Gaytheism Unbound

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, listen On: Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

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Hold Me…But Not So Close, the follow-up to last year’s mondo excellent Stealth Beats, is nearly upon us, and if the first single “MANhattan” is any indication, it’s sure looking like the seething, roiling sonic beast christened Gaytheist will continue to (improbably) live up to the awesomeness of its name. Good to Die Records has kindly given Decibel permission to stream “MANhattan” this morning, and, as a bonus, Gaytheist guitarist/vocalist Jason Rivera graciously offered to provide us a sneak peek at what awaits those who dare…Hold Me…But Not So Close.

1. “MANhattan”: One bass line to rule them all, and in the darkness guide them. A heavy driving beast of a song about being so afraid of a place you’ve never been to that you’ve turned it into a nightmare fantasy realm.

2. “Spread’ em”: The most metal song on the whole album. One of the few places on the album where drummer Nick Parks has room to go off for an extended period of time. And go off he does.

3. “Poocano”: A long time ago, even before Jackass 3, there was an article in Bizarre magazine with photos of the “poocano,” and, just like the Jackass movie, it involved butt fluid. That’s not what this song is about, but go ahead and picture the exploding ass juice ladies and gentlemen.

4. “60 Easy Payments”: A general problem — spending money you ain’t got — specifically applied to an asshole landlord. One of the sweeter riffs on the record.

5. “Elderly Assassin”: The other silly song on the album (next to “Poocano”). An elderly, should-be-retired assassin takes aim at his latest mark, then becomes unsure that he has the right target due to the fellas mustache being a different color, so he asks him out to dinner instead. There will likely be a follow-up song that just slowly describes the two men having a long night of brutal-yet-loving hardcore passionate sex. Or maybe not but its nice to picture. Ok well I gotta go do something…

Keep up with Gaytheist via Facebook, Twitter, and Bandcamp.

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Paging Erik Olivier Lancelot (aka AiwarikiaR). Mr. Lancelot, Are You There?

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs On: Monday, April 1st, 2013

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Brilliant things happen in the age of the Internet. Like former Pestilence drummer Marco Foddis Googling himself and finding our “in search of Marco Foddis post” so we could induct Pestilence’s storied Consuming Impulse album into the Hall of Fame. The issue in which Foddis features is available HERE for the doubters out there. Now, since it worked the first time we put an APB on the Deciblog, we’re doing it again. This time for former Ulver drummer Erik Olivier Lancelot (aka AiwarikiaR).

Erik Olivier Lancelot was part of Ulver’s formative stages, namely the Bergtatt – Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler, Kveldssanger, Nattens Madrigal and Themes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell albums. But we’re chiefly concerned with his involvement on Bergtatt – Et Eeventyr I 5 Capitler, which, to this very day, remains a crucial evolutionary jump-off point for black metal. Give it to the Norwegians for approaching the raw and monochromatic with a near-singer/songwriter approach and coming away with a piece of music that ended up influencing a few dozen bands of critical mention years later. Like, Hall of Famers Agalloch.

We’ve got the rest of the Ulver camp ready for questioning, but Mr. Lancelot remains a Scooby-Doo like mystery. Sure, we’ve gone to great lengths to find his whereabouts. We’ve done the due diligence, we think. So, now we’re taking direct forms of contact out of our own hands and letting the binary winds of the Interblowhole for Mr. Lancelot to Google himself out of hiding. Even so, we don’t even know if he’s down for a chat. Unlike, Foddis, who was elated to be a part of the Pestilence conversation even though he’d not talked to its current (and former) members in more than a decade. Bravo, Foddis!

So, Erik Olivier Lancelot. It’s time, for one last ritual, to resurrect AiwarikiaR. Reach out HERE

Tales From the Metalnomicon: James Newman

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, lists On: Friday, March 29th, 2013

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Welcome to Tales From the Metalnomicon, a twice-monthly column delving into the surprisingly vast world of heavy metal-tinged/inspired literature and metalhead authors…

Tales first encountered the infernally enchanting work of James Newman when the stalwart badasses over at Shock Totem re-released his uber-excellent “ode to 1980s horror” The Wicked last year, and subsequent forays into his “coming-of-age thriller” Midnight Rain and human-psyche-plumbing Animosity proved every bit as satisfying. Now, as Newman prepares to unleash his insane-sounding fourth novel Ugly As Sin upon the world it seemed as good a time as any to query the hard rock/heavy metal enthusiast about the soundtrack to his apocalypse…

There was a time in my life when I was proud to call myself a Horror Writer. Horror is what I grew up reading/watching, and I used to dream of being “the next Stephen King” — which hasn’t happened yet, in case you were wondering. It never failed to piss me off when I read interviews with writers I admired, and they insisted that they weren’t horror writers. They sounded ashamed of it, and I took that shit personally.

We live and learn, though. We change as we grow older. The things that we used to consider so important fall by the wayside and no longer seem like such a big deal. Now I understand completely where my favorite authors were coming from. Make no mistake: I will never apologize for my love of the macabre. I still write horror often — although usually in the short form — and I have no doubt that every piece of fiction I write for the rest of my life will have one foot planted firmly “in the darkness.” I can promise that you won’t be reading any romance novels with my name on the spine. But straight-up horror is no longer the only thing I write. And these days I’m just fine with that.

There is a point to all of this. Honestly. It just took me a while to get to it.

Just like horror isn’t the only thing I write, the hard rock and metal I grew up listening to isn’t the only kind of music I dig these days. It’s certainly not the only thing I have playing in the background as I’m working on my latest project. In fact, the older I get, I find any music with vocals tends to be distracting. Instead of focusing on whatever story I’m working on, I find myself wanting to sing along, bang my head, and pump my fist in the air. There are exceptions to every rule, however…

You’ll notice multiple genres are represented here. Some of it is spooky, some of it rocks, and some of it just gets my juices flowing and makes me want to create.

Create what? Well, that depends on my mood…

I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to say that I prefer Dio-era Sabbath over the band’s output with Ozzy, but I do love the two incarnations equally. All the same, this album has long been my favorite Black Sabbath album. Such a brilliant collection of classic heavy metal tunes, full of raw, blistering power but also moments of eerie beauty.

Throw Me A Frickin’ Label Hack: Poland’s Entropia

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, March 29th, 2013

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 Because every day another band records another song.  Because 83% of those songs are unlistenable and you can’t be bothered to sift through the dreck.  Because metal is about not giving a shit and waking your own personal storm.  Because music is universal, expression is boundless, and even indie labels (whatever that means these days) don’t know everything, Decibel brings you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack.

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Last Friday morning we brought you Vampire’s lo-fi thrash death terror, which at least one of you hailed as “true metal”.  If you sympathize with such a statement (or if you are the very dude who posted it), then this week’s TMAFL will probably bum you out.  Entropia play expansive, melancholic black-splashed post-metal.  No, Joey Denim’n'Studs, don’t worry about the vomit you just sprayed all over the floor… we caused it, we’ll clean it up.  And we’ll play Entropia’s new adventure, Vesper, while we mop up your mess.  This record takes you on one of those hour-long journeys through the rippling darkness of self and space that never gets mired in repetition or feels like waiting for a dozen samey songs to end.  Guitar chords and melodies split the difference between contemplative and aggressive, drums plod and rip in perfect complement, and hellish rasped vocals explode from the album’s bleak center.

Check out Entropia’s bandcamp site, or just stream the album below while you hear from the band about blending genres and the inevitability of loss.

Who are Entropia?

Entropia is a post-black metal band from Poland. Five guys in [their] early twenties from a little town in Lower Silesia, not far from Wrocław and [the] German border. We met each other through [a] local newspaper ad years ago. I remember that our first meeting took place on [a] football field, we sat on car tires as we discussed our first rehearsal. We used to play as a trio for a few years until we invited keyboard player Damian to join the band and most recently we were joined by the second guitarist Michał. I’m still surprised that despite it being our first serious project we never disbanded, instead we played together with dedication for almost six years to achieve our current sound. It’s not common to see such determination in 16-year-olds [like] we used to be.

What was the first heavy music that got you interested in playing?

We were always aiming to play demanding music, but at the beginning we had no experience or equipment whatsoever. I was fascinated by [an] Isis show in 2007 and soon I realized that I wanted to create a band and try to pursue that sound in one way or another. We composed a lot of tracks, played them at local shows and ended up recording first EP. We were still teenagers at the time, so shows were sloppy and compositions more chaotic than it is now. Later on we began to discover this new wave of black metal, mostly from [the] United States. In my opinion that sound had the same roots, the same angst as our previous idols, it just had this fierceness ‘traditional’ post metal lacked. I’m also deep into black metal aesthetics,  I think by merging those two genres we’ve become a band we always wanted to be.

How did you settle on the sound you’ve created with Vesper?

I think the whole process was really simple… We just used faster tempos, blast beats and a lot more effects. There was no agenda behind this change, we just suddenly began being rather black than post metal band. Sometimes you can hear three or four guitars in our songs giving that shoegazy-eerie feel. We really liked it as a part of our sound and I think our further recordings will follow this direction.

How do Entropia songs start?

Mostly I’m composing the guitars that form the backbone of a song, then we are rehearsing it, adding riffs and removing them as we please until [the] track feels ready. Everyone is composing their own parts, so definitely it’s not [a] one-man metal project. 99 percent of the time I’m composing guitars at home; we rarely jam to create new music. I think that for creating this kind of music you must place yourself in a creative environment. I’m finding solace in making music and it’s not something I could achieve being around others.

How have the band members grown in their style of playing through Entropia’s music?

Throughout the years we learned the means to sound as we wanted to rather than adapting sounds and riffs made by coincidence. Our music is not overly complicated, it’s all about the mood and crescendos, very post-rockish attitude. I don’t think it’s a vice, that’s what differs us from others, melody at first, then going for brutality. I can already tell that our new tracks will be faster, murkier and more black metal in vibe, but the overall melancholic feel will be maintained. Our drummer Patryk is speeding up and we shall too.

What has the band’s stage experience been like?

We’ve played a lot of local shows with Polish bands representing a still growing underground scene, some of them are really outstanding, some are mediocre but everything is worth checking out. We’ve also played with Altar of Plagues near our hometown, that show was sick and I still cherish the memory. Reception varies from polite curiosity to frenzy, sometimes we used to play with bands completely out of our genre. Recently we went to Czech republic to play a show in a desolate village in the mountains, I don’t know how but suddenly dozens of people appeared out of thin air and entered the venue. It turned out great in the end.

What themes have you explored with your music and lyrics?  What kinds of ideas inspire Entropia’s work?

Lyrics and the intellectual background behind music is really important to me both as a musician and listener. On Vesper I was dwelling on the concept that all kinds of people, be it a mathematician, physicist, poet, inventor or a philosopher, all of them, no matter how vast their knowledge is, how deep they understand human nature, they will always have to face loss and death, and there is no way around it, it’s just a matter of time. I think that the concept of inevitable loss and asking the question how one can cope with it, but without providing the answers is really apparent on Vesper. In my opinion song lyrics should be simple, but they should also provide room for interpretation. Some topics are exploited too much and when bands are incorporating them into their lyrics it just feels obsolete, especially black metal bands, so to interest the audience you have to push the boundaries little more.

What are your goals for Entropia?

As for the future, on the 2nd of May we will perform at the Asymmetry Festival 5.0 in Wrocław, Poland with Mayhem, Cult of Luna, Melvins Lite and other fantastic bands. You must definitely check out this event, it’s one of a kind in this part of Europe. We have also scheduled gigs with Dopethrone, awesomeness incarnate Aluk Todolo and Germans from Downfall of Gaia. And this is Spring alone, we want to hit the road for some European dates later this year. Meantime we started looking for a label and rehearsing new tunes – they will melt your faces off.

The Great Sabatini is Doing Shit While You and I Sit at Home

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, tours, uncategorized On: Thursday, March 28th, 2013

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A few months ago, we (and know that when I say “we,” I mean “I”) favourably reviewed Matterhorn, the latest by Montreal’s the Great Sabatini. For those of you who didn’t bother to heed my word and at least check ‘em out, here’s a sample of how they rock:

In that review, in addition to saying stuff like “…these dudes have a 90s alt-rock edge grinding against their love affair with riffs that crash bolts of lightning into stacks of Orange amps in delivering a rumbling calling card of hellacious noise,” the band’s live show was praised by your truly. As a heads up to our overseas readers and those of you on an Old World vacation looking for something non-touristy to do, the band’s first European tour starts on Tuesday. Dates, the band’s video newsletter and a brief glimpse as to what you’re in for, below:

Tuesday April 2nd- Bern, Switzerland @ Rössli
Wednesday April 3rd- Lausanne, Switzerland @ Espace Autogéré
Friday April 5th- Clarmont-Ferrand,France @ Raymond Bar
Saturday April 6th- Nancy, France @ Le Caveau du Grand Sauvoy
Sunday April 7th- Antwerp Belgium @ Music City
Monday April 8th- Mechelen, Belgium @ PaNique d’O
Tuesday April 9th- Leige, Belgium @ tba
Wednesday April 10th- Frankfurt,Germany @ Exzess
Thursday April 11th-Munster Germany @ Baracke
Friday April 12th- Hamburg, Germany @ Astra Stube (Droneburg Fest)
Saturday April 13th – Gylling, Denmark @ tba
Sunday April 14th- Copenhagen, Denmark @ The Candy Factory
Tuesday April 16th- Berlin Germany @ White Trash Diamond Lounge
Wednesday April 17th- Chemnitz Germany @ AJZ
Friday April 19th- Nova Paka, Czech Republic @ tba
Saturday April 20th- Bratislava, Slovakia @ Obluda
Sunday April 21st- Budapest, Hungary @ Roham Bar
Monday April 22nd- Székesfehérvár, Hungary @ Agyampokla
Tuesday April 23rd- Vienna, Austria @ EKH
Wednesday April 24th- Rijeka, Croatia @ Club Tenkri
Thursday April 25th- Ljubljana, Slovenia @ Tovarna Rog
Friday April 26th- Maribor, Slovenia @ Gustaf Hall
Saturday April 27th- Bologna, Italy @ tba

Exclusive New EXHUMED Flexi Disc Now Available!

By: mr ed Posted in: featured, flexi disc On: Thursday, March 28th, 2013

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It took them eight years to follow up 2003′s pulverizing Anatomy Is Destiny, but San Jose death metal degenerates Exhumed proved that gore metal is eternal on the brilliantly-titled All Guts, No Glory, which we recognized as the 13th best extreme album of 2011. The depravity rages on, as the quartet delivers their latest slice of savagery via the Decibel Flexi Series.

Matt Harvey and his merry mad men concocted “The Beginning After the End” exclusively for Decibel. It will not appear on their as-yet-untitled fifth full-length, in the works for early summer. This must-have platter of splatter will burst forth via metallic-silver-on-red plastic. Jam it here and then order an extremely limited copy here.

Decibrity Playlist: Soilwork (Part 1)

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, March 28th, 2013

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Given that Soilwork unleashed its first double album (and ninth overall), The Living Infinite, earlier this month, it’s only appropriate that the long-running Swedish outfit passed along a double playlist. Up first: a collection of tracks from drummer Dirk Verbeuren, each offering an insight into his diverse tastes (Prince is becoming quite a fixture in these playlists—just ask Early Graves and Inter Arma). Also be sure to catch Soilwork on its massive North American tour—with so many dates, there’s a good chance the band is headed your way. You can listen along to Dirk’s playlist here.

Prince’s “If I Was Your Girlfriend” (from 1987′s Sign “O” The Times)
The first double album I heard. I can still put this on and enjoy every second of it. A double record has to take you places and Sign “O” The Times certainly does that—to me, it’s clearly one of Prince’s most adventurous recordings. The arrangements and sped-up vocals on “If I Was Your Girlfriend” strike me to this day, although it’s hard to pick a standout song. Words can’t do justice to Prince’s immense musical genius, so I’m not even gonna try—hearing His Purpleness cranking out infectiously catchy and smart tunes like “Screwdriver” 35 years into his career says it all!

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Napalm Death’s “Circumspect” and “Errors In The Signals” (from 2012′s Utilitarian)
30 years down the line, Birmingham’s finest are as relevant as ever. Just go see them tear up a nearby club if you have any doubts—these guys display more sincerity, hunger and energy than most of their peers. 2012’s Utilitarian is yet another faultless album in a career that has seen them invent grindcore, then experiment with industrial and rock, then blend their wide range of influences to create their very own genre of mind-bending noise. 25 years after buying Scum and scratching my head wondering what the hell I just spent my hard-earned money on, Napalm Death is still my favorite band.

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Squarepusher’s “Drax 2″ (from 2012′s Ufabulum)
When I need a break from metal, one of the genres I always end up navigating to is dark, rhythm-driven electro as created by Black Lung, Autechre, Scorn, Aphex Twin, Amon Tobin and Squarepusher. I find Tom Jenkinson’s latest to be a return to form. The twisted computerized tones of his classic albums Go Plastic and Hard Normal Daddy are back with a vengeance on Ufabulum, which also successfully incorporates the more melodic side of Jenkinson’s most recent work. This stuff is super exciting to me; I get a lot of rhythmical inspiration from it. Drummers should check this out for sure.

Beastie Boys’ “Pass The Mic” (from 1992′s Check Your Head)
Whenever I hear this song, the grooves and words inevitably get stuck in my head for days. Hip-hop and rap are what first sparked my interest in drums, and the Beasties, along with Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy and LL Cool J are the masters of catchy rhythms in my book. Anyone with a feel for rhythm just has to get infected by a tune like “Pass The Mic”. The funny thing is, out of all artists, Beastie Boys are the ones that opened me up to extreme metal thanks to Kerry King’s legendary guitar solo on “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”. And these guys rocked their instruments too. The real deal, I’m tellin’ ya!

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Meshuggah’s “Behind The Sun” (from 2012′s Koloss)
I don’t know how they do it. Every time Meshuggah releases an album, I’m blown away, again. Koloss has their most amazing production ever—that instrument separation is just ridiculous!—and, especially, some of their best tunes. The opening riff to “Behind The Sun” is so catchy and enveloping I’ll happily listen to it on repeat. That Meshuggah inspired a subgenre of metal all their own is only normal. You can’t beat the originators though, especially when they’re in otherworldly shape like on this record. “Djent” or not, this is quintessential metal. Eat it up!

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*Stay tuned for Part 2 featuring Björn “Speed” Strid next week

**Photo by Hannah Verbeuren

***Order a copy of The Living Infinite here.

****Soilwork tour dates (with Jeff Loomis, Blackguard, The Browning and Wretched):

03/28/13 Park Theatre – Winnipeg, MB
03/29/13 The Exchange – Regina, SK
03/30/13 The Distillery – Calgary, AB
03/31/13 Starlite Room – Edmonton, AB
04/01/13 The Generator – Prince George, BC
04/02/13 Rickshaw Theater – Vancouver, BC
04/03/13 El Corazon – Seattle, WA
04/04/13 Hawthorne Theatre – Portland, OR
04/05/13 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA
04/06/13 WHISKY A GO GO – Hollywood, CA
04/07/13 Rocky Point Cantina – Tempe, AZ
04/08/13 The Rock – Tucson, AZ
04/09/13 Las Vegas Country Saloon – Las Vegas, NV
04/11/13 In The Venue – Salt Lake City, UT
04/12/13 Gothic Theater – Englewood, CO
04/13/13 The Beaumont Club – Kansas City, MO
04/14/13 The Firebird – St. Louis, MO
04/15/13 Trees – Dallas, TX
04/16/13 Backstage Live – San Antonio, TX
04/17/13 Jake’s – Lubbock, TX
04/18/13 Lucky Mule – Abilene, TX
04/19/13 Dos Amigos – Odessa, TX
04/20/13 Tricky Falls – El Paso, TX
04/22/13 House of Rock – Corpus Christi, TX
04/23/13 Geo’s – McAllen, TX
04/24/13 Scout Bar – Houston, TX
04/26/13 State Theater – St. Petersburg, FL
04/27/13 Freebird Live – Jacksonville, FL
04/28/13 The Casbah – Charlotte, NC
04/29/13 Kingdom – Richmond, VA
04/30/13 Soundstage – Baltimore, MD
05/01/13 Mexicali Live – Teaneck, NJ
05/02/13 The Chance Theater – Poughkeepsie, NY
05/03/13 Broadway Joes – Buffalo, NY
05/04/13 Al Rosa Villa – Columbus, OH
05/05/13 Music Hall – London, ON
05/06/13 Station 58 – Syracuse, NY
05/07/13 The Palladium – Worcester, MA

*****We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here. Past entries include:

Intronaut
BATILLUS
Inter Arma
Helen Money
Misery Index
Ancient VVisdom
Holy Grail
Rotten Sound
Ancestors (Part 1) (Part 2)
Kowloon Walled City (Part 1) (Part 2)
Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Early Graves
All That Remains
Bison B.C.
A Life Once Lost
Fight Amp
Witchcraft (Ola Henriksson) (Magnus Pelander)
Vision of Disorder
Grave
Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Rush (Part 1) (Part 2)
Dawnbringer
Ufomammut
Shadows Fall
Horseback
Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Torche
“Best of” Meshuggah
Astra
Pallbearer
Barren Earth
Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)

STREAMING: Unreleased Killing Joke — “Timewave”

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, listen, tours On: Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

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It’s going to be a busy spring for Killing Joke. They’ll be touring North America and elsewhere and releasing an omnibus of singles from their storied career, which includes a disc of rarities. Super deluxe packages are still available here and the three-disc set is available here.

Decibel scored an exclusive peek at “Timewave,” an unreleased demo from the Absolute Dissent sessions included on the rarities disc. Take a listen below:

The Singles Collection: 1979-2012 will be available digitally on April 30th; CDs go on sale May 14. Killing Joke will be coming to a town near you very soon. Go see them.

April:

Fri 19th US Irving Plaza, New York NY
Sat 20th US Paradise, Boston
Sun 21st US Union Transfer, Philadelphia
Tue 23rd Can Cafe Campus, Montreal PQ
Wed 24th Can Lee’s Palace, Toronto ONT
Fri 26th US Empty Bottle, Chicago IL
Sat 27th US Empty Bottle, Chicago IL
Tue 30th US Neumos, Seattle WA

May:

Wed 1st US Rickshaw Theatre, Vancouver, BC
Fri 3rd US Fillmore, San Francisco, CA
Sat 4th US Brick By Brick , San Diego, CA
Sun 5th US Henry Fonda Los Angeles CA

VIDEO PREMIERE: Negator Studio Report 2013

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, videos On: Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

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The Negator monikor sounds like a Decepticon from Transformers, but musically the Hamburg-based black metal quintet are as vicious as they are obscure. Go on, tell us you’re a fan. Anyway, across three well-received traditional full-lengths, Negator has earned a small yet ardent following. Led by frontman Nachtgarm—who also served time in Dark Funeral following the departure of Emperor Magus Caligula in 2010—it looks like 2013 may be the year of German black metal. On a license from Viva Hate—the same label responsible for rad wooden box sets by Enslaved, Agalloch, Pelican, etc.—to U.S. based Prosthetic, Negator’s crossing the Atlantic in saturnine style, with the release of new album, Gates To The Pantheon coming this May.

To underscore Negator’s new album, we’ve obtained a sweet German-language studio report through ritualistic sacrifice to gods under the mantle. If you don’t understand the native tongue of Negator, well, just click the “CC” button on the Youtube player to enable English subtitles. What you’ll glean from reading the subtitles and hearing snippets of Gates To The Pantheon blast through your tiny laptop speakers is Negator’s imminent domination of extremely extreme things. That it was recorded and produced by Gamma Ray guru Eike Freese at Hammer Studios should be a sign Negator aren’t too concerned with “trooisms” and atavistic expectations.

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** Negator’s new album, Gates To The Pantheon, is out May 15th on Prosthetic Records.

Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

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First of all, are you crazy? A double album in 2013?
Dirk Verbeuren: [Laughs] We kind of thought that at first, too. Speed [Strid] had come up with that idea. That’s something he had wanted to do. In his head he’s like, “I wanna do a double album.” When he first told us he wanted to do that during our summer festivals in 2011—David [Andersson] was already on board—we told him, “It’s never gonna work, man.” Eventually, we warmed up to the idea. The material just came together, so we thought, “Let’s do it.” It’ll be a statement. We were having a blast making the record. Everything went so smoothly.

So, the idea came before the music?
Dirk Verbeuren: Yeah, it wasn’t the case where we had a bunch of music. We had to come up with a bunch of interesting songs to where we could make it good. If that wasn’t the case, then we would’ve never done a double album.

There’s not really a dead song on the album. Pretty impressive.
Dirk Verbeuren: Hopefully not. [Laughs] Everyone will have an opinion about that, I guess. We tried to make it strong and interesting throughout. A rollercoaster kind of thing. I personally like albums where there’s surprises happening. Especially with a band like us it’s a strong point of ours. With a double album, there are songs on the album that might’ve not made the cut if we only had an option to do an album with 10 or 12 songs. Sven’s [Karlsson] songs, which are “Memories Confined” and “Owls Predict, Oracles Stand Guard,” are pretty different from what we usually do. Same thing with the instrumental.

The last five tracks on disc 2 are really strong. Was there a lot of time spent on sequencing?
Dirk Verbeuren: Absolutely! That was, in our mind, a really key thing to do. Speed made up a list. Then, I started working with it. That’s kind of what we settled on. I find, for myself, when you’re part of the recording or creating it’s hard to figure out what people are going to get into. “Parasite Blues,” a lot of people they like that song. It’s second to last on the album. Position 19. The most important thing [is] you can listen to it without falling asleep. Some people probably will. What are you going to do? [Laughs]

There really isn’t a lull. A rollercoaster, as you said.
Dirk Verbeuren: Well, we finished 25 tracks. One of the things we wanted to see when putting it together was atmosphere. That’s why some of the tracks are tucked aside for the time being. We just wanted a nice ride; things keep happening, things keep [being] interesting. When we wrote this album, we really had an open mind. That started on The Panic Broadcast. We were like, “Fuck it! We’re not going to have any limitations or pre-conceived notions of what is or isn’t Soilwork.” With this one, we took that to the next level. We included everybody’s stuff. We have Sven’s songs on there. Sylvain [Coudret] has a different writing style. Hopefully, it makes for a really good thing.

But it’s still completely Soilwork.
Dirk Verbeuren: It’s our ninth album. We have to be able to go to different places. But we do have a strong identity. As musicians, we have strong identities. But if you have a good song and Speed puts vocals on it, it’s going to sound like Soilwork. Like a song “Owls Predict…” pushes the boundaries of what Soilwork is. That’s really good.

Right. There are different things happening. Counter melodies, atonal sounds, different textures, stuff that’s pretty harsh for Soilwork. Is that Scarve coming into the songwriting picture?
Dirk Verbeuren: Yeah, well, with The Living Infinite I had the most creative freedom I’ve ever had. A lot of the Soilwork demos were very unfinished. David’s demos were very unfinished, mostly just guitars or programmed drum beats. He’s like, “He’s my stuff. Add what you want.” All [members of] the band were very open to me doing what I do best. It allowed me to go, “Ah, I’ll put this beat there. That beat here.” I had that in the past, but not to the same extent. Peter Wichers would write songs that were almost finished. He’s very good at programming drums. He has a clear vision of the songs, so you can’t really go in and change his vision too much. This time around, there was a lot of more input from myself, and a lot of the other band members, which is probably what you’re hearing.

The added features or input from other members are very subtle. They blend in. It adds a lot of depth to the sound.
Dirk Verbeuren: That’s definitely what we were going for. Having layers. If it didn’t have a purpose it wouldn’t be on the album. That’s how we felt. We had an open mind. There was a time, admittedly, when certain members of the band—who are no longer with us—pushed for a very radio friendly sound, “Let’s tone it down a bit. Let’s be more direct.” Shorter songs. I, for one, grew up with pop music, but my favorite band is Napalm Death, so that tells you something. For me, I never wanted the radio friendly thing to be omnipresent. I wanted things to be happening, crazy drums and all that. I’m a lot more comfortable with what started on The Panic Broadcast.

Is that something that will continue on follow-up albums?
Dirk Verbeuren: If I have a say, yeah! [Laughs] Even more! I’d like to push the boundaries. Some people have said The Living Infinite is encompasses everything we’ve done before and if that’s true—it’s hard for us to see that though—then we should now move ahead. That would be my logical thinking for the next one. We’re not going to alienate anybody. I’d like to explore more.

Most bands by their eighth or ninth album want to constrict. To play slower or more economically. The Living Infinite feels like the opposite of that. It’s consistent but not an easy listen.
Dirk Verbeuren: We’re regretting that now. We have to play that shit live. [Laughs] We’re not getting any younger. “Oh, great! Now I have to play these parts live. Awesome.” As far as drumming is concerned, I’m always wanting to play the craziest shit possible. When you’re writing or in the studio, you’re experimenting. Sometimes, it’s like, “Holy shit! How am I going to play that?!” But that’s how you get better. It’s a challenge.

Were there areas you didn’t want to go in?
Dirk Verbeuren: No, we really tried to finish up everything that came up.

Like the acoustic intros and stuff like that?
Dirk Verbeuren: Some of that stuff came in later during writing process. Those intros I discovered after I got the final mix. I had a bunch of shit going on, so I wasn’t in the studio with the rest of the guys after I did my drums. As far as the music or songs go, we had 27. We cut one at one of the last rehearsals, just before I started recording. It was kind of lackluster. Another, I recorded the drums for it, but we didn’t end up finishing it. Some people weren’t feeling it as a Soilwork song. We recorded 25 songs.

So, 25 songs. That’s three albums! Does The Living Infinite count as more than one album on your contract?
Dirk Verbeuren: It’s one album, you know. They [Nuclear Blast] were really stoked about that idea when it came up, which we didn’t how they’d feel about it. They instantly felt it was a spotlight on the band. They really trusted us. Peter wasn’t in the band anymore. He was the main songwriter. But they trusted us. As far as the format is concerned, it’s something that sets us apart, which can’t be a bad thing in this day and age. Anything to set us apart. And it wasn’t a forced thing either. The recording session wasn’t difficult. It was intense. But we were having fun the whole time.

Any covers?
Dirk Verbeuren: Ah, no. Even though I’ve done covers in the past, I don’t think Soilwork should be doing covers. Personally. We shouldn’t be doing that now. A lot of metal covers are cheesy. Sure, some people in the band would be pushing for something different, but not sure it’ll work in Soilwork. I mean, one of the first albums I ever bought was Prince’s Purple Rain. I was probably 9 years old, at the time. I’m a huge Prince fan. I went to see him live a few years ago for the first time. So, I can see the idea of covering a song, but we have our own thing going on.

So, 25 songs. No covers. No filler. Pretty incredible.
Dirk Verbeuren: I’ll be honest I had my doubts when it first came up. I didn’t think we could write that much good music for a double album. It’s not easy. David was really prolific. Speed worked his ass off on writing. Sylvain and Sven brought some songs in. I wrote a song, which is one of the bonus tracks. That’s the first time I had written a Soilwork track A-to-Z. We all just started working. David is amazing. He’s an amazing guitarist. He has a lot of experience writing music and lyrics for different genres in Sweden.

You kind of reined in the Helloween factor, if you know what I mean.
Dirk Verbeuren: I agree. The vibe from the earlier records is back. There’s melancholic guitar work. Speed and David have that vibe. That kind of got lost along the way.

More Americanisms were being put into the music.
Dirk Verbeuren: Yeah, that’s where we were at. You know how it is in bands. There’s always different opinions. But it was time to refocus. I’ve always been one for—look at Scarve!—busy guitars and crazy drum breaks and what not. It’s the album I’m most happy with. Even though I do like Stabbing the Drama for what it is. We have absolute anthems on that record. If we don’t play the title track live people would kill us. At the same time, it’s good to be back.

Given double the work, do you have double the expectations?
Dirk Verbeuren: [Laughs] I’m realistic. It’s a tough industry right now. We’ll see what happens. The fact that I can go on the road and play anywhere is a big reward for me. We had heard that were #60 on Billboard [Top 200], which is amazing. That’s the highest Soilwork has ever been. That’s great! It’d be nicer to be bigger. At the same time, I’m not dissatisfied with where we’re at.

** Soilwork’s new album, The Living Infinite, is out now on Nuclear Blast Records. Order it HERE or I’ll come to your house and play “Gangnam Style” on repeat. Clockwork Orange style.

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