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Bathory – Hammerheart

Bathory – Hammerheart Black Metal BandIn Arabian, Myrath means legacy but I can tell you that until today, it will also means ”oriental killers of progressive metal”. Myrath comes from Tunisia and they will probably be the first band from Maghreb which will have a famous international career. Leaded by Malek BenArbia a young talented guitarist who has finished his formation at the famous ”MAI School” of Nancy (France), the band is for me the surprise of the year 2007. Between Symphony X, Adagio and Dream Theater, their first real official album ”Hope” is an amazing release of Progressive Metal. If you pretend to like such kind of music, then you’ll not have the right to miss this album. Myrath’s own style found throughout making this a great release for the Power/Prog Metal genre. ”Hope” starts out with a beautiful intro that really shows the bands love for Western influences (the band hails from Tunisia, Africa) before kicking right in with the crushing riffage of the 2nd song ”Confession”! After that the CD does not stop for the remaining 6 songs that follow! Found throughout the disc are monstrous riffs, soaring melodies, Asian influences, and brilliant backing vocals. This is all topped off with Kevin Codfert (Adagio keyboardist) handling the production, and sound engineer duties. The production on ”Hope” is absolutely crystal clear, ballsy, crisp, and punchy! Intelligent, well written and with a ton of great riffs and melodies, ”Hope” is a damn impressive beginning. I’m sure that the band will quickly become famous and will be signed by a major as soon as possible because definitely this album is one of the best releases of Progressive Metal that I had the chance to listen to lately. Now, all the Metalheads from the north of Africa will be able to show to the world that they know what great Metal is. Thumb up to Myrath for this exceptional release this band will become really big and famous you’ll see, I will not be wrong! The grandeur of this release is that the consistency of quality remains very high over all its eight tracks, the majority of which seem to be the embodiments of a trinity of originality, complexity and magic. I believe most, if not all, of those into heavy Progressive, fans of Dream Theater included, will be in the seventh heaven when navigating through the pitfalls and undercurrents that highlight this wonderful recording.

Mitochondrion - gyibaaw


the o.d. adrenalin of hi-jinks wacky

the o.d. adrenalin of hi-jinks wacky
the o.d. adrenalin of hi-jinks wacky


As blood run black

As blood run black pict

As blood run black pict
As blood run black pict
As blood run black pict

Destroyer 666 - Vital Remains

well well fucking well...its been quite the ride.
Theres far too many people to thank individually, but or gratitude goes out to all the promoters who have looked after us so well thus far..
The crowds have been fucking amazing,and never cease to amaze us every time we come back to the states.At the risk of sounding sentimental, I speak for the whole band when i say its truly been a honour and a pleasure.
NYC ranks as one of the biggest surprises for us. Monday night, midnight start time, and no one at all seemed to have left.
But nothing could prepare for us the treatment we recieved by an fella called John who booked our show in Providence. We said it many times John, but again, in the cold light of sobriety, thanks mate. Truly beyond the call of duty.
A hail to Vital Remains too, for supplying the best backline of the whole tour.
To all the fans who have come and supported the band, we salute you all. The response has been beyone words, and stands as testimony to the undergrounds strentgh. If we've come across as tired and irritable and less than sociable, its because we were tired and irritable.

Nargaroth is a German black metal band

Nargaroth is a German black metal band created by René “Ash” Wagner (formerly “Kanwulf”) in Germany, 1996.

According to Ash, Nargaroth was formed in 1989, but due to contradictory statements of Ash, this date is disputed, as well as the release of the seven track instrumental demo Orke in 1991. It is supposed that this demo was actually released in 1999. The demo Herbstleyd, which Ash claims to be released in 1993, was probably not released before this date.
Nargaroth’s first album Herbstleyd was released by No Colours Records in 1999, followed in 2000 by Amarok, which is not an album but a re-release of old recordings, as well as the controversial demo Fuck Off Nowadays Black Metal, (released as a demo resulting to disputes over production values). This demo is said to be limited to 333 tapes and 100 LPs, but more units were probably released.

In 2001, No Colours Records released Black Metal ist Krieg, considered Ash’s dedication to black metal. It was followed in 2002 by Rasluka Part II. The third album Geliebte des Regens was released in 2003. 2004 saw release of live album Crushing Some Belgian Scum, Rasluka Part I, and Prosatanica Shooting Angels. The next album Semper Fidelis was released by No Colours Records in 2007. The sixth album was released in 2009 named Jahreszeiten by No Colours Records limited to 1000 copies.

The Furor are a black/death metal trio hailing from Perth, Australia

The Furor are a black/death metal trio hailing from Perth, Australia. They have released two full-length albums and an EP. The band was formed in 2002.

The Furor

The Furor

Music And Dance Of Norway

Music And Dance Of Norway

Although there is scant written record of what kind of music was played in Norway but there is a vast audio record which provides some insight to this. Minor or Modal scales with a sober and haunting sound form the music of Norway. There is very little written record to give the background of the origin and existence of music but it is learned that religious and traditional music prevailed. Like many other countries, Norway too experienced a revival in the 20th century. Ballads and short songs are the common types of traditional or folk songs.

Other popular kind of folk music is hymns, work songs, trialling vocals skillingsviser. Like the nearby countries of Sweden and Denmark, Norway too has a Nordic dance music tradition. The most distinctive instrument in Norwegian folk music is hardingfele. Bygdedans including halling, pols, springleik, rull, gangar and springar are the traditional dances of Norway. They were performed on important events such as weddings, funerals etc and were called the Courting Dances. Few dances were also brought from Europe like the fandango, reinlender, waltz polka and mazurka. Norwegian harp, bukkehorn, harpeleik, lur are a few other traditional instruments.

A movement throughout Europe, National Romanticism, affected classical musicians as well as the classical musicology. Bull was the first to present folk tunes to the public in urban areas. The urban audiences were slow in responding and understanding the traditional music. With the booming economy after the French Revolution, many foreign musicians settled in Norway and hence, contributed a lot to Norwegian music. Many female musicians were widely accepted and were paid well. Music post World War II addressed social and political concerns.

Many technological developments with a variety of electronic effects and peculiar instruments took place post World War II. By the end of the 20th century, Norwegian classical music had become very diverse, incorporating elements from throughout the country's documented musical history, as well as modern jazz, pop and rock.

Norway has originated its own music too it has expressed its breakthrough in jazz, blackmetal, electronica and pop artists. Knut Reiersrud is one of Norway's top blues guitarist. Titanic, the film, brought worldwide popularity to Sissel Kyrkjebo, a Norwegian singer, also known as Sissel. She had recorded a soundtrack for the film. The Norwegian rock scene comprises bands such as Turbonegro, Bigbang, Madrugada, Kaizers, Orchestra and Gate. Along with Sweden and Finland, Norway too has been a major player in the extreme metal scene and few bands which performed in genre and attained popularity are Dimmu Borgir, Burzum, Immortal, Emperor, Enslaved, Mayhem Gorgoroth, and Darkthrone.

Heathen Folk Revival point 10 of the 24 points Odinism Wotanism Asatru



Black Metal Beliefs

Black Metal Beliefs

Normally approach in waves, with roots in old school thrash metal, black metal is a little know, often misinterpreted sub-genre. Metal has been an exit to disillusioned kids looking for a way out of internal struggles with personal, religious or cultures differences.. This little subset of dedicated fans have committed a great deal of crimes and felonies, such as church burnings (50 or more churches) and murders.

Black Metal Beliefs

Mayhem and Varg Vikernes is the most favorite metal band to date. In the year of 1993 Oystein Aarseth, owner of record label Deathlike Silence, was killed by Vikernes. Vikernes was found guilty of murder later that year. This impact, the anti-religious position of Vikernes was a expression of the views of the metal genre as a whole. With any culture, you will find the disputes, opinions and beliefs.

Impacts on Black Metal

Pioneered bands like Bathory and Cruachan took their music to a Viking lore and mythology style and made an impact on the metal music genre. These metal bands that are know as "folk" and "viking" often use instruments that are away from the norms and opt to compliment the common electric instruments, like guitars, drums and bass. This music includes bands with an ambient, symphonic and doom metal sound have been experimented. Old 80's punk movement (know as crust) to Gothic or even industrial influences have some further sounds that some black metal bands have pushed the envelope with.

The Black Metal Impression

Romanticized or demonized has had a living impression on the metal genre and will proceed to so long as there are fans disenfranchised with the world they see around them, requiring an exit for their creativity and individualism. With metal bands such as Venom and Celtic Front to the present and future. Black metal will become stronger, more shocking and will continue to be experimental.

Venom Legend Of Black Metal

The black metal genre of music was brought into being by the band named Venom who had named one of its songs 'Black Metal'. From then on black metal music has become popular, especially amidst the youth of today. In this context, it is important to remember that to become a professional black metal guitarist, you must master the black metal scales. This is a must with regard to technique and style. Some of the most common scales have been mentioned below:

Venom Legend Of Black Metal
The natural minor scale is used quite commonly while playing heavy metal. It is not an exotic scale, but can produce several exquisite and unique music combinations. However, this scale lacks tension. It is also categorized under the major scale as the 6th mode. While playing this scale try being innovative and creative in your riffs, picking techniques and hooks; and you will be able to create some of the most unique playing styles.

Next is the harmonic minor scale. It is almost similar to the natural minor scale but comprises of a 7th sharp / major. Thus, the corresponding chord related to this scale is sharp 7 minor. Metal guitarists usually make use of power chords to enhance their performance; and using this scale along with power chords will help you display a really good and extraordinary performance. This combination will produce some enigmatic music for your audience.

Another important scale is known as Phrygian scale that is most commonly used by metal guitarists. The second tone of this scale is flat and it also falls under the major scale category in the 3rd mode. This produces a unique sound that is dark and somber. To add some flavor you may combine Phrygian power chords along with the Phrygian scale and display some of the most exotic metal combinations and music.

The Lydian scale is a major scale. It has a sharpened 4th note and produces qualitative sound and sequence. The scale is most suited for metal that is played at slow pace and rhythm. The scale goes well with its related power chords.

IMAX Black Metal Hurricane

IMAX Black Metal Hurricane

When was the last time you had a candle-lit dinner at home? What do you think created that dreamy ambience? The mellow glow of the candle light of course! A finely set table without proper lighting is definitely a turn-off. So, recreate the magic of romance at home with the ultra-stylish IMAX Black Metal Hurricane candle holder.

Hurricane candle holders offer simple lighting solutions to your home in a stylish yet inexpensive way. The sophisticated design of the IMAX Hurricane makes it a stunning standalone showpiece that adds a touch of elegance to your home. You can even decorate hurricane candle holders with ferns and flowers or simply tie a satin ribbon around to make them all the more attractive.

What is interesting about the transition metal hurricane holder is that it can give a silky natural light that is hard to recreate with artificial lighting. Unlike other traditional hurricane holders, the IMAX Black Metal Hurricane uses candle for lighting and not oil. This makes it easy to use and clean. You can even add aromatic candles to the transition metal hurricane holder to fill your home with a sweet scent. The stand made of black metal adds grandeur to this holder and the traditionally shaped hurricane glass adds an old world charm to your home. You can use hurricane candle holders as centerpieces for your dinner table or even for weddings as they blend well with any kind of décor.

The exquisite IMAX Black Metal Hurricane candle holder that is perfect to create a romantic atmosphere at home.

Black Metal Guitars

Music is the best form of expression - of feelings as well as attitudes. Different types of music provide different expressions, so you can choose what suits you the most. Hard rock or heavy metal music takes the form of expression to various extremes. Black metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal class indulging in an extreme form of creativity and individualism, pioneered by thrash metal bands. If you think you belong to this sub-culture and want to explore further, let nothing stop you from going for black metal guitar lessons - you have a wide range of choices in the pre-recorded CD or DVD courses.

While you explore how and from where to take lessons, it will be helpful to start listening to albums of popular black metal bands and reading about evolution of the black metal subclass. This will prepare a useful ground for your future lessons. You may start either with the "first wave" bands of 1980s such as Bathory, Venom, and Hellhammer; or the "second wave" bands of early nineties: Burzum, Mayhem, Immortal and Emperor. It will be better to also listen to some thrash metal bands to understand how the black metal sub-genre evolved.

Tremolo picking is an essential skill in the genre of heavy metal music, including black metal. While you can read instructions on tremolo picking at several places, the best way to learn is through professionally designed lessons offered on CDs and DVDs.

Apart from good guitar technical skills, the key to playing good heavy metal music is in the control of the guitar instrument and guitar effects. In order to get a good solid tone from your guitar amplifier, the combination of guitar and special distortion pedals is required and tweaked to perfection.

Internet is a convenient source to explore heavy metal music and the bands. You should certainly go through the background information of the metal guitar music; it will help you understand the fine differences between the dark metal and other subclasses. But when it comes to learning, the best metal guitar lessons are confined to CDs and DVDs; be convinced of that.

Dark metal music, in particular, symbolizes freedom and demands an open and free mind - given to both experimentation and exploration. To learn black metal, you need an attitude more than anything else. Mastering this extreme form of self expression will likely open up new faculties of your mind which had remained untouched so far.

Abigor: Supreme Immortal Art

Abigor: Supreme Immortal Art

Abigor: Satanized: A Journey Through Cosmic Infinity

Abigor: Satanized: A Journey Through Cosmic Infinity Black metal

Abigor: Orkblut: The Retaliation

Abigor: Orkblut: The Retaliation black metal

Abigor: Channelling The Quintessence Of Satan

Abigor: Channelling The Quintessence Of Satan

Abigor: Channelling The Quintessence Of Satan

Abigor: Apokalypse

A Canorous Quintet: Silence Of The World Beyond

A Canorous Quintet

A Call To Irons: A Tribute To Iron Maiden

 A Call To Irons: A Tribute To Iron Maiden

Barn Owl - Ancestral Star

Beneath the unforgivable scab on the landscape that is Elephant & Castle shopping centre in London lies a small, delightful dive of a venue called the Corsica. Its entrance suggests a warehouse or garage more than a location to go and watch bands perform. But nevertheless, about an hour from my arrival there, Barn Owl makes their London debut; slicing through the darkened stage area with an unstoppable, psychedelic soundwave of a folk, drone and doom composite.

It’s unfortunate then that the San Franciscan duo are relegated to almost footnote status on a bill that attempts to bring the adventurous spirit of Birmingham’s Supersonic festival to this grimy corner of the capital. Playing in support of established acid rockers Voice of the Seven Thunders and the ‘all-star’ cast of Master Musicians of Bukkake, naturally few were out that evening with the sole intent of experiencing Barn Owl.

But this month, all eyes and ears should be focussed on Barn Owl with the November 2nd release of their third LP and Thrill Jockey debut, Ancestral Star. And if the wide-eyed silence of the awe-struck crowd that followed Barn Owl’s Corsica set is anything to go by, Jon Porras and Evan Caminiti should soon be preaching to more converts than ever.

What immediately sets Ancestral Star apart from Barn Owl’s earlier output is the mammoth, thick sound that pours forth. Gone are the sparse drones and brittle, lo-fi folk that ornamented Bridge to the Clouds and From Our Mouths A Perpetual Light. This time round, Barn Owl is heavier and denser than ever before with ‘Sundown’ and the title track seemingly taking cues from SunnO))) and more restrained pieces like ‘Night’s Shroud’ nodding towards the Wild West desert rock of Earth’s latest incarnation. But as the band explains, this is less to do with venerating the drone elders than it is with a personal progression, not to mention the first opportunity Barn Owl has had to actually take their time in the studio.

“I would say, initially when we first started and especially when we recorded From Our Mouths…, Earth was a big influence. But we tried to incorporate a much wider range of influences for Ancestral Star. We listened to a lot of Alice Coltrane and other jazz albums… Bill Frisell was also a huge influence on us,” said Jon.

“Yeah, I mean it’s a good reference point for the kind of ‘desert sound’,” Evan added. “But I think we’re more inspired by things like The Dead Man soundtrack and Cormac McCarthy novels. Of course, Earth’s great but not so much a conscious influence these days. Popol Vuh is a really big influence for a lot of this stuff, and Loren Connors and Sandy Bull are two guitarists that we reference a lot in our playing I’d say.

Ancestral Star is a kind of natural progression from what we felt at the time. With The Conjurer we tried to make everything have a lot space really, the sparseness was just what we were feeling at the time.”

Jon believes that Barn Owl owes the sonic leap the forward to the time spent in the studio last year with producer The Norman Conquest. “I think in terms of the heaviness, the sound quality is a lot better. The engineer we worked with, Norman Conquest (we call him Norman, he’s a friend of ours), I mean he’s a recording genius. We’d show up at the recording studio and he’d have dozens of mics set up all over the studio, pointing at random corners of the room where he was hearing resonant frequencies. So we left it all up to him. He also built these microphones out of old speakers. He put two or three of them right by our amps; that picked up a lot of low end.”

Working with what Evan refers to as “a mad scientist of sound” definitely has its perks. The results shine through at every level of the record, dousing the listener with dominating rays of psychedelia. “Everything was based around recording some live tracks to 2” tape, and kind of saturating it,” said Evan, giving some insight into how the sound was captured. “We had to hit the tape pretty hard to get that sizzling thick sound.”

Indeed, the hefty production sucks you in with the force of a black hole but there is also a peculiar, almost spiritual essence to Ancestral Star that is homely and alien all at once, a device that will keep the LP glued to the record player for months to come. The ritualistic feel that emanates from tracks like ‘Flatlands’ and ‘Incantation’ almost seem like memories of bygone eras. So being the huge metalhead retard that I am, I couldn’t resist asking the guys if there was any kind of theme to the record. I am a whore for pretentious concept albums… and pretentious things in general.

Jon swiftly put my naïve thoughts to bed: “If there is a premise, and I guess this applies to our sound in general, it’s combining a wide range of influences that speak to us that we try to combine to make our own sound,” he said. “But as far as a specific premise for the album, there’s no over-arching concept or anything like that.”

But my own interpretations weren’t far off the mark it seems, as I coaxed what I could out of Evan to elaborate on the meaning of the album’s title. “It refers to this idea of ‘ancestral memory’ which was explained to me some years ago by my then music teacher, a free jazz sax player,” he explained. “He referenced flamenco music and said that the musicians believed they were channelling the spirits of their ancestors when they played. So it’s the idea of connecting with this other energy through music. Being absorbed in it and having a deep connection that goes beyond the material world.”

Barn Owl’s dream-like drone is the perfect vehicle for this elusive ‘energy’ that Evan speaks of. It courses through the duration of Ancestral Star with the mysticism of a Hindu raga and it’s utterly enthralling. What is it about drone that conjures these intangible thoughts though?

“I don’t know,” said Evan. He hesitated. Then proceeded to reel off everything I’ve always felt about the style but have never been able to put into words. “For me it’s like… when I put on good drone music it immediately eases my mind in a lot of ways. There’s something comforting about the meditative value of it, being able to really focus and tune out all the noise of the world and centre yourself.”

Jon added: “Also, I feel that there’s something really profound about seeing detail in something that on the surface is stagnant. To me that’s mysterious and exciting.” They both hit the nail on the head, just as their work in Barn Owl does.

Ancestral Star is gorgeous. Buy it now. Read the full interview here and check out the video for closing track, 'Light From The Mesa'.

Palace of Worms - Lifting the Veil

Lifting the Veil is an execution in raw, piously orthodox black metal. An undeniable air of elite swagger backed up by riffs and oscillations that sound as vital and cacophonous as Norway circa 1991. The atmosphere lurches simultaneously into territories of vice, degradation and pure driving power. Like the angular riff work of Wrest set to a boundlessly more insidious upbringing. There is an admirable sense of direction tugging at the dissonant atonality of this recording: an awkward incongruity that would probably fail in the hands of so many other musicians.

Palace of Worms comes highly recommended to anyone who has at some point found refuge in the recordings of other San Franciscan black metal monuments (Leviathan, Draugar, Necrite, etc). Lifting The Veil steps up the ante, assembling an audial horror surpassing last years The Forgotten. Coupling abject disgust for humankind with an aura that seeks to glorify the insignificance and vacuous nature of existence, Palace of Worms can clearly deliver. Balan does well to balance his angular, pissed-off approach to melody with the more atmospheric passages that expand from the dark recesses of sound. As if his campaign of hate and extermination finds absolution in the very insignificance the every-day-man peddles. A kind of inverted Schopenhauer.

Lifting the Veil is packed with the twists, turns and ideas a premature Wrest couldn’t quite pull off. This is about as engaging as modern day orthodoxy gets: undaunted by experiments in sound, moments of crystalline composure that take numerous listens to fully appreciate and absolute driving, eye-rolling sections of undiluted black metal swagger that leave you empowered but bitterly engaged. Post rock, psych and almost DSO like injections of fervour meld seamlessly to create a truly inspired opus. Just give the attached track a listen.

Blood Revolt - Indoctrine

I am god's executioner... Does it matter which?

Metal’s long running obsession with thinly veiled hate and largely intangible, abstract ideas may explain a few things. It certainly accounts for the preference outsiders and introverts attach to the genre. The lack of consideration the genre gets in the mainstream artistic world seems heavily reliant on this incongruity too. A consistent disregard for relevancy that has built up over the years, focusing on hate for hate’s sake and scare tactics that are now more welcoming to the majority of fans than genuinely unnerving (the usual shitstorm that accompanies a band pushing new territory; fans annoyed that the band have left trodden, comfortable ground to pursue divergent avenues of expression – nowhere more apparent than in the black metal underground).

Sad then (but not unwelcomed) that it took an album like Indoctrine to pierce the veil and bridge the horror with a new sense of relevancy. Blood Revolt revolutionise these conceptual gaps, opening a new path of metal so unnerving and relevant in scope that it annihilates all the short fallings of the modern day metal community. The chosen lyrical content reflects issues that plague the everyday man; this relevancy a far cry from the corpse-painted, skulking men wading through forests brandishing bullet belts and war axes. An irrational belief in God that leads individuals to act on behalf of God’s will. Religious crusaders; noble acts of terrorism that secure places in heaven and moral disasters on earth. The religious hustler who has turned against society: Christianity, Islam, all other walks of faith – this is relevant in any and all cultural, social, political and religious circles. Blood Revolt command this blind faith with unfettering brutality. Simultaneously reaching the outsider metal fan, clutching at the long heralded religious mockery and the relevancy of terrorism in an increasingly multicultural society. Indoctrine is fixed in the first perspective of the liberated, religious devout. The result is remarkable: a genuinely intimidating album, even before discussing the music.

The music Blood Revolt summon, commanded by the voice of Primordial’s A.A. Nemtheanga, in addition to juggernaut drums and doomaxe rituals of war metal veterans James Read and C. Ross respectively, never quite settles down enough to pigeonhole into one or two succinct sub-genres. Take the powercrafted riffs of Weapon and Rites of Thy Degringolade, the inhuman drum mechanics of Revenge set to a clearer, more developed production and one of the most talented, varied vocal performances in metal – and we might be getting somewhere. The fact is, Blood Revolt have shifted the extreme metal paradigm with this recording. Buy their music, go to their shows, support them. Their significant nature extending beyond this stale corner of music, to new realms of cultural and societal implication.

A.A. Nemtheanga delivers his religious sermon; clean vocals that stretch the lungs and deliver conviction with unbelievable power. At other times, his largely restrained talk serves to add a touch of the inhumane, cold, calculated nature of his acts. Take the vocals on ‘Bite The Hand, Purge The Flesh’, where his snarled, cacophonous lines of hate practically set the entire tone. C. Ross has done an excellent job upping the ante on guitar duties. Visible in every song, carefully crafted riffs and melody that lift the album above and beyond the call of war metal. Every goddamn track is brilliant. I would not be surprised if I take up the guitar again because of this album. On first listen the drums seem quite one dimensional, focusing on blasting sessions but subsequent listens reveal variations in tempo and unexpected jumps in play. This style of song writing is nowhere near as chaotic as Revenge or Axis of Advance. It is simpler, revolving on actual rhythms and structures – and this is why the music is so effective. Each instrument bounces off the other, nothing can be deemed superfluous. Everything exercises a meaning and serves to further the musical experience.

Extreme metal is hardly renowned for the quality of lyricism, with most projects exercising either stale, unformatted death, goat, forest clone lyrics, or an incredibly poor handle on their chosen language. It is the incredibly diverse vocal performance of Averill that leaves me obsessing over some of the best lyrics to grace extreme metal in a number of years – ones that I actually care to read. A hard hitting performance that asks nothing of the listener other than to be a witness. Indoctrine is punishing. Marching, martial metal with an undeniable war/black metal touch - a holy original album musically and conceptually. There is something charged and fanatical about the flow of the music, like the strongest mix of utter hatred and self-imposed pomp. A welcome injection of new ideas that leaves most other albums in the dust; so well composed and thoroughly hard-hitting throughout the 42 minutes of the albums scope that the extreme metal soundscape will never look quite the same, ever again. A reinvigoration! Simply put, if you cannot grasp this, well, we ought to begin this religious culling with you.

'Where does Black Metal lie in relation to this bending of the consciousness toward return?'

We received this email from the mysterious Oonagh in regards to the Winterfylleth interview that was published a couple of months ago. It's an interesting look at one of the frequent woes and more irritating sides of black metal. Things that distract from the music more than is acceptable. I'd like to take this opportunity to state that LURKER does not necessarily agree with the opinions that the band stated but, being British ourselves (and enthusiasts of history), to an extent we can understand where they're coming from. For my part, I don't think black metal has anything to do with nationalism, pride or cultural identity at all. Rather quite the opposite, and it is a way of looking at the world that I have zero interest in. But it is down to individuals to give their music whatever leaning they so wish, and if I enjoy how it sounds, I will listen to it. I won't go into a response much further than that. To listen to black metal is also to be aware of how fickle and naive the community can be, and picking out flaws in a music and ideology that is some times flawed by definition will often have an amusing outcome. But Winterfylleth's dedication to preserving Britain's historical identity is certainly admirable.

What do other lurkers think? Here is the email as it was sent to us:

"So, where does Black Metal lie in relation to this bending of the consciousness toward return? I ask as a novice.

After reading your highly articulate and interesting article something struck me as somewhat amusing upon the first seconds of listening to Winterfylleth for the first time. It has nothing to do with the music itself, which is epic, nor the intelligence of the article, the clear logic of which helped me understand something of Black Metal more profoundly than I think ever before. It was perhaps the true clarity of your voices which struck this funny bone upon the musics raucous outbreak. Such powerful sentiments of a return to a British identity, such reverence for a deserved mythology and such a disdain for the ‘tyrannical EU’, which destroys a ‘sense of unique national identity’ enslaving people under a global regime. These notions swimming round my mind contrasted with the musical onslaught which struck as a notably un-British experience. In the sense that if you hear a tabla drum or sitar you know it’s Indian, a fiddle and bodhoran drum you’d know you’re witnessing Irish roots, bagpipes etc. It could seem a funny choice to express a reverence for British heritage through a medium that is not recognizably British. In fact a medium that is more recognizably European, or Nordic. Considering the distaste for a unifying international banner destroying individual identity the choice to use a decidedly international genre might seem counter intuitive perhaps. No? I cannot stress enough that I do not pose this as an attack, merely as a musing spawned by a mysterious giggle.

The point itself serves to highlight one glaring statement by Winterfylleth that Britons have lost their identity. The obvious lack of an internationally recognised musical tradition to return to, that is not an imposed Christian hymn, is highlighted further by this observation. So, I suppose the question is how do we search out a gentle and loving nationalism from the global chaos of modern culture? Indeed how can we salvage a vestige of a human identity which encourages a reverence toward the heritage of the land? Toward a stark respect for history and where we come from?  Do we reject other forms of national identity in this act? Is punk, baked beans and multiculturalism not as much a fact of Brit identity as warlords and medieval bards?

Allow me one more indulgence to ask and what of a woman's outrage? The story of Bodecia (Boudica), as you mentioned, being emblematic of us all; daughters raped, men dead, honour and respect denied, right over body and land rejected, left with nothing but rage and violence, only power left that to take her own life. Submit, or rage and die? As it is said in legend her battle cry to her troops was to die in the quest for vengeance rather than submit to their oppressors, "This is my resolve, as a woman - follow me or submit to the Roman yoke." How should this identity be respected, revived and honoured?

How do we rekindle an identity so skewed, that of being British, woman, man, human? Crowing its pride? Screaming and lamenting its loss? Keeping the stories alive? Why not. I’m loving it (Mmmm-so to speak). But, among laptops, Nutella, Hollywood and the papal visit, the gulf between that which is celebrated and that which is lived remains. And how is it that transnational sounds of distortion bring us closer to that identity - is it another formula of distraction?

I have only recently been really getting into Black Metal, so excuse the rantings of a novice. Sometimes the observations of an outsider have a fresh and curious clarity dusted in amongst their ignorance, something interesting to an insider. And sometimes the observations of an outsider are just a bit misguided and far from the point. Who knows which these mental wanderings are. I write because I enjoy thinking aloud, I hope you don’t mind me taking up your time. Your article and music have spawned a torrent of musings and conversation, the fruits of which I offer you with thanks for the inspiration.

- Oonagh"

An interview with Toby Driver

Though there are many differences in musical taste between the founders of this site, if a constant exists it is our mutual and limitless appreciation of the works of multi-instrumentalist and composer Toby Driver. His music as it appears in Maudlin of the Well and Kayo Dot was something we all caught on to during our studies at university, and have been unable to let go of since. That said, it is a very special honour for LURKER to be able to present this interview to you, which we hope will serve as a fine introduction to Toby's work for newcomers as much as it will be of great interest for long-time followers.

Where did you want to take your music following the dissolution of maudlin of the Well? In other words, how did Kayo Dot’s aims differ?

There wasn't really an intended difference in terms of ethos.. just in process. I basically became hyper-aware of unnecessary or lazy repetition in rock/metal, and thought it'd be worthwhile to try to create something that was more like through-composed rock/metal. That was the basic difference at that turning point... a lack of riffs and a focus on gradually developing ideas. Starting from that very simple idea led to a great deal of inspiration.

Can you shed some light on your composing methods? I recall watching some Kayo Dot live performances where each member was reading notation. Are all Kayo Dot pieces notated before they take form?

Hasn't always been that way, but I notate stuff more frequently these days for efficiency and to minimize the need for rehearsal time. Since the music is pretty abstract, though, a lot of it isn't really communicable on paper, so I use the manuscript as a starting point and we work it out as a band off of that. Since the music is also generally non-repetitive and the songs are long, the musicians tend to need the sheet music for performances simply because there's just too much to remember. You may notice though, that I rarely use the sheet music onstage for myself... having written it, I pretty much already have it memorized before we even start rehearsing it. However, i would like to point out that that has nothing to do with composing in regards to this band. The sheet music is only used as a way of communicating parts that have already been composed (in my mind or what-have-you). For my compositional methods, it's basically a combination of trancing out with an instrument, obsessive memorization of these trance sessions, and painstaking editing of the ideas. I tend to work really visually as far as that goes, too...  I see musical ideas as forms and relationships as can be rendered by dimensional graphs or drawings, or lines of prose. I would suggest to you guys to also check out the chapter I wrote about this in the book, ARCANA IV: MUSICIANS ON MUSIC.

How does a Kayo Dot song come into being?

Let's say that I use a similar trancelike process for everything I write, however, a Kayo Dot  composition differs from my other band, Tartar Lamb, for example because the music of Tartar Lamb has been defined as a particular theoretical process... Kayo Dot has not, really. Usually when music starts out, I'm just writing out of inspiration, and am not thinking of it as a Kayo Dot piece; it's just that Kayo Dot is where my main energies go as far as production and logistics, so when a piece is taking shape and it looks like the production process is going to be really involved and decently large-scale, then it seems to me like it should be a Kayo Dot endeavor.

How will Stained Glass differ from previous Kayo Dot releases?

Stained Glass is another example of a piece I wrote that didn't have a home or identity (I mean, I didn't write it specifically as a Kayo Dot song). Much like "Coyote," initially, it was intended for a smaller ensemble, and as time passed and I had an opportunity to work on the piece on a grander scale, it was adapted for Kayo Dot. Already, then, it differs in terms of initial planning. The main instrumental trio of "Stained Glass" features vibraphone, an instrument that isn't even really available to Kayo Dot as a performing ensemble, so I already knew that if we were going to go ahead and have this be a Kayo Dot piece, it would only really be able to be performed live locally, where we had access to a vibraphonist and his instrument. Therefore, presuming that "Stained Glass" would exist primarily as a studio composition, we took unrealistic liberties in overdubbing, ha ha! Musically, it's really pretty and discomforting; some may call it ambient, although there is mostly a very apparent pulse... let's see.. we have a guest guitar solo on it from Trey Spruance, so that's new. And, we recorded some of "Stained Glass" at Zing, where we did the MOTW albums, L..L..Library Loft, Choirs of the Eye, and Dowsing Anemone, but I also recorded most of it myself at home, because there was virtually no budget from the label for this recording. In that sense, it may have a little bit of an intimate bedroom recording vibe, I don't know. In preparing for that, though, I was listening to some contemporary four-track geniuses - Burzum, Islaja, Metallic Falcons. Let me add that also, the drums on "Stained Glass" are barely there.. virtually no cymbals were used, the drums' job is not to keep the rhythm.. all of that is because we were restricted to home recording by the lack of funding.

From Blue Lambency Downward onward, Kayo Dot made a stylistic leap from the dense heaviness of Dowsing… and Choirs… Why did you choose this point to depart from your metal background?

I think it's not accurate to present that as a "choice;" I know that there must be some bands or musicians who think that metal is some kind of musical adolescence and they want to move away from it to prove their maturity... but that's not how it is with me, at all. Basically, I'm just interested in exploring different instrumentations. At the time of BLD, I was interested in using a lot of woodwinds, which i thought expressed the lonely emotions of those songs better than layers of guitars could. And, most of the time when saxes are mixed with metal, it sounds LAME! Anyhow, in subsequent compositions, you know, some of the things that interest me most about music are the adventure, exploration, and discovery. When I write new music, I'm wholeheartedly embracing those notions. I just don't see how pointlessly attaching oneself to an identity (you say metal, in this case) is a good thing at all. I'm just interested in music.

What’s your opinion on the state of modern metal? 

I haven't been paying attention to it, for the most part, so I can't say I really have an opinion about it.

What are your favourite bands? Are their any musicians in particular that have shaped the way you compose?

This always changes! I'm not sure this question is really answerable. I don't think of things in terms of "favorites" any more. And everything I hear shapes the way I compose, even stuff I don't like.

How would you pinpoint the musical differences between your projects?

Maybe Maudlin of the Well was a specific group of people. Kayo Dot seems a little more open to going in any direction. Kayo Dot's writing is more advanced than MOTW's, but both share aesthetic points (and discrepancies, too!) Tartar Lamb's music is based on a specific theoretical concept.

Maudlin of the Well had an incredible roster of musicians on board. How did the band get together?

MOTW started just as a four-track recording project between Jason Byron and myself. Each of us had been making songs on our own, but we put this MOTW thing together because we really liked TIAMAT a lot, and wanted to create some music that was kind of like theirs. I remember discussing it with Byron... I said something along the lines of "why should we just sit around and wait for TIAMAT to put out another album? Let's just make one and listen to it!" heheheh.... and the rest is history, I guess. So, we created a couple tunes on the four-track, getting Greg Massi involved to do some solos, and then when I went away to college, I started using the college's studio to work on new songs. Since Byron and Greg were both out of state, I got my musician friends at school to play on the recordings and help me develop the songs. Eventually a performing band came out of it.

Was composing with Maudlin of the Well more a collaborative effort than it is with Kayo Dot now, or did you still have ultimate control over what went in?

Yeah, it was certainly more collaborative. We basically assumed that lyrics were Byron's job, leads were Greg's job, riffs, chord progressions, song skeletons and structure, etc etc were my job, and Terran wrote all his keyboard parts and a lot of the woodwind stuff... those delegations carried over into Kayo Dot as well, and we still kind of work that way (Terran still writes a lot of keyboard parts, and "Stained Glass" was even more collaborative in that Dan wrote his sax parts, Bodie wrote his drum parts - kind of a first for us), but I guess I would be considered the "producer" or the "artistic director" as well as the primary composer.

Maudlin of the Well’s Part The Second was entirely funded by fan donations. Since then you’ve also started a Kickstarter project for Tartar Lamb II. Where did the idea for this come from? Was it difficult to obtain label backing for your releases? 

We decided to do Tartar Lamb II this way because, yes, getting label funding is getting more and more difficult; in general, people aren't buying our CDs, so labels can't justify funding recordings (see above how I talked about how "Stained Glass" needed to be recorded mostly at home). Home recording is really fun and personal of course, but studio recording just sounds better, goddammit. Especially when you're working with acoustic instruments, such as horns (which are featured in TL2 entirely). And since I know how difficult it is to get funding for Kayo Dot, which is essentially a rock band of sorts, and is definitely more accessible than Tartar Lamb, we figured that approaching labels for Tartar Lamb funding would be a futile waste of time and energy.

Could fan donations be a glimpse into the future of the independent music industry? Bands like Extra Life have since done Kickstarter projects as well. 

Absolutely, I think it's fantastic. It'd be wonderful to remove any need whatsoever for middle men.

Part the Second has a very mellow sound compared with the earlier MOTW releases and from anything you've done with Kayo Dot. What brought about this change in direction?

It was not a change in direction. The songs on PTS are old songs, from the exact same era as all the other MOTW stuff that's out there. They were never recorded for the albums, however, because of the required instrumentation, or the very fact that the sound was more mellow. In making the original MOTW albums, we very much wanted to identify ourselves as some kind of a metal band, so we avoiding putting too much of the mellow stuff on those records at that time.

Why do you choose to make music? What makes it more involved than other forms of art? What do you see as the purpose of music? 

I would not say that it's more involved than other forms of art. I make music only because I'm somehow called to do it. I can't help doing it. I want to quit all the time and do other things like become a SCUBA diver and take photos of dolphins and giant grouper, but the only way to stop the "voices" in my head (they're not really voices, OK)... the melodies and the songs that are constantly playing on repeat in my head... the only way to stop them is to turn them into a material form (a recording). Every time I make a record, then, I think I'm free of that shit, but then new songs will start playing up there and the cycle begins again. Very very annoying.

Is there any possibility of another Toby Driver solo record? 

Only if Tzadik is going to release something. In The L..L..Library Loft is only called a Toby Driver solo record because that's kind of the Tzadik Composer Series' policy (see how Mick Barr's Octis album on Tzadik is called a Mick Barr record and not an Octis record, etc etc.. there are many other examples like that on Tzadik). I think it was a fluke that the first Kayo Dot album was able to be released as Kayo Dot and not as Toby Driver. Anyway, In The L..L..Library Loft features all the members of Kayo Dot of that era... there's no reason why that *couldn't* be called a Kayo Dot album, other than the fact that the instrumentation precludes us from ever playing any of those songs live (and I suppose there was no collaborative element whatsoever). Stuff I've worked on since 2005, outside of typical Kayo Dot, has been called Tartar Lamb.. but TL is basically Toby Driver solo composition in the same regard as Library Loft.

We were fortunate enough to come across a youtube video of yourself performing 'The Second Sight' with lyrics by Jason Byron. If your ‘casual’ song writing is of this standard, does this mean there’s loads of unheard Toby Driver material?

Yeah, there's lots of stuff like that!

Maudlin of the Well flirted with astral projection and other new age concepts. It is also said that maudlin of the Well material was partially composed through lucid dreaming. Can you elaborate on this, and does it have any relevance to the music you are now creating? Jason Byron’s lyrics for Kayo Dot still seem to make reference to these concepts. 

Yes, again I would like to recommend to your readers to check out ARCANA IV;  I contributed a nine-page essay to it which thoroughly answers this question. I have to tell you that Byron's lyrics, since MOTW, have not made reference to this subject matter at all. The astral projection/lucid dreaming theme was very much part of the MOTW aesthetic, but I like to believe that Kayo Dot has gone beyond those things into subtler territory. However, dreaming is still a large part of my creative process... often, I hear musical ideas in dreams these days which I'm able to use in waking life. In fact, and this'll probably get published after the fact, but this Friday (October 29) I'll be performing a brand new tune whose music was initially dreamt (The song is called "Lethe," with lyrics by Tim Byrnes.)

Moments like on Dowsing’s opener, Gemini Becoming the Tripod, appear rather ritualistic.  At points your vocals appear to be deeper in the thrall of the music than a casual listen might suggest. Is there a spiritual dimension to Kayo Dot at all?

Not like how you seem to be suggesting... Spirituality is tough to define; As I mentioned above, I definitely feel "called" or otherwise compelled to make music, and songs often seem to write themselves. When I write, I often retreat into my subconscious. I get into a shallow trance. I feel physical ecstasy when writing or performing. Sometimes, I can't sing because I get so choked up by emotion. Are these aspects of spirituality? I have no idea. Maybe someone that is spiritual is reaching or searching for something specific, in which case I definitely am not, at this point in my life. Maybe that's one of the big differences between Kayo Dot and MOTW, too. MOTW had a specific spiritual sort of goal. Right now, though, I'm just along for the ride and am enjoying where it's taking me. I have to mention, though, that Byron, where his lyrics are involved, is a different story. He spends basically 100% of his time on this aspect of himself, and surely his lyrics reflect that, and affect the output of Kayo Dot. I may be a neutral bridge, in this case.

Former lyricist Jason Byron is making a return on Stained Glass. Why did he not contribute to Blue Lambency Downward and Coyote? We heard he's a 'hermit' now...? 

He didn't contribute to BLD because I didn't ask him; that was a record I was working on by myself and in an intensely personal way. Coyote's lyrics were written by Yuko Sueta because Coyote started off as a collab between her and myself, and not as a Kayo Dot project. Byron's not a hermit, he's just got his own personal life. He lives a few states away from me, so we rarely see each other.

Will Choirs of the Eye ever be released on vinyl? 

I don't think so. Tzadik doesn't do vinyl and they don't license. Well, they're just putting out their first vinyl release (Zorn's DREAMERS) right now... so hey, if that one sells, then maybe there's hope for a "Choirs..." phonograph record.

The meanings behind each Kayo Dot album title are fairly opaque. What do they represent for you?

Choirs of the Eye - the beginnings of tears. Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue - purely visual.. just try to visualize what that would look like, and there you have it. Blue Lambency Downward - again mostly visual, but I tried to elaborate with the comic-poster set I created and offered for sale via Hydra Head back in 2009 (and which no one bought or paid attention to, ha ha *cry*). Check it out on my website though, under "artwork". Coyote - god of Chaos and Change. "The warmth of doeskin, dry plains grasses, and soft, dusty woods warmed by amber and a downy, gentle coat of deep musk." Stained Glass - it's about stained glass, musically and lyrically.

How has the overall fan response towards your music changed over the years?

It seems like people catch up with the albums a few years after their release, in every case. Not too much attention at first, and lots of disdain. About 6 years afterwards, respect and a longing for the "old days". Actually this is frustrating for the fans as well, because they want to hear these old songs on tour, and they don't understand that we've already played all those songs on tour hundreds of times; these fans just didn't come to the shows! It's even logistically near-impossible to play some of the old stuff these days since our instrumentation changes so frequently. Fortunately, I've started to notice a faction of fans who are adventurous listeners and have grown to trust my instinct, for the most part, so they're able to approach my current ideas with open-mindedness. I very much appreciate that.

Well, you have a few fans for life here.

Pagan Hellfire - Spirit of Blood and Struggle 7"

Here's one that slipped under the radar. Canada's Pagan Hellfire return with a new 7", packed with cold Black Metal fresh from the battlefield (out now on German label Genocide Aesthetics). The driving rhythms and carefully-layered guitar lines of 2008's Solidarity are as strong as ever, and will whet any fan's appetite for another full-length.

'Spoken at the Altars Distant' is a solid enough song, with riffs that recall the better bits of latter-day Graveland (Fire Chariot of Destruction) and middle-period Darkthrone. It's nothing, however, in comparison with the real stormer that follows. 'Anthem of War, Forever to be Sung' starts off in a similar vein, but is packed with memorable riffs. After a long stretch of blast beats and constant key changes, the song really comes into its own at around the three-and-a-half minute mark. We're treated to a sequence of stunning riffs, killer shifts of rhythm, and some incisive melodic lead-work to round off. Like any 7", it's a short journey, but one you'll remember for days to come, the grim refrain etched into your mind, War is forever, and forever is war.

Enslaved's Mardraum: ten years on

Thanks to Enslaved's latest opus, I've discovered that there's at least some extreme metal that my girlfriend is happy to listen to in the car. Alongside Vertebrae, Axioma... has been in heavy circulation, and has turned car journeys into a chance to kick back with some huge tunes. Spurred on to seek out more car-friendly metal¸ I've been working through the band's discography - most of which I haven't listened to for years - and what a treat it's been. One record has stood out more than all the others: 2000's Mardraum - Beyond the Within (Osmose Productions). I rarely hear it ranked among the band's best releases, but in a nearly faultless back-catalogue, Mardraum floored me in a way that no other Enslaved album has managed to.

With Mardraum, Enslaved took their first steps towards the blackened progressive metal of their current incarnation, and right from the album's opening notes there's a strong Floyd influence on show. But the band that wrote this album is a far cry from the Enslaved of today. The uncompromising energy and aggression of Blodhemn still runs strong through the arteries of Mardraum: the break-neck riffery on 'Daudningekvida' and 'Krigaren eg Ikkje Kjende' reminds us that even with 5 full-lengths under their belt, Enslaved were still a very young band in 2000 (Ivar B. must have been about 22). There's a rawness to the production, too, that lends an extra ounce of ferocity and silences anyone who might equate a prog influence with going soft. This is definitely not an album for the car.

The best thing about Mardraum is its huge sense of adventure. No compromise is made for the 'sensibilities' of traditional rock or metal songwriting. Take opener 'Større enn Tid - Tyngre enn Natt', a sprawling epic that slides seamlessly through a long chain of movements in a wide variety of styles and tempos, while staying compelling from the beginning right to its majestic conclusion. Other tracks (e.g. 'Ormgard', 'Æges Draum') see Enslaved toying with a heavily Death Metal-influenced sound, which (kind of surprisingly) works fantastically within their progressive/Black Metal framework.

After this brave and diverse album, there really was no telling which direction Enslaved would head off in next. While I love the sonic territory they ended up exploring on their post-Y2K albums, the reckless unpredictability of Mardraum will always be closer to my heart.