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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Review: Nuclear War Now Festival - Nov 19th & 20th 2010 Berlin, Germany

Thank you to Fei Yun of Taphephobia Productions for providing this review.

Day 0:
Well this was actually not a part of the NWN fest, Vulcano supposed to play NWN fest but they pulled out and did this gig at K-17. They were supported by Black Witchery, Deiphago and 2 German bands. I didn't really watch those 2 German bands and I was half asleep during Deiphago, and I'll write about Black Witchery later since they also played on the 2nd day of NWN fest.
Vulcano ruled hard and they pretty much ripped the place to pieces with their lengthy set featuring many tracks off their classic albums "Live!" and "Bloody Vengeance". The new line-up is surprisingly tight and it's a great experience to see their guitarist who is probably in his 50's or 60's playing passionfully, and I love how their singer always had a dodgy smile on his face...

Day 1: 
Embrace of Thorns
I didn't like their albums in the first place so I could be biased... They were rather dull overall, the music wasn't quite cutting it and they didn't have much stage presence although I can tell they've tried. It was also hilarious to see their guitarist using a Dimebag signature guitar.
They sounded more like an average D-Beat band than Swedish death metal to me. They did a decent set but I didn't really get why they are so popular nowadays.
Bone Awl
It's great to be able to see one of my favourite bands ever live finally. They sounded a bit fuller live than the recordings, probably because the bass was quite up in the mix. I was also quite surprised that Brandon used a Squier Telecaster this time (he usually used Jackson). He basically didn't move and just stared at the front (maybe we could call that an Undying Glare now hahaha). Their overall presence was pretty weird though, Brandon looked like some random metalhead down the road and Marco kinda looked like a hipster, Volahn looked like a mixture between crusty and war metal warrior... The only pity is that they did a rather short set (half an hour-ish) considering the huge amount of materials they have under their belt. I talked to Volahn a bit before the show and he's a nice bloke (don't know what's taking him so long to send out orders though but I rather not to ask), he also played a bit Axeman and Kuxan Suum during soundcheck, I was tempted to shout "play some Blue Hummingbird" but I didn't haha.
I missed the first half of their set since they went on earlier than what the timetable said. They totally crushed so I have to say I was quite gutted since I wasn't able to witness the entire set...

I wasn't sure about what to expect since they've been inactive for quite a few years but that was a hell of a ritual and hypnotizing as fuck, even if the guitarist and bassist looked like they've just got off their office work and the drummer had that random as pavo decoration on his head.
Again I wasn't sure about what to expect, but they were really, really good. They delivered those old materials very well and they also did an excellent cover of Sarcofago's Nightmare. Plus I love how the bassist was tapping his bass with the left hand and playing keyboard with the other hand at the same time...
Order From Chaos
This is seriously one of the bands that I never thought I would be able to witness live, and this was definitely the top set during the fest for me. It's a dream come true for me to be able to hear songs like Plateau of Invincibility and Forsake Me this Mortal Coil live, too bad they didn't play Blood & Thunder though...

Day 2: 

Those guys totally owned Miasmal. Fucking ripping traditional Swedish death metal with a dark overtone. People need to pay more attention to this than those bands who reissue their 20-minute demo tape on 12" two months after the initial release.
They picked some of the more rocky songs rather than the really doomy ones for their set and I think it was a very good idea. The main guy just standed still playing his guitar but their session singer is the man and he knew how to handle it live, without him it could've been potentially quite dull even if their music is absolutely killer.
Von Goat
I was really surprised to find out that Brandon from Bone Awl was playing bass, dunno if he was actually on the album. Wrest didn't come and Blood from the new Von line-up played drums, he was a solid drummer though. The lead guitarist also didn't make it and without him the new songs sounded pretty thin. Goat tried to rearrange the guitar parts a bit to combine the lead and rhythm parts on one guitar, but it's definitely missing something without two guitarists. It was cool nevertheless but they were not able to reproduce the psychedelic vibe on the album. But there was a huge surprise for me, they ended up play 3 classic Von songs (Lamb, Satanic Blood & Devil Pig) and they did it right compared to the pointless rearrangements they did at the UK show earlier this year. It totally blew my mind and I was pretty much going mad during those songs.

Black Witchery
They were ridiculously hilarious and crushing at the same time. I just can't stop laughing when looking at Impuriath's facial expression and the way Tregenda was turning his head around, but the sound was fucking massive and Vaz played like a beast.

Why you need some imposter when you can get the originator on the same night?
Dead Congregation
They played quite well but the songs from the album sounded quite blurry live, the songs from the MCD sounded much better under live situation. They were also the only band that used trigger on this fest, but it actually sounded quite good and if the drummer didn't use it half of the set would probably just be a big blur.
Ares Kingdom
Professor Keller was pretty much a bloody shredding machine, killer solos in every song and he even played solos between each songs. The set was totally epic although they were kinda out of place in this fest haha.
I was already burnt out before they were on and was feeling quite unrealistic during their set. I was extremely tired since I didn't have a decent sleep for the last 4 days, plus Von Goat basically stole the night away from Blasphemy for me with their surprise attack with old Von songs. Anyway they were simply great, although Black Winds sounded like he lost a bit of his voice. Ryan and Phil K did it quite well as live members and being able to see Caller playing guitar is such a pleasure. All the other bands were watching at the side of the stage and Beelzeebubth from Mystifier was air-guitaring the whole way through.

1. Apparently someone saw Varg there, I found it hard to believe but I won't be too surprised if he was there to see Von Goat.

2. I found it pretty funny how lots of people were too drunk and passed out on the floor later in the evening, made me wonder why they came all the way just to sleep on the floor...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Review: Diocletain - War Of All Against All

After selling several thousand albums internationally on both CD and vinyl formats and playing shows in Southeast Asia, Ireland, across Europe and most recently the US, Diocletian are one of New Zealand music's dirtiest secrets. A secret that New Zealand Music it's self probably doesn't even know about and most likely the way the band like it.
Diocletian play 'War Metal' , a style which was founded, or at least popularised by bands such as Order from Chaos and Canada's Blasphemy (The later of which Diocletian member VK is currently the live session bassist for). To describe the sound of War Metal and Diocletian in particular, picture a giant Nuclear armed tank, 50 meters high with each of it's tracks the width of a four lane motorway. Riding on top of it of it is a giant repulsive non human multi tentacled being barking out orders in an unknown violent language to the thousands of solders marching in front of it.  The Solders are oversized black clad gas mask wearing figures that may or may not be human, but are definitely of some sort of mutant barbarian genetic strain. Each one of them is carrying a 50 cal. machine gun with a chainsaw bayonet revved up full bore.  Then imagine that image channeled through Guitars, Bass, drums and vocals in order to get an idea of what Diocletian sound like.   
Among all this chaos it's hard to pin point exactly what it is I like about this album more so than it's predecessor 'Doom Cult'. It could be the a more naturally focussed feel that's come from the band being together for a longer amount of time (Honed chaos if you will), the more upfront definition/bite in the production, the evolved sound of the vocals, the seemingly more pronounced heavy riffs or  maybe a combination of all theses things.  
To give a graphic comparison, refer to the previous described image of said War machine. If the Doom Cult version were destroying everything in it's path, then this version would be doing the same thing except it would be placing extra focus on strategic targets to ensure greater efficiency in it's destruction. 
Listening to a Diocletian album is  an experience rather than a collection of songs.  "War Of All Against All" is not recommended for the weak hearted, but is a necessity for those with an Iron will, black blood and a lust for war. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Impaled Nazarene - New Video and forthcoming Album

Since I toured them in 1999, I've maintained my friendship with Impaled Nazarene main man Mika Luttinen. After chatting with him on line today I was informed that they have a new album "Road to the Octagon" coming out this month (review coming soon) with an impressive video  'Enlightenment Process' to accompany it.  You can watch that below.
Mika also informed me that the band are about to celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band with a live show that is to be filmed and released on a forth coming DVD.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review: Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky

Every few years for some reason or other I go through periods of rediscovering the Swans.  This time it's due to both witnessing Jarboe perform solo (Note: Jarboe isn't featured in the new Swans line up) at the Supersonic festival in Birmingham last year and not long after hearing that Michael Gira had reformed the band. The eight song 'My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky' being the first recorded product of this new incarnation of the Swans.
Highlight tracks for me include album opener 'No Words/No thoughts', a ten minute epic that seems to be split in to four unique parts. The first being of a chorus of bells which is followed by rythmic slabs of sound not to dissimilar to a more textural version of the bands very early releases.  Then comes a more standard but dark rock section where Gira's Vocals are first introduced. This section builds up and down in tension until the finally kicks in - An undescribably intense passage that apears to be made up of keys, bells, guitar and percussion all rapidly coliding together until the songs final silence. 
Next highlight is 'Reeling the Liars in' which reminds me of early Leonard Cohen style folk music containing dark lyrics like "We are reeling the liars in, We are removing their face, collecting their skin, we are reeling the liars in" that paint pictures in your mind.
Then there's 'You fucking people make me sick', a melodic twisted ditty featuring the addition of haunting duet vocals from gira's daughter and suddenly cutting to a percussive section that seems to be made up of the repetition of a rumbling Kettle drum which then triggers off the texture of rumbling low Piano keys.

I recently read an interview where Michael Gira stated that after he wrote and recorded 'Eden prison'  He discovered that ironically  there was a prison called Mt Eden Prison in Auckland, New Zealand that seemed to fit the description of his lyrics.
Swans - 'Eden Prison' by theQuietus
Upon this album's release, I was excited to discover that the Swans will be playing at Auckland's Power Station on 6 March 2011.  Ironically when the Swans play that show, they will be performing only a few hundred meters from the walls of the previously mentioned song's name sake. 

For those unfamiliar with the Swans, I'd recommend 'My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky' to anyone who likes dark experimental Metal like Neurosis or early/mid 90s era Nick Cave ('Henry's Dream' in particular). For those who are familiar with them, imagine a cross of each part of Swans musical career (i.e. the very Early brutal slabs of noise, the mid era folk styles and the later era experimentation with repetitive rythims) but played by the Bad seeds. 
10 out of 10 Fishhooks through the eye sockets

For a taste of the Swans live, the below Youtube link is of the current Swans line up performing a rendition of the 'Greed/Holy Money' era (Mid 80s) song 'I Crawled'.