Gaerea – Unsettling Whispers

The huge influx of extreme metal bands has made it rather hard for new bands to truly stand out. While more established bands have continued releasing a string of high quality releases, newer bands tend to find it difficult to leave their mark on the genre – that is, until I heard Portuguese black metal band Gaerea and their excellent debut full length album, Unsettling Whispers.

Bands like Schammasch and Batushka had already taken lead in the aesthetics department, with the latter in particular looking to be a fun band to watch live with the entire ritualistic getup. Gaerea joins the ranks of these bands in terms of their visual appeal, though it seems that it is for the entire experience rather than anonymity that the band seeks.

Album opener Svn gives a hint towards the mood and atmosphere that the band leans towards, and while it is hardly heavy nor noisy, the ambient that the band manages to create is dark and disturbing, aided by the indecipherable, desolate shrieks and vocals at the background. Things take a much heavier turn the moment Absent kicks off, and it is here where comparisons to Schammasch and Batushka becomes obvious. Right from the get go, the riffs take on a black/death metal vibe that is similar to the works of Schammasch or Behemoth. Yet the music is constantly shrouded in a suffocating atmosphere, though not as primitive nor cavernous as the ones on Batushka‘s Litourgiya, remains equally dark and ominous.

On Unsettling WhispersGaerea explores the entire spectrum of negativity, and often swings between complete desperation and hopelessness, and anger and aggression. Each tracks is intense in its own right, and the band often alternates between an emotional riff, to one of utter destruction, backed by the relentless battery on the drums. This is accentuated by the stellar production on the album, where everything is extremely clear and the listener is constantly buried under a barrage of sound, making the entirety of Unsettling Whispers an engaging listen.

If one wants black metal that is devoid of hope or light, Unsettling Whispers is one album that comes highly recommended, with the coherent fusion of crushing aggression and melancholic, melodic sadness all in one album.

MUWW Special: Interview with Truth Be Known

Local death/thrash/grind band Truth Be Known has over the years come to be known for their energetic and engaging live performances. This year the band joins the roster of the inaugural Metal United World Wide to once again bring joy, fun, laughter, and moshing to local metalheads. We catch up with vocalist Subash to have a short chat.

Hey Subash, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I understand from the band’s Facebook page that there is a new album currently in plans this year. Could you tell us more about the new album?

Hello everyone. Yup, there will be a new album coming out this year. Our third album and it will be entitled Equal in the Pit. We got about 15 songs ready so far. Our bassist, Josh (who writes all of the music) still has a few more up his sleeve so we gonna get that ready as well. It will probably be 16 originals and 2 covers. I know 18 songs sounds like macham we recording “Use your Illusions” like that but our songs are quite short, so it balances out, I think. Hahahahaha.

We will be recording full on in the month of June. Hopefully everything will be ready by August earliest. But then again we can be real cheebyes and change everything. Hahahahaha. But fret not, cheebye or not we will definitely release the album this year. Confuckfirm. (Which also happens to be the title of one of our new songs by the way).

Interestingly you guys have actually came out with a specific sub-genre of your own, termed “funcore”. Could you tell us how this term came about? 

This one also quite cheebye, I tell you. We played a gig at Parklane Mall years ago. As usual, we were all pissed drunk. RazorTV interviewed us. Before this, Josh and I always used to joke about different sub-genre titles like mathcore (knn, what’s next Pythagoras’ Theorem Metal ah), this core, that core and all and we should for the fuck of it, give ourselves a sub-genre title. So when RazorTV asked us what kind of music do we play? I replied drunkenly, “Funcore”. And that’s how it stuck. Good thing, I didn’t say the other title, we were thinking of. Tehcore (underwear in Hokkien).

He did find God after all. It was Tony Leung Chiu Wai.

In March, the band happened to have some minor line-up changes, with Vinod coming on-board. How did that come about?

Yea, guitarists also can be cheebyes. Hahahaha no lah just kidding. We’ve had a few changes with our guitarists. Damien left because he wanted to find God. Lyon Chua of Stillborn took over and he left when he found out the more we drank, the more naked we got. He wasn’t cut out for that shit. Brandon of Witchseeker then took over. It was like a young Damien but with hairless legs. But when he saw us naked and realised how hairy we all were, he was horrified and left. So Vinod came along. Fella could play the guitar, talk cock, drink and has hairy legs. He pretty much fit the bill. Oh yeah, Damien will be playing for us at the Metal United World Wide gig. He did find God after all. It was Tony Leung Chiu Wai.

The real God

Personally I have watched Truth Be Known live for couple of times, and one thing that always impressed me is the intensity of the band throughout the set. As a band that has performed over 10 years, does the band have any pre-performance rituals before going onstage? How does the band keep up with the physical demands of your live performances?

We have been doing this for about 13 years now and it’s like we “Benjamin Button” the shit out of every gig. The more gigs we play the younger we get. All this works because of our pre-ritual before a set. Back then, we used to rub each other with Kong Hee’s anointed oil before going up on stage. It worked out fine till our drummer, Gene started talking with a Jamaican accent and demanded to drink wine from China instead of Tiger Beer. Josh and I were having none of that shit. So we switched from Kong Hee’s anointed oil to Johnson’s baby oil (Smell nicer). Gene went back to Singlish and Tiger beer and we never looked back.

As we get older, it does get harder to keep up with the intensity but as long as there is love and appreciation in what we are doing, we will always fucking go all out. Plus getting drunk helps a lot.

TBK unleashing funcore in Vietnam, 2017

The band has performed in numerous countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia. Were there any memorable shows that still give you goosebumps till this day?

We have played quite a bit. For last year alone, the Vietnam gig and the Hammersonic gig were memorable to us. Those gigs were loud, fast and intense as fuck. We had to rub extra oil that day.

We had to rub extra oil that day.

Unfortunately, we didn’t play any gigs in Singapore last year. So for the upcoming one this Friday, I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be a memorable one for us as well.

The local metal scene has seen a surge of international bands coming by our shore in recent years, such as Death Angel’s and At the Gates’ show on 6 May, which is organised by Street Noise Productions. Having been in the scene for a while now, as a fellow metalhead and musician, what’s your take on today’s local metal scene?

I think it’s great and we are lucky to see so many bands which we listen to when we were young. Kudos to our Singaporean organisers who bring all these bands for us to watch. Mad respect to these guys lah.

As for our local metal scene, I have nothing but love. There are so many really good Singaporean bands that can and are capable of kicking TBK’s asses anytime. Well, musically they can but when it comes to drinking, we are like gods. No one can beat us. Besides the bands, there are so many youngsters of different races and culture coming to watch gigs now and that’s really wonderful. It truly is a good time to be a Singaporean metalhead now. Enjoy the music and the shows that come by.

This Saturday’s show is definitely one of the biggest shows featuring 11 local bands, and bands like Bastardized and Meltgsnow making their long-awaited return to the live circuit. What can fans expect from TBK?

TBK is a well “oiled” machine after all and as usual we will go all out.110%. We will be playing some new songs from the upcoming album. We hope you guys will like them plus the usual crowd favourites as well. If you have never been to a TBK show and don’t know what the fuck we are playing. You can check us out at Truth Be Known on Spotify. However watching us live is a whole new ball game, so be prepared. You’re definitely gonna love it.

Any last words for your fans for this Saturday’s show?

Don’t be a cheebye and support your scene. See you on the 5th. Cheers!

Catch Truth Be Known, and many other quality Singaporean bands this May 5 at the inaugural, Singapore edition of the Metal United World Wide. More details at this location.

MUWW Special: Interview with Balberith

Local bestial horde Balberith has come a long way since their formation in the early 2000s, with band mastermind Khaal juggling duties between his band’s musical output, and the management of Ravage Records, one of Singapore’s last remaining pure metal merch stores. We speak to Khaal to learn more.

Greetings Khaal, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Could you give us a brief introduction of the band for the benefit for fans who might not be familiar with Balberith and its bestial style of black metal?

Hails, it’s an honour brother, Balberith was formed back in the early 2000s, initially as Shadow Throne. But I change it as the concept of the band changed over time, and I was the drummer back then.

The band will be releasing a new EP entitled False Flag Messiah this year through Ravage Records. When can we expect the new EP to be released?

Yes, we have already recorded the new EP. Ravage Records, which I am managing will release the EP by mid-2018, and we are already at the final stage of mixing.

Balberith 2017

The band has come a long way since 2003. With you as the only original member left in the band, could you tell us how the current line-up came about?

Indeed, I am the only member from the original line up that’s left. Previous members came and left, due to work or family commitments, and some also lost interest in metal itself. The current line up so far is the best that I have had since the band’s formation. Hazathoth (lead guitars), I have knew him personally since the early 90s, and we used to have a band back then called Revile but nothing came out of it. As for Hazlam (drums), he was a customer back then, and he used to play drums for a band call Inferno, which was heavily influenced by thrash metal. Lastly, Joverkill (bass) was also a customer back then, and he has musical background, which was why I invited him to join the band.

Aside from being a musician, you have also been running Ravage Records since 1998. How do you manage to juggle your time between music and running a store? What was your motivation of running the record store since 1996?

Yes, most of the metalheads know I have owned Ravage Records since 1998. I was a young metalhead back then when I started the label, and all of these started when I was in my school days. My schoolmate got interested in what I was listening to and word spread fast about me, and they wanted me to sell them CDs, t-shirts, etc. That was how it got started and the rest is history. All of these are my passion since I have been listening to extreme music for more than 25 years. Also, the shop is very important for me and the metal community here as its represents Singapore.

Balberith Live 2016

Ravage Record in recent years have started to organise metal festivals such as the annual Morbid Metal Fest, which will return this year. This year’s festival however is different from previous year, as it will feature 3 days of full-on metal shows. Could you tell us more about this year’s Morbid Metal Fest?

Yes, for me, I like to move up and do something different for the masses. This year will be the fourth edition of Morbid Metal Festival, and the last 3 editions were one day events. So this year I decided to do it 3 days of pure extreme metal as Ravage Records will be celebrating its 20-year anniversary. This is also a way for me to give back to customers who have been supporting since 1998. Without them, the label/shop wouldn’t exist till today. This year’s line-up will showcase more than 20 bands locally and internationally. For now we have bands like Archgoat, Humiliation (Malaysia), Shambles (Thailand), and many other big names in the extreme metal world. It is a show not to be missed which will be happening on 2-4 November 2018. Not forgetting the S.B.M.S Festival happen on 29 September 2018, featuring Blasphemy, Horna, Balberith, and more bands that have yet to be announced.

Personally, you have been in the Singapore metal scene since the early 90s. How different was the scene back then and now in terms of local bands and the metal crowd and their support?

Today metalheads have the chance to watch international bands here very often, which is nothing compared to the 90s where one can just dream of it. Back then, local gigs were events that everyone looked forward to, usually packed with metalheads who were eager to attend shows. Today we can see lots of difference as concert-goers can pick and choose .

Balberith has also performed regionally in countries like India and Malaysia. Could you share with us some of your most memorable overseas shows till date, and how it has impacted you as a musician?

For me, the show in Bangalore was one of the most memorable ones. The Trendslaughter bosses and crew really went extra miles for us, with world class treatment at one of the shows which I can’t forget. The crowd was crazy too.

Balberith will be performing for the upcoming Metal United World Wide on 5 May alongside other notable local metal bands. How did the opportunity come about for the band to be onboard this global event?

I was told by Vent Box Production that they wanted to host the MUWW, and for us we are always ready for local shows here as we support local shows, no doubt about it.

Lastly what can Balberith fans expect from this Saturday’s show?

We will be selling our promo CD that consist of 2 songs from the new EP, and also extra tracks from our live shows. Balberith will destroy the stage with DEATHSQUADS LEGIONS 0241!

Catch Balberith, and many other quality Singaporean bands this May 5 at the inaugural, Singapore edition of the Metal United World Wide. More details at this location.

MUWW Special: Interview with Ilemauzar

5years since the return from their hiatus, Singaporean black metal band Ilemauzar managed to put themselves on the international metal scene, performing in such places as China in support of their debut album, The Ascension. We catch up with Mike to learn more, and what to expect this 5 May.

Greetings Mikael, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. The band’s debut full length album The Ascension was released back in 2016. How was the response upon the release back then?

Hi HMT! Nice to talk to you guys again. We launched “The Ascension” in September 2016 and did a launch party at Hood Bar and Café with a pretty decent turn out and sold quite a good amount of merchandise during the show. We also had very good presale orders before the launch and pretty much depleted all the merchandise we had from our side. People are still asking for the CDs and T-shirts till date. We also have our stuff distro out by our previous label, Sepsis Records in many parts of Indonesia. Our current label, Transcending Obscurity also sent the album out for reviews and we have pretty much 90% positive reviews from a few webzines.

The band is currently signed to Transcending Obscurity, which is also the label for local bands Rudra and Assault. How did the deal come about, and how was the experience working with them?

Rudra went into the label first and followed by Assault. I got introduced to the boss of TO by Clarence. And that’s how we started talking about the deal for Ilemauzar. Kunal Choksi is a very hardworking person and a really great label owner. He went all out and send Ilemauzar’s debut for review even though it’s not released by Transcending Obscurity. Totally blown away by his dedication and the way he is helping all his bands!

The band was formed back in the 1996, with a 3-track demo entitled Pit of Despair released in 1997. Are there any plans to re-record the tracks from the demo in the near future?

Hmmm… maybe, but will need to make some improvements instead of recording directly like how they were originally recorded. Probably on an EP. However, we are looking at Ravage Records doing a reissue of the 3 track demo somewhere in 2018.

The band split up and went on into a hiatus in 2000 and only came back in 2013. Looking back, would things be different for the band if there was no hiatus back then?

Hahaha! This is one question I did ask myself back in 2013 when the band first came back. But my conclusion, the band will not exist today if I had continued. If you look at it, many active bands in that 1999 – 200X era are gone. Reason being it’s hard to be 100% active when you are just out from National Service with no stable finances to sustain the band. You get really tired after a while and just leave the band aside. No difference from a hiatus.

Ilemauzar at The Ascension Asia Tour in Zhuhai, China

Let’s talk about your latest album, The Ascension. Could you tell us about the background of the writing process for this album? Based on the album credits, it seems like there were a couple of musicians involve in the song-writing process who are currently not in the band.

The Ascension was written between 2013 – 2015. We have many line-up changes between that period thus you see the many different musicians who actually contributed their idea to the tracks. But I am still the main song writer for “The Ascension”.

It’s been 2 years since the release of your debut album. Is the band currently working on the follow-up to The Ascension?

Yes. We have completed the song writing portion and going into lyrical phase for the next full length. Hopefully we can enter the studio by June or July and get it released by end of 2018 under Transcending Obscurity’s flag! Title to be announced.

The band has been around since the early 90s. In terms of the local scene, how has it changed?

I am not going to lie about this one but if you look at the 90s, local metalheads are very enthusiastic about attending local gigs. We have seen local gigs with attendees of more than 500pax before. Today, it’s very difficult to even getting 100pax to come to a local metal gig. Sometimes, you can’t even have 100pax for a touring band from Europe or US. The metal scene in Singapore has changed over the years from people supporting almost every show to cherry picking shows to support. But we can’t blame anyone for this because our living standards in Singapore is so freaking high that people can’t possibly support every single show anymore.

Ilemauzar, 2017

Let’s talk about the band line-up. I understand that bassist, Azazel joined the band last year. How did that come about?

We had been playing without a bassist since end of 2015. We did the Ascension Asia Tour without a bass player. But we have been in contact with Azazel aka Zeon for a long period time and in actual fact, he was supposed to join us in 2016 but due to his work commitment and him newly relocated to Singapore from Penang, he has to put it on hold. But he has proved to be a great addition to the band.

Ilemauzar will be performing at the upcoming Metal United World Wide on 5 May alongside other notable local metal bands. What can fans expect from the band?

We are still playing the same old shit like previous gigs. Hahahahaha! But of course there will be some minor changes to the set-list. And no, we are not going to preview any new songs from the upcoming full length. But, we will still put up the best performance. 101% effort!

Any last words for your fans?

Buy your tickets to Metal United World Wide, Singapore!

LET THE SACRIFICIAL BLOOD BE SERVED!

Catch Ilemauzar, and many other quality Singaporean bands this May 5 at the inaugural, Singapore edition of the Metal United World Wide. More details at this location.

 

MUWW Special: Interview with Asilent

With a name as such, one wouldn’t expect anything less than total gore and brutality from Singaporean death metal outfit Asilent. Having ply their trade for more than 10 years, the band released their sophomore full length The Unconsecrated last year, and are ready to suffocate you this May 5 at Metal United World Wide, Singapore. We talk to them to find out more.

Greetings Asilent, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. The band was formed all the way back in 2004, making this the 14th year of its existence. Tell us origin story of the band, and how the band’s name came about.

Fiaz:  What’s up guys, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Asilent orginally was just a side project, at that point I was playing bass in another band at that time but my ultimate love was still Death Metal, Brutal Death and Grind music. I got together with some close friends and formed Asilent. The band name came about when I was sitting around playing around with words and voila the name Asilent was created. The name Asilent is the total opposite to the kind of music we play lol.

Nizam: Well, I came in as a sessionist for their Undead Infesting Indonesia Tour & eventually joined the band when their guitarist had to leave due to some personal reasons. From there we had some line-up changes and in the end it all comes down to the magic number of 3 haha.

What was it that sparked the love for brutal death metal in each of the members?

Fiaz: It has been something we love for a really long time now, the sheer aggression, heavy guitars, fast paced heavy drums, growling low guttural vocals is so beastly and it keeps our adrenaline going every time we listen to it or play it. So it did not really spark us but more of we love it all this while.

Nizam: The combination of heavy tunes, gore vocals and the irresistible urge to bang your head against the wall are needed to spark the love for this genre.

The band released its sophomore full length last year, The Unconsecrated, to raving reviews. The band’s music has been described as being similar to such legends as Devourment. How did the style of the band come about, and who are some of your influences that may surprise listeners?

Fiaz: Thank you for the kind compliment, means a lot to know our hard work is appreciated. Honestly, all of us have a diverse musical influences, from rock to chill hop, punk, house music etc. lol. Our ultimate love is still brutal death metal, death metal, thrash metal and grind core. We combined what we enjoy listening to into our music and that is how we sound like now.

Nizam: I roughly knows the style of the band when Fiaz introduced me to some of his influences, I’m much more to the old school death metal bands like early Suffocation, Morbid Angel, Kataklysm, Nile & etc. so when we did some brainstorming on our music composition, I tried to implement some of my ideas into the songs & try not to stray away from the original style. There’s quite a big difference if you hear our previous album and to the Unconsecrated but we still maintain the brutality and heaviness of our songs.

The band’s lyrics also revolve around lots of gore, zombie, and sounds like a brutal death metal soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic film. Where does the band get inspiration for its lyrical content?

Fiaz: Our lyrical content tackles modern issues but in a post-apocalyptic gore audio form. We have always enjoyed horror / gore music and films. Nizam came up with the idea of making this album the beginning of an undead post-apocalyptic audio film (concept album). He has always been a fan of how King Diamond made each album tell a different story. He proposed the idea of doing something similar. We loved it and decided to roll with it.

The album was also mixed and mastered in Jakarta’s Cubicle Studio. What was it that made the band decide to have this done in Jakarta?

Fiaz: Our drummer Alvin is from Jakarta Indonesia. It is easier for us to fly to Jakarta to record with him rather than having him come here to do it. Jakarta is like home to us, going back there doing music related stuff and meeting friends there is always a blast. The owner of Cubicle Studios Mr Erikson Rudy is an old friend of Alvin and they have worked together on other projects before. So we decided to get our album done in Cubicle Studios and it was amazing working with Erik.

As of last October, the band has been seeking labels for physical presses of the album. How has the search been so far?

Fiaz: Honestly, not too good. An Asian band to break into the International Extreme Music market is really difficult. Sacrifices have to be made in order to get great returns. Asilent had so much downs over the years that did not allow us to infiltrate the European Market earlier by setting up tours and shows before. Now with the 3 of us, same mindset, passion and drive, we are setting out to establish ourselves and getting recognition for our effort that we put out. Not having a label interested in releasing our album does not deter us. We will keep moving forward and release it on our own. Keep playing shows, keep touring and eventually, our hard work will pay off.

Asilent @ Noxa Fest 2017

This May 5 at the Metal United World Wide show will be the band’s final local show of the year. Having been around for more than 10 years, how has the scene changed over the years?

Fiaz: The scene honestly has changed a lot in terms of musical preference. The music that some bands put out evolves as time goes and some bands will still stick to the style they believe in. Music gets mash together into a different genre, creating a new entity. Waves of followers will jump on the hype train. Bands come and go, amount of new bands increases, old bands reform, project bands happen and that pretty much sums it all up.

Nizam: Yes there have been a lot of changes in the metal scene. Although we are in a very small community but I do have to say nowadays we were quite fortunate to have a lot of gigs/concerts where we could see some of our childhood bands that we’ve grown up with in action. However there are lesser supporters compared to the old times but I kind of understand as we aged, we have many commitments in life that hinder us in our musical activities. Our only hope is that the next generation will continue the scene to a better and thriving status.

What are some of the interesting encounters that the band has had over the years performing in different countries, on different stages?

Fiaz: Travelling and performing in different countries is always an amazing experience. You get to experience new traditions, culture, see new places and faces. Make new friends, see old friends, make new fans, the appreciation and love you get will keep you going no matter how tough the going gets. One of the most interesting encounter we had was performing in Solo, Indonesia. Apparently the dressing room we were in, the night before there was a black metal gig so they did a ritual in the dressing room. There were ashes, flowers and a rotten stench lingering all around. It was crazy, we wanted to just play the show and get out of there pronto ahahah.

Nizam: I still remember the raid by the Islamic government group in our hotel. It was during our New Year’s Eve show in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with Wormrot. Wormrot got taken into jail just because a group of friends, guys and girls are hanging out in a room and it was deem illegal.

Also, with the intensity of the band’s brand of brutal death metal, what are rehearsal sessions like? How does the band prepare for its live performances?

For us rehearsals work entirely different. As mentioned before our drummer Alvin is based in Jakarta, Indonesia. We have his drum tracks on mp3 format, we will plug it into the jamming studio’s PA system and will jam together with it. When Alvin is here or when we fly over to Jakarta for shows, we will jam it out together. Jamming is not as often but we love working with Alvin and would not change the formula of this awesome relationship.

The band will be embarking on a European tour this coming August/September. How did this tour come about?

Touring has always been the main priority of Asilent, the only problem we had before was the constant change of band members or band members that could not commit to touring and performing overseas shows. It was a huge obstacles in terms of progression for the band. The three of us now have the same goal / mindset and we are constantly looking to tour and play live shows. We decided about 2 years ago during The Unconsecrated album recording phase that the Europe Tour needs to happen and we planned for it in 2018. Fiaz got in touch with all the Europe contacts he had and also with Azean’s help (Doomstar Booking Agent), the tour manage to finally take shape and it is happening this year in Late August / Early Sept.

Asilent 2017

Catch Asilent, and many other quality Singaporean bands this May 5 at the inaugural, Singapore edition of the Metal United World Wide. More details at this location.

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