Sunday, December 30, 2018

Full Length Review: TRANSNADEŽNOST' Monomyth (Nologo Noname Records) by James K. Blaylock

Place of origin: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Genre: Psychedelic, progressive stoner rock
Full length: Monomyth
Release date: September 23, 2018
From the first few twangs on the guitar I was hooked on the hypnotically lush soundscapes of Transnadežnost'. Monomyth is so much more than psychedelic stoner rock n roll, as it draws the listener deeper into its vortex of pleasantly penetrating noise. It feels like an epic undertaking unfolding before our very ears, plus, you don’t have to be high to partake on this journey. Although, some may still choose to do so. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find a whole lotta back information on this band, this doesn’t really take away from their awesomeness. In fact I listened to the CD so much on band camp that I wasn’t allowed to listen any longer without paying - I guess that’s saying something for them. Or maybe that’s just saying something about me... either way check these guys out... you’ll be glad you did. Maybe you’ll do like I did and wear out your welcome, that’s just a joke. Anyways, enjoy. There you have it: the good, the bad and the ugly. -James K. Blaylock

Aleksandr Yershov: Guitar
Alesya Izlesa: Guitar, glockenspiel
Nikolay Vladimirovich: Bass
David Aaronson: Drums, percussion
Egor Svysokihgor: Vocals, lyrics on Huldra
Aleksey Gorshkov: Trumpets on Star Child, Day/Night

Track list:
1. Pacha Mama
2. Ladoga
3. Kailash
4. Star Child
5. Huldra
6. Chewbacca
7. Day/Night

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Single Review: HEATHEN BEAST Bloody Sabarimala by Dave Wolff

Place of origin: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Genre: Black metal
Release date: December 21, 2018
In 2008 Sam Dunn interviewed members of Resurrection, Exhumation, Kryptos, Prakalp and Souled Out for his documentary Global Metal, bringing extreme metal from India to the mainstream’s attention when the first underground bands were emerging there. As he pointed out, “…These people aren't just absorbing metal from the west; they're transforming it, creating a new outlet they can't find in their traditional cultures, a voice to express their discontent with the chaos and uncertainty that surrounds them in their rapidly changing societies.” In the past decade Indian society has changed radically as more bands are playing thrash, death metal, black metal, power metal, progressive metal, groove metal and metalcore. Heathen Beast has been part of this change since 2010, and have released a handful of EPs since their inception. In many ways they are a cut above the rest when it comes to paying homage to their culture heritage. Each of their releases presents more examples of Indian mythology and religious beliefs; their most recent single Bloody Sabarimala is essential listening if you appreciate black metal’s upholding of tradition, folklore and mythos. Released last weekend, Bloody Sabarimala embodies legend and historical fact dating to the fifteenth century when the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple was constructed in Kerala, India. One of the most well-known mythological legends associated with the temple is of Lord Ayyappan, and the demoness Mahishi. Ayyappan was the son of Lord Shiva and Vishnu, and Mahishi was cursed to live as a demoness until he defeated her in battle and she became the goddess Malikappurathamma. She proposed to marry him, but he was dedicated to his devotees. Apparently this legend has been twisted to condone barring women of menstrual age from entering the temple for centuries. This was in practice from the nineteenth century to 1991 when the courts ruled against the Travancore Devaswom Board, barring women between 10 and 50 from worshiping at the temple. The centuries-old ban was finally overturned by the courts last September. From what the band told me when explaining what the song is about it has been one of India’s leading social issues in the months that followed the decision to overturn this ban. There have been protests in the streets and even with police protection women are still not permitted to enter the temple. Heathen Beast addresses the folly of distorting legend to rationalize the denial of free worship. Their knowledge of folklore is consistent with the knowledge displayed on their past releases; no one can accuse them of playing up to an empty image to impress listeners with how “evil” they can appear. Heathen Beast made a promotional video for this single which can be viewed below. -Dave Wolff

Carvaka: Vocals, guitars
Samkhya: Bass
Mimamsa: Drums

Monday, December 24, 2018

Fiction: SNOW WHITE by Susan Stiltner

Fiction by Susan Stiltner

It was an uncommonly dark morning. Snow White woke with a very eerie feeling, one like she had never before felt. As she got out of her bed she stumbled. Why did she feel so weak? She took a strained breath and continued across the cold wood floor to the window. She stopped just a few feet from her destination and listened for a moment. She had grown accustomed to the hustle and bustle of early morning in this house. When all the dwarfs were busy getting themselves ready for a hard day of working in the mines. Morning usually held the sounds of pots and pans clanging in the kitchen, the men shuffling through dresser drawers, seven sets of boots clomping about the floor of their tiny little cabin, which they had graciously allowed her shelter in.
Today however, there was nothing. Not even the birds outside were chirping. She stepped closer to the window, trying to shake the strange feeling that had come over her, then she slowly opened the curtains. She stumbled back and gasped. It was a completely black sky. There were no stars in sight. She turned to look at the big grandfather clock in the opposite corner of the room. Midnight. Why on earth had she woken up in the middle of the night? And why in the world did her stomach rumble a hunger pang that made it seem as though she hadn't eaten in a week? Suddenly, at the mere thought of food, her stomach lurched. Now she felt more nauseated than she had been in a long time. Fighting back the urge to vomit, Snow White decided to take a walk through the house and check on her friends. On her way back across the bedroom floor she passed by a large mirror that they had handmade just for her. It was then that she saw it. Her reflection! Right there on the side of her neck were two tiny puncture wounds that were seeping blood.
She brought her hand up and gently touched the holes, wincing as she did. A wave of fear swept over her. Something was horribly wrong! Rushing to the door she swung it open with such force that it bounced off the wall and almost knocked her down when it came crashing back to her. Undaunted she ran down the hall, terrified and shaken by what she had just seen in her own reflection. She stopped mid-stride when she caught an unfamiliar odor in the air. Standing in the hallway outside the room that held seven tiny beds, which in turn held her best friends, she took another staggered breath.
The door was open, the dull moonlight seeped in through a small opening in the curtains. Only a sliver of light fell to the floor, but that was enough. In that instant Snow White was face to face with her own worst nightmare. Her tiny friends lay mangled on the floor, torn to shreds by some unknown entity. Blood was covering almost every inch of the room. She realized that to be the smell she had noticed only moments before. She started to panic. Never, in all her nineteen years, had she even realized how cruel the world could be.
She had survived the wrath of her stepmother and her gang of hunters that had been sent to destroy her. One of the hunters had even caught her. It was a few months ago. He had chased her for such a long distance and she grew tired. This afforded him the chance he needed to throw his rope out and catch her around the neck. He dragged her over to his horse and jumped down onto the ground in front of her. He grabbed a handful of her raven black hair and picked her up. As her feet met the ground he drew his sword. Just as he raised the blade above his head, her favorite of the dwarfs, Dopey, who had been practicing his hunting skills, shot the hunter right in the center of his chest with a long wooden arrow. The man fell, dropping his blade and releasing his hold on the maiden. She dropped to the ground sobbing with relief. Dopey ran over to her and wrapped his arms around her, it was then that she saw his tears. "I was afraid I would lose you if I didn't stop him." he said.
Snapping back to the present Snow White was overcome with fear. What would she do without them? Who could have hurt her friends? BUMP! Something moved in the corner of the room. Was the culprit still inside the house? She was faced with a terrible dilemma. Should she run? Or should she stay, and release all the anger she felt, all the rage, on the person responsible for taking the lives of such sweet innocent beings. She decided on the latter. Gathering every ounce of courage she could manage she took a breath and stepped in the direction of the sound.
Suddenly the harsh reality of what had happened here was almost too much to bear. Looking around however, she saw nothing, except the distorted bodies of her beloved dwarfs. Thinking she had better get a closer look, for the sake of finding the answer to this riddle, she reached for a lantern that had been hanging by the door and lit it. Just as she had feared, the bloody scene was far worse in the light. Clearly a great massacre had taken place only a few feet from her own room. Why hadn't she heard anything? Why hadn't she sensed something was wrong? Had her friends perished trying to protect her?
She could no longer hold it all in, she sat down on the cold, blood soaked floor with her head in her hands, and began to cry. Just then something moved beside her leg. Startled, she jerked her head around to look. A small hand raised and touched her leg. It was Dopey. He was still alive, but only barely. She leaned over to him and touched his face softly. His eyes rose to meet hers and she saw only complete fear looking back at her. Trying to make her voice come out as soothingly as possible without shaking, she whispered to him "It's ok, I'm here now." She then asked the only question she could. "Who did this?" With his final breath Dopey answered, but it wasn't the answer she had thought she wanted to hear. Her dearest friend looked into her eyes and said "It was you!"

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Interview with Harley Wooton of DEATHKIDS by Dave Wolff

Interview with Harley Wooton of DEATHKIDS

Having been active for most of the 1990s, Deathkids reformed this year to release a new full length. What led to the band getting back together to record new material?
Deathkids existed before Youtube and documenting stuff online, so we wanted to upload some content. Then I went a step further and did a re-boot. I wasn’t sure if I should use that name but my friend Frankie encouraged me to go in that direction. It has been fun.

Do you still have any live recordings from 1993 to 1999? Would you consider posting them on social media for people to view?
We'll be uploading some mid-90's recordings to our YouTube channel and articles, zines, and other images on our Facebook and Instagram soon. Most of the early stuff is from Long Island.

Where on Long Island are most of your early shows from? Does the visual and sound quality still hold up since they were filmed?
Most of our early shows were at The Roxy. We opened for amazing legends like Six Feet Under and Death there. There's an image on our Facebook that has clippings from the graphics of those shows. It was an honor. I have great memories from that venue as a fan too. I think my first concert was seeing Mercyful Fate there. That was amazing.

What recollections do you have of the Long Island death metal scene around the time you were performing at the Roxy?
The venue brought in my favorite bands. I remember getting to see lots of legends perform up close. We crossed paths with Internal Bleeding and Pyrexia a lot, and they always treated us really cool even though we were little kids. And it made seeing them perform a lot that much cooler. Glen Benton was really cool to us as well. I am so thankful to everyone that made those times so fun for us. They easily could have disregarded us or treated us poorly but they never did.

Do you still see the camaraderie you experienced in the local death metal scene in those days? Later on in the 90s there was a lot of competition and backbiting in the scene. Had Deathkids ever had to tolerate it?
I just remember lots of fun. Maybe I was too naive to notice what was really going on. Nowadays I see camaraderie on video game speed running Discord servers but I'm not sure about music.

Which Deathkids songs from your first decade still resonate in your memories?
The most important Deathkids song is Doomsday, as that was the first one we ever made. There is an early 1994 version of the song with clean vocals and a music video that I made with our original bassist Gregg Cook. We used our Halloween props and had shots of cutting off Gregg's legs and stuff. I hope to get that uploaded at some point. That song started it all.

How would you rate the quality of the video for Doomsday, compared to today’s independently produced band videos?
Haha. They are kind of similar, actually. Both involved standing in front of a sheet in the basement and having fun getting the shots. Today we have After Effects and phones with nicer cameras than Hollywood had back then.

Do you remember the reasons the Deathkids parted company around the late 1990s? You appeared to be doing well playing many shows, fest appearances and doing many zine interviews.
Sometimes an act only exists for a certain amount of time. You can always re-discover what has already been recorded, so Deathkids never disappeared. It just wasn't an act that would tour and release forever. It makes what we did more special, more important for everyone that was involved. We didn't stop making music, but in 2003 we started a new band.

Are you still in touch with Dean “Lord Slayer” Adams who contributed lyrics to your CD Bleeding and Praying? What is the possibility of another collaboration?
We had some really good songs with his lyrics that were never recorded. We played them live a few times, I think once in New Jersey. Hopefully I can find that footage. One of them was really heavy and was going to be the first track of the third album. It would be interesting to collaborate again. For now I'm getting all of my ideas out for the Forest Of Wires follow-up.

Describe the making of Bleeding and Praying. How well was the CD received locally and nationally?
In 1997 we returned to Pyramid Sound Studios in Ithaca, New York with the legendary genius of audio Alex Perialis. My first favorite album was "Foul Taste Of Freedom" by Pro-Pain, which he did, so I was always psyched to go there. Alex made the process fast and fun as hell. I think that album had heavier songs. It seems like people who enjoy our music enjoy that one more and casual fans seeking novelty are drawn to Born In Hell.

In the late 1990s your father Ken Wooton Sr. was the band’s studio and live bassist. How was that working out for you?
I'm glad that we have so many videos documenting the shows that we played. The road trips were fun too, like a family vacation.

One of the zines that quite often featured Deathkids when they were active was Bill Zebub’s Grimoire Of Exalted Deeds. What was your opinion of that zine when it was in publication?
Looking back, it's easy to focus on highlights like opening for legends like Death or Deicide, but at the time the highlight for me was arriving at a venue and finding a new issue of The Grimoire. Bill Zebub is a genius. The Grimoire is hilarious and has great interviews. His movies are great too. The articles, the distorted pictures, the graphics, and the good taste of bands covered... Amazing.

Which of Bill Zebub’s movies have you and the band watched recently? What do you appreciate about their social satire?
I gravitate toward his documentaries as those are my favorite type of film and I make documentaries as well. If someone is on a YouTube adventure looking through stories about black metal or death metal, I'd say videos like his Pagan Metal Documentary are must-see.

What about the Pagan Metal documentary did you most like? Was it Bill’s approach to interviewing or the information the bands offered, or some of both?
I like documentaries made by authentic people because the edit that they release is a glimpse into reality instead of their narrative. Bill Zebub is an authentic participant in the world of people that subscribe to heavy music and has compiled essential documentaries for metal fans.

Tell the readers about your involvement in the film short Chikara: Wrestling Equality, about gender equality in professional wrestling. What inspired you to make this movie, and how did you arrange the interviews and whatnot?
I was at the event and captured the story that was there. That video was made while women's wrestling was topical and has since had changes with people like Ronda Rousey getting involved. I never had an issue with Katana being a competitive character in Mortal Kombat or Chun Li in Street Fighter. It's a fantasy world, a fun show. I've always had a relationship with wrestling and WWF, especially when I was in the original version of Deathkids. It's interesting to contribute to that world in some way.

A new documentary is coming out toward the end of 2018. What is the subject matter and how did you arrange and film it?
Dreamchasers is a documentary time capsule video about music, video games, and wrestling shot in New York, 2011. It was a fun adventure filming it all back then. I hope someday that people will watch it and see what I did with it.

What equipment do you usually use when making documentaries? Are you generally satisfied with the results?
Equipment is always evolving and I'm trying to learn more about it. It seems like technology is becoming more accessible and user-friendly. I'm excited to see what's possible next.

In the 2000s you were involved in the local band inRed who released four full lengths and an EP up until 2011. Did you get to promote those releases by performing locally and/or out of state?
inRed was a much different project. I had the honor of working on that project with great friends and bassists like Jay Rosario as well as Jesse McGunnigle, who went on to do the great band Yonder Realm. I got to play guitar alongside Derek Ratz, who sadly passed away a few years ago but would've been psyched to hear the new music. He always wanted to do a heavier style. He left behind his own crazy musical legacy in recordings and projects that are still online.

In what ways was inRed different from Deathkids? Your abilities as musicians had improved since the 90s; how much did it show in the material?
I see inRed as existing in a different universe. inRed had a lot of different styles and was like a musical journal. I would learn new things and apply them to songs that were being cranked out daily. There are a lot of songs, over a hundred. Some are great. If someone enjoys our new album Forest of Wires, they would probably enjoy the inRed releases between 2009 and 2011.

Is the band reforming long term or was it a one shot reunion to record Forest Of Wires, the full length you released this October? What is your lineup at the time of this writing?
Deathkids played a show on Halloween 2018 which was uploaded today to our YouTube and Facebook channels. The video reveals that our line-up is my brother Ken Wooton and I, so there is no disconnect between the creation aspect and the live performance.
I'm writing the continuation of the Forest Of Wires story now. It's going to be better, darker, and more bizarre than the first. I'm really excited to release it. I'd love to talk about it but it's so early, it will probably change a lot by the time that anyone sees it. It will make Forest Of Wires less confusing, while creating lots of new confusion.

Forest Of Wires is about sixteen minutes in length. You have said the album is both a film and musical, as well as a challenge to how people consume music in this day and age. In what ways is it a challenge?
I guess Forest of Wires isn't much of a challenge, as it's not really that ground-breaking compared to the most extreme examples of releases. I guess "challenge" was a way for me to say that it's not a real album. Albums grew out of necessities of the past, which were awesome but we weren't bound to anything. We're completely independent and had no expectations, so we didn't consider them. We created whatever we wanted, which turned out to be eight songs with connected videos and a supplementary guide book. We could have padded out the songs or included the lesser songs that were cut, just to make it more like a typical album, but instead I went in the direction of making the whole thing as consumable as possible. If anything, I was thinking of cutting more, not adding anything.

What are the ideas the band wished to convey through Forest Of Wires, such as technology’s impact on the human race?
Technology has given us a way to capture memories that can be easily copied and will last forever. You can find videos of Morbid Angel in their prime or footage of me when I was ten. I'm thankful for people who remembered us and uploaded our history and for the fact that we can access so much, so quickly. It's great that people around the world can so easily hear our new music.
Forest Of Wires is over-stuffed with messages and ideas. I think a big one is that we can be our own worst enemies and people can change drastically over time. Another big theme is abortion. The videos, lyrics, and comic books have lots of ideas to discover and decipher. For better or worse, I haven't had any two people give me the same interpretation of Forest of Wires.

What kind of a process was it to translate your thoughts into the songs on Forest Of Wires?
If someone reading this is dealing with writer's block, my recommendation is to start with a lot of ideas. I started with an outline and a loose script based off of it. Once I had an abundance of ideas and themes, the songs and lyrics were easily shitted out. Maybe that's why Iron Maiden bases a lot of songs on books. If you have a book of ideas, a few poems are easy. And the musical score, the songs themselves, are easy to put behind words that you find potent. For everything I do creatively, I stick to the story, story, story. If there were words or sounds or songs that didn't tell the story, I cut them. I also enjoy recording random riffs or just jamming out, but top-down, story-first creating is the key to creation for me right now.

How long did it take you to develop your approach to writing the lyrics on Forest Of Wires?
It kind of just happened. Even the very first Deathkids lyrics were some kind of attempt at story-telling. When I was a little kid I liked songs like “Stripped, Raped, and Strangled" by Cannibal Corpse because it felt like a first-person story. Lately I've been inspired by the writing on projects like the first Wintersun album, which has a lot of first-person story-telling. It feels like going on an adventure with the character that you see on the cover. That plus it's one of the best albums ever.

How many videos has the band released to promote Forest Of Wires? How well do the videos represent the album?
The album can be watched as one video or as eight individual songs. The videos and the comic book all tie the story together.

Are live shows being scheduled to help support the new album? If you’ve already been playing out, how have the turnouts been?
We performed the album on Halloween, it was a great party. It was a small crowd of cool people who watched an obscure, underground project.

Describe the comic and how it enhances the storyline of Forest Of Wires. Who designed the front cover and the artwork inside?
The script was turned into music videos and a comic book at the same time. Final forms of each were done around the same time, a month or two before they were released. The artwork was done by Estanislao Maruga and Sayoud Slimane.

2018 is drawing to a close; can fans expect new material from inRed and Deathkids in 2019? If so, how soon do you expect to begin writing, recording and coming up with conceptual ideas?
I've been making up the sequel to Forest of Wires and some of the music is tracked. It's going to be a productive year! If anyone is interested in what we do, I would say it's a good time to start following.

How do you want Deathkids and inRed to be remembered for their impact on extreme music in the future?
I hope people will know that I had a shit ton of fun making everything that I have and I'm so thankful for everyone that contributes and helps along the way. If someone is ever looking this up to research how a young kid could've come up with a death metal band, I'd say it happened because my dad exposed me to music like King Diamond and Pantera, and I really enjoyed playing music. I couldn't get into playing classical or major scales when I was young, but I really enjoyed playing riffs that were evil and almost atonal like Deicide, Morbid Angel, or Slayer. I wasn't learning music in a proper way but that enjoyment of what I was actually doing propelled me to get good at coming up with my own riffs and screaming ideas quickly. When I later focused on chords and scales, I had so much to work with. Ultimately, Deathkids was formed because death metal is awesome. Good music is awesome. I have to contribute!
-Dave Wolff

Interview with Rafal Bowman and Javier Calderón of CHAOS OVER COSMOS by Dave Wolff

Interview with Rafal Bowman and Javier Calderón of CHAOS OVER COSMOS

You and your band Chaos Over Cosmos are based in Poland, known for spawning such bands as Vader and Behemoth. Is the underground there the same as it was when those bands started?
Rafal Bowman: Actually I don't know exactly how it's changed, I'm too young to remember the beginnings. I know that there is still a strong black and death metal scene but I've never been part of it (though I like a few of the bands, like Kriegsmaschine or Untervoid if we speaking about more underground bands). I'm 100% into writing and recording music but I was never interested in playing in a 'normal' band, having rehearsals and gigs. Also I find my situation more comfortable because I'm writing whatever I want and don't have to compromise with other three or four members. In the band there's only me and Javier who has tastes quite similar to mine and good ideas. I think it's much more musically unlimited than compromises as a whole band. Or maybe I have just poor social skills, I don't know haha. So in short: I have never been a part of the true underground (whatever the true underground is).

How did you come up with the name Chaos Over Cosmos, and how does this name represent the band’s sound?
Javier Calderón: The name "Chaos Over Cosmos" represents our personalities and our music. As you can see, there is room for calm passages, ambient parts, galloping guitars and melodic choruses, because we are storytelling, not only playing, and we think that our songs reflect that. And all the band names with the words Metal, Steel and Iron are taken!

What tastes in music do you and Javier Calderon have in common? How do your ideas make Chaos Over Cosmos unique?
Javier Calderón: If we have something in common it is our passion for melodic heavy metal and sci-fi bands like Keldian or Iron Maiden, besides mellow death bands like In Flames, video games, movies... to just name a few!
Rafal Bowman: But only old In Flames!
Speaking about the music we both are Iron Maiden freaks and we both are much into the Scandinavian metal scene. Javier is a bit more of a classic heavy/power metal listener while I'm more into progressive or technical genres and some classical composers. It's a good combination of styles and tastes between us, I think.
Javier Calderón: The main feat of our band is our sound and the fact that we've never met each other. I mean, there are a LOT of bands out there, some mimicking their favorite bands, some trying to create something new. We, who worship “the old gods” are trying to do something different, and at the same time are complete strangers (at least physically) to each other. We have elements of different styles of rock and metal, ambient synths, catchy melodies and “not your default metal vocalist” that helps us distinguish from other bands.

How long have you and Javier been fans of metal, and how do you relate to it beyond the popular stereotypes? Do you incorporate other music genres into Submission’s sound, such as classical which was mentioned earlier?
Javier Calderón: I've been listening to metal for almost twenty years, and you can tell it's my only reference when I'm composing or singing. But aside from metal my passion is video game soundtracks, which is probably the reason I got into metal many years ago. I also like classical stuff, movies OST and 80's bands (rock/pop/metal). Everything I mentioned earlier could be an element of Chaos Over Cosmos’s music.
Rafal Bowman: I started listening to metal when I was about twelve/thirteen years old, around 2005. Good times. I found my brother's CDs; he was always into rock music, but a different kind. Anyway, he had Rock In Rio from Iron Maiden and I was like "Wow, that's amazing". That's how it started.
About different genres; I always admired old composers, it inspired my guitar playing and taught me the proper technical approach for playing music (I prefer the classical approach of playing guitar above the looser rock'n'roll way). Obvious inspiration on some parts of the album is electronic music - mostly ambient. On the next album we'll add even more electronic elements. For me adding things outside metal are really good for the quality of the compositions.

What lyrical themes does the band prefer? Do you base them on religious topics or satanism like other bands, or does the band have their own lyrical themes?
Javier Calderón: We both are atheists and don’t believe in the concept of religion (but we respect it). Our lyrics are based on personal feelings and thoughts, also sci-fi, videogames, books. We don't impose limits on our music, and the lyrics are not an exception. We just do what we want and what we love, and that is reflected in the songs!
Rafal Bowman: I have my views on religion, politics and such things but I'm not really a fan of making statements about this kind of stuff in music. For me music is a place for different themes. For example there is a song called "They Will Fall" on the album, you can easily refer Javier's lyrics to situations in the world somehow. But it's more metaphorical, not so straight, it's not a statement - I like that approach.

What sort of science fiction based themes does the band write about? Sci fi covers a wide spectrum of topics; are you inspired by older or newer sci fi?
Rafal Bowman: That's true, science fiction is a wide genre. I wrote a music under influences taken mostly from old science fiction. I started to write the music for this album a few years ago, so there were many books that made an impact on me. To name a few: the "Foundation" series by Asimov, a few Stanisław Lem books (especially "Fiasco" and "Solaris"), many Arthur C. Clarke books (all four novels in the "A Space Odyssey" series for example), I was impressed by Dan Simmons Hyperion Cantos series and many, many more - the list of authors would be just to long for the interview. Speaking about "cosmic" influences, I was inspired also by the science: cosmological theories, astrophysics and so on - everything about the space. It gave me a lot of inspiration to add more and more spacey elements to the music.
Javier Calderón: The spectrum of the lyrics is wider than just sci-fi, because we talk about personal points of view, world corruption, religion, greed... but we add the sci-fi "touch", because it's not just the lyrics, the music also offers a strong message that inspired me to write all these things. The first song, "Armour of the Stars" is a tribute to PSX RPG Xenogears, which is one of my favorite games ever, and one of the first to approach taboo themes like religion, sexuality and the deprivation of mankind. Nowadays it’s a very common topic in the gaming world, but in those days it was like "wow! Seriously?"

In what ways are your song They Will Fall metaphorical? What appeals to you about metaphor in lyrics?
Javier Calderón: "They Will Fall" is a metaphorical, yet straightforward song. The gloomy riffs of Rafal, which are almost likened to Doom Metal, inspired me on a very negative-yet-positive lyrics, and I talk about how corrupted is this world, but also how mankind has fallen. The song is set in a dystopic time period in which humans have ceased to fight and are treated like sheep driven by a mother-like being. But you can easily link that dystopia to the actual present, so everyone can make their own conclusions while reading the lyrics.

When did you start reading science fiction novels? What kind of an impact did the Foundation and Space Odyssey series made a lasting impression on you?
Rafal Bowman: I started to read science fiction about seven to eight years ago. Earlier I read a lot of fantasy, and I still like this genre. The Foundation and Space Odyssey series both had a really massive conception behind the story. Clarke and Asimov were writers with good science knowledge which is important in true science fiction. Foundation is especially full of ideas that mixed sociology, mathematics, psychology and a few other branches of science together. For example the conception of "psychohistory" is the core of the Foundation series.

Who is Stanisław Lem and how many novels has he published? How does his work stand out from other science fiction authors?
Rafal Bowman: He was one of the greatest, for sure. He wrote about twenty fiction (mostly science-fiction) books and a few about philosophy and the future of humanity from a scientific point of view. I'm a big fan of his books like "Solaris", "Fiasco", "Eden", "His Master's Voice" and a few more. He had interesting opinions about the possibility of contact between humans and something unknown to us. I think "Solaris" is a book that every fan of science fiction should read. The funny thing about Lem is that the famous Philip K Dick wrote a few notes to the FBI about Lem after their correspondence (in the seventies when Lem wanted to release Dick's novel "Ubik" in Poland) because he thought Lem wasn’t a sole writer but part of a communist conspiracy- focused on the infiltration of American writers. He thought that because of his strange surname and very diverse styles of writing. As we all know, P.K. Dick was paranoid and had a lot of problems with his mind, but anyway it shows how talented Lem was.

In what ways do you incorporate the themes of the sci fi novels you have read into your lyrics?
Rafal Bowman: I think that sci-fi books had an impact on music, on the atmosphere but rather not really on lyrics.
Javier Calderón: As Rafal said, the instrumental part of the band can be easily described as Sci-Fi progressive metal, but lyrics are more versatile and any theme can be present on future releases. Of course, we are sci-fi and videogame nerds, so the influences are still there!

How long has the band been recording and releasing material to date? Are your releases available independently?
Rafal Bowman: We released The Unknown Voyage independently and for free. We are on Youtube, Bandcamp, Facebook and a few other places.
Javier Calderón: This is our first album, and right now we are composing the next album. We don't know when it's going to be released, maybe in a few months, maybe in a few years. Creativity is flowing and we want to surpass and expand the limits we faced on “The Unknown Voyage”.

Describe the songwriting process for The Unknown Voyage. Did it sound the way you intended when you started working on it?
Rafal Bowman: It takes a lot of time. I changed many things. I changed plenty of riffs and song structures. It's our first album, so I wasn't sure how to do some things, and I've learned a lot. I think I have a bit of music OCD, I can change the music over and over. Sometimes it's difficult to stop. There are no improvised things on the album. Even all the solos were composed. In general about 70% of the material sounds like I imagined it before recording. I changed a lot, but mostly they were small details.
Javier Calderón: When Rafal contacted me, all the writing was finished except the lyrics and vocal melodies, and although it was my first time composing songs for an album, the process was surprisingly smoothly. The vocal melodies were an easy task as the songs inspired me a lot to write the lyrics, of which I'm especially proud!
Rafal Bowman: I was impressed by Javier's creativity, I remember his ideas recorded on unmixed and very raw versions of the songs. Many of his first ideas were good enough to stay with them on the final versions.
I remember the first demo. Javier said "you know, that's nothing serious, I know that's not very good, but I wanted you to check this". I was curious as hell, and as I said, it was his first idea, so I didn't even expected nothing perfect. I checked it, and I was like "holy shit, that's awesome". He sounded like guy who have a lot of experience, not like debuting singer. By the way, the vocal line from the demo I'm talking about stayed for the final version. It was the first attempt for the song that a few weeks later we named "Armour of the Stars".

Most of the songs on The Unknown Voyage last over ten minutes. Do you set out to write lengthy songs or does it come naturally?
Javier Calderón: The most comical situation came when we had to choose the “single” of the album.
Rafal Bowman: Haha, that's true! In general my only assumption was to not limit myself. I like long songs, so I knew that probably there will be long, maybe even very long songs. I didn't thought about what people will say, if the song will not be too long and such things. The only important thing was my opinion, and later, when Javier joined me, Javier's opinion.

Was The Unknown Voyage recorded in a professional studio, or did you use your own equipment?
Javier Calderón: I personally prefer a good and bombastic production, of course! I always wanted to record an album produced by my favorite sound engineers like Fredrik Nordstrom or Charlie Bauerfeind, but, due to the whole process of “The Unknown Voyage” and our situation, we had to adapt to a more “humble” setup, but we were impressed with the results, as it sounded much better than we expected. We don't know what we are going to do in future releases, who knows? Sky is the limit!
Rafal Bowman: Speaking about the recording: I recorded all the guitars in my bedroom by my Stratocaster and many VST's for amp simulations, synths, drums, bass. There're so many great digital things these days. After recording, I sent everything for mix and mastering in Oakvale Studio (Poland) - instrumental versions, and versions with vocals by me. I definitely prefer to record in my home. I don't have to think about how many hours I'll be in the studio, I'm not distracted and so on. It’s only me and the instruments; that's the good way of recording for me. I know that it sounds weird, but actually I think that the studio environment is not so good for recording music unless you’re on the famous level. You can be in the studio as long as you want because your label paid for that, or you have so much money that you can buy the studio where you record your music. I like to record the music when I'm alone, without someone else’s suggestions and distractions.

Who designed the cover art for The Unknown Voyage? Did this artist design album covers for other bands before you contacted her? Where can her work be viewed online?
Javier Calderón: She's actually my wife! And she's an illustrator; talk about luck! She already worked on another cover for the Spanish speed metal band In Vain, album “IV” to be more precise (recommended stuff). You can see more of her work on Instagram.

How long has Abigail been an artist and what interested her in designing cover art for bands?
Javier Calderón: Since she was born! She usually does all kind of stuff. At first she was not interested in doing artwork for metal bands. I personally asked her to design the cover for “The Unknown Voyage”, and we gave her free reign to do what she wanted as she was inspired by our music. We know that it’s not the usual metal cover with a warrior-in-armour or ”warhammer like” cover that 95% of metal bands do, and we love it. Expect more of her work on the next album!
Rafal Bowman: I think the artwork looks great. It's unusual, original and elegant. I'm not a synesthete, but the colours remind me of the music from this album.

Are you looking for an independent label to get the album, or possibly the second album, out to more potential listeners?
Javier Calderón: The initial idea was to release the first album for free and available to everyone, without a label. We know that nowadays is too much of a “kamikaze” idea; there are a lot of bands out there, and the number is growing each day. We plan to start contacting labels in 2019 to release the second album and reach more of an audience. We are a much unknown band right now, even if we have had a very successful rate of scores and plenty of reviews in metal webzines.

How much of the new album has been completed at the time of this writing? Are you trying new approaches to songwriting new to the band? How will the new songs differ from those on the first album?
Javier Calderón: We are not sure how long the album will be, but it will probably be longer than “The Unknown Voyage”.
Rafal Bowman: The new album will be a bit different: it will still be progressive and melodic but this time the songs may be a bit shorter and there will be more synths and orchestral parts. Also, for the first time there will a few parts with death metal style blast beats. The core of the band will be the same, but we want to add something fresh.

What labels are you considering to release the next album on? Would it be a domestic label or possibly a label from elsewhere?
Javier Calderón: We have some labels in mind. Neither of them are from our country and we don’t know how they are going to react to Chaos Over Cosmos, if they ever listen to us, hahaha. Right now the big labels are more interested in “stage clothes” and “image over music” than the real deal. We are not a disguised kind of band; we don’t even have band photos!
I’m sure Rafal wants us to be dressed like ninja robots or cosmic Spartans, but we can’t afford that kind of a performance. Sorry!
Rafal Bowman: That's true, hahaha! Or like Geralt from The Witcher! But speaking seriously, we really don't care about countries. We live far from each other in different countries, so what is really important for us is our musical vision, not things like nationality or stuff like that. And the same goes for labels. For now the most important thing is new music. Labels, ninja robots and the rest - we will think about this later.

How do you hope your listeners will respond to your new material? Do you think there should be more bands who don’t follow the “image over music” mindset?
Rafal Bowman: I think bands should follow only one mindset: "making good music". I don't care if they do this with or completely without “image-stuff''; it doesn't matter. It's funny when you see a band with lots of image and not so much good music; you know, photo sessions, Facebook pages, videos and such things with weak musicianship. Sometimes It looks like people should turn off their Facebook and Instagram pages and start to play fucking music. It's funny, but as long as such “bands” are happy with that and no one is forcing me to listen, I don't mind. The music is what really matters, not social media or music videos. Do I think other bands should have this mindset? Yes, but I don't mind, it's not my business. How people will respond to the new material, I'm speculating, but I think that people who liked "The Unknown Voyage" will like the new one. It will be a bit different, but still proggy, melodic and spacey. I don't think about people’s opinions now. When I'm writing the new material I'm thinking about what I should do, to make myself happy with this music. Of course it would be nice if people liked the new album, I appreciate someone else's opinions, but writing is a time of thinking about my opinions and Javier's opinions.

Would you also like more bands from your home countries to become more successful with the bigger independent labels on a worldwide basis? Do you see it happening in the near future?
Javier Calderón: Well, if they make good music... the more the merrier!

At some point would you consider bringing in influence from classic rock bands like Pink Floyd or occult rock bands like Coven?
Rafal Bowman: Actually. it happened on "The Unknown Voyage". I mean Pink Floyd influences. It's probably not obvious when you listen to this music, but Pink Floyd is the first band that showed me how spacey sounds can be interesting. I realized that years ago when I listened to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" for the first time. I'm a huge Pink Floyd and David Gilmour fan and I think I'm somehow influenced by them, even if I play different music.
Javier Calderón: I can see the influence of Pink Floyd in every aspect of our music; not so much for occult bands. I personally love Pentagram or King Diamond's styles of occult rock/metal but I don't think it’s a direct influence on us.

How would you want Chaos Over Cosmos to be remembered for their impact on underground metal?
Rafal Bowman: Impact is a big word. If Chaos Over Cosmos was remembered as an original band with well-played music, I would be happy.
Javier Calderón: It’s too soon for now to think about how people will remember our music; first they have to get to know us, hahaha!

-Dave Wolff

Friday, December 21, 2018

Promotional Video Review: DIMLIGHT The Red King by Dave Wolff

Place of origin: Greece
Genre: Symphonic death metal
Promotional Video: The Red King
From the full length Kingdom Of Horrors, released independently October 27, 2018
Directed by: Dimitris Kostoudis
Release date: October 20, 2018
Since 2006 Dimlight have established themselves as a consistent touring band, performing through Europe and the Mideast with Arch Enemy, Lacuna Coil, Annihilator, Rotting Christ, Epica, Septic Flesh, Firewind and The Haunted. Of the four albums they have released to date, their latest Kingdom Of Horrors seems their most ambitious. It’s the first part of a conceptual metal opera set in a postapocalyptic future in which sorcery and dark magic abounds and an ironhanded godlike sovereignty rules the land. The central character is Athanor, who suffered profound private misfortune and wanders the earth in search of redemption of some kind. His travels lead him to discovering dark arcane secrets and entering an underworld where macabre, fearsome beasts dwell, seeking his lost loved ones. Both full lengths intended to tell this tale, Kingdom Of Horrors and Realm Of Tragedy, are available along with a novella entitled Bowels Of Madness. The Red King, the first track from Kingdom Of Horrors, gives introduction to this epic legend with a penetratingly cold presence as the desolate weather-beaten cinematography under Dimitris Kostoudis’ direction lets you know this postapocalyptic world is not a picture of sunshine and rainbows. A cryptic quote from Plato’s dialogue The Phaedrus underlines the personal struggle of Athanor. Ironically, The Phaedrus was evidently written about love but goes into deep examinations of rhetoric, reincarnation and erotic love. Including this quote tells you much about the central character of the narrative, requiring much thought, as do the lyrics provided in the Youtube link for the video: “When the sky weeps flame/And planets are erased/Pestilence is borne upon the creeping mist/Death a’ stalking in the woods…/From such visions stirred I wake/To find myself still in the grip/Of searing guilt for what I did/Salvation is lost for me!” All these images are given with proficient musicianship, glacial keyboards, piano like falling rain, commanding lead vocals from Peter Invoker and additional vocals from Mora that are both alluring and haunting. The full lengths are streaming at Dimlight's official Bandcamp; they and the novella can also be ordered through Dimlight’s official site. -Dave Wolff

Peter (aka Invoker): Guitars, vocals
Mora: Vocals
Nick: Guitars, bass
Jim: Drums
Marios: Lyricist
Apostolis: Orchestra composer