Nov 082021

(Andy Synn was fortunate enough to attend this year’s edition of Damnation Festival and now reports back with his experiences of all the bands he saw over the course of the day, along with video evidence)

Well, here it is, the very last Damnation Festival at Leeds University, as the event has become so popular now (as evinced by how quickly so many stages reach capacity these days) that the organisers are moving it (back) to Manchester where they’ve found a bigger and (hopefully) better venue for future editions of the fest.

And while this gives 2021 a real “end of an era” feel, it’s obvious that the Damnation team really wanted to see out their time in Leeds with a major bang, delivering – despite some well-documented, and sadly unavoidable, pandemic-based issues – one of the most stacked line-ups they’ve ever had.

Now, one thing I really tried to do this time around was to see (and document) as many sets by bands I hadn’t seen before, and while, in practice, this didn’t always work out – sometimes due to circumstances entirely beyond my control, sometimes just because I really wanted to see certain bands in particular – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by who I actually did manage to catch over the course of the day.

So, without further ado…

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Nov 082019


(We present Wil Cifer‘s review of the new album by the British doom lords Esoteric, which is being released on November 8th by Season of Mist, along with a complete stream of the album.)

What I love about this band is their ability to take doom to places that have little to do with Black Sabbath. Nothing against Geezer and the boys, but I don’t need a genre of impersonators. I want the kind of sonic despair a band like Esoteric are capable of delivering. Eight years after Paragon of Dissonance, which is pretty much a perfect album. expectations are high. What is a band to do after such an achievement?

In the case of Esoteric, they decide to open the album with an almost 28-minute song. To put this in perspective, that is the length of the entire Reign in Blood album. Granted, Slayer were moving at the speed of punk, and these guys are a slow trudge through the apocalypse. With a song of this length I tend to approach it as if it is a symphonic work, written in movements rather than the compact verse-chorus formula. Continue reading »

Aug 012019


The music in the first Part of today’s round-up of new music leaned into the deathlier side of the metal spectrum, but this second Part is more all-over-the-place. Once again, I’m starting with the announcement of a new album, even though I don’t yet have music from the record to share with you.


We don’t make a habit of simply posting announcements of new releases because there wouldn’t be enough hours in the day for that kind of thing. Plus, our main mission is to recommend music we enjoy that we’ve actually heard. But this week I’ve made several exceptions to that rule based on the eye-catching nature of cover artwork, coupled with high levels of confidence that the music is going to be exciting. I’m doing it again here, in the case of funeral doom icons Esoteric and Lisa Schubert‘s cover artwork for their new album, A Pyrrhic Existence. Continue reading »

Dec 032014


There are some bands for whom you need no long introduction. British extreme death/doom metal band Esoteric is one of those. In this interview, which was kindly offered to us by Evita Hofmane and Haralds Strapans of the Latvian P3lican e-zine, Esoteric’s guitarist and vocalist Greg Chandler speaks about life and music being two inseparable things.


In the beginning there was Word, and the Word was Esoteric. Your band has existed for more than 20 years now. Maybe let’s start with a short overview – what is Esoteric?

Esoteric formed in July 1992.  We released our first demo in the summer of 1993, which led to a recording deal with Aesthetic Death records.  Our first album was released in autumn 1994 and the band has remained active to this day.  Now in our 22nd year, we have released 6 albums (4 of which are double albums).  Our music has progressed and evolved over time, but the main essence and direction has remained the same.  To create, dark, unique music and soundscapes without any limitations in mind. Continue reading »

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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Oct 062013

(This is a belated concert review, but I’ve also included streams of each band’s recent recorded music for those who may be unfamiliar with them.)

On the night of September 24, 2013 (and the early morning of September 25), a group of friends and I turned out at Seattle’s Highline venue to catch EsotericVelnias, and Saturnalia Temple, who have just finished a U.S. tour, plus Seattle’s Anhedonist, who opened the show. The very cool tour poster up there on the right is by David D’Andrea and Ben Vierling.

Highline has become my favorite place to listen to metal in Seattle. They book cult bands, they draw an adult crowd who know their metal (it’s 21+), and they know how to make a cocktail. It’s a great place to watch a show because it’s small, and because it used to serve food (and may still again), it has tables and chairs where the more decrepit patrons can take a load off between sets. Not talking about myself of course.

The foursome on the bill this night — headlined by an influential band on their first US tour in a 20-year career — drew a big crowd. For me, it turned into an endurance contest: would I survive almost four straight hours of almost unremitting dooooooooom or would the building collapse first from the weight of the music?


I had been looking forward to hearing Anhedonist live for a long time, having missed way too many of their shows around town. Their most recent release, Netherwards, appeared on a bunch of the year-end lists we published in 2012 (including lists from many other ‘zines and sites), and it really is a triumph of multidimensional death/doom. After hearing their set at Highline, I was kicking myself for having let so much time go by. Continue reading »

Nov 112011

Metal album names rarely seek to describe the sound of the music that lies within. The name of Esoteric’s new album comes close. Much of the music on the album is indeed a paragon of dissonance. But what is not dissonant on the album, juxtaposed with what is, is what makes the music so remarkable.

In dominant form on most of the songs is the aural equivalent of a planetary catastrophe, something akin to the Chicxulub asteroid that impacted the Yucatan peninsula roughly 65 million years ago and killed off an unfathomable numbers of species, including (probably) most dinosaurs. Titanic distorted riffs are accompanied by screeching psychedelic noise to produce an overwhelmingly bleak panorama — the pounding of protesting life back into primordial ooze by a downpour of anvils from above.

Nearly as slow-paced as funeral doom, the songs paint a picture of the inexorable eradication of light and life, and the truly harrowing vocals (a combination of gruesome abyssal roars and the kind of abraded, hair-raising shrieks more common to black metal) cement the feeling of impending extinction.

If this were all that the songs achieved, kudos would still be due, because the music so excellently embodies the power of doom metal, especially when it’s layered with stylistic borrowings from death- and black metal. But we come back to what is not dissonant . . . Continue reading »