Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Full Length Review: Zebulon Kosted "Never Return Again" (Hammerkrieg Productions) by Jorge A. Trejos

Band: Zebulon Kosted
Location: Missoula, Montana
Country: USA
Genre: Avant garde black metal
Full length: Never Return Again
Format: CD, digital
Label: Hammerkrieg Productions
Release date: September 9, 2019
I felt at first moderately lazy to review this album when I saw that the list of songs brought cuts that touch the 11-minute long. The only idea seemed soporific to me. I thought, what's with the band's name Zebulon Kosted? Sounds weird, it can be a proper name or a pun; when I asked Google, Kosted gave 0 results against 3 results for Zebulon; whose meanings were 'honored' and 'place of residence', this didn't make much sense, but neither did the following: Jacob's tenth son in the Old Testament was called Zebulon and last, in urban language, a Zebulon is the name given to a dude with a sausage as big as Mandingo's.
Anyway, I just wanted to review something cool, standard and properly handed. And you know, the generic average of many other one-member black metal band is not very promising, except for some exceptions to the rule, of course. I was in the dilemma; whether to procrastinate or press PLAY. I did the second and the first thing that sounded was the arpeggio of a crunchy guitar that gave way to a theme at mid-pace tempo, with a taciturn riff that repeats itself as a funeral procession.
If I put it in words or images: I-X (this is the title of the first track; in fact, all songs have Roman numerals) evokes a cosmic fakir came from Arcturus, playing an interstellar flute who turns the stars in cobra who make their bifid tongues crunch. It feels like a trance and only the first four minutes have passed and I already feel the sound journey of Zebulon Kosted. When out of nowhere, this hypnotism effect that has me in the shadows is abruptly stopped by the scintillation of guitar tremolos, blast beats and a rough voice that buckles our belt, and warns us we're about to “Never Return Again", then we face an arctic Black Metal storm with Doom cyclones between; that threaten to make us lose at night, buried under tons of hail and snow...
In a Grosso mode, that's more or less experienced when the first 50 minutes of this album are heard; from then on, a series of instrumental and atmospheric songs begins, with classical guitars, clean vocals, choirs, keyboards and ambient sounds that announce the sting of winter. This will not be an album for everyone, it is far from it. This records demands special attention because we are facing a type of interdimensional sonic experiment, the First dimension is chaos and destruction: Black / Doom; the second dimension is ritual, acoustic, melancholic and atmospheric.
I had never heard Zebulon Kosted before, it surprised me to learn the band, founded by Rashid Abdel Ghafur (who plays all instruments, including a real drum kit, which earns this solitary prolific dude an extra point) in Missoula, Montana, has been releasing albums independently and constantly since 2000. This guy has released 23 full-length albums and a good dozen of splits. The majority of Zebulon Kosted productions are ultra-limited and hardly exceed one hundred copies. For example, "Never Return Again" was released on a limited 50 CD pressings, manufactured by the Hammerkrieg Productions label, specializing in Black, Atmospheric and Dark Ambient underground bands.
As read in the info on this album, all the music was taken and re-recorded from their previous album “To Leave and Never Return” of 2018, hence the songs are longer because it seems, they were also merged. Finally, this album is dedicated to Hildegard von Bingen, a former prophetess and canonized nun in 2012; who has a very particular history, but too broad to deal with it here, I will just say that nowadays is embrace by feminist or LGBT communities, she created his own alphabet, the Lingua Ignota, considered a possible precursor of Esperanto. She was also a pioneer of opera and many consider her the first Rock star in history, but, come on' wasn't Rock n Roll a true invention of the horned one? –Jorge A. Trejos

Rashid Abdel Ghafur: Vocals, all instruments

Track list:
1. I \ X
2. II \ III
3. IV \ V
4. VI \ VII
5. VIII \ IX
6. I (TLANR Bonus Track)
7. II (TLANR Bonus Track)
8. III (TLANR Bonus Track)
9. IV (TLANR Bonus Track)
10. V (TLANR Bonus Track)
11. VI (TLANR Bonus Track)
12. VII (TLANR Bonus Track)
13. VIII (TLANR Bonus Track)
14. IX (TLANR Bonus Track)
15. X (TLANR Bonus Track)

Interview with Ghoul Shadows of Vampire Court of Brisbane by Dave Wolff

Interview with Ghoul Shadows of Vampire Court of Brisbane

Tell the readers about the projects you are currently involved in and how they’ll benefit the occult community.
We have been behind the scenes in our three Vampire Courts of Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. Each one has been growing steadily over the last three years and with all the talented members we are starting to see some unique projects blossom. We now have a focus on the ritual aspect and the martial aspect as well. Our members are encouraged to strengthen their mental as well as physical prowess. To understand more of who they are as a person and to understand their vampire selves.
Personally, I have many creative endeavors coming up which are as varied as the number of masks I own! I have recently created a ‘choose your own twisted tale’ game called “The Scarlet Gallery”. It is available online (website: and you play as a detective trying to solve a murder. Of course, this is me we are talking about so there are plenty of unpleasant deaths, truly weird situations, and monsters you encounter. The game plays like a story but includes visuals and audio tracks. There are over fifty endings so there is plenty of replayability in there for those who are keen to complete it! I’d like to give a big shout out to Professor Brink who did all the hard work developing the game!
My first novel is now under construction and ties in a lot of the short-stories that many of my fans have come to know. It will be in the horror genre which is no surprise and takes place in the fictitious town of Cross-Roads Louisiana. The protagonist is a cowboy by the name of Thomas Graves who has more than his fair share of the limelight in my stories so far.
Various stage shows and films have started to ask for my services recently in regards to the props and masks that I build. One of the more interesting ones was for an independent movie created by Ally Ryan called “The Art of Loathing” which involved 16 sheeple (humanoid sheep) masks and a Sheep Queen mask. Truly the stuff of nightmares!
Willem Whitfield has written a stage show called “Hello Gaz Rhumbo!” and I have been cast to play “Father” in the performance. I have worked with Willem many times behind the scenes as many things from creating miniature cities to being a narrator for performance and also the “monster of the week”. Now I’m on stage out from behind the mask in this piece and am looking forward to the amazing show it will become!
The prop building bleeds over (no pun intended) into the Vampire Courts with my fangsmithing which is in the works and will be available very soon to the public.
And finally, there is a charity open house night for our Vampire Court in Brisbane on February 29 where we will be asking for donations for the Australian bushfires. We have members who have been affected as well as those who are helping all across our country and we wish we could do more.

How did you become interested in vampires and vampirism? What research did you do on those subjects and how did it lead to your involvement with the Vampire Courts?
The best answer I can give to these questions is to refer to a DVD called – “Vampyres This Is Not Fiction... It's Real”, an old 2007 documentary that featured a lot of well-known members of the vampire community. This is what spurred me to leave Australia and find them across the world in 2009. When I realized I wasn't alone and there were others it helped answer a lot of my questions and it has been a journey of discovery ever since. Now in 2020, I have many vampires I call good friends across Australia who share the same idea of community as I do in our three courts of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. It’s actually really exciting and proud to see them grow and flourish from what was essentially nothing into thriving communities today.

What video company released “Vampyres This Is Not Fiction... It's Real” in 2007? Who is interviewed in this documentary, and is the information provided still relevant today?
The people interviewed are Father Sebastiaan, Maven Lore, and Belfazaar Ashantison and a host of others who were happy to share their views on the subject matter. I feel it is relevant due to the diversity of the groups and also as to what it was like back in the early 2000s and how things have changed with today's technology.

Where did your journey to find vampire communities in other parts of the world take you? What convinced you that vampires were kindred spirits to you?
I started first and foremost with Australia and went to Sydney and Melbourne. Eventually, I ended up in New Orleans which is sometimes referred to as the "Vampire Mecca" and from those interactions, I have made some very good friends within the vampire community stretching across the waters. I think, once you know - you know! Unless you are a vampire it’s hard to describe. In the simplest terms, it would be resonating with the same frequency as another.

What are the differences between a Vampire Court and a Vampire House? How widespread and well known are the Vampire Courts in the occult world?
Our terminology of what makes a Court different to a House is that a Court is local (eg: Brisbane) and the House encompasses all its Courts (ie: across Australia only). Its purpose is to create a place for vampires and their donors/black swans to congregate and share knowledge, ask questions and educate each other in a safe environment. As far as how well known it is in the occult community, it is known to those who are searching for us. Some of our work crosses over into other local groups so we are becoming more well-known with each passing day.

How long have you known Goddess Rosemary of Temple House Sahjaza? What projects have you and she worked on together since you became friends?
Goddess Rosemary and I have known each other for some time and I do believe I will be featured in one of Sahjaza's upcoming books. I am sure there will be more projects to come so stay tuned!

What book by Temple House Sahjaza will you be featured in? How soon is it being released and how prominently are you being showcased in it?
I can’t discuss the title at this stage; one of my hexes will be featured. Some people may understand what I did but I'd like to see other practitioners’ experiences with it once it is out in the world.

How did you come up with the idea for “The Scarlet Gallery”? From the way you describe it, how does it offer something different to gaming communities?
It is set within the mythos of my other short stories and was the thought of what would happen if one of my main protagonists went up against an antagonist of equal or better strength. It actually caused both of their worlds to become more fleshed out and it is going to have far more reaching consequences within my world-building. The Scarlet Gallery “event” you attend in the game is loosely based on the works of Gunther von Hagens who has his own event in real life called “Body Worlds”. In this event, he displays cadavers using a plastination technique. I added a supernatural element to this as well as a murder mystery. You are not just reading a story, you are controlling the story with each choice you make. The audio and visuals enhance the experience for the player as they get closer and closer to unlocking the true ending of the game. It is very different from the usual platformers or FPS games that rely heavily on graphics of the game or gameplay. This game offers a story and more immersion. The Scarlet Gallery is available right now to play on Windows (only) through the website.

How many projects did Professor Brink work on or have a hand in working on before he helped with developing the video game?
Professor Brink has been a developer on many personal projects and his works can be found on the website along with my game. He is a very talented individual and I was recommended to him through mutual friends for this special project.

How long have you been developing the characters and storyline of your novel? How many short stories did you write before starting your novel, and how will those stories be tied in?
I have written approximately thirty-three short stories so far for the “Tales of the Twisted” series. All of the events and places happen in the same universe so there is an underlying mythos connecting them all.

What can you fill the readers in on about your involvement in “The Art of Loathing” and “Hello Gaz Rhumbo!” along with other film and show projects you will be involved in?
A lot of advertising has mainly been through Facebook and email. We have also been doing a lot of word of mouth and any way we can think of to get the word out there.

How much advertising have you done for your open house charity night? Tell the readers where it will be held and how much of a response you’re expecting at this stage?
The fundraiser for the 2020 Bushfires will be held at Thr333fold at 3 Sixth Ave, Sandgate QLD 4017 this Saturday night the 29th of February from 5pm. See you all there!

-Dave Wolff

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

EP Review: Yakisoba "Oxygen Deprivation, Autophagia and Erotic Mutilation - Split with Ptoma" (Eyes of the Dead Prod) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Band: Yakisoba
Country: Italy
Genre: Goregrind
EP: Oxygen Deprivation, Autophagia and Erotic Mutilation - Split with Ptoma
Format: Digital
Label: Eyes of the Dead Prod (limited to 75 hand numbered copies)
Release date: January 29, 2020
During the midst of an intensely lazy day, I realized that I have not written a music review in a while. Thinking that I should remedy this, I sat down at my makeshift desk, logged on to my computer, and hit up Youtube to see what new offerings were available for my listening pleasure.
I tried out a few bands, but none of them really peaked my interest. After my third listening attempt, I found ''Oxygen Deprivation, Autophagia and Erotic Mutilation.'' This is the latest EP from the Italian one man goregrind unit Yakisoba, which is also set to be released as a split with Ptoma, a goregrind act hailing from Greece.
To put things in perspective, this EP is short, but it still manages to entice my ears in a way that only gore grinders can. With tight drums, a range of various putrid vocalizations, and guitar work that seems to clock in well above amateur, I would highly suggest that fans of goregrind give this stuff a chance.
Something else worth mentioning would be the song titles. They manage to have a catchy effect when you read them, yet they do not push the envelope too far. Not to say that pushing the envelope should be frowned upon (especially within this ''scene'') but what I am trying to say is that Yakisoba hits the correct mark without needing to try very hard.
This project reminds me of a mixture of other bands, but something that really sticks out to me is the ''sometimes'' vocal similarity between Yakisoba and the well-known legends GHOUL. It is not something that is constant, but at least twice I was reminded of these guys while listening to this EP.
This whole damn EP is great, but my favorite part of it all would need to be the guitar work in the intro ''Black Purulent Spots.'' It is a great starter for an EP and sets the tone and vibe for the rest of the listening experience.
All in all, this is a great EP. You should listen to it! (No really... Do it!) –Devin Joseph Meaney

Michele: Vocals, all instruments

Track list:
1. Black Purulent Spots (Intro)
2. The Taxidermist
3. Anatomical Anarchism
4. Mutilation Frenzy
5. Cartilage Collection
6. Cerebral Combustion
7. Skinless
8. Human Mush
9. Red Pulp Cords (Outro)

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Full Length Review: GAPANG "Kontrasismo" (Mindplight Recordings) by Dave Wolff

Band: Gapang
Location: Manila
Country: Philippines
Genre: Doom/sludge metal
Full Length: Kontrasismo
Format: Digital
Label: Mindplight Recordings
Release date: February 18, 2020
It has been two years since I penned a review of Gapang’s debut EP “Mabagal, Mabigat At Madumi”. As this was my first exposure to them, I remember noting they were a heavier band than The Obsessed and other US doom/sludge metal bands. I mostly had this idea because of the passion the band channeled into the EP during the recording process, along with the amount of grime and grit they recorded the songs with to make their intended point. “Mabagal, Mabigat At Madumi” was inspired by the day-to-day poverty living in the Philippines, which was long a third world nation after the conclusion of World War II and is currently transiting toward industrialization. Many of its citizens still live in underdeveloped neighborhoods and survive on meager funds despite the financial and technological improvements. Like the early thrash metal reflecting the working-class environments of England and Germany, Gapang’s music is a vehicle to express their country’s poorer conditions and political strife. If it sounds ugly, it’s because their world is not a pretty picture. Their debut full length “Kontrasismo” features new material next to tracks from “Mabagal, Mabigat At Madumi” and their second EP “A Smirk to the Posturing”, with the distortion, desolation and boiling frustration amped up. Before listening to this album I listened to both of their EPs, to see how far their songwriting and presentation have come. Listening to most of these songs for the second time I had the opportunity to listen more closely, and it was surprising to see how well the older and newer material fit together. The increase of atmosphere, background ambiance, melodic vocals, and guitar solos shows the band is becoming more melodic and placing more emphasis on feeling. This is proving to enhance their ability to bring to light the apocalyptic future that may well arrive if things continue the way they are socio-politically. “Signals to the Brain Dead” and especially “Wane” are the finest examples of where the band is going musically, showing their potential to draw influence from Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath as well as modern doom and sludge. The cover art makes no mistake conveying the band’s message, showing a slum area in the foreground with what resembles a high rise in the distance; the scenery is tinted deep red to present an impression of hell on earth. “Free” is the first of the album’s newest tracks, establishing a message that is brutally simple: “You think you're free?/Now here we lie/Blood drips, unseeing eyes/Another fool/We push up to the sky/This king sucks up/A country's fill… Do you think you're free????/You stupid fuck…” Reciting those lyrics and others against the musical backdrops described above makes “Kontrasismo” a dire warning of what is to come and an impassioned plea for change. -Dave Wolff

Joy Legason: Vocals, bass
Jay Jumawan: Guitars
Carlo Garcia: Drums

Track list:
1. Free?
2. Gin Bulag Swing
3. Mudd
4. Signals To The Brain Dead
5. Reign Of Worms (Reprised)
6. Tulo
7. Neverhide
8. Ravages Of Diplomacy
9. Wane

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Article: "Heads Roll as Zeena Drops Her First Solo Recording Project on March 11, 2020" by Tony Sokol

Heads Roll as Zeena Drops Her First Solo Recording Project on March 11, 2020
Article by Tony Sokol

The Stahnsdorf South-Western Cemetery outside Berlin is the largest forest cemetery in the world. Where else could you house the remains of the man who brought the silent era horror classic Nosferatu to the silver screens? It wasn't big enough to house his skull. On her first solo recording project, Zeena, the mistress of dark ambient, experimental sound art, commands its return in "Bring Me The Head Of F.W. Murnau: A Ghost Story in Six Acts."
A long time in the making, "Bring Me the Head of F.W. Murnau: A Ghost Story in Six Acts,' was inspired by news reports on July 15, 2015, that the director's head had been stolen from his grave under mysterious circumstances.
"That day, as I learned of this odd occurrence, I hearkened back to my 1990 recording 'Bring Me The Head Of Geraldo Rivera,' under the auspices of my former band Radio Werewolf," Zeena said in a statement. The avant-garde musician and mystic was composer, vocalist, musician and graphic designer for the sonic magical music project Radio Werewolf from 1988 to 1993. "The calling to create a similarly titled sequel seemed obvious."
Her latest sound art project "comes at a fitting time," according to the press statement. "As we enter into a new era of the twenty-first century `Roaring 20's,' waxing into centennial anniversaries and celebrations of Germany's Weimar Republic art movements and UFA Film's golden age of Expressionist films."
Murnau was an expressionist master. Best known for his 1922 adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, his designs over painted sets merged interior with exterior and made more of shadows than light. He made two of the first motion pictures to feature original film scores: Nosferatu, with music by Hans Erdmann, and Faust, with music by Werner R. Heymann.
The tones on "Bring Me The Head Of F.W. Murnau: A Ghost Story in Six Acts" reflect the "transition from the end of Murnau's worldly life to what his disembodied consciousness may have experienced in the afterlife," according to the press statement. "Many of the intricate sounds heard in these tracks were captured in field recordings at Murnau's former residence in Berlin and at his gravesite in Stahnsdorf, Germany."
You can hear a sample track can be listened on the Zeena Schreck Bandcamp site. Track 4, “Tabu,” is all Zeena, except the drums of Hisham A. Bharoocha. Her tone art, inspired by her experience within the esoteric, shamanistic and magical traditions, is "sonic necromancy," according to the press statement and it becomes hazily apparent as the insistent beat gives way to Zeena's hypnotic incantations.
"The presence of the cinematic Master is perceived most effectively when listening to the tracks altogether, in sequential order, preferably with eyes closed and/or lights out," reads the advance press.
The official release date for "Bring Me The Head Of F.W. Murnau: A Ghost Story in Six Acts," is March 11, 2020, the 89th memorial anniversary of F.W. Murnau's tragic, untimely death.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Interview with suspension artist CHAD HUXTABLE by Kelly Tee

Interview with suspension artist CHAD HUXTABLE hailing from Australia

Human or body suspension art is the act of suspending oneself from a large hook that is placed through the skin by way of provisional body piercings. Body suspension is a tradition that dates back thousands of years and historically was strictly performed for sacred and ritualistic purposes.
Today, the art of body suspension continues and is fast becoming an addiction and or lifestyle for people who partake in this art form. I caught up with Chad Huxtable who hails from Adelaide, Australia to learn more about this art and its attraction the pain and exhilaration of it all to feed my curiosities and interests with what is often a misunderstood physical and mental virtuosity.

Hi Chad, thanks for speaking with me. The first thing that pops into a lot of people's minds when they see what is known as the art of body or human suspension without understanding the process of this incredible performance art is why? Why do you do this?
Hi, Kel. The reason why I do body suspension, plain and simple, is that I love it. It started by a friend offering it to me; I thought he was joking and a few days later he reminded me and had organized the hooks and stuff for me. At the time I thought that maybe if I didn't like it then it would be an interesting story, but I liked it and now it's become a bit like therapy. The "why" I do this is a hard question to answer because it's always different for each suspension. Some are like therapy for me, to help ease up things like depression. Others are just for fun and a good way to see friends and be around other people with the same interests, while other suspensions are performance pieces for events or art installations. However, the main reason I do it is the rush and the following come-down.

What does body suspension mean for you on a personal level?
Body suspension for me on a personal level is the therapy side of it. A few hours later I will get emotional, almost like a hyper sense of each emotion and within that rush of emotion. There's a clarity that follows and helps me to understand more within myself. Weirdly, sometimes I get some precognition and my body will tell me what I will need after the suspension and sometimes that will be that I need to isolate myself and work through it. Sometimes it'll be going out, just being around random people and living in the moment, and sometimes it'll be that I need to go see a specific friend and spend some time with them. Each time my body tells me what I need to do and it's always been right.

Aside from finding this fascinating, I do think ‘OUCH, that must hurt and how does your skin not rip?’. Therefore, how do you manage through the pain and what sort of preparation do you do for your skin, mind, and body to endure a suspension ritual?
I always get asked about it hurting and how does your skin not rip. Our skin is extremely tough and the hooks are put in fairly deep, there is always micro-tearing but it's a part of the risk. For my body suspensions, I work with Icarus Body Suspension who is a fully qualified piercer, and the person I work with and trust every time.
The preparation is usually a good night's sleep, a healthy breakfast, lots of water, and I don't drink any caffeine or alcohol (heavily the night before). No blood thinners or medication like aspirin. The mental preparation that I do is different for each suspension. My last suspension was called an O-ki-pa which is two points in the chest, making it a rather difficult suspension. The mental preparation beforehand was kind of meditating for about half an hour while Icarus prepped the hooks, table, and other parts needed and listening to a band called Heilung (pagan folk music) while allowing my mind to wander and standing in the sun. As for the skin, it's quite stretchy so of course, the piercing sites are prepped with a sterilizing agent and once the hooks are in, and I'm roped up, I lean back to stretch out my chest and the skin that is being used for the suspension readying for what is to come.

What attracted you to try this form of art and body endurance and when did it all start for you?
I met Zara from Icarus Body Suspension through a theatrical horror maze we were both acting as scarers in the maze in 2016. We became friends and he came out to one of the shows my band was playing in after we became friends.
It’s a really funny story. I was playing a show in town with my old band and Zara knew at least one member from each band in the show. I got to talking to him about body suspension as I'd seen it on his Facebook before, he said to me "You know there's always a fresh set of hooks there for ya" which I laughed at and about two days later he sent me a message saying that he wasn't joking, so I said "Fuck it! Hook us up" (literally how the conversation went). About two months after that first conversation I had my first suspension. The first suspension was two years ago, in March of 2017.
The reason I did it first was more of a 'why not try something new', and if nothing else I would have a story and some cool photos to show. Little did I know that I would fall in love with it. The emotional clarity that suspension provides me is probably what hooked me most after the first one. Since then I've used it to clear the mess from my mind and engage in a living art form.

What is the healing process after you have been pierced for suspension? Have you ever had any complications from the severe piercings?
The healing process is about four to six weeks. Usually some slight bruising occurs, but the holes are just like that for a piercing and don't need any stitching. The first couple of nights can be a bit painful to sleep in certain positions, depending on where the suspension points were. The only complications I've ever had happened with my poor preparation (as in I drank quite heavily the night before, not enough water, only three hours of sleep and not a proper breakfast). All of those elements caused me some severe bleeding.

From what I can see, you are hooked through your skin and then hooked onto a suspension device. How do you get hooked? Do the piercings take place well before a suspension or then and there before you are suspended?
The piercer marks out where the suspension points are going to go (like getting a regular piercing). Then a large needle or what we call 'sharps' is placed on the end of the hook (whether it's a Gilson or a fishhook style) and pierced through the skin. Most of the time the piercings are done on the spot, just before you get suspended, however, for shows and exhibitions you can get pierced a couple of hours beforehand.

What is the biggest misconception people tend to have around the art of body suspension?
A common misconception is that it's a sexual thing, which I can say in my case is not correct. While it’s not sexual for me, it can be for some. Personally, it’s a spiritual and/or fun experience.
One of the smaller misconceptions is that your skin will tear. I've had 180kg on four hooks in my skin hasn't ripped and I've also pulled a truck and a car at the same time from two points in my back and never had the skin rip. There is, however, still a very slim chance of tearing. For me though, so far things have been solid.

What is the body suspension community like in Adelaide? Is it growing?
We're a pretty small hook family in Adelaide, but always welcoming to people who want to try or get back into it. I'm not sure if it's growing or not, but we'll continue to do it for as long as we can (smiles).
They're by no means exclusive to the body suspension community, anyone is welcome to come out and watch or try (with personal discretion). I haven't heard of any events or festivals specific for body suspension but a few events have gotten into contact with us about performing.

How regularly do you suspend and what is the best element of body suspension for you and the worst?
If I could suspend every weekend I would, but I usually suspend probably about once every one to two months. The best element of body suspension would probably be the absolute lack of thought when I'm up on the hooks and the clarity of mind that it provides me for the following days.
The worst part of body suspension: it's a hard question because I can't think of anything bad about it. For me (and this is a personal one) I hate when Zara squirts me with the saline solution after he's taken the hooks out. No idea why, but it makes me squeal worse than when the hooks are going in.

How would you describe how this art/ritual works for you? Fun, meditative, or a gratifying emotional release? And does the position of your suspension play a role in the outcome of how the process affects you?
I would describe it as all three, it's an extremely fun day and can manifest a massive emotional response and it can be a quiet occasion.
Yes, and no, the harder the suspension is the more extreme the emotional response has been in previous suspensions. However, I've never had the same effect from the same suspension position twice. Different positions can be easier or harder, the easiest I find is what's known as a 'suicide suspension' which is from the top of your back, or the Faulkner which is from the knees.

What would you say to people who react negatively to this ritualistic performance art, calling it dangerous, sickening and self-destructive?
The easiest response is always 'my body, my choice' but for those who care to listen I explain why I do this, sometimes I'm greeted with curiosity, and then understanding. one of the funniest ones I ever had was back when I was single and I was on tinder: a girl matched with me just to ask me what was wrong with me, my response was 'nothing, I've been tested', she asked, 'what does it prove?' and I knew what she was probing for so I decided to play along, "It proves nothing but I just do it for the sick sexual thrill" and left it at that.

Is the art of body suspension on the rise? Is it becoming more mainstream? And if so, why do you think this is?
I think it is becoming a bit more mainstream because today's society is becoming more open-minded towards different or divergent art forms such as body suspension. With that open-mind mentality, people are willing to look past first judgments. I think it also has something to do with today's youth growing up in a more accepting and communicative world, and how we now have the ease of ability to connect with others who have similar likes and passions to ourselves.

To anyone considering body suspension, what would you say to them?
I'd say do it. It's a lot of fun, but if you have your mindset on a certain position, do that one first. If you end up hating it you'll always have photos of you in your dream position and who knows you might find a new addiction. I would recommend at least coming and watching or experiencing it with a trusted group around you.

Thanks so much for your time Chad, it’s been an interesting chat and good insight into this extreme form of art.
No worries Kelly, thank you for the interest. Hopefully, see you at the next metal festival in Adelaide or Sydney.

-Kelly Tee

Visit Kelly Tee’s Black Metal Reviews on Facebook. -DW

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Full Length Review: JOE DEMOLITION "An Acoustic Assault In The Key Of GG" (Here to Ruin Your Groove Records) by Jorge A. Trejos

Artist: Joe Demolition
Location: Long Island, New York
Country: USA
Genre: Acoustic punk
Format: Streaming
Release date: December 18, 2019
This is a ten cover song album with acoustic arrangements to songs from the wide (but uncreative) discography of the most eschatological and transgressive punk-shocker of the whole Gringo Punk Rock scene. Born as Jesus Christ Allin (the name is not a joke), then renamed Kevin Michael and a long time after, known by his stage name of GG Allin. To a large extent, the massive media coverage and exposure given to GG by documentaries such as “Hated” (directed by Todd Phillips, the same dude who shot Joker) managed to raise his figure to cult status. I can't tell why people feel so attracted to his stamp of a troglodyte wearing diapers who recently escaped from a mental institution. He delivers an aural and visual Molotov Cocktail where the music goes to the background and the curtain opens to welcome the performance of “artistic” shocking. Because Allin, more than a musician; was an involuntary incendiary influencer of the pre-Internet era, his advertising gimmick was to coax the audience through show-shock values. Perhaps, many won't pay to see a frontman who appears naked on stage with a purple-black eye, a bleeding nose, shitty and vomited all over just to fight his fans. That doesn't sound like the best way to spend your money, but fortunately for GG Allin, the freaks and the weirdos sell sometimes.
Now, a cover is cool, but a whole acoustic set of covers? Well yes... and you don't have to precisely be a genius to catch up with a bunch of GG Allin's tunes and filled them up with an acoustic guitar. But in fact, that's what this album is all about and the credit is for Joe Demolition. He's a punk-rocker from the Long Island, NY scene, who plays for LYNCH PIGS, a group cataloged as punk/scum rock, a label specially marked by the politically incorrect and sometimes very offensive tone of the lyrics. Let's say that this almost non-existent subgenre has GG as his godfather, but if we scrutinize more quickly, we find bands like THE MENTORS (although they are self-proclaimed Rape Rock, how sweet), ANTiSEEN, the same MURDER JUNKIES (The old band of GG with his brother Merle) EAT MY FUK, among many others. However, it is one thing to have a big dirty mouth, and a very different thing is to take all that into praxis, just as GG Allin did, whose lyrics, or better; more than lyrics, they were a bunch of nonsense words sweetened with Jim Beam bourbon and who knows what else hallucinogenic substances, that left no puppet with a head. However, despite everything said, musical anti-heroes like GG Allin are needed on the scene since they represent an antithesis of the music industry, which is most of the time packed with artist-preachers with big egos who pretend to tell people what is the agenda of political correctness, but at the end, the only thing they care about is to bill green American dollars.
On the other hand, the first song that opens this acoustic tribute is: “Die When You Die” whose lyrics sang about “The faggots with AIDS are all gonna fry. You stuck it up an ass tonight now we're gonna die” or how about this other pearl: “You've got Cancer? So go fuckin 'die. If you got AIDS spread it around and take some lives”. But all that of course, can be taken too seriously, it should be taken more as a blackly humorous way to promote artistic anti-value. Likewise, I must emphasize that the voice of Joe D. is quite similar to the tune of GG Allin, which has a great general effect throughout the album. By the way, this record was edited in late December 2019 by the German label Here to Ruin Your Groove Recs, specialized in Scum/Punk bands. If you want to browse them, please go and check their Bandcamp profile for more info. I, in particular, have laughed and shocked a bit with tracks like “I'm Gonna Rape You”, “Hangin 'Out With Jim”, “Outlaw Scumfuc” or “I Wanna Fuck Myself” the latter, which deals with a GG Allin who is no longer satisfied with being with women, so he has chosen to practice himself a fistfuck. For my part, I think there are other better ways to fuck yourself and these are not properly sexual if you know what I mean. Finally, this acoustic album could be mandatory for GG Allin fans who want to add something weird and fun to their collection. Not sure if this album is available on CD or Vinyl since the label doesn't clear that, although you can also listen to the complete album on Joe Demolition’s Bandcamp. -Jorge A. Trejos

Joe Demolition: Vocals, guitar

Track list:
1. Die When You Die
2. Gypsy Motherfucker
3. Hangin' Out With Jim
4. Rowdy Beer Drinkin' Night
5. I'm Gonna Rape You
6. I Wanna Fuck Myself
7. Cunt Sucking Cannibal
8. Livin' Like An Animal
9. When I Die
10. Violence Now
11. Outlaw Scumfuc

Monday, February 17, 2020

Full Length Review: KUROI JUKAI "Kuroi Jikai" (Sentient Ruin Laboratories) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Band: Kuroi Jukai
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Country: Canada
Genre: Powerviolence/noisegrind
Full Length: Kuroi Jukai
Format: Limited edition vinyl 7”, streaming
Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories (USA)
Originally released on cassette in 2015 by Aught\Void
Release date: February 21, 2020
A short while ago, Dave Wolff sent me a Soundcloud link for “Sentient Ruin”. I have not used Soundcloud for anything in a long time, so this alone makes the review suggestion a bit unique in comparison to my usual Youtube or Bandcamp binges.
With short powerviolence blasts paired with experimental style noise oriented goodness, these tracks knocked me back in my chair while I had this release pulsing through my speakers.
The best way for me to describe the sounds held within would be if a dial-up modem, a radio improperly adjusted to a station and a powerviolence band had a ménage à trois, the resulting baby would be the best representation of Kuroi Jukai.
Heavy, unique, and packed with talent, I'm sure many fans have been born surrounding this release. It took me a while to listen to this fully when it was originally sent to me, but damn... this is pretty good!
I encourage everyone who reads this to give this band a listen. I dare say that you might not regret it (or maybe you will). Also, I get the feeling that I should check out Soundcloud more often because there seems to be a sea of great stuff on here. Maybe you should do the same? -Devin Joseph Meaney

Track list:
1. I
2. II
3. III
4. IV
5. V
6. VI
7. VII
9. IX
10. X
11. XI
12. XII
13. XIII

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Full Length Review: THE FRAOCH COLLECTIVE "Eyes" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: The Fraoch Collective
Location: Long Island, New York
Country: USA
Genre: Alternative rock
Full Length: Eyes
Format: Digital
Label: Independent
Release date: February 29, 2020
What more can I say about The Fraoch Collective that I haven’t already indicated in my past reviews? I’ve said much to the effect that they’re the most original band to emerge from Long Island since 1993 and 1994, before LI and NYC lost its most important clubs and original music gave way to “tribute” bands. As they’re blasting holes in generic rock and garden variety pop, and giving new meaning to the term alternative, there is a dire need for them in today's music industry.
Like Patti Smith said when interviewed in Rolling Stone two days after CBGB was evicted: in the end its people and creativity that define music. And it wouldn’t surprise me the slightest bit if TFC’s vision caught on simply because it was unforeseen and hasn’t been tried before. There will always be artists who embody that principle, and that TFC can form out of nowhere and manifest the spirit of early New York punk bands is an important point to pay attention to.
My first impressions of their second full length, right from the beginning, is they’re writing songs that are even more despondent than their last go-around. “Cote du Rhone”, the opening track of “Eyes”, embraces such a prenotion of ill-fortune it can almost be likened to death-doom metal or depressive suicidal black metal bands, as much as early alternative bands. The song's conclusion is its most profound surprise, one I hadn’t expected to hear. All I can say is it concludes the song abruptly, trusting you into darkness and seclusion from which there is no return.
Indeed the entire album from that point takes unexpected turns, calling attention to Rolling Stones influence in “Dear Somebody”, underscoring mundane life with emotions far more secretive and shadowy in “Mice and Broken Things”, undermining the fleeting rays of hope it presents in “Hornsburg 49”. “No More Summers” sounds somewhat inspired by the same darkness that drove Type O Negative, heading into mesmerizing territory similar to late 60s Beatles.
“The Bay Song” is worth mentioning for its tribute to Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, as are “Sybille” and “The Judas Kiss (West Coast)” for the experimental turf those two songs head into. Altogether “Eyes” is proof that a band can branch out without completely changing or exhibiting a pretense to broad-mindedness. -Dave Wolff

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

Track list:
1. Cote du Rhone
2. Dear Somebody
3. Hornsburg 49
4. Mice and Broken Things
5. No More Summers
6. Sybille
7. The Bay Song
8. The Judas Kiss (West Coast)

Split Review: SONIC DIVER/LITTLE PUPPY PRINCESS (Extreme Terror Production/Grind Father Production) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Band: Sonic Diver
Country: Netherlands, Scotland, Japan
Genre: Grindcore
Band: Little Puppy Princess
Location: Seoul
Country: South Korea
Genre: Grindcore
EP: Sonic Diver/Little Puppy Princess split tape
Format: Cassette, streaming
Label: Extreme Terror Production (Netherlands)/Grind Father Production (UK)
Release date: August 8, 2018
While scrolling Facebook, I saw a link to some grind tunes. Anyone who knows me understands that this is common for me, but as always, I clicked on it to see where the internet would take me.
Within seconds I was transported to a Youtube video for the split between Sonic Diver and Little Puppy Princess. I did not get a chance to review it right away, but the day after, I sat down to give this musical abomination (in a good way) some words and another listen.
The first band that attacked my eardrums was Sonic Diver. The guitar work and vocals on this side of the split are pretty standard (although well done), but the drums and percussion stand out quite a bit. It sounds to me to be a machine but layered alongside weird synth sound effects. It took me a few listens to get used to this, but I quickly realized this adds to the genuine uniqueness that Sonic Diver seems to have.
Little Puppy Princess is just as put together as Sonic Diver, just without the strange synth stuff that was presented previously on this release. Still, L.P.P. absolutely shreds and I would encourage anyone and everyone to give this awesome band a listen. Both bands on this split are great, but for me personally, Sonic Diver takes it for originality.
A great split and a good listen. Give it a spin, homies! -Devin Joseph Meaney


Sonic Diver
Extreme Martin: Vocals
Arif: Vocals
Fitri: Vocals
Hatorri: Guitar, drum programming

Little Puppy Princess
Sexy Moon: Vocals
Jungsil Park: Guitar
Yuying Lee: Drums

Track list:
Sonic Diver
1. A.C.A.B.
2. No Mina
3. Nie Szkrobaj Sie
4. Sonic Diver
Little Puppy Princess
1. In Duress
2. Escape
3. Wondering Life
4. Collapse
5. Furry
6. Euthanasia

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Full Length Review: BEAST OF REVELATION "The Ancient Ritual of Death" (Iron Bonehead Productions) by Jorge A. Trejos

Country: Netherlands
Genre: Death/doom metal
Full Length: The Ancient Ritual of Death
Format: Vinyl, CD
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions (Germany)
Release date: March 6, 2020
The wild beast with ten horns and seven heads has been released from the underworld. He brings, under his left-wing, the debut “The Ancient Ritual of Death” that includes nine apocalyptic revelations of pure Doom Death Metal, made with the experience and riot that only three war veterans awarded with the Medal of Honor to noise and blasphemy could own. In the anti-vocal cords, we find John McEntee of the legendary INCANTATION. In percussive and bombastic artillery, the former ASPHYX Bob Bachus preside and last but not least, in the electrocuted guitar, bass and backing vocals, there is A.J. van Drenth, former guitarist of the BEYOND BELIEF, that great old Dutch Doom Death Metal cult band. The album was mostly recorded in Holland and was mixed and mastered by J.B. van der Wal (ABORTED, INQUISITOR). It also includes some solos by Eric Daniels ex-ASPHYX and Robbie Woning of DEAD HEAD. There is not much more to add, just invite you to listen to this new American / Dutch cult to Death / Doom, direct simple music, made with mastery and bravery. Keep looking forward to The Ancient Ritual of Death out next March 6th, via Iron Bonehead Records on CD / LP respectively. Check the cover of Manuel Tinnemans / Comaworx to get a visual and sound idea of the aforementioned beast of revelation, whose number is still six hundred sixty-six, call now or stick to the consequences. -Jorge A. Trejos

John McEntee: Vocals
Aj van Drenth: Guitar, Bass
Eric Daniels: Solo Guitar
Bob Bagchus: Drums

Track list:
1. Legions
2. The Great Tribulation
3. The Cryptic Void
4. The Fallen Ones
5. Beast VI
6. The Days of Vengeance
7. The Ancient Ritual of Death
8. The Unholy Roman Empire
9. We, the Lords of Chaos

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Article: "1969 B.C. The bastard step-child turns 50" by Marc Del Cielo

1969 B.C. The bastard step-child turns 50
Article by Marc Del Cielo
For decades the origins of heavy metal have been fiercely debated. In the waning years of the 1960s, the peace and love sound we’re turning to a more aggressive form of rock, and new bands emerged bringing new sounds. Still steeped in the blues, country-western and rhythm and blues, new acts such as Led Zeppelin, Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly and Grand Funk Railroad bought a more “edgy” sound to rock. The Beatles’ internal struggles produced their darker side in the form of the White Album. The Who got louder and the Rolling Stones got nastier. As 1970 began an album was released by a little known blues-based band from Birmingham, England. Rolling Stone critic Lester Bangs described it as "just like Cream! But worse". Robert Christgau writing for the Village Voice called it “bullshit necromancy” and “the worst of the counter culture”. The album was the self-titled Black Sabbath.
February 13, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of Black Sabbath and the birth of heavy metal. Black Sabbath are considered the inventors of heavy metal, something Led Zeppelin didn’t want to be credited with. Like Zeppelin, Sabbath was a blues-based band. Much of that is evident on Black Sabbath. But what became the bedrock of metal was the all-out assault of Tony Iommi’s guitar coupled with the dark lyrical content. “Black Sabbath’s first album is the black metal bible” says actor/singer Michael Des Barres. Venom Inc. bassist/vocalist Tony Dolan: “They were the birth of what we consider heavy metal. The themes, the weight of the music”. The album was recorded on October 16, 1969, in a single day. Iommi said that the band simply went into the studio and recorded their live set with Ozzy Osbourne simultaneously recording his vocals in an isolation booth. The opening thunderstorm and the double-tracked guitar on “N.I.B” were the only additions. But what made the Sabbath sound was Iommi. After losing two fingertips in a factory accident, he improvised different prosthetics, using super glue caps and pieces of leather. In addition, Iommi altered his fingering of the chords. “I'd play a load of chords and I'd have to play fifths because I couldn't play fourths because of my fingers,” Iommi explained in a 2013 Mojo interview. Iommi began the session playing a Fender Stratocaster, which he had favored. But a malfunction in the guitar's electronics forced him to use his backup Gibson SG, which with its humbucker pickups produced a less trebly tone. When he and Geezer Butler began using lower tunings on 1971’s Master of Reality, the definitive metal sound was born.
Released Friday, February the 13th, 1970, Black Sabbath opens with the title track “Black Sabbath”, based on the “Mars, the Bringer of War” movement of Gustav Holst’s The Planets, a tritone interval play at a slow tempo: the devil’s triad, it became known. The strong occult theme on the title track, as well as “The Wizard” and “N.I.B.”, caused the album to be panned by the London press. Black Sabbath eventually reached #8 on the UK Albums Charts and #23 on Billboard charts after its June 1, 1970, US release. As the band was gaining popularity amongst rock fans, they were being ignored by the press. Returning to the studio in June 1970, Black Sabbath recorded Paranoid, and they couldn’t be ignored any longer. What came next was some of the most influential acts in rock music. Alice Cooper, AC/DC, Deep Purple, KISS, Rush, Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy, and Motorhead all came to personify heavy metal in the 1970s, yet Black Sabbath was the template for metal.
Black Sabbath marked the birth of the ugly baby: heavy metal. Never respected yet couldn’t be ignored. Several of rock’s biggest acts and albums are called heavy metal such as AC/DC, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Iron Maiden, Guns ‘n’ Roses and Metallica, considered some of the biggest of them all, and are still second to Ozzy. Heavy metal‘s popularity is once again on the rise, thanks to scores of new metal acts from all around the world. And it all goes back to Birmingham. It’s basically impossible to be a metalhead and say “yeah, I never was really into Sabbath.” The influence Black Sabbath had on music will always be debated because basically, mainstream music hates heavy metal. Within the metal genre, asking about Black Sabbath’s influence is like asking if you like breathing. I asked Tony Dolan about the importance of the album Black Sabbath. “Sabbath had that pure darkness. Heavy bass and guitar with (Bill) Ward’s explosive style. Then add Ozzy’s haunting vocals and oh man! What a trip.”
50 years later, Black Sabbath and Paranoid remain the blueprints of heavy metal. Sabbath has disbanded. Health issues trouble three of the four members, and old tensions still exist. As a music lover and history buff, I think of America’s founding fathers, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. They loved and respected each other, but could no longer see eye to eye. The two men had long been estranged for some time, and on July the 4th, 1824 both men died on the 50th anniversary of their creation. Unaware that Jefferson had died, Adams said on his deathbed: “Thomas Jefferson survives.” Ozzy Osbourne’s final words may be “Tony Iommi survives,” but we might not understand him.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Interview with Andrey V. Tollock of HAISSEM and SUNSET FORSAKEN by Dave Wolff

Interview with Andrey V. Tollock of HAISSEM and SUNSET FORSAKEN

What made you found Haissem as a solo project in which you play all the instruments as well as doing the vocals? Does this give you more creative freedom to write and compose?
Answering the first part of the question, I can say the project appeared because of an accidental dispute between me and my friend, who was an absolute metalhead. The matter is that in 2012 (at the time of the dispute) I was a member of a pop-rock band. That time we’d been recording an album and my friend asked me to listen to the result. His reaction had been quite positive, however, the verdict was “this music is simple, no technical difficulties at all, it requires no skill, etc.” I told him that I could play cardinally opposite musical stuff which was closer to the music he preferred. The answer was: “That is not your cup of tea, Andrey! I make 100$ bet you’ll never play extreme music (though he knew that I was a member of a death-metal band in the later ’90s).” But he turned out to be totally wrong. I’ve composed, arranged and recorded the song “Fire Eternal” and that was the beginning of Haissem. Sunset Forsaken (my second doom/death-oriented project) appeared a little bit later. Then, I’d caught the wave of inspiration and continued to compose music, the thing that I do still to the present day. Nevertheless, I’ve never seen my 100$. That is the story so far.
As for the second part of the question, I cannot compare creative freedom in writing and composing music in a band to composing it myself, because I’ve never had any collaborations with a full band , only episodical participations and as a session musicians. I’d made an attempt to form the band, but my efforts weren’t successful. Therefore I am the only member of my projects.

How generally difficult is it for musicians to find a full band in your country? As far as you know, is there a greater number of one-man projects than bands these days?
It’s awfully difficult. First of all, there is a lack of people who are really devoted to extreme music on both sides, as musicians, and as fans. There is a certain amount of them and they do exist, but if you want to attract them into a band, you have to interest and motivate them. What are the ways of attraction/motivation? The most common are: 1) exclusive material and musical stuff; 2) financial perspective, a real possibility of development and promoting the band by investment. You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to guess that the second variant is more preferable, because qualified and experienced musicians require the guarantees and perspectives; enthusiasts are like endangered species nowadays. I’m not a millionaire and the second variant disappears like the vapour to the sky. That’s why, I think, there’s a growing tendency to start one-man bands these days. People such as I, simply cannot find associates, adherents or supporters. Herewith I wanna demonstrate my music to the fans and the one-man approach is really the way!

Tell the readers about the death metal band you were involved in during the late 1990s? How long was the band active, and did they release anything that is still available?
The band was called Devastation and we were active for a period of approximately one year, from autumn 1998 to August 1999. We had no idea about the existence of the American thrash metal band Devastation (from Corpus Christi, TX) at that time. We would release only one demo-song “Relentless” during the period. In 2019, Haissem released the “Demonotone” album (which was supposed to be a part of the 2017 “Hatavism” album by my original plan) that included approximately 70% of Devastation material. That was a show of respect from me to the band. I’m really proud of this album!

What format was “Relentless” released on, cassette or CD? How many copies were made of this demo when it came out, and how well do you remember it being received?
There was no release of this song either on cassette or CD. It was kinda a homemade version that was recorded at our rehearsal room in two takes. On the first take guitar, bass and drums were recorded, and the second take was vocals and additional guitar. Everything was done with the help of a Soviet (!) analog tape-recorder “Mayak” (“beacon” in English). That’s all. Later, with the appearance of advanced technology, I made a digital version and downloaded it for free access and listening. It’s a re-recorded version of “Relentless” and there are no changes in the music, structure or arrangements yet the lyrics are a little bit re-arranged.

What was the technology you used to re-record “Relentless”? In what ways does the remix compare to the original?
The new version was recorded and mixed at a professional studio (Vetkin Records Studio, Donetsk) by means of Pro Tools. The accumulation of material was rather standard: guitar rough draft, then drums, bass, guitars, samples/synths, and finally, vocals. The music, arrangements, lyrics, etc. are as same as in the original version. Both of the versions really don’t differ and are almost identical. The only significant difference is the sound; the re-recorded version sounds much better.

Were there any bands you worked with after Devastation disbanded, besides the pop-rock band you were in around 2012?
After Devastation, I played in different local bands and projects. Their names are totally unknown. The range in musical styles was also rather mixed. Some of those bands were RexStout (art-rock), Breed Jee (alternative/indie rock), The Rыба Fугу (“a pufferfish”) (rap-core), Ceber Kasala (“a bucket of lard”) (folk-punk) and so on. I was and am an active session musician and songwriter, and there have been a certain amount of songs and releases with my participation as a musician, composer, and lyricist.

How did those bands you worked in post-Devastation help you evolve as a musician? Can people hear any of those bands on streaming sites or purchase CDs from them?
My musical evolution was a gradual event and each band deserves to be a part of this process. All of them made the contribution and I truly appreciate it! As for streaming services and CD purchasing, it should be noted that there’s some video stuff loaded on YouTube, and as I know it’s still available. All the CD editions were strictly limited and are sold out now. The mp3 files are available mostly on social networks.

Was the album you were working on with your pop-rock band completed and officially released? How much notice did it receive?
The album by my former pop-rock band Simona Lee titled “Endorphin” was finished in autumn of 2012. A little bit later it was self-released on CD. That time there was a possibility to get a copy at our local shows and at gigs out of our native city. Now, the edition is sold out. I cannot tell about the great success of this release, but definite attention of the local press and fans was attracted and there was rather positive feedback from those who listened and bought this album. Throughout almost 10 years, we participated in a great number of gigs, shows, and fests either in our hometown or around the country. Simona Lee disbanded in 2014.

Name some of the fests where Simona Lee performed and some of the magazines and/or webzines that favorably reviewed “Endorphin”.
The Fests were mostly local and all Ukrainian. Some of them are Chervona Ruta, Ya Mayu Vlasnu Dumku, Kino Snachala, Moloda Hvulya, Eco Art and Kror U Rock. There were no actual reviews except for a pair of articles in local zines and newspapers (some of the newspaper clippings are in my Mom’s personal archive).

Is Sunset Forsaken also a one-man project or do you have musicians working with you?
Sunset Forsaken is also a one-man band. No collaborations with other musicians for a while, but I suppose it’s possible in the future. Sunset Forsaken has two albums: “Chameleon Waters” (2018, digitally released by Redefining Darkness Records, USA) and “85 Nerves” (2020, not released yet). There are some lyric videos out of Haissem and Sunset Forsaken. You can watch them on my YouTube channel and the Facebook communities of both projects.

Do you write the lyrics for both Haissem and Sunset Forsaken? How similar or different would you say the lyrical content of these bands is?
I write all the lyrics for both projects. The only thing that unites them is they are written in English but the themes and contents are rather distinguished. Haissem’s lyrics are provided by fantasy and based upon mysticism mixed with anti-religious concepts. Sunset Forsaken’s verses are mostly about inner senses and experiences, emotions and despair.

Describe some of the fantasy settings that are part of Haissem’s lyrics? How does mysticism fit into said lyrics? And how would you define the anti-religious concepts you write?
In “Maze Trilogy”, the last three tracks from the debut Haissem album “Maze Of Perverted Fantasies”, a crowd of people find themselves in a strange labyrinth where everything happens vice versa. In my attempt to make a kind of conceptual release, “Hatavism,” where hate (the main subject) appears in unusual forms and substances such as blood, seed, wind and human souls. That was an attempt to classify hatred in a way (as you know, hatred cannot be classified because it’s a human feature).
I mention religion as the root of all evil. Sometimes the lyrics transmit of a god who claims that he inspired all of us to erect cathedrals, and who gave us “Panacea For A Cursed Race” (I meant “death” in this case) and “the Earth is braided into Pralaya” by his will and so on. Please read some of the lyrics (it’s all in free access) and you can find references to anti-religious stuff.

What is the purpose of writing themes of inner senses and despair into Sunset Forsaken’s lyrics? Are you looking for an effect similar to bands like My Dying Bride and Mortiis, or something entirely different?
I’m not aiming to attract negative emotions and to be an epitome of death/doom titans such as My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, October Tide etc. Unquestionably I’m a big fan of these bands and they definitely influenced me and still inspire. I think that doom/death as a genre supposes such lyrical themes as despair and loneliness. But there are also some fantasies taking place in Sunset’s verses.

Discuss some of the fantasy-oriented songs that appear on Sunset’s releases. In what ways do their fantasy settings incorporate themes similar to doom metal and death-doom metal?
In my case, they are stories and themes from my dreams. Not constantly, but sometimes it happens... Less often, I use the stories told to me by my friends as a basis for the lyrics. But this happens only if the story is really interesting, curious, intriguing and contains kind of mystic stuff. I could tell you a pair of occasions but, I’m afraid it’ll be too long to read and might seem contrived.

What other bands are you listening to of late? Are any of them inspirational enough for you to reflect them in your songwriting or lyricism?
I am a really huge fan of music. Furthermore, music of different genres. On my shelf of CDs at my home you can find Behemoth, Coldplay, System Of A Down, Led Zeppelin, The Prodigy, Suffocation, Dream Theater, Pantera, Breaking Benjamin, Maroon 5, Katatonia, Madonna, Black Sabbath, Antonio Vivaldi, Jimi Hendrix, Tool, Joe Satriani, Paradise Lost and many more... The music I like is quite contrasted and, of course, inspirational and motivating regardless of genre and style. And my latest discoveries in music are Soen, Deafheaven, Trees Of Eternity, Greta Van Fleet, Bent Knee and Vektor.

Will the new Sunset Forsaken album be released on the same label or are you seeking other labels?
There was no distribution of Sunset Forsaken by Redefining Darkness Records except in digital format. So due to these circumstances I’ve found another label to release “85 Nerves” but I cannot tell you about the details for a while, complying with the request of the label owner. By the way, Haissem’s albums “Hatavism” and “Panacea For A Cursed Race” were released on cassette via another American label, Winter Solace Productions (100 copies of each edition). And the brand new Haissem album “Kuhaghan Tyyn” (“evil spirit”) will be released via Satanath Records on March 22, 2020.

How prominent a label is Winter Solace Productions in the US? How much has their distribution of Haissem’s two albums boosted their exposure there?
I don’t know about the prominence and authority of Winter Solace in the US and any other things about it. As I know, recently it’s become a NSBM-oriented label and Haissem’s stuff turned out inappropriate for the label’s roster. That’s the reason why we’ve stopped collaboration.

How did you and Haissem get the distribution deal with Satanath Records for the release of “Kuhaghan Tyyn” this coming March?
Periodically I’ve been suggesting my music to the labels via correspondence. Once I’d sent my material to Satanath Records and a little bit later I got feedback from Alexei Korolyov, the owner of Satanath, with the proposal of an album release, which was accepted by me happily.

How many labels had you contacted before landing the release deal with Satanath Records?
The question is pretty difficult. Suppose it was approximately 500 labels of various caliber. But, my music doesn’t follow common trends, it’s totally unpopular among metalheads and it’s not in demand. Due to oversaturation of the music market, even small labels become picky and fastidious choosing the stuff for their roster. Besides, I like experimentation in music, yet labels prefer stability.

From your experience as a songwriter and musician, does innovation and experimentation in much make more of a lasting impression in the long haul?
Only when the experiment is listenable and “catchy”, you may consider it successful and impressive. Frequently, the author’s vision and the public’s reaction differs. I think that’s why some famous bands prefer to follow the beaten path which once led them to success and risks with no reluctance. In most cases, experimental material is a feature of unsigned/independent bands who are totally free in their creative work. Besides, the experiments are not always supported by labels, because there’s a definite financial risk. Only in the case of positive feedback from fans and metal society you may consider the innovations appropriate and relevant.

What direction has the market of underground music in Russia been taking in the last ten years or so? For example, are there more bands promoting their material independently as opposed to on labels? More webzines than print zines etc?
Fanzines, webzines and metal blogs exist, but I compare the quantity of fanzines ten years ago and nowadays. About the bands: as far as I know, everything depends upon such factors as the financial possibilities of the band and their capability to promote and sell their music; in other words, how effective the managers of the bands and the band’s members could be in perspective. Everyone chooses the path individually. Some bands flatly refuse to collaborate with labels in order to dispose their musical property on its own; some bands look for a label to promote their stuff; some bands combine the first and the second ways/methods. I think everything depends upon the band’s skill to create competitive material, the ambitions of the band/project, and, of course, fortune. And, finally, unique, advanced, professional bands such as Arkona, Shokran and Jinjer have contracts with major labels, so they are well-known worldwide.

Social media has made it easier for bands without the financial backing to promote their material and get their name around. Do you see this happening more in the future?
I suppose, in the near future, things will remain the same because free promotional stuff offered by networks is quite ineffectual. I mean, that all the same, for the better promotion the musicians will have to invest their music. By means of own budget or by means of a label, that’s a numbers game.

How much is social media giving fans who support the bands by streaming their music and buying their releases more of a voice?
The first and the main thing about it is that social media provides a possibility to get acquainted with the bands and its music, submitting their stuff for insight absolutely free.

Do Haissem and Sunset Forsaken have the financial backup to make a name for themselves at this point? All things considered, how will your music stand out in extreme music and inspire other musicians once you become better known?
I pay studio sessions, I compose music, write lyrics, make arrangements, record all instruments at the studio and also try to promote it as much as possible within my capacities. I’m still not a well-known musician to talk about my music standing in the future out. I have to work hard with commitment and devotion to offer fans the better stuff each time. That’s why there are no questions about the uniqueness and originality of both Haissem and Sunset Forsaken. It will take years or even decades to produce their own style and to deserve the love of the fans!

Are there any other projects in store for the coming year? How aggressively do you plan to promote it when it’s made available?
There will be only Haissem with “Kuhaghan Tyyn” (out March 22, 2020, via Satanath Records) and the second album by Sunset Forsaken “85 Nerves” (will be released in the end of 2020). Promotion is the prerogative of Satanath Records now, so we’ll see where it goes. I hope for the best result.

What kind of impact do you want your bands to have on the music industry? What is your definition of success?
I just want my music to be heard by the fans. The more, the better. It’s the main thing about it. For me personally, in the context of music, success is neither money, nor glory. It’s in the positive feedback from fans, the people for whom my music is created.

-Dave Wolff