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Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 New Zealand Roundup - BulletBelt, Nullifier, Blood of the Moon, Bölzer and Forsaken Age

Following are New Zealand Metal releases from 2012 that have left a mark on me. For one reason or another I haven’t had the opportunity to write proper reviews for during the year, so here are brief notes and reasons for you to get excited about them. I will do another 2012 roundup for international releases in the early days of 2013, but as local releases get priority around here you get this on new years eve!

BulletBelt - Down In The Cold Of The Grave

I’d describe the music of ‘BulletBelt’ as ‘Stadium Black Metal’ with the attitude of Motorhead, or as being the opposite of what Dark Throne stated black metal should and should not be in the early 90s i.e. BulletBelt are a fun live black metal band that you can jump around and have good time to. 
BulletBelt have gone all out with ‘Down in the Cold of the Grave’! The production is clean, powerful and punchy. The songs all kick ass both in their writing and performance. And of course you can’t go past the incredible cover art by the highly talented Nick Keller. In other words it’s a solid kiwi metal release that you have no excuse not to own.
If I were to give some constructive criticism on what I though could strengthen the album even more, it would be to suggest that the rest of the back consider providing backing vocals to accent or reinforce choruses such as in the title track and the cover of 80s kiwi anthem ‘Mistaken Identity’ by ‘No Tag’
‘Down in the Cold of the Grave’ really deserves a much more in depth review than what I’m giving it here, but I’ll make up for that soon with a detailed interview with the band. 
‘Down in the Cold of the Grave’ can be obtained directly from BulletBelt’s own label ‘Headless Horseman’ 

Nullifier - Silent Destruction

Nullifier have been around the traps in Auckland for a while playing their well executed style of technical Death Thrash. ‘Silent Destruction’ is their no frills raw debut recording. It captures the band how they are and lets their music shines through. The songs ‘Species to be Regretted’ and ‘Desire And Torment’ stand out to me particularly because of their interesting melodies and unique sounding choruses. The are a direction which I hope Nullifier continues to head in. My only gripe about this recording is that the production sounds quite rough and rushed which is something I actually normally like. For a technical thrash band like Nullifier though they would benefit from a clearer production that would allow all of the flourishes to shine through. Still this is a solid debut!  
‘Silent Destruction’ is available through Headless Horseman.

Blood of the Moon - MMXII demo
Black Metal intense as balls being crushed in a high speed concrete mixer. MMXII contains three tracks, an instrumental ‘Intro’, ‘Conquered and Forgotten’ and ‘Desecrate Upon Thee’. All are fused together to create the illusion of them being one piece of continuous music. The pro-production from Jason Hislop give the release rounded clear but raw sound with one of the best bass tones and powerful drums. Well worth obtaining! I think this is completely sold out, but you can try your luck by contacting the band directly HERE

Bölzer - Roman Acupuncture - demo
Cassette version of 'Roman Acupuncture'
Bölzer are the honourary New Zealanders here. They are the new Swiss band of ex-pat New Zealander Okoi Jones (or ‘KzR’ as he’s known here), who was the former mainman of anti-Christchurch band ‘Aphelon’(of which also spawned Diocletian and Witchrist drummer Cam Sinclair). The 3 ‘Roman Acupuncture’ has already gained the band a decent amount of international underground exposure. Listening to the demo it’s not hard to see why. Bölzer have created their own original form of Black Frost Death Metal! With only two members (KzR on Gat and Vox and HzR on drums) the Bölzer sound features some of the most unique and dark rhythms and chord tones I’ve heard in metal to date. What’s even more exciting is that since this recording has been released they have put out this incredible new advanced track from an upcoming EP:

Headless Horseman still has CD and Cassette copies of ‘Roman Acupuncture’ for sale but get in now:

Forsaken Age - Back from Extinction
Forsaken Age are one of a growing number of bands appearing around New Zealand that play old school 80s style Heavy Metal. ‘Back from Extinction’ their debut, is nothing short of a rocking and fun listen full of anthemic homages to the gods of Heavy Metal. My preference is to see them in the live environment with a few brews under my belt as they play alongside scene mates Stormforge, Hedonic and Stone Monarch. ‘Back from Extinction’ is the ideal souvenir to take from a Forsaken Age show. But you still need to be there.

Note: There have also been 2012 releases from Open Tomb, Meth Drinker, Anno Domini Mortus and Razorwyre. I will be featuring reviews of these along with interviews with said bands in early 2013.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Exordium Mors Interview

A few months ago I wrote this review of an advanced copy of  the 'Sacrifice, Perish & Demise' EP by Auckland black death thrash band Exordum Mors. That EP has since been officially released by NZ based label Hells Vomit Productions so I thought is would be time to send some interview questions that band's way.  They quickly responded with the following...

1) For the benefit of those who don’t know about Exordium Mors could you please give a brief rundown of the bands history.

Black Mortum: Exordium Mors was formed in 2004. Me and Santi were introduced at a underground metal gig out in a garage in South Auckland by our first bass player Adam (RIP). That was a pretty awesome show with about 8 bands headlined by Dawn of Azazel back in their brutal war metal days.

We jammed and it clicked from the very beginning that we were going to be fast and violent metal that would rip faces off. That is what Exordium Mors is and always will be.

We recruited Martin Cavanagh (ex-Dawn of Azazel, ex-Forced to Submit and ex-Skuldom) who drummed for us for about 6 months. But once he joined Dawn he had to leave as they had quite a lot on their plates with touring / recording.

We recruited Adam and Pete in 2004 on drums and bass respectively. I was jamming with them at the time as a separate band “Apokalyptik Goat Messiah”. They had heard me and Santi jam one day and in a couple of weeks they asked to join. We recruited Scourge shortly after in 2005. This was the initial full line up of Exordium Mors and so the whirlwind of lineup changes begins. 

Adam and Pete left after Serva Ad Mors (our first demo recording) in 2006 - 2007, we then recruited Pierre and Kurt after some years of looking around for musicians. This lineup recorded the Verus Hostis – A Hymn to Fire 7” EP in 2009. Pierre and Kurt left after a year or so.

Our rhythm section constantly changed. Many came and left as you can see in the bio on our website but the ones above were the notable members.

It is very difficult to find musicians in NZ who play this sort of music and are committed enough to carry the flame.

We always wrote music (us being Me, Scourge and Santi) but due to line up changes it took awhile to get the music we were writing recorded and out for all metal maniacs to listen to - hence why our new EP “Sacrifice Perish and Demise” has tracks that were written in 2004! It wasn’t till Assailant (who was a friend from the legendary thrash / heavy metal band Heavy Artillery) and Hades (who we saw playing with death metal destroyers Hackmessah) were recruited that we have had a stable line up.
Hades - Photographer / Editing: Cerulean Sin — at The Kings Arms
This is the line up that we had longed for all these years! Solid musicians with experience, skill and dedication to their craft and to the band. Each bringing in their own creative input to the band.

Watch out for the next year as we will finally be recording and releasing material that has been in the making for many years. Parts that have been rewritten countless times to make sure it flowed the right way. Many rich melodies yet not losing the over the top violence of real extreme music. The Apotheosis of Death will rip your face off. 

The live arena is where I believe we shine the most! You will see that we will be doing more shows internationally in the coming years so watch out! Exordium Mors may be decimating the stage in your country soon. 
Black Mortum - Photographer / Editing: Cerulean Sin — at The Kings Arms.
2) For your forthcoming debut album you have a 30 minute long song called The Apotheosis of Death. Could you please tell us a bit about that?

Scourge: Firstly, the song is divided into 6 'parts' which can be played stand-alone (we have done this live on several occasions) or as one (which we did for the Auckland show when we supported Impiety on their 2012 tour in NZ). This was intentional as we wanted the songs to sound good on their own but stronger as an overall piece. 

Lyrically, as always I write my songs with two-fold, sometimes even three-fold meanings but I would like the audience to interpret them however which way they'd like. Suffice to say, it's a savage track with themes of vengeance, iconoclasm, chaos (and the order thereof) and immortality.

Santi: Aside from being a Metalhead, I'm also a fan of 70s prog rock and the idea of creating a song comprised of 6 separate songs (that as Scourge said are songs in their own right and can be played on their own) that form into one was inspired by hymns like "Supper's Ready" by Genesis, "Tarkus" by ELP, "2112" by Rush and on the Metal side of things "Conqueror of Fear" by Order From Chaos.

Those first 3 songs that I mentioned each clock in at about the 20 min. mark and have certain melodies / themes that are central to the song which recurs every now and again. Once we record "Apotheosis of Death" in its entirety and you have a listen, you'll notice that there are certain riffs that are repeated in various parts of the song - sometimes instantly recognizable and at other times in a slightly different arrangement.

I wanted to do something similar, albeit in a Metal context, with all the complexities and continuity that those great 70s prog songs had.

Now just to make it clear, it wasn't just myself who wrote this. We all contributed riffs, ideas and arrangements.’
Assailant and Santi -Photographer / Editing: Cerulean Sin — at The Kings Arms.
3) Could you tell us a bit more about the album itself? What else will be on it? How will the music compare to the “Sacrifice...” ep? When can we expect to see it released? Will it have bad assed cover art again? If so what?

Scourge: The album will have 3-4 other tracks on there. We are still in the process of writing these, with one recently being completed. The music will likely be more technical than the 'Sacrifice, Perish and Demise' EP - mainly due to the fact that two of the songs on that EP were written at an early stage of the band. We are looking to record and have it released next year. The artwork will have continuality and only rough ideas have been formed at this stage but if you have seen Nick Keller's other work (, it will be nothing short of astounding. 

Black Mortum: The album will be huge step up for us musically and recording it is going to be quite a task but we are all looking forward to it. We will have Alex who recorded our last 2 releases working with us again at his new studio. 

It will have a range of material that we have written over the years and also brand new tracks that are still being worked on at the moment. We tend to write long songs so I would say the release will have to be on a double LP as we’re already at the point where it’s passing 40 minutes.

If you would like a sample of what's to come, we have a live video online from a local show we played recently where we play “Primordial Inversion Evolution” from the “Serva Ad Mors” demo and the second half being “Unto the Lightning Swords of Conquest” which is one of the songs in the Apotheosis of Death epic.

You can watch this here:- 

4) You played the Siamese True Metal Fest 2011 in Thailand? How did that go for you? How do Thai audiences compare to NZ ones?

Scourge: Fucking great! The crowd, the atmosphere - everything about it was Metal in it’s fanatically glory. Besides the obvious population difference between audiences, they were just as rabid as NZ ones - I would say even more so. Every attendee was a diehard and only there for the music and not there for some pathetic scene points or just because their friend was playing there. We look forward to playing there and the rest of Southeast Asia in future.

Black Mortum: This gig was an honour for us to play and a great experience in Thailand! Playing with bands that we have been fans of for years! The Mighty Impiety and Surrender of Divinity! And further gaining allies in destruction by meeting other bands who were playing/attending the show like Draconis Infernum and the Battlestorm / Imperial Tyrants legions! It was a truly Metal as fuck show just the way we like it!

5) Tell us everything you think we need to know about your ‘Sacrifice, Perish and Demise’ EP, including the artwork, label release, the music featured any who should obtain it.

Scourge: The artwork was done by the masterful Nick Keller. It represents the lyrics in full and foreshadows what to expect in the 'Apotheosis of Death' both lyrically and art-wise. Hells' Vomit has released the CD version and the Cassette version will be available soon through Iron, Blood & Death Corp. There are also iTunes, Amazon and a whole host of other websites to download it from. You can also listen to it for free through Spotify.

The music featured on it is nothing less than explosive, vicious Black/Thrash. Lyrically it represents the title of the EP with various themes of 'Sacrifice, Perish and Demise'. Anybody that likes fast, rabid, non-trendy Metal should hear this and own it - especially before the 'Apotheosis of Death' is unleashed. 
6) What’s happening in this picture?

Band: Rape.

7) Of the 5 members of Exordium Mors; Black Mortum is Malaysian Indian, Santi is Filipino, Scourge is Part NZ European/part Filipino, whilst Assailant and Hades are pure NZ Palangi. Was this intentional or coincidental? How do you think each band member’s ethnic and cultural background contributes to the creativity and energy of the band?

Scourge: With New Zealand, Auckland especially being a melting pot of different cultures it was purely coincidental that this line-up was obtained. I don't believe it plays much of a part in our music other than us being more open-minded when looking at various Metal bands from around the world. I think that it can be easy for people just to focus on the American or European centres for Metal but South East Asia, South America and other obscure countries have great Metal bands/scenes. 

8) What are the lyrical themes covered in the music of Exordium Mors? Why have you chosen these? Give us some key examples from songs.

Scourge: At the time that I joined the band I did not see or hear of any bands that had a strong Hellenistic/Ancient Roman themes and being strongly influenced by a time where Judeo-Christianity either a) didn’t exist or b) was outlawed, persecuted or ridiculed; I gravitated to building lyrics around this period.

The music is very complex, so in order to make up for my musically inability I decided to make this up lyrically and hence why my lyrics are also quite deep and complex. I tend to blend Nietzsche philosophy, Satanism, Ancient Roman/Pagan themes with my own personal philosophies and emotions. This is why the lyrics are so complex and can be read in more than one way. It also separates us from bands like Kawir or Nile who focus purely on the historical/mythological times of this period. Not that there is anything wrong with that (being a big fan of both bands) however I believe it is important to have your own philosophies and outlook portrayed in your lyrics and for your lyrics to have some meaning to yourself as well as to your audience.
Scourge - Photographer / Editing: Cerulean Sin — at The Kings Arms.
Although I like the reader to interpret their own vision of my lyrics I will give you two key examples of this:
Firstly the song 'Unleash Prometheus' taken from the 7" EP 'Verus Hostis - A Hymn to Fire'. This song can be related to the Titan Prometheus who defied the Gods and brought fire to mankind and therefore knowledge and self-sufficiency and of course was duly (and unfairly) punished. In this I relate Prometheus to myself and extend it to all others who have felt downtrodden, defeated and betrayed. The song goes on to say that through eternal struggle, one can break the chains of servitude, rise above and defeat those who seek to keep you down. This can be metaphysically or physically through one's own demons or literally other persons. This is true strength and for those that attain it should be forever hailed. Furthermore, it can be related to those who seek true knowledge and will not let society or any particular person keep them in the dark even if it means punishment and being the outcast, the rebel. "Better to die on your feet, than live on your knees" comes to mind.

Secondly the song 'Ancestors' Call' taken from our latest EP 'Sacrifice, Perish and Demise'. This song relates to the Ancient Roman practice of Ancestor Worship but also it is a song about how I view the dead if they were able to see the living (I do not believe in an afterlife), how they would react seeing their descendants waste their lives. This song is very much rooted in today's society in which I see my generation waste their lives in endless pursuits of hedonism rather than pursuing a path of knowledge. Let me be clear though, I am not advocating a life of straight-edgeism or holiness or even academic pursuits. I am merely stating that people are more concerned with partying rather than with seeking ways to benefit themselves, society and indeed the future. We are given one life to make our mark on history and I feel that my generation has wasted their opportunity. 

9) Scourge has recently put out the “Axiom of the Elite” ‘zine and compilation CD. For those that don’t know what is this? Why did you decide to put it out? How can people get hold of it? 

Scourge: This is a ‘zine dedicated to the New Zealand Underground Metal scene featuring bands that are lesser known/unknown on the international stage. The reasons for putting this out are outlined in the foreword of the 'zine but basically it was to give opportunity for these bands to be better promoted/heard overseas. I am currently out of stock for now, but check the Facebook link as all distributors will be updated there shortly.

10) What is Chaos NZ? How are Exordium Mors connected to it?

Black Mortum: Chaos NZ is a Metal promotions company that Santi and I along with Lee and Chrissy from Forsaken Age started with the sole purpose of getting more metal shows happening in NZ. At the moment there are four of us: Me, Santi, Lee and Allan from Nullifier. We have been bringing over some great metal acts in the last 2 years! Some of the more well-known ones being Absu, Impiety and Inquisition so far. Alongside Marduk in January, 2013 will see a lot more international Metal bands reaching our shores so keep your eyes peeled! We also put on many underground shows here with our local acts. 

11) Any last comments?

Band: Be forewarned as this pestilent plague of violence is set to raze, ruin and conquer the globe. We will triumphantly stand ablaze upon the corpse of your cities within the coming year and beyond! Abandon all hope before the Apotheosis of Death! 666!
Photographer / Editing: Cerulean Sin — at The Kings Arms.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: Drug Honkey - Ghost in the Fire

Wherever possible, I aim to avoid using genres and bands to try and describe the music that I review. Instead, I attempt to use descriptive wording to try and recreate a mental picture of what the band or artist’s music might sound like. In the case of 'Drug Honkey - Ghost in the Fire' two thoughts initially came to mind:

1) A few years ago I took some acid that, unknown to me, had been quadruple dipped i.e. it was insanely strong! The result was an experience that I would compare to having my brain put in a washing machine, whilst struggling to make sense of my thoughts and surroundings for the best part of 12 hours. Conversations would go off on tangents mid-stream, never returning to their point of origin, as it couldn't be recalled. Unknown sounds and noises manifested from places beyond would randomly appear and disappear never to be repeated. It was a total head fuck! This experience is probably why I am the way I am now!

2) When I was a kid I used to have recurring nightmares of creatures with razor sharp teeth biting into my rib cage and legs. I also had similar dreams where instead of teeth they were machines with 6-inch metal spikes doing the same thing. The sensation was so real that I’d often feel the physical pain fading away once I woke up.

Now, if you can imagine both of those things slowed by 90%, thrown together in a concrete mixer, along with even measures of sludge and distortion, you’ll get a pretty good idea of what to expect from Drug Honkey - ‘Ghost in the Fire’.

Notable points on this album include the band’s organic take on “Twitcher” by Scorn, and the third track ‘Weight of the World’ with it’s chorus chant of “This knowledge makes you strong...”
If there was something I’d like to hear Drug Honkey do to enhance their sound, it would be for them to create more twisted, disturbing lyrics and then deliver them as manic yet decipherable as possible. This would compliment the music perfectly.

In saying that, the vocals on ‘Ghost in the Fire’ do compliment the music in a different way. That is, they are varied and come from a smorgasbord of different voices throughout the album - much like the sounds and instrumentation. There is always something going on in the music that you can’t quite identify, making the music of ‘Drug Honkey’ all the more interesting to listen to.

Check out Drug Honkey on Facebook to find out how to get hold of 'Ghost in the Fire'.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cineploit Records

Cineploit is a new label by former Pungent Stench drummer Alex Wank, who while pummeling the skins in that band for the past two decades has also been a movie and soundtrack collector. The focus of Cineploit is to release music (on 180g vinyl and CD) inspired by and for lovers of soundtrack music especially Italian and European Cinema of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. 
It’s first two releases, which I’ve had the fortune to listen to are by THELEMA and MALABIMBA.
Effectively these albums are soundtracks to movies that exist only in the artists heads and by listening to them you are left to interpret what those movies might in your own. I’ll therefore attempt to review Cineploit Records first two releases by describing the movies that appear in my mind when I listen to them.


A quick google search shows that “MalaBimba” is the title of a 1979 Italian horror/soft porn movie. I haven’t seen it so I’m going to go with my imagined version. The album cover features a small child stabbing a teddy bear through the top of the head with a bread knife. This sets the scene for a twisted B grade slasher/cannibal flick with a minimalist score featuring drums and 70s style analogue keyboards. Like a stripped back Goblin without guitars.

The film kicks off with the creepy laid back jingle of “Meta Strada 1” which is followed by the 70’s cop show theme styled “Meta Strada 2”. Both of which allow us to establish that MalaBimba is set during 1974 in an isolated country town somewhere in Italy, where there is only one remaining cop. 

I did find the scene, set to the goofy ‘Addormentato’ (then leading into the more dramatic tones of ‘Addormentato 2’) to be very effective. In his teenage years, our main character seeks revenge on his over domineering grandmother by graphically forcing, base first, an entire dial telephone up her ass. However, I think that the director and producer should have chosen clever editing and sound effects to replicate this, rather than blowing a good chunk of the movie’s budget to hire an Anal Contortionist to carry out the stunt. As he grows up, our lead antagonist then goes on his sick and twisted psycho sexual rampage through the small Italian town, whilst evading (and eventually beheading) the local cop to the sounds of ‘Diventare Adulto’, ‘L’Ultimo Poliziotto’ and ‘La Violenza’ among others.

This is a solid first effort, but I would like to hear this duo expand instrumentally. Funk bass, jazz trumpets and the odd gong or kettle drum wouldn’t go amiss here. Perhaps in future movies, if the director and producer channel their budgets towards the soundtrack (rather than international casting calls for practitioners in the dark arts of Anal Contortion), it will allow them to expand musically into these and ‘other’ areas.

For now though this stripped back approach works to the movie’s stark advantage. Particularly in the final scene, where in what we assume (hope?) is a dream sequence, the lead gets his just deserts when a giant replica of his tortured childhood Teddy bear gets his revenge by ramming a fence post through the top of his skull. All of which is set to the sound of the rather groovy and up tempo ‘Senza Disciplinare (Qui Finisce Male)’.

THELEMA - Hearing the Light

“Hearing the Light” is the lost David Lynch movie where all the dialogue was spoken by the actors backward in German. All of its Characters are unlikeable and fortunately die slow & agonising, well deserved deaths. That is, except for the faceless antagonist featured on the album cover, who whilst appearing nasty, seems to be more human and likeable than any of his victims.

From the brooding hypnotic nightmare opening sequence of “Close your eyes and See”, “Hearing the Light” is almost entirely cold and grey. However, “You will not get that so fast” brings about a slightly lighter tone with a female vocal being introduced to signify springtime and the main character’s new love interest. This soon becomes pointless though, as she is slowly frozen to death whilst ice skating naked the following winter (after a summer that never arrived) during a lovemaking scene gone wrong. This is depicted in the track “Grey evening” with it’s morbid rock lead guitar tones and hammond grimness. Later, there are dying hints of warmth attempting to push through, as her isolated, trapped and fading ghost returns during the track “Still hearing the Light” and for one last gasp in the epilogue “A light reprise”.

“Hearing the Light” is the sound of 1950s Film Noir, blended amongst modern ambient lounge music trappings. It comes from a world where there are always dark clouds blocking out the sun, no one ever smiles yet can seek the courage to slit their own wrists. 

Next from Cineploit 
Three more albums from Cineploit have already been released. They are ZOLTAN – “First Stage Zoltan” ORGASMO SONORE – Revisiting obscure film music vol. 2 and SOSPETTO – Segni Misteriosi, con il sangue dipinto sul muro. Also released are two limited edition splatter vinyl 7”s by ‘Omaggio’ (Alain Leonard and Alex Wank) which are tributes to ‘Lucio Fulci’ and ‘Joe D’Amato’ You can go and check out all of these including the albums reviewed here by going to

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Double "Doom Cult" reviews: Witchrist and Diocletian

Witchrist - The Grand Tormentor (Osmose Productions)

Unlike previous ‘Doom Cult’ releases, ‘The Grand Tormentor’, which is the first Witchrist release on Osmose Productions, has an instantaneous appeal. I found myself nodding my head to it from the first listen on my car stereo. In the past I’ve found them (recordings from the Doom Cult) to be slow growers. Where the previous Witchrist album ‘Beheaded Ouroboros’ was more a barrage of unrelenting war chaos, ‘The Grand Tormentor’ is like of a dirty ‘Immolation’, an ‘Incantation’ that’s been living rough for a few weeks without Clean clothes or a shower, or maybe even a ‘Disma’ that’s staggered out of the Megalith covered in coal dust and the rolled in a rotting goat carcass and then in dust before showing up at home and been told piss off outside until it’s squirted down with a high powered hose.

From start to finish the album flows nicely. The opening tune ''Into the Arms of Yama' is a nine minute building doom epic which eventually (around minute 6) breaks into death metal aggression. This simplistic yet brutal Neanderthal assault continues in song number 2, the  title tune, and again in ‘Meditation for Sacrifice’ which then progresses down into doom dirge. This is followed by ‘Wasteland of Thataka’ which at 1:36 is the shortest blast of hatred on the release. That hatred is blasted again in an extended barrage on 'Exile'. ‘The Tomb’ opens with a taste of ‘Autopsy’ and early ‘Pungent Stench’ styled slow dirge riffs with hammer on hammer off tails which progresses into an intense up-tempo rhythm that continues into ‘Tandava’, then to the catchy fist pumper that is ‘Cast into Fire’. Album closer ‘Funeral Lotus’ wraps things up in much the same way it started with an epic nine minute doom number.

Special comment must be given to the drum sound. Rather than the modern death metal triggered drum sound which to my ears sounds like a cross between a Geiger counter and someone farting loudly on a plastic chair, you can actually feel the low rumble of the kick drums more than you can hear them (although you can still clearly hear them), Which in my view is how they are supposed to be. Additionally the vocals sit in the music as more of an accompanying instrumental texture rather than dominating growls, this compliments the album nicely.

This sits up with “Kill this Fucking World” by Skuldom and “Opus One” by Sinistrous Diabolus as a kvlt classic NZ underground metal release. If you don’t have it yet get it now you Kvnts!

Diocletian - Annihilation Rituals (Osmose Productions)
‘Annihilation Rituals’, The first Diocletian release on Osmose productions, is a compilation album featuring the almost* complete chronological discography of every release prior to the ‘Doom Cult’ album. This includes ‘Demo I’, the ‘Decimator’ mini album, the ‘Chaos Rising’ side of the split LP with ‘Denouncement Pyre’ and the ‘Sect of Swords’ 7” ep. I have most of these releases already, but it really is good and enlightening to be able to listen to all of this in one sitting. It’s also timely as it captures every release featuring the vocals and lead guitar of Logan Muir up until he departed from the band the first time around and sets the scene for his recent returned on bass and lead vocals.
Although this isn’t new music I’d have to say that it’s my favourite Diocletian release, as there are some really powerful and varied songs featured. Particularly on the opening tracks from the first demo, the only thing I previously didn’t own by the band, which shows why Diocletian were hot property in the underground Metal scene when it came out in 2005. I’d go as far as saying that although some of the official studio recordings of the demo tracks featured later on ‘Annihilation Rituals’ are strong, that these early versions stand out as being superior in their raw chaotic forms. In saying that though, I do have a soft spot for the extended Outro on the “Chaos Rising” Version of “Doom Cult”. In a chat conversation I had with Atrociter/B. Southwell (Guitar) some time ago he mentioned that among other things they were looking back at ‘Demo I’ as a guide for the direction they wanted future material to be like. I wonder what this will mean? 

Next to the demo tracks, two other titles stand out for me. These are “Master/Enslaver” from Decimator and “Gesundrian” from the Denouncement Pyre split. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first being that unlike other Diocletian material they are based around effective, simplistic, intense tension building melodies (If “melody” is the right word to use) and the second being that this is a musical concept that they don’t seem to have revisited in later material. I do note that both tunes get a second rendition on the upcoming/imminent Weregoat split which will be interesting to check out. 

As with ‘Witchrist - The Grand Tormentor’ , the mastering on ‘Annihilation Rituals’ by Cam S (Skin pounder for both Diocletian and Witchrist) brings a consistency and brings the best out of everything.
Also a special note must also be made of the excellent job Logan Muir has done as graphic artist on the layout of this release, as he also did for the recent vinyl releases of the ‘War Of All Against All’ album. 

This is an essential release for anyone yet to check out Diocletian, is wanting to plug gaps in their collection, or who just wants to listen to it’s entire content without having to get up and change records every few minutes. Get now Kvnts!

*The cover of “All that Remains” Bolt Thrower from “Decimator” is not included here.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

3 Flavours Of Doom: Reviews of Rituals of the Oak, Arc Of Ascent and Inverloch

Following are reviews of what in my opinion are 3 of the strongest releases inside and out side of the Doom Metal sub-genre for 2012. Each are completely unique within that sub genre and are deserving of their own sub doom sub-genre titles if other sheep were to choose to follow them....

Rituals Of The Oak - Come Taste The Doom (Eyes Like Snow)

My best attempt to describe the sound of Sydney’s ‘Rituals of the Oak’ is to suggest trying to imagine the Candlemass ‘Epicus doomicus metallicus’ album but with powerful almost celtic female vocals and a twist of John Christ flavour. But that description still doesn’t do them any justice as they really have a sound of their own.
‘Come Taste The Doom’ is the second Rituals album and it shows a decent advancement in both production and song quality to its predecessor ‘Hour of Judgement’. Strong songs with memorable Heavy Riffs and a clear powerful production are what make this 
The personal stand out tune for me is track 2 “The Horla” with its huge heavy headbanging main riff. Second stand out is the closing track “All Wells Are Poisoned” with its strong chorus echoing a sense of hopelessness for the human race. 
I can’t really write a review of this without making space for a special mention of the lead vocals of Sabine Hammered. Without these Ritals of the Oak wouldn’t sound as unique as it does and on the crescendo of “Serpentine Toungues” her vocals really get a chance to shine!
To sum up this release, if you like doom and if you want t hear something new that’s both different and good get ‘Come Taste The Doom’
You can get pretty much everything from ‘Rituals of the Oak’ HERE 

Arc of Ascent - The Higher Key (Astral Projection)

Imagine if Electric Wizard’s creative inspiration moved from Black Sabbath, and an overindulgence in every mind fucking drug under the face of the sun, onto Hawkwind and transcendental meditation. Instead of murky, heavy, not quite defined sludge with a rhythmic groove, you would get a ride through the cosmos with incredible clarity and the ability to sense everything separately, but all together at the same time. The result would be something that sounds very much like ‘The Higher Key’. 

Of all six almost equally strong tracks on the album “Land of Tides” seems to be the crowd favourite with its memorable sing along chorus. However my personal highlight is “Elemental Kingdom” with its psychedelic monk chant chorus, eastern sounding melody & rhythm and Citar like intro. ”Elemental Kingdom” seems to be the most adventurous and outgoing track. I wonder what AoA might sound like in the future if they were to keep heading in this direction?
Craig’s voice seems all the more strongly enhanced with well thought out harmonies and strategically placed backing vocals. His bass and John’s drums also sound perfect and can be heard clearly in the mix. I could never understand why Craig chose to replace Matt Cole-Baker with Sandy Schaare on Guitar. But on this album his reasons finally make sense. It’s Sandy’s guitar playing that shines and takes AoA up another level on “The Higher Key”. When he’s playing the heavy riffs it’s as heavy as all hell, but when he’s soloing or otherwise, it floats around through time and space as though it’s as light as a feather. 

In comparison the AoA debut album “Circle of the Sun”, whilst an awesome release, sounded more like early “Earache” bands playing Stoner Doom. “The Higher Key” has what “Circle of the Sun” was missing. It’s riffs seem more straightforward and basic yet are somehow more engaging, interesting and with more feeling. These guys are starting to get a bit more international attention paid to them and it’s completely deserved.

Get the digital album HERE or contact the band directly HERE  to find out how to get hold of a physical version. Do it!

Inverloch - Dusk - Subside (Relapse)

Inside the cover of the legendary Disembowelment - Transcendence Into the Peripheral album is an unidentified quote which reads “for we shall not pass this way again”. The question then that one would have to ask when listening to ‘Dusk-Subside’ is“Have they passed that way again?”
There are a few signature aspects of Inverloch sound which are clearly a part of the Disembowelment heritage. Such as heavily reverbed and delayed clean guitar strings which seem to tie this release together and of course slow grinding heavy riffs. But there are also some key differences which are different to that release such as the clarity in sound, playing and production. There less analogue chaos on ‘Dusk-Subside’ which in a way leaves less to the imagination but creates a more direct picture of the music in your mind. 

Song number one “Within Frozen Beauty” is a faster composition with the occasional nod to early 90s death grind such as Bolt Thrower. While the second track “The Menin Road” is closer to the Death doom of Disembowelment. Song Three “Shadows of the Flame” is almost a blend of the concepts used in the first two tracks. All three are solid tracks and are worthy of the bands introduction to the realm of recorded music. 
The main criticism I’ve read about this release is “it’s only 3 Songs”, which I’d have to agree with, I’m wanting to hear more! The “Dusk - Subside” listening experience is over too early and feels like a mere taster.

Have Inverloch passed the way of disembowelment again? My answer is “No”. This is a new band with traces of its past laced into the sound. Whilst I was skeptical at first, I applaud Inverloch for making the bold change from the d.usk name so as to make that separate distinction from Disembowelment. They have however crossed an intersection in highway of their predecessors. But they are headed off on an overgrown dirt side road through a darkened forest, much liked that featured on the EP cover. Dusk-Subside contains the fruits from only the beginning of this new journey. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

NASUM Interview

Thanks heaps to Ami of The Mighty Scoop for hooking up this interview and also to Jesper and Anders of NASUM for taking the time to answer these questions.  NASUM will be playing in Auckland later this month (See below poster for details), so if you live in New Zealand and are thinking of going, don't waste this one time opportunity to catch this awesome band got get your tickets ASAP!!!
1) You are playing in New Zealand for the first time this year (21 August 2012), what are your expectations of that show and your visit? What can the audience expect from your Live performance?
Jesper: Well, uh, a bunch of really fast music very loud? You know, what we do isn’t anything that hasn’t been done before – it’s five guys who scream and make a hell of a lot of noise whilst engaging in on-stage frenzy. I guess as with all live brutal music, it’s about being there in the moment and being sucked into the energy that comes out of the performance, for band as well as audience. Nothing I verbally try to describe will do the shows any justice, you just have to be there. Nasum has a big bank of songs, and on these shows we’re playing our best stuff and pushing the envelope a bit further, making everything harder, faster and more frantic than we thought we could. As this is a farewell tour, we have this last chance to prove that Nasum is and always was non-compromising, oppositional and deadly serious about grindcore. Also, going to NZ is obviously special for us – it’s close to Antarctica for fuck’s sake! Antartica is definitely a grindcore continent. Also, Ulcerate will open for us. Gotta love Ulcerate. Hopefully there will be a local grind band on the bill too.
Anders: The question is: what can we expect from the audience? If I don’t see one Orch stagediving, I will be very disappointed!

2) Your website has a gallery of peoples Nasum Tattoos and mentions that you have seen a lot more since you’ve been on the Farewell tour. What other unique things have you experienced on the tour? Please describe a few highlights.
Jesper: Well, it’s a bit like coming home from the war I guess. The band has been away for a long time, and just like coming home after a long time you don’t really know how things have changed. We knew there was some anticipation, but that it would be like this was overwhelming. How much Nasum has meant to people kinda took us off guard, and the lengths at which people go to see this is humbling. In LA, there was an entire family – mom, dad, two sons and a daughter - who had all travelled from Peru to see us. In a Czech fest we played there were a bunch of grind dudes from Saudi Arabia who knew everything about the band and had travelled there to see us. Stuff like that. Also, the sheer energy in the crowd at some of these gigs is pretty massive too. Can you imagine looking out over a hall at the Maryland Deathfest filled with of 3000+ people and every single person is moshing like mad. Or standing at Hellfest in France playing grindcore – this underground thing – in front of 10000 people? Insane. I am baffled every time. We never experienced shows like this before.
Anders: Although the huge stages and massive crowds are good for the ego, it’s the little things that stays in my memory. Like when we played a bar in Ventura, California. When we got there I was almost angry at the size of the venue. I thought: “Why have we been booked to a place where you have to set up your stuff on the sidewalk OUTSIDE of the club as there is virtually no space inside?” But after wolfing down a few pizza slices in the kitchen and seeing some of support bands go mental, our show turned out to be one of the most intimate and crazy things I’ve done. It was one hundredth the size of the crowd at Hellfest but very fun.
3) How did you make the choice to have Keijo Niinimaa from Rotten Sound on vocals for the Farewell tour? How is he working out? What was the main reason for a farewell tour?
Jesper: We fumbled around with a bunch of suggestions that felt so-so for a while, but noone really felt perfect. When we finally actually thought of Keijo it was like ”aw, hell, he is the obvious choice, how did we not think of this immediately?” We wanted the person to fill this role to have a great voice and be an awesome performer of course, but also, importantly, that he would have a closer connection to the band. We’ve all known Keijo for years, his own band Rotten Sound has opened for Nasum on a few tours, and they also recorded in Mieszko’s studio when he was alive. So he was a friend of the band, of Mieszko, he has a great voice and vocal range, and loves Nasum on top of it all. We are obviously happy that he wanted to do it.
Anders: One important thing to notice is that Keijo doesn’t do just Mieszko’s vocals, he does mine as well. On the first two albums I sung a lot, but live it was all covered by Mieszko – so the fact is that Keijo is actually doing something closer to the albums than what Mieszko did back in the day!
Nasum 2012

4) Shane Embury and Barney Greenaway of Napalm Death both cited hearing Nasum, and Inhale/Exhale in particular, as a definite turning point which helped them to rediscover grindcore and thus led to the recording of 2000's acclaimed Enemy of the Music Business.(Terrorizer #140, Spring 2005). I imagine this would be an honour to be referred to in that way by these people, but what do you think Nasum did differently that refreshed the Grindcore sound?
Anders: I believe the history with Napalm Death started with Barney wearing an “Inhale/Exhale” t-shirt in a video. That was unreal! And then we heard the stories and as some point I even heard something about the grindcore-unfriendly Mick Harris though “the band on N was quite good” after receiving a bunch of albums from Relapse, but in all honesty that can very much be a creative memory. Honour isn’t strong enough, it was baffling to realize that the band that inspired us to 90% when the band was formed a) knew about us and b) liked us so much that they claim WE inspired them. It still is quite sick, although we have a friendly relationship today. Anyway: I think there are a few reasons to Nasum’s success: 1) We have always been very serious about our grindcore, from the very beginning. Although some of the early – and late lyrics – perhaps didn’t have that political edge that is so closely connected with the band, we never fooled around too much and especially not with the music! 2) Once we started to add our own touch to the sound, leaving the quite strict form based on our sources of inspiration, we got a clear identity quite fast. We brought groove to grindcore and kept the doors open to other genres solely to pick inspiration, not to turn into some kind of mixtape circus act switching styles within the songs. 3) We put a lot of effort into the vocals and especially the vocal patterns, and thus creating real and memorable songs.
5) Where might Nasum have been today if it weren’t for the tragic death of Mieszko Talarczyk? What might have happened in the 7 years since the 2004 boxing day Tsunami?
Anders: It’s totally impossible to say. In a best case scenario we would be still alive and have another 4-5 records in the catalogue, but in a worst case scenario we would have disbanded by some other reason and never seen the 20th anniversary. Nobody knows. In 2004 we did our first headlining tour of Europe and felt a “break” coming and we had some slight plans to go into the studio and create something spontaneous on the spot, but that was the only plan we had when things went down the shitter.
The Late Mieszko A. Talarczyk
"Mieszko never had the chance to be a hero or a survivor. He most likely died in the first wave.
I do know that the last thing he did was to protect his girlfriend so in my eyes he died as a hero." - Anders

6) Tell us about “Coldworker” and “Burst”. What are they and why should we check them out?
Jesper: Burst was a band that me and my friends started as kids, and which gradually grew from a crusty punk band to a hardcore band to end up as a pretty brooding, progressive metal band. Burst was the reason I had to leave Nasum about a year prior to Mieszko’s death – the band started touring a lot more and grew gradually, and I felt I couldn’t handle two touring bands. As much as I love Nasum and always had, I had to make a choice. We made a bunch of albums and put them out through Relapse Records, and I am thoroughly proud of them. It has nothing to with Nasum or grindcore, rather it is more melodic in the melancholy sense, and slightly more experimental and metallic. Check out ”Origo” or ”Lazarus Bird”.
Anders: Coldworker is my (only) band, that was formed in February 2006 and so far has released three albums. I had about a year off from most musical adventures and eventually started to look around in my hometown for new people to play with. I found a few, and then some more and the ball got rolling quite fast. Coldworker is a death metal band. Someone once described us as “if Cannibal Corpse was from Europe” and that’s a good description. We like the American style of riffing but most certainly have an European edge to our sound. Coldworker hasn’t tour that much and up until now never really been judged on it’s own terms. There are ALWAYS comparisons to Nasum in the reviews, which is totally annoying and unfair as the only connection is me. For more info and samples and stuff, visit

7) Would you ever consider continuing the current line up after the farewell tour, perhaps under a different name? Why?/Why not?
Anders: No. There are many reasons. The biggest one is that we have other bands that more or less waits for the Nasum thing to be over, and we need to get back to “normal life” and continue where we were. Another reasons is that whatever music this new band with same line-up would play, people would scream for Nasum songs and then we’ll just be Nasum under a new name playing Nasum songs and that, if anything, is milking it. So that’s out of the question. I’m not ruling out the possibility that some of us meet again for a project or something, because we play well together, but as of now we will not continue in any shape or form.
8) What is the future of Grind core?
Jesper: Grindcore will probably always exist. I don’t think it could ever be widely popular, but then that isn’t the point. This is a subgenre of a subgenre, and the oppositional nature of grind will probably keep it alive and healthy in the margins of the underground. Three ”new” bands I like are Magrudergrind, Wormrot and Massgrave, and I hope i’ll get new hope for the future when we go to OZ and NZ and see the local supports get jiggy with it.

9) I saw that you played a show (or some shows) with my good friends ‘brutal truth’. How were those guys on stage and in person these days? 
Jesper: They’re awesome. Fuzzy and scuzzy, but awesome and sweet. I can’t believe fucking Brutal Truth (and Dropdead!) opened for us in the US. 
Anders: To be completely frank, they are not “Extreme Conditions…” Brutal Truth anymore, but on the other hand they haven’t been that for a long time. Brutal Truth today is one big “fuck you” finger up the butt on… well, everything. They are super cool though, and Danny Lilker is quite the entertainer. You hardly have a boring time when he’s around.

10) Anything to add in closing?
Anders: Thanks for the support. Early on in this interview you asked about our expectations, and once the tour and show is done we will share our thoughts and if the expectations were met or not, as we have an ongoing tour blog at Check that out, and thanks again for the support!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Open Tomb

Open Tomb are Hamilton NZ based and play Slow Grinding Sludge Doom. Key members include Dane (Drums) and Sean (Gat/Vox) who have both been around forever and played in such underground bands as Gwaj, Sinfeeder, Azazel, and a bunch of others that I can't remember. Their music reminds me of the legendary Grief - Dismal Album (which I incidentally bought off of Sean's distro about 18 years ago) both in sound and in Sean's excellent vocals.
Open Tomb will soon have a split album coming out with Meth Drinker which will feature the first recording new second guitarist Kurt Silva.  In the meantime you can check out their latest demo of sickness by clicking the gaping hole below. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Reviews: Winter Deluge & Exordium Mors

I’ve chosen to review the following two releases together, as they both have several similarities. Both Winter Deluge and Exordium Mors are from the town in which I reside i.e. Auckland, New Zealand; they both play extreme up tempo metal of the blacker variety, but the main reason is because both recordings were done over a year ago and, despite their awesomeness now they have been released, I’ve witnessed both band’s live performances improve vastly since.

Winter Deluge - As The Earth Fades Into Obscurity (CD)

Winter Deluge play aggressive but melodic Black Metal, and ‘As The Earth Fades Into Obscurity’ is a sterling debut effort! My main criticism of this release is that riffs and melodies need to be more prominent either in execution, production or both. There are definitely some incredible riffs, melodies and rhythms in the music but you have to really listen to hear them, as they seem to disappear under an atonal wash. Although as mentioned in the Inquisition live review, it would appear that Winter Deluge have already taken this issue into account and their future music should shine above this. There are however exceptions on ‘As the earth fades...’ though, such as on track 2 ‘Demonic Dweller of Winter Plains’ which is a stand-out tune with its dark, dynamic, evil build up and aggressive riffing, as is the album closer ‘Celestial Renewal’ - final track of awesomeness with its building of multi-layers of tension. ‘The Fragments of Mankind’ piano instrumental demonstrates the song-writing ability and musical talent within Winter Deluge. There is better to come from Winter Deluge, but that shouldn’t stop you tracking this down!

Exordium Mors - Sacrifice, Perish & Demise (Promo CD EP)

Unfortunately this isn’t an official release yet, rather a promo version the band are using to shop to labels. This being the case, you can’t actually obtain this at the moment, but you can check some of it out here:
‘Sacrifice, Perish & Demise’ is high energy, well executed Black Death Thrash featuring incredible “Iron Maiden on speed” melodic dual guitar work from Santi and Black Mortum.
Like a number of recent local heavy releases such as Hereisiarch, Beastwars and soon BulletBelt and Razorwyre, this features the awesome cover artwork Nick Keller (see examples in the above sampler and below).
The three original tunes ‘Sign of Judas Liege’, ‘Ancestors Call’ and ‘Exordium Mors (Pagan Ritual and Sacrifice to Roman Gods)’ are all of equally high strength. It also contains an awesomely well-executed thrash cover of Venom’s ‘Black Metal’. But while Exordium Mors interpretation of Venom is awesome it actually inadvertently serves to highlight the true strength of Exordium Mors’ own material on this release and sounds almost unnecessary; but then EPs are for releasing the sorts of tracks you wouldn’t put on an album. The newer material that I’ve witnessed the band play live is even better! Someone release this now so we can hear the forthcoming full-length album!