Chris Naughton (Winterfylleth) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

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** In most cases, Decibel features “all the metal that’s fit to print”, but there are times when metal’s meta, so when letters are falling out of the margins and don’t have a home, they go to the Deciblog. The following interview is the full transcript for the Winterfylleth feature in Decibel #98 [available HERE].

The last time we spoke regarding The Mercian Sphere you had to go on record to correct controversial statements made by a former member. Have those issues been resolved?
Chris Naughton: Yeah, I think so. To be honest, it was a bit of a ‘storm in a tea cup’ issue that should have been left to the members of Winterfylleth to deal with. But people love a story, and it got blown way out of proportion. It’s funny how something from an insignificant local music forum has stood to define who we are as a band for the first few albums of our musical career. We’ve said a lot about this controversy in other interviews and been as open as possible with it, so that people ‘get’ who and what we are about. I think we’ve consciously chosen to be quite up front about it all, and not hide behind some veil of smoke and mirrors. The reason being is because mud sticks and it’s important we don’t let it. A lot of the major magazines have had in depth interviews and chats with us about it and we have the backing of all of them now. We’ve been invited to play festivals such as Wacken, which are very sensitive to these kinds of things and generally I think the mind set of people who used to think ill of the band is changing. If people still don’t get it, then I’d encourage them to come to us directly. We can be contacted easily enough through any number of social forums, or the record label.

What does it mean for the British press to embrace Winterfylleth? I saw that BBC Radio 1 had debuted “Void of Light”.
Chris Naughton: Yeah, I think it’s great. Daniel P. Carter who runs the BBC 1 rock show has been a fan of the band for many years and has played our music before. It’s reassuring to know that there are still people out there—like Daniel—who care about underground music and who actively bring your music to a wider audience through their shows. We wouldn’t be where we are without that kind of support, or the support we have from the press. So it means a lot for people to back what we do and vote with their feet in supporting our music and our shows.

Do you think the United Kingdom and Ireland black metal scenes are as exciting as they were a few years ago? I realize Primordial and several others have been around for a while, but the new generation of bands garnered a lot of attention for their music and message.
Chris Naughton: Absolutely! When we spoke a few years ago, we were talking about a scene in its relative infancy; one that was starting to bring through some great bands with strong ideas. We are now a few years down the line and we are starting to see these bands flourish even more so. Look at A Forest of Stars, for example. A great band who are finally (on their third album) starting to get the plaudits they have deserved since day one. Similarly, we have bands like Wodensthrone who have stepped up a notch by joining us on Candlelight and unleashing their incredible second album Curse onto the world. If anything I would say that it is now that all the British bands are starting to hit their stride and bring their music to the world in a way they have never been able to before. On top of that there is this great undercurrent of bands like Cnoc An Tursa, Fyrdsman and Nine Covens coming through that represent a scene that is bearing some real fruit.

I also remember you had issue with people viewing the The Saint George’s Cross flag—I believe that was the flag—with suspicion. Has that changed much at all? I realize as a pro-British band you’re entitled to fly whatever iteration of the British flag you like as it relates to Winterfylleth and its musical/lyrical disposition.
Chris Naughton: People are idiots sometimes. It’s just that mob mentality of not wanting to seem small minded or ‘in the wrong’ to your peers, and jumping on a bandwagon you know nothing about. The St. George’s Cross is the flag of England, our home country. People seem to have this impression—because of everything the read or are told in the UK media—that our nations flag is some kind of racist/fascist symbol. It’s just this idea about ruling through fear and the link between fear and power in practice. There was this Italian writer/political theorist called Antonio Gramsci who brought forward this idea about what he termed a ‘Cultural hegemony’. The idea being to perpetuate the ‘ruling-class domination’ of a culturally diverse society by one social class, who manipulate the culture of the society—the beliefs, explanations, perceptions and values—so that their ruling class view becomes the worldview that is imposed and accepted as the cultural norm. This worldview then becomes the universally valid dominant ideology that justifies the social, political, and economic status quo as natural and inevitable, perpetual and beneficial for everyone, rather than as artificial social constructs that benefit only the ruling class. Such is the state of the political and social landscape within the UK. Ultimately, I think that media does this to aim towards the centralization of our governments into the EU and to impact upon people’s ability to form identity within their own society. Eventually, this would lead to all of Europe being led and controlled by less people than ever before; impacting more and more social control over people who have taken to the idea naturally due to the impression of this cultural hegemony over them. It’s all pretty logical when you consider it; it’s just that most don’t. So when you see the flag issue as the tip of the iceberg, you can see Gramsci’s theory playing out in practice.

OK, onto music. What do you see are the major differences between The Mercian Sphere and The Threnody of Triumph?
Chris Naughton: I don’t know if there are any major differences between the two albums. The new album is still a Winterfylleth album and it still sounds like us. The differences as I see them are more in the dynamics of the album. On this one we incorporated more lead guitar work and a bit more melancholic melody within the songs. Also we’ve got a few slower numbers on the album to contrast the faster blasting songs. Production wise there are parallels, as we opted to work with Chris Fielding again at Foel Studios. I think the difference and perhaps the beauty are to be revealed the more you listen. There are layers of guitars and vocals that will unwind the more people listen.

A lot of bands suffer the sophomore slump. You know, unable to repeat the greatness of the debut. The Threnody of Triumph is your third album. What did you do on The Threnody of Triumph that you didn’t want to repeat from the first two albums?
Chris Naughton: Do you know what, loads of bands are too disparaging of their back catalog and seem to get into this cycle of saying things like “this is the best thing we’ve ever done, it totally destroys our last album”, etc. For me, I think we’ve always made consistently good albums and have applied all our current skills and knowledge into them at the time of their creation. The only things we’ve really done differently across them all is to learn and be aware of what aspects, nuances and tweaks to listen out for when we are recording and mixing the songs. Ultimately, you learn to be better at, and get more out of the process each time you do it. So, I think this one represents a process we were more informed about and in control of. In terms of approach, to be honest it was quite similar to the last, but in terms of pre- and post-production, we learned a lot of lessons that we applied this time. For example, how loud the kicks will be in the raw mix and the post master, so how to mix them properly. Just little bits like that really.

Then again, you formed only five years ago. Three albums in five years is a pretty strong start to a band. Is that part of being young and hungry or is the prolific nature of Winterfylleth more part of the overall pro-British message?
Chris Naughton: It’s been a pretty natural pace to be honest. I think an album every two years is enough to keep people interested without swamping the market with too much stuff. I’m not sure it’s geared particularly around promoting a pro-British message (as you put it). Our music is about celebrating, and bringing relevance to our countries rich history in order to re-engage people with the real world and with social discourse. We do things naturally and keep spreading the ideas with shows and touring in between times.

The songs on The Threnody of Triumph have a sense of flight. Was this an important factor in their composition? To have movement, lift, and a forward momentum.
Chris Naughton: I think the songs have a consistently fast pace on the most part, and what we wanted to do was have dynamics working in and out of that as a base this time around. I like songs to keep moving and to be interesting with peaks, troughs and accents, so as such we reflect that in the music we make. I think it makes for more listenable albums, rather than a constant wall of one tone.

I like that the album has a quick tempo. A defined direction. But just as the album starts to lose a bit of luster—perhaps due to its lack of variety—“A Soul Unbound” hits. In fact, this is the first song on The Threnody of Triumph that I connected with. Where does this song fit in the overall layout of The Threnody of Triumph?
Chris Naughton: The first five tracks before “A Soul Unbound” represent: a song based on a tempo we’ve never used before (“A Thousand Winters”), a song with breaks downs and choral sections unlike the others (“The Swart Raven”), and acoustic track with layered strings (“Æfterield-Fréon”), a faster, riff oriented song (“A Memorial”) and a song in a different tempo and key with sung choruses (“The Glorious Plain”). So, I’m not sure I understand the lack of variety bit. Perhaps a lack of familiarity is more apt. “A Soul Unbound” then acts as a transitional/bridging song between the beginning lyrical concepts and the ending ones. In that the soul is now unbound from the body and is moving onto its fate after death.

What do you think you got out of Chris Fielding as a producer? I really like the vibe. It’s warm, aggressive yet inviting. I want to come back to it, even though it’s harsh as hell at times.
Chris Naughton: Working with Chris is a genuine privilege as he is easy to work with and, as a fan of metal, ‘gets’ what you want to do with your songs while helping you to achieve it in the best way. When you are so focused on your own album it’s great to have his independent view on things, as his suggestions are based on working with new bands every few weeks and are usually a breath of fresh air in uncertain situations. You only have to look at the quality of his recorded output to see why we keep going back to work with him. Also, we aren’t from ’90s Norway, so we’ve not tried to restrict the instruments in any way. Hence the warmth and tones we have on the album. Chris is great at capturing the live sounds of the instruments and I think that really adds a feeling to the albums.

What is meant by The Threnody of Triumph? A threnody is a hymn to a dead person, but I suppose it could mourn a country, a culture, a lifestyle.
Chris Naughton: The concept is about a deathly ode—or threnody—to those ones who have died, and is about how our ancestors viewed spirituality in the sense of how the soul and the body were connected. The album also has a broader concept about celebrating the lives of those who you love that have passed away. So, as such we felt that a contrast between the darkness of loss and the epic-ness of celebration needed to come together in the songs, so that had an influence on the music writing. I hope the lyrics complement this and come across in the finished product—where we contrast darker, faster black metal with soaring leads and rich vocal harmonies. There is always an undertone of social relevance within what we do, and the aim is that people can come to understand history and its implications on humanity. The aim is then to make people more active is some of the social discourse that underlies some of the content.

I heard you recorded some English folk songs. Will those be acoustic or re-interpreted as Winterfylleth originals? That’ll be an EP, I suppose. On Candlelight or through your own label?
Chris Naughton: We did indeed. They are traditional English folk songs, as imagined by Winterfylleth. They are similar to the acoustic songs on the albums, but taken way further. There are sung vocals, layered vocals and more acoustic instrumentation used within them. It’s going to be part of a wider compilation that Roman from Drudkh is putting together. I don’t want to give too much away at this point, but its shaping up to be great.

While I missed you at Graspop, a lot of the press folk in attendance indicated you were one of the best bands of the fest. Are you aiming to get on the road a bit and do proper tours worldwide?
Chris Naughton: The band is looking to undertake some touring to support the new album in 2013, so we will be planning that quite soon. We are also playing at Damnation Festival in November and have recently booked to play Hammerfest V in March 2013, so we have a good few things on the horizon. For now we will be getting into the rehearsal room to polish up on the new album songs, so we can bring some of those out in November.

OK, final question. Man City or United?
Chris Naughton: Huddersfield Town! But if you are a Manc, then it’s the done thing to support City, as historically to support United has been seen to be a ‘glory supporter’. So City.

** Visit and Like Winterfylleth on Facebook.

** Winterfylleth’s new album, The Threnody of Triumph, is out now on Candlelight Records. It’s available HERE. Or, you can search out the various Tsatthoggua albums. If you have a weird band name fetish, of course.

GIVEAWAY: Flourishing Complete Digital Discog + Tee

By: adem Posted in: contest, featured, heavy tuesdays On: Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

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Since Brooklyn trio Flourishing is releasing the digital version of its latest 3-song EP, Intersubjectivity, via The Path Less Traveled today we figured it would be a good opportunity to give some stuff away to mark the occasion.

And by “some stuff,” we mean the band’s entire digital discography, plus a killer T-shirt. Musically the lucky giveaway winner will receive:

A Momentary Sense of the Immediate World EP (2010)
The Sum of All Fossils (2011)
Intersubjectivity EP (2012)

Intersubjectivity is three songs (twenty-plus minutes) of seriously noise-damaged death metal. In fact, this is so tweaked and fucked up at times—think Godlfesh’s urban blight of industrial noise and ambient fuckery—that we’re not sure it really much fits into the whole death metal paradigm. Other times, though, there’s no denying the incendiary death metal violence inherent in the music. Let’s just say it’s not by-the-books DM and leave it at that.

And that’s perhaps the most engaging thing about it. There’s a sense of experimentalism about the almost psychedelic arrangements that keeps the tunes from feeling stagnant. There’s never any loss of intensity, even when the band flies off on some tangent. Oh hell, just go listen to it for yourself here.

As for the T-shirt that’s up for grabs, well, man, what can we tell you about that? Um, it’s brand new! And look how reddish-maroon it is! Red is the new black we hear.

So, now we get down to the details as to how you can make all this good stuff your very own. First you have to send an email here with something clever like “Flourishing Decibel Giveaway” as the subject. And in the body of the email, it wouldn’t hurt to put a friendly message in there to the fine folks at The Path Less Traveled along with your contact details. One lucky winner will be chosen at random and notified shortly thereafter. You have exactly nothing to lose by entering this, so do it now.

Laina Dawes’ Soundtrack to Your Cultural Emanicipation

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, lists On: Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

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The forthcoming What Are You Doing Here: A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal is such an exquisitely rendered, inspiring melange of memoir, cultural criticism, extreme music history, and fiery, righteous polemic it only seemed natural to offer up some Deci-space to author Laina Dawes for a list of five albums the spurred on her musical/intellectual evolution. Predictably, Dawes’ exegesis is both entertaining and edifying…

1. Kiss, Double Platinum (1978)

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I loved that horrible made-for-TV movie KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. All I can remember — I was seven — was that they were scary and that excited me. For my eighth birthday I requested and received their greatest hits double-vinyl, Double Platinum, and I loved it to death. C’mon, “Deuce” was the shit back then! Between my older sister and I, over the years we eventually obtained all of their solo albums, but I was drawn to “Space” Ace Frehley’s one because I liked the guitar work — and it was sonically harder than the schlock found on the other solo albums. A few years ago a fellow music journalist sent me some rare solo stuff that Frehley had done right after he left KISS and it was incredible — dirty, bluesy, groove-oriented hard rock that was ten times better than what the band was producing.

2. Judas Priest, Screaming for Vengeance (1982)

Growing up in rural Eastern Ontario, we didn’t have — and my parents still do not have — cable TV. When I was eleven or twelve, I would go to sleep at 9:30 on a Friday night, get up at midnight and if the reception was good enough, watch this Canadian music program, The New Music on one of the few channels we could get. The show was incredible by today’s standards, as it only focused on ‘alternative’ music: the underground punk scene, new wave, heavy metal and later, rap. I discovered Black Flag, X, Agnostic Front, and during one episode they showed snippets of Judas Priest’s ‘new’ video, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin.’” I was immediately hooked on the loudness, the leather, K.K Downing, the flashing lights and Rob Halford’s vocals, who sang like I had never heard a singer sing before.

After sourcing what album the song came from via Circus Magazine, I was able to save up enough of my allowance to buy Screaming for Vengeance on vinyl. One of my older brothers is an artist, and he drew the cover art, I colored it in and I think I put it on my bedroom wall — why we did this makes no sense to me now, but we lived way out in the country so I guess we were bored! I now know there are better albums, such as Sad Wings of Destiny, but that album was the one that made me a lifelong Priest fan and really turned me onto harder stuff. And you can’t beat the Halfords’s unhinged wailing on the title track.

Kylesa’s Laura Pleasants’ track-by-track preview of “From the Vaults, Vol. 1″

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, November 12th, 2012

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On November 16th, Savannah sludge/metal/psych/punk/other band Kylesa will release From the Vaults Vol. 1 through Season of Mist. It’s been two years since the release of Spiral Shadow, and given you’ll will have to wait until the spring for a follow-up, those of you jonesing for a fix of heavy-and-trippy should check out this out.

Featuring the more obscure moments of the Kylesa canon, From the Vaults Vol. 1 is the first in what will be a meticulously curated series of releases that should not only appeal to avowed completists, but also to neophytes wanting a taste of what the band’s genre-warping sound is all about.


You can pre-order From the Vaults Vol. 1 HERE

Here’s guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants’ track-by-track take on the release:

STREAMING: Hell Militia “Deus Irae”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, November 12th, 2012

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France’s Hell Militia have been kicking (unfortunate) Euro ass since the early aughts, so it stands to reason there’s a “sizeable” contingent of believers into the group’s three full-length albums, the most recent of which is Jacob’s Ladder on the Season of Mist label.

Jacob’s Ladder reveals the inner side of Hell Militia,” says the non-corpsepainted Hell Militia in a prepared statement. “Violent and dissonant, urban and religious, the new Hell Militia is a mix of old-school black metal and modern black metal.” And they’re pretty on-target with that blurb. Jacob’s Ladder has enough of the Mütiilation’s never-stop-the-madness stuff combined with the high concept black of homeland homies Deathspell Omega or Blut Aus Nord to compete with the best of ‘em. The album strikes a blasphemous balance. Even the album art is “different” yet “different”. Although Season of Mist would have you believe there’s “accessible songwriting” to be found on Hell Militia’s third full-length, it’s not of the Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth approach. It’s dissonant, angular, and altogether conceived from a different astral (possibly nefarious) plane. What else would you expect from dudes who moonlighted in Mütiilation and the ultra-caustic Arkhon Infaustus?

Recorded at SOS Studios in Germany—also home to alt-black sensation Secrets of the Moon—Jacob’s Ladder‘s brutal art is best displayed on near album’s end track, “Deus Irae”. Normally, we would’ve suggested a track 1 or track 2 pull, as that’s where the gems are posited for prime indoctrination, but with Hell Militia it’s all backward. Like life. So, imbibe in Hell Militia’s roaring hate. Better to do it now before the “pig” comes again.

** Hell Militia’s new album, Jacob’s Ladder, is out November 16th on Season of Mist underground imprint Underground Activists. It’s available HERE, or you can go get that Gatling gun replica you’ve been fawning over recently. Now, that’s some real “war metal”.

The Lazarus Pit: Believer’s Sanity Obscure

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, lazarus pit, listen On: Friday, November 9th, 2012

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Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love; stuff that’s essential listening that you’ve probably never heard of; stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for. This week, we have, by special request of The Editor in Chief, the Jesus thrashing madness of Believer’s Sanity Obscure (REX Records).

I hope you guys like your thrash metal with some ultra technicality, because Believer make Dark Angel look like Hirax. Emerging from the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania, as a melodic metal outfit in the mid-80s, the brainchild of drummer Joey Daub and guitarist-vocalist Kurt Bachman (the only two constant members of the band), they quickly took their place at the forefront of the Christian metal scene by virtue of being not terrible. They also had crossover potential which led to them hooking up with Road Runner – despised their confirmed beliefs and Bible-based lyrics, they weren’t as preachy as groups like Sacred Warrior or Messiah. Plus, they could seriously shred.

Let’s be honest here – killer music will get metalheads to overlook just about anything, whether it’s religious views they disagree with or, you know, burning down churches and killing someone in cold blood. Believer approached their music with a level of inventiveness, ambition, and experimentation matched only by peers like Anacrusis and the aforementioned Dark Angel. Although their debut, Extraction from Mortality, had some pretty rad thrash going on, it wasn’t until their sophomore effort, 1990’s Sanity Obscure, that they started twisting time signatures like steel-plated balloon animals. Their highly complex approach wasn’t nearly as catchy as bands like Metallica or Megadeth (hence their comparative lack of success), but they pull it off with gusto.

It’s apparent immediately that the listener is in for something different, considering that this starts with the sounds of a music box dissolving into discord. Then the thrash starts, but it’s pretty idiosyncratic – both guitars playing riffs that almost contradict each other with a ferocity that rivals death metal’s. Apparently this song inspired the music for a level from the videogame Doom, which is pretty novel. “Wisdom’s Call” brings in some arpeggio runs before kicking ass, while “Nonpoint” mixes melody with stop-start rhythms. Subsequent tracks follow along the same lines, with one notable exception, which is, ironically, probably their most lasting legacy: “Dies Irae (Day of Wrath).” This particular tune is one of the earliest recorded examples of symphonic metal, using orchestral parts and operatic female vocals that presaged both Nightwish and S&M. It’s unlike anything else on the record, or really anything else at the time, and it alone would cement this album’s importance even if nothing else did.

Believer would go on to release one more record, which went even more experimental, before going on hiatus for a decade or so. They returned with a couple, somewhat strange (see this magazine’s reviews) records, and they’re still a going concern. Whether it’s their Christian connections or arriving a little too late in the thrash cycle to gain attention, though, they just never really gained the status as innovators that they deserve. It’s insane that they’ve been obscure for this long – don’t miss out on this classic.

Official site

Buy it here!

Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack: OK’s Lost Empires

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews On: Friday, November 9th, 2012

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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.

This summer, a new Oklahoman sextet smeared their punked-up melodeath into the shape of a six-song, sub-23-minute EP.  Lost Empires’ blend of spacious riffing, hardcore sneer, and florid keyboard accents subtly recall Year of Our Lord’s similarly colorful meanderings on the band’s debut recording, Death and Evil Beasts.  At this moment, they are out touring the States, so head on over to their Facebook or Bandcamp pages to find out if they’re coming through your area.  And while you’re there, get a listen to (honestly, the stronger) half of the EP.  But first, find out what Lost Empires are all about by reading guitarist Brad Blanco’s thoughts on the band’s origins, personality, distaste for female circumcision.

Who are Lost Empires, and how did the band come together?

Lost Empires are from Norman, Oklahoma and consist of Brandon Davis on vocals, Ryan Kilby on lead guitar, Brad Blanco on rhythm guitar, Luke Enterline on bass guitar, Abe Hartley on keyboards, and Jeremy Hodson on drums.  LE started during the winter of 2010-2011. Our bassist Luke had approached me saying he had found a guitarist and they wanted to start playing some metal. So Luke, Kilby and I got it going, but Luke founded the band.  Funny story: I was unloading my gear to jam with them for the first time and I could hear Kilby shredding from outside the house, so I knew it was going to be good!! Then we got Abe and Jeremy on board, and finally Brandon stepped up to complete the band doing vocals.

How did the EP come about? Are these songs that have been around a while, or were they written specifically with a release in mind?

We were talking about what we wanted to do for a release, full length or EP. As most folks know, recording costs a lot of money, so to get the best bang for our buck we decided on an EP. Hopefully that way the EP would get some folks attention and we could hit the road sooner.  Basically we wanted to start playing shows as soon as we could so we needed a release to support; [an] EP just made sense as the first release.

What was the recording process like for these tracks?

We started by doing pre-production at our practice space to a click track, then once we got the songs down the way we liked them we took our riffs to Watershed Studios in Enid, Oklahoma. Our good friend Barry Johnston was our engineer while our drummer Jeremy was his assistant throughout the tracking.  Once everything was edited, the songs were sent to punk legend Stephen Egerton at Armstrong Studios in Tulsa, Oklahoma to be mixed and mastered.  We wrote a few little things in the studio, but the majority of the EP was already written when we went in to track.

Can you give a track-by-track commentary on what you think/feel about these songs, where they come from and how they turned out?

            “Black Sails”: Kilby wrote this song, he had it I think before we started jamming as a band.  I like this song because it has a kind of deep rich riffing to it. Not super technical or fast, but just solid riffs with some cool guitar harmonies at the end.

            “Life Lessons”: Another Kilby banger, I helped him with some riffs that finished the song out.  This songs starts out in an epic build up which I personally think is one of the best embodiments of what LE sounds like.  When we were finishing this song, it was like we took all the best parts of all the different genres of metal out there and cherry picked what we liked the best and wrote a song.  That’s what we’re trying to do with LE, reinvent the wheel.  Take all the classic, quality and passionate traits from metal that we love and turn that into our own blend of metal.

            “Machete”: Jeremy, our drummer, wrote this song. He has such an original style to the way he writes music, drums or guitar and it really shows on this track.  This song is also very fun to play live.  Machete has our strongest lyrical theme to it also, the lyrics point to the massive suffering caused around the world by forced female circumcision. If you don’t know anything about this you should read up on it because it is especially heinous and demands global attention.

            “Power Goat”: I wrote this song and it is really fun to play live! We needed a “power” song, something that came off super full and saturated live and with thrashy verses, it just rips to play. It is essentially a punk song dipped in drop C tuning.

            “Tower or Flies”: This was the first LE song to come to fruition. Once we started jamming, I was messing around with these riffs and we kept working it until we had this speed demon of a song with this full swanky middle part and a ripping guitar solo near the end. Definitely my favorite song to play live, hands down.

            “Unkindness of Ravens”: This one was a collaboration between Jeremy and I.  This is one of those songs like “Life Lessons,” where we tried to take all the good stuff that we liked from metal and turn that into a new song.  It starts out with this pretty piano part, then blasts into a sort of melodic death riff, then it just turns into a LE song. I remember this song being especially difficult to record for some reason.

That artwork is freaking cool. This is not a question. Just a fact. Respond if you want.

Yes it is, thank you. Our dear and talented friend John “Pino” Hart did this for us. I’ve always been amazed with John’s work and he is insanely talented. You can check out some of his work at http://pinoretread77.deviantart.com/

What music/art/etc. is having an impact on Lost Empires right now?

Right now a bunch of the dudes are in Austin at Fun Fun Fun Fest and I know they will be catching Kvelertak’s set. This band is from Norway and kicks so much ass.  We’ve been listening to a lot of that (Kverlertak) and the new Propagandhi and The Sword just came out so those are high in the rotation also.  We really have quite an eclectic taste in music as far as our individual tastes are concerned.  I like a lot of old country, some of the guys hate it. In my opinion a good song is a good song, and that transcends genres.

What is non-musical life like for LE members?

Non musical life for LE consists of doing a bunch of crap we hate. (Just kidding, work!)  I make maps for an oil and gas land broker and wait tables on the weekend; Kilby works at a call center; Luke is a pharmacist tech; Jeremy does land surveying; Abe is a bartender; and Brandon does something creepy at a hospital.  We serve our time, pay our bills and get together twice a week to write. We go out and drink, hang with our friends and family, check out bands at shows and Thunder the fuck up for Thunder basketball!!!

What are you looking forward to with the band?

I really would like to travel and meet as many people as possible. I love the dudes I write with and I’m looking forward to hitting the road and spreading the good word.  Essentially, traveling and playing as many shows as possible is what we want to do.  Buy us a beer when you see us and let’s talk basketball!

PAY ATTENTION, THERE WILL BE A QUIZ. SAY “HEY” TO AUROCH

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, listen On: Thursday, November 8th, 2012

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In the boundless quest to distinguish one’s band from metal’s ever-growing pack, comes another new sub-genre, given birth by Vancouver’s Auroch. Referring to themselves as “Lovecraftian death metal,” the trio is set to release their debut full-length From Forgotten Worlds via Poland’s Hellthrasher Productions. The band’s debut, which follows a spate of five demos that date back to 2008, was actually self-released earlier this year before being snatched up by the Polish label and contains eight songs of the aforementioned Lovecraftian metal. We’ve provided you with a couple of tracks from the album below with the hopes that you’ll give the tunes a whirl, crack your heads open and tell us, “Just what is Lovecraftian death metal?”

Wanna buy? Go here or here

Want more info? Go here

If you find yourself in the area and so moved, check out one of the band’s rare live appearances:
Nov 10 - Logan’s Pub @ Victoria, BC w/ Dire Omen, Burialkult, Acolytes ov Impurity
April 6/2013 - ‘Torment in Fire Metal Fest II’ @ The New Black Centre for Music and Art – Calgary, AB w/ Mystifier + more

[photo credit: Max Montesi]

Decibrity Playlist: Aaron Stainthorp​e (My Dying Bride) (Part 1)

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, November 8th, 2012

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We’ve been lucky enough to have the likes of Shane Embury, Greg Mackintosh and Anders Nyström tell us about records that related in some way to each of their bands’ studio albums. This time around, Aaron Stainthorpe (that’s him on the far right) combed through My Dying Bride’s discography (including the quintet’s eleventh and latest, A Map Of All Our Failures) to tell us about a record he was listening to while writing/recording each one. As he described, “They have not necessarily influenced the sound of our recording, but they’ve made life in the music world very much worth living and I thank them all for that.”

You can read the first half of Aaron’s picks below while listening along here. We also streamed four songs from Map last month, which you can check out here.

As The Flower Withers (1992) :: Bathory’s Under The Sign Of The Black Mark
This was their third album and a masterpiece, in my opinion, of extreme music. As black as hell and as mean as strangling puppies, it took hold of me and has virtually never been off my playlist since! A bloody classic!

Turn Loose The Swans (1993) :: Celtic Frost’s Into The Pandemonium
With a crossover of gothic/doom and death metal as well as swathes of the avant-garde, the Swiss trio wasn’t afraid to break with tradition on this opus, going against all popular music at the time. It was a huge hit with fans of all things dark.

The Angel And The Dark River (1995) :: Dead Can Dance’s The Serpent’s Egg
I’ve loved this outfit for years and this is still the all-time best for me. It has all the elements you’d expect from them all wrapped up in one very neat bundle. If you don’t own this LP, you have not properly understood music!

Like Gods Of The Sun (1996) :: Candlemass’s Nightfall
THE greatest doom LP of all time. A classic and without doubt an influence on me both musically and personally and with hand on heart I can admit that I don’t think My Dying Bride would be here today if this record didn’t exist!

34.788%…Complete (1998) :: Swans’ White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity
It’s abstract, noisy, weird and beautiful and I love it to death. Gira has an amazing voice and his provocative delivery and twisted lyrics blend perfectly with the layers of cascading music that make up such a passionate LP.

*Stay tuned for the second half of Aaron’s picks next week!

**Order a copy of A Map Of All Our Failures here.

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

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)

v.03/170 (Farsot) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

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How instrumental was the faux-documentary/film The Hellstrom Chronicle to the making of Insects?
v.03/170: The film wasn’t that essential on our musical concept, but it surely influenced the overall lyrical concept on Insects. Its abysmal mood and the menacing close-ups of actually small creatures give a special kind of impression which helped to form pictures in mind about a matter which is relatively unusual reason for a threat. But threatening is fear and can release existential fears. And this is essential for our lyrics and music at all.

Was Insects first framed with music or did the lyrical direction come first? Curious which informed which as it pertains to the album.
v.03/170: For Insects we started—in difference to IIII—with writing the music. But in early process we started to develop a thematic carpet, to have a hint what the music should sound like. We intended to get some apocalyptic atmosphere, which could be combined with different lyrical themes. The one it finally became rose, out of the nearly finished instrumental structures.

I think Insects is a massive improvement over IIII. It’s more nuanced. The music has impact. Did you seek to improve or was it evolution of skill taking place?
v.03/170: Well, that’s not that easy to say. As a musician you will always try to improve your skills. But it’s not just about forthcoming in handling your instrument, but also the further development of mind. So during the writing process of Insects our musical taste has widen a lot which is a huge influence on everyone’s contribution to this album. So mental evolution is what makes us go ahead. Everything else would be stagnation.

The riffs on Insects are massive. It’s sort of the perfect storm of cool/different riffs, the right tones, and riff placement. I gather special attention was made to riffs, guitar tones, and dynamics.
v.03/170: Do you play the guitar yourself? [Laughs] Everyone who talked to us noticed different advancements. Be it drums, bass, vocals or even guitars. So, I suppose with a closer look on each instrument itself you will see that there was an overall improvement of every single part and in unity of course. The band itself got stronger by growing together.

How important are theme repetition, contrast, and control to Farsot’s music making?
v.03/170: The elements you mention are all essential for our music. The squeamish application and aimed placement are an indispensable part of our tracks. The weighting is more intuitive than calculated, but at all each of those elements needs the other ones to unfurl its full effect. Just for example: with a silence before, a loud part seems much louder.

I feel like Insects is near-perfectly edited. Was there a lot of trim work during the compositional phase?
v.03/170: It has more than one cause that the successor of IIII needed about four years to be released. We’re very self-critical about our work and just want to release an album when we’re really convinced about it. So, there’s a permanent reviewing of the songs, we’ve tested many of them live-suitability before recording and that includes a permanent reviewing and changing of structures or even the trim work you mentioned. So, the short and only answer can be: Yes!

I really like how the album progresses as a collection of songs. It can (and should) be experienced as a whole or as individual songs. “The Vermilion Trail”, “Empyrean”, and “Like Flakes of Rust” could be representative of Insects as standalone tracks. Can you comment on album progression and individual song diversity?
v.03/170: Our first thought when writing an album is the flow of all songs and some kind of continuous thread running through. But this time, different to its predecessor, the songs of Insects weren’t meant as a single song with some splitting markers between. Each song should stand for itself and should have a unique character, a different musical proposition, but at the end when listened to in combination the borders should melt and the album should be recognized as a unit.

I hear a lot of Mayhem (vocals) and Enslaved (rhythms, chord progressions) on Insects. Were certain songs meant to play homage to the Norwegians or happy accidents? I’m referring directly to “Perdition” and “Empyrean”, respectively.
v.03/170: It’s a big compliment to be compared with such great artists like Mayhem and Enslaved, but the parallels happened more or less by chance. We won’t ever deny the influence those artists had to our musical taste and maybe also into our play itself, but we’re no cover band and also don’t try to copy riffs or even complete passages consciously. But if during writing process of a song some part sounds like being in the veins of some greater act and fits perfectly to our concept, we surely won’t force avoiding the parallels. We will more try to give it a suit which fits to our sound.

Two of the album’s standout tracks are instrumentals: “7” and “Somnolent”. Are they meant to be eyes of the storm, so to speak? “7”, in particular, is wonderfully tranquil, which, in many respects, is opposed to the caustic approach of its direct neighbors.
v.03/170: There’re many ways to interpret the meaning of those instrumental parts. The one you speak about is just one. Stay open for more possibilities—maybe in the context of the lyrics… Who knows?

The ending to “The Vermilion Trail” is brilliant. The theme/riff repetition/alternating percussive patterns, the Hellstrom narration clip and then the bass-heavy noise coda have an apocalyptic aura to them. That you segue “The Vermilion Trail” into the monolithic front-piece to “Withdrawl” is goddamn icing on the sonic cake.
v.03/170: Well… Thanks. The end of “The Vermilion Trail” used to be completely different to what it’s now. It was one of the first tracks that was completed, but the end was always an unloved child, which we were never really happy about. It had some ‘Satyriconesque’ riffing and wouldn’t fit to the rest of the album. But we recorded it on our first studio sessions. When we came back to finish the recordings, we told the engineer to throw away the end and we played a loop of the rocking part instead and gave him the droning samples, etc. He looked at us with huge eyes and asked us if we were really sure about that. What you tell us here shows up. That it was the right decision.

What do you want people to take away from listening to Insects?
v.03/170: At first, we want everybody to take a time-out from life, daily routine and thoughts. Man shall realize that there’s different things than just hurrying from one date to the next. One should take time to dive into a deep complex matter, which doesn’t just have to consist in material ways. On the other hand he should always be aware of thinking to be the main species on this planet. There’s always something that’s bigger and mightier than oneself. That’s not to [be] interpreted in some religious or spiritual way.

A friend of mine commented on the production. Actually, how great it is. It’s warm, dense, yet there’s a surprising amount of clarity. Compared to IIII, it’s is huge step forward. What went into the recording, mixing, and mastering? Did you have “example” recordings for reference points?
v.03/170: You may understand this as a caesura to IIII, whose production was cold and clear with a kind of mystical density. We’ve gone a step away from the black metal typical type of sound, so in music as well as in the way to represent it. We had a clear view in mind to keep it dry and direct, no distant instruments or vocals—a more intimate atmosphere, but still with the ability to lose oneself within the music. There were no examples at all, but we knew the previous works of our engineer, Markus Stock, and with a bit of own experience in recording we got a result which we’re pleased with.

It seems like Farsot thrives on minimalism. From the obscure band photos to the sparse text inside IIII and Insects is the band more from the ‘music do the talking’ school or is it a reaction to the overabundance of hyperbole in metal? Black metal, in particular.
v.03/170: Maybe it’s a bit of both. We want that people first listen to music. We want to show them, that individuals don’t count in our band, but the band at all as a unit. We never dealt with signs, cliches, big meanings or occult spiritualism. We leave that up to others, who are really in that matter. We’re definitely too reasonable for such themes.

It’s my personal opinion that while Farsot borrows elements of forebears—some more noticeable than others—you’ve crafted the quintessential black metal album. Maybe the most important black metal album in the last 10 years. It pretends nothing. Rather, it portends only what the listener is able to conjure during and after exposure. That’s dastardly evil, right there.
v.03/170: Thanks a lot. I suppose, it’s not a secret but almost forgotten, that there’s much power in imagination which we unlearn to use more and more. Watching a movie presents us everything clear to screen, but reading a book can build worlds in your head and lets you forget that there are letters. Maybe that’s a step back which we shouldn’t miss to take—whether in the world of written word neither in music. Just trying to leave the mind blank that there’s room for recreation.

** Visit and like Farsot on Facebook.