Kristoffer Rygg (Ulver) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

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** It’s been an age since Ulver have had anything to do with metal. Yet, somehow, Ulver, like others who departed from the dome of metal, have managed to capture our minds and hearts. Musically speaking, Ulver have very little business on the Deciblog—all things being fair—yet here they are, connected via an ability to communicate themes familiar with instruments and methods foreign. Sitting down on a digital chair with Ulver’s Kristoffer Rygg offered a chance to discuss new album, MESSE I.X–VI.X, and how Rygg and his fellow Ulverians are using it to “take back” that which they own.

This is your 20th year. What do you make of your timeline, at this point?
Kristoffer Rygg: It’s getting full—this is our 10th studio album not counting all the EPs, soundtracks, remixes and/or live albums we’ve done—and judging by MacArthur’s credo I’m getting old. More doubt and fear with each passing day. [Laughs]

Do you see the point of divergence (from metal) at Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell?
Kristoffer Rygg: Yeah, definitely. Although we still had a bit of metal left in the body when we made that record I was getting generally critical towards the whole black metal “shtick” by then. That’s pretty evident by the music, of course, and its ambition to embrace such an array of styles and influences (too many in hindsight). But roses are planted where thorns grow. At the time, we had turned 20 and were starting to see things in a brighter light, so to speak. With that album we were obviously revolting against what we saw as totally narrow-minded rhetoric and cheap gimmicks coming from our contemporaries. Blake did the same in his time—not by simple negation, but by refining and/or challenging the perceptions and preconceptions of his fellowmen, and with a more keen take on religious traditions, theology and iconography, if I must say so. That was the draw to us. I’m obviously not alleging we were—or are—anywhere near Blake-level. Far from it, but we did see in his work a lot that we could relate to and which resonated in a time when we were changing as people and musicians. But we were young. Indeed, that record has a few “interesting” ideas going on. [Laughs]

Where has Ulver, in your opinion, traveled from Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell?
Kristoffer Rygg: Well, from Blood Inside and onwards we have written a fair share of our own texts and presentations and perhaps established a tone now, or thématique which is a bit more down-to-earth, I gather. However, we still take inspiration from history and use metaphors/images from the Bible, etc. Musically, Wars of the Roses, for instance, is maybe not so far from certain things we would do back then? I still tune in to a lot of the same albums I discovered around those times. Of course, things have (r)evolved, but it is as you say, Themes was the point of divergence, or second advent of Ulver. It’s not a linear path we’ve been on, but we are still the same guys in many respects. Moved by beautiful contrasts, conviction and confusion, gratitude and grief, faith and doubt… So in a way it’s been a long history of questionable marriages, or wars within ourselves, up till now.

You’ve done soundtracks/scores, but I think the Live in Concert at the Norwegian National Opera DVD was a superlative moment. How did that all come together from cultural (acceptance) and logistical (number of people involved) viewpoints? ** the reason I ask is Dimmu Borgir also went through an acceptance phase (culturally) to eventually be involved with the NRK and KORK for their orchestral performance.
Kristoffer Rygg: I’m not so sure neither Dimmu Borgir nor Ulver are—or even want to be—accepted in the “card-carrying member of the establishment” sense. Also, I don’t really feel that the two bands belong in the same category, culturally, but I see what you’re getting at. Of course, it comes to a point where the powers that be no longer can deny or suppress phenomenons. I can’t speak for Dimmu, but we’ve quite simply accepted special invitations extended to us in recent years, and I suppose that means there’s a recognition of sorts. But you know, there’s a rebel rooting for the underdog in any organization. I’m not sure how much to put into it. When we wrote music for the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra we made it with classical in mind and we also had good help from composer Martin Romberg, who arranged the scores for all the players. I perceive MESSE I.X–VI.X as a quite modern electronic/orchestral piece and it has very little, if anything, to do with rock and roll. You mention the Opera, which was also a big event by all means, but that was three years ago and sans orchestra.

Generally, there’s a sense of skepticism from the Classical community towards modern music. Was that the case with the Norwegian National Opera and by extension the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra? Curious how the minds met, so to speak.
Kristoffer Rygg: Classical music suggests something conservative and old-fashioned and can be a bit misleading, that way. I mean, you have modern classical music, which is a bit of a contradiction, so. Actually, in my experience people from the “classical community” are often the most non-compromising and/or radical rascals you’ll find. I’ve never encountered that “problem” really. Plus, you’ll find sourpusses in every scene. The biggest challenge, as I see it, is often because one comes from different backgrounds and don’t have the same lingo. But in the end it’s all comes down to music. We had, as I said, good help and a mutual intent, so we found common ground… Those guys seemed just as fascinated by our approach and/or technique as we were by theirs, really. A concentrated congregation, by all means.

What was it like working with the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra?
Kristoffer Rygg: A bit nerve-wracking at first, but that quickly waned. Those guys come from a different world, but that’s what makes the liaison interesting, isn’t it? I think we all had that predisposition. I have nothing but positive things to say about the Chamber Orchestra. I had a great time in Tromsø and I think they enjoyed it too. Actually, we recently did this performance again, in Germany with the Stüba Philharmonie, and those guys were possibly more unbuttoned than us. Was great.

And this piece was commissioned for the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra, correct? What does that entail from artistic and business points of view?
Kristoffer Rygg: Yeah, they asked us to do new music, so we early on put down the prerequisite to “use the occasion” for later as well. The Tromsø people offered us a very good deal, to make it happen, but it was not in itself enough to justify months in preparation, writing all new music, lyrics etc. from scratch—all the work it actually meant for us, that is. It was part of the deal between us that it should eventually become a new Ulver album. It’s our body of work, even though it comes with a few strings attached. [Laughs] If you are asking if we have to pay royalties to the orchestra or something, the answer is no. The chamber orchestra get hourly wages from the larger Arctic Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra institution.

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Take us through MESSE I.X–VI.X, please. Inspirations, motivations, and so forth.
Kristoffer Rygg: Ah, I’m not sure that is possible, or favorable. I’m definitely one of those who thinks it is best if the listener isn’t over-informed; it is prophecy in the things you don’t know. That is also why we choose to keep our “press release” short this time: ULVER MESSE I.X–VI.X Music commissioned for Tromsø Kulturhus in cooperation with the Arctic Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra. Composed and first performed by Ulver, on primarily electronic instruments, with the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra September 21 2012. The assistance of Martin Romberg—God bless his Viennese heart and arrangements – has been invaluable. Much of this was recorded live, yet it is not a live album. We’ve spent long hours in the studio translating what happened that night. We are at peace for now. It is more quiet than normal. More modern than medieval. But there will always be rapture. Consecration and crying. The father, the mother… and ghosts. Shadows reverberates—it feels like a companion piece—and Silence’s erratic electronique. Sample culture. War and vulture. People hurt. In spite we love. Our children. We fear their future. Remember Górecki’s No. 3: Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. It has haunted us for years, and probably always will. Gustav Mahler and Holst. Sound collages from When or Nurse With Wound. ’70s kraut and synth. Ash Ra and Autobahn. ’80s pop scores. John Carpenter and Tin Drum. Terry Riley, again and again and again. Saint John of the Cross. By now, most of you know where we come from. The rest is silence. Ulver, Purgatory, spring 2013.

I can also share with you the two texts we wrote, to accompany the music. “Son of Man”: OH FATHER – HEAVENLY FATHER – FORGIVE ME – FOR I HAVE SINNED – AGAINST YOUR WORD – IN SADNESS AND JOY – IN RAINBOW LIGHT – AND THE DARK WOODS – CHILDHOOD HAUNTS – THE TWILIGHT OF MY LIFE – THE HEART STOPS – WITHOUT WARNING – THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE – THE BROKEN HOME – OH FATHER – WE ARE DEFINED – BY OUR BLOOD – THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS – AND THE SACRIFICE OF THE SON – WHAT KIND OF CHOIR – OF ANGELS WILL RECEIVE US

And “Mother of Mercy”: OH MOTHER – MOTHER OF MERCY – CRADLE OF ALL – DEVOTION AND DESIRE – I TURN TO YOU – FROM THE VALLEY OF TEARS – CARRY ME AS A CHILD – AS A SON OF MAN – BATHED IN LIGHT – AND PRECIOUS BLOOD – FILLING THE CUP – OF THE SKULL OF ADAM – CRYING AT THE FOOT – OF THE CROSS – OH MOTHER – PURE AND SIMPLE – VIRGIN AND WHORE – THE WOMEN OF JERUSALEM – ALONG THE WAY OF SORROWS – SPEAKING OF GHOSTS – IN THE HOLY CITY

Is there a political angle to MESSE I.X–VI.X? The opening track “As Syrians pour in…” would indicate some level of geo-political awareness. It’s also the title to a Reuters news piece.
Kristoffer Rygg: That’s right. I actually wanted Reuters and the date of that news piece in brackets, since it is so obvious, but Jørn [H. Sværen] insisted it was better if people Googled it. He loves the notion of people going a bit “what the fuck,” looking for clues etc., even if there aren’t always any to be found. This appropriation is not any more, or less, political other than an indication of concern. We live in troubled times. The song itself has a distinct Middle Eastern feel to it and coupled with sounds of vultures and war that title seemed both appropriate as well as contemporary. But we have no ideology for sale. Only our sadness.

What about a religious angle? I guess I’m being obvious.
Kristoffer Rygg: You’re wondering if we’ve turned Christian, right? It gives me diabolical joy to leave that one open.

You’re calling MESSE I.X–VI.X a “righteous DIY project.” What do you mean by that?
Kristoffer Rygg: It’s righteous. The opposite of the greedy and unkind industry-standard, where the artist often is forced to accept very bad terms and left in huge debt to the label, etc. We decided this time to privately borrow money to produce the album, manufacture it ourselves, then sell as much as we can direct to our fans via mail-order, etc., without too many intermediaries—we only have one external guy now, Neuropa, who does the actual mail-order job—and break even ourselves first for a change. We are definitely turning the tables around a bit. There are, of course, benefits to being on a bigger label, the dispersion and promotion, etc., so when we have sold our initial run of 3,000 and payed our loan back, Kscope will take over on a non-exclusive basis. Those who buy our edition(s) will not regret it though.

Looking at history, both Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails tried to render record labels and the music industry useless by using a free/pay-what-you-want system. If I remember correctly, both concepts had varying degrees of “success.” As an artist, what do you make of the legacy music industry model and ideas put forth by Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails?
Kristoffer Rygg: I don’t have a strong relation to any of these bands. I remember I liked Kid A a lot in the ’90s, and heard about that campaign a few years ago. It was no doubt a smart initiative, and seems sympathetic and all, but at the same time there’s little risk involved for those guys. They are both hugely successful bands and are likely to have a few stacks in the bank already. There are not many bands who can really pull that stuff off with great success. You have to get quite a few 5 or 10 Euro digi-purchases in order to get a studio budget back if you know what I’m saying. Not to mention some compensation for all the time and effort you and your bandmates put into making an album, right? But at the moment that seems almost too much to hope for. It’s simply not working very well at the moment, the music business. People have to realize that it still costs a lot of time and money to record and produce these albums (not necessarily talking bedroom/laptop/plug-in type albums here) and that if fans don’t financially support stuff they actually love and listen to they will in effect X-out their own favorite artists. I am actually hoping for a price jump in nice and elaborate packaging. People definitely are not buying the same quantities as in the CD heydays, so when you first want an objet d’art maybe it’s not such a big deal if it costs a bit more? I’m just wondering… Stuff like this leather-bound vinyl edition we just did is cool, and I think more and more things like that is gonna become standard. It was expensive as hell to make, but since we sold it at 50 Euros we had a surplus, from a very limited run, you know. And it sold out in a matter of hours so it’s really win-win. The die-hard fans get something exclusive to cherish. And if they don’t they can always sell it on Discogs at inflated prices in a couple years.

Next year will be your 21st year. Ever thought about going back to the first three albums and re-interpreting them? Or, from a metalhead’s perspective, a follow-up or prequel to Bergtatt?
Kristoffer Rygg: We actually did that some ten years ago now, with Nattens Madrigal, where we re-recorded those songs with a string quartet (same players who are on Shadows of the Sun) and started programming electronic rhythms on top, etc., but the project was abandoned for various reasons. MESSE I.X–VI.X is kind of picking up on those threads in some respects. I’ve also entertained the notion of a Kveldssanger pt. 2. It would be interesting to see where that could lead now. But I don’t think you will see me returning to black metal form any time soon. I know there’s a lot of love for those early albums out there, and appreciate that, but at the same time I have to say that I think our best work lies outside of metal.

** Ulver’s new album, MESSE I.X–VI.X, is available August 1st through the band. It’s available HERE in a variety of formats and packages. It looks and sounds brilliant, so if you’ve found solace in any of Ulver’s recent work, then MESSE I.X–VI.X should make your dark heart a bit brighter.

A Pale Horse Named Death: A Glimpse Behind The Horse #4

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, tv, videos On: Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

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This is our fourth post from director Aaron Beaucher on the making of the new A Pale Horse Named Death video “DMSLT.” An updated gallery follows.

During the past few weeks, we’ve been working on integrating the effect shots into the video. The process can be cumbersome. The first step was to import our edit from Adobe Premiere into After Effects, the program we use to process all of our composites and final post work. As we exported each shot, we had to keep careful notes of video time codes when we grabbed still frames so we could perfectly align things back into the composites.

The effect shots needed to be converted to pure black and white imagery so we could overlay them on top of the video with alpha channels or through a simple additive layer mix.

You quickly get a sense of how each shot is working once you start to position and track them in. In most cases, they integrate really well, but we found ourselves going back to our in-house studio to rework a few shots to get things just right.

Below, you can see a few grabs that show the integration. You can also check out this YouTube clip to see a final composite.

Look for our final Glimpse Behind the Horse in a couple weeks when the final DMSLT video debuts on Decibel.

TRACK PREMIERE: Phantom Glue’s “Biocult”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, listen On: Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

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I’m not 100% sure how Phantom Glue would even really work as an adhesive. I guess sometimes you just need to keep some damn ghosts in place. Apparently it requires some really heavy duty stuff, but even if they can’t hold the wraiths in place, this goop should be able to slow them down pretty well. The band plays in the same muck as Mastodon, but they bring a sense of devastation and despair that their influences don’t. Sort of like funeral sludge metal, I guess? “Biocult” is one of the more upbeat tracks on here, which should tell you a lot about their general outlook and the overall vibe of A War of Light Cones. Pretty much what you’d expect from a band that used to be known as Angels of Meth. “Enjoy” this exclusive track premiere, and then go ahead and buy the full length, which is out today courtesy of Black Market Activities. You have 29 minutes to bum yourself out with, right?

***Follow them on Facebook here and Bandcamp here. Purchase the T-shirt and blue LP here or the red swirl vinyl here

Of Metal & Bäseball

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, interviews On: Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

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Legendary horror metal maven and self-described “semi-retired punk/metal atavist” Stevo of Impetigo/Tombstones fame assures Decibel “baseball scorekeeping is in many respects a totally underground and kVlt activity” and links a “re-kindled passion for baseball to my still-burning passion for metal.” On the eve of the Razorback Records deluxe reissue of Impetigo’s classic 1992 leveler Horror of the Zombies and the revamping of his clever, enlivening website The Baseball Enthusiast, it seemed as good a time as any to afford Stevo some space to explain himself. Predictably, he acquits himself with aplomb. Those seeking more should follow his frenetic Twitter feed and/or friend him on Facebook

My story is typical and atypical at the same time. To be fair, I liked baseball before I was aware that I liked metal. I had always been a music fan, and never really much into sports. But baseball was different than sports; I didn’t understand why then but I do understand it now. I had a personal edge to being a baseball fan: my uncle played for the Kansas City Royals in the early Seventies. I enjoyed collecting things besides records, especially trading cards, and I liked collecting baseball cards more than any other sports cards. I wasn’t a student of the game, I didn’t play it, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the numbers or the strategy, and I wasn’t very concerned about leagues, rosters, or management.

I liked the cards, I liked the uniforms, and I particularly enjoyed the serious-not-serious countenances of the hundreds of mustachioed and wild-haired Bolsheviks pictured on these cardboard flipcharts of nascent stardom. My fandom was increased to mega-dork level by the fact that my uncle was on some of these cards, and that I sorta knew him at all. He wasn’t a very good baseball player, but I thought it was an excellent point to dwell on, at that age.

I lived in Eastern New Jersey during the summer of 1977, aside from being related by marriage to a position-player for the Royals, being in the vicinity of New York City during one of the greatest baseball campaigns of that era — that of the infamous “The Bronx is Burning” New York Yankees — was one of the most thrilling summers of my life. I can’t describe the experience in so many words, but I can tell you that this doesn’t mean that I was necessarily a Yankees fan…although I was similarly thrilled to be at Thurman Munson’s last game against the White Sox when I returned to Illinois the following year.

That was my first professional baseball game of memory, but prior to that I enjoyed watching games on television, never cognizant of the amount of time it took to get through them. I was self-conditioned to find idyllic pause and refreshment in observing the exchange of the ball between offense and defense against a panoramic view of majestic grandstands and an expanse of grass that I knew was green, even though observed on a tiny black and white set. I was a Baseball fan, in the purest fashion that a boy of ten could ever be, albeit a minimalist one. At the time, my interest in Baseball was unique…I didn’t know it then, but I know it now: I thought baseball was metal. My fandom was by no means mature or pragmatic; it was just totally kVlt and nothing more than that.

EXCLUSIVE ALBUM PREMIERE: OLD GODS “Stylized Violence”

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, July 15th, 2013

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Courtesy of Forge Again Records and exclusively for all you Decibangers out there, may this cursed quarter of the Internet be the first to steam in full the debut LP from Detroit punks Old Gods, Stylized Violence.

What can you expect? Sheesh . . . Well, it is worth noting that the album artwork features a large chef’s knife (a 23cm blade, by our estimate), calling to mind Black Flag’s My War (an album that similarly beefed up a hardcore punk sound with metal). But Stylized Violence is way more hyper. As you would expect from a band fronted by Jeff Tuttle, former guitarist for The Dillinger Escape Plan, it shovels handfuls of ants in hardcore’s pants and is liable to cause bruxism and all sorts of weird ticks to those susceptible to such things. You can expect screams, weird riffs, high-tempos, maximum anger, and references to Thomas Pynchon, S.E. Hinton/Francis Ford Coppola and the Halloween franchise in the song-titles. Enjoy.

**Pre-order Stylized Violence here
**Old Gods on Facebook

STREAMING: Trouble “The Distortion Field” [Sampler]

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, July 15th, 2013

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Back in the day (about four years ago), Trouble’s follow-up to Simple Mind Condition was titled, The Dark Riff. Pretty cool title. Succinct and descriptive. Well, the title’s changed to, The Distortion Field, and we’re pretty sure it’s just as descriptive, but there’s a little more to interpret. We won’t try, of course. The title background will, no doubt, come out in interviews with the Chicagoans. Heavy metal fans will rejoice, and the world will continue to spin.

Outside of the title change, Trouble has re-enlisted Exhorder throatman Kyle Thomas. Now, heavy metal’s had no shortage of great records with fantastic vocalists of late, but one jam through the three tracks on offer (see Soundcloud below) and you’ll quickly realize Thomas is in a league of his own at the moment. The dude kills it.

Seems like guitarist Rick Wartell is also “feeling it.” He’s gone on record to exclaim the following: “Musically, I think this album is a true Trouble record. In the early days, we used to just write what we felt and didn’t really care about what anyone said. We just wrote heavy riffs and played our music our way. But outside influences can kind of get a hold of you and start telling you what to do. When we were writing this album, the thinking was, we don’t care what anybody thinks. We’re going to write what we write. So this is basically a return to our roots, while combining some reflections of our band’s long history as well. With the two different music writers, Bruce and myself, we have a slight variation in our writing; Bruce has more of a ’70s groove to his writing, and I’m more the old-school doomy metal thing. And when you put it together, you get Trouble.”

So, it’s with burnt pate (thanks summer sun) and a sore neck (thanks Trouble), we present you, The Distortion Field [Sampler].

** Trouble’s new album, The Distortion Field, is out now on FRW Records. It’s available HERE.

For Those About to Squawk: Waldo’s Pecks of the Week

By: andrew Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases, featured On: Friday, July 12th, 2013

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OK, seems like this one will be a little lean, but lemme scratch a bit and give you some stuff that I love (or pecking want to line the birdcage with).

PHILIP H. ANSELMO is releasing Walk Through Exits Only on his own Housecore Records. What we have here is Phil really trying to get back in the metal game; that is, not like he does with Down. This will not be a disappointment to fans. However, it WILL let some people DOWN. This is thrash metal, kind of in the Superjoint vein, really, and although it’s good, it’s not stellar. But he’s definitely pissed. He has more anger and vitriol on this release than he has in a long time. The production here is a little muddy, but that doesn’t detract from the overall rage of Anselmo’s delivery. Again, there’s not too much I can say here: If you’re interested, you should just check out the song posted below. Someone should also tell Phil that he’s one of metal’s best frontmen and doesn’t need to process his voice so much. 5 Fucking Pecks.

Have you ever longed for a collection of 13 out-of-print NUNSLAUGHTER EPs? Well, if you have, your wish has come true. The penguin killers release The Devil’s Congeries Vol. 1. The one cool thing is that there is artwork and information regarding everything collected. It should be noted that they are an EXTREMELY KVLT band, and that sound is VERY representative here. The first disc is the collection, while the second disc is a completely unnecessary assortment of live tracks. This is kinda cool, though; finding these seeds would be really expensive, and they are a pretty cool band. So, uhhh, yeah: these sound like bird poop, but are also pretty cool. 5 Fucking Pecks.

OLD GODS (ex-DEP) release their first full length, Stylized Violence, and it sounds a little like DEP, but, well, less noodly. And better. I’m not too sure if Jeff Tuttle writes the riffs, but this is that mid- to fast-paced kind of radio-rock thing that Dillinger have done in the past. Not to say this is wimpy. Kind of a little Black Flag and Jesus Lizard thrown into a blender. Add a little post-punk with Tuttle screaming away well under (the vocals are mixed WAY too low), with kind of crawling guitar riffs. I like this, but don’t love it. I’m sure this band slays live, and this is an admirable first release. 6 Fucking Pecks.

BREWTAL TRUTH: Drink This Now!

By: adem Posted in: featured, liver failure On: Friday, July 12th, 2013

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Given the opportunity to write about craft beer every month in Decibel has been eye-opening. The idea that our “Brewtal Truth” column would have lasted more than four years (and counting) and even spawn a book—The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers, out in November—is pretty amazing. Now it’s time to bring a little “Brewtal Truth” to the Deciblog. Each week we’ll be featuring a different craft beer that you should drink now. These aren’t so much reviews as recommendations. We won’t post anything here that we haven’t happily poured down our own gullet. There’ll be a new one every week at noon Eastern time, a little something to get you thinking about your imbibing options for the weekend.

Some purists view Samuel Adams as the craft beer equivalent to Metallica—an essential part of the movement early on, but now a massive behemoth only concerned about the bottom line. That comparison may be a little inaccurate (because that Lou Reed thing definitely wasn’t about album sales), but there are Sam Adams haters who believe the brewery is no longer tr00. The fact of the matter is that Samuel Adams, as big and publicly traded as its parent company (Boston Beer Co.) is, still produces interesting brews and is supportive of the craft beer community. This brew is a good example. The smiling mug pictured above is a homebrewer, Zack Adams (no relation), who’s effing stoked to have his beer nationally distributed as part of the LongShot American Homebrew Contest Variety Six-Pack. Yep, Zack is one of three homebrewing winners to appear in this annual release, but since we’re partial to hops, and his is brewed with seven varieties, we decided to focus on it.

ZACK ADAMS’ MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Imperial IPA
Samuel Adams

Boston, MA
7.8% ABV

A nationally distributed beer such as this is a good place to start this weekly Deciblog feature. We’ll spotlight some local brews in the future, as well, but the idea is that whatever we write about should be accessible to a significant number of readers.

We wish we could reveal the seven American hop varieties Zack used in his recipe (there’s no info given about that), but let’s just say they hit all the notes—resiny, piney, citrusy, fruity—that hopheads go batshit crazy for. It is not, however, one of those ostentatiously floral imperial IPAs. You won’t mistake this for, say, an amber ale, but it’s also not going to clobber your nose and palate with an onslaught of pungent dank hop notes and bitterness, respectively. Which is to say, it’s well-balanced.

Based on the way this drinks and its ABV (7.8%), Magnificent Seven seems to sit in the netherworld between quaffable, everyday IPA and a bigger, bolder double/imperial. It definitely has some heft to it, but not in that boozy sort of way. The specialty malts responsible for its rich amber color provide solid sweet caramel base notes that offer a good counterpoint to the fruit-forward (and slightly earthy) hop notes. It’s not exactly going to refresh after mowing the lawn on a hot summer day, but you also don’t need to pour it into a fancy tulip glass to sip it either. It’s an interesting take on the style.

And there are a lot of double/imperial IPAs out there now. What was once an intimidating and uncommon style has become an every-day drinker for a lot of people. There are some great ones being brewed, but also some meh ones as well. It’s a lot like thrash metal circa ’88 or ’89. Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth had arguably made some of their best records (and some of the best in metal, period), but the inevitable slew of young second-wave imitators eager to get a major label deal did nothing to move things forward. There were a few notable exceptions, but the late ’80s was not a particularly innovative period for metal.

So it’s great to find a double IPA today like this that does stand out. They’re definitely out there, but not everything boasting near double-digit ABV and high double-digit IBUs is going to have true character and a flavor profile that makes you want to keep going back to it. Magnificent Seven isn’t going to give you, say, a Rigor Mortis drinking experience—it’s a little too laid-back—but it’s akin to finding an unusually strong album amidst a sea of so-so stuff.

Stream a New LUSTRE Track!

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, July 12th, 2013

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It’s possible you’re not yet an initiate of the Lustre phenomenon.  Despite several recent releases, I think the last time the project drew Decibel’s attention was when Scott Seward reviewed 2010’s A Glimpse of Glory.  So, yeah, it’s been a while.  Since then, head nature-screamer Nachtzeit has given the world another EP, a split, a compilation of unreleased material, and a full-length album called They Awoke to the Scent of Spring.  All of which rule.

Lustre music rules in that windswept-moor-during-a-druid-ritual-lit-by-aurorae sort of way.  Take a few spirited keyboard melodies, load them up with twelve tons of atmosphere courtesy of buzzing guitar chords and buried screams, and top it all off with bird calls and wolf howls.  If you’re imagining a cross between Burzum’s non-violent material and Celestiial, you might be close.

Sommar 2013

We asked Nachtzeit for some insight into his musical process, and he responded with his thoughts and a stream of a new song, “Green Worlds”, to be included on an upcoming full-length album.  We think you should settle in and breathe deeply the dark beauty that comes from Lustre.

 

When did you start playing music?

I think I was about 10 years old when I got my first guitar from my father.  I am self [taught], more or less. I remember listening to my cousin’s Maiden and Metallica CDs and trying to figure out the melodies and riffs I liked the most.

How did your music taste evolve, from the first music that you remember enjoying through your own career?

The very first things I remember enjoying was Cornelis Vreeswijk and Simon and Garfunkel.

Later on I started listening to Iron Maiden quite a lot, and after that I found bands like In Flames and Dimmu Borgir, and when I was around 15-16 (probably) I got into the whole black metal thing with Burzum etc. I have never been the kind of person who only likes this or that genre for this or that reason though. What makes me like something is the feeling that it gives me. It’s as simple as that.

Lustre’s music seems to have two distinct sides:  the gorgeous melodic keyboard lines and the darker, heavier guitars and vocals.  When writing songs, does one come before the other or do they happen side by side?

Well, I don’t really think of it that way at all. The “heavier guitars and vocals” are just ways to create atmosphere. To be honest, I don’t really look at Lustre as a black metal or even a metal band. To me it’s just music. Those are just different elements that I use to write atmospheric melodic music. Lustre is Lustre.

When did you start trying out the horrific vocals?  Do you use them solely for texture or to bring lyrics to the songs?  On a related note, can you describe how “Into the Ancient Darkness” [on the recent compilation Lost in Lustrous Night Skies] came about?

Are they horrific, really? When recording Night Spirit I wanted to try something new, and the vocals in Lustre since then is the result. I thought they would fit Lustre perfectly because they blend into the rest of the music almost like an instrument of its own and because I think they contribute to the atmosphere in a nice way. They are also the kind of vocals that you can record anytime, anyplace, which fits me and Lustre perfectly. Regarding “Into the Ancient Darkness”, me and a friend of mine went to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, that my family owns. We went into the forest near a river in the middle of the night where we sat down and made a fire. This is the kind of thing that me and my friends have done from time to time for as long as I can remember. However, one thing led to the next and I ended up recording these screams that you can hear in this song.

Are there non-musical forms of art (paintings, movies, literature, etc) you enjoy that have affected the work you do with Lustre?

Yes, I think that there’s a constant flow of inspiration from all these sources which affects the music that I write for Lustre. I think it’s hard to point out some works that has inspired Lustre specifically though.

Can you talk about the other music projects you’ve been involved with and how they’ve been different from Lustre?

Sometimes I feel like I want to do something different, apart from Lustre, and all the side projects I’ve had throughout the years has been a result of that.

What was the thought process behind the recent move to work with Nordvis for your next albums?

Well, he’s a great guy which I really enjoy working with simply because it goes very smoothly and because his releases are of a very high quality. He has also shown a genuine interest in and support for Lustre.

Do you feel that Lustre has a well-defined sound already, or do you see it taking any different paths in the future?

I think that Lustre has its own sound for sure, but there are still obvious differences between the things I have done this far, and I plan on keeping it this way.

Let This Beast be the Envy of Your Record Collection.

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, interviews, uncategorized, videos On: Thursday, July 11th, 2013

deciblog - envy band

On Tuesday, Japanese post-hardcore legends, Envy will release Invariable Will, Recurring Ebbs and Flows, a 14 LP and double DVD box set to commemorate their 20th anniversary. Here’s a quote from the press release:

Invariable Will, Recurring Ebbs and Flows is a limited-edition super-deluxe box set that collects every song ever recorded by Envy (95 songs in total) across 14 vinyl LPs, all re-mastered for vinyl in 2013. Each record is housed in its own full-color jacket, featuring all new artwork. Also included is a brand new, previously unreleased 100-minute DVD, a DVD data disk packed with all 95 songs in high-quality MP3 format, and a 100-page coffee table book featuring dozens of exclusive photos, plus lyrics to every Envy song, transcribed in both Japanese and English languages. The entire mind-blowing package is housed in a sturdy custom outer box – printed on a custom reflective metallic foil board. Strictly limited to 1,000 copies, Invariable Will is a monument to one of underground music’s most enigmatic bands, and a celebration of their unfettered brilliance.”

Herein, fans of their more recent post-rock excursions (say everything from 2006’s Insomniac Doze onward) can pay witness to the band’s roots as angular and often violent sounding punk/hardcore band and trace their transformation towards the cinematic, anthemic and ethereal outfit they are today. Here’s the track listing of this behemoth (and when we say behemoth, we mean behemoth – the promo only includes the book, DVD and MP3 discs and it’s probably the biggest item we’ve ever signed for standing in our PJs on our porch at 9AM):

SIDE A
01. IN THE MUDDLE OF THE RAGE 01:50
02. YOU HAVE A VOICE… 01:42
03. REMEMBER 00:43
04. ABILITY 00:46
05. UNDER THE SKY 02:28
06. YOU HAVE A VOICE 01:32
07. PASSAGE OF WIND 01:55
08. STILL REMAIN 02:16
09. END OF THE LINE 01:38
10. JUST ALIVE 02:12
11. REACH OUT 02:03

SIDE B
01. ANGEL’S CURSE 04:43
02. PENDULUM 05:46
03. LEADEN WING 03:10

SIDE C
01. BREEZE AND DESTINY 05:10
02. UNREPAIRABLE GENTLENESS 09:50

SIDE D
01. ECHO REGENERATES 02:41
02. THE END OF MEMORIES 02:00
03. AWAKEN EYES 04:31
04. TESTIMONY OF THE EXISTENCE 01:27
05. AN ENCYCOLPEDIA OF THE UNIFICATION 03:14

SIDE E
01. LIMITATION 04:11
02. TREMBLED 04:12
03. A VICIOUS CIRCLE AGAIN 01:23
04. OFF 02:39
05. CRUSADERS 01:58

SIDE F
01. FOR YOU WHO DIED 03:04
02. BLACK PAST 01:53
03. GREY WIND 04:24
04. CARVED NUMBERS 03:36
05. 444 WORDS 02:14

SIDE G
01. ZERO 02:05
02. FAREWELL TO WORDS 02:45
03. LIES, AND RELEASE FROM SILENCE 04:47
04. LEFT HAND 03:01
05. A CRADLE OF ARGUMENTS AND ANXIOUSNESS 05:24
06. MYSTERY AND PEACE 06:48

SIDE H
01. INVISIBLE THREAD 02:43
02. THE SPIRAL MANIPULATION 03:28
03. A CAGE IT FALLS INTO 06:10
04. THE LIGHT OF MY FOOTPRINTS 04:12
05. YOUR SHOES AND THE WORLD TO COME 08:04

SIDE I
01. A FAR-OFF REASON 06:18
02. AN ADEVENTURE OF SILENCE AND PURPOSE 06:07
03. INVISIBLE UNDERSTANDING 08:02

SIDE J
01. CHACUN DE TES PAS 04:46
02. A RED WOUND PICTURE 03:24
03. CAPE OF DESPAIR 02:37
04. THIS SELF-CRUSADERS 02:36
05. TREMBLED 02:03
06. GUILT 03:06

SIDE K
01. CASTLE OF LIES 03:30
02. CONNECTED VOICE 07:11

SIDE L
01. AWAKEN EYES (LIVE) 06:50
02. GO MAD AND MARK (LIVE) 07:33

SIDE M
01. CHAIN WANDERING DEEPLY 08:29
02. DISTRESS OF IGNORANCE 05:46
03. EVIDENCE 03:16

SIDE N
01. COLOR OF FETTERS 07:19
02. UNREPAIRABLE GENTLENESS 08:11

SIDE O
01. GO MAD AND MARK 06:35
02. A CONVICTION THAT SPEEDS 05:27

SIDE P
01. REASONS AND OBLIVION 05:05
02. A WILL REMAINS IN THE ASHES 12:44

SIDE Q
01. FURTHER AHEAD OF WARP 06:51
02. SHIELD OF SELFLESSNESS 04:30

SIDE R
01. SCENE 07:08
02. CRYSTALLIZE 10:34

SIDE S
01. THE UNKNOWN GLOW 15:28

SIDE T
01. NIGHT IN WINTER 06:05
02. A WARM ROOM 07:18

SIDE U
01. A ROAD OF WINDS THE WATER BUILDS 10:03
02. ALL THAT’S LEFT HAS GONE TO SLEEP 04:01

SIDE V
01. THOUSAND SCARS 06:35
02. FADING VISION 04:44

SIDE W
01. AN UMBRELLA FALLEN INTO FICTION 06:26
02. ISOLATION OF A LIGHT SOURCE 03:40
03. PURE BIRTH AND LONELINESS 05:08
04. CONCLUSION OF EXISTENCE 05:08

SIDE X
01. A WINTER QUEST FOR FANTASY 06:25
02. LIFE CAUGHT IN THE RAIN 04:24
03. AS SERENITY CALLS YOUR NAME 07:38

SIDE Y
01. GUIDANCE 03:21
02. LAST HOURS OF ETERNITY 07:05
03. RAIN CLOUDS RUNNING IN A HOLY NIGHT 08:32

SIDE Z
01. PIECES OF THE MOON I WEAVED 04:48
02. LIGHT AND SOLITUDE 07:15
03. DREAMS COMING TO AN END 04:04

SIDE Z2
01. INCOMPLETE 01:25
02. WORN HEELS AND THE HANDS WE HOLD 05:44
03. A HINT AND THE INCAPACITY 06:44

SIDE Z3
01. A BREATH CLAD IN HAPPINESS 06:25
02. 0 AND 1 07:32
03. YOUR HAND 03:04

TRR200_envy_LP_77417Lid_out

We caught up with vocalist Tetsu Fukagawa for a short email back and forth that allowed our man to display his increasing command of the English language and exhibit as much surprise as we did that Envy is still going strong 20 years down the track.

When you started Envy, did you ever think you’d be celebrating a 20 year anniversary? What were your original goals for the band and how are those goals different today?
We weren’t thinking about anything when we first started. We never did anything for our 10th or 15th anniversary either. All we thought about in the beginning was to have fun, after a while we started to feel the possibilities and that’s probably when our mindset as a band began to change.

What are some of your favourite moments of being in the band?
When I first saw our music in a record shop. Making and recording music is always a hard process but there’s always a sense of accomplishment when we finish. Guess the other one would be when we played Fuji Rock for the first time, we were really nervous before but it was awesome.

Is there a particular point where you felt that Envy was going to end up becoming a long term proposition and feature in your lives, whether or not you were able to make a full living from playing in the band?
When we first started the band we never thought that it would last twenty years. Not sure if there was a particular point, but I think that the reason why it’s lasted this long is because we’re all good friends, share the same values and love to hang out and play music together. Envy’s a big part of our lives but we’ve always felt that time spent with our families and jobs were equally important.

Who had the original idea of compiling all your recordings for Invariable Will, Recurring Ebbs and Flows?
The box set was [Temporary Residence boss] Jeremy [Devine]‘s idea. If he didn’t say anything, we probably wouldn’t have done anything for the band’s 20th. It’s because of him that we were able to make this amazing box set. I’ll cherish this for the rest of my life.

How long did it take to get everything (including the mastering of the music, the content for the book and the packaging) and put everything for the box set together? Were there any production problems or issues that you had to deal with along the way? What was the hardest part of this process?
It took us a while to edit the live DVD and to photograph the moon for the cover. Guess all in all, it took about six months, but we had a great time doing it. Mastering the tracks was hard, it was a pain to check 95 songs worth of audio and lyrics, took a lot of concentration.

In going back and looking over your career for the purposes of the boxset, is there anything that you stumbled across that you had forgotten about? What other sort of memories were unearthed during the process?
Twenty years went by quick…I don’t think I’ve actually looked back on it yet. I have memories of the songs we made and shows we’ve done, but I figure I’ll look back when we decide to stop the band. Going through our old flyers and videos did make me realize that we used to push ourselves really fucking hard.

What do you feel are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned with Envy over the past 20 years?
That continuity is important. All of the experiences we’ve had were because we kept doing what we do. I really feel that continuity is power. The other thing is that I love to stand on stage and perform. There’s nothing like the feeling of performing a song that we made in front of a crowd that wants to listen to us.

Knowing what you know now about being in a band and the music industry, is there anything about Envy’s career you’d go back and change or do differently?
It’s a hard question, there isn’t anything specific that I would change… Not sure if this is answering the question, but I’d tell myself to pursue what I value in order to understand the process of all things.

Once this box set is out, what’s next for Envy?
We’re doing some shows in Japan and planning a tour of Asia for this year. We’re also currently making new tracks for our next album which we hope to release in the spring next year.

Do you think you have another 20 years in you?
I’ll be 60 if we do it for another 20 years. I don’t think that’ll happen, but I had a kid last year so I’d like to keep the band going long enough for him to see me perform.

Got a couple hundred bones burnin’ a hole in your pocket? Love you some Envy? Go here.