INTERVIEW: The Necrosexual of Necrosexual

Photo by Josh Street Design
[K] Necrosexual is completely new to me, and I’m loving GRIM 1. For a newer fan, who’s not too familiar (like me), can you tell me a little about how this whole band/project came together?

GRIM 1 is my first musical offering. I've brought the fury as a comedy performer, burlesque stripper and heavy metal video personality since 2011. Most of these songs on the GRIM 1 album are four or five years old, if not more, so it's been a long time cumming. We have momentum now that the album is completed and we're playing concerts more regularly. A door has been opened - the Necrodimension. We're here to stay.


[K] What does the Necrosexual record library look like? Any specific gems?

My most prized vinyl records are Venom "Welcome To Hell" picture album, Bathory "Blood Fire Death" picture album and Absu "Absu" limited edition double gatefold on grey vinyl. The biggest steal I ever got was Mercyful Fate "Melissa" LP for $3. One can find some truly grim treasures at the Main Street Jukebox in Stroudsburg.


[K] Do the other featured members on GRIM 1 often share records, as to keep on the level with influences and inspiration?

I'm a big eighties thrash metal head. That precision has an influence on my guitar playing style and riffs. Anthony Vigo Gabriele is more of a virtuoso guitarist, so he's into guys like Malmsteen and Randy Rhodes. Mike "The Machine" Churry worships Pete Sandoval and Morbid Angel, and digs some far out 90s Scandinavian death metal like Captor and Cadaver. It keeps things fresh to have different tastes.


[K] What was the process behind the album? What kept you pushing forward until it’s completion?

Many months in a dark place. Literally. I lived in an apartment with no windows when I wrote "The Lair Where No Light Enters" and was going through a hellish bout of depression and existential dread. My bedroom faced an alley between buildings and was perpetually draped in shadows. Metal is the perfect soundtrack to overcoming your demons, and turn them into allies. We had many delays with drummers flaking out and lack of consistent personnel in 2014 and 2015, but each step back made me even more determined to finish the damned album. We finally got Mike Churry on drums recorded the album in a dark basement in Philadelphia. Very grim, subterranean party atmosphere, 100% independent do it yourself production. I must also give due credit to Rob Pallotta who contributed drums on the songs "Trust No One" and "Bottomless Pit" from his home recording studio.


[K] Why cover ‘Paint it Black?’

The Rolling Stones possess a true rock n roll attitude, and their showmanship is something to be admired. Paint It Black is a song that has been covered to death, but I think our is the blackest rendition, and probably the fastest too. I'd like to cover a few more obscure tunes in the future.


[K] Outside of music, what else influenced the creation of GRIM 1?

I grew up on X Men comics and Sega Genesis, and that visual style is definitely present in the album art work for Grim 1. Scott R Johnston created an album cover that is totally out of this world.


[K] With The Necrosexual covering bass, guitar, and vocals - how does a live show usually work?

We are a power trio in the tradition of Motorhead, Venom, Sodom, with me on bass and vokills.

[K] Horror-rock/metal albums, with a dash of comedy, seem to be a dying breed these days. Did you, at any point, feel the album might be a risk? Or did you really even care if it was?

I embrace being different. I don't care if people laugh with me or at me, as long as they're entertained. But if you listen to the album, our musicianship is no joke.

[K] What does Necrosexual strive not to be?


I aim to be the antithesis of all things poser.


[K] If you could collaborate with any other band, doesn’t matter if they are around anymore, which would it be?

I write all my songs as if Dave Lombardo is playing along on drums. It'd be a wet dream to play with Lombardo on the kit. I feel like Necrosexual is a match made in hell as an opening act for Metallica. I feel like Lars and Kirk would get what I'm about. In the near future, I'd love to play a show with Ghoul. Ross Sewage designed the Necrologo and they have a hell of a live show.


[K] What’s your biggest peeve when it comes to metal and/or underground music in general?

There will always be annoying things in any circle of art or industry. I bust my ass to stand out and inject my own colorful and chaotic personality into black metal, a genre that tends to be quite stark and literally painted in black and white tones. I'm sure someone could look at me on the surface and say 'look at this jabroni, another guy wearing corpse paint obsessed with being grim.' Brutality is in the eye of the beholder.


[K] A friend of mine said they had something along the lines of a ‘Necrosexual encounter’, you have anything to do with that?
 

"Necrosexual Encounter" is the opening track of the album and will be released as a music video soon. It's a rager to blast through live. I'm excited to bring it to life in video form with my longtime video producer Liam McGlynn.

[K] What's in the future for Necrosexual?

We're writing the next album. I'd like to have it recorded before the end of 2018. We plan to hit the road and play out to support GRIM 1 and raise the horns of death with all the heavy metal hellraisers the world over.



[K] Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, anything closing comments or shameless plugs you’d like to mention?

GRIM 1 will be available for CD purchase or download worldwide on February 23 2018. Head over to necrosexual.bandcamp.com to hear my singles or download a CD. See you in your nightmares.


You heard the man, get over to the bandcamp and check out what Necrosexual has to offer. To keep up with everything Necrosexual on social media, check out the dedicated Facebook page here.

QUICK REVIEW: Apathy Noir - Black Soil

Apathy Noir's doom-like progression is more reminiscent of something like recent My Dying Bride, rather then drawing from too many death or black metal influences – though the vocals of either are here, along with a bevy of tremolo picking, initially. The 'death' bit is more along the lines of melodic death, rather then more traditional death metal examples. Sometimes, Black Soil seems tailored to suit its atmosphere and the music around this isn't really the product of it's creator, Viktor Jonas, trying to fit into any particular subgenre – but rather doing what seems to fit the overall feeling he is going for here. For a good minute, what's being done is scantly definable - it's doomy, it's melodic, it's death and blackened, then a bit of singing thrown in for good measure. For someone who gets rather tired of endless subgenre stacks (I'm sure there are far more people out there then just me) Jonas wonderfully doesn't seem to give a damn, in the beginning.

Sadly, this doesn't last for the greatest amount of time. A couple opening tracks on Black Soil are truly running the gamut of extreme genres, no denying that, but after those are through, everything falls to melo-death. And, for reasons I can't possibly fathom – Black Soil begins to sound a lot like Insomnium, and I mean a lot. This comparison is strengthened by the singing and death metal vocals (provided by the very talented Andy Walmsley), which are well done and never falter in quality, but become purely this for almost the entire album length. This means that Black Soil is essentially stripped of it's more blackened sections, almost never returning to what the album began as. I had high hopes when 'Time and Tide' began, but things fall back again after moments. The album seems to have had a lot of potential for variety and experimentation, but it just never lives up to those beginning tracks ever again. For all that Viktor Jonas seems capable of musically, I don't feel like Black Soil could be considered his magnum opus, not by any means.

There is quite a bit to like here, most certainly for melo-death and doom fans, but it's proposed black metal inclusions are most likely not substantial enough to be more then a light introduction for people unfamiliar with the subgenre. Fans of Insomnium are going to love this, maybe even more then actual an actual Insomnium album – because Black Soil DOES have variety initially.

Check out Apathy Noir on Bandcamp (and a bevy of prior releases) here.

INTERVIEW: Marcus Lawrence of Grethor

[K] It’s been quite a while, 3 years, since the EP ‘Cloaked in Decay’ - how would you say the band has evolved since then?

MARCUS: We had Mike Lewis on guitar then. He left, and was replaced by Tony Petrocelly. Tony contributed quite a bit to the song structure, and he mainly produced this album. I would say he brought his own sense of structure to things as well. Also, things in our own lives had changed, like Anthony getting married, Brian moving
out of state, stuff like that. As it goes with our lives, so it goes with Grethor.

[K] Having a handful of Demo’s and EPs under the band’s belt, was putting together a full-length any more strenuous by comparison?

MARCUS: If you mean by strenuous that it was hard to deal with scheules and life changes, I suppose. There was a lot going on at the time, and some things made it difficult, but I think each of us knew we had to finish this task. On my end, I wouldn't call it strenuous, but for some of us, it may be more fair to say that.


[K]
What was your experience filming ‘The Last Manifesto’?

MARCUS: Pretty cool. I think Tony was very efficient, and I had fun tracking vocals. These may have come to the forefront a bit more, and I liked all the layering that went into it. Tony also gave great feedback, and had good ideas about where to put the, etc, and what emphasis was needed. I have had numerous experiences with recording vocals, and while I wouldn't say any of them were bad, this time was quite efficient without being rushed in any way.


[K] I’m sure you’ve been asked a lot about this, but in this wild political climate, would you say that Grethor, as a band, stands to make a change?

MARCUS: I wish I knew. I can only tell you what I was seeing at the time I was writing the lyrics, and that was the rise of demagogues. Turkey, The Phillipines, and this idea that being a media figure somehow instantly qualifies you for leadership. This is how demagogues rise, and I saw the language of cruelty sort of being used casually, not just by someone like Maduro, but by a political figure here. Now, that is not to say that our foreign policy has not been a hawkish disaster, but it seemed to me that a sort shadow of open fascism has been looming across the world, and these archaic ideas that had resurfaced to throw us back to a less open time. We are 17th in education, 23rd out of 30 in Income Inequality, and we have 25 percent of the world's prison population, all as a result of privatization of basic civil services. Mind you, we're bombing 7 countries, currently, as we rank number one in military spending, to the tune of 600 billion, with the second being China at 146 Billion! This means we have a budget based on bloated war profiteering, as China may have the biggest military in personnel, we have a bunch of contractors draining our resources and making money off of it, whereas theirs is primarily a military that respresents The State itself. Now, how are we the land of the free again?


[K] When it comes to political views, sometimes people feel it’s more appropriate to take a more subtle approach. Damnatio Memoriae is most definitely more straight forward with its message (which I really do respect), is this a philosophy the whole band shares? And, is it a method the band plans on using with future performances and albums?

MARCUS: I wanted to be more straightforward. This is the world we live in, and it is dying. If I am not getting through with lofty solliliquies, then what else is there to do? My country is highly detrimental to the rest of the world right now. I guess I just see a sort of wider picture, and wathing it without putting it to music, that would be highly unfortunate. I am bearing witness to history, and there is a long tradition to that. I don't think I have ever not written based on observation, even if I was writing about Genghis Khan, I still wanted it to be a warning tale about oppression, and how it will return to haunt you tenfold. I have always written about the dangers of anti - intellectualism,
whether it was due to religion or other social factors, or the corrosion of institutions due to that anti - intellectualism. This time, however, the corrosion is just more rapid, and needs to become a turning point, not a point of decline. Nihilism is highly common in extreme metal. I am not a nihilist in the pure sense of the word, nor do I believe that it's fully understood as a concept anyway. I'm not interested in being another edgelord with a sort of coolly cultivated misanthropic public persona. It's just not me.


[K] Will the social political themes of Damnatio Memoriae be a mainstay for Grethor’s future endeavours or does it just depend on what the band feels the need to express at the time?

MARCUS: I'm not sure. I would say it definitely depends on what is the feeling of the time. I think lyrics can definitely change the tone of a song by giving it a more literal
purpose, and I am not sure where the overall tone will be yet.


[K] I’m not American, and I’ve personally experienced very little in terms of US Black Metal. What is the Black Metal scene there? Or even just in North Virginia?

MARCUS: There is a bit of it in Virginia. Black Metal isn't as centralized over here as it is in other countries, where you can go to a town and expect to see a venue loaded with Black Metal bands like you would in Reyjavik or something. Nightbringer is in Colorado, whereas Inquistion is on the West Coast, and Absu is in Texas. Just giving you an example of how spread out it is. Plus, with all those factors and stats I quoted, it is horrible to tour in the US. You could break even if you're lucky, but most likely, will lose money. Now, how is the music? Pretty damn good. I recommend Nightbringer, Leviathan, Wolves in the Throne Room, Obsequiae, stuff like that.


[K] I personally have grown to hate asking about a band’s influences since it’s such a common question. My question is, what does Grethor, as a band, strive not to be?

MARCUS: A cliche' or parody of itself. I won't name bands in that regard, just suffice it to say what Grethor's goal should be.


[K] Any plans for a tour or shows for Grethor?

MARCUS: Not at the moment.


[K] What does the record collection of a Grethor member look like (Doesn’t have to be metal)?

MARCUS: Holy crap. That's a tough one. Mine ranges. I come form a family of musicians, so there is quite a bit. I grew up on a lot of different things, but if I were to name my most influential bands were Meshuggah, The Dead Milkmen, Emperor, Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, Iron Maiden, etc, etc. I listened to a lot of jazz and classical music, my dad was studying music when I was a kid. I guess I can tell you what bands led me here in my formative years, and beyond, but that is going to take a long damn time.


[K] I read in another interview that Lawerence had children, as someone who helps take of 5 kids himself, I’m curious how you manage to balance home life and band life?

MARCUS: I have two daughters, yes. My older daughter is sitting next to me right now, watching TED ED talks. It isn't too bad. I guess it's just normal to me, as again, my family was a musical family. It's manageable, I think, because I am not constantly on the road, nor is it my main source of income. If that were the case, I think it would be much more difficult.


[K] I’m a Star Trek fan, I caught the Klingon reference, I have to ask - favorite captain?

MARCUS: I feel like this answer is almost frivolous, as I haven't seen Discovery yet. I loved Picard, and his measured leadership, but I am going to go with Kirk.
Kirk, to me, represented a bold approach, yes, but it also came with an insatiable curiosity. For him, there was a responsibility to the human experience, that you must never let fear make your decisions for you. Nothing is without risk, and Kirk recognized that. The other thing I liked, and if you hadn't realized this you need to go back, was when he would have a conference with Spock and Dr McCoy. They represent the things Kirk is weighing in his head, and what motivates him. The best example
was The Wrath Of Khan, when they were debating the ethics of The Genesis Torpedo. For Spock, it represents the achievements of synthesizing life, for McCoy was a spiritual/philosophical question that was almost a Romantic - Era one, about creation itself. Kirk sits silently as their debate rages on, voicing an internal monologue while still staying within the id of their own characters.


[K] Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, any closing comments or shameless plugs you’d like to leave?

MARCUS : Just check out the album on January 26th! Please!

Keep up with Grethor over on their Facebook here.

REVIEW: Midmourner - Adorned in Fear and Error EP

Midmourner is a Alabama band that decided sludge was the way to go, and I can get behind that. If I had to guess, the group has a bit of experience with the genre. The band is just too direct with it's subgenre focus for it to be coincidental. With other bands, you usually get a more doomy sound somewhere in the midst of their music, but not with Midmourner – at least not on their EP, Adorned in Fear and Error. This is, probably, the most definitive example of sludge metal you can get – for better or worse.

The best way to describe what Midmourner has done here is: a crap-load of bass. Holy hell, there is a astonishingly large amount of bass here. If I was to guess, I'd say the whole EP is based around the bottom line more then anything else – almost like a less blackened version of Bell Witch (I had to do some digging to see if Midmourner was an only bass band, but nope). I'm more used to a bassy guitar that has a crunch to it, a effective and common technique used so that the more sustained notes sound drawn out and gloomy – or, you know, sludgy. But, Midmourner has got it's own way of doing things - albeit providing a much more simple and direct sound. What's really great is that, if you were to listen to their live recordings, it all translates to actual performances really well. I wouldn't be hard-pressed to say that their music works somewhat better live then it does in a studio setting. Which, to me, is a great sign of a capable band.

Themes on Adorned in Fear and Error are along the lines of issues with religion and power, it isn't too original but I liked the effort the band takes to accentuate this with occasional audio clips. They really let me understand what was even going on in times where I didn't quite understand what the band was trying to do. A good deal of the atmosphere comes from the vocals, some of the shriekiest vocals I've heard in a good while, but they do convey a clear sense of fear and unease – which fits right in with the subgenre. It's actually surprising just how atmospheric this band can be sometimes, Midmourner really finds a way stand out on it's own two when it comes to this. I couldn't help but feel like what was being conveyed was a genuine viewpoint, rather then just there for shock or awe.

Problems are, more or less, to do with the realities of being a sludge band. Some tracks seem to meld into one another, becoming pretty much indistinguishable from the last. For the most part Adorned in Fear and Error really does sound like one big song, aside from a couple tracks that have a intro or intentional endings rather then droning on until another song begins. Bass being a huge focus here also somewhat stifles the experience at times. Sometimes songs are just too drone-like, they meander whilst the vocals squelch on for what feels like unbelievable lengths of time. Midmourner isn't terrible by any means, but I can't help but feel like their consistency somehow hinders the band a little (strange to say).

I can't say that Midmourner, or Adorned in Fear and Error is the end-all piece everyone is looking for when it comes to sludge. I wouldn't even see why it would need to be. But, this is a good EP for those looking for their sludge/drone fix. Do I think Midmourner has the ability to be something massive? Yeah, I personally do. But, I haven't a clue how they'd get there. It'll be interesting to see what comes in the future. Until then, I'd say if this band is playing in the area to check them out. Live performances seem to be a strong-point for the band. Oh, and did I mention this EP is on cassette?

-KEITH, THE ODD-

Keep up with Midmourner on Facebook, or check out their label, Old Lion Records, here.

INTERVIEW: Aslak Heika Hætta Bjørn, Vocalist of Ondt Blod

[K] What is it like being a hardcore band in Norway? Has there been any difficulties?

When we started out, hardcore was kind of a buzz in Norway, giving us a head start. There is also a good underground music scene in Norway, consisting of DIY-scenes and rock clubs interested in taking in new bands. However, the combination of vast distances and few inhabitants kind of excludes the possibility of living of the road if you´re not huge. We´ve been able to strike the balance between mainstream presence and radio play on one hand, and building up a fan base through heavy touring on the other.

[K] I'm not too familiar with oppression occurring overseas, as it is a strong part of Ondt Blod's message, can you shed some light on the situation?

I am of the Sami people, which is the indigenous people of Scandinavia. The surrounding states of Norway, Sweden and Russia did for hundreds of years all colonize the far north, all demanding taxes, killing of religious leaders and other classical colonial shit. At the turn of the 19th century, the Nation-states divided the north between each other, and started violent assimilation of minorities into the new constructed national identity. “wild and savage” Sami were forced to abandon their language and ways, to become proper Norwegians. The shame of being told over generations that you are sub-human is profound, and many of the elder generation still struggle with this shame.

Although the assimilation program was called off in the sixties, the Norwegian government is still trapped in colonial policies. Sami reindeer-herders are forced to slaughter off much of their flocks, as the government thinks the amounts of animals are higher than the ecosystems of the land can handle, while at the same time selling off the same lands to mines and wind-power industry. The suicide rate of Sami youth is more than a hundred times higher than that of young Norwegians.

We are of a new generation of pissed Sami artists, bringing indigenous issues to the popular culture.

[K] Is there a moment, or even an entire song, on 'Natur' you could say you are most proud of?

Nah, man. Its all good.

[K] Has language been a barrier for Ondt Blod, at all?

Not in a direct way. So far, we´ve only been touring Scandinavia, and Norwegians, Swedes and Danes to some extent all understand each other. The nerve and the energy of the music is also such an important part of punk and hardcore, meaning that if you bring raw force to the table, foreign listeners might get a kick of the music, even if they don’t understand the words (paired with the fact that no one without a lyric sheet hears my lyrics anyway when I scream).

Of course, being such a great band as we are, there should be left no doubt that we would have been multi billionaires had we decided to sing in English. So our decision to keep it real has indirectly cost us glamour, cars and millions of dollars.

[K] What would you say 'Natur' does to evolve the sound and style of Ondt Blod?

While our first record was more of a straight punk/hardcore record, Natur is a bit more experimental in several directions. We wanted to make the record without any self-imposed restrictions on genre and credibility, resulting in cheesy saxophones, chugging, ballsy metal riffs and beach’s boyesque harmonies, as well as incorporating the ancient Sami song tradition of joik on the album closer “Giron”.

We´ve also worked a lot on our melodies and choruses, making way for both “right in the feels”-emo moments, and beer soaked, punkrock anthems.

[K] What are your plans after 'Natur' is officially released?

We release Natur 9th of March by throwing a huge release party in Tromsø in Northern Norway, the city where we got the band together during our first years at the university there. After the release party, we´ll sober up; get in the van and head out for a full Norway tour through the spring, from the far north to the south. If we come out alive of the tour, we´ll do a festival run this summer, playing Norway and Germany.

[K] If Ondt Blod was an animal, what animal would that be?

We have previously compared ourselves to with the strength, work ethics and grace of a horse, the Bruce Springsteen of the animal kingdom. Beautiful, but might kick your teeth in.

[K] What/Who do you hate the most?
Rape-culture, global warming, late capitalism, overcooked pasta.

[K] Worst experience while playing live?

I love playing live. If it were not for touring, I would not bother playing music. Of course, sometimes both the pay and the crowd is close to non-existent, the gear shitty or my voice sore (or not present). But 9/10 times it is a blast. So I don’t think I have any particular horror-stories for sharing. 

[K] What would you say the band's biggest weakness is as a unit, and it's greatest strength?

I think that our biggest strength is our will and dedication to work and rehearse; making us one of Norways best live bands (honestly there are like two bands better than us at this time, not mentioning names). Our greatest weakness is probably our dynamic strength, making us better suited for lifting heavy gear and playing 40-minute sets than running the New York Marathon.

[K] When you aren't playing, what are you doing?

Two of us are in law school, one is a teacher, one does music full time and I am a policy advisor. We also play video games and drink.

[K] If you had to give up music – what would you do to be creative?

I am always writing stuff, verse and prose, professionally, academically, or for the band. So I guess I would dig deeper into writing.

[K] It would be short sighted to say every band that plays heavy only enjoys metal, what are some other bands and genres you enjoy?

On tour we usually blast sweet power pop tunes in the van. “Ripe 4 Luv” by Young Guv is a go-to record.

[K] Ideal live line-up?

Refused, The National, Run the Jewels, Mastodon and Slayer.

[K] What's the worst interview question you've ever been asked (Aside from these ones, haha)?

We were doing a facebook-live interview prior to a talk show appearance, when I got challenged to a rap-battle. The show host started to beat box straight away, setting the stage for my performance and possible demise of pure embarrassment. I backed out the last second, avoiding what might have become the most embarrassing moment on Norwegian television this century.

I'd like to say thank you to Aslak Heika Hætta Bjørn for the interview and answering even the weirdest of my questions. Ondt Blod is set to release their new album 'Natur' on March 9th of this year via Fysisk Format, you can check out my review here to see what I thought of the album.

You can find out more about the band, and keep up with everything Ondt Blod on Facebook here.

-KEITH, THE ODD-

REVIEW: Ancst - Ghosts of the Timeless Void

Way back, I had the chance to review Ancst's Compilation 'In Turmoil' and, though Direnotes was certainly in it's infancy then, I clearly remember Ancst having a vastly different sound. In fact, I believe I even compared it to black metal and blackgaze. Now, certainly there are some faint hints of that between the fine lines here, but maybe I just didn't know what I was talking about back then - because Ancst is clearly under the Hardcore umbrella. Hell, I wouldn't even go so far as to consider them blackened now.

It's not exactly for the worst, in my opinion. With Ghosts of the Timeless Void, the band has certainly become far more cohesive. Yes, it's Hardcore, but it isn't like a lot of the more spastic and schizophrenic stuff that resides within that subgenre. Instead, Ancst has a lot of melodic moments, a bit of black metal in the composition, but generally things are more digestible and understandable. It's far easier to sit down and listen to this album as a whole then even their earlier work. It does lend to more then a few typical moments -breakdowns, relentless yet never changing vocals, similar tones for almost all the tracks- but it ultimately makes for a far more enjoyable record.

For hardcore, Ghosts of the Timeless Void really feels laid back. Transitions are great, and the more melodic composition gives the whole album a flow I can appreciate. It's almost a beast unto it's own at times, ditching a lot of the repetition encountered with other records. Outside of the vocal work, I've noticed a bevy of black and death metal undertones. Tremolo picking is here and very welcome in this environment. Chuggy death metal goodness has definitely found itself somewhere in the basis of this record, rather then the typical shrieky and metallic hardcore soundscape. Not so surprisingly it reminds me of later BLEEDING THROUGH, as they were metalcore but had a lot of black and punk metal stylistics going on.

Of course, Ghosts of the Timeless Void makes some bold claims of a social political message – but I'm not too sure how well that works. It certainly sounds angry, the whole album has it's own flavor of bite, but I feel like it's themes are applicable to a general situation of political corruption rather then all the insanity that has been going on lately in the world. Perhaps this is due to the band being in Berlin and having problems of it's own, while I'm in North America expecting something dealing with certain Presidential figures as of late, but I feel like sometimes subjects such as this require a higher degree of extremity in the music to properly express such a message as political corruption and 'waking' people. Again, it doesn't really make the album bad. And, as someone who listens to some very extreme bands on the daily – it might be that I'm more used to a extreme presentation when it comes to content.

Ghosts of the Timeless Void isn't going to bash you over the head with it's beliefs, but maybe that is a good thing. Ancst has certainly come a long way since I last encountered their work, and a cleaner more direct sound feels far more the product of experience and learning over time. Its a good year for protest, and Ancst may just have the anthem people are looking to get behind.

-KEITH, THE ODD-

Keep up with Ancst on their website, and or their label Lifeforce Records.

REVIEW: Arketh - 12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew

Experimentation is a word often thrown around within the extreme metal spectrum, usually when a particular subgenre decides to cross with another. You got black metal crossing with just about any genre these days, its almost common to the point that straight-forward black metal has become somewhat rarer. Though, I don't know if there has been more then a handful of times I've truly experienced something I'd call genuinely experimental or different - but Arketh's 12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew... It's an album that is promised to have a lot in terms of experimentation, and it aims to take a risk far beyond most other groups and projects.

Australia is really starting to impress me, Arketh is probably the first real Australian Black Metal group I've ever heard and they've got me hooked from the first track. There is a certain bravery about the composition of this album, Arketh is lo-fi but achieves a good deal with a bit with the inclusion of keyboard, sax, and reverb thrown into the mix. Not the first black metal group to use saxophone, not by far, but probably one of the few to use it so consistently and so well. In fact, a good deal of the album includes it – aside from 'Trismegistus', the opening track, which genuinely feels like a ages-old undiscovered black metal demo from the late 80s. For a while I'd thought that maybe the entire album would lean on this for it's experimentation, but it doesn't. Somehow, things keep getting stranger.

To me, 12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew seems to get genuinely interesting with the track 'The Fool Who Persists In His Folly'. This track is so odd, so impressive, that I can't even place the words that I generally could when it comes to labelling a group like this. It begins with a bit of sax, yeah, but Arketh really lays in with some spastic guitar work, a really fun section of unsettling laughter, and, oddly, some slower male singing vocals. The album is almost prog-metal at this point, songs begin as one thing and end so completely different that the listener feels as if they've went on some horrifying journey. I'd say it was through the darkness or something to that effect, but I don't even know what I've been going through at this point. I don't know if I really want to know.

I do have some gripes with the album – which I guess is to be expected with something so experimental in nature. I did really enjoy the very traditional black metal vocals on this, the more experimental ones on 'Where Nameless Ghouls Weep' are wonderfully strange, but when the singing vocals come in, and the slower more gloomy bits of writing, 12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew begins to fall out of it's groove. I just cannot get behind that final track, it is so slow and so uninteresting in comparison to all that has came before. Why there had to be something like that on the album baffles me, because it leaves a painfully boring stain on what I'd say is one of the best black metal records in recent years.

Arketh leaves a lot for other groups to live up to this year, and will most certainly be a basis for me when it comes to every black metal group that comes my way and claims 'experimental'. 12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew takes some noticeable risks and comes out on top with something strange, but compelling for fans of both black metal and obscure music. If either of those are you, or even if they aren't, I highly recommend adding this to your collection.

-KEITH, THE ODD-

Check out Transcending Obscurity on Facebook and their website for all your Arketh needs and more extreme metal from across the globe.

REVIEW: Coffin Torture - Dismal Planet

A lot of bands make some hefty promises, but it isn't too often that they fully pull through. Coffin Torture is a duo that specializes in gritty grime-ridden sludge; sounds so bleak and filthy, you'll feel the need to take a bath afterwards. It's almost terrifying to think that their newest album, Dismal Planet, is actually the product of two people. Something far more then manufactured, like a passionate for disdain brought to life. It makes me wonder, what sane minds could create something this?

I almost find it surprising that this is Coffin Torture's first full-length, these guys are killing it in a way I'd expect only sludge/doom veterans could do. Instruments are so massively distorted, I can't tell what is bass or guitar, but I'm loving it nonetheless. True, it could be considered a wall of sound with how chaotic everything is at all times, but there is a certain direction everything takes that pulls it away from some noise album and right into the realm of sludge. Really, it's almost surprising how busy Dismal Planet can be. Usually, I'd expect a whole lot more sustain and slow as hell drum lines, and there is a whole lot of that, but I don't feel like Coffin Torture wants to be strictly defined as a sludge metal group. That, or they'd like to keep the doors open for experimentation and growth down the line.

For instance, songs like 'Bolted Down, Boiled to Grease', 'D.H.F.', and the album's title track are what you'd call standard sludge – albeit 'Bolted Down, Boiled to Grease' really toys with the formula by progressively getting lower and lower, until the song feels as if it's boiled down to nothing. Both have the low and slow, distorted to hell, sound; are basically a corruption of doom metal. But tracks like 'Gustave' are borderline black metal, just without an abundance of treble, and far faster then anything else you'll hear on the entire album. The track itself is a wonderful oddity within Dismal Planet, and if Coffin Torture feels the need to expand or do something more along the longs of what 'Gustave' is doing, I'd certainly be aboard.

The only real hints of this being a first full length is the general randomness of the tracks, not in the sound but in the themes and titles. I almost expected, with a title like Dismal Planet, a little more effort was going to be put into connecting the whole – but that really isn't even an issue, just something I personally expected after hearing so many albums over the years.

Even after several spins, Dismal Planet still surprises me. I almost can't believe this is a duo, and I am still surprised this is the groups first full-length. So little mistakes were made, consistency was kept, and some risks were actually taken to keep things from being too similar. With so little information on the minds behind this wonderful abomination, I can't really gather what their musical history is or if this is a fluke of talent. Either way, we got Dismal Planet out of it.

-KEITH, THE ODD-

Keep up with Coffin Torture on Facebook here. Or, their label, Sludgelord Records here.