My Top 5 albums of 2012 so far

1. Gojira – ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’

After giving it a 10/10, there are no regrets. Gojira continue to crush in their unique blend of death metal chuggery and calming interludes.

2. Asphyx – ‘Deathhammer’

The legends of the death/doom scene returned with their eighth full length and continue to do what they do best, crushing riffs, however this time with a slightly thrashy twist.

3. Gorod – ‘A Perfect Absolution’

Despite being one of the first releases of 2012, this album has still stuck with me. The technicality by the French  is flawless and the additional jazz parts make it hard to forget.

4. Meshuggah – ‘Koloss’

Does this really need an explanation? Meshuggah are finally back and they haven’t lost their touch as they continue to show up any other djent wannabes.

5. Goatwhore – ‘Blood for the Master’

Goatwhore celebrated their fifteenth anniversary with a beast of an album, however the stars still stay underrated despite a blackened death masterpiece that’s hard to pinpoint.

Close behind these choices were: Ihshan, Flayed Disiciple, Testament, Nachtvorst

 

Kontinuum – ‘Earth Blood Magic’

Kontinuum – ‘Earth Blood Magic’

Candlelight Records

With Solstafir bringing Iceland back into metal community conversations with last year’s album, it would appear Kontinuum are following to confirm their country’s status. With some similarities to Solstafir, ‘Earth Blood Magic’ presents a melancholic menagerie of influences from post black metal screams, piano-led ambience and even some folk instrumentals. Despite such a blend of sounds, the five-piece keep a progressive yet desolate tone throughout. Akin to their hometown Reykjavik, the album feels isolated and icy, until all of a sudden a stronger noise erupts and covers the tracks in riff-filled magma. The doom and gloom is produced with clarity however the changes between Icelandic and English vocals causes a stutter through the record making you think perhaps they should’ve stuck to one or the other. Regardless, this debut shows an array of qualities Kontinuum are capable of, however they may have showcased too much at once.

Lily Randall

3 fists

To be published in Issue 1 of Iron Fist magazine! Like it on Facebook now!

Introducing – Sophicide

It’s rare to find one-man projects in the DM scene, especially one as technical as Willowtip’s latest protégé Sophicide. The German lone ranger Adam Lazslo was just 19 when he formed the project, with EP ‘The Art of Atrocity’ only showcasing half of his possibilities. With Sopicide’s literal meaning being “murder of wisdom”, it’s apparent what the themes are. “It’s about failures of modern society and the misery that results from this, value systems that try to impose ridiculous ideas to people, like religion and in general things that one should worry about nowadays I think. And [this is] my humble attempt at musically executing these ideas”, explains Adam.

To start alone so young is an interesting move; however debut ‘Perdition Of The Sublime’ proves Adam’s technicality and song-writing is close to challenging credited artists already in the death metal scope. “I didn’t have fitting band members at that time, so I decided to start on my own. I also found it easier to realise my musical ideas without having to make compromises. It’s the upside if you’re making music alone, you’re the only one responsible for the quality of your music, and I kinda like that idea.”

Adam’s influences are prominent throughout – the brutality of Bloodbath, the technicality of fellow countrymen Necrophagist and the guitar wankery of Animals As Leaders. ‘Perdition …’ boasts widdles and wails on both guitar and bass but at no point are you given time to rest, while it challenges both your brain and wind milling simultaneously. Despite the isolation, a live line up is already on the cards and although his village may not have much of an extreme scene, Adam’s proud to be a part of Germany’s tech death community as well as Willowtip’s gruesome library.

Lily Randall

Will be published in Issue 1 of Iron Fist magazine

Zatokrev – ‘The Bat, The Wheel And A Long Road To Nowhere’

Zatokrev – ‘The Bat, The Wheel And A Long Road To Nowhere’

Candlelight Records

Despite two full lengths previous, ‘The Bat…’ is getting the same reception as a debut due to Zatokrev’s underground status. The band is hard to pinpoint with labels such as post-doom and doom-death, however the black metal vocal shrills give the Swiss outlet a more unique twist. Opener ‘Goddamn Lights’ starts promisingly as crushing riffs contrast with ease over stripped down melancholy creating a sound that makes Katatonia sound like they’ve won the lottery. The second and third tracks continue to please with what the band call “sludge apocalypse”, however the songs all come in at around eight minutes long, causing the tempo to drag and attention to be lost. Although it’s a challenge to reach the end of the album due to the length and bleakness, the ambience is bound to hypnotize you so you don’t even notice.

3/5 fists

Lily Randall

Written for the new magazine Iron Fist #1 Check it out and like on Facebook!

Bloodstock Interviews : Moonsorrow

Many debates on the Bloodstock forum were over the lack of folk metal bands on the bill this weekend but with Moonsorrow truly waking up the main stage earlier in the day, it’s fair to say good things come in small packages. This is the first time the band have been on our isles in four years, so we thought we’d better grab them before they disappeared again.

This is your first Bloodstock, but it’s not your first UK festival is it?
It went too fast! I didn’t even realise we were already at the end when we were playing the last song. It was really good though.

Surely it’s still worth it though even if it is only a short set?
Of course it’s still worth it! We haven’t been here for four years so we definitely were looking forward to being here. We last played Bloodstock in 2008 and it’s great to be back, especially with non-typical English weather.

Was there any particular reason as to why you’ve not been back to the UK for a while?
Not really, I mean perhaps there have been a lack of good offers but that’s not on the band’s part at all. We’d love to come back to the UK right after playing Bloodstock. We’ve been doing other tours but for some reason or another, the UK has not been involved.

So, can we expect a UK tour anytime soon?
I would really like to do that, I can’t tell anything right now, as we don’t actually have any plans because we have an American tour coming and then we will probably start thinking about the next album. When the next album is out we will of course want to go on an extensive tour all over the place, however we haven’t started the album yet.

You may not have actually started the album but do you have any ideas in the mix?
No one knows yet.

Have you got to check any of the bands out today?
We just got to see Sepultura, that was really good, especially their new drummer.

When you’re out on tour, do you keep up with the other beer-obsessed folk metal bands?
I would say that we do still. I wouldn’t say we were less subtle though, even if we do not sing about it!

Interview by Lily Randall.

Some Bloodstock reviews

Here are some of my reviews from Bloodstock, which will be slotted in with a full feature for Soundshock.com.

When Watain enter the stage in broad daylight, Erik is defiant the Swedes will “bring the sun down” and with an aptly timed set and an utterly grim show, he sticks to his word. As expected, black metal’s latest kings bring an array of arsenal to the stage whilst they blaze through a classic set; tunes such as ‘Waters of Ain’ and ‘Reaping Death’ sounding particularly grim to summon the night sky. Despite previous black metal acts having difficulty with the main stage sound, Watain create a flawless darkness (pun intended) and the front row is covered in blood like they hoped for. LR

The pyrotechnics continue to conquer the main stage with Behemoth finally returning to their throne after having to pull out back in 2010. The band look as thrilled as one would imagine and Nergal looks stronger than ever, as he thunders through the hammering riffs of tracks like ‘Slaves Shall Serve’ and ‘Demigod’. The rest of the Poles make the stage look small in comparison, with each blastbeat being fuelled with precision and aggression. When the vocalist roars “It’s great to be alive” everyone can officially say they were a part of something historic here tonight and the worthy headliners are most definitely back where they belong. LR

Being the first band on the main stage is always going to be a tough feat but imagine the challenge with the addition of a frontman on crutches. Benediction manage to crush any doubts of being up to said challenge by whipping up a circle pit as soon as they begin. Despite the early morning hangovers the crowd are strong and lively and its apparent Dave Hunt, who is on crutches with a leg injury, is overwhelmed by such a response. The Brummie veterans only have a short set but manage to tire us out with a varied collection of thrash/death belters, many spanning back as far as classic album ‘Transcend the Rubicon’ and with Dave’s added humour (mostly at himself), everyone is pumped up for the day ahead. LR

The opening bands have managed to kick everyone out of their slumber and now the crowd are ready to neck the whiskey back with some seriously Southern grooves. With a discography as long as some of their riffs, Crowbar are going to be able to play this set with their eyes shut and thus the sludge oozes tightly. Each breakdown is received with a serious banging of heads including last year’s beast ‘Sever The Wicked Hand’ however movement over on the stage is severely lacking. LR

The denims and drunkards suddenly appear from their boozy pits for a more energetic pit as Chuck Billy and his legendary lot grace the stage with huge grins on their faces. Testament are one of the main thrash acts of the weekend and with that in mind, it doesn’t take long for the chaos to commence. The band certainly haven’t lost their touch with the recently released ‘Dark Roots Of The Earth’ already being sung back to them and slotting with ease into the standard setlist, however its blatant many are waiting for ‘Into The Pit’ to erupt. Chuck Billy shows true frontmanship as he stomps around the stage air guitaring to every shred on his mike stand and as soon as the show comes to a close, the thrashers are keen for their return to our shores in November. LR

With Deicide pulling out, Evile are pushed up from the Sophie stage to a decent afternoon slot on the RJD stage, however the pressure certainly doesn’t get to them, especially seeing as this is their fourth Bloodstock. Once the thrash ensues, the crowd is bulging with madness and bodies flailing and one can imagine the festival organisers breathing a sigh of relief as the Sophie stage avoids total devastation. For many the Northerner’s latest instalment, ‘Five Serpents’ Teeth’ was mediocre, however it translates to the live atmosphere with ease and ballad ‘In Memoriam’ opens  when the skies do, causing everyone to feel like they’re a part of an insanely emotional music video. LR

Its always great when you see that a New Blood band of previous years has evolved and returned on the Sophie stage. Flayed Disciple won their regional heats back in 2010 and this year their debut ‘Deathhammer’ was released, proving their worth with death/thrash fury. This afternoon sees the country boys continue to prove themselves live with an energetic set and some of the audience already knowing the latest songs. This sound is dodgy at points but once you find a top spot in the tent, the head banging is subconscious as the grooves take over.

For many death metal fans at the festival, the news of Deicide dropping out was disappointing, albeit predictable, however Sunday’s afternoon is still full of brutality from US titans Nile. It would appear they have beckoned down the Egyptian rain god as the skies begin to open, however this doesn’t dampen any spirits as they showcase new riffing rituals from their latest. As is slightly the case on open stages such as Bloodstock, the dangerously deep Karl Sanders’ vocals are slightly muffled, however his shredding is far from ignored with ‘Lashed to the Slave Stick’ sounding as terrifying as ever. LR

It’s time for Dave Hunt to hobble into the spotlight for the second time this weekend, however this time he’s leaving the thrash from some truly grim blackened grind, if you wish to label as band such as Anaal Nathrakh. The tent is rammed and despite a slightly sloppy start, the necro-butchers of metal have got everyone into a frenzy with their grinding speed and shrill evil. With a preview off the new album being sneaked as well, the fans who have come over to the Sophie Lancaster tent have no regret missing Dimmu Borgir and with the addition of Dave trying to start a fight with a pit member its fair to say this band will continue serving the British scene proud. LR

Bloodstock interviews – Chthonic

Chthonic’s bassist Doris Yeh may have been cause for some of the hypnotized stares at Bloodstock, but most of the attention has been for their twist on symphonic black metal in recent times. Taiwan’s next best thing still have plenty in store and Doris was as humble as could be when discussing the success of the band with SoundShock’s Lily Randall.

So this is your first Bloodstock, but it’s not your first UK festival is it?
Doris: No we did Damnation Festival, Hammerfest and Download last year.

How are you finding Bloodstock in comparison?
Doris: Ah, well I think the fans are really great because we don’t have these kind of festivals in Taiwan and there are not really many metal bands so it’s so nice to see so many people that like this kind of music get together.

So is metal not very popular in Taiwan? Where did you get your influences to be in a band like that?
Doris: Actually the metal community is getting a lot better in Taiwan over the past ten years. I was in a band when I was in high school. My dad is a bass player so I was influenced by him and I was able to learn at home for free so it was natural for me to become a bass player. Ten years ago, in Taiwan so many people were into metal music so my band members gave me music like Megadeth and Slayer and then I met the guys from Chthonic so I joined.

How does it feel knowing that you are popular in other countries like the UK?
Doris: When people use the word popular I really cannot feel it relates to me. I won’t treat myself as a star or something; I will treat myself as a musician. Actually its very interesting that I don’t know if I am or famous or not famous but I enjoy every minute of it with fans, friends and people who love metal music. That’s the most important thing for me.

Where is your favourite place to play apart from Taiwan?
Doris: There are a lot; the UK is always good and also in Japan the fans are really extreme when you’re playing. When you do the signing session they seem shocked to meet us! They are always very polite and give special personal gifts so I think it’s very sweet.

Apart from playing, what’s your favourite thing about festivals? I see you’re enjoying a tasty beer there!
Doris: [laughs] Yes! My first tour in my whole life was Ozzfest five years ago and at that time Jagermeister was the sponsor, so many bands got free Jagermeister every day. Now it’s like a habit for us to drink Jagermeister before every gig for me to relax. That influenced me a lot.

I see you are endorsed with ESP. How did that come about?
Doris: Actually I was endorsed by Ibanez after I played Ozzfest but before that I played ESP so after a couple of years ESP endorsed me. They give me two basses every year, both limited and original and I use them depending on different songs, both four and five string. I have my own signature custom bass now which is awesome. I have so many basses all over the world for studio and for playing live.

So what’s next for Chthonic? Are you writing a new album?
Yes we have been writing our new album since the beginning of this year. When we’re on tour we still keep writing songs. We hope that early next year we are going to hit the studio and by May the new album will be out.

Interview by Lily Randall.