Sunday, July 30, 2023

Full Length Review: Misanthropik Torment "Declaration of War" (SelfMadeRecords L.L.C, Earache Digital Distribution) by Dave Wolff

Band: Misanthropik Torment
Location: Lexington, Kentucky
Country: USA
Genre: Blackened death metal
Full Length: Declaration of War
Format: Digital album
Label: SelfMadeRecords L.L.C, Earache Digital Distribution
Release date: August 28, 2023
If you have been following Misanthropik Torment, you are aware they don't mince words when it comes to speaking out about the state of the world. Otherwise, you will need to refer to past reviews of their work as a guide. However, be forewarned that even the most hardened death or extreme metal fan may find their new full length rather difficult to consume. “Declaration of War” comes from a deeper place in the soul that the heaviest bands haven’t quite reached.
As we all know, the world has been changing, and not always in the way that the status quo would like. In the wake of independent media gaining traction in popular entertainment, a lot has been shaken up lately. You can see it from “The Walking Dead” becoming one of the most popular shows on TV to the legalization of marijuana to Donald Trump's highly publicized legal problems. Issues of fake news and woke mentality aside, independent news in particular is reaching more readers with stories you wouldn’t have heard before.
It is clear Misanthropik Torment has been a part of these changes since 2018, and with the release of their socio-politically charged new album “Declaration of War”, their views have not grown less but rather more extreme and passionate. Even the title of the album is enough to convince you of the position they’re taking on society, and this excessive method of expressing themselves is necessary regardless of how offensive you may find the lyrics. In the words of Suicidal Tendencies, “maybe you need to be offended”.
There was a similar need for artists like GG Allin and songs like “Cop Killer” in the 90s. Since rock and roll began, there’s always been one performer who became the catalyst for change. Although it remains to be seen whether Erik Leviathan will eventually generate these same changes, one only needs to listen to this album once in order to realize how much of a fire they’re lighting under you.
I could simply write this review with fluff, but there is something much deeper going on here. It’s on "Declaration of War" you’ll find highly intense punk activism (imagine Nausea, Amebix and Iconicide) coupled with some of the most brutal death/black/doom metal crossover they’ve brought since their beginning. The third characteristic that immediately caught my attention was its high production quality. From the outset you can see a great deal of care has been taken to produce it so that it is crushingly heavy, full of depth and acuity, and with clarity between the instruments and vocals.
"Declaration of War" is just that, a call on the band’s part abolish the system as it currently stands, and generate an overhaul of how society functions. They make no attempt to say what the “right” way is, but it’s clear what should be changed. With a stronger drive than ever to get the message across, appears to be almost too much even for underground consumption. It seems the relentlessly caustic music and unrestrained vocals is intended to impress upon you just how fucked up things are in this modern era. It appears these arguments must be stated repeatedly in order to convey said message.
Various between-song samples give this the feeling of a political condemnation of media, religion, and government translated to extreme music. Like I said an album alone is insufficient to topple a government, but we’re talking about the presentation of ideas and the encouragement of critical thinking. "Declaration of War" is an album you should give a shit about if you’re capable of handling the magnitude of its message and its soundtrack. Its official release on all social media platforms is next month, but it’s currently available for streaming at Bandcamp and Youtube. –Dave Wolff

Erik Leviathan: Vocals, lyrics
Jonathan Nesbitt: All instruments

Track list:
1. Rebel Against The Establishment Power Belongs To The People
2. Declaration Of War
3. Feed The Machine
4. Total Rejection Of Gods/Governments
5. Political Pedophiles
6. Land of the free, Home of the slaves
7. I Will Kill Again
8. Boots of Mass Destruction
9. Embrace The Hatred
10. Take My Eyes
11. Misdirected Lambs

Monday, July 24, 2023

Interview with Denis Tereschenko of Die Entweihung by Dave Wolff

Interview with Denis Tereschenko of Die Entweihung by Dave Wolff

The review I wrote of Die Entweihung's latest full-length “Strict Regime Country” examines the long and gradual process of your transition from raw black metal to blackened heavy metal with a variety of influences. The use of keyboards and divergent song structures was an important part of this process. How did you go about finding the sound you were looking for?
Actually, everything is simple here - my music is always changing (evolving, if you like) in accordance with my musical tastes in a specific period of time. By playing any of the albums, you can at least fragmentary determine which bands inspired me at the time of working on this or that music. If we go into specifics - for the first few years I was a fan of raw black metal, both fast and evil, as well as a slow direction, started on Burzum’s “Filosofem”, and subsequently called DSBM, so all musical research took place within the framework of this style - no matter what experiments I did conduct, anyway dirty black metal remained at the base. After a few albums, I felt cramped within the framework of black metal, and, to be honest, my interest in this music in general began to wane. Therefore, gradually the basis of my style began to move towards more classical metal, and black metal is now only a small part of the total mass of what constitutes Die Entweihung’s music. In 2015, with the album “Neverending Terrorism”, I came to what I called “Melodic Dark Metal” for simplicity, but in fact the current definition of “Blackened Heavy Metal” is much closer to all my music of recent years. The keys are still used, but also very fragmentary, and long compositions have given way to shorter ones - all these are consequences of changing one style to another (to give a specific music example, it's like to take the style of the “Filosofem” album originally, and, say, Rotting Christ’s “A Dead Poem” later).

Tell the readers why you decided to do Die Entweihung as a solo project instead of working with other musicians.
When I first started listening to heavy music, I, like most, dreamed that one day I would have my own rock band, with all the attributes - long hair, a cool image, concerts, etc. But life decreed otherwise - after moving to Israel, after a while I became a big fan of black metal, especially the depressive suicidal direction that was gaining popularity, as well as the raw “true” sound. Most of the formations playing such music, even then in the 2000s, were mostly either duets or one-man bands, without concerts and any signs of regular rock or metal bands. In general, my project at the start followed the same path - I composed, recorded, along the way gaining experience and learning sound recording, mixing, etc. by myself. Several times I had thoughts about finding additional musicians, a couple of times I was even invited to play in other bands, but nothing came of it. Well, after I started attending local concerts, I finally abandoned the idea of a real band - I came to concerts and saw guys who often traveled from the other side of the country to perform for fans, and as a result were forced to play for a couple dozen drunk or stoned pseudo-rock fans who don't give a shit about the background sounds for breaking each other's noses and waving their hair. This prospect did not suit me in any way, especially with music like mine, the way to the stage was closed to me, hehehe. After all these years, I feel like I made the right choice - I'm doing great on my own, although in the last few years I like to have guest musicians for solos, vocals, etc, but still 99% of the work is still on me. And yes, there is almost no freedom left in life anyway, I'm glad that at least I have the freedom to make my music the way I want it to be, without compromising with other musicians who see the picture differently.

In researching and experimenting with different subgenres of metal, did you make a conscious decision or did you gravitate towards what you felt and what spoke to you at the time? Are there different themes on each album as a result?
I don't think there were any conscious decisions. I have always composed music the way I felt, and basically all the experiments and attempts at something else happened spontaneously - while, as I said, the basis has always remained black metal (in the first period of creativity), or more oriented towards classical metal (modern period).
Do you mean themes of lyrics? In the first, more experimental period, lyrics were written under the influence of various things - everything influenced, films, lyrics of other bands, life itself, some pseudo-philosophical topics were going through as well... moreover, I also wrote both in Russian and English, and usually it was a spontaneous move; today it is written this way, tomorrow it will be different … The modern period has more order in this aspect as well – now all the lyrics are in English.

In what ways do classical inspiration and keyboards contribute to the malevolent theme of Die Entweihung's music, as they did on your earliest releases?
As for the keyboards, I was mainly inspired by keyboards in the spirit of the ambient works of classic black metal bands. In the 90s many bands added some kind of atmospheric pieces to this music, interludes, intros and outros ... some composed entire albums in this style (now people call it dungeon synth). I had at my disposal a virtual synthesizer, rather simple, but nevertheless, it served me well. On early albums I liked to mix live raw guitar sound with “virtual” electronic, in some compositions the electronic fragments were separate, in some they were a light background, and in some - and this is what, in my opinion, turned out most successfully - when the keyboards added real epicness to the overall metal component. In general, I never adhered to the point of view that “real metal should only be guitar-drums-oriented”. I think this is the style of music where you can successfully combine completely different, sometimes seemingly incompatible things, the main thing is to do it really with taste, rather than adding something without a specific purpose... In general, this is what I adhere to now, incorporating various not-quite-metal elements into my music.

You have shown that bands and solo projects can remain heavy/brutal/extreme while progressing. What is the importance of combining evil themes, heaviness, and depth in your work?
I would say it's a consequence of my background as a listener. I have always paid more attention to music (whether it's heavy or not), which was not only entertainment, but also made me find some serious or important ideas in it. One of the most important inspirations for me has always been Metallica (obvious/banal? I don't care!), the best albums of which embodied 100% everything that makes hard rock/metal so attractive for me - power, heaviness and drive, but at the same time a lot of melodies, drama, gloomy and serious themes in the lyrics. Perhaps this has always been the basis of creativity for me - not to torture the strings just for the sake of a wall of sound or to create an atmosphere, but to try to create a really interesting melody or riff. Although, I wouldn't say my music is that heavy - I've never lowered my guitar tuning, never played at super speeds, and even blast beats have only been used on a few songs. But the level of sound severity I need is always there.

I myself listen to a wide variety of music. It doesn't matter whether or not it’s “popular”; I listen to it if it speaks to me. I appreciate bands that progress naturally rather than forcing rock or pop into it to appear "open-minded" (including extreme metal bands finding new ways to express their brutality). Have you been inspired by the natural growth of any bands?
In general, I would not talk about direct inspiration in this case. My music changes purely by the way I feel. The main influence is just the music that I listen to in this particular period of time (I already talked about this at the very beginning of the interview), and it's quite possible that tomorrow I'll start listening to tons of black and extreme metal again and the new album will again be stuffed with raw guitars, and all the ballads and female vocals will be sent to the trash can (although the probability that this will happen is 0.666%). But if we take, let's say, indirect inspiration, it is definitely present. I mean those bands that I have been listening to for many years (so to speak, my personal classics) - the aforementioned Metallica, which only the lazy did not kick, for guys’ musical tricks since 1991. Or, for example, Paradise Lost, who at one time got even harder than Metallica during the period 1997-2002. Actually I can't be called an orthodox metalhead - as a rule, I like some kind of experimental or “non-classical” periods of many bands. For example, my two favorite Kreator albums are “Outcast” and “Endorama”. Tiamat - besides “Wildhoney” I like “Skeleton Skeletron” a lot, and all those of early doom/death albums don't impress me at all. If we take the classics of black metal and specifically, for example, Mayhem - my favourite album is “Grand Declaration of War”, which many people talk shit about, but for me this is one of the masterpieces of rock music in general, and Blasphemer for me is a really talented dude, with his composer’s thinking and technique, he’s much stronger not only than Euronymous but also many others into the BM circle. Summing it up - for me there are no problems with experiments, and I'm only happy when the next band tries something new, if they do it honestly, and not trying just to get into the trend.

There is an emphasis on keyboards and a sense of dark carnival in some of your albums. Can you tell me how much of those themes you are currently incorporating into your songwriting?
I think I understand what you mean by “dark carnival”, haha! Good definition... Well, the peak of my passion for, as you said, “carnivals” came in 2011-2012, when I wrote and recorded a whole album of such a carnival, it was “5 Circles Of Loneliness”, inspired not only by atmospheric black metal keyboard passages but by such projects as Enigma as well - this is an album on which in general there’s no metal or rock, just keyboards as I used them fragmentary on previous albums. After that, the work of Die Entweihung moved towards the guitar sound, and the carnival keys began to take up much less space. With the final style change in 2015, keys in any form are now exclusively a background tool (Although “Neverending Terrorism” had a couple of fully key fragments yet), and are used minimally. With the change of course, there was no place for atmospheric electronics, let's say so.

Describe the transition you took from depressive topics to more political topics as Die Entweihung progressed.
The early period did not have a clear lyrical concept, and the lyrics of the first albums carried the standard metal nihilism: death, depression, something like soul-searching, various dark things. In general, the lyrics then were written with meaning for sure, but I wrote it more for myself than for someone else. When Die Entweihung changed the musical direction, the lyrics also changed - firstly, I completely switched to English (before that, the lyrics were partly in English, partly in Russian), secondly, a clear concept of the lyrics was developed - a description of the darkness that is happening in the world, and politics in this case is only one of the topics, I have never been and will not be a socio-political artist, like, say, Napalm Death. One of the topics that I also touch on is the dependence of modern people on the Internet and all kinds of devices - what can I say, when now a pet or a newborn child has their own pages on social networks, like and repost have become the best reward for any creativity, and the best friend man has now is his hand in which he holds a smartphone. In short, the theme of the songs has changed, but it is only partly political.

Does the darker, more violent nature of your music reflect some of the topics you have written about, such as 9/11 and the Belarusian situation on which your latest album was based?
I must say that all the lyrics are written to ready-made music, but I don't really think about how the specific theme of this or that text corresponds to the gloom or heaviness of the composition... I guess that maybe some lyrics on a very gloomy theme are set to not-so-gloomy metal, how it could be done. I remember one of the reviewers lamented that the politically charged lyrics in “Death is Primadonna” (2015) don't go well with overt musical bass “buzz” (?) or something like that. That reviewer said the music was too “non-dramatic” for that text. But I don’t think that in my case, the topical text must necessarily be combined with some kind of musical drama - after all, I don’t propagandize, I don’t scare or scold - I just state my point of view on what is happening, or I just describe something what is happening, without any instructions from my side. It’s just something like “here we are, now the world is in such or such ass, guys, look at what is happening to us now”. But to instruct or teach - I do not have such rights, I am not a guru and not a philosopher. I just love music.
The 9/11 theme, as everyone knows it, was used only once on the album “Neverending Terrorism” (“What happened on September Eleven, soon it'll be going on twenty-four/seven” (c)), which was actually the encrypted title of the album, hehe. On the new album, dedicated to the events in Belarus, one of the composition is titled “Their Own Tragic 9/11” but it actually refers to the first three days of the protest, which turned life in Belarus completely upside down. On August 9, another “election” of the president took place, and on the same evening, the people went to protests, and it was those first three days that became, perhaps, the most brutal and bloody in the actual history of country, when people were en masse taken to the pre-trial detention center, and they left it as they were going through the real war: beaten, broken, raped, etc.
With the theme of Belarus, I’d say the situation is somewhat different: I decided to make an album about the events in Belarus, because this is actually the only way I can help my native country in this situation and musically the album can be said to live on its own - I wrote about these events in order just to attract the attention of at least those few fans who might read the lyrics of the album and be interested in the topic. Because if we now read the news, where Belarus is mentioned, most likely there will be something like “Lukashenko provided a place in Belarus for the Russian military, Belarus is an accomplice in war crimes in Ukraine”, etc. And no one will read/write now that in general, in Belarus itself, due to the fault of one bastard and his dogs, thousands of people are serving sentences in the country, many were forced to simply leave everything and go to other countries. Some received sentences simply for comments on the Internet, or for using the real symbols of Belarus, for example, the white-red-white flag, which is now banned and is equated almost to the swastika in Germany.

Does the political situation in Belarus play any role in your decision to relocate to Israel? How much of the violence did you witness firsthand? After you moved to a new country, did you begin writing lyrics to the new album?
I left Belarus in 2004, three years before the creation of Die Entweihung. At that time, life in Belarus was relatively good (not to say that it was really good, but then people still breathed relatively freely, and the economy was much better compared to what is happening now). The reasons for my family's departure were related to my eye problems, which could not be solved in Belarus even after two operations, and there was a chance that in Israel local medicine would save my eyesight in my eye. I myself did not directly see the violence in Belarus live, but I remember how every time I visited my friends in 2010s, I saw in the eyes of people more and more anger and fatigue from the whole situation, when you live and cannot change anything and there is enough money for less with every year…
The decision to write an album about the situation in Belarus came in the process of working on new music. After all the protests in 2020, which I followed almost all my free time, and after a while the country turned into a fucking concentration camp for all dissenters, I couldn’t not write about it. I hope that soon my friend, who was given a year and a half in prison for a couple of comments in a closed chat on a social network, will hear this album (this is just one example that specifically touched me - in fact, political prisoners and those who were forced to flee - thousands!).

It’s rare within music in general to present a socio–political situation without preaching or trying to sway listeners to one side or another. What is the importance of your listeners deciding for themselves?
I agree, almost any band that sings about this topic adheres to some specific views, trying to make their listeners follow them. But, as I said, I'm not promoting anything, in my case it's all... let's say, an “overview” of what is happening, although in some lyrics I add my opinion. But I think, in the end, everyone still has to think for themselves, and I'm sure that even 100 people will agree with me on some topic, there will be another 100 who will say that I'm a fool and don't understand anything. To be honest, I would be very happy if at least a certain number of people could be made interested in what is actually happening in Belarus (in fact, this is no longer politics, but something more terrible, I would call it a slow genocide of the population), it's important for me. Everything else is the personal choice of everyone, to be on the left or on the right, a Nazi, a fascist, a communist or a sympathetic Satanist - I do not urge anyone to anything. The only thing I urge you is to think with your own head.

Is the media accurately reporting the situation in Belarus, or are there many facts that are being overlooked for any reason?
After the protests and all those brutal events of 2020, in a matter of months, the government “cut off the oxygen” to all the media in Belarus, which at least somewhat truthfully covered what was actually happening in the country. Literally everything was shut down, and many of those journalists also received prison terms. To be honest, I have not been following the media that is physically located in Belarus itself for a long time and publish something there - all that is working now is pro-government media that cover only what is “allowed”. But, fortunately, many active journalists and bloggers who lived in Belarus now continue their work in those countries where they are now forced to stay, mostly either Poland or the Baltic countries.

As far as you know, how much awareness has been raised about Belarus by those journalists and bloggers you referred to?
I'm not sure that the awareness of the real state of affairs in Belarus in the world has radically increased thanks to these journalists and bloggers, especially now, when in the news Belarus is an accomplice of Russia, and all this nonsense about nuclear weapons that Putin handed over to Belarus, and so on and so forth. All independent media that cover the real state of affairs in Belarus and what is happening with Belarus people "in exile" is a kind of underground - information for those who want to receive information from alternative sources than the state media. In fact, everything is happening in Russia now according to the same scenario, many (or even all) independent media are closed, and now there is the same story as in Belarus - everyone who opposes is either in prison, or killed, or "in exile".

In addition to the situation in Belarus, would you write lyrics about other sociopolitical issues in the future? Which of these do you find yourself thinking about the most lately?
Oh... well, first of all, of course, the events in Ukraine have been in my head for the last couple of years, now this is the most important thing that is happening in the world, and not only because innocent people are dying there and the life of an entire state is being destroyed (although, of course, this is the main point). This is also important because it is possible that the outcome of this war will be decided to some extent by the future not only of Ukraine itself, but also of Russia and Belarus, which, as you understand, cannot but worry me. I really hope that Ukraine will win and in the near future I will see a new Belarus that will not be a puppet in the hands of the Russian government (and this is what it has been for many years). Although in my heart I understand that even if Ukraine wins and gets freedom (from the fascist oppression of Putin and his bastards), it’s not a fact that something will change dramatically in Russia, and, accordingly, in Belarus.
With all this, I'm not sure that the new lyrics will have the theme of Ukraine, as well as the coronavirus (which, fortunately, has come to naught). It's just that these are topics that are already on everyone's lips (were/are) 24/7, and I simply have nothing to add. But, most likely, at least one song will be dedicated to these events, but it will probably be not a socio-political topic, but more human, let's say so. Otherwise - I'm not thinking about themes for new lyrics yet, while I continue to work on new music (about half of the album is already composed). But I don't think there will be a problem with song themes, the world is in such a mess right now that all you have to do is turn on a news site and there are enough song themes for five double albums and limited edition bonuses.

Are you considering recording with other instruments that you have not yet recorded with?
Yes, sure. I have ideas to bring a real saxophonist on the next album, perhaps for a few solos or some separate melodic parts. I would also like to bring in a cello, for something in the spirit of Lake Of Tears’ “So Fell Autumn Rain” introduction. But it's all about attracting session musicians or sound programs - today I myself don't have time to learn any new instruments - for me to play guitar for half a day in the weekend now is already good. While I would certainly like to add something more Middle Eastern, in the vein of the bouzouki that I have for now, there are many interesting and original sounding instruments like Oud, Saz, etc. Well... life will show.

Are you seeking a saxophonist for rehearsals and recording sessions, or do you know any saxophonists you’d like to work with?
Usually I work out draft versions of instrument and vocal parts myself, so most likely, when I have demo versions of saxophone parts ready, I will either look for a musician among my friends, or (more likely) I will order work from a session saxophonist, since now there are enough freelance sites, and so on. “Just make sure you pay the money,” haha. In this regard, the Internet helps a lot.

If you were to compose new material with it, what characteristics of Middle Eastern music would you like to capture? Are you listening to any bands that incorporate that style effectively?
Middle Eastern music for me is mainly Orphaned Land, a kind of Metallica status for the Israeli metal scene. Since I have been a big fan of this band for many years, they are really inspiring to me and inspire me to use some kind of Middle Eastern elements. There are also such bands as Arallu (Jerusalem), Melechesh (once they lived in Israel, then they moved to Europe, a fairly well-known band I guess), if I remember correctly, local Salem also had elements of this music (one of the first metal bands in Israel), but in general I am not a particularly big fan of these bands, what really catches me I find only at Orphaned Land, the rest are not bad, but just... I don’t know, not really my music (not dramatic enough for me probably). Among other things, I should also note that since childhood I have been a fan of Belarusian folk metal bands, that folklore, of course, differs from the Middle East one, but for me bands like Gods Tower, Vicious Crusade, Znich, Apraxia and some others are still one of my favorites. You may not hear the direct influence of these bands in my music, but it definitely is!

I am familiar with Orphaned Land and have developed a liking for their work. What is it about their music and lyrical content that appeals to you? In the years since you first heard about them, have you corresponded with them?
Orphaned Land, in my opinion, is an outstanding phenomenon in the rock culture of the world. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of their first two albums, when they played more underground prog doom, although there are real masterpieces there as well. Different thing is what they have been doing since the album "Mabool" (2004). I'm not going to paint here how perfect everything is done there, how epic the arrangements, vocals, and so on. I would just recommend to every music fan to listen to at least this album, the rest are optional. The most important thing that has always fascinated me in their music is drama and sincerity, because these people do not sing about some kind of abstraction, they do not sing about Norwegian forests or corpse stench - they write and sing about what is actually happening on their land, and this is the rare case when a metal band not only does not promote violence or "death to Arabs", but calls for peace between Jews and Arabs! As far as I know, they periodically have concerts in Turkey, and this seems to be the only place where everyone gathers for their concerts: both Jews and Arabs, and everyone sings together. Unique phenomenon!
Yes, I will also note one thing, I remember some years ago I came across some kind of list of "the best metal albums of the 21st century" on one of the American sites. I was amazed that Slipknot came first (with all due respect to this really outstanding band) with the 2004 album (Vol. 3), and Orphaned Land with their masterpieces released since 2004 weren’t at list, and it feels like people have not heard about them at all.
I had a brief correspondence with one of the band's current guitarists, with the vocalist and bassist I managed to get a photo taken at a Paradise Lost concert in Tel Aviv a few years ago, plus the band's bassist runs a Metal Shop in Tel Aviv, so it's not a big problem to see him in person if you want. But if you are asking about some more serious communication, answer is no. And who am I musically compared to these guys?! In general, if you ask if there is anything I am proud of living in Israel, the only thing I can be proud of is that this is the birthplace of Orphaned Land.

You mentioned that half of the next album has been composed. Would you be willing to reveal anything about what it will sound like to your supporters, or will you have to compose the entire album?
It's hard for me to say how it will sound, since each of my albums has its own sound, and the search for the actual sound usually occurs during the recording process. But I think that the last two albums, which I am really proud of, will be the guideline (the previous album "Kings and Pawns" by the way was remastered recently and I hope that in 2024 it will be possible to re-release the album on CD, especially since the original is no longer available). Musically and lyrically, this is also a continuation of the last works, if you have heard my latest stuff, then you roughly understand what and how it can sound. I would like to bring in even more clean female vocals, but this will be decided closer to the recording itself. Well, as usual there will be experiments, there will be heavy guitars, bouzouki, saxophones, and a lot of different shit that most people will not like, hahahaha.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Full Length Review: Denial of Existence "Carroñero de la Existencia" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: Denial of Existence
Country: Colombia
Genre: Death metal
Format: Digital album
Label: Independent
Release date: June 30, 2023
“Carroñero de la Existencia” is an album I had to listen to quite closely, and during several sittings. This is because I suspected they’re finding more creative methods of expressing brutality. Being a Colombian death metal band, Denial of Existence does what they’re most passionate about on their debut recording. The experience two founding members have had working together in Abysmal Domination is no disadvantage.
From my experience as a reviewer, and listening to music that's not metal for years, I found many DM bands are underestimated for their ability. This band argues convincingly that musicians have to know what they’re doing to win over a selective and unforgiving audience. Equally convincing is the argument that sticking to one’s guns doesn’t mean being an elitist gatekeeper either.
On this album I hear subtle references written into the low-tuned guitars and blasts. Which proves bands can be brutal while incorporating shades of prog, jazz, and classical in a non-overbearing way and without placing themselves on pedestals. Since blast had its origins in classical and progressive rock, it makes sense that bands drift toward honing this style. Just ask Cannibal Corpse, Cryptopsy, and Cattle Decapitation, just a few bands who took brutality in completely different directions.
Denial of Existence is following suit, taking this natural route to expand death metal's boundaries. Their grassroots approach should satisfy DM fans across the board while confirming the talent and endurance needed to record an album of this intensity. Classical undertones and time signatures comparable to prog rock are all too apparent in the opening riffs of “Inconsistente Superficial”, and this is just the start of the album. This track is heavily driven by the percussion with interchanging fills and bomb blasts, the guitars leave many rock guitarists at the starting gate, cramming myriad notes into the time changes and the bass displays enough presence to back everything.
The lyrics are mostly delivered in Spanish, and the vocals consistently balance low and high-pitched techniques in a way that's as chaotic as the music behind them. This appears to grow more complex as the album progresses. The songs consistently start without preliminary and the time changes showcase such speed, abruptness, and precision that you'll start to wonder how they accomplish it.
Repeated exposure to “Carroñero de la Existencia” doesn’t crush your brain but enhances it with Denial of Existence’s clear sense of imagination and inventiveness. This furnishes hell with undiscovered circles of torture and punishment you couldn’t have imagined, that would send Dante Alighieri into shock. Highly recommended for souls condemned to the pit. –Dave Wolff

Alexander Olaya: Vocals, guitars, bass
Cesar López: Drums

Alexander Olaya: Vocals, guitars
Harold Gómez: Bass
Cesar López: Drums

1. Inconsistente superficial
2. Homocancer
3. Manipulación
4. Almas en desgracia
5. Reconstruido sobre ruinas
6. Sea of Repugnance
7. Inteligencia artificial
8. Existencia denegada
9. Tiempo orgánico

Friday, July 14, 2023

Poem: "Romantic Destitution" by Jeremy Void

Romantic Destitution
Jeremy Void

Down the rabbit hole
I fall
scraping together
every last remanence
of my

I remember the fire
that burned through
of vision
the vicious rat race
that traced the edges of
dark & light
the flashes of lightning
striking the cold city streets
as the thunderous rock ‘n’ roll
kicked out windshields
of passing cars
the screech of horror movies
and comic relief
the donuts we did
in the dust we skirmished
in the sky
we soared
in the ground we lay
on rooftops we fought
just to find reason
to prolong our useless days

But we fell
down pits of glory
carved our identities
in the caves of atrophy
We learned by destruction
the lonely streets
our tutors
Where disillusionment wandered
an obtuse reality
simmered in the sun’s glory
We were the ashes
of the storm

Behind closed doors
we rose up just to fall
back down
existing in the corridors
of mental deterioration
We saw meaning
the irrational
reason to extend our truths
upon a losing race

I look back at a time
that I cannot aptly describe
and part of me is glad
that it’s over
but the other part is wishing
to feel the romantic destitution
one last time

Poem: "Sober" by Jeremy Void

Jeremy Void

Today I’m
the most
sober I’ve
ever been
I’ve come
a long
way since
yesterday can’t
you tell/

Tomorrow I
will be
even more
sober I
got a
long way
to go >>>

But today
everything is
okay because
today everything
is just
the way
it’s supposed
to be|||

Poem: "Leda" by Alison Stone

Alison Stone

Babies need love
so I loved her
but she was a cold child,
all gold hair and entitlement,
stamping her majestic feet.
No surprise she made a nation burn.

I live a constricted life,
head down, jumping at shadows.
There are so many birds in the world.
Though I put out poisoned seed
to thin the flock, they find me
even in winter, even in sleep.
Dreams of beating wings,
the smother of feathers.

Poem: "Contrast" by Alison Stone

Alison Stone

The birds are at it again,
all flutter and song. Housebound,
Merlin hisses behind glass,
his taut haunches electric with thwarted desire.
Isn’t that the season’s unspoken subtext?
Spring flaunting sex and renewal, but what about
the lonely, the single, the sick,
made more out of sorts by being out of synch.
The man whose wife collapsed in April
feels in the balmy air the touch of his still-warm grief.
Life’s not fair is one of the first lessons
we learn in toddlerhood, as though hearing
this stated by a calm parent would antidote
justified rage. In the tale where the gods
offer to restore her dead baby if the mother brings
a mustard seed from a house untouched by sorrow,
the lesson is that no one is spared. True enough.
But we’re afflicted far from equally, and joy’s
a fickle guest, despite the weather’s demand
for celebration. Better if the world provided rain
for the abandoned lover or too-long unemployed,
a chill for the mother, her bone marrow
not a match, who stumbles
from the drab hospital into the slap of daffodils.

Poem: "Test of Cowardice" by Tanner Reiss

Test of Cowardice
Tanner Reiss

What is it you fear the most from sins long since committed?
Your own ignorance feeding and fueling this
Supernatural violence
The lies you keep quiet now scream with vengeance

Façade crippled in this place no longer Holy
At what cost does innocent life fade slowly?
For you to have yours
Stolen, counterfeit, unworthy
Heaven is not her place to reside
For your heart untrue, she died for you!

Hear the echoes rewound from ghosts of the past
Played back in times of present
Your family destroyed by decisions once made
Forges a bond artificially created
But treacherous fakery will not outlast this test.

No longer sacred is this place you find yourself in
Defiled by these hands of mine
That haunt dreams and blacken golden things
He, who is sacred, does not live here today.

At what cost are you willing to pay
For salvation of soul – I will not pray
But look in the mirror –
Reflection unclear
Tainted and marred – you should live behind bars!


But to you, a chance to rewrite the wrongs once lived I give
Enacted before your tainted, undeserving soul
Forever imprisoned by the anger and mental blockade
But only if you can first extinguish the
Lies inside the raging inferno of deceit within your eyes
That prevents conquest of this haunted test

No longer sacred is this place your find yourself in
Defiled by these hands never mine
That haunt dreams and steal life from Heavenly beings
He, who is sacred, will never live here again.
Hear the echos rewound from ghosts of the past
Played back in times of present
Your family destroyed by decisions once made
Forges a bond artificially created
But treacherous fakery will not outlast this pivotal trial.

What is it you fear the most fron sins long since committed?
Your own ignorance feeding and fueling this
Supernatural violence
The lies you keep quiet now scream with vengeance

Feigning innocence – a
Coward take your guilty penance
This is the genesis of evil!


Poem: "Il Dottore" by Tanner Reiss

Il Dottore
Tanner Reiss

Turn off your devices and
Settle in the unsettling silence
‘Lay back and bask in the darkness
‘Stare sightless into the blindness
Stay there tethered to a trance
Trapped inside the asylum of your mind.
Basically, don’t change a thing,
Il Dottore will be in shortly
Working remotely. But do not worry,
I assure you, it is purely only for his safety.

But how can a doctor work remotely?
Is the question you now ask me.
It is quite easy, really, you see,
Are you familiar with the history
Of Italy? Let us take a journey
To Isola di Poveglia, and voila!
Truly an experience oh, so profound
Beating our feet through the ground
Turning round and round
Falling down, falling down
Like a-tishoo, a-tishoo
We make bedfellows in the meadows
Of ashes and posies and a
Ring around the rosies.

Oops, my apologies, I must
Request that you not collect
These flowers, for they wield
Bubonic powers that are sure to
Plague you with throes of shock
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock
Just a simple touch is a touch too much
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock
I confess, this mess takes not a dock
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock
Too weak to speak, thrills of chills
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock
Spilling seconds from your clock
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock

That electronic locket in your pocket
Give it here, if you believe
Keeping it near will bleed your cure
Of that I am not so sure,
Is it the reason you are here.
But go ahead and live your dream
Scream and scream and scream
Evil and pointless as it may seem.
Hey look over there!
A fresh looking stream.
Is it a stream of water?
Is it a stream of vaccine?
Is it a stream of consciousness we have found?
Has this all been but a dream
With seams dressed in lucid streams?
Of that it surely does seem.

Re-indulge in your vices and
Fidget with your gadgets
Stand up and partake in the madness
When you hear a clap,
Awaken from your nap
And you will see, Il Dottore is here with me
But dare I say, that line is heresy
My friend, you cannot hear or see
You are deaf and blind
A prisoner in the asylum inside your mind
Wretched and unrefined, inhuman
Made of bits and pieces like Frankenstein.

Well oh well, bells chime in
Perfect time, do they sing with
Wedding praise or ring to raise
Warning of Monday morning’s mourning?
The way this trip is going, I suspect
It is the latter, but never the matter
For like I said in the stanza parlor
Il Dottore is ready to begin his
Examination of a specimen foreign to
Every nation, rot with technological addiction

But I bet you wish
You should have listened to these
Words of mine instead of living online.
But you chose to collect these flowers
The ones that wield Bubonic powers
So enjoy the Plaughe-ing throes of shock
Tick tock, tick tock, tick… your clock has stopped

Turn off your devices and
Settle in the unsettling silence
Lay back and bask in the darkness
Stare sightless into the blindness
*hand clap*

Poem: "Untimely Silence!" by Rich Orth

Untimely Silence!
©Rich Orth

In this mourning ..
I thee wed
For she predeceased me
To my dread
In her untimely silence
So many words left unsaid
...So many words left unsaid
Forever the bereaved...
Endeavored by she dearest darling undead
Beauty...oh how she pleased
Sanctity...morosely mislead
As one ambles thru existence
Alone amongst this disease
Death's undying persistence
Never to truly be released............
Shrouded in coexistence
Never to be ceased
She is my subsistence
Never to truly be released............

Poem "As I Drift!": by Rich Orth

As I Drift!
©Rich Orth 3/16/2023 7:25pm

Now I lay me down
slumber overtaking
Fears of never waking
As I drift
further and further into this undertaking
Soon I hear not a sound
I sense there's no mistaking
life is but here for their taking
As I drift
farther and farther into this undertaking

Labored was my breath
Darkness began to swallow
Guiding light slowly faded
leaving my spirit jaded
As my soul now
Hovering above
this husk...fleshen shell
as I drift
closer and closer to their Hell

They told me as a boy
Life passes before your eyes
So, I sealed them shut
That seemed to have been enough
as my joys had
Yet these horrors sped by
... uncut, graphically I am felled
as I drift
deeper and deeper into my Hell

Poem: "Shades of Complexion" by Robert McDermott

Shades of Complexion
Robert McDermott

You encounter someone with a different hue of skin

Do you feel the truth
An oddity defining you

Another human being

Are you frightened

Wait until they speak

May there be a difference that makes a difference

Poem: "Visceral Knowledge" by Robert McDermott

Visceral Knowledge
Robert McDermott

The genesis of an emotion is preceded by a thought

Two can occur simultaneously
Lichen on a rock
Or happen spontaneously

Ethereal or concrete
What is their value
As a secret

Poem: "Grandiosity" by Alan Lisanti

Alan Lisanti

A great Sun
Reflects in the pupils
Of weary eyes
Fireballs inside the nebulae
Of flesh alive and soul survived
In the brilliant death of another day's light
That took thwarted efforts with it
As a thief of time
Constantly reconstructed ruins
Reassembled to ensure continuation
Of futile exercises
When the ashes of failures
Should forge new dawns
I dug into these soils that reject
Every offering as something
This Earth did not want
I bathe in the grit of the underbelly
Cleanse my wounds in the dirt
Feed on your distance
Take solace in the silence
That is immortal
Sustain myself on the blatant disregard
As my shadow's shrunken stature
Is but a reflection of all one's essence
Relegated to new form-miniscule
Among the colossal world
I stave off the eclipse
For as long as possible
Ever closing and imposing
It approaches to devour all
Absorb all matter and expand itself
Beyond comprehensible perceptions
For I am just an insect
A single molecule
In its infinite galaxy
Humbled by the past and
The sheer weight of it all
Armed with all that and more
I seek my stake in it all
And pierce its heart
Deflate its claims
Straight through the Sun
Like shattered ceiling
Raining flames and ash galore
Incinerated skies and
Molten Earth for cure
Circumvention of the Earthen cell
And human shell
I deserve more

Poem: "Struggle" by Alan Lisanti

Alan Lisanti

routine is dull
resistance is futile
rinse and repeat
redundant reducer
where have I gone
chisel the anchor
teeth chipped on rust
always forever
under this debt
with the weight of a feather
under this now
perpetual outcome
paid upon owed
suffrage and penance
clock ticks of doom
pendulum misses
cyclical torture
aimed at and vicious
shed my own skin
undone to escape it
ripples in oceans
insignificant changes
there is a day
for us all
that is fleeting
all of them gone
dull of their meaning
hours to send
into oblivion waiting
at distance-existence
reminds one of void there
unto me then
the wall of volition
how did alone
become the condition
senselessness that conceals
time will tell
or time will take it
liberation or death
tragedy or redemption

Poem: "Menticide" by Ěrik Lęviathan

Ěrik Lęviathan

My music is political!
You can take my words very literal.
The state of the whole fucking world is condition critical.

The greatest Deception you didn't see,
Was when they made you believe you were free.
A suicide of of the mind,
It takes the sight from your eyes.
Slowly the IQ dies.

Poem: "The Age Of Apathy" by Ěrik Lęviathan

The Age Of Apathy
Ěrik Lęviathan

Can we all get passed the idiocy of the nonsensical judgments, creating the insanity that separates you from me?
The only difference between you and me is I am the greatest me that ever was, and you are the greatest you that will ever be.
Could we shed a little light in a world full of pain?
There was a day when some people cared now, no one cares.
The Desensitization age did its job pretty well. Welcome to the age of apathy

Poem: "Into the Night" by Jerry Langdon

Into the Night
© Jerry Langdon 2023

My demons march in cadence
To the beat of death and decadence
Foul are the streets of my existence
I repent against my sad resistence
Can't rebel against their insistence
My flag losing flight
Sailing white
Into the night
Into fright
Hell is my beacon of light.
Sad times a falling
Bad days a calling
I am crawling
I am clawing
Still my flag is falling
And my demons rise and sing
I feel the storm's vicious sting
Taste the tears the rains bring
Losing my mind; losing everything
Until in the still of the night I have nothing.

Poem: "Can't Adhere" by Jerry Langdon

Can't Adhere
© Jerry Langdon 2023

I'm so broken the dust flies away.
No shards to cause any pain.
Nothing to put together again.
The winds blow me away
Until only memories remain.
Atoms no longer cohere.
Existence can't adhere.
So what keeps me here?
Broken; I disappear.

Poem: "Changeling" by Kay Irvin

(c) Kay Irvin

Take all that I am
I have nothing more left to give
"Be strong" ... is clanging
Abide and hide secrets that live

The schoolyard and field are empty
Tether-game chains resonate chime
Funny thing, is time
Funny thing, is time

Cold, shaking fingers cannot play
Swings and slides wait for tiny hands
No one understands
No one understands

I've met some like you
Familiar, fatherly-strangeling
But numbness saved me
And released this, darkly changeling

Stoical daughter has come home
Shivering, little girl has grown
Raggedy memories remain
Metal maypoles, streamers of chain
Unsettled, lingering refrain

And no one really knows ... the child who comes and goes

Poem: "Blood Dance" by Kay Irvin

Blood Dance
© Kay Irvin

Fire, storm,... I feel it in my bones
Blood dance, awakened, rhythmic tones
And I don't want to be alone
And I don't want to be alone
Hunt moves fierce, as a wolverine
Eyes like the Jack-O, Halloween
Watching, stalking among the crowd
Hot-brooding, nearing, thundercloud
Oh, familiar, intimate vibe
Fevered, eager, ravenous tribe
Fire, storm,... I feel it, in my bones
Blood dance, pulsating music groans
And I don't want to be alone
And I don't want to be alone
Give me love ... or Baby, dreams become death
Hold me, red nectar kiss, take my darkness
Forsake the rest,... please come, make me forget
This harrowing kept, pain of loneliness
And I don't want to be alone
And I don't want to be alone
Blood dance, attraction - your touch owns
Fire, storm,... I feel it in my bones
And I don't want to be alone
And I don't want to be alone

Poem: "Night People" by M Teresa Clayton

Night People
M Teresa Clayton

As the sun is slowly setting
and we are called to our bed
the night people have awakened
to the demon inside their head.

The dusk is settling over them
calling them out to play.
Soon the darkness will overcome
the sanity of their day.

They blindly follow revelry
wherever the demons will lead,
forgetting the lessons of yesterday
and the words they promised to heed.

The night people thrive on weakness
pulling you down into their hole,
keeping you under the spell of night
'til you have sacrificed your soul.

The lost will venture out once more
as the night repeats itself again.
They never learn to suffer well
against the morning's pain.

Then comes the sunrise upon them
as they quickly retreat from the day.
Sadly, some are lost to the night
having rendered the Piper his pay!

As the day reveals all unto itself -
where man can tend his tomorrows -
the night people run and hide from themselves,
enveloped in yesterdays sorrows.

Poem: "Where Does Darkness Go" by M Teresa Clayton

Where Does Darkness Go
M Teresa Clayton

Where does darkness go when we light the match?
Retreating like a frightened flock of ravens to the sky
Clouds of black smoke upon the distant horizon
From the ring of fire reflected in my eye

Where does the darkness go when the candle burns?
Shadows cowering in the corners of uncertainty
Confused by the flame as it flickers to and fro –
Balanced upon the truth so delicately

Where does the darkness go when the fire rages?
Blind souls feeling their way through a shallow cave
The gates of hell have opened up to swallow them
Their bonfires consume them before the grave

Where does darkness go when the sun fills the sky?
Shining a light on the transgressions of men,
No longer hidden beneath the cloak of deception
Passing judgment on those who have sinned

Where does darkness go when the moon is full?
Shades of those who walk alone in the night
Trying to escape their ruin and damnation
And the condemnation revealed in the light

I search for the darkness, my salvation
A shelter from the omnipotent flame
Cover me in obscurity and delusion
Forever separated from the truth and the blame

Poem: Untitled by Judge Santiago Burdon

Judge Santiago Burdon

my childhood, I used to hold the flashlight for my father, you're just an echo, of all the women that didn't last, my interest in your summation, is hiding in the lost and found, there's a swallow of patience left in the bottle, a cold shoulder of icy give a shit in the syringe, all I can think of saying, is shut the fuck up, but I was hoping to come up with something, a bit more profound.

Poem: "Renegade Rhapsody" by Judge Santiago Burdon

Renegade Rhapsody
Judge Santiago Burdon

We finally made it to Phoenix Johnny's singing in the shower
We've been waiting for hours
to take care of business.
Spitting out miles of chewed up road
Contraband couriers of another load
now our contact
doesn't answer the phone
Another night in a cheap Motel
Here I am again lying to myself
promised to quit this business
But I had my fingers crossed
No rain since Culiacan
And my mom
is probably wonderin'
Where her son's off thunderin' to now
This work costs more than it pays
pissed away every dollar I made
And wore a hole
in the pocket of my future.
Johnny's dressed just as the telephone rings
The voice on the line says
Gila Casino Queens Creek
One more last time we've beat the Devil
It's because we cheat

Poem: "The Trees Remain" by James Kenneth Blaylock

The Trees Remain
James Kenneth Blaylock

walking the walk
of the forgotten…

treading time
like a treadmill

why speak to
anyone, I say,

if everything
you represent

is of no account
to anybody, see

yet the trees
remain – still

they talk of when
we wrote on them

james kenneth blaylock 7-10-23

Poem: "If She’s Meant" by James Kenneth Blaylock

If She’s Meant
James Kenneth Blaylock

swaying like the old ocean
just kissed our sandy toes,

sometimes I can’t stand it,
because I have to sit it out

I am hoping she is not growing
disappointed by every bold day

but, it’s all outside my scope
of change, if she’s meant to

she’ll willingly stay, stay, stay,
note to self: God only knows…

james kenneth blaylock 7-10-23

Poem: "The Big Black Smoke" by Ted Axe

The Big Black Smoke
Ted Axe

The Tower of London looks down on me
On the streets of old Soho
From Hyde Park to Earl's Court
And down to Old Daw's Road
At heart I'm a London Boy
Once you've lived there
It gets in your blood
The perfect place
For a vampire
I would go back there
If I could.

Poem: "The Ghostly Sky" by Ted Axe

The Ghostly Sky
Ted Axe (c.)

Below zero
Tonight the air bites
The moon is a ship-wrecked galleon
Floating on the ghostly sky
Do not weep my Darling
My Darling do not cry
For sure as the morning comes
I'll be with you
By your side.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Full Length Review: Sodom "40 Years at War: The Greatest Hell of Sodom" (Napalm Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: Sodom
Country: Germany
Genre: Thrash metal
Full length: 40 Years at War: The Greatest Hell of Sodom
Format: LP, colored vinyl, CD, digipack CD, box set
Release date: October 28, 2022
I’ve always considered Sodom my preferred band of the “big four” of German thrash metal (with Destruction, Kreator and Tankard) although this wasn't always the case.
The very first time I heard “In the Sign of Evil”, I thought they were a noise band with zero talent. Since they weren't exactly the tightest band in the bunch, I can't entirely be faulted. Nevertheless, something about it kept me coming back; it grew on me and before long I was a huge fan.
As I listen to this forty-year retrospective of their existence, I'm reminded of what attracted me to them in the beginning and even more impressed by their ability to hold onto their attributes all this time. There was a certain grand, regal coarseness to the music Tom Angelripper had always had a hand in writing, regardless of how often they changed their sound.
There was always a distinctive attitude giving them a sound unlike anyone else's, owing to his approach to songwriting, his punkish working-class attitude, his Lemmy-esque distorted bass, and the depictions of the darker sides of human nature in his lyrics, from occult themes to serial killings to wartime horrors. For creating realistic monsters Sodom was closer to bands like Dead Kennedys than most bands of the thrash era.
“40 Years at War: The Greatest Hell of Sodom” is comprised of re-recorded versions of previous album selections, demonstrating how their impact can still be today. A distinguishing characteristic of it is that it does not appear to be a best-of collection. They seem to have deliberately avoided this in favor of re-recording some lesser-known cuts.
To their credit, all the band members are in top form, their instruments recorded at the appropriate levels in relation to the others, Angelripper enunciates clearly so you can discern every word, and the band has validated the potential of the originals without necessarily trying to outdo them. Angelripper himself stated they left the original arrangements and lyrics untouched.
Even if we don't get to hear “Outbreak of Evil”, “Bombenhagel”, “Agent Orange” and so on, the songs that are featured are given just the level of technical license that they required while maintaining sufficient credence for their sound on their respective albums.
The only flaw I found was that they skipped their EP “Expurse of Sodomy” from 1987 when I would have been appreciated “The Conqueror” being added to the mix. Same goes for their two demos “Witching Metal” (1983) and “Victims of Death” (1984) considering their “cult cred”.
Other than that, “40 Years at War” is a near-perfect retrospective and I’d recommend it for anyone who wishes to become a diehard Sodomaniac all over again. More information is at Napalm Records’ official shop. –Dave Wolff

Tom Angelripper: Vocals, bass
Frank Blackfire: Guitars
Yorck Segatz: Guitars
Toni Merkel: Drums

Track list:
1. Sepulchral Voice
2. After the Deluge
3. Electrocution
4. Baptism of Fire
5. Better Off Dead
6. Body Parts
7. Jabba the Hut
8. Gathering of Minds
9. That's What an Unknown Killer Diarized
10. Book Burning
11. Genocide
12. City of God
13. Ashes to Ashes
14. In War and Pieces
15. S.O.D.O.M.
16. Caligula
17. Euthanasia

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Full Length Review: Die Entweihung "Strict Regime Country" (Witches Brew) by Dave Wolff

Project: Die Entweihung
Location: Haifa
Country: Israel
Genre: Blackened heavy metal
Format: Digital, CD
Release date: November 18, 2022
Eclectic extreme metal project Die Entweihung was initiated by Denis Tereshenko, who is currently based in Israel. He began the project in 2007 as a raw black metal project that experimented with longer songs, ambient/atmospheric elements, mood changes, and a variety of other aspects. Having derived his ideas exclusively from his own thoughts, he produced albums closer to the soundtracks of indie horror films.
Throughout the course of his project, Tereshenko's music evolved, becoming less raw and more experimental. As guitars and vocals became more polished, riffs became more exploratory, a unique style of soloing emerged, and his songwriting became more accessible with progressive rock and metal elements added, while its bizarre quality was being highlighted more sharply. Although the process of transformation was slow, it was evident that significant progress was being made.
The steps Tereshenko took were all in different directions and he collected some ideas along the way. Despite his ability to make progressive and nonconventional extreme metal look effortless, it always required imagination and soul-searching, especially when a single musician plays every instrument. Several gradual changes have been made, including the addition of new elements and the elimination of some older ones. Among his noteworthy achievements is the recording of a tribute album to Joy Division in 2014 and the recording of a cover of John Lennon's “Working Class Hero” for his “Kings & Pawns” album.
As a result of this long process, “Strict Regime Country” was made. The prog, death metal, and experimental influences Tereshenko possessed as he approached the recording of this album, as well as new inspiration for his lyrics, became more apparent as his projects' evolution progressed. The lyrical ideas of Die Entweihung were often associated with darkness, despondency, dissolution, and decease. Through time, the themes expanded to include socially relevant topics, most notably the September 11 attacks, their impact on the world, and the stark possibility of a new world order.
“Strict Regime Country” is more in line with anarcho punk than black or death metal, focusing on the political situation in Belarus since 1994. In particular, the major events that took place there around 2020. Covering a wide variety of genres despite the lack of the dark carnival-like keyboards featured on past albums, the song structure is the tightest, most professional blend of black, thrash, and death metal with prog rock.
The songwriting and musicianship are better suited for a straightforward metal album, with the emphasis on riffs, harmonies, strong rhythm guitars and solos, and abrasive vocals in the vein of Mille Petrozza (Kreator) and Legion (Marduk). It would not be apparent to you that the project evolved into its current form if you had only listened to the first two albums. There is additionally a balance between those abrasive vocals and a cleaner, more melodic style than we are accustomed to hearing from this project.
I'd recommend listening to all of Die Entweihung's releases on Bandcamp if you have the time to do so, to experience its evolution for yourself. –Dave Wolff

Denis Tereschenko: Vocals, all instruments

Track list:
1. Some Kind Of Independence
2. One Of Us
3. Mayhem Of The Doomed
4. Their Own Tragic 9-11
5. White Red White Genocide
6. Yesterday
7. Revolution Of Broken Dreams
8. Strict Regime Country

Single Review: Rahway "Rocketship" (Independent) by Brynn Kali StarDew

Band: Rahway
Location: New Jersey
Country: USA
Genre: Rock
Single: Rocketship
Format: Digital, lyric video
Label: Independent
Release date: June 9, 2023
The “Rocketship” single by Rahway was actually pretty good. The lead singer kind of sounds like the guy in Korn. I think the chorus might need some work though. It wasn't terrible and the lyrics are pretty good actually, but the rhythm and vibe just wasn't what I'm looking for in my choruses.... Still a really solid track though and I still gotta give them credit for having A.I. generated Youtube content that was pretty cool and modern so that improved their production and memorability scores. –Brynn Kali StarDew

Musicianship: 8.5/10
Songwriting: 9/10
Production: 9/10
Memorability: 8.5/10
Overall: 9/10

Nick Hade: Vocals
David Cardenas: Guitar
Chigger: Bass
Steve Cardenas: Drums

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Full Length Review: Dowhanash "Promethium 61" (The Black Library) by Dave Wolff

Band: Dowhanash
Location: Genoa
Country: Italy
Genre: Draco metal
Full length: Promethium 61
Format: CD, digital
Label: The Black Library
Release date: May 19, 2023
Dowhanash drummer Rigel Berlingeri’s self-education in ancient beliefs is inextricably linked with his recording career, as he explained in his interview last month. I’m struck with the deep commitment he invested studying what he calls the Knowledge of the Dragon while listening to their three albums (2020’s “From The Ashes”, 2021’s “To The Stardust” and 2023’s “Promethium 61”) back to back.
A significant contribution to the cohesiveness of Dowhanash’s influences is the manner in which he helped write those albums. It was briefly discussed how the band's "Draco metal" is similar to German thrash metal, Swedish death metal, and Norwegian black metal. In his explanation, the tight fusion of those styles was achieved by spiritual meditation and channeling vibes he picked up from beyond.
“Promethium 61” exhibits this quality not only in its musicianship, but in its overall presentation. If you wish to appreciate the full spectrum of the spiritual and intellectual journey leading up to “Promethium 61”, you should listen to each album in one sitting, but the most recent album alone serves as a fitting introduction.
This album, as I mentioned in the interview, has an otherworldly quality permeating the vocals, guitars, drums, and especially the production. As far as I know in my experience, I haven't heard a combination of heavy musicianship, gruff vocals and a rich, vivid delivery in quite this way. In terms of how the songs appear on record, the only way I can describe them is they’re four dimensional, as much about depth and breadth as heaviness and rawness.
The songwriting displays elements of doom metal, classical metal and classical guitar (in the solos), prog metal, prog rock, and jazz fusion where they're needed. In addition to their unusual range for those influences, the vocals consistently convey the vibes of the Deadites in the original "Evil Dead" movies and the Cenobites in the original "Hellraiser" series. As with each album, the lyrics are also included on the Bandcamp link.
For the endless subgenre titles in underground metal, Draco Metal fits Dowhanash better than any other and it can’t easily be imitated, not even with the most conscious effort. –Dave Wolff

Luci: Vocals
Kōan: Bass, guitars 
ND: Guitar solos
Rigel: Drums, guitars

Track list:
1. Behavioral Sink
2. They Will Resist
3. Meteora-S
4. Promethium 61
5. Free Doom
6. No Way Out

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Interview with vocalist and poet Natasa Nikolic by Dave Wolff (second interview)

Photo by Christian Persson
Interview with Natasa Nikolic by Dave Wolff

From 2009 to 2019 you were the keyboardist and soprano vocalist of the Swedish symphonic death metal band Tragederia. What impact do you believe they had on underground metal while they were together? Have you been doing anything musically since they disbanded?
Hm, I wish I knew if we had an impact; that would be interesting. During that period I think we managed to contribute and give something new to the scene and also managed to reach out to an audience in other places thanks to Deviants Underground Radio and Asphyxium zine who helped spread the word about us. Since then many things have happened and I feel like the world is a very different place. For some time I was experimenting with a band, but the timing was wrong, and musically it was something completely different. It was very cool to have been able to try something new and be forced out of your comfort zone, but I didn’t continue with that project. I got an update from them a while ago so I will try to keep in touch.

How far do you believe your work with Tragederia transcended boundaries?
Lyrically, we started with these epic style texts which focused a lot on history and strife and later we transcended into something that is more the way I imagine many death bands were focusing in when I started coming into the local scene, a more straightforward approach to lyric-writing. As a band we strove to be progressive and it was important to keep track of our own development, but if would be strange to try to define exactly how much and if we managed to transcend boundaries. In the overall approach we had many ideas.

What historical topics did you and Tragederia study, and how did they relate to your lyrics?
We had themes such as the crusades, witch hunts, human greed and suffering, war... Later more personal themes. Our old lyricist devoured everything that had to do with history so I think it was easy to write lyrics. We had, in the end, maybe over a hundred texts that were never made into songs. It was useful to be able to draw one's own interpretation into the sound. It's the trickiest part and as musicians and humans we simply have a hard time when our own approach isn't deemed a good fit. Like, what do you mean I shouldn't sing like this? Classical musicians don't have that luxury of freely interpreting but they cannot mask if they lack the technical skills so they have to force themselves to master their instrument.

Deviants Underground Radio is a name I haven’t heard in the longest time. This net radio show played a significant role in assisting unsigned underground bands, but unfortunately it imploded due to a number of factors. Can you recall how often the band was broadcast?
I think we got a good amount of airtime. Some moments I still remember very vividly; it was a time to chill and enjoy new and old music, joke and just live for the nighttime. I would log on late in the evening and stick around for an hour. I'm still a night person but because of a different schedule nowadays I usually get up at the crack of dawn.

What is your opinion of Deviants Underground Radio's dedication to supporting unsigned bands who didn't have as many opportunities to be heard?
They were always dedicated to the musicians and the fans, giving their time to listen, hang out online and showcase anything new that came their way. I don't know when they started the station but my feeling was always that it was a welcoming environment and thanks to them, we reached out to many new people in the Tennessee area and beyond. I also have to mention the people around Deviants who made everything into a whole experience, I still follow them and try to keep up to date. It would be fun to visit them one day.

When you and Tragederia stopped working together, what band were you experimenting with? What were some of the differences between their music and that of your previous band? What did you mean by being forced out of your comfort zone? Did you decide to part ways with them due to those timing concerns?
The band I sang with is Dagothar. They play traditional doom which is not a genre I'm familiar with, so to even rehearse I had to change the way I sing, from basic technique to accentuating the lyrics with grunts and things like that. It was extremely insightful and a great learning experience. Since it was not an option to plan my work around a band, I thought it was best to continue to put my energy elsewhere.

When you hooked up with Dagothar, what was the task of tailoring your vocal style to their music? Were you able to record anything with the band or did you part company before you had the opportunity to record? Is this band still active today?
Since they had such a specific idea of what they wanted to achieve, it was like trying to fit my voice into a specific genre mold. They were working with tributes for a couple of bands and the first part was listening to new music and getting to know the style. Technique-wise it was about expanding and perfecting the chest voice sound which has mostly been something of an impossible task for me, it’s not nearly as intuitive as the classical technique. I could sound nasal, wailing, let out grunts and I would say there was mostly a clear picture of what was accepted to make their sound. On the whole it’s a fun genre in a way, it just doesn’t sound fun and a common theme is death. I never got around to recording anything with them, it was more trying to learn the genre to be able to sing at rehearsals. As far as I know, they are active and they have recorded some demos.

What are some of the ways you perceive the world around you to be a completely different place? Since you have been writing lyrics and poems for some time, will any future writing reflect your views on all the changes you have seen?
Since the pandemic my feeling is that more things in society are uncertain. Not only in regards to health, but will we be able to retire, will politicians stop playing with our lives and being irresponsible? Despite that, I would like my future poems to reflect something hopeful.

How much did the Covid pandemic affect your sense of uncertainty about society? Many people seem to believe that nothing changes when it comes to politics, while others believe that some things have improved. What are the points where your poems fall between these two mindsets?
Well, I think it has showed politicians can make those quick changes while at the same time proving that – no, we obviously can’t do two things at the same time, since that is a general criticism of many policy-related issues today. Maybe let’s try to keep and go back to a standard of living which seems lost instead of thinking big because it doesn’t seem to work. We never had any restrictions here and it makes me annoyed at the people who showed a more selfish side, like travelling abroad to places like Thailand which is super popular here. Who really needs to travel to the other side of the world for vacation? This even though for many people in Sweden, the idea of a really nice holiday is a small house or cottage without running water. What is needed are just the essentials and surrounded by nature of course. I can see the charm, there’s something truly romantic in that.

Do you observe the same level of uncertainty regarding the future outside of Sweden based on your correspondence with people in other countries?
I guess it depends on the person, but some people who are not as dependent on the outside world have been grateful to be able to live and manage thanks to the land and their own animals etc. Now with war raging in Europe again, we are seeing more of that uncertainty with the influx of people fleeing from Ukraine. I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing Ukrainians and I think about them a lot. Their world has been turned upside-down but many of them are making such an effort and I hope Sweden takes a notice of their skills and knowledge because now we get economists, interpreters, doctors and teachers coming here. For the first time I have wished to be in the position of being able to provide jobs to be able to make even more of an impact.

Are there any serious long-term collaborations that have resulted from your work with Ukrainian refugees?
The nature of the work is such that I have little possibility to keep in touch. There are so many people who need help when coming to a new country that you become quite stressed and simply restrain yourself after a while, otherwise it's hard to keep up. My goal is still to try to do right by every person that I meet and to be able to help, as little or as much as someone needs, it's a small comfort. I am always impressed with everyone I meet and on a systemic and personal level I hope for the best for them, whatever their goals and wishes are when the war ends.

Why do you believe that the simplicity of nature has appealed to bands for so many years? How does it inspire romantic feelings in people to the point that they write songs and lyrics in an attempt to capture those feelings?
Nature controls and rules us in a way that will never seize to amaze and awe us as humans. It’s bold, doesn’t apologize and can kill us all. Closeness to nature and being in nature being a goal in itself is very strong here in the Nordic countries. To accept nature and all that it does, enjoy it and being annoyed at it is and coming to a full circle seems to be a goal if not and art. My relationship with nature as mostly consisted of trying to avoid it simply because it’s flawed, it’s not the way I want it to be. I remember talking about a dead lake which had become something of a tourist attraction in the southwest of Sweden and admiring the beauty of the water when my friend exclaimed “But it’s such a pity, that colour means that nothing can survive there” which to me made it a perfect place to swim! I am the person that would jump out as soon as I feel something on me, completely horrifying. And don’t we always want to control nature and make it into something different, more to our liking?

How have you expressed these thoughts in any recent verses that you have written?
I think I have focused more on writing something different and rather these thoughts have been relinquished through conversation with different people. Maybe it’s best to not focus on more positive themes, otherwise it would just be the same old style.

How would you like your future poems to reflect a hopeful outlook? Do you have any ideas for topics you would like to write about?
I have written about love and longing before, but mostly those poems have been kept in the closet. The task now is to find a new style, language… Something to reflect new goals, goals for self-improvement (oh, the goals!) whereas the topic before was more about trying to stay alive. How about love of music, or an onomatopoetic piece trying to describe the sound of different genres? Now I feel it’s easier to balance the different sides of myself, and if you don’t like a certain part, well who cares? Life is too short to stick to the negative parts, but it may be difficult to make the transition for real.

Can you describe the style in which you wrote your older poems to convey love and longing? Is it your intention to keep these writings in the closet or will you release some of them at some point in the future?
It was very naïve and straight to the point, so maybe not very good in a way. I want to bring more diverse things to the table, so I will try to not keep those poems in the closet. I feel like other poets working with AEA zine are better at incorporating more of themselves into the poetry. It’s good to try to read lyrics separately because you don’t get the same feeling when listening to them. Music changes the text and it can make it less honest and raw. If I manage to introduce old themes and write them so that someone can see themselves and relate to a feeling I will be happy. Nowadays I can appreciate new kinds of artists as long as I can see their story in the lyrics.

How will music contribute to your development of another writing style? How will language and subject matter affect this process?
With music, it’s good to try to read lyrics separately because you don’t get the same feeling when listening to them. Music changes the text and it can make it less honest and raw so music takes the edge off. If I manage to introduce old and new themes and write them so that someone can see themselves and relate to a feeling I will be happy. At the same time I don’t want to lose the horror style. Nowadays I can appreciate new kinds of artists as long as I can see their story in the lyrics. I don’t really feel the pressure to listen to a certain kind of music anymore so I feel free to let more genres inspire me, with jazz being the exception!
Another thing that has been a goal is to write more in Swedish, I look up to Månegarm in that department. Despite the fact that this interview is in English I firmly believe we have to preserve our own languages and in an active way. Granted, language changes but we mustn’t forget that we have something very valuable in our mother tongue that is worth keeping and cherishing. I recommend the book Tingo by Adam Jacod de Boinod.

Are you seeking a band to contribute lead or backing vocals to these days? In your opinion, what kind of band would your lyrics and vocals be suitable for, whether you have been looking or not?
If I would join a band it would probably be as a lead vocalist, mostly because I wouldn't really want to share the vocal part. The most fun part was always being able to do your own thing, not so much being in the centre. I would also be careful because of the environment and the community as a whole, it can be sexist but one person can't change a whole culture. I would want to feel able to express myself and be free to tell my story. The dynamics within the group would have to be good, the right age span, good communication, I'm obviously picky. Maybe some kind of doomy goth sound would work, my scene presence is fitting for that, I don't like jumping around on stage. I'm not necessarily a fan of building the sound to the point of expanding it and more with every album and making it sound like it has 50 layers of instruments.

Have you considered or would you consider compiling a book with your written work?
I haven't, I cannot imagine compiling my own poems, it's like listening to your own voice which I still find almost embarassing, but maybe with some help. Good idea!

-Dave Wolff