt to sound as chaotic as possible. But to the connoisseur, Lihhamon‘s debut is an album that is sure to awake, and please your inner beast.

Dec 08

HMT Interviews: Butcher Babies

Modern metal/metalcore band Butcher Babies have come a long way since their beginnings in 2009, most notable back then for the costume of choice onstage. Over the years though, the band has changed their image, wanting their fans to focus more on their music rather than their visual appeal. We talk about this and more with band founders, Carla and Heidi.

Greetings, thanks for this opportunity to talk to you. Before we begin the interview proper, could you give us a brief introduction to Butcher Babies?

Carla: Butcher Babies formed very organically back in late 2009.  Heidi and I had been working together and we wanted to pursue a new project so we literally called all the friends we knew that played metal to see if anyone was interested.  I think many people thought we were joking.  We got together with a few guys that shared our vision and years later, after a lot of hard work, tenacity and a bit of luck we are touring the world together.

I remember each person’s entrance in to the band like it was yesterday. I had been friends with Henry since 2002 and I called him to see if he knew any guitar players.  His response was, “uh, I play guitar, remember? ” He ended up being perfect.  Jason was teaching for an ex-boyfriend’s band the night I met him. He bought me a drink and mentioned that he played the bass and loved death metal. I insisted he come audition. Chris used to come watch Heidi and I play in our old cover band and was always over the top energy wise so when he expressed interest in drumming, it was perfect. It’s crazy how people come in to your life… Chance meetings become incredible partnerships.

Heidi: The way we like to describe ourselves is just “metal”. No sub-genres. Just metal. Our live shows have become what we are known for. The raw energy on stage is natural for us. We were all kids who grew up in the pit, rocking out and we are still those kids. Just the rocking takes place on the stage now.

How did the name of the band come about?

Heidi: Wendy O’ Williams was one of the first females in metal to really take a stand against the music industry. She didn’t allow them to tell her how to look, how to dress, how to ask, how to sound, etc. Wendy was a woman of independence and individuality. A woman who went against the grain and wasn’t afraid to tell people where to shove it. We loved her punk rock attitude. One of her biggest singles was Butcher Baby. Between her attire and our name we thought it would be the perfect ode to our first lady.

Carla: We started this band as two women who were highly inspired by the late and great Wendy O Williams of the Plasmatics.  In fact, when Heidi and I were in a punk metal cover band previous to forming Butcher Babies, we would cover the Plasmatics’ tune Butcher Baby.  We thought it was the perfect tribute to someone that we admired greatly.

The band recently released its third album, Lilith, on 27 October 2017 which charted number 1 on the iTunes metal section. How has the overall response been so far from music critics and fans?

Carla: The response has been overwhelmingly positive for Lilith.  Most importantly, we’re proud of it.  We took a year off of touring to immerse ourselves in the creation of Lilith.  We’ve come so far as people and musicians since the inception of this project and Lilith really shows our growth.  The fans have really latched on to the songs on this third album; our set on our current tour is very heavy with new songs and people are already signing along, which is a great sign!

Heidi: We’re so proud of this album and the hard work we all put into it. After spending quite some time writing and re-writing and then writing again, we came out with a product that we hold so dear. We were nervous about what the response would be because we spent so much time. We were and are so pleased to see such a positive response. It seems like people are really gravitating to a diverse group of songs. Meaning, there isn’t just one or two stand out tracks. We’re very proud of that.

The album was being produced by Steve Evetts (Suicide Silence, Dillinger Escape Plan, The Cure), how did the band decide upon choosing Steve Evetts as the producer for Lilith?

Heidi: We’ve know Steve since we started and have always been a fan of his work. So when the option to work with him came up, we jumped at the opportunity. He’s known industry wide for allowing a band to sound like a band. No fake instruments, sounds or notes. Everything you hear on the album was performed by us. It’s become so easy nowadays to just insert fake drums or sounds or autotune into a band, stripping the natural raw sound away. We’re proud to say none of that exists on this album and we have Steve to thank for that. He’s a hard worker and we cant wait to work with him again.

Carla: Steve is known for being an old school producer that doesn’t rely on autotune or fake instruments or other new school tricks.  We have been looking for someone our whole career that could harness the live, raw sound we are known for.  Seemed like a perfect fit, and we couldn’t be happier with the result of our union.  I think we all become even better at what we do by working with a producer like Steve.

Lilith, being the third full-length album for the band, how was the recording process like with Steve Evetts? Were there any memorable mentions during the entire process?

Carla: As I mentioned before, Steve doesn’t do auto tune, fake instruments or pitch correction.  We’ve never relied on those things before, but Steve takes being authentic to another level.  He pushes you, HARD. As a vocalist, I welcome this. I really enjoy being pushed to do things outside my comfort zone. When you achieve something that you thought you previously couldn’t do, the satisfaction is like nothing else.  There were times when I wanted to leave the vocal booth and strangle Steve, but at the end of the day I was a better vocalist after working with him!

Heidi: The recording process was really fun this time around. I like the writing process and the live shows. The studio typically stresses me out. I think most musicians like the recording process, but I usually don’t. Weird, I know. However, Steve really had a way of making me feel ultra-comfortable. There were days that I would be having a hard time in the booth and he just had this calm about him that made it okay. We’d make some coffee hang out for a little bit then I’d jump back in refreshed. In a situation that would be very easy to get frustrated, he keeps it exciting.

Back in October 2016, after the band’s tour with Megadeth, drummer Chris Warner got engaged and left the band shortly after. How the band did come upon your current drummer Chase Brickenden?

Carla: We actually did the Megadeth tour with Chase.  Chase showed his dedication by learning our catalogue in a very short time prior to that tour.  We have been friends with Chase for years; he was actually the drummer for Otep when we toured with her back in 2012.  A member change was not something any of us wanted but we needed to have someone who was passionate about being in the band and wanted to put the work in, especially with a very important album to make.  Chase put in the time and hard work immediately and was a huge part of our evolved sound on Lilith.

Heidi: Yes, Chase was already in the band when we toured with Megadeth. We just hadn’t announced it yet. When we realised that we needed to replace Chris, we immediately knew that Chase was the guy for the job. We didn’t even call anyone else. It was a natural transition. His energy is something we really needed as a refresher. He’s a pleasure to be around and is a beast behind the kit. His dedication from the moment we called him to now has been undeniable. We had never changed our line up before and it was definitely scary but, Chase made it easy.

Being a musician for over a decade now, fronting the band and touring the world with some of the biggest names in the music industry, what are some of the best memories you had?

Heidi: Every tour breeds great memories; it’s hard to think back past the decade and not feel a little bit nostalgic. Between touring with our idols to becoming idols to a younger generation it’s been such a wild ride that I couldn’t be more grateful for. When I’m having a hard day, I think about all the crazy things I get to do and can’t help but smile. We’ve worked our asses off and are still working hard to get the most we can out of these years. One of my most fond memories was in Japan for Knotfest. We took the stage in front of 30,000 people in a country we had never been to. Yet, they knew all the lyrics and were screaming them with us. It was a surreal moment in my life. Anytime we’re in a country where they don’t speak much english, yet they are screaming our lyrics back at us, it always takes my breath away. Another great memory was the Mayhem Festival in 2013. This was a tour that really put our name on the map and still one of the best summers of my life.

Carla: It’s crazy to think that Heidi and I have been working together for a decade.  Even though we have worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, I still have some of the fondest memories of the excitement we had playing shows in our old cover band back on the Sunset Strip, covered in blood and feathers. After we played a show, bloody feathers would be blowing down the sunset strip sticking to shoes for days. Some other memories I’ll never forget are getting the call for our first big tour with Marilyn Manson, signing a record deal with my best friends, walking out on stage at Hellfest in front of 50,000 people with every hair on my arm raised. I’ve been able to meet some incredible people: Mike Patton, Tony Iommi, Billy Gibbons and the list goes on. I’ve shared stages with so many people I admire. I’ve looked over side stage to see the likes of Corey Taylor and Dave Mustaine watching us play our set. I’ve been able to see the world. I’m grateful for every moment.

Currently the band is touring the States in support of the new album, and in January 2018, the band will be touring Japan as well. What will the Japanese fans expect from Butcher Babies and will the band be touring the other Asian countries as well?

Carla: Japanese fans got a taste of us at Knotfest Japan, but this time we will back with a full headlining set full of their favourite BB songs. We definitely hope to tour more Asian countries.

2018 will definitely be another busy year for Butcher Babies with the extensive touring in support of the new album. Are there any particular countries that the band would like to perform in?

Heidi: I can’t wait to play in South America. Heavy Metal runs through their veins and we all would love to take to their stages. All of our friends who have toured South America come back with incredible stories of their devout fans.

Carla: It is very exciting for us still to travel to new places.  We’ve been to a lot of Europe, Australia, Japan and the Philippines. I would love to see more of Eastern Europe, like the Czech Republic. I would love to go to Finland, where my grandmother is from.  Asian countries fascinate me, would love to see more of those!

This would be the last question from me, are there any parting words for your fans in Singapore?

Carla: THANK YOU! We can’t wait to meet you!

Heidi: Thank you so much for the support and we can’t wait to visit your beautiful island!

Lilith is out now via Century Media.

Dec 06

Morvigor – Tyrant

Looking at the cover artwork of Morvigor‘s sophomore full length album, Tyrant, it is really hard to discern what genre the band plays in. The visual aesthetics could easily range from psychedelic madness to one that is more avant-garde. The press release of the album does little to dispel this uncertainty as well, and the only thing that stood out was that Tyrant includes a whole range of influences – ranging from the grimmest black metal to psychedelia. How in the hell would that work out?

Pretty well, actually. With Tyrant, you never quite know what’s coming next as the band constantly throws curveballs throughout the album. Opening track No Repentance starts off with a lone melancholic guitar, but quickly turns into a punk-fuelled black metal madness, reminiscent of the works of Urgehal or Satyricon.  Then as soon as the track ends and The Martyr’s Ascension begins, the band puts the listener into a depressive mood again, with the melodic lead and the heavy rhythm section reminding one of Watain‘s more recent works.

But the most memorable moment on Tyrant has to be that extended instrumental intro of Blood of the Pelican, venturing into instrumental black metal territory, exuding negativity and desolation while leaving me completely captivated. Or is it the title track with the punkish vibes that transforms into a folk metal song halfway through with that heroic, clean vocals that screams “victoryyyyyyyy”, before eventually going into that Pink Floyd-esque clean, psychedelic moment with that dreamy lead guitars in the background?

(Put succinctly, there is so much going on that if we were to identify every transition, name-drop every influence, that it’s gonna take a long time.)

Blending different genres into one release is hardly a new concept, but it is in the way that a band does so that makes or breaks a record. Morvigor on Tyrant proves themselves as capable musicians and songwriters, as they seamlessly move from one style to another with little, or no awkwardness at all. Every transition is put in place with intention, and even going from one extreme to another, be it in terms of style, or emotion, sounds coherent enough that it results in an emotional roller-coaster.

While many bands boast a wide range of influences from contrasting genres, few really do it as well as Morvigor has on Tyrant.  The constant surprises that the band gives the listener makes for an extremely fun listen, and this is easily one of the few albums of 2017 that I find myself constantly going back to.

Nov 28

Father Befouled – Desolate Gods

It’s been way too long since I have really sat down to enjoy some intriguing filthy, soul-crushing death metal. Just as all hope was lost for the genre, Father Befouled comes crashing in with their brand new album, Desolate Gods. With my increasing affinity with the band’s music, from their extremely raw debut Obscurus Nex Cultus to the more mature Revulsion of Seraphic GraceFather Befouled seemed promising enough in delivering the goods.

5 years has passed since Revulsion of Seraphic Grace, and Desolate Gods prove that Father Befouled still has it in them to create some of the heaviest music that I’ve heard in a while. The cues taken from the legendary Incantation are still hugely present and obvious. This not only with the trem-picked riffs of Justin and Derrik sounding like a buzzsaw that stubbornly remains at the back of your head, or gives you that sense of anxiety, but also the format that the band has written their music in. Father Befouled often alternates between breakneck speed that is punctuated by more doom passages, and the repetition of the riffs ensure that the material that they have written is deeply embedded in the listener.  At the same time, the band makes sure not to overstay their welcome, as the entire record runs for just north of 30 minutes.

The drumming on Desolate Gods in particular, has an undeniable charm to it, as Wayne often breaks into d-beats, instead of drowning the listener into a sea of constant blast beats. This works exceedingly well on Desolate Gods, and the tone of his kit on the record at times even helps add a thunderous effect, as if the album weren’t sufficiently heavy enough.

The atmosphere on Desolate Gods is crushing, and similarities to the works of Dead Congregation or Grave Miasma, with that dark, and almost cavernous ambient that is conjured. Even the lead guitars, when present, reek of negativity and desolation, such as that slow, and almost sorrowful solo on Ungodly Rest.  Throw in the low pinch harmonics that the band litters on the slower passages, and that distant-sounding vocals of Justin, Father Befouled delivers the perfect recipe for a gloomy, oppressive death metal release.

Father Befouled has allowed 5 years for Desolate Gods to fester into a nice, putrid stench, so if you’re into some crushing, suffocating death metal, Desolate Gods will definitely not disappoint.

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