Sep 012014

(Our guest Gemma Alexander, who recently brought us a three-part report on this summer’s Eistnaflug festival in Iceland, has delivered one more gift from visit to the festival: An interview with Guðmundur Óli Pálmason, the drummer of Sólstafir. As a bonus, we’re also including at the end of the interview a new video of Sólstafir performing the title track from their new album Ótta live at a large hunting cabin in the Austrian Alps. Visit Gemma’s own excellent blog here 

When I talked to Sólstafir’s drummer, Guðmundur (Gummi) Óli Pálmason on the Monday after Eistnaflug, hardly anyone had heard their new album, Ótta. Some of the songs I had only heard played live at Eistnaflug. So at the time, neither of us knew what kind of response Ótta was going to get. If Gummi suspected that it was going to be the Sunbather of 2014, he didn’t let on.

Even without the glowing album reviews that have erupted since, it was already obvious that Sólstafir are swimming in bigger ponds than they were when I first spoke with them (here) in 2012. Then, touring the U.S. seemed like a pipe dream. This year marked their first small tour in North America, five shows plus Maryland Deathfest. Finding a supporting slot on a full U.S. tour seems like a reasonable next step. A headlining tour in Europe is planned for November. Have Sólstafir hit the big time?

“I don’t know. We’re still broke,” said Gummi before admitting, “People think that as bands get bigger things get easier. Actually, the opposite is true. You play more festivals, go on more tours, get less time off, and things get more expensive. We played 15 festivals this summer.” When a schedule change at Hellfest landed Sólstafir in the same time slot as Emperor, people started giving them condolences, and even their label warned them to expect a small turnout. In the event, their venue was packed. “People came to see us anyway. It was a big change to see crowds like that.”

Aug 292014

 

(Our Russian contributor Comrade Aleks returns with another interview. This time his conversation is with Sami Hynninen, who has been involved in a diverse array of musical projects over a 30-year career, now including Opium Warlords and Azrael Rising.)

Sami Hynninen is one of most extravagant men in the Finnish artistic world. He has explored realms of the musical underground for about 30 years, and some of his excursions are well-known by metal heads (especially “doom” heads) of this miserable planet. For example, Reverend Bizarre were a damned famous band of the traditional doom new wave. As this band is long gone, Sami continues his searches with Opium Warlords, Spiritus Mortis, March 15, another his electro projects, Tähtiportti, and the black metal band Azrael Rising. Maybe I’ve forgotten to mention something… well, in this case Sami will correct me. Terve Sami!

 

Terve Sami! This year you have reached an interesting date — the 30th-year anniversary of your musical career. It’s a pretty long road, but dare I ask how you would sum up the experience of these years?

First of all I have to point out that those early years 1984 – 1990 were very rudimentary, but still, all of that chaotic noise I started with has connection to what I do now, so I think it is appropriate for me to celebrate these thirty years. It is all the same journey I am still on.

My career as a published music maker – first with noisecore tapes released by underground “labels” – started when I was sixteen or seventeen, and since then I have done the same thing that I keep doing today. Because of this I have never felt getting older, in the same sense as some people I used to know are really starting to look tired with their lives. I am that same sixteen year old boy. I have just gained some experience, and knowledge, and intelligence.  But emotionally I am just as fragile as I was back then.

Aug 292014

 

Editor’s Note: Terry Butler has had an enviable career as a metal musician. He was one of the early members of Massacre (along with Kam Lee, Rick Rozz, and Bill Andrews), a band whose comeback album Back From Beyond was released earlier this year. He was a member of Death from ’87-’90, playing bass on Spiritual Healing (which is being reissued in remastered form by Relapse next month); he was a member of Six Feet Under from 1993 to 2011; and he became a full-time member of Obituary in 2011 and appears on the band’s new forthcoming album Inked In Blood, which is due for release by Relapse on October 28 in the U.S.

This week NCS contributor KevinP talked with Terry about Inked In Blood, Obituary’s decision to release it through Relapse after successfully completing a Kickstarter campaign to finance the making of the album, Obituary’s forthcoming tour with Carcass, Massacre’s comeback album, and more. 

 

K: We are less than 2 months away from the new Obituary album, Inked in Blood, how do you think it turned out?

T: I think it sounds amazing. We took our time writing the album, after all it had been several years since the last one, so why rush it. We mixed it ourselves and took time to make sure we liked the mix.

 

K: It just dawned on me that this was your first album with the band. Feels like you’ve been there much longer for some reason. It’s been over 4 years now, right?

T: Yeah, I started helping out in Feb 2010 and joined full time in March 2011.

 

K: Do you think being there that long before recording/writing an album helped you and/or the others?

T: It definitely helped as far as knowing how Donald and Trevor approach writing and arranging songs. I’ve known the guys for over 25 years, so we definitely get along and understand each other.

Aug 252014

 

(Our man BadWolf interviews Jeff Lohrber of Enabler; he also took the photos in this post at Enabler’s show in Detroit at The Loving Touch on June 10, 2014.)

In the months since Inquisitiongate (can we agree on that as the formal term?), it seems like virtually any extreme metal band could come under fire for suspicion of racism—Dragonforce and Bölzer have both come under fire as of late, and rebuffed those accusation with varying degrees of success.

Let’s scratch one band off the suspicion list: Enabler are not racist. In a brief conversation with Jeff Lohrber, guitarist/vocalist of the three-piece crust outfit, he made that much perfectly clear, alongside talking about his love of classic rock and breaking down my favorite track on what very well might be my favorite record of the year, La Fin Absolue Du Monde.

***

To begin, things I didn’t notice at Maryland Deathfest: not only do you have a Today is the Day tattoo, but you have an Ohio knuckle tattoo.

Yes.

 

What’s up with that?

Well, I’ve been in Today’s the Day three times now. I’m currently the drummer for the band, and I grew up in Ohio.

 

Where?

Around Dayton. I actually live back in Ohio again. We were in Milwaukee. We started in Milwaukee but we’re based out of Ohio now. We have one member who lives in Milwaukee still.

 

Where do you live, Dayton?

No, I live in the middle of nowhere.

Aug 202014

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: West Virginia’s Byzantine are nearing the end of a Pledgemusic crowd-funding campaign to help finance the making of their next album, To Release Is To Resolve, and NCS writer TheMadIsraeli caught up with the band’s main man, Chris “OJ” Ojeda, in an exclusive audio interview that we’re streaming at the end of this post. TheMadIsraeli introduces the conversation as follows:

***

Chris “OJ” Ojeda from Byzantine is a riot.  The guy’s got an obvious fire for what he’s doing, and handles the hardships he’s endured with a surprisingly casual and hopeful outlook.  He’s one of my favorite vocalists out there, and his riffs are distinct and have always stood out to me.

As the driving force behind Byzantine, the guy may feel like he’s got a load on his shoulders to prove that the band’s stellar comeback comeback album (2013′s Byzantine) wasn’t a fluke.  From what I’ve heard of the new record, though, I’d say we’re in for something better than even that last one. You’ll get a taste of it at the end of this post.

Aug 152014

(Our Russian contributor Comrade Aleks interviews guitarist Björn Anderssen of Sweden’s Ocean Chief.)

Björn Anderssen is a skilled channeler who transforms chthonic energies of primordial forces into massive and distorted guitar vibes. He is one of the founders of Swedish doom/sludge/stoner act Ocean Chief, who released their new album Universums härd through the well-known I Hate Records.

As the sea of sound spreads its black waves and consumes us, to become one with the cosmic ocean and find ourselves as tiny sparks of light amidst its senseless vastness… just try to relax and find the joy of primitive and wild delight.

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Hail Björn! How are you? How goes the promotion of Ocean Chief’s new album Universums härd?

Hey! So far it’s all been good. The reviews has been overly positive, and most people seem to embrace the change since the previous albums. This one is much more dynamic in tempos and songs, hence easier to digest for the listener. Obviously not everyone has been as happy as others, but what can you do?!

Jul 242014

 

(In this post, Dane Prokofiev returns to NCS with a new installment in his Keyboard Warriors series, in which he poses unpredictable questions to metal writers of all kinds. Here, he interviews our friend Tom Campagna.)

Pokémon and metal. You never thought these two words would appear in the same sentence, eh? The two objects seem like polar opposites, sharing a relationship resembling the one shared between light and darkness, hot and cold, truth and Tyranny of Tradition, God and Satan, etc.

But metal writer Tom Campagna (ex-The Number of the Blog, ex-Metal Injection), who is an ardent fan of the Pokémon role-playing videogames, thinks the two share similarities. As one of those dudes pining to be “the very best like no one ever was,” you really wonder how he still finds the time to teach high school mathematics, write for About.com Heavy Metal, and occasionally contribute articles to some other metal websites.

 

Why do you like metal?

I love metal because of the excellent release of emotions that one has while listening to it. The history of the genre is also something that really strikes me as important, too. For a kid who was constantly quizzed by my father about “who is this band” and “what song is this,” I kind of developed that into my own world of music.The small size of the scene is also nice because you can certainly talk to members of your favorite band and sense the sheer level of appreciation from these individuals. People who scoff at heavy metal have never given the genre a chance; but if everybody loved heavy metal like I do, the scene would be enormous, and we wouldn’t want that would we?

Jul 222014

 

(In this post Russian contributor Comrade Aleks delivers an interview of Mikael Monks of Sweden’s Burning Saviours.)

The combination of doom metal and rock from the 70’s has became actual genre nowadays. It feels like a damned lot of people miss the good old days when things looked more or less simpler. Good melodies, a recognizable retro sound, and lyrics on familiar themes are enough to satisfy our needs, and it’s not necessary to be original in that case.

The Swedish band Burning Saviours have been playing doom metal / hard rock since 2004 in the name of almighty Pentagram! A few successful releases have brought Burning Saviours a well-known reputation, and I Hate Records has decided to remind us about the band’s deserts with the release of a compilation named Boken om förbannelsen. I got in contact with Mikael Monks (guitars, vocals) to clarify details of the album.

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Jul 172014


Djinn and Miskatonic

(Today our Russian contributor Comrade Aleks brings us Part 6 of a six-part series in which he puts the same five questions to doom bands from around the world, and introduces us to their music at the same time.)

Sometimes I use this unpopular “quiz” format because there are too many interesting bands that I would like to bring to light, and in my opinion it’s a good way to spread some news and to get new points of view on a few issues (including even some political questions). The list of questions I put to the bands is below:

1. What is the band’s latest news and what are your plans for the near future?

2. What do we get (in the broadest sense) from the release of your last album?

3. What is the best response that your band has ever received?

4. What role does the church (or any other religious organization) play in your life or (let’s take it wider) in the life of the heavy scene? Is there any spiritual, religious, or antireligious component in your songs?

5. What does the Media in your country tell about the situation in Ukraine? And how do you see that situation? Some people from other countries have asked me strange questions about Russia’s policy, and let me say that I have a few friends in Ukraine and my colleagues have relatives there, and believe me, there’s no media in ANY country that is showing the problem as it really is. We can watch as the Cold War turns into real warfare.

Today, we bring the answers to these questions from Djinn and Miskatonic (India),  Et Moriemur (Czech Republic), Hooded Priest (Netherlands), Mythological Cold Towers (Brazil), Orthodox (Spain), Soom (Ukraine), and Talbot (Estonia).

Jul 162014

Abske Fides

(Today our Russian contributor Comrade Aleks brings us Part 5 of a six-part series in which he puts the same five questions to doom bands from around the world, and introduces us to their music at the same time.)

Sometimes I use this unpopular “quiz” format because there are too many interesting bands that I would like to bring to light, and in my opinion it’s a good way to spread some news and to get new points of view on a few issues (including even some political questions). The list of questions I put to the bands is below:

1. What is the band’s latest news and what are your plans for the near future?

2. What do we get (in the broadest sense) from the release of your last album?

3. What is the best response that your band has ever received?

4. What role does the church (or any other religious organization) play in your life or (let’s take it wider) in the life of the heavy scene? Is there any spiritual, religious, or antireligious component in your songs?

5. What does the Media in your country tell about the situation in Ukraine? And how do you see that situation? Some people from other countries have asked me strange questions about Russia’s policy, and let me say that I have a few friends in Ukraine and my colleagues have relatives there, and believe me, there’s no media in ANY country that is showing the problem as it really is. We can watch as the Cold War turns into real warfare.

Today, we bring the answers to these questions from Abske Fides (Brazil), Esoteric (United Kingdom), Obake (Italy), StoneBirds (France), Stoned Jesus (Ukraine) and The Curse of Wendigo (Ukraine).

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