Monday, November 25, 2019

Full Length Review: FROSTMOON ECLIPSE "Worse Weather To Come" (Immortal Frost Productions) by Dave Wolff

Location: La Spezia, Ligury
Country: Italy
Genre: Black metal
Full Length: Worse Weather To Come
Format: CD, vinyl, streaming
Release date: October 25, 2019
Frostmoon Eclipse has been active in the Italian black metal scene since the first Norwegian bands made headlines, and today they are considered one of Italy’s oldest established black metal bands. I joined the party late, having heard of them only last month, and missed their entire catalog from 1995 to the present, including albums like “Gathering The Dark,” “Another Face Of Hell” and “The End Stands Silent.” While I have loads of catching up to do should I decide to and trace their evolution, listening to their new full length “Worse Weather To Come” is not a bad way to get started.
Though the band is technically classified as black metal, their songwriting can be attributed to melodic doom, goth metal, post-metal, even progressive rock, psychedelia, early grunge, and classical guitar. It’s a welcome vouchsafing that musical revision comes from within, and the band doesn’t try to cram several labels together in a single breath. After all, labels say so much about how underground bands express themselves. Bands with similar classifications have their own perspectives and techniques, and one listen to “Worse Weather To Come” should be enough to convince you Frostmoon Eclipse are standing on their own merit.
While “Worse Weather To Come” has a raw sound, it doesn’t depend solely on rawness to get its point across. Frostmoon Eclipse has a way of conveying profound, intense feelings through constant variations in feel and tone presented in every song. This album is so complex and multi-layered it keeps you guessing as to which soundscapes it plans to enter. The compositions can’t be pinned to the 1990s or 2000s any more than a single genre, but the passages from one emotional state to the next are cleverly devised. The band’s strength is in writing and composing songs with their own distinct personalities and temperament, depending on what best fits each of them. Ice-covered, delicate or trance-inducing, no two tracks sound exactly the same on this album.
The band’s raw sound has something for fans of Bathory, Mayhem, Enslaved, and Satyricon, and you’ll likewise hear elements for listeners of Sear Bliss, Paradise Lost, Anathema, Katatonia, My Dying Bride, Necrophagia and Black Sabbath. This multiformity and distinctiveness capture the essence of black and goth metal at its most arcane level, and the histrionic overtones Frostmoon Eclipse achieve are far more penetrating than you would expect from a band drawing from so many different genres. The band has taken great pains to compound on the antediluvian themes we have heard countless times. Even the clean guitar and bass sections sound as if the strings are caked in the dirt of ancient crypts if you have the resoluteness to enter.
“Worse Weather To Come” convinces me that Frostmoon Eclipse and bands like them will be making more headway for black metal to progress in the 2020s. Contact Immortal Frost Productions for more information. -Dave Wolff

Lorenzo Sassi: Vocals
Claudio Alcara: Guitars
Davide Gorrini: Bass
Gionata Potenti: Drums
J.J.: Guest vocals on “Song To Darkness”

Track list:
1. I See the Void
2. A Room, a Grave
3. All Is Undone
4. Sunken
5. Brother Denial
6. Sleep
7. Song to Darkness
8. Resignation

Friday, November 22, 2019

EP Review: GET REAL! "Anger Management" (Independent) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Location: Sydney, Nova Scotia
Country: Canada
Genre: Alternative rock
EP: Anger Management
Label: Independent
Format: CD, digital, streaming
Release date: November 5, 2019
Every second Wednesday, I do my best to attend a writers group titled ''The Story Forge Writers Collective.'' One of the members of this group is Jo-Ann MacDonald, Who I was featured alongside in a story collection ''The Good, The Bad, And The Funny.'' Jo-Ann recently informed me that her son Andrew MacDonald is a member of a new local band (from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) who have chosen the moniker ''Get Real!'' as their band name. Earlier in November 2019, they released their EP ''Anger Management.'' Andrew happened to email for review just as I was sitting at my computer to do some writing, so obviously, I lunged at the chance to help promote some music from my local area.
First off, this is a bit of a stretch from what I normally listen to. Death metal, grindcore, goregrind, black metal, punk, and other related sub-genres are my usual listening choices, but after checking out this EP I can say with sincerity that Andrew and his bandmates are a talented group of young individuals. I let Anger Management play through twice, the second play through being just as enjoyable as the first listen.
Vocally, this is top tier. Pure talent is emitted from the music, and I can add that this group might have a shot at mainstream success. Most bands I review are strictly underground and are often condemned to the underbelly of the music industry. Get Real! has a sound that is much more commercial, and I would not be surprised to see this group make it far within the local scene and elsewhere.
Musically, everything is put together very well and is brought to fruition with clarity and genuine tightness. Both rhythm and lead aspects of the guitar work are on point, and without question, a smörgåsbord of skill can be heard emanating from the licks and riffs. As for the drums, they are played with elegant fervor, bringing the whole thing together in machine-like fashion. I think it is safe to say that Get Real! has landed themselves a new fan.
The production quality of this EP is also of high quality. This is not something recorded on a tape deck in a dusty attic. I can really tell that time, passion, and effort were put into the recording process, and I think I can make a stab that the effort has paid off. Get Real! now has a brand new EP that is nothing but pure audio splendor, and I highly suggest that you get in contact with them to attain a copy.
There is not much more to say except that I was very glad Andrew sent me these tunes, and honestly, I am very content to know that the local scene of Cape Breton is still absolutely pulsing with talented new artists. Maybe someday soon I can make it out to a show, but only time will tell. Either way, Get Real! has been a pleasure to listen to, and I can conclude that buying this EP is a great idea. -Devin Joseph Meaney

Andrew MacDonald: Vocals, guitar
Jeremy Devoe: Bass
Drew Hawboldt: Drums

Track list:
1. Molotov
2. Seeing Red
3. Hold Me Down
4. Martyr
5. Afterglow

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

EP Review: URINOPHOBIC "Escaping To The World Of Permanent Drug Abuse" (Almorrana DIY Records) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Location: Podolsk
Country: Russia
Genre: Gore noise
EP: Escaping To The World Of Permanent Drug Abuse
Label: Almorrana DIY Records
Format: CD-R, streaming
Release date: January 15, 2019
On my usual Youtube gore-noise bender, I came upon this release, “Escaping To The World Of Permanent Drug Abuse” by Urinophobic. Featuring just over six minutes of unbearable (in a good way) audio distortions, I was consumed by machine-fueled percussion, gurgles, and an intense desire to go get high in my porch.
Urinophobic is a gore-noise one-man project from Podolsk, Russia that formed in 2016. This is the band's latest EP, and although I have never heard of this project before, I am now intrigued to hear more from this guy. Released January 2019 (CD-r format, limited to 40) by Almorrana DIY Records, the gargle-fest that is this album has me shook!
I can tell that the context and topics held within are meant to be tongue in cheek, and just like most gore-noise, it is all brought forward with a not-so-serious vibe and potentially a crack pipe. I'd offer you all a hit of what I am smoking, but I can make a guess that ''you'll cowards don't even smoke crack!''
Alright, alright. I don't smoke crack. But I will for sure be indulging in this addictive noise-fest known as Urinophobic! This is gold stamp gore-noise at its finest, and fans of the sub-genre should be more than happy to do the same. Come on, give it a listen! You know you want to!
...Please? -Devin Joseph Meaney

Roman Efremov: Vocals, all instruments

Track list:
1. Committing Nuclear Jihad In The Name Of Viper The Rapper
2. Decreasing Life Expectancy
3. Let The Bodies Pile Up In The Streets
4. When Delusions Replace Reality
5. Defecating In Your Wide Open Rib Cage
6. Getting High On Dog Shit
7. Laughing At Cowards Who Don't Even Smoke Crack
8. Viper The Rapper Is The Only Real God

Full Length Review: PLASMA "Ethical Waste" (Rotten Roll Rex) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Location: Frankfurt, Hesse
Country: Germany
Genre: Goregrind
Full Length: Ethical Waste
Label: Rotten Roll Rex
Format: CD, streaming
Release date: June 20, 2019
Ah, the legendary goregrind band known as Plasma! This band was actually part of one of the very first goregrind CDs I ever owned! It was a three-way split between Plasma, Spermswamp and Radikalis Amputacio! I bought it along with a Patologicum album at a Fuck The Facts show in the early to mid-2000s. I also purchased a copy of Backstabber Etiquette, an older release by FTF.
Those were the days! Back when I had nothing much better to do than sit in my living room all day perusing various goregrind and grindcore releases. (Nothing much has changed). The last Plasma album I listened to was 2016's ''Dreadful Desecration'' and as always, it was a genuine blast of splattery gore-filled delight. Now, it is time to see if this newest installment is as solid as previous releases from this well-known grinding monstrosity.
First off, I can say that the vocals are just as good (if not better) than they ever were. Splattery, gargling, gurgling bursts of vileness are vomited forth from the ''singer'' and I can honestly say that this is just how I wanted it! Nothing is more enticing to my ears than an eruption of watery pitch-shifted gutturals, and this release is hitting the sweet spot that only a few others can. Goregrind is life, and today, Plasma has made it worth living!
Pounding drums penetrate my brain with spastic fury, ranging from blasts to rolls, to tight and groovy awesomeness. The guitars are just as they always were, down-tuned and chugging. The sound quality overall has been improved upon, as this album is in no way lo-fi. This is studio quality goregrind, the likes of which being a rarity within the scene these sounds permeate.
Plasma hails from Germany and has been active since 1995. This is their fourth full-length album, and honestly, it is one of their best in my humble opinion. Featuring twenty-four tracks and clocking in at just under forty-five minutes, as far as goregrind goes, this is a pretty long album. I normally prefer shorter releases, but Plasma manages to snag my full attention, so listening to everything they have to offer is far from a chore!
As I sit in my bedroom with my headphones on I can conclude that this newest output from Plasma is nothing less than a gore-grinding masterpiece, and every second of Ethical Waste will without question go down in the annals of grind history as a sincere and genuine winner. Nothing more can be said, except that I have always been a fan of this band, and to date, this still holds true.
Plasma fucking rules! -Devin Joseph Meaney

Ulfinator: Bass, vocals
Smoke: Vocals, guitars
Schnaps: Drums

Track list:
1. Pitchgrinder
2. Feasting on Freshly Fermented Female Genital
3. Lethal Semen Injection
4. Pusfilled Vaginalcanal
5. Chewing on Purulent Sordes of Vaginal Iissue
6. Gushing over Fresh Amputated Teats
7. Embedded on Putrid Chunks from a Decapitated Whore
8. Slime Stained Gore Miscarriage
9. Intercourse with a Deboned Corpse
10. Pus and Blood Was All She Got
11. Abusing a Slimefilled Rotten Body
12. Dick Flapped, Head Cracked
13. Grinding Sorefretted Dicks
14. Abnormal Cervix Extirpation
15. Choking on Purulent Spunk
16. Sailing the Seas of Menstrual Perversitys
17. Gagging on Dislocated Labium
18. Snotlubed Pussy Penetrator
19. Boltgunned to Massextinction
20. Purulent Thyroid Consumption
21. Exposed Penile Muscle
22. Not Dead Yet
23. Pulsating Blood Bladder
24. Transmorphed Hemipenis

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Demo Review: CHTHONIC DEITY "Reassembled in Pain" (Carbonized Records) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Location: Denver, Colorado
Country: USA
Genre: Death metal
Label: Carbonized Records
Format: 7” vinyl, cassette, streaming
Release date: October 31, 2019
As stated on their Bandcamp page, "Reassembled In Pain" the debut demo from Chthonic Deity contains four songs of energetic and heavy death metal/punk from members of Scolex, Ascended Dead, and Blood Incantation. I did not know what to expect when I was sent the link for this album, but I can say after listening that it was a nice little blast of chugging carnage.
The vocals on this release are put together very well. The same could be said for the guitars and the drums! In fact, everything about this is top tier! Personally, for me, the bass is the best part of these tracks. With a tone that reminds me of the local band (from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) Infernal Region, it adds a certain low-tuned finesse that brings the whole thing together with malicious ferociousness.
I sat back for a few moments and tried to decide a favorite track on this beast, but honestly, I enjoy all of them equally. Not too long, not too short, the length of this is perfect, and offers just enough brutality to entice my ears and elicit a second playthrough.
A co-release with Woodsmoke, this album is limited to 500 7" Copies, with a poster and download card included. 300 cassette copies were also pressed by Lunar Tomb Records. Needless to say, this is a limited release, and you should run to get a fucking copy!
In closing, this album is a vicious blast of truly malignant, heavy, audio assault. Great music... a great band... and a great experience! -Devin Joseph Meaney

Erika Osterhout: Bass, guitar, vocals
Paul Riedl: Guitar, vocals
Charles Koryn: Drums

Track list:
1. Drained
2. Disintegrating Organs
3. Echoes of Death
4. Blood Ritual

Single Review: THE FRAOCH COLLECTIVE "Manitou" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Location: Long Island, New York
Country: USA
Genre: Alternative rock
Label: Independent
Release date: November 7, 2019
Released on Neat Records in 1984, “Manitou” was an unusual single even for Venom. This was the year they were expanding on the shock value of “Welcome To Hell” and the Renaissance-era occult themes of “Black Metal.” “At War With Satan” was a full-blown epic inspired by Rush, the Book of Revelations and Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” “Manitou” saw them experiment with Native American folklore, specifically that of the Algonquian peoples. While simplistic, it brought you to sweeping deserts untouched by European expansion years before second-wave black metal. For its time it was a bold move for Venom and thrash metal in general.
Fast forward to 2019 and “Manitou” has been covered by the likes of Samael, Rotting Serpent, Ceremonial Castings and Antiquus Scriptum. While those covers show a different interpretation of the original, from what I’ve heard The Fraoch Collective’s interpretation is the most divergent. The cover was recorded for a possible Venom tribute, which may or may not be released. To make a long story short, the organizers declined to remain in contact with them so they decided to release it anyway, uploading it independently to their Facebook community page. Venom fans interested in checking it out can go there and give it a listen.
Covering Venom was an unexpected move for The Fraoch Collective after the proto-punk noir of their album “Oh, The Things We’ve Done,” but their version of “Manitou” is tightened and generally cleaner compared to the original. There is a dramatic contrast between the drum, guitar and vocals, so much of a contrast that it’s less a cover and more a reimagining. While the drums depict the Algonquian spirit much like the original did, the guitars and vocals sound like they were processed through a fuzzbox during the recording process. This effect gives the song an industrial metal feel, a step apart from The Fraoch Collective’s previous work.
Heather Dawson’s approach to the vocals radically reinterprets the song’s Algonquian mythos. Her tone and inflection suggest a manifestation of the Witch of Endor consulted by the shaman to invoke Manitou’s birth in human form. This dynamic makes the cover dangerously enchanting next to Venom’s straightforward, chaotic version. Her vocal technique in the chorus is concurrently transfixing and disquieting. You can visualize those ancient spirits roaming the sweeping deserts I gave reference to earlier. After hearing this I’d be interested in seeing what they do with “Warhead” or “In League With Satan.” -Dave Wolff

Heather Dawson: Vocals
Gregg Gavitt: Guitar
Marc Del Cielo: Bass, drums, backing vocals

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Book Review: NINE MICMAC LEGENDS (Alden Nowlan, Nimbus Publishing) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Author: Alden Nowlan
Illustrator: Shirley Bean
Publisher: Nimbus Publishing, June 1, 2008 (first published 1983)
While I was rummaging through old magazines and ancient school material belonging to an older member of my family, I stumbled upon a few books. One of these books was ''Nine Micmac Legends,'' a collection of nine stories (obviously). It was originally released in 1983, but went through a series of reprints over the years. I could not sleep last night, and by five in the morning, I decided it was time to do some reading.
I am well aware that the spelling and pronunciation of ''Micmac'' has been changed a few times over the years, but aside from this, Nine Micmac Legends was a neat little collection of legends of indigenous nature. Written by Alden Nowlan and illustrated by Shirley Bear, I am now more than content to have this within my reading collection.
The stories included in this short anthology are The Star Brides, Three Boys and the Giants, The Man Who Hated Winter, The Invisible Boy, The Captive, The Snow Vampire, The Chief Who Refused To Die, Brother to the Bears, and The Man Who Wanted To Live Forever. They were all fronted by a short introduction. Five of the stories in this collection were previously published in ''The Atlantic Advocate.'' One appeared in ''Toboggans and Turtlenecks,'' and another in ''Hockey Cards and Hopscotch.''
The legends were not intended to be children's stories, although a handful DID appear in children's books. They were stories told by adults to other adults, ''The nearest a people without a written language could come to creating a literature'' as stated within the confines of the introduction.
This was a great story collection, and I am sure I will read it again. Featuring under sixty pages, it is not a very long read. Excellent material! -Devin Joseph Meaney

Friday, November 15, 2019

Full Length Review: NECROPANTHER "The Doomed City" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Location: Denver, Colorado
Country: USA
Genre: Melodic death/thrash
Full Length: The Doomed City
Label: Independent
Format: CD, digital, streaming
Release date: November 15, 2019
Dystopian concepts aren’t new to metal. Since Voivod and Queensryche experimented with them in the 80s to reflect the state of the world at the time it became increasingly common for other bands to follow suit. Necropanther draw on a dystopian sci-fi novel for an album as relevant and challenging as the novel was fifty years ago. Although many years in the making, “The Doomed City” belongs in a category with albums like “The Key” (Nocturnus) and “Demanufacture” (Fear Factory) for drawing comparisons between an unsung classic and modern society. With modern society becoming more dystopic than ever, it isn’t much of an effort.
Published in 1967 by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, “Logan’s Run” spawned five sequels (two unpublished). The film version of 1976 was the last of the dystopian sci-fi movies of the 70s (“A Clockwork Orange,” “THX-1138,” “Soylent Green,” “Death Race 2000,” “Rollerball”). While the novel and its sequels critiqued youth culture, overpopulation and resource consumption, the movie centered primarily on youth culture and hedonism, adding that rebellion benefits not from decadence but “ethical beliefs that undermine authority and power.” “The Doomed City” does the same while warning us to avoid contemporary society’s distractions.
Metal bands need more recognition for creating concept albums with a basis in literature and original stories as many are intelligent and reveal the work involved. Being conscious of the world and having something worthwhile to say has become rare in the field of popular music. Bands like Necropanther are still thinking instead of responding to the daily stimulus we’re bombarded with. What’s more, they express their viewpoints without empty preaching or threatening to shame the listener.
“The Doomed City” is Necropanther’s third CD, following their 2018 EP “Oppression.” The band has a fair amount of experience writing concept albums. Their debut (self-titled) was based on “The Terminator,” their second “Eyes of Blue Light” (2018) was based on Frank Herbert’s “Dune” and “Oppression” tells of an artist imprisoned by a fascist police state. Reviewers think crossing metal with “Logan’s Run” works because of compatible plot developments: a computerized society trusted to run everything, a mindless police force enforcing computer decree, a disaffected minority questioning the system and the question of whether mankind can survive “outside.”
While “The Doomed City” includes elements of the novel and the movie, tying them together convincingly, I would suggest reading Nolan and Johnson’s novel for the frame of mind needed to appreciate it. The chapters move at visceral, breakneck speed that fits the condensed length of the songs. The songwriting’s tense caliber creates an effect similar to “Oppression.” Here you experience the protagonists’ mortal fear and desperation as they seek to escape from their mechanized world. It constantly reminds you you’re not only fighting computers dictating life and death, but the police force carrying out its directives and a controlled populace.
The guitar duo of Paul Anop (vocals) and Joe Johnson exhibit inch-perfect musicianship, carrying out mid-tempo thrash, melodic riffing and lead harmonies with equal accuracy. Think of melodic death metal bands like In Flames, At The Gates and Amon Amarth with a more generous helping of thrash and classic metal. There are no keyboards or elements of metalcore like some melodeath bands are incorporating, but many of the riffs seem to reflect on the movie’s futuristic theme and the futuristic overtones of the novel. It’s like the material the band had in mind for this album required them to push forward and mature, disregarding the rules of past releases.
Anop’s dual guttural/rasp approach to his vocals helps represent the imagery of “Logan’s Run” as effectively as the music. There is a contrast between blind acceptance and the desire for freedom adding a lot to the narrative quality described above. All this is designed to hit the proper nerve as the album progresses through key moments in the novel and movie. I don’t want to give any of those away if you’re not familiar with “Logan’s Run,” except to say they’re integral to the storyline and keep everything moving. Suffice it to say “The Doomed City” is heavy on theatrics, takes its subject matter seriously and may lead you to want to watch or read. -Dave Wolff

Paul Anop: Vocals, guitars
Joe Johnson: Guitars
Marcus Corich: Bass
Haakon Sjogren: Drums

Track list:
1. Renew
2. Death at Hand
3. Arcade
4. Cathedral
5. The Doomed City
6. Hell
7. The Thinker
8. Paid in Flesh
9. Parricide-Genocide
10. Tiger
11. Sanctuary
12. Deep Sleep
13. Argos

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Demo Review: GUNN "Demo 2019" (Independent) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Band: GUNN
Location: Orange County, California
Country: USA
Genre: Hardcore punk
Demo: Demo 2019
Label: Independent
Format: Cassette, streaming
Release date: April 18, 2019
On another journey through the vast wasteland known as the underbelly of Youtube, I happened to scroll upon this release, “Demo 2019” by GUNN. Recently I have been on a sincere goregrind/grindcore kick, so this demo was a nice little change of sound.
When listening to this release, I automatically think of The Meatmen. With a flurry of noises that would make Tesco Vee proud, GUNN pushes forward with sincerely catchy punk-rock riffs, primal drums, decent bass, and vocals that make me want to smash everything in my room.
Two more bands that I am reminded of would be The Shithawks and The Abusive Stepdads. These are two very talented local (from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) punk outfits. The Abusive Stepdads are now defunct (R.I.P.) but The Shithawks are still raging to this day. Now that I think about it, I really need to get to a Shithawks show soon. This demo has really put me in the mood!
In an attempt to stop from going on a long-winded spiel about how much I enjoy this demo, I will make this quick. The music presented on Demo 2019 is what I would consider real genuine punk-rocking¬- just as it should be. This is a short release, and it is very lo-fi. In my humble opinion, this is how it is DONE! GUNN has put forward five tracks in just under eight minutes, and after listening to it on repeat a few times, all I can do now is send them two huge thumbs up! Excellent work, GUNN! -Devin Joseph Meaney

Shane: Vocals
Tony: Guitar
James: Bass
Nason: Drums

Track list:
1. Eyes
2. Fuck My Mind
3. Can’t Stop
4. Thin Blue Line
5. Circles

Interview with RITUALIZER by Dave Wolff

Interview with Ritualizer

Released this past August, your new single “Speed of Sound” takes a different approach from your three-song 2018 EP “Blood Oaths.” Explain the differences between both your releases and why the new single is worth checking out?
Judson Belmont (guitar): A lot of the difference between the two releases has to do with the way they were written and where we were as a band. Most of the tracks on “Blood Oaths” were written piecemeal over the course of many sessions: we’d come in with a few ideas each practice, splice them together with what we had already, and build the song gradually. Each writing session would end with a cliffhanger, where we’d talk about what direction the song might take next and then go home and work it out. And naturally enough, what came out of that were longer, narrative song structures where the lyrics are weaving a story that unfolds as the song progresses.
In contrast, “Speed of Sound” was written after we’d been together maybe eight months, and came together almost literally at the speed of sound. By then we had a lot more chemistry as a band and a lot more experience playing off the cuff together. We came into the practice space that day with just a verse and a chorus riff, and in the course of a single improv jam, the groundwork for the song was laid. I think the character of the song itself; fast, all-guns-blazing, and to the point; reflects the fact that it came from a burst of creative lightning instead of a long deliberate process. So both the releases capture a different aspect of the band, but I think “Speed of Sound” gets at some of the live energy that happens when the four of us are together.

How long did it take the band to complete the EP with your older method of songwriting?
PJ Berlinghof (vocals): Even though, as Judson said, the tracks on the EP were written over longer periods of time (or more sessions) and they explore longer narratives, they still didn’t take all that long to come together. 90% of the title track “Blood Oaths” came out of the very first rehearsal and the core elements of “Haunted” and “Night Terrors” solidified pretty rapidly. We started playing together in February of 2018; by the start of summer we had selected which of the finished songs would be on the EP and by August we were in the studio recording. It seems like both approaches are effective for us, but more complex tracks often require a bit more time to ensure that all of the elements are organic and to allow for exploration.

Do you intend to continue writing and composing songs in a single creative burst when you begin working on your next release?
Devin Lavery (bass): It looks like it’s going to be a little bit of both. I think this also depends on the type of song we’re working on. We have some songs which are somewhat similar to the material on the EP in terms of structure, and those have come together in the more traditional way. Generally there will be improv jams or a riff idea brought into rehearsal, we’ll do some writing based on that idea, then a cliffhanger and discussion as Judson mentioned. On the other hand we have a brand new song written maybe a week or two ago that came together in three takes. It’s really exciting to capitalize on that energy when it’s happening.

Did you release “Speed of Sound” as a single to make a statement about the band’s new direction?
PJB: If there’s any sort of statement being made by “Speed of Sound” it’s simply a declaration of die-hard devotion to old school and underground Metal. We released it as a single because we were all excited about the track and we wanted to continue to give listeners fresh material. As far as the direction of the band is concerned, it hasn’t changed at all. We’re just pushing the boundaries and exploring how our collective creativity, styles, influences, and tastes combine. It has always been our goal to work in a variety of styles and to create different atmospheres while retaining an underlying “signature sound”.

How far back does your dedication to old school underground metal go? How much have you seen extreme metal grow on its own terms since you discovered it?
PJB: Some of us first discovered metal through newer bands and worked back towards the older, more traditional groups, while some of us just grew up listening to what’s now considered old school or classic metal. It’s really just the result of age differences (I started out listening to KISS records in the 70s and went down the rabbit hole from there). Ultimately, while our individual musical tastes and ages differ, we all got into metal early in life and find common ground in the classic, underground and retro acts (there’s a lot of love for the NWOBHM). Without any quantifiers for the term “extreme” I’ll just say that the multitude of directions that metal music has taken since the 1980s and the range of subgenres is just staggering to me, but again, some of that is age (yes, I come from the days of rotary telephones and Atari).

Do you think the amount of subgenres in underground music has increased too much since you discovered metal in general?
JB: It’s good to see there’s continued experimentation in metal. Some great bands have come out of that evolution, and if the way we describe existing subgenres needs to change to accommodate that, so be it. Where a lot of new subgenres miss the mark, at least for me, is that they lose the thread of the traditions and eras that made metal so great in the first place, whether that’s old-school British metal, first wave black metal, etc. If you can strike that perfect balance between respecting the old guard and forging ahead with something new, then you’re on to something.

PJ Berlinghof was a member of Midnite Hellion and a couple other bands before joining Ritualizer. Does she still keep in touch with those bands? Which bands were the other members of Ritualizer in previously?
PJB: I do keep in touch with former bandmates and there are some with whom I remain very close friends. I’ve been very lucky to be in bands with individuals who are not only great musicians, but great people.
Luigi Gennaro (drums): Before Ritualizer, I played drums in the bands S.A. Adams and Shadow Of Demise.
JB: I’ve played guitar in a few now-defunct projects. Most recently, an experimental metal outfit called Orsus and a rock and roll band, Horned Majesty.

How closely does “Speed of Sound” compare to your live performances? Do your listeners perceive this as much as the band does?
LG: Compared to the EP, I think “Speed of Sound” comes even closer to capturing the energy of our live performances. This was the first recording we did after having played some of our first gigs and that excitement has certainly filtered into the writing process. I think listeners will hear more of that energy on future recordings as the band’s chemistry continues to strengthen and develop.

How many gigs have you performed after releasing your debut EP? Did getting a feel of performing have any bearing on writing and composing “Speed of Sound”?
LG: We started playing live a couple of months after the release of the "Blood Oaths" EP with the goal being to get out and gig every few weeks. That live experience has certainly spilled over into the overall vibe in writing "Speed of Sound". It's one of those songs that simply appeared while tuning up! Jud started playing the opening riff and we all fell in and improvised a structure containing many of the elements that would be kept and refined in the final version.

Has the band found their “signature sound” yet or is it still developing? How close would you say you have arrived to it? How important is improvisation to the band?
JB: I’d say it’s still actively developing, but the core components are already in place: aggressive yet melodic vocals, stylistic nods to NWOBHM and speed metal, and a darker tone both lyrically and musically. There’s room for refinement and always will be, but it’s safe to say those elements will always be the bedrock of our sound. If Ritualizer ever releases a rap-metal album, you can come to our houses and break our guitars over our heads.
Improvisation is definitely a useful tool for elaborating on ideas, as a way of putting out feelers to see what directions a song might take. For a band like this that’s trying to capture some of the live-band authenticity of the analog era, there’s no substitute for crowding into a practice space and playing off each other in the moment. At minimum you build musical chemistry that way, and at best you channel something as a collective that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

How do you account for NWOBHM and speed metal still having an impact more than three decades later?
DL: I think in a lot of ways NWOBHM and speed metal are the foundations for a lot of people, it’s where they started listening and playing. They’re also huge influences for a ton of bands. I don’t think that style is ever going to go away.
PJB: Wow. Where to start? Well, at the risk of oversimplifying, they’re part of the bedrock of the genre as a whole and they’re perfect distillations - they feature timeless themes and archetypal imagery, capture the energy of particular times/scenes and places, have unforgettable melodies and riffs, champion Metal “for the sake of Metal”, and exalt the symbiosis between musician and listener.

Some may consider it elitist for bands to keep their own sound and “branching out” is a better idea. Is it better to branch out on your own terms or because you’re expected to?
PJB: Bands go through changes and evolve stylistically and that can happen for a host of different reasons: simple exploration, getting comfortable as bandmates, personal events, finding new sources of inspiration, new technology, etc. I do think, however, that those changes should be organic and that they should never lead you to a place where you are no longer playing music that you love. Some bands have stepped into new territory with great success because it was just a natural progression of their writing while others never “reinvented the wheel” and you wouldn’t want them to. I don’t think it’s elitist to stick to your guns if that’s your passion. When we start talking about what’s “expected” that seems to lead us to a discussion about the relationship between commercialism and creativity which is a pretty complex topic and probably too much for the space that we have.

Most of the bands who continued doing what they wanted have cult followings while bands that caved in and tried to please a wider audience ended up dying. Have you seen examples of this?
JB: It seems that more often they either plow ahead with their new ‘improved’ sound or try to pivot back to what they were doing previously. Either way they lose the respect of the diehard following that got them there in the first place, and as a fan, it’s disappointing to see. Once you lose that integrity, it’s hard to reclaim it.

Some bands managed to turn back from their more commercial direction and became well respected in the underground, and more bands than ever are breaking aboveground on their own terms. Are more doors opening for bands to do so?
DL: I think the Internet is definitely giving bands more opportunities to break through on their own - you can promote your album and get people to shows via social media. It also doesn’t matter as much where you are geographically anymore (although the location is important with respect to gigs and building a local following). At a certain point, it may be necessary to have professionals working on stuff like promotion, but for bands that want to go it alone, that’s not “make or break” anymore.
PJB: I would say that there are more ways for bands to break through on their own nowadays. A lot of different factors come into play, but now so many promotional, business, and commerce mechanisms are easily accessible to musicians. Metal fans around the globe can network online and reach bands they like with a few clicks of the mouse. In the end, though, you’re not going to be successful as a band (or in any other sense) if you’re not hard-working, completely dedicated and passionate about what you’re doing.

Does social media provide more opportunities for original bands to be heard, or spawning more bands who copy other musicians? Also, is it generally getting more people to attend shows?
PJB: Social media allows people who have shared interests to network, so you’re bound to make new discoveries (I sure do!) As far as “original bands being heard” goes, the term “genre” means a category of literature, art, or music that’s characterized by particular style, content, or form. Anything within a given genre has shared traits with other works in that genre. If people are learning about metal through social media and going off and starting metal bands we should all rejoice! Those bands will (or won’t) find their own voice and social media has nothing to do with that process. I couldn’t speak to what kind of impact social media is having on show attendance across various metal scenes.
DL: Social media provides more opportunities for sure, but also just the internet in general. Anybody can put their stuff online and people around the world can have a chance to listen. You can get picked up by radio stations in other countries, and bands from those countries can get picked up in the US which gives us a chance to hear them as well. And it is great for spreading the word about shows to a larger amount of people. Flyers can only go so far - social media lets you promote to a ton of people with just a few clicks.

How much of the analog era is represented in your songwriting? Does the band record with analog equipment to get a sound similar to 80s bands?
DL: We haven’t used any analog equipment, but we would be willing to in the future. We work with a great engineer, Len Carmichael, at Landmine Studios in New Jersey. Len is a master at dialing in a classic sounding tone and the amp options at the studio are great for our specific needs. Our equipment preferences are modeled after some of the bands and musicians we’re influenced by and run more towards a timeless feel - I personally tend to keep things very simple. There’s also an emphasis when we record on not using a lot of “studio magic” and keeping the human element in the feel of the songs.

How did the band hear about Len Carmichael and Landmine Studios while searching for recording studios? What equipment does he have and what is his recording method?
DL: PJ had worked with Len before and knew he would be a great fit for us all around. Again, the amp collection at Len’s is large and covers pretty much all the bases - no pun intended. He also has a selection of guitars including a Spector I almost wanted to leave with (although I played my Fender on all of our releases.) The setup we settled on was an Ampeg 4x10 and an Earth Sound Research Super Bass B-1000 which gave me this killer tone with plenty of growl. Len’s approach is to take as much time as necessary to work with you and find the exact sound you are looking for, and the same goes for the recording process. His main goal is to make sure you’re completely happy with your performance and the overall product. He’s extremely knowledgeable in the studio and also very patient - we’re all a little “OCD” when it comes to recording. He will also go out of his way to make sure we have the equipment we need. During one session, we thought we might need an acoustic guitar. While he didn’t have one in the studio at the time, he made a phone call and had one brought over within fifteen minutes.

What bands and musicians do you model your equipment preferences after, and what analog equipment would you work with on future recordings?
DL: Analog wise it would be cool to try some things with tape given the chance, although digital recording has been working out great for us. Some of my equipment choices are modeled after Geddy Lee - I picked up my Fender Jazz Bass because of him. I also use Rotosound 66’s which are the strings he uses - those roundwounds also create a tone similar to Steve Harris’ which is a huge plus. Ian Hill from Priest was also a Fender J Bass guy.
LG: I’ve always gravitated towards drummers who prioritized power over speed, though the latter is still important. Bill Ward, Ian Paice, Cozy Powell and Nicko McBrain to name a few. For the moment, I use a simple 4-piece configuration: rack tom-floor tom-snare-kick. The Ludwig Supraphonic 402 as John Bonham famously used has always been my #1. Fat sounding with a loud crack! The toms and bass drum all have coated Remo heads for that extra growl, though I do use wood beaters on my Tama Iron Cobra double-bass pedals for that extra attack. Cymbals are all on the larger side: 15” hi-hats, 22” ride, 18”-20” crashes. All Sabian. I would love to expand my kit in the future, but not until I have a dedicated stage tech!

Do you think the equipment you work with goes a long way toward the band’s classic metal sound, considering the musicians your preferences are modeled after?
LG: The gear certainly helps, but only if you know what to do with it. A bigger part of the equation is the individual musical styles, techniques and then knowing how to put those sounds together with the other musicians in the band to make it sound like one singular sonic beast!
DL: Yes the gear is great, but it’s more our influences that inspire us to write the way we do.

How much do your individual influences help you stand out from other retro metal bands?
PJB: I’m not sure if this will make sense, but I think that differences in listening tastes and influences are important because it means that band members may not come back with the “expected” response to an idea. There has to be shared, common ground or you run the risk of having no underlying stylistic bedrock, but, if everyone were to listen to the same handful of bands only then I think you’re less likely to create something that feels fresh. There’s a whole lot mixed into the cauldron in Ritualizer songs (try to find the surf rock drumming disguised as metal), but it’s all getting filtered through the “metal prism”, so, while individual influences are important, how band members channel those influences and interpret them is crucial. If you can take everything you love and draw from it while putting your own stamp on it then I think you’re on the right path to creating something that’s recognizable and unique all at once. Hopefully, we’re accomplishing that.

What bands do you know of besides Ritualizer who are channeling individual influences into something more original?
JB: There have been a handful of active extreme metal bands in the last few years that have blown me away. Off the top of my head, bands like Bolzer, Urfaust, and Portal come to mind. Each has their own completely inimitable sound, yet there’s a commonality in the way they’ve arrived at that sound starting from the standard black/death/doom milieu and filtering those influences through their own uniquely distorted lenses of nontraditional harmony, occult aesthetics, dark ambient influences, etc.

What do you mean by sustaining the human element in your songwriting? How much importance do you place on keeping this element a part of heavy metal in general?
DL: We would prefer to have things happen as organically as possible. It’s amazing when something comes together completely on the spot. When everybody is in the same place mentally and musically is when good things happen.
LG: As technology has evolved over the years, it’s become easier for musicians to cheat, whether it’s using auto-tune on vocals, the “cut-and-paste” method on digital recording to create whole tracks, or miming to backing tracks during live performances. For this music, part of the energy comes from the musicians playing together and taking chances beyond what’s laid down on the studio recordings. Sometimes new discoveries appear through mistakes or miscues in a rehearsal and they end up pushing the intensity of the songs to another level. Live shows are about participation and interaction.
PJB: Metal was made to be listened to live and up close. It should be frenzied, fanatical, relatable, and utterly infectious. It should be drenched in sweat and spilling beer on the floor. Metal is a patch proudly and lovingly hand-sewn onto a vest; it’s NOT a tailored suit. Metal isn’t meant to be cold and clinical and technical perfection should never be worshipped above emotion.

How much does the overuse of digital technology take organic elements from metal?
PJB: With respect to recording, I’ll say that recording in any format is a bizarre attempt to capture energy and technicality at the same time, so right out of the gate you’re walking a fine line; you’re always in danger of losing the original vibe. The song also has to be able to hold up live, so digital tech can be dangerous in that respect. Production pieces are amazing, but songs always have to be able to hold up when they’re completely stripped down to their most basic, raw elements.

How much new material is the band working on at present? How much will you be expanding on the sound of your previous releases?
JB: We’re not really ones to rest on our laurels. Since the inception of the band we’ve always had multiple irons in the fire at any given time, whether they’re songs actively developing in the practice space or just some riffs we’re trying out at home. At this point we’ve got a good amount of material banked to draw from, and among that material there are lengthier tracks with extended story arcs as well as some short ragers in the vein of ‘Speed’. But the core of our sound and our roots in heavy metal tradition haven’t changed, even as we explore different aspects of that sound and those influences.

What story arcs are the new songs exploring, and how does the musicianship reflect on them?
PJB: I’ve always treated songs as short stories and tried to give the listener imagery that brings them into the narrative, but everything starts with the music. As soon as I hear the riff, I know what the song is going to be about. The story arc develops in detail as the musical direction develops and the precise lyrics always pivot off of the very first line. Generally, the vocal phrasing and meter is based on or written to complement what’s happening musically (I think we’re only had one instance so far where the music was changed to match the vocal phrasing).
New songs you ask? We’re going to try and maintain just a little bit of mystery about the upcoming tracks, but, if you come out to a show, you just might hear a new tale or two.

How many songs are you planning to include on your next release? Who will you be working with for recording, mixing and mastering?
PJB: We’re hoping to get a full-length release out, but it’s going to come down to timing and logistical constraints. If it’s another EP and single then, so be it. We just want to keep giving people new material on a steady basis. Again, at this point, there are no formal plans to work anywhere other than Landmine Studios.

When recording your next release, how do you plan to ensure what you do in the studio will be reproduced onstage?
DL: If we play it a certain way in rehearsal, we’ll play it in the same way in the studio, and likewise onstage. I think that’s always been our philosophy - we try to keep things as authentic and as reliable on musicianship as possible. Minus some minor studio effects, everything that you hear on our records, you’ll hear in our live shows.
PJB: As Devin said, we really don’t add a lot of “bells and whistles” to tracks. The real trick is just to capture the energy.
JB: There will always be some difference between the live presentation and the recordings for us, since we can pretend we’re a 2-guitar band in the studio. But having that space in our live sound gives us all some freedom to go “off-record” now and then and makes the live experience something unique.

Will you seek label distribution to promote the next release to a wider audience in the US and other countries?
JB: It’s something we’ve discussed and are actively interested in. The key would be to find a label that shares the same enthusiasm for championing true heavy metal in the face of what’s more popular and commercially palatable nowadays. But nowadays you see a lot of labels looking to do just that, so we’ll see what happens.

What goals do you see the band setting as far as becoming well known on your own terms and maintaining a steady series of releases in the days of streaming and social media?
JB: The goals are to achieve exactly what you just described. If we can continue to find and build a cult following while putting out releases that we can stand behind with total conviction, we’d consider that a success. And if, in the process, we can play some small part in helping carry the torch for a style of music we love, so much the better.

-Dave Wolff

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Full Length Review: UPON SHADOWS "Modern Obscurantism" (Ground Media Group) by Dave Wolff

Location: Montevideo
Country: Uruguay
Genre: Dark metal
Full Length: Modern Obscurantism
Format: CD, digipack CD, digital, streaming
Release date: October 18, 2019
I made a point of keeping up with Upon Shadows through the 2010s with good reason. All that time I observed them slowly but steady blossoming into a Tarterian flower of gloaming twilight. With each new release they exhibited black metal’s intrinsic charm and seduction more clearly, asserting that underground metal can become art and listeners can appreciate it as such. This despite an industry that promotes sameness to an audience too willing to accept whatever they’re handed.
The band’s new full length “Modern Obscurantism” expands the range and scope of past releases “7 Stages Of Grief,” “Between the Southern Cross & the Northern Star” and “Fatal Stigma Of The Realist.” The dramatic craftsmanship of Tamara Picardo and Natalia Arocena is an aide-memoire of what I held in high regard of Charmand Grimloch’s Tartaros, Cradle Of Filth, Ancient, Theatre Of Tragedy, Satyricon and My Dying Bride. Those bands held your attention while imaginatively drawing tenebrosity from the deepest, darkest abyss. After seventeen years with no core lineup changes, Picardo and Arocena possess this ability to enchant and beguile.
The album’s first single, “Vanity’s Bonfire,” was out on Youtube the day it was released. I suggest watching the promotional video first, to get an idea of the thematic concept of “Modern Obscurantism.” I gather the message of the song is a recurring message in extreme metal. Mankind, like nature, is as destructive as it is creative. The sharply delineated contrast of light and darkness reiterates this point. Shots of twilight in one segment is ambiguous as to whether the sun is rising or setting, and another segment is a semi-montage of images from history depicting humanity’s darker nature. All this is expressively presented and inspires you to think about it.
Kobzr Magazine from Germany succinctly refers to “Modern Obscurantism” as a masterpiece. This could be summing it up or oversimplifying the point, depending on your perspective. But the zine also describes the arrangements on the album to be well thought out. Not far from the truth as these songs are meticulous and patient, taking time to make their point rather than coming across as too eager. They have a malevolent constitution that emanates organically from the songwriting. Mike Pohjola of Soundmix Studios has enough experience from working with Fatal Effect, Sirakh, Aeon Rite and others to enhance the percussion by session drummer Joonas Alaräihä (Fatal Effect), Arocena’s solid bass and Picardo’s fuzzy guitars and divergent vocal styles.
The most convincing job in terms of songwriting and production is in the keyboard sounds courtesy of Picardo. These vary according to what each song needs for effect. Many times I received chills similar to those I received from Satyricon’s “The Shadowthrone” and My Dying Bride’s “Turn Loose The Swans.” Here those sounds add to an epic folk tale, mourning the loss of innocence to the evils committed by human beings. From introspection to frozen tears like rain to looming malevolence, the keyboards are an integral part of the band’s formula. “Modern Obscurantism” is a promising release for the end of 2019 and the result of much hard work and dedication on the part of all those involved. -Dave Wolff

Natalia Arocena: Bass
Tamara Picardo: Vocals, guitars, keyboards
Joonas Alaräihä: Session drummer

Track list:
1. Back to the Dark Ages (instrumental)
2. Vanity's Bonfire
3. The Archaic Censorship Of Your Eyes
4. Creators Of Shadows
5. Dogma: The Infamy Of Fire
6. Lux et Umbra
7. Illusion Of Freedom
8. Handling Cognitive Factor
9. Out Of The Blue Comes The New Plague
10. Lucifer

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Split Review: ARS VENEFICIUM/ULVDALIR "In Death's Cold Embrace" (Immortal Frost Productions) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Location: Limburg
Country: Belgium
Genre: Black metal
Band: Ulvdalir
Location: St. Petersburg
Country: Russia
Genre: Black metal
Label: Immortal Frost Productions
Format: Vinyl, digital, streaming
Release date: June 21, 2019
A few days ago I was sent "In Death's Cold Embrace", featuring the bands Ars Veneficium and Ulvdalir. I am just getting around to viewing this split now, and goddamn, what an awesome release! Featuring only two tracks, this is a short one, but it still manages to snag my attention fully.
Hailing from Belgium, Ars Veneficium pummels through the first track with a vicious blackness. Tight drums and intense guitar work are brought together with vocals that can only be described as hell-bent and merciless. I needed to let this track play through a few times, but by the third play through I can say that this song is put together very well and Ars Veneficium is more than deserving of an audience.
Calling Russia their home, Ulvdalir is just as dark and foreboding as Ars Veneficium, and the musicianship speaks for itself. Both bands without question play with a tightness that makes itself known, proving that black metal can be created anywhere in the world and still eviscerate the ears of those who are brave enough to listen.
As I have mentioned in other reviews, I usually prefer listening to shorter releases, as it gives me a chance to listen to all the tracks more than once. This way, I have a firm idea of the music in my mind, and I can review the content easier. With this split in particular, I was actually hoping for more! Overall, this was a quick (yet highly enjoyable) release, and I would for sure listen to more tracks from these bands when they become available. Great stuff, Ars Veneficium and Ulvdalir! -Devin Joseph Meaney

[Ars Veneficium]
S: Vocals
Ronarg: Lead guitars
Archcaust: Rhythm guitars
Y.: Bass
Norgameus: Drums
I.K.Winterheart: Guitars, Vocals
Kreator: Guitars

Track list:
1. Ars Veneficium: A Thousand Weeping Angels
2. Ulvdalir: Litany of Death

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Full Length Review: MEGALITH LEVITATION "Acid Doom Rites" (Addicted) by Dave Wolff

Location: Chelyabinsk
Country: Russia
Genre: Doom/stoner metal
Full Length: Acid Doom Rites
Label: Addicted
Format: Digital, streaming
Release date: September 22, 2019
Megalith Levitation is the next step in doom metal’s evolution as they’re taking it to extremes of minimalist, hypnotic ritual drone beyond most English and American doom bands. The Russian band has maintained a steady lineup since 2016 and strive to compose the most ponderous, mesmeric doom metal imaginable. It took them three years to perfect their debut recording “Acid Doom Rites”, and if reactions to it are an indication they’ve succeeded at creating something frightening in its unremitting power and inventiveness.
It sounds like a stereotypical cliché, but I’ll say it anyway. And elaborate on the point. The only way “Acid Doom Rites” can be listened to is loud. As in ruptured, bleeding tympanic membranes loud. Neighbors who think Black Sabbath is too much to handle will be locking themselves in their homes and hiding under their beds fearing global devastation if they should hear this album.
“Acid Doom Rites” is a monument to all things doom, drone, stoner, and sludge, torn from the fabric of time and space, made tangible by musicians who spent extended periods looking into the dark and finding it has looked into them. Megalith Levitation is described as musical occultists who compose psychedelic sermons that transcend illusion and reality, guiding you through an unknown eternity. From the first moments of the first song you’re on this journey with a slim chance, if any, for a peaceful return.
Dare I say they make Sunn O))), The Obsessed, Yob, Boris and Cathedral sound spongy and threadlike? Because “Acid Doom Rites” is so unrestricted and punishing that a single power chord threatens to compress your brain and body into unrecognizable sarcocarp. As groundbreaking as established doom metal bands are, they don’t quite represent the soundtrack to eternity as well as this band. I haven’t heard an album this dark and menacing since Winter’s 1990 opus “Into Darkness.”
The gritty, repetitive psychedelia here may suggest you should smoke tremendous amounts of weed or ingest a healthy dose of acid while listening to it, but excessive volume will provide a sufficient high. This owes to a motif truly occultic and ritualized in nature. The songs range from sixteen to twenty-five minutes in length, making enough room to push everything to the extreme. From incessantly repetitive and ceaseless guitar and bass progressions to monotone crooning to stridulous black metal-style vocals to atmospheric guitar solos to intermittent sound effects, “Acid Doom Rites” reeks of a theatrical metal opera, presenting new opportunities for doom and sludge to evolve while perpetuating its roots. -Dave Wolff

SAA: Sermons & fuzzmagic
KKV: Thunderbass
PAN: Skullhammers

Track list:
1. Spirit Elixir Drunkard
2. Eternal Trip / The 4-th Plateau
3. Acid Doom Rites
4. Smouldering Embers / Pyromagic

Article: "Let's Talk About Modern Sex In A Modern World..." by Damien Lee Thorr

Let's Talk About Modern Sex In A Modern World...
Article by Damien Lee Thorr

Reading up on human sexual behavior I find only our connection to the natural world, our animal instincts...
Catholic priests and other clergy are celibate. They are sworn to celibacy and cannot engage in relationships, yet, they are assigned to counsel couples on the hardships of people's relationships as if they had a fucking clue about the complex dynamics involved... and they expect (and teach) women are to be subservient.
It is not natural to abstain from sex. We are creatures born to reproduce. When a person, male or female, does not experience sexual contact, a chemical imbalance occurs in the brain, the inner sexual savage takes over and will either masturbate (which is very natural, having observed caged animals with no partners masturbate) or sexually prey upon the vulnerable, namely children.
It is a behavior observed in the animal world as well, as in the case of Elephant seals in Antarctica, when there is an alpha male hoarding a vast number of females, leaving weaker males to seek sex with unattended younger, not sexually matured, juveniles of the species or even with males.
Homosexual behavior is also a natural sexual behavior among some individuals as it is nature's way of controlling populations and we have observed almost all mammals engaged in it. Sadly, many theist critics of homosexuality view it as "sinners making a choice to sin" and never thinking or looking deeper into it. What they don't think about is natural attraction or tastes. For one thing, Vanilla ice cream or chocolate: we don't choose which one we like best. We simply like one over the other without any outside influence. I, for one, have a weakness or fetish for dark-haired Hispanic women..... and I also focus on their sexy hands and feet. I did NOT choose this. I get easily aroused when I see dark-haired Hispanic women and I have no control over how I am attracted to them. In fact, I remember as a child when my first-grade teacher came in to work wearing sandals and I could not take my eyes off her beautifully pedicured feet... and I was aroused! Again, I did not choose this!
Studies indicate heterosexuals do not choose to be heterosexuals and homosexuals do not choose to be homosexual. Every culture has homosexuals among them: some in the open and many in secret.
Bigots and homophobes are interesting to watch. You see, a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that those who vehemently bash gays are doing so in a desperate attempt to conceal their very own secret homosexual desires and/or activities.
The one thing that must be mentioned is how they attack the Pride festivals or events and counter-protest with what they call "straight pride".
You see, Gay Pride events are a way for gays to expose what they experience in their daily lives as they confront discrimination and danger. It is their way of acquiring a sense of unity and solidarity to fix the wrongs of society and unfair laws based on religious discriminatory influence.
As a straight man, I have never been denied employment for being straight.
I have never been denied a work promotion for being straight.
I have never been denied housing for being straight.
I have never lost family for being straight.
I have never been denied service at a restaurant for being straight.
I have never been ridiculed and/or ostracized for being straight.
I have never been physically attacked for being straight.
More importantly, there is no country out there where I am in danger of being executed for being straight.
Homophobes just don't get it.
I know what gays go through because I have been discriminated against for being an atheist or a long-haired rocker in those same exact social situations where I have been denied employment and lost all family for being atheist, for not believing in a god no one can prove exists.
When you think about it, many aspects of our society are backward:
For one thing, we feel we have to hide our nudity, hide where no one can see us when we have sex..... but violence and crime are out in the open.... weird...
I am not at all excusing the pedophile behavior of clergy. I am simply offering an explanation of why it happens. I believe that if clergy is allowed to marry (straight or gay), we may see a global decrease in parochial sex crimes upon children.
Unfortunately, many religious cultures view sex asomething dirty, especially among the older aged individuals (although with Muslims, the indoctrination of hate starts much younger) when it is the most natural attribute of our existence and essential for our intimate relationships.

Damien Lee Thorr is the composer and lead guitarist for the popular, classically influenced and openly atheist/political activist metal band Predator, has authored many essays and editorials for Asphyxium Zine and written he horror-erotica novel “The Vampire Journals”. Check out Predator’s 2011 full length "Born in Blood" at Youtube and visit their official site at

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Article: "Samhain Endless Night Dark Moon Ritual" by Liath Sahjaza

Samhain Endless Night Dark Moon Ritual
Article by High Elder Ordained Priestess Liath Sahjaza of Temple House Sahjaza
Goddess Rosemary Sahjaza, High Elder Ordained Priestess Liath Sahjaza and Walter Warlock Sahjaza conducted the Samhain 2019 Endless Night Dark Moon Ritual at Sanctuary.
Order the the paperback or kindle edition of Liath Sahjaza's The Little Gray Book of Magic at Amazon.

Dark Moon magic is like no other. This month is especially different, as the energies are of Scorpio. Energies, if unbalanced, are erratic and unpredictable, to the point of being shocking. If this is how your life is going, work for balance is well overdue.
Take a long, honest look at emotions, feelings, behaviors, and beliefs. Is the way you are approaching life getting you the results you want? I hope so, but if not, only you can fix things. It's not about being right or wrong, but about being happy and balanced. Don't be too proud, or afraid even, to make changes.
The atmosphere is so highly charged at this time that it can cause impatience, anxiety, abruptness, etc. So don't beat yourself up too much if this is the case with you. However, own up to things and then cut them loose.
Let us now go into a deep and sincere deep inner journey. Accept all you see without self-loathing or self-judgement. Know that everyone has moments of weakness. At the same time, embrace all of yourself as you admit and accept each piece.
We will now have quiet time until we are all done.