Friday, July 12, 2019

Full Length Review: IMMORTAL "Northern Chaos Gods" (Nuclear Blast) by Dave Wolff

Band: Immortal
Location: Os/Bergen, Hordaland
Country: Norway
Genre: Black metal
Full Length: Northern Chaos Gods
Format: CD, limited edition digipak, streaming
Release date: July 6, 2018
After reviewing Abbath’s new full length “Outsrider” and hearing Demonaz Doom Occulta reformed Immortal to release new material, I wanted to hear “Northern Chaos Gods” for myself. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. I won’t dictate which album is better, but I will say that “Northern Chaos Gods” is a villainously executed return to form and worthy of Immortal’s history. It picks up where “Pure Holocaust,” “Battles in the North” and “At the Heart of Winter” left off, only cleaner, tighter and more extreme. From the eight shredding tracks comprising it, it’s clear age hasn’t been a detriment to the band’s musicianship after ten years; neither has the recent shoulder surgery Demonaz had to undergo for tendinitis. Here he takes the massive task of writing the music in its entirety and all the lyrics, as he did on his solo effort “March of the Norse” in 2011. Naturally there will be similarities to the Immortal of old, cleverly hybridized with enough similarities to “At the Heart of Winter” due to Horgh’s commanding, unfaltering percussion. Incorporating latter day Immortal is a good idea as it further legitimizes the chaotic storms the band formulated in the 1990s, according this aspect with the monumental grandeur of the 2000s and building a sound crossover between those eras. Albums from yesteryear captured the frozen atmosphere and never ending snowstorms as an isolated phenomenon happening in a small part of the world. “Northern Chaos Gods” extends it to every corner of the globe. As to whether Demonaz fills Abbath’s shoes as a vocalist, I personally miss Abbath’s presence but his absence is not as bad as, say, Slayer without Tom Araya. As Immortal’s new frontman, he has an abrasive approach that is distinctive but doesn’t stray far from the formula. He enunciates well and you don’t need the lyric sheet to understand him. I like the way his lyrics continue the narrative of past albums as the blizzards spread across the planet, as it was promised they would long ago. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to longtime fans who want to travel the forbidden lands of Blashyrkh once again. -Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Demonaz: Vocals, guitars, songwriting, lyrics
Horgh: Drums

Track list:
1. Northern Chaos Gods
2. Into Battle Ride
3. Gates to Blashyrkh
4. Grim and Dark
5. Called to Ice
6. Where Mountains Rise
7. Blacker of Worlds
8. Ravendark

Serialization: "The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice" by Roberta Downing: Chapter Thirteen

The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice
Novel by Roberta Downing
Cover artwork designed by Jerry Langdon


 
Chapter Thirteen

The Great Summoner refused to see RavenDance but granted the audience with Demona. As she walked in she remembered her etiquette and it came natural to her. She kneeled before him.
“Well, my, my. You have changed in a drastic way apprentice. You gained the attention of Arcanos Demonos as a Mentor, you were given your name by your God, you bonded with your circle, you charmed your Information Imp to give you names and other information that he would not have ever revealed to you and lastly- you summoned a Bazatu and a Prince at that far beyond what your level of training should have been able to do.” He said
She was silent and kept her gaze away from his face. She waited.
“Demona, this is the first time in the history of the academy that this has happened with one as young as you. Your armor is no longer armor but your actual skin. You are two years from being able to go out with your Instructor to work toward your journeyman ship yet I have no choice but to send you. There is a war in the far north west of Whalesong. You shall go there. Learn about war and what you can do for the side you choose to serve on. While you are there, you must find the last member of your inner circle; one who is not an arcane but is more than able to protect people should you have to engage in demonic battle in public. And I want you to work with RavenDance on your magics because it is quite evident that the magic has awakened in you. Now, go and make your preparations and congratulations.”
With that she bowed her head and stood up, took her three steps backwards and left the room. RavenDance was waiting just outside the double doors. He wanted to know why she was the only one granted an audience.
“Demona, what happened” asked RavenDance.
“That is Journey man Arcane Warrior Demona if you please” she said with a huge grin on her face. “We are to go to Whalesong and join in the battle there. I must find the last member of my inner circle and I must work with you, RavenDance on my magics as the Great Summoner has said they have come upon me.”
“Well! Congratulations Journey man Arcane Warrioress Demona!” everyone said.
“There will be time for celebration later but now we must all go and make preparations. Damon and Jasper, you should know what I will need. We leave in two days so make ready. Meanwhile I have some letters I must write. I’ll be in my dorm room.”
Demona sat down at her desk and wrote a letter to her mom and dad explaining everything in great bardic flair! She wondered as she wrote the letter if there would always be some part of her that would always be a Singer. She left instructions for them not to tell her brother because she knew he and Satyr were in Whalesong on their journeyman ship and this would finally show Clef that for once in her life, she had actually surpassed him.
She had a lot to do and a short time to do it in. She went to see Jasper to have him update her last will and testament. It is one thing to have a generic one while an apprentice but journeyman ship changes things. A lot.
Demona pondered which side she would join in the war. Would she help defend Whalesong or would she help the invading side. Her brother and his best friend were helping to defend Whalesong and she could so easily aide the other side but in doing so would that really turn the tide and cost two of the people she loved to lose their lives? No, she put that notion out of her head because that would be pride and revenge and she knew neither was useful. And so it was decided.
She went to the magic instructor to be tested at what level she was currently at. He knew that prior to summer vacation, she had only the use of the most basic of magics. He tested her by having her attempt to read the different level magic books. Demona had reached her third circle of magic and thus was given her belt with the appropriate pouches, she purchased her blank spell books that she would need to write the spells down as she learned them and she bought pre written spell scrolls to use in case of emergencies.
Prior to sending the letter home to her parents, she had a miniature portrait pained of herself to include in the parcel. She hadn’t had a lot of time to be able to sit for portraits to send home or to anyone. While sitting to have that done, she thought that instead of taking the most direct route to Whalesong that she would swing down and go into Singerville for a quick visit and then travel north west to reach their destination.
Singerville seemed like a long lost dream of a place she visited once instead of the notion of home. She knew she would be welcome there at any time, that wasn’t the issue. She began feeling like she had no home – that somewhere out there was a place waiting for her to settle into, to have a life and to be what she was.
She studied her spells prior to prayers and going to sleep. This would be the last night in the gods only knew how long that she would have a bed to sleep in. Tomorrow would be tents and the earth underneath her.
In the morning they all mounted their horses and rode to the docks to take the two day trip from the Arcane Island. She loved the trip more now than she did when she took it for the first time. That artic air- it was so comfortable and soothing.
As they arrived in Ashland, she remembered the minstrel Jake who she had given all her bardic things to and written a recommendation for him to attend the bardic academy. She wondered how he was and thought he must not be doing all that well as a bard since he had not written her, which meant he either didn’t care or he couldn’t find out where she was. That now seemed like a life time ago.
They rode for weeks and were finally getting close to Singerville.
“Master RavenDance, would you mind hanging back a few hours and let us ride in alone. I’m interested if anyone will even recognize me.” She said.
“Didn’t you write a letter home?”
“I did write the letter- I just forgot to mail it off. I’ve got it in my satchel.”
“Very well. I’ll camp out here for the night and arrive there in the morning. Is that ok with you journeyman?” He joked. She nodded and off they rode.
They were stopped by the village guard. Each of them handed them their identification papers. Her identification only said Arcane Warrioress Demona, not Bell Singer.
“State your business” he demanded.
“Visiting family.” She said.
“Very well, welcome to Singerville, Arcane Warrioress Demona and your inner circle.”
With that she dismounted, and handed the reigns to her courtesan as did Jasper. Damon took the horses to the stable and was instructed to get them rooms at the inn.
Demona now moved like a master arcane warrior. She headed in to the shopping district of the village to her father’s music shop. She opened the door and walked in. He welcomed her to his shop but without using her name. She browsed around looking at drawing paper, chalk and pencils.
“Arcane Warrioress is there anything I can help you with today?” Jotar asked.
Speaking in the arcane tongue she replied “Do you not recognize me father? A hug would be nice.”
Jotar Singer had a confused look on his face. “I’m sorry arcane warrioress, my daughter is still at the arcane academy, and perhaps you have me confused.”
“No, Dadda, I am your daughter. Your only daughter. You knew me as Bell. I am now known as Demona. Your friend RavenDance will be arriving tomorrow.”
“Oh my goodness Demona! What has happened? You must have had some really intense training and combat to get you looking like that” he said.
“I have graduated to my journeyman ship and have all but one of my inner circle.”
“How did you manage that? You were not supposed to start that for another two years. You know your brother just left for his journeyman ship too.”
“Dadda, please don’t tell him that I am now in the same year as he is. I want to see the surprise on his face when he sees it for himself. Promise me!”
“I promise. You still have me wrapped around your little finger. Perhaps some would see that as a weakness however, I see it as my biggest strength! You should attempt to go see your mother. She’s at the temple for test results from her visit last week.”
Demona walked to the temple of Cwell and entered. She saw her mother sitting in the outside waiting room just before the nave of the temple.
“I’m…I’m sorry but there is no way that someone such as yourself could enter into such a holy place” said one of the priests of Cwell.
Demona had no choice but to play the part, perhaps it was her being in her grandfather’s temple or maybe it was some of that bardic blood that was still within her but she just could not help herself!
Speaking in the common tongue she said “If this was such a holy place would I then be sent back to the ninth plane of hell from whence I came? Perhaps someone has defiled your so called holy place priest.” It was difficult for her to speak in the common tongue now after the time she’d spent at the arcane academy.
The priest held up the holy symbol of Cwell, a golden ornate mandolin. “In the name of the most Holy Cwell, I command you, demon be gone!”
Demona’s mother stood up in a fright. She was literally shaking at the sight of her unbeknownst daughter.
Demona reached out and held the holy symbol and laughed with delight. The poor journeyman priest was now frightened. He couldn’t understand why his deity would not send this beast of hell back to the fiery pit as “unholy” as it was.
“Let me introduce myself priest to put your mind at rest. I am Queen Demona, a journeyman arcane warrior. I’ve come to see the woman awaiting test results.”
“May I inquire the reason you wish to see my patient?” the priest asked.
“I’m sorry I can’t discuss that with you as this is arcane business. I do hope you can forgive me and understand. I am truly sorry for any inconvenience or stress this may cause you or your patient.”
Demona was going to play this out for all it was worth. Perhaps her grandfather would be looking down upon her seeing that she still had the humor, imagination and artistic abilities. Maybe he would even smile to see just how convincing she was being- playing out this little skit.
“Of course, arcane warrioress, I shall make sure you have privacy to talk to my patient.” The priest said as he motioned for her to continue on into the waiting room and he walked away.
“Greetings Mrs. Singer. I do apologize if I upset you or caused you any fear. It was not my intent.” Demona motioned for the woman to have a seat.
“What can I do for you arcane warrioress? I haven’t done anything in which to cause any harm to the current arcane warrior’s domain.” Lily said.
“I have come to visit my family here in Singerville. It has been some time since I’ve been here.”
“Oh, do you need assistance in finding your family? Have they moved away?” Lily asked.
“No, my parents still live in the same home I was born in and I know that my father still owns the local music store.” Demona kept a straight face as those words passed her lips.
The blond elven woman’s eyes though lit up with joy but also had the look of confusion.
“My father’s name is Jotar, my brother’s name is Clef and your name is Lily. Hello momma” she smiled.
“Bell!”
“No momma, my name is now Demona as I was named by Arcanos himself. Far be it from me what I did to earn that honor.”
“Well! In that case, why don’t you and your inner circle come to dinner this evening and we can catch up” Lily said.
“Momma, I am on my journeyman ship. I’m here for a few days to visit and then I must move on to where I’ve been ordered.”
“Journeyman?” Mrs Singer paused. “But you still have a couple of years before that is supposed to happen.”
“Things happened over this past year and especially this summer that have caused the Great Summoner to change the rules. I wrote a letter before I left the island but I was so busy that I forgot to mail it. In the missive, it explains in great detail the past year.” Demona handed her mother the letter and the portrait.
“I’ve changed momma. I faced my greatest fear and lived to tell the tale. I feel strong, confident, and I’ve grown into the role of a journeyman. There wasn’t really anything else that the academy could teach me at this time. Now, Clef doesn’t know about this. I want to be there when he realizes who I am and that for once in my life I have finally outshined him. This is something that I have dreamed of long before I ever left for my apprenticeship.”
“Oh I remember my dear girl. He was always pushing you, daring you, challenging you to do more- to be more.” Her mother said.
“It was more than that momma, Clef was teaching me that life is not always kind, that it is not always fair and most of all, if you want something bad enough, you have to work hard to get it because it is not going to just be handed to you.”
Her mother nodded and realized that her little girl was growing up to be a wise woman. She had always hoped that she would grow up and be the best she could be and perhaps even be a much better bard than her grandfather, Cwell- the God of the Bards. She could not be more proud.
She kissed her hugged and kissed her mother. “We shall arrive about six and my courtesan would be more than happy to help you in the kitchen.”
“Oh wonderful, I haven’t been feeling well lately and have been a tad drained. I would welcome the help of your courtesan. Is he or she well versed in cooking yet?”
“Oh yes! Damon is a whirlwind of crazy person in the kitchen but everything he makes is wonderful and is fit for my station.”
“And what station would that be if I might ask”
“Well I suppose I shall introduce myself properly to you just this once. I am Arcane Warrioress, Bazatu Ice Queen Demona.”
“Queen.” Her mother whispered.
Her mother was somewhat surprised by Demona’s rank because after all, when she was a little girl, her only dream was to be better than Cwell- better than the God of Bards. Here she was, a queen in her own right.
“Alright mother, we shall see you at six. I must go and freshen up and rest for now.” With that Demona excused herself and headed for the Mandolin Inn.
Damon had procured her a room best befitting her station. He had anticipated her arrival by having a bath drawn and ready just as she walked into her suite.
“We have dinner plans this evening at my parent’s home. I’ve offered your services to help my mother in the kitchen. She says she’s not been feeling well and has felt drained lately. We must arrive by six so if you could be there about four to begin helping her that would be a godsend.” The warrioress said.
Demona was wondering how Tessa fared over the summer. She missed her. She didn’t have the chance to see her before leaving and she took up a fair amount of time writing home to her parents and preparing to leave the Arcane Island. It had been some time since the two of them had any time to spend together getting caught up or having a girl’s day or even to spar. She decided that after her bath she would write a letter to Tessa and get her caught up.
She knew Tessa all too well. She would not be happy that she was left behind to endure the next couple of years before taking on her journeyman ship. Tessa was the jealous type but she was in no way as noble as Demona. Nowhere near as graceful, though she had learned to be tactful in dealing with instructors and students at least when in the classroom.
Singerville was exactly as it was the morning she left it. It seems nothing really changes. People come and go but it was still the same. There were hundreds of bards from all over the globe and all of them Singers either by blood or marriage. Strange to see street buskers in the party capital of Arret yet there they were and per usual all of them were apprentices gaining experience in the craft.
Every day someone was throwing a party, a feast, a banquet and sometimes it was for a birthday, anniversary or for no reason at all other than for the students to learn how to do it. The real test was if a bard could pull one or all of those things off and have the clan enthralled then it was a safe bet that a mastery had been earned in that category.
“Momma, is everything alright? I hope that was just your yearly physical and not anything serious” Demona said.
“Oh, everything is alright or will be after I get rid of this bug.”
“Ah you are sick, I can have my priest take a look and see if there is anything he can do for you” she said.
“Demona, my darling girl, this bug is going to be with me for the rest of my life” Lily said as she placed her hand on her stomach.
“Oh my! You are with child. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Ya know that will put me smack dab in the middle” she teased. “I’m happy for you.”
“Let’s keep it between us for now- Jotar doesn’t know yet.” Her mother said.
“How much you wanna make a bet Clef already knows.” She laughed.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Full Length Review: ABBATH "Outsrider" (Season Of Mist) by Dave Wolff

Band: Abbath
Location: Bergen
Country: Norway
Genre: Black metal
Full Length: Outsrider
Format: CD, digipak, streaming
Release date: July 5, 2019
Abbath Doom Occulta’s parting company with Immortal could be one of the best things to happen to Norwegian black metal in a long time. When members of groundbreaking bands split up, you get new bands and fresh ideas, instead of rehashed albums that give you a feeling you’ve heard the same formula. You got fresh ideas when Ozzy left Sabbath, when Dave Mustaine left Metallica, and when the original lineup of Venom disbanded for the umpteenth time. I haven’t heard Immortal’s latest release yet but the new offering from Abbath showcases a hungry band beginning to come into their own. Though nothing released by either Abbath or Immortal can touch “Pure Holocaust” (Immortal) in terms of sheer intensity, “Outsrider” surpasses both bands’ back catalogue in terms of technical ability and the pure adventurous spirit of “Sons of Northern Darkness” and “At the Heart of Winter” (Immortal). Maybe it’s because I’ve been a fan of Immortal for years, but by this album’s second or third track I was completely immersed in the bold Cimmerian majesty created by this new band. Time, experience and maturity hasn’t dissolved the black metal spirit of those albums I mentioned above; if anything it’s grounded and reinforced by the addition of slightly Celtic acoustic guitars, agile guitar solos from Ole André Farstad, a solid rhythm section in Mia Wallace and Ukri Suvilehto, and a classic eighties metal vibe. If bands should branch out, they should do so on their terms. But “Outsrider” makes the argument that you can stick with what you know and still transcend past glories if you know how to utilize your roots the “right” way. Abbath does so without overdoing anything or trying to unnecessarily cram anything into their songs. “Outsrider” also boasts production that fits every aspect of Abbath’s sound flawlessly, especially the rasping vocals of Mr. Doom Occulta’s that sound more imposing than ever. Paying homage to Bathory with a cover of “Pace Til Death” (from the classic “Blood Fire Death”) is a nice touch, but personally, I would have chosen “The Golden Walls Of Heaven.” By the way, Abbath is touring with Obituary this fall. -Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Abbath: Vocals, guitar
Ole André Farstad: Lead guitar
Mia Wallace: Bass
Ukri Suvilehto: Drums

Track list:
1. Calm in Ire (Of Hurricane)
2. Bridge of Spasms
3. The Artifex
4. Harvest Pyre
5. Land of Khem
6. Outstrider
7. Scythewinder
8. Hecate
9. Pace 'till Death (Bathory cover)


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Single Review: KATHAROS XIII "Caloian Voices" by Dave Wolff

Location: Timișoara
Country: Romania
Genre: Dark jazz, doom metal, black metal
Single: Caloian Voices
From their upcoming full length “Palindrome” to be released on Loud Rage Music autumn 2019
Release date: July 9, 2019
With “Caloian Voices” this Romanian band has a persuasive ability to immerse you in their world of shadows. Selecting it as the advance single of “Palindrome” required some thought, as the five songs recorded for the album were arranged to flow one to the next. Choosing a fourteen-minute track may be considered a gamble if you prefer something more traditional, but Katharos XIII chose it without concern for releasing something much shorter. They do bother to mention it takes a patient, receptive mind to appreciate its unworldly mélange of dreamlike sounds, and offer no explanation about the direction their new album is taking. Any further explanation is not needed as the song speaks for itself. If you have the longanimity to pay attention to everything that’s going on, and the capacity to make sense of the band’s statement, your mind’s eye will perceive the song coming to breathing life. You might at first see it as an immense ocean in darkness, or the far-reaching cosmos, or something else altogether. But it will be surprising how you feel your surroundings. It starts with a haunting, ethereal mood, accompanied by saxophone that expands the vastness that is put across. Manuela Marchis’ vocals enter the picture like the voice of a siren; unsubstantial yet exquisitely celestial, and purely bewitching. The entire mood changes with abrupt, unexpected suddenness, becoming more hypnotic as F.’s vocals are a counterpoint to Marchis’ siren-like voice. The mood changes back with Marchis, and soon “Caloian Voices” begins to sound like an exchange between two main characters of an epic story. An epic story in which the reader sails the ether from one soundscape to another. Katharos XIII are heavily into writing lyrics about misanthropy and mortality, and there is more than enough of both here. The lyrics are minimal considering the song’s length, comprised of three verses, but this is all that’s needed to convey the loneliness and despair. You should read along to get a complete picture, especially if you’re a reader of Poe and a viewer of Goya. Again this is just one song; there are four others besides it to experience when “Palindrome” is made available this fall. -Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Manuela Marchis: vocals
F.: guitars, keyboards, vocals
Alex Iovan: saxophone
Hanos-Puskai Péter: bass
Sabat: drums

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Interview with Fatal Ben Reigns of ZEN REVOLT by Dave Wolff

Interview with Fatal Ben Reigns of ZEN REVOLT

What is the intended meaning of the band’s name, in relation to your music and lyrics?
Zen Revolt means strength and success. When it comes to our music, we mean to get stronger and more successful doing upcoming events in the future. We are looking at going far and looking forward to it. We have so much planned to do, and all we need to do now is work on it but were taking it step by step rather than all at once.

Your Facebook profile states the band is made up of experienced musicians. Were you involved in local bands before? Does your experience have to do with your drive for Zen Revolt to succeed?
I have been in bands all my life, I started playing bass guitar when I was fifteen or sixteen. Since then I have been in cover bands and bands who write their own material. With the bands I have been in in the past, I have done gigs in a lot of places, played a festival (Metal To The Masses) and been on the radio multiple times. When it comes to Zen Revolt I am so happy and I joined a band who are not only amazing guys and musicians but willing to put in the hard work and time with the energy, passion and drive to go extremely far. I would do anything and everything I can to help or make that happen.

Were you always in rock bands or did you also play in metal bands? Is any material from your former bands available?
Before Zen Revolt I was always in rock bands and probably one or two metal bands. There is no more material because once I left and the band finished they took their songs, band pages, and links down from the internet. Unfortunately too, because it was really good material. It was a mixture of covers and our own stuff.

Which cover bands did you play in? Do you think there is a need for tribute bands or would you prefer bands playing their own material?
My first cover band was my very first band, Mojo Filters. After that, I was in Carpe Diem, and Dantony. They are the only cover bands I have been in. The rest wrote their own stuff. Everyone has their own preferred thing which is fair enough. I have nothing against cover bands; I just think it would be more fun and challenging for bands to write and play their own stuff.

Which of your previous bands appeared at Metal To The Masses, and in what year? Do you remember who else played and how enthusiastic the audience was?
The band I was in that played Metal To The Masses in Leeds (2015) was a four-piece rock band called Fatal Sacrament. There were a lot of bands at that festival so I can’t remember each one. The crowd was very enthusiastic when we played, and we got an encore which was amazing.

At what local and out of state venues did Fatal Sacrament perform? Can people watch live videos of those shows on streaming sites?
When I was with Fatal Sacrament, we played the Krazyhouse, the Zanzibar in Liverpool City Centre, Hotel California in Birkenhead, Diamonds in St Helens (can’t remember what it was called beforehand but that’s what it’s called now) and a pub in Weymouth. They used to have live shows to watch but when the band ended they took their vids down.

How many songs do you have for possible inclusion on the EP so far? What are the lyrics to the songs about, and how are the lyrics relevant to your genre?
Zen Revolt has four songs for the EP, but if we have time we’re going to make it five songs. Each song has the lyrics that go really well with the tune, so each song will get stuck in your mind. This is great for us and for the people who are and will be listening. The lyrics are relevant we have a hard rock/blues sound we want to bring to people, and the lyrics and the sound fit perfectly.

Were you in bands with the current members of Zen Revolt before Zen Revolt started? How long have the band members known one another?
When Fatal Sacrament finished I went onto the internet and put an ad out for a bass player available. A guy in a band messaged me, we got together and the birth of Zen Revolt happened. The lead singer and guitarist have known each other for a while, the drummer and I are recently coming into it and getting to know them. The more we are the more we're getting to be like brothers.

What material do you currently have available for streaming on your band pages?
We are currently working on a few songs so it’s basically fixing what needs to be fixed. Then we will have our songs done for our EP. Once they are done we’ll move on to do the rest.

Name each of the songs you have completed and describe what they were written about.
Bleed Beneath My Skin is about a past couple who were in love, and one day the spark went out on their love together. Lead is about a lonely man walking the streets with painful memories of his life. Gypsy Rose Rollercoaster is about a guy finding the love of his life; one day they split and he turned to drink and knew he could never get a girl like her again. Heartbreak Woman is about a normal person who wants a woman to be loyal and not break his heart. Live In Your Time is about a confused life between two people, karma finding one of them and they have to live with what they have done.

Tell the readers about the EP you are of recording. Are you working on it in a personal studio or a professional studio with engineers and producers? How soon do you expect it to be released and how do you plan to promote it?
We pick up songs pretty quick. We are rehearsing every week and we decided it was a good time to do an EP. Anything we do we do as a band, or make suggestions and decide. Together we talked about either doing the EP in a personal or professional studio and decided to do it this professionally with engineers, etc. We currently have it planned to do at the end of August and the start of September. We plan to promote it not only on our band pages (Youtube, Soundcloud, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Reverbnation) but to send it to multiple radio stations and make copies if people want to hear it.
By the way, music has been my life and without the guys, I wouldn’t be doing it anymore. They are amazing and like brothers to me so thank you Tony, Diz, and Arran.

Who in the band wrote the lyrics to the songs to appear on your EP? Were they based on real-life experiences or where did the inspiration come from?
The lead singer wrote all the songs for the EP and also the album too that’s coming later on either in the year or early next year and they are amazing lyrics and songs also in each of their own ways. Not too sure if they are based on real-life experiences or not and the inspiration came from legendary rock bands to get the sound and also to inspire us as we go and to give a different but amazing sound to the music scene.

Who does the band have in mind to help engineer and produce the EP? Were you recommended anyone from people you know or are you conducting your own search?
We have an appointment to record our EP. I am not too sure about the producer and engineer but people will find that out closer to the EP date or maybe after it’s done. Each day we are conducting a search so we’ll see what feedback we get and discuss what the best result will be in the end.

Name some of the radio stations you are planning to contact. The band recently had a song featured on Deal Radio. Has this helped increase the buzz for the new EP?
There are a number of radio stations we have been in touch with that agreed to play our material. Each time it boosted our name on the internet and let people know who we are. They have boosted recognition inside and outside the UK, so now we are getting noticed in the UK and America. As time goes on the popularity of the band will grow.

How many songs are you planning to include on the album you mentioned earlier? How soon do you plan to complete it?
Altogether, we have about sixteen songs for the album. Each of these tracks has a different vibe. Some are relaxing tracks and some are rock tracks. It is a working process, taking one step at a time, but we are planning on completing it by early 2020 which we are looking forward to.

Do you hope to land a recording deal with an independent label to get your EP and full length out to more people?
We are not running before we walk, it’s a step by step process but in time we are hoping to eventually land a record deal with someone to get our material out there to a lot more people so our following will grow slowly, also were thinking of playing gigs, festivals and also hopefully in time start touring as well but that’s still a plan we are looking at eventually doing.

-Dave Wolff

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Full Length Review: INTROSPECTION "Nihilistic Hatred" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Country: Russia (formerly Brazil)
Genre: Black/death metal
Full Length: Nihilistic Hatred
Label: Independent
Format: Digital, streaming
Release date: August 1, 2018
When I last reviewed Introspection they had completed their latest album “Nihilistic Hatred” and were preparing to release it in two months. A lyric video of the advance track “The Nihilist”, of which founding member Virghon was accommodating enough to forward me a link, had just been released and promised more of a straightforward musical direction. As I listen to the complete album I hear shades of Norwegian black metal along with the Swedish black metal I noticed before. Early Destruction (“Sentence of Death”, “Infernal Overkill”) is an appropriate point of reference, however slight, when discussing possible influences. There is likewise a hint of “Hammerheart” era Bathory in one of the songs, which I didn’t expect at first. The wall of sound this implies is as astringent and unsympathetic as can be expected from bands who have been playing raw black metal for years, and Introspection have far fewer releases available. Virghon’s vocals in particular are fittingly, unyieldingly harrowed, as they should be to equal the forcefulness of the music composed for this album, and channel the commentary of world politics in all its brutal ugliness. Instead of chilling you with occult tales, Introspection consternate you with images of gunfire, acrid skies and dead, mangled corpses in a far more realistic manner. As on their older releases, Introspection heave the listener into these scenarios with the ruthless suddenness of an unprecedented missile warning, with the presentiment that it’s all over for humanity. As a warning against where the human race is heading and where it will end up should it continue on its present course, it leaves a lasting impression. What I still find most imposing about “Nihilistic Hatred” is its literary reference, namely Ivan Turgenev's “Fathers and Sons” and Fyodor Dostoevsky's “Demons” as I indicated in my last review of the band. I imagine both these books should be read cover to cover for the listener to fully appreciate Introspection’s message here. -Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Virghon: All vocals, guitars and bass
P. Wilard: Session drummer

Track list:
1. In the Curse of War
2. Nihilistic Hatred
3. Geisteswissenschaft 1945
4. Nuclear Annihilation
5. The Nihilist
6. Forgotten Glory
7. Voina
8. Fire Empire

Friday, July 5, 2019

Interview with special effects artist HAZAL TANRIVERDI by Dave Wolff

Interview with special effects artist HAZAL TANRIVERDI

What inspired you to pursue art, makeup artistry, and photography professionally?
I am Hazal Tanrıverdi from İzmir, Turkey. I am an art historian, makeup artist, and photographer. I graduated from Ege University where I studied art history. I have been doing makeup artistry for five years. I have been doing photography for ten years. But makeup artistry is my favourite. I got a course in makeup artistry including special effects makeup, professional makeup, and permanent (micro blading) makeup. Of course, my passion is about special effects makeup art. I am in love with special effects, and my whole life is about it. Each day I work very hard. I watch movies (especially horror and science-fiction), video clips and famous makeup artist videos. Every single day I am learning something new. The most beautiful thing in special effects is you are free to imagine, and you can mix imagination with your hands and create masterpieces for everyone. For example, I have been working with some film producer for short movies, documentary and video clips and stage makeup for musicians and Halloween parties. When I begin to create makeup, my imagination cannot stop and my hands cooperate with my ears. I am in love with music. I cannot work without music and I cannot live without "metal" music (especially heavy metal, thrash metal and death metal). Music feeds my imagination. So; music, horror movies, books and of course ‘’life’’ are among the things that inspire me.

What historical periods did you study in art school, and how long have you been a professional art historian?
I studied all of art history from the first era to today. I studied Greek art, Romanian art, Byzantium art, prehistoric art, Asian art, European art, Islamic and Turkish art, Hellenistic art, 20th-century art and so on. I have been an art historian for three years, working in local art galleries and writing some articles about Byzantium art. I worked in a local art gallery for a short period. I worked there when there was an exhibition and I was introducing my paintings. Also for a long time, I’ve published articles at the internet magazine Nouvart about my special effects makeup.

Which artists from Greek, Romanian, Asian, Turkish and European history made an impression on you?
There are many of them... Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Giotto, Leonardo Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Mimar Sinan, Sedefkar Mehmet Ağa, Isidorous and Anthemius, Ahlatlı Hürrem Şah, Zenon, Emin Halid Onat, Ahmet Orhan Arda, Wassily Kandinsky, El Greco, Andy Warhol, Gustav Klimt, Hieronymus Bosch, Frida Kahlo.

As a photographer, has your work been published in local or national magazines?
I actually joined a photography contest and I was awarded third place. And then they published my photograph in magazines. I also publish my photos on my Flickr and Facebook accounts.

What equipment do you use as a photographer? How does your equipment bring out your desired results?
I am using the Canon series, including lenses and other devices. Mostly, I take black and white (monochrome) photographs of landscapes, objects and street art. I love black and white art in photography. It feels very emotional.

How does your interest in art history and photography influence your makeup effects work?
I grew up with art and my family was supportive of me. When I was a little girl, I saw the world with a different perspective from others. Today I still am. When I studied for university exams, I wanted to study art and decided to study art history. Art history influenced me to different perspectives and I am open to many fields of art. I am a person who wants to produce something new, and makeup artistry is a creative field for me.

How difficult is it to find work in Turkey? How long did it take you after graduation?
In Turkey, you can easily find a job in makeup but a job in special effects is harder to find. Many effects artists are working freelance. After working as an art historian I found freelance makeup jobs in İstanbul, Ankara, Antalya, etc and I’m still working.

What horror movies made an impression on you? Which eras of horror cinema do you most appreciate for imagination and creativity?
My favourite horror movies are The Conjuring series. And the Insidious series was awesome. Both movies have the same director, James Wan. The subject matter and make up was great! I love cult horror movies such as the Evil Dead series, The Hills Have Eyes series, The Exorcist, Psycho, The Shining, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Silence of the Lambs, It, The Thing, Hellraiser, etc. I love cult movies and I found them creative. As we look to the past, all those movies made big waves despite the lack of opportunities for some of them, in terms of makeup skills, material, and technology. 50’s makeup effects were different from today’s. But in my opinion, today’s special effect makeup is inspired by that of the past. Today the industry is improving day by day, skills are getting better and people are open to new ideas. We owe most of this to cult horror movies.

Are there any special effects artists you admire for their work in movies?
I admire Stan Winston, Rick Baker, Dick Smith, Joe Blasco, Kevin Yagher and Ve Neill.

Describe the Conjuring series and the Insidious series to readers who aren’t familiar with them.
James Wan continued his style with Insidious and Patrick Wilson worked with him. The Conjuring series tells of how Ed and Lorraine Warren became famous for investigating paranormal events. In the Insidious series, the first movie begins with the young couple Josh and Renai moving into a new home with their three children. It reveals the phenomenon known as the astral voyage in an eerie way. The other movies follow the topic and are interconnected.

Are you as fascinated with album cover art as you are with albums? Which cover art made a lasting impression on you? Which cover artists do you admire most?
Kreator’s “Violent Revolution” and “Coma of Souls”; Toxic Holocaust’s “Death Master”, “Evil Never Dies” and ”Hell on Earth”; Vader’s “The Ultimate Incantation”, “Morbid Reich”, “Sothis”, “Black to the Blind” and “Kingdom”; Slayer’s “Season in the Abyss”, “Christ Illusion”, “Divine Intervention” and “Reign in Blood”; Exumer’s “Possessed by Fire”, “Fire & Damnation” and “Hostile Defiance”; Destruction’s “Release from Agony”, “Infernal Overkill”, “Cracked Brain”, “Thrash Anthems” and “Day of Reckoning”; Sodom’s “Obsessed by Cruelty”, “Tapping the Vein”, “Agent Orange” ,”Persecution Mania”, “Code Red” and “M-16”; Demolition Hammer’s “Tortured Existence”; Vio-lence’s “Eternal Nightmare”, “Nothing to Gain”; Possessed’s “Seven Churches”, ‘’Beyond the Gates’’ and “The Eyes of Horror”; Venom’s “Black Metal”, “Hell”, “Welcome to Hell” and “Prime Evil”; Death’s “Scream Bloody Gore”, ‘’Leprosy”, “Symbolic”, “Spiritual Healing” and “Human”; Bolt Thrower’s “War Master”, “Mercenary”, “Realm of Chaos”; Dismember’s “Indecent and Obscene”, “Death Metal”, “The God That Never Was”; Pestilence’s “Consuming Impulse”, “Spheres” and “Malleus Maleficarum”; Morbid Angel’s “Altar of Madness”, “Domination” and “Heretic”; Deicide’s “Deicide”, “Serpents of the Light”, “In Torment in Hell”, “Till Death Do Us Part”; Bloodbath’s “Nightmares Made Flesh”, “The Fathomless Mastery” and “Breeding Death”; Gorefest’s “False”, “Soul Survivor”, “Mindloss”; Carcass’s “Reek of Putrefaction”, “Heartwork”; and especially Motörhead’s “Orgasmatron”, “Iron Fist”, “Overkill”, “Another Perfect Day” and “Inferno”. Those are my favourite covers. I also love black metal, doom metal, psychedelic/progressive metal cover art. My favourite artists and cover artists are Andreas Marschall, Ed Repka, Dan Seagrave, Travis Smith, H.R Giger, Eliran Kantor, Joe Petagno, Larry Carol and Alex Grey.

Why do you consider it important for an album to have cover art representing the songs on it?
Album covers are like clothes in my opinion. They should be attractive. I think the cover art of an album, for which bands worked hard on for a long time, is the album’s identity. Many people are intrigued by the cover as well as the songs. The design is always important to me.

Would you design album covers if you had the opportunity? Which bands would you like to work with?
I would like to. By the way, I am interested in drawing in my free time. If I had the opportunity I would like to work with Kreator, Amenra, Sodom, Thy Darkened Shade, Judas Priest, Carpathian Forest, Venom, Benediction, Vader, and Urgehal.

What were the first movies you worked on? How well did your work show on screen?
I worked in lots of movies, short films, and series. The most important of these were Bilanço, Ajurne, Katil Kim?, Sorgu, Yol, Acı, Gecenin Sesi. Ajurne was about old age makeup effects. But others were full of bloody-gore style makeup effects. When I saw them on screen, I thought they were good. Most of the projects were horror and science-fiction.

How do you base your makeup effects on a movie’s storyline?
The director gives me a script, I take a quick look and think of how I can create makeup for it. Then I talk to the art director, costume designer, and gaffer, about an actor’s costume or which side the lights will come up, etc. When we decide on it, I begin to create makeup by adding my own imagination. After finishing the design, I prepare the actor and apply the make up their body.

What new movie projects are you currently working on? Are you hoping to work outside Turkey, perhaps in Italy, England or the US?
I am going to work on a short movie project which is supposed to be out in August. It will be a horror movie with lots of blood! I am hoping to work outside the country. Again the special effects industry is not strong enough in Turkey. So I would like to work in the US. My dream is working in Hollywood. I am working so hard and trying to improve day by day. There are a lot more opportunities in the USA as far as makeup and special effects. It would be nice to visit again after I was here three years ago.

Are you seeking contact with film companies in the US? Where can they contact you if interested?
People can contact me with my e-mail address, my social media accounts or my phone number (write and I’ll send it to you directly).

-Dave Wolff

Serialization: "The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice" by Roberta Downing: Chapter Twelve

The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice
Novel by Roberta Downing
Cover artwork designed by Jerry Langdon


Chapter Twelve

Summer had arrived and all that time was allocated to be spent with her master in lessons on trailing, summoning and combat. The school year had been very difficult for her but the great thing about RavenDance was that he always pushed her past what she thought she could do. In some ways, he reminded her so much of her brother, Clef who would always challenge her.
RavenDance had the entire summer filled up with going to some cave that was crawling with lower level demons and the undead. Just great. It is a good thing that she adopted her own motto of “what doesn’t kill me will make me much better than Clef.” Bright side, she would be in a cave where hopefully it would be nice and cool.
It seemed that Bell was not the only arcane that would be caving it this summer. She was paired with an apprentice priest and courtesan, and informed that they would be part of her inner circle probably for the rest of her life.
The courtesan would be in charge of cooking, repairing armor and any other house hold type chores that would be needed. The priest would be praying, taking care of their religious needs as well as healing, field surgery and the like.
“Greetings arcane warrior apprentice. I am arcane priest Jasper” said the boy. “It is an honor to be in your inner circle.”
Another boy bowed. “Greetings arcane warrior apprentice. I am Damon, your courtesan. It is my utmost pleasure to meet you.” He seemed to blush as the words rolled out of his mouth. Bell found him to be very handsome.
“Hello to the both of you. Pleasure is all mine. I had no idea when I would be paired with some of those who were to be in my inner circle.” Bell said.
RavenDance said “Actually Bell, this is happening a bit before schedule because it has come to my attention that you have become quite bored in combat training and are taking down your opponents too easily. The combatant instructor has already been pairing you up against those who are two years above you.”
“Yeah, I wish I could say I’m sorry about that but I’m not.” She said.
Her master laughed knowing full well the force that was driving her to having to be the best in every class.
“Since you are all finally here together, I need to tell you about a dream I had”
RavenDance rudely interrupted her “Bell, we all know about the dream you had that set you upon this path. Must we all hear it again?”
“IF you would let me finish…” she looked at him very sternly. “I had a dream last night that I found very interesting. In this dream I was me but in full armor and there was a man there, he said that he was my Mentor in the dream world. In this dream, we were sparing. Stalking around each other as if it were some kind of ritual or dance, which I have to say was a bit arousing. He had me meditate for a while. When I came out of the meditation…the name Bell no longer felt like my own.”
Jasper looked at her with surprising shock. “Wow! Do you know how lucky you are? I mean really! From my studies thus far, I can tell you that only a handful of Arcanes ever gain the attention to garner the Mentor.”
RavenDance explained that the Mentor in her dream was actually Arcanos Demonos who had taken notice of her determination and skills and chose to give extra instruction.
“Ok well from now on, Bell is no more” she said. “My name is Demona.”
Her inner circle and RavenDance all nodded and repeated her name in unison.
The summer went by so fast. Demona was challenged beyond her wildest dreams. For the first time in combat she was actually badly wounded and spent a week under the care of Jasper. She was able to garner names, places and ranks of some of the demons that she wanted to summon and it must have been something bardic in her because she was actually able to gain the true name of the demon from her nightmare.
The last summoning she did was to call and ensnare that damned demon. She had to face him; she had to face that fear. RavenDance’s face was full of fear as were all in her inner circle. Demona was now summoning THE Prince of the Nine Planes of Hell.
“I call upon Antonio, First Prince of the Nine Planes of Hell to appear before me now.” She used every single ounce of will she could find within her and it felt as if she were drawing the will from Jasper, Damon and RavenDance.
Much more forcefully “Appear before me NOW!”
And just like that- there he was. The thing that said it was going to take everything she loved from her, standing in the summoning circle unable to move.
Antonio was disorientated. “How DARE you summon me! I AM the Prince!”
“Silence!” she demanded.
He realized that he had been summoned by an Arcane Warrior who was not fully into her power. He grinned as the wheels turned in his head thinking about calling forth other demons to aide him. He then realized who had summoned him.
“M’Lady Bell. Aren’t you supposed to be at the bardic academy? What is this?!”
“I am facing you Antonio. I am here to let you know that I am the one who will take everything you love and hold dear away from you. I will kill them all and make you watch as I slowly torture them and kill them and then I’ll feed you their most vile organs. But you…you I will torture until the end of my days before I kill you.”
“M’Lady, I think you misunderstood my message a few years ago. I don’t want to take them away from you. I accept all those you love and everything you hold dear. I accept them and you as my own, my love” he said.
Demona’s third crown birthmark burned. She knew he was to be her last love, the most passionate and loving of all of them.
“You are released to return to your home” she said. He left without any argument and she collapsed to the floor.
When she awoke outside of the cave she felt confident, like the black cloud that plagued her since her fifth birthday was gone and the sun was shining and she felt power. She could hear Jasper asking if she were alright.
She sat up then stood up. “I’m…I’m different now.”
“You most certainly are Demona. Look at your armor” Damon said.
She looked down and she saw that the armor looked like natural skin. It felt natural. Like nothing of Bell existed and she was finally who she was supposed to be. Her daily ware no longer fit her.
“We have to return to the academy apprentice as you and I need to seek an audience with the Great Summoner.”
Demona did not recall her armor. She mounted her horse and they all left for the academy. She felt a sense of pride and relief. She sat up strait on the horse, just like RavenDance had done. Her whole demeanor had changed. She could actually feel the cool air emanating from her. Of course Demona wasn’t the only one that grew in power- her inner circle seemed much more than they were before and the bond had truly formed between them. They were now inseparable.