Thursday, August 30, 2018

Full Length Review: THE ETERNAL Waiting For The Endless Dawn (Inverse Records) by James K Blaylock

Waiting For The Endless Dawn
Place of origin: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Genre: Gothic metal
Produced and mixed by Mark Kelson and Richie Poate
Engineered by Mark Kelson, Kelsonic Studios, Melbourne, Australia
Additional Engineering by Richie Poate and Peter ‘Reggie’ Bowman
Mastered by Joseph Carra, Crystal Mastering, Melbourne, Australia
Cover art by Bairon Rivera for Barnel Photography
Release date: August 17, 2018
The Australian band The Eternal's sixth album "Waiting For The Endless Dawn" reminds me of Dream Theater on steroids, but upon further inspection I realized that these guys are somewhat superior to even their sound. They definitely have a cognitive formular. Obviously they've been pulling from that same ether for some time now, being that they've been a solid group with a 15 year rocking career. Rightfully so they have a very tight-knit soundscape, which effortlessly flows. Which brings me to their sweeping lyrics. It feels like you're caught in the undertow of a wonderfully massive current, but you barely even notice since it's so serene there. With brilliant songs that span up to 20 minutes in length it's easy to get lost therein. Fortunately enough towards the end they eagerly throw you a lifeline to bring you back in to shoreline. Overall making the art of drowning somehow pristine and beautiful. There you have it The Good The Bad and The Ugly. -James K Blaylock

Lineup:
Mark Kelson: Guitar, vocals, mandolin, lap steel
Richie Poate: Guitar
Martin Powell: Keyboards
Dave Langlands: Bass
Marty O’Shea: Drums
Mikko Kotamäki: Growling vocals on 'In The Lilac Dusk'
Emily Saaen: Additional vocals
Erica Kennedy: Violin

Track list:
1. The Wound
2. Rise From Agony
3. A Cold Day To Face My Failure
4. I Lie In Wait
5. Don't Believe Anymore
6. In The Lilac Dusk
7. Waiting For The Endless Dawn



Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Interview with Gualter of KARSERON by Dave Wolff

Interview with Gualter of KARSERON

Describe the history of the band from the beginning, and how long the current lineup has been together.
Hell-o Dave and everyone at Autoeroticasphyxium Zine. Well, to keep a very, very long story as short as possible: we started back 1992 with me (Gualter) on Guitars and Rui Frade on Drums. We tried a lot of different people over the years and it was never easy to find the right persons (coming from a small town with not that much people into Metal). For a couple of years we worked as a three piece, with Custódio playing Bass and me also doing vocals, until 1995 when we found a second guitar player (Nelson). Unfortunately life tends to get in the way of the way we plan things and in the early 2000’s Nelson and Rui left the band. We did manage to find replacements for a short period of time, most noticeably with Pika on second guitar (being a six piece until 2004) and in 2004 we changed the lineup again: Lois became our lead singer. This was the first time we resorted to a drum machine to keep the band going and play live. We also tried a couple of drummers throughout the years but things didn’t work out. Our last noticeable lineup change (not counting the drummers) was back in 2010, when Custódio left the band due to the increased work load with his other band and Nuno came aboard. Nuno had already played with us before in a few gigs that Custódio couldn’t. Even with all these changes, we kept playing live regularly and working on music. So Pika has been with the band for 18 years, Lois for 14 and Nuno for 8.

Describe the meaning of the term Eborae Death Metal and how it’s associated with the band.
“Eborae” is a Latin word roughly meaning “From Ebora” (Latin name given to our home town by the Romans was Ebora Liberalitas Julia”. This is a small town with all the benefits and hardships that come with it. We do believe that there’s a significant impact on us as a band that we faced throughout the years, even if not directly in our music, on us as individuals. It’s a place filled with history, dating back to the Neolithic period. A lot of different cultures made this place their home, with a strong Lusitanian, Roman, Visigoth, Arab and Christian presence throughout the centuries, most visible today in some monuments. During the late XVI century it was one of the most important places in Portugal, a hub for Culture and Arts. Unfortunately this “old glory” faded in the last centuries, and there’s always a feeling of “what we were and what we become”. Lack of employment, a bit of geographical isolation and the feeling of a dismal future and things present even today. This becomes part of our character as individuals and as a result, of our music. So it made some sense to us that we would describe our music as our town: a mix of influences and feelings, the urge to endure against every circumstance even if will little hope for better days.

How much research did the band do the origins of Eborae? Why was this research important to you?
Actually, this is something we don’t have to research, it’s an almost constant presence in everyday life. Besides the visible legacy these cultures left, most businesses do adopt or incorporate part of this History into their names (from restaurants to shops, to cultural associations and even some industry) and we learn about it in school. Plus, since 1986 it’s a Unesco World Heritage. As you can imagine, that was a big deal, not only locally but nationwide. Over the years a lot of books and TV documentaries have been produced about the town’s history. Every time there’s some construction/renovation done, they find something with archeological interest. It remember as a kid hearing order people say “there are countless towns beneath this town”. So you are kinda “force fed” this knowledge of myths and historical accuracy of a glorious past which clash with the “now”.
There’s a certain melancholy when you are in your teen years, have this knowledge of the past and look into the future with no hope. Lack of jobs, isolation (both physical in terms of accesses and political regarding investment of public funds), even some prejudice towards stuff like long hair and Metal does cause a big impact you you. We are almost just a product of the environment we grew up in. That played a big part in starting Karseron back in 1992 and staying firm against every curved ball we had to deal throughout the years.

What documentaries about Eborae would you recommend people watch to know more?
I believe the most known ones will be from Prof. José Hermano Saraiva, a Portuguese historian who had over the years countless programs on national TV about Portugal’s history. Although he was known to “romanticize” History a lot, he was a big reference for anyone with an interest in History. Here’s a few:

How well known is José Hermano Saraiva as a historian? In what ways is he known to “romanticize” history? Despite those claims of romanticism, how accurate is his research?
He was most likely the best known historian of the last forty years, especially for the common Portuguese. He was also a lawyer and the Minister of Education during the Dictatorship and is said to order a “strong hand” against the 1968 student riots. If we forget that past, most academics have two strong arguments against him: One would be that he favored poetry over facts, speaking to the common man and not to the scholars; the other would be the lack of innovation: some look at him as a parrot, who recited what others had found out, without adding any real knowledge.
For me, he was an eloquent character who made me want to know more, and I’m pretty sure most of the new historians in this country developed a taste for that subject because of him. It’s always good to remember that even past events aren’t that “set in stone”, everyday new discoveries and technologies shed a new light on the past: what always remains is the myths and legends that awake our passions. “Truth” is a very funny and volatile thing… 

While exchanging emails you said the band doesn’t have a drummer and relies instead on programming and multi-track recording.
Yes, that’s true. When we first lost our drummer in 2004 we resorted to a drum machine just to keep rehearsals going and to be able to do some live shows we had already planned. It was supposed to be a temporary solution but it worked great and just dragged itself… Since then we had two different drummers (about three years each), but on the long run things didn’t work out. Both Jef and Miro are excellent drummers but they had different views than the rest of the band, so we parted ways. After Miro left in 2013, the four of us sat down and came to the realization that “if it ain’t broken…” We have been friends for a long time (besides playing together), all share the same vision regarding the band, and even live work better this way. Doesn’t mean that having a drummer is out of the question but it’s not something we lose sleep over. I program around 80/90% of the drums and play the rest on an electronic kit, just to give it a more “humane feeling”. Live we are now using a multi-track recorder (it’s actually the third one) so we can adjust on the fly individual drum levels and Eq.
Some people do give us crap about not having a drummer (especially live), but it has worked in our favor: less stuff to carry, less time setting up, always a great drum sound and overall we sound tighter.

How did the band’s approach to with drum programming help the material on your latest full length Nail Your God Down? What equipment did you use recording the songs in the studio?
On one hand it did solve a budget issue studio wise: not having to record a real drum kit enabled us to “home record” and to take our time with the recording/mixing process. It also helped with composing, as we did a few “demos” of the songs, with different drum patterns and decided what fit best. Although we cannot discard the input our previous drummers had in some of the songs, especially in the small details. Throughout the years we’ve been investing in studio gear, nothing very high end but good enough to have a decent sound. We used Cubase 6 and 8 as DAW, Superior Drummer 2 and an Alesis kit for the drums. For guitars we used a Peavey Ultra 120 Tube Head and the classic SM57 and a Boss Gt-8 and a GT-6B for bass. Vocals were done using two AKG condensers (one large diagram and a small one). Some other rack gear (preamps and compressors) and some plugins, mainly freeware stuff. We tried to keep processing to a minimal, much of what you hear is just some Eq. and my shortcomings as a studio engineer. It was also a learning experience and I’m sure our next recording will be better.

You told me via email there was a twelve year gap between your 2005 release Krux Krucis and Nail Your God Down. Did you play in other bands from your native Portugal during that time?
Well, that gap in recordings was due in part to having two different drummers, having them learn some songs we already had in the works and trying to figure out our options regarding recording possibilities. We kept rehearsing, writing new music and playing live, so we never had a break with the band’s work. Custódio (our previous bass player) recorded and toured with PROCESS OF GUILT, Pika and Nuno are professional musicians (most of their work is live and outside the Metal genre) and Lois has had some Electronic music projects and DJing. As for me, I recorded bass and vocals for the last three ALASTOR records (“Demon Attack” (2011), “From the Hellish Abyss” (2013) and the recent released “The Dark Tower” (2018)).

Which albums by Process Of Guilt did Custódio appear on, and how often has he toured with them? Is he still working with them?
They have the same-lineup since the beginning, so Custodio has recorded every of their releases. I think they do about a Tour a year, besides individual concerts. It was this workload that made us part ways.

How many bands has Pika and Nuno been involved in besides Karseron?
Nuno plays in the Academic Band of the University of Evora and also has a very active band called “Bossa Morna”. I know that he also does some work as a guest musician now and then. Pika has one cover band at the moment and also does some session work.

Name some of the electronic projects Lois has worked on and where they can be streamed at social media.
His main project was called “Zylth Project” but he ended it early this year, after twelve years. You can check it at https://www.facebook.com/zylthprojekt30388/. He also has/had another one with Pika called “Panzer Vector”, on a more Industrial vibe. I and he have also started a collaboration together, more of a Martial/Industrial/Spoken Word but it’s still too soon to publish any work.

How were the Alastor releases you appeared on received by fans and the underground press? How much more material does this band have out?
Alastor is one of the side-projects of Decayed’s founder J.A. and the band has released six full-lengths as well as some EPs. I worked on the last three and also played live on the only show so far (alongside Necrodeath and Witchburner back in 2007). Reviews by media and reception by fans has been great, even if we are talking about a gender that’s not that popular anymore (Blackened Thrash). Some people love the 80’s vibe, others do say that “we aren’t re-inventing the wheel”, ah ah. It would be nice to have a little more exposure but that’s hard, not only because J.A. is always busy with Decayed and his million other projects, but also because the current drummer lives in Switzerland… BTW, we already a new album almost done and I expect it will see the light of day in early 2019.

Did working in those other bands give you additional experience that helped you work together in Karseron?
Of course, as the old saying: “Practice makes perfection”. Besides giving and requiring from us more technical proficiency (making us step outside our comfort zone) it also adds some “color” to our music as we do “borrow” some ideas that usually aren’t that common within Death Metal. On the other hand it also serves as a sort of “creative outlet” for things that do not actually fit within Karseron.

How advantageous to the band is recording at a home studio instead of a professional studio? Where is your home studio located? Do you always record independently or do you sometimes have producers, mixers or engineers visit?
Well, the most obvious advantage was budget: once the initial investment was done, recording at our home studio just costs us time. Second was time-wise: we manage to take our time in getting things done without having to worry that any re-tracking would cost us and the studio more money. That also ends up making for a more relaxed work environment, once you know that you don’t have to settle for an “almost perfect” take in order to save money/ studio time. But that benefit does work as a downside too: you tend to “overwork” things, being recording 10 different guitars or spending a week or a month just choosing your snare sound…
Our main studio is in Sintra, since I’ve relocated in 2005 due to professional/ personal reasons and was lucky enough to be able to have a dedicated room within my house just for that. It’s not really open to other bands, besides our personal projects.
This was the first time that we recorded on our own without any outside interference (not counting our rehearsal released back in 94 and the 2003 “best of”). In the past, we usually went into studios that we could afford and that granted us two things: a good sound and some liberty when it came to production. The idea of a producer always sounded a bit strange to us: we don’t care if “Riff A” would sound better with “Riff C” than with “Riff B” or if we should play said riffs x or y times: it may sound weird but we think of our songs as things that do tend to have a life of their own and kinda write themselves. Sometimes we work on a song for months and we are all happy with it and one day we just play it different. And we realize that an “ok” song we had just became “great” (to our ears at least). I know that maybe a producer could point that out to us in the beginning and maybe we are just stubborn, but this is the way that feels natural to us…
We have worked with professional studios and engineers/ mixers in the past that we thought were good and could afford. None of them had any experience recording Metal at all and that turned out to be a plus for us (we were the only Death Metal band for a long time in our town and nearby). We had total creative control and just relied on the engineers to transpose our vision into a great sounding recording. There have been some interest from people outside the band in working with us recording wise, so maybe in the future we’ll do it…

Describe the recording process for Nail Your God Down and how having creative freedom has helped give the band their own identity. In what ways is it an improvement from Krux Krucis?
Well, we always had creative freedom, but it’s very different recording a band with six members and then a four piece, being it terms of time and money or keeping everyone happy, ha ha ha.
The recording process was very similar to what we had done in professional studios: after the drums are ready, I recorded my guitars, then Pika and Nuno recorded their guitars and bass tracks and finally Lois and I did the Vocals. I then went back to the drums and recorded some parts myself, just to give a bit more of “human feeling”. Some of the Samples we used were done after the drums and some were added after everything was already recorded. Each session took about two days and although mostly was done with 2/3 takes, we did go back some times as changed a bit here and there and changed a few things from the initial plan. Sometimes ideas come as you are recording or just listening with more attention to how each of our parts sits amid the rest and decide to add or subtract small details. Having no pressure regarding time and money helps a lot, ha ha. Like I said before, we like to let the songs grow by themselves and as you are layering every part, bit by bit, the final image starts to reveal itself.
I would say that the biggest difference between “Nail Your God…” and “Krux Krucis” is the guitar sound. We were never too happy with the way guitars sounded and now we are a little step closer to what we want… There’s also the lack of keyboards now, and we worked more in the harmonies between the stringed instruments. Finally, there’s a difference in the vocals, since “Krux…” was recorded with our former lead singer (Mário LeKontra). Lois has a deeper growl, a bit more “American Death Metal” as some people say. Overall, we think we got a little definition between individual parts and less treble. Kinda like “Krux…” was recorded at Sunlight Studios and “Nail…” at Morrisound Florida, ha ha.

Which studio do you prefer between Sunlight and Morrisound? Which producers have you worked with who most understands the band?
Great albums have been recorded in both and I would take the opportunity without in a blink of an eye, to record in any, if the opportunity ever came up. We do however prefer the Florida guitar sound and overall production…
With no discredit to everyone who has worked with the band, I would point out João Cágado, with whom we recorded “Frozen Tears”: despite he never had worked with a Metal band, he did manage to capture who we were back then. Even if we had some hard time “sell him” ideas life quad-tracking guitars tuned to “B”, ha ha ha. We even made a lot of jokes about the fact that I had to write the key names on the keyboard to record the keyboards, ha ha.

What about the guitar sound in Florida death metal, and the Florida death metal sound in general, do you appreciate?
Well, it just sounds “ballsy”, more focused on the Low End. If you go back and listen to stuff like the early Deicide or Morbid Angel stuff it’s just a wall of sound, heavy but still intelligible. There’s also a very strong sense of individuality, regarding the music and the production. If I had to pick a favorite, “Once Upon The Cross” by Deicide has one of my favorite productions ever.

Regarding the above question, some people think death metal vocalists are untalented and just scream into a microphone. By firsthand experience, how much do you know about the discipline needed to be a death metal vocalist?
Well, if it was that simple, everyone would do it, ha ha. Overall, singing isn’t easy, regardless if it’s clean or screams of gutturals’. It takes training and dedication, much like any other instrument. Also, sometimes it can be a bit tricky to “find space” in the music for the voice, so things like metrics are also a very important part. Besides the technique involved (so you don’t damage your throat), for me it’s also important to find your own voice and not just sound like your idols.

How many differences in technique do you see among death metal vocalists these days?
Besides the “pig squeals” in “Happy Grind”? Not many I’m afraid… looks like gutturals are long since gone from Death Metal, with some honorable mentions and everyone took the Swedish Road… Also, How many Death Metal bands can you still identify just by listening to the vocals?

Who in the band wrote the lyrics for Nail Your God Down, and what are the songs about?
I wrote most of the lyrics as a first draft and then I sit with Lois and see what fits better with the vocal performance or even in terms of “poetic flow”. Sometimes I’m stuck in a part and we brainstorm a bit to get the full lyric done. And this can be done before or after we have the music. As for concept and without going into much detail of explaining each one individual, it comes down to our feelings and life experience. We deal mostly with the negative, the sense of loss, individual liberty, depression and madness. All wrapped with metaphors, most of them drawn from a religious sense of impending Doom. Although we did not print the lyrics on the CD, anyone can drop us an email and we’ve gladly share them, and someone does identify in some way with what we are saying, cool. If not, well it doesn’t really matter to us, hahaha.

In what ways does your latest work demonstrate how Karseron has progressed to this point?
Well, it’s been a year and a few months since the release and still some reviews pop out now and then. Sales were consistent with what we had planned, so it’s now available for free download. But guess we’ll keep on promoting it as long as there is interest in it, ha ha. We are planning also to make available at our Bandcamp (for free) a little “blast from the past”, never made public before.
Some people have told me that rather a progression, we did a “regression”, ha ha ha. Not something we dwell about. It’s us, crystalized in a moment or period of time, like every other recording before it.
Regarding a future work, I would say we are about 20% in. We are working on about four or five things that might morph into songs, but no plans regarding recording/release. All we know for sure is it won’t take twelve years!

How do you imagine your listeners will respond to your new material when they hear it?
Truth be told, it’s not something me or the rest of the gang loses sleep over. Some people like us know, some no longer do, because they say that we have changed a lot between all our recordings: that is in part true as we see no point in always doing the same thing: we’ve done three minute songs with three or four riffs in the past and we’ve done fourteen minute songs with riffs that most bands could release a double album, ha ha. As I’ve stated before, we NEED to make music and it come to us when and how the muses decide. There’s no plan and very little boundaries when it comes to our music? Will we start playing Jazz or EBDM? Not likely. This is what it is because it needs to be this way and I’m pretty sure we will always be comfortable in labeling it Death Metal.
As for what we already have as songs/song pieces, other (Metal) influences maybe more present but we are confident that anyone who has followed us the past two decades will find common ground. Identity, if you don’t mind my cockiness.

How do you intend to promote the release of the new album? Will you be working with labels or distros?
Unless a new tech revolution happens in the meantime, most likely as we’ve done in the past: mail out some promos, do a few interviews, a few gigs, and some promotion throughout social media. Not really an elaborate plan for World Domination, ha ha. As far as labels and distros, there are some of the later that have shown interest in working with us. In the past, present and future and whenever possible, we are always up to discuss distribution on a short scale. As for labels… well I think most bands our size can perfectly go on without them.

Can you indicate the distros you have most consistently worked with that will help promote the album?
Without prejudice to any other, I would like to point out “Bunker Store”. Besides being a distro, they are a physical shop (located in Porto) dedicated to rarities and other low key releases. Manuel and José are good friends and amazing people that care a real Underground spirit, more than just doing business. And although we aren’t working with them at the moment, “Vomit Your Shirt” (Distro/Label), “War Productions” and “The Dead Store” area few others that have been around helping built the Underground Scene in Portugal for decades!

Is there a title for the next full length yet, or are there song titles you want to reveal prior to its release?
We have exchanged some ideas among ourselves regarding possible names and concepts, but besides a few working ideas already with titles (usually we come up with a name/concept at the same time we start to work on the riffs) nothing is set in stone yet.

How much more development has to go into the lyrics and accompanying music before the album is complete?
There’s still a lot to do, ha ha ha. It might be a couple of months before we have a clear plan of how it’s gonna shape itself.

How much of an impact has death metal had on popular music since the early 1990s? What sort of an impact do you hope Karseron will have on the genre?
I think even with the ups and downs in terms of popularity, the impact that Death Metal has had in music is pretty much evident… It has spread across the globe, and has become to some extent part of a fringe of popular culture. Besides the ones that keep being “trve” to its origins, experimentalism and flirting with Death Metal has crossed even the frontiers of Metal in general. New bands are formed every day and we keep seeing newer generations’ embracing Death Metal in all of its forms. As for our impact… well, it impacts our daily lives and that’s something we are pretty happy with in.

Did it come as a surprise that death metal has been accepted in the mainstream?
Well not really. Artists and fans alike are always looking for more “extreme” ways to express themselves and as newer generations dive into music, what was once considered “too much” starts to become familiar and more or less accepted as “normal”. And as the novelty of the most recent approaches to Metal dies off, people tend to look back, to trace the origins. We’ve seen this happening with Heavy Metal Vs Rock, Heavy vs Thrash, Thrash Vs Death, Death vs Black? For me the “No Metal” of the early 2000’s was a clear reflection of that: kids do find that shit to be more brutal than bands like Bolt Thrower, ha ha ha. It’s also one of the lesser strict forms of Metal and that does help to its popularity. What are the boundaries of Death Metal? I can’t really think of none…

In how many different ways has death metal in all its subgenres changed your lives for the better?
I would say Metal in general help us to find a common ground of existence and a creative outlet. That feeling of hopelessness and disenchantment towards the World/ life is perfectly reflected in Metal and mostly on its more “extreme” end, that vision is clear. Also, the technical part of it played a significant role: a perfect balance between brutality, technicality and “catchiness”.

Any final acknowledgements you want to make on behalf of the band?
Thank you Dave for your support and interest in our work. It’s always nice when people take time of their lives to try and understand our drive and work, especially when they are good communicators like yourself. Hail and Kill!


-Dave Wolff

Monday, August 27, 2018

Label Interview: XENOGLOSSY PRODUCTIONS by Dave Wolff

Heliogabalus and Stilgar
Interview with Stilgar of Xenoglossy Productions

Xenoglossy Productions, a label supporting black metal, noise and experimental, was formed by a collective of musicians. Who formed the label and at what point in time did it start?
The label was formed in the December 2016 by me, Stilgar, together with Heliogabalus. We have several projects together and this is yet another endeavor we wanted to pursue, since we share similar views on music and felt the desire to release material from our projects in physical format.

How long have you and Heliogabalus been acquainted? Do you know one another from your local underground scene in Italy? What common musical interests do you two have?
I've known him for six or seven years, first online through mutual friends and social media, then we met several times in person, especially at metal gigs, even though we live in two different cities. Our views and tastes in extreme metal are really similar; we often suggest new bands to each other and usually like them right away. The same can be said for music outside of extreme metal: we both like experimental music and even well-crafted pop. One of our favorite artists is the Italian musician Battiato, for example.

At what point did you and Heliogabalus decide to start an independent label?
We actually tried doing something about it together in 2012, but we weren't experienced back then so the project was put to sleep until the end of 2016, when we felt the need to release music from our projects in physical format, without looking for other labels every time.

How much did you learn about running a label between 2012 and 2016, so you could effectively run Xenoglossy?
We are still learning actually. It's a constant process of learning all the tricks of managing something like that. This was evident for us especially when we started over again in 2016 and realized that CD-Rs releases weren't going to cut it.
Back in 2012 we probably thought it was easier than it seemed on paper and we were totally unaware of many of the workings of running a label effectively. Furthermore we built a lot of useful contacts and made new friends and acquaintances since then, other than discovering a lot of killer new music and labels we started following closely to learn and gain motivation from.

What do you like about this artist Battiato? Is he a pop musician? What do you mean by well-crafted pop music?
Battiato is an Italian musician who has been around since the 70s and explored totally different genres like progressive rock, experimental and abstract music influenced by Stockhausen, new wave and, during his most popular period, pop music. His most popular material is a perfect example of well-crafted pop, with well-finished arrangements, catchy choruses, uncommon time signatures and philosophical and obscure lyrics, which is Battiato's trademark. Other than that my favorite band of all time is actually R.E.M., a band that crafted some beautiful pop music during their fantastic thirty year run.

What other projects are you and Heliogabalus involved in together? Did you start the label releasing your own material and that of other Italian bands?
Other than Xenoglossy Productions, we are both involved in bands like Batrakos, Framheim, Veia and - above all - Thecodontion, which is probably our main band project at the moment. There are going to be a couple of new upcoming projects we will release later featuring us two yet again.
We released our own material exclusively at first, together with stuff featuring close friends of ours who already worked closely together with Xenoglossy, or are involved with some of the above projects I mentioned. Bands like Eterna Rovina (a solo project by F., who played in Batrakos and plays in Framheim), Aisna and Stige (two solo projects by Warrior, who helped us with design, mixing and mastering for a lot of stuff and plays in a couple of upcoming projects I mentioned before). The guy behind Credo Quia Absurdum is a friend of ours as well and Deathvoid is an Italian/Swiss band I'm a member of.
Thus, the first actual "outside" project we signed is Vessel Of Iniquity, a one man experimental black/death metal band from UK. I've known A. White, the person behind it, for a while and I've always been a massive fan of his music, so getting to release his stuff was a great satisfaction for us. Plus, we co-released their self-titled album together with Sentient Ruin Laboratories, a label we've always admired, and it was our first release on pro-cassette and LP in high numbers, so it was a big step up for us, compared to the CDRs we were using before that. Moreover, a new Vessel Of Iniquity is coming at the end of the year and it's going to be even better!

Does Xenoglossy stream all its releases, or are they also available on cassette, vinyl CD etc? Which format is most convenient for the label?
We stream all of our releases on our Bandcamp page. They can be downloaded in digital format, and a lot of them are actually free. Vessel Of Iniquity is also on Spotify.
We started with simple, no-budget CD-Rs and mini-CDs for the first releases, in very limited runs (most of them are now sold out), but then got fed up with that format and switched mainly to tapes. It's one of our favorite formats and it's not that expensive anyway, so this is also the most convenient and the perfect balance for us. Sometimes we do releases on LP and pro-CD for special occasions. We used the former format for Vessel Of Iniquity (and the upcoming one) and the latter for the Overishins self-titled album.

Are your bands generally satisfied with your promotion of them through streaming and advertising?
I hope so! We are happy to help and promote their material as much as we can, I think bands are happy when they discover their material got featured on an important webzine or ended up sold in the other side of the world, that's the same for me with my own bands/projects. As I mentioned above, the promoting/advertising aspect is something we are constantly learning about, so there's always room for improvement.

How much material has been released by Thecodontion to date? Do each of your bands differ in some way? How many new bands will you and Heliogabalus be starting?
Thecodontion has only released a demo tape thus far, under Gravplass Propaganda, but a new EP is ready and it will be co-released this autumn by Xenoglossy and two other labels.
We try to have different styles of music and lyrical/visual concepts for all of our projects: Thecodontion is war metal without guitars - just bass, drums and vocals - with a concept about prehistoric creatures, geological periods and fossils. Veia is an upcoming post punk-influenced progressive black metal project about Etruscan history. Batrakos is a noise/raw black metal hybrid about exploring themes of ugly art and futurism. Framheim is raw/atmospheric black metal about polar expeditions and harsh climates. We are going to have a couple of new projects with uncommon concepts together, one is coming out in September on tape.
Then there are my other two personal projects: Quilmoloncm is improvised blackened drone with bass and vocals only and exploring themes like glossolalia and automatic writing. Deathvoid is an Italian/Swiss band I'm collaborating with, a unique blend of harsh noise and raw black metal with a surreal and decadent aesthetic.

When searching for bands to sign, do you look for those with diversity and creativity? How important are those factors to extreme metal?
A lot of bands we released are from close friends and acquaintances, the "outside" ones we reached out to proposing a physical release were projects we really think would fit on our label both musically and aesthetically.
Sometimes we discover fantastic material without a physical release, so we reach out to the band and propose to do that, like it happened with Overishins, for example.
Some other times we get amazing material from e-mail submissions that we can't absolutely pass up.
Creativity and diversity are key factors for me in art, I don't like redundancy and carbon copies of bands from the 90s, I think one should be always pushing forward creatively with new ideas and exploring uncharted and also weird territories, both musically and visually Stagnancy is the death of the art.

How would you describe the music of Vessel Of Iniquity? How much promotion has the label given this project since you signed them? How has the response been?
Vessel of Iniquity is a unique sounding project mixing dissonant and chaotic black/death metal with noise and ritualistic music, a true vortex of all-absorbing void chaos. It sounds like a mixture of Teitanblood, Gnaw Their Tongues and Grave Upheaval, three bands I absolutely love. The response has been quite surprising for us and the band itself, we've never had such a worldwide exposure before and it was our first step into being a more professional working unit. For that we must thank M. of Sentient Ruin Laboratories for proposing to co-release this beast with him and I'm looking forward to working with him again for the next Vessel of Iniquity album. We're happy Vessel of Iniquity got the exposure and recognition it deserved, it's a killer project and it looks like it's starting to gain the first acolytes and influencing some newer acts already.
It has probably been our most promoted band thus far, also thanks to Sentient Ruin. It got featured on many noteworthy webzines of the genre, like Cvlt Nation and Toilet ov Hell. Being the first "outside" band of our roster, and our first release on LP and pro-cassette, meant it had to be pushed a lot more compared to our household personal side-projects we released thus far.

I’m not familiar with those bands you discussed. How would you describe their influences, their ability as musicians and so on?
They are influential bands in the extreme metal genre, especially in their dissonant/filthy/experimental sub-fields. Teitanblood is a black/death metal band from Spain and, like Vessel Of Iniquity, their music is a total vortex of chaotic riffing. Gnaw Their Tongues is a one-man band from The Netherlands and at times is closer to noise/industrial than actual black metal. The sort of perverted imagery goes perfect with the atmosphere they convey. Grave Upheaval is a band featuring members of Portal and Impetuous Ritual and their music is so suffocating it sounds like a drone/noise version of death metal.

How soon is the new release by Vessel Of Iniquity expected to be out? Have you heard it yet or is it still being recorded at present?
The album is fully recorded and ready and it's totally crushing! An improvement on all sides compared to the first EP, which was already fantastic. The new Vessel of Iniquity album is going to be released around late December 2018/early January 2019, together with Sentient Ruin Laboratories.

Tell the readers about the band Overishins, how you came into contact with them and how much of their material you have released.
Overishins is an improv-jazz unit featuring Mick Barr from Krallice; Chuck Bettis from Mossenek; Mike Pride from Sabbath Assembly, Pulverize the Sound and countless other projects: and Johnny DeBlase from Many Arms and Zevious. It's quite a stellar lineup. We released their only album thus far in May 2018.
It was released digitally on Mick and Chuck's Hathenter label in 2017 at first. It was one of my favourite albums of the year. I thought it was a bit of a shame it was digital-only, so I reached out to Mick via e-mail proposing a physical release for it and the ideas I had for the visual aspect. Mick got really enthusiastic about it. He's been really kind and supportive and I think the physical release turned out fantastic. The digipack features a 4-panel booklet with beautiful abstract artwork by all the four members of the band. Mick is one of my favourite musicians ever, so getting to release some of his stuff is a great accomplishment for us. Although it's not an extreme metal release, we aren't limited to just a single genre as long as we like it and it has a sort of visual and artistic coherence. We've already released drone and ambient material, after all, and I love experimental jazz music.

Is it important for such broad mindedness to be honest and unforced?
If we happened to stumble on a darkwave record we really liked and would want to release, we'd totally do that (and I hope to do so in the future if there's the chance). Having broad mindedness is vital for us; as I said before I think stagnancy is the death of art so I don't like focusing on a single genre or listening to the same stuff over and over. Extreme metal is just one of the many genres I appreciate, and honestly I fell in love with music in general with other genres first, I discovered extreme metal later.

Considering all the subgenres of extreme metal that currently exist, has it reached its limit or are there still opportunities for it to grow and explore new ground?
I think music, and art in general, is boundless so there are virtually infinite new grounds to explore, the tricky part is being able to come up with new and fresh ideas and being able to incorporate them in a style with a certain personality, which can be very hard sometimes.
In my opinion bands like Imperial Triumphant or Zeal and Ardor recently showed it's possible to blend metal music with genres at their polar opposites without sounding like a forced mashup or a gimmick: like jazz for the former example and gospel for the latter.

How does your metal fanbase respond to bands like Overishins when you promote their releases? Are there more bands on your label of other genres, such as ambient, drone etc?
Since Mick Barr plays in Krallice, some people got curious about Overishins. Their fanbase is probably already used to highly experimental music, so an improv-jazz album is not totally out of the blue. But I'd be nice if we managed to draw some fans of jazz music to the label, who were less familiar with extreme metal. Or the opposite, getting fans of extreme metal closer to a beautiful genre like jazz.
There are a couple of noise/ambient-only EPs by Batrakos (the "Picasso" EP was our first release ever) that otherwise plays raw black metal. An improvised dark drone release that is Quilmoloncm (distorted bass/vocals only) and a couple of Deathvoid releases that are closer to harsh noise than black metal. A lot of the above genres I mentioned are appreciated within the extreme metal fanbase, luckily, so they don't feel out of place.

Do you work with other labels to cross promote and expand your listenership farther across the world? If not, is this something you would consider doing?
We co-released Vessel Of Iniquity (and will do the same for the new album) with Sentient Ruin Laboratories and thanks to that we managed to reach a far wider public, something we couldn't have done by ourselves alone probably. Same for the Microcosmys/La Torture Des Ténèbres split, we co-released it with the Dutch label Breathe Plastic. If you're collaborating with serious people and friends it's very useful to do that.
We also have traded with labels like Caligari and The Throat, trading is also vital to get one's material overseas, which could be harder otherwise, having distribution in just one country or continent.

How much cross promoting with the labels you mentioned are you involved in? Has it been mutually beneficial all around? How do you usually get into contact with these labels?
We usually try to help each other with promoting, like splitting tasks and advertising/mentioning each other to the press or in social media posts and I'd say it's always beneficial for both for gaining more exposure. We got in contact with them on social media, mostly. A collaboration idea might spark by talking about music together and finding things in common.

Are you in touch with bands from countries other than where your signed bands are from?
The label work made it possible to gain new friendships and acquaintances all over the world so we like to stay in touch with bands and labels we collaborated with, supporters, even.

Of the bands you have been contacting this past year, which countries are most of them based in? Are there underground scenes in countries you feel don’t get as much exposure? What would you do to change that for the better?
Except for our friends in Voland we recently released, we came in contact with bands from overseas (like La Torture des Ténèbres and Overishins for example), there are so many interesting bands and scenes in USA and Canada.
There is a fantastic underground scene in the Netherlands for example, gravitating around the labels The Throat and Haeresis Noviomagi. Most of the bands they have released are weird and unique sounding and both labels have a great aesthetic sense. Plus they are mostly tape based and that's a bonus in my book!
As for changing things for the better, I don't think there is much need to change since if you work hard to build the right contact and a fanbase, you can get exposure wherever you are.

How many bands do you know of that incorporate other genres such as jazz, folk, traditional or world into their music? How much are such bands helping expand the horizons of underground music in your point of view?
I'm not that familiar with folk or traditional I admit, but for jazz I think that bands like Kayo Dot (one of my favorite bands ever) is another perfect example of a band incorporating jazz and progressive influences into their music perfectly. Last year I've also liked the Celestial Bodies debut under I, Voidhanger. A unique blend of black metal, noise and John Zorn-esque jazz craziness. Crowhurst is another project that blended jazz and extreme music together nicely in some of their releases. Jazz is a rarer influence in extreme metal compared to folk or traditional music, so incorporating this style means exploring new musical territories and sometimes the results are really surprising, you can really see how metal music can be so versatile when done the right way.

How much are originality and creativity factors when you consider bands to sign to Xenoglossy? How many bands that you are in touch with fit this criteria?
It's of vital importance for Xenoglossy, musically or aesthetically. I'd never consider signing them if they weren't original or personal in one of the criteria mentioned before. I'd say all of them fit, it's one of the reasons I get in touch with them in the first place.

What new directions would you most like to see extreme metal take in the years to come? What instruments would you most like to see incorporated into its subgenres that haven’t been used before?
I'd like it to take two opposite directions: one catchier, like with pop and new-wave influences, the other totally free, abstract and indecipherable. Some bands are already doing that so they're two solutions that can be definitely explored more. Probably more usage of horns since I love jazz. The Italian experimental band ZU does that amazingly for example, distorting the saxophone with effects and using it as a "riffing" device. Or, electronic synthesizers maybe, used not just for ambience but as primary instruments for leading melodies and solos.

How would you want Xenoglossy to be remembered for its contributions to underground music as a whole?
I would like Xenoglossy to be remembered as a brave label, unafraid to experiment in several uncommon genres and able to discover a few musical gems.


-Dave Wolff