(We welcome Comrade Aleks back to NCS with this wide-ranging interview of Michelle Nocon, which delves into her participation in Bathsheba, whose new album is out now on Svart Records, as well as her work with Death Penalty and her solo project Leviathan Speaks. All photos by Burning Moon except where noted.)
Doom band Bathsheba is named after a personage of the Hebrew Bible, the woman of complex fate, “daughter of the oath”. What made this Belgian outfit choose it? Have patience my friend, for soon we’ll learn the answer!
The band was formed by members of a few local death and doom bands in 2013, and its lineup has been the same since then. Raf plays bass, Jelle is the drummer, Dwight plays guitars, and Michelle is the vocalist. Michelle also sang in Gaz Jennings’ Death Penalty, so there were at least two reasons to get in contact with her, as Death Penalty has been silent, and Bathsheba released their debut full-length Servus just in February 2017.
(Wil Cifer delivers to us this interview of Chris Grigg — founder, vocalist, and guitarist of Woe, whose new album Hope Attrition has just been released by Vendetta Records.)
Woe is one of my favorite American Black Metal bands, right along side Liturgy and Nachtmystium, though Woe stuck closer to more conventional metal, even after their move to Brooklyn. With their fourth full-length Hope Attrition, the band continues to plow into fierce territory, blending in flourishes of death metal and hardcore. I recently caught up with main man Chris Grigg to discuss the new album and the state of black metal in America, and the results went something like this.
I heard that in the process of making this album you guys scrapped almost an entire album’s worth of songs in order to settle on what became the final product. What determined what made the cut?
It might not have been a whole album, but pretty close. We got rid of everything that sucked. We just kept reworking the songs and if there was a transition that felt forced, a riff that didn’t feel just right, we scrapped it. We demoed this intensely, so at the end of the day what would be left going into the studio were the best that they could be.
(KevinP brings us another episode in his series of brief interviews, and this time he quizzes guitarist/vocalist Arno Cagna and drummer Dan Mullins of the UK’s Blasphemer, whose self-titled debut album was released in January of this year.)
So you’ve been around 25 years (since 1992) and you just finally got around to releasing your debut album. Amuse us with the explanation why it took that long?
Arno: The band actually formed in 1990. Our first demo was released at the end of 1992. From 1992 to 1995 we released several demos and received positive press in the fanzines of the day. That led on to us receiving 5/5 demo reviews in Terrorizer magazine in the UK in 1994 and then being voted best unsigned band by their readers. So you would have thought our first album would have been released in the 1990s. It wasn’t to be though, as around 1995 the project as Blasphemer was put hold. This was due to an unreleased demo that fell into the hands of a record label.
(KevinP rejoins us with another installment in his short interview series, and his guest this time is guitarist Alex Bouks (ex-Goreaphobia, ex-Incantation), who is now a member of Immolation. Immolation’s superb new album Atonement is out now on Nuclear Blast.)
K: So how does it feel to be the “new guy” even though you’ve been at this death metal thing yourself for almost 30 years?
A: It feels real natural, like I have always been there. We have been friends for almost 30 years so its already family. And musically it is a perfect fit. I feel I have found my home for sure.
(Norway-based NCS contributor Karina Cifuentes brings us this interview with members of the French band Au Champ des Morts, whose new album Dans La Joie we premiered and reviewed here.)
After I listened to the La Jour Se Lève EP last year and then heard an album was in the making, I started anticipating it. Besides, Au Champ des Morts are from France, and I like the French approach to Black Metal.
The new album is really a fine piece of dark art. The anguish and despair of the good old days is totally there. The contrast in the titles is interesting. I really like it! It invites you to take stuff for what it is, the dark and fearful mythology that culminates in the vision of the end of the world. ACdM play a bit with the ironical modern sanitization of religion that is just an attempt to put a nice package around something that actually withholds lots of darkness.
(Austin Weber brings us this premiere of a new music video from Samskaras, along with an interview.)
Last we covered Montreal-based progressive death metal duo Samskaras, the band had just completed a new single, “Red Hill”, and we premiered the lyric video for it alongside an interview with the band’s vocalist, guitarist, and bassist, Eric Burnet (Unburnt, Derelict) in 2014. Just recently, the band dropped Asunder, a fantastic four-song EP, which shows the band experimenting with a lot of new ideas including the integration of tasteful clean singing in some of the songs.
In the spirit of keeping up with artists we’ve covered before, we’re happy to premiere a new music video today for “Fuelscape”. Eric asked if we’d be interested in pairing it with an interview like last time, and this one features some additional answers from their drummer Alexandre Dupras (Teramobil, Unhuman) too.
(KevinP returns to NCS with a new episode of his short-interview series, and this time talks with Achilleas Kalantzis, guitarist of the mind-bending Greek black metal band Aenaon — whose new album Hypnosophy was released late last year — as well as Katavasia and Varathron.)
K: You’ve had some lineup changes for Hypnosophy. What was the impetus and did this affect the sound/direction of the new material?
A: Indeed. Unfortunately it was really hard for Thyragon (bass) to keep up with the band’s schedule and Anax (guitars) had to join the obligatory army service, so we recorded without him (he is still a member now though). On the other hand Orestis was already playing the Sax for us since Extance, so becoming a permanent member wasn’t a big change. Astrous (vocals) and I are usually building the first demos of the songs, so the core of the creational process was the same (no matter the final arrangements). What made a big difference to me was that I also composed and performed the bass guitar. That gave me as a composer the ability to use it in a more prominent way, leading to groovier arrangements.
(Our Norway-based contributor Karina Cifuentes brings us this new interview with Andreas Vidhall of the Swedish band Stilla.)
Stilla is an interesting band with a distinct sound. Their artwork is pretty somber, cold, organic, and melancholic, and so is the music.
The last album Skuggflock has some Darkthrone-ish influence and I simply love that. Another band that I like for the same reason is Hate Meditation. But in spite of those common vibes, you can’t really say the bands are alike. I prefer to use the word “vibes” since the degree of presence and the way in which a band let their influences flow into their own compositions (whether consciously or unconsciously) varies so much. Personally I find it delightful to listen for those details, it keeps it interesting.
Skuggflock gives you a bit of Ulver-like ambience at times, but it can switch to avant-garde Arcturus style, slighty goth, and even stoner. It’s complex if you pay attention to the details, but everything is done in a subtle way, not messy or overwhelming. It’s just enough detail and change to enrich the musical experience. You can say Stilla dwells both in the past and the present. They have succeeded in composing an album that gives you the ’90s BM vibes while incorporating diverse influences that render it modern — but not so modern as to call it “post-black”. I think they have kept a balance, and that also makes the music enjoyable.
(Norway-based Karina Cifuentes returns with this interview of Jørn André Størdal, composer/guitarist of the Norwegian metal band Fleshmeadow, whose debut album Umbra we premiered and reviewed here just last month.)
Fleshmeadow are a pretty interesting band. They have a relentless, tight tempo that reminds me of Keep of Kalessin. They have the Norwegian sound roots firmly in place, but have dared to blend in sounds from other modern metal styles, including drumming patterns that range from straightforward powerful BM to a more blues/postmetal subtle elegance. When it comes to the guitars you’ll find BM-oriented harmonics and pretty techy scales that at times blend to conform again to a BM pattern.
So it is varied and textured. It is a refreshening musical experience, if you take into account the amount of black’n’roll that is coming out of Norway now. Layered over a powerful drumming discharge is a subtle atmospheric layer skillfully created with the guitars. So it is both a beautiful and intense musical experience. This is a good solid release that deserves all your support.
(Our Russian contributor Comrade Aleks brings us a new interview with the Canadian band Zaum, whose new album Eidolon was released last fall.)
I already introduced NCS readers to this psychedelic mantra doom from Canada when I Hate Records released Zaum’s debut album Oracles. After two years of tours and recordings (which was also marked by Zaum’s participation in the Himalaya to Mesopotamia split album) the duo of Kyle McDonald (bass, synths, vocals) and Chris Lewis (drums, percussion) return with another full-length work named Eidolon. The band’s main songwriter Kyle shed some light on the result of his musical meditations.