(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.
(Comrade Aleks returns to us in the new year with this interview of Amy Tung Barrysmith and Johannes Barrysmith, the members of Year of the Cobra.)
This Seattle-based duo started their practice in a vein of psychedelic doom metal / rock not so long ago. The Black Sun EP was released just about one year ago, but an active attitude toward this sort of music led Year of the Cobra to record a split-album with the famous Mos Generator, released on June 16, 2016. So it was just a question of time to finish their debut full-length killer-album and get the contract with STB Records.
Did you see the artwork? Nice one, isn’t it? I still believe that each album starts with the artwork, and that was the first reason why I took note of Year of the Cobra. But there are also a lot of groovy tunes besides this cool picture, so it was my sacred duty to spread the word further, and both Amy Tung Barrysmith (bass, vocals) and Johanes Barrysmith (drums) are here to help me with that.
(We present Karina Cifuentes’ interview of Erik Molnar, one of the guitarists in the Swedish band Hyperion, whose 2016 album Seraphical Euphony appeared frequently in our readers’ year-end lists and is indeed damned good.)
I have not made any end-of-the-year list and I probably won’t do it this year neither, because I think it’s difficult to rank albums, so I prefer to stick to interviews at this time of the year. I chose Hyperion this time, an excellent band from Sweden.
Metal music to me is pretty closely connected to my emotions and I really appreciate it when a band gets me to feel something, and even more if it manages to awaken a wide variety of emotions. That’s one of my main criteria for a band to make it to my personal egalitarian list.
Hyperion is just one such band. Their music evokes a wide range of emotions, and I love that. Seraphical Euphony is a pretty interesting album that has a really well-structured composition and it succeeds in giving the listener awesome epic buildups and symphonic elements. Interspersed throughout the album you will find both melancholic and merrier tunes beautifully entwined with powerful Black and Death Metal riffs and a totally relentless and crushing Swedish style of drumming.
Tell us about yourself, about Khonsu and what made you decide to start this project?
Well, to go really far back in time, my father has always been a hobby musician and when growing up me and my brother Arnt “Obsidian C.” Gronbech from Keep of Kalessin played around with his instruments and recording equipment from a very young age. He had several guitars – both acoustic and electric — a keyboard, and piano, and I think I was 6-7 when I first recorded some of my own music on my his 4 track tape recorder. So listening to music and the joy of making music has always been a part of my family, and without this early environment I would probably never have been a musician today.
My father also felt it would be important to keep learning to play instruments by going to professional lessons, but I didn’t like it very much and he more or less had to force me. I have never been interested in learning to play something someone else has already made, so I came to most lessons unprepared and had not rehearsed. So eventually I quit. I’ve always preferred to improvise and be creative on my own. So I actually have very little knowledge of music theory, and most of the time I have no idea what the chords or scales I am playing are even called.
(We are very fortunate to welcome back our friend Justin Collins (who spends most of his writing time over at Metal Bandcamp) with this guest review of the new album by Oskoreien, accompanied by a very interesting short interview of Oskoreien’s creator, as well as Justin’s equally interesting thoughts about the album’s subject matter.)
It was not even two months ago that we got to reacquaint ourselves with Oskoreien — the excellent but long-quiet black metal project of Jay Valena. Oskoreien contributed two songs to a split with Botanist. (Read my babble about it here.) I, for one, was very pleased to hear Oskoreien again, and was pleasantly surprised to listen to Valena try his hand at a decidedly more electronic sound than what he’d given us on his black-metal-meets-acoustic full-length. So you can imagine my delight when I learned that Oskoreien would be putting out a second album, All Too Human, hot on the heels on that split.
What kind of direction would Valena take this time? My first introduction to the album was a one-sentence description that Islander passed on to me from Valena, stating that, “It’s a concept album about free will inspired by the story of Charles Whitman.”
(We present Latvian music journalist Evita Hofmane’s interview with the Finnish band Re-Armed.)
On September 2016, Saarni Records released The Era of Precarity, the third album by the Finnish Death/Thrash metal band Re-Armed, and in this interview we talk about the new album with Jouni Matilainen (vocals), Jussi Venäläinen (guitars), and Juhana Heinonen (bass).
(Comrade Aleks returns to us with this interview of Scott Penberthy of the Australian band Holy Serpent, whose new release Temples was revealed earlier this fall.)
Australia, with its vast areas, is a hard place to live when you play doom/stoner. You need to survive as the aborigines did, crossing huge distances to find a place where you could stay and play your tribal tunes. However, Holy Serpent have done it successfully since the year 2014 when they recorded their self-titled EP. Scott Penberthy (vocals, guitars), Nick Donoughue (guitars), Richard Orr (drums), and Michael Macfie (bass) continued to practice their hypnotic music ’til they attracted the attention of RidingEasy Records, who released the EP on CD and vinyl in May 2015 and has now released a full-length work, Temples.
Have you seen its artwork? Take a look, it’s really nice. And don’t forget to check the album. Meanwhile, let me introduce you to Scott Penberthy. He’s here to answer a few questions about new albums.
Norway-based metal writer Karina Cifuentes brings us another interview, this time with members of Sweden’s Mist of Misery, whose new album Absence we premiered and praised in a review at our site here.)
So, you guys are by no means amateurs. Tell us about your other projects, and have any of you been to a school of music?
Mortuz: I have several other projects, such as Eufori and Soliloquium, and yes, I have been to a school of music, or rather a school of audio engineering several years ago.
Phlegathon: I also play guitar in Hyperion. For a while I studied various musical courses at The University of Stockholm, but I would not regard it as such a particularly serious undertaking.