Tag Archives: Symphonic Black Metal

Interview with Vesperian Sorrow

Vesperian Sorrow releases their long-awaited fourth full length album, Stormwinds of Ages this year, six long years after their previous album. Unlike most symphonic black metal, the band has managed to captivate me, with the huge neo-classical influences that are present in their style of music. We talk to Will and Subverseraph to learn more.

HMT: Greetings Will! Vesperian Sorrow has been around since 1994, under the moniker Unholy Descent. Before we begin the interview proper, would it be possible to tell us the circumstances under which the band formed, including your joining the band back in 1996?

Will: I was looking to find some guys to start a band with, so I started posting ads in music stores. Donni found one of my ads and called me up. At the time it was just him and Kris (drummer) in a small practice space. The three of us wrote the first demo and recorded it about three months later. I started shopping it around to labels and that’s when we were picked up by Displeased. We were fairly excited about it back then because we were one of the first US bands to play this style of keyboard driven black/extreme metal and we were picked up by a European label.

In 1997, the band changed its name to the current Vesperian Sorrow. How did the name of the band come about, and what is the meaning and significance behind the band name, Vesperian Sorrow?

Will: After we signed with Displeased we had already started writing a bulk of the material for the first album. We started realizing that what we were writing and the style we were transforming into really didn’t fit the band name we were using (Unholy Descent). We felt that it really minimized our potential to expand musically as well, almost as if we were painting ourselves into a corner with it. So, we decided that before we released our first record we would change our name and have a fresh start, and the label agreed that it was a good move on our part.

Subverseraph: “Derived from the latin ‘vesper,’ ‘vesperian’ pertains to duskfall, sundown, the onset of night, etc., and Vesperian Sorrow is open to an extent of interpretation, so it can mean anything along the lines of the following: mass mourning at the demise of light, scourge/plague of eternal night, a figurative showcase of the Beowulf-Grendel dynamic, maybe even metaphor for the Black Death. You decide.”

The band seems to have the habit of taking its time to produce new music, with the gap between Psycotic Sculpture and Regenesis Creation being 5 years. It has been a long 6-year wait for the release of Stormwinds of Ages. As evident from the band’s 2008 promo release, the music on Stormwinds of Ages has been in the works for quite a long while. Were there any particular reasons behind this long wait?

Subverseraph: “Throughout its history this band has been constantly stricken by a revolving door of lineup changes. It’s comparatively not until recently that VS has been comprised of such a solid cast of contributing characters. Even in the years since my induction (which was in September of 2006) I’ve seen the loss and replacement of a bassist, and those of two guitarist positions. Also, the writing, recording, mixing, and mastering processes (this time, all of which we ourselves were responsible for) are none that we’re ever so self-insulting as to rush. We’re not a band that plays our own city every other weekend, much less one that shits out an album every year-and-a-half.”

With the release of Stormwinds of Ages though, the reception has been rather well, with most fans of metal music giving much praise for the album. How does the band feel about this, considering how long the album has been in the works?

Subverseraph: “It’s rather gratifying, if I do say so myself, and the others can concur. First and foremost, we do this for ourselves and couldn’t give a rat’s about seeking outside validation, but honest appreciation for the spawn of our blood, sweat, and proverbial tears is something that we appreciate profoundly and that we don’t and will never take for granted.”

The band describes itself as futuristically medieval, yet neoclassically barbaric at the same time, bringing together the ancient and the modern. Would it be possible to explain more about this philosophy of the band to fans?

Subverseraph: “The juxtaposition of that which is archaic with that which is ever-evolving is the blood and lightning that breathes life into our music. We strive for that crossing of worlds. I used to jokingly describe our music as that of ‘viking space pirates who are actually vampires…from space.’ HAHAHA!!! But when you think about it, is that description not somewhat apt?”

The music on Stormwinds of Ages, besides the usual symphonic and black metal elements, also see the band exploring and pushing the boundaries of extreme metal, including the usage of some death metal inspired and technical riffs on tracks like Legacies Befallen and neoclassical elements that are littered throughout the album. What were some of the influences the band had when writing Stormwinds of Ages, and how did the inclusion of such elements come about?

Subverseraph: “Naturally, I’d say. We don’t ever let the limitations of staying genre-specific overshadow our creativity, but at the same time, we never sit down to write and say, ‘Okay, this song needs to sound like VADER meets TRISTANIA, alright? GO!’ Our music seems to write itself. We all cull influence from practically all types of metal and sometimes even a little gothic industrial/ebm. We DO, however, tend to consider our music to be largely a product of our being youths of the mid-to-late 90s. The evolution of Scandinavian black, death, and gothic metal within that period of time is a movement, contrary to popular belief/ignorance and despite being American, that we were there for and a part of, and that influence will undoubtedly be culled from indefinitely.”

The songs on the album are extremely well-crafted, with songs like Casting Down into Shadows managing to fuse brutality with beauty. How did such visions come about when writing the music on the album? What was the songwriting process behind Stormwinds of Ages like?

Subverseraph: “The way ‘Casting Dawn into Shadow’ came to be is actually very exemplary of what the songwriting process behind the entire album was like. One late evening, Kristoph (drummer) and I were slaving away in the control room of our studio, him at the monitors and me on one of my synths. I began to fiddle around with a synthline that I’d come up with; he heard it and was like, ‘Hey, that’s cool; sounds like The Birthday Massacre (a non-metal band that both he and I are unashamedly partial to). He then quit working on what he was working on, pulled up a new project, commandeered my synth, began expanding upon what he heard me do, tracked it, programmed some rough drum patterns under it and put some tremolo-picked Abigor/Emperor-styled dual guitar melodies over it. Thus was born the opening of ‘Casting…’ The more the song grew, the more we knew that it called for some significant female vocal action, and we knew that there was no one more worthy of tackling that than the emminent Erika Tandy (formerly of Autumn Tears and Ignitor who now fronts the death metal band Morgengrau), a friend of the band and a very experienced and professional vocalist with broad range and great power. Her performance speaks for itself and brought the song to a higher level of epic awesomeness than we ever anticipated.”

Being a band with quite a long history, in your view, how has the band grown over the years? How different was the songwriting process for this album is compared to, say, the previous release of the band?

Will: Well, naturally we’ve all grown older and we’ve been constantly staying after each other to improve in our technical abilities on our chosen instruments. So we have definitely improved in our playing abilities, and usually if we are not good enough to perform a part the way we hear it in our head, we are quite stubborn enough to sit down and practice till we get it. The way we used to write music for the first couple of albums and a little with the third was more of a group type effort standing around in the practice room coming up with riffs. I personally don’t really like that way of writing as it distracts me of hearing music and being able to channel it properly to my guitar. This record was basically written with Kris (drummer) coming up with all the basic song structures with everyone else coming in adding their parts here and there. We all basically put our two cents in about arranging and stuff like that, but Kris definitely did most of the heavy lifting on this one. We are all starting to build a huge data base of riffs and ideas for the next record though and I see it as a more collaborative effort on the next record, but in a way where we kind of bring stuff to the table and then arrange songs afterward, as opposed to the early way of just standing around in the jam room. Now with having our own studio we can put ideas down instantly and start arranging them and hearing different ways of doing it much more efficiently.

One of the moments that particularly grabbed my attention was the usage of the acoustic, Spanish-styled folk guitar on Crown of Glass. How did the inclusion of such moments come about?

Subverseraph: “Moments like that are those in which our semi-progressive side comes out. Going back to the question before the question before last, it’s just a testament to our expansive range of influences. You ever watched a flamenco guitarist play? Those guys shred.”

Will: To add to that as well, I know Kris wanted a Spanish style part added in somewhere as his heritage is such that. Which is cool because every one of us in our band all come from different backgrounds and cultures, we are all Texans per se, but with a wide range of upbringings. I guess more than anything, the environment in which you are raised does rub off on you.

Stormwinds of Ages, being the elaboration of a line that was present on the band’s album as mentioned by Donni in an interview I read, would it be possible to tell us about the overall concept that lie beneath the lyrics of Stormwinds of Ages?

Subverseraph: “They all stem from visions had by Don Donni, which he elaborates upon in poetically creating worlds behind, worlds blighted by decay in one form or another. They’re very stream of consciousness and as esoteric as the listener wishes them to be as per their own interpretation. The flagship title track, though, heralds a metamorphosis into territory darker than anything we’d yet achieved, and its lyrical content reflects that. It’s a war anthem–the Nephilim’s call to arms, so to speak. ‘Gods dethroned and deceased/Banish forth, storming plague/From our wrath winds released/Thwarted lore, faith is vague.'”

And to top off the entire Vesperian Sorrow experience, there is also that hauntingly beautiful album artwork. Would it be possible to explain the concept behind the album artwork, and the process by which it came about?

Subverseraph: “There is a tattoo artist here in our hometown of Austin, Texas by the name of Jon Zig who fronts the brutal death metal bands Images of Violence and Sarcolytic. It was a conscious decision for this album’s cover artwork to be more akin to an actual painting than some graphic designer’s hodge-podge of inter-special limbs and genre-typical baphometic leftovers, so what with Zig being a friend of the band (not to mention, an amazingly talented artist known for his works for Suffocation, Averse Sefira, Psypheria and many others), his commissioning went without saying. We gave him an mp3 of the song, the lyrics, told him that we were looking for something with atmosphere along the lines of Kris Verwimp’s artwork for Absu’s ‘The Third Storm of Cythraul,’ and what resulted is a piece that we couldn’t be prouder of. His visual interpretation of the title track provided an aesthetic with which to compliment our music perfectly and is a testament to Zig’s brilliantly sick imagination. (www.medusaink.com) As for the ominous, wormhole-born sephirotic figure it pictures, I’d say that she and/or he is up for personal conjecture. Is HE the Sephirot of Gevurah or Gabriel, the Angel of Death and Left Hand of God sent to bleed Jerusalem dry? Or is SHE the valkyrian war deity Morrigan (‘Goddess and Maiden and Queen of the Night/Be with us now and befriend/We have suffered long enough/Having seen pain in the end.’)? To both, I answer, ‘Sure.'”

As can be seen on the band’s Facebook page, the band will be playing a couple of shows. Other than live performances, are there any near-future plans for the band?

Subverseraph: “Other than various shows spread across the summer and more to be confirmed throughout the year and into the next (with some European festival appearances hopefully pending), we’ve already commenced work on the follow-up to Stormwinds of Ages, and I can tell you without pretense that if you thought THAT album was dark and heavy,………….”

We have come to the last part of the interview, any parting words to fans of the band?

Subverseraph: “Ave! Your support is eternally appreciated, and you can keep tabs on us at http://www.facebook.com/vesperian. See ya ’round, we hope. lml >,< lml”

Related articles:
Album Review: Vesperian Sorrow – Stormwind of Ages

Vesperian Sorrow on the internet:
Official website
Facebook
MySpace
ReverbNation
The Path Less Traveled Records

Album Review: Vesperian Sorrow – Stormwinds of Ages

Vesperian Sorrow [USA]
Stormwinds of Ages
2012
Full Length
The Path Less Traveled Records
Symphonic Black Metal

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=2381491114/size=venti/bgcol=FFFFFF/linkcol=4285BB/

6 years in the making, American symphonic black metal band Vesperian Sorrow finally releases their follow up to 2006’s Regenesis Creation with Stormwinds of Ages. With Regenesis Creation garnering largely positive feedback from the music community, Vesperian Sorrow faces quite a challenge with Stormwinds of Ages, especially since it has been a rather long while since they last released new material.

Fortunately the band manages to meet expectations with the excellent musicianship that is present on Stormwinds of Ages. While symphonic black metal might bring evoke an image of beauty and melody, Vesperian Sorrows on Stormwinds of Ages has managed to fuse this side of the music with an equally aggressive side, resulting in an extremely powerful sounding record, yet never neglecting any of the symphonic elements in their music. While the riffs that guitarist William unleash are razor sharp and extremely precise, the one thing that really stole the limelight personally seems to be drummer Kristoph with his energetic drumming on the record, reminding me of my first exposure to symphonic black metal and Hellhammer’s drumming on Dimmu Borgir‘s Stormblåst MMV, with the powerful and majestic style of drumming. William also displays his technical abilities with the numerous neo-classical inspired solos that are littered throughout the album. The versatility of William and JZD is further shown on tracks like Legacies Befallen with the complex death metal riffing patterns, sounding like a blackened version of Fleshgod Apocalypse at times.

The quality of the music that the band has written on Stormwinds of Ages is such that even without the symphonic elements in the music, the record could have easily been as powerful with the intensity of the music and the speed that the band goes at. However, the synths that are constantly present throughout the record help to create a heavy and at times, haunting atmosphere without sounding cheesy, helping to make listening to Stormwinds of Ages a fuller experience. Songs like Casting Dawn into Shadows also make use of female vocals, providing a somewhat operatic effect, and Crown of Glass even has a Spanish folk-inspired acoustic lead guitar, constantly surprising listeners with unexpected influences throughout.

Of course, the excellent musicianship of Vesperian Sorrow would have probably gone to waste if not for the crisp and bombastic production quality of the album, giving a loud and clear voice to each of the individual instruments on the album. The biting tone of the rhythm guitars help to ensnare the listener’s attention and the lack of the lower end is made up for with the bass guitars, providing a nice balance. Stormwinds of Ages is overall an extremely powerful, yet enjoyable and catchy record, and is sure to please any fans of symphonic extreme metal.

Vesperian Sorrow on the internet:
Official website
Facebook
MySpace
ReverbNation
The Path Less Traveled Records

©2012 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

Interview with Carach Angren

Carach Angren has over the years crafted a name for themselves not only with their symphonic approach to black metal, but also the horror-themed lyrics and concepts, and the story-telling format that are contained on their albums. With Where the Corpses Sink Forever, the band expands on their existing concepts and deals with the horrors of war. We talk to Ardek to find out more.


HMT: Greetings Carach Angren. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to talk to you. Before we begin the interview, would it be possible to give us a brief history of the band?

Greetings! Yes, we started Carach Angren initially as a project band back in 2003. From the start we felt like making music and lyrics about ghost stories, horror and hauntings so that’s what we did. In 2004 we released our first Cdemo valled ‘The Chase Vault Tragedy’ and shortly after that ‘Ethereal Veiled Existence’ (2005). Both Eps handle about ghost apparations.

After this we came in contact with Philip Breuer from Maddening Media and he gave us the opportunity to record our first full-lenght album Lammendam in 2008. Lammendam tells a local ghost haunting. This opened new opportunities for us as we played more and more live in 2008 and 2009.

In the summer of 2009 we recorded ‘Death Came Through a Phantom Ship’ and this was also released under the flag of Maddening Media.. A concept album about the famous story of the Dutch Captain van der Decken and his Flying Dutchman.

After this we had a very intensive tour with Dark Funeral in 2010 and were picked up by record-label Season of Mist. Now we released our third album, ‘Where the Corpses Sink Forever’ and here we are!

Carach Angren refers to “Iron Jaws” in an Elvish language from Tolkien’s Middle Earth. How did the name come about, and what is the significance behind the band name in relation to the music and themes of Carach Angren?

Seregor (vocals/ guitar) had always thought of this name, even during the during the years we was operating in his first black metal band Inger Indolia. After years when we started he came up with this name again and we instantly liked it! Not because it is from Tolkien or anything but mainly because of how it is written and the way it sounds when pronounced. It’s a great coincidence that in the Tolkien stories Carach Angren is a ghostlike portal.

The band recently released the new album, Where the Corpses Sink Forever on Season of Mist, the band’s first major label release. How has the response been so far for the album, and how different is it working with a label of Season of Mist’s stature compared to smaller labels?

The response has been overwhelming, both from the press and the fans. Our experience with both Maddening Media and Season of Mist has been great so far.

On Where the Corpses Sink Forever, perhaps the most significant difference is in the lyrical concepts of the album. While previous albums focused on folklores and ghost stories, the themes on the new album had a heavier focus on themes like war. What was it that made the band decide to shift focus when dealing with the lyrical themes on the album?

I don’t the think we really changed the themes at all. When you read the lyrics you can see we still focus on ghosts, hauntings and horror in general. With every release we try to pick a different setting and this time we took war. Another big difference is the fact that this time Seregor wrote all the stories himself.

Also, where was inspiration for writing the lyrics on Where the Corpses Sink forever drawn from?

We wanted to go further on the horror and ghost themes with this album and instead of adapting an existing story like on the previous two releases, we wanted to make up something completely ourselves this time. On a certain point Seregor came up with like three incredible stories about war on a very personal level. It was the story about the Violinist and Little Hector and I remember being completely overwhelmed by the impact of the stories. That’s when I started composing more and more music and the album got together more and more in the months after. In the end we decided to find a way to fit all the songs and stories together into one big cycle. We get inspiration from anything that crosses our paths; books, films, music and especially using our imagination.. just sitting around and talking about things. That’s how the stories and music get developed.

Many black metal elitists out there still refuse the acceptance of keyboards and orchestration in black metal music, with symphonic black metal often related to commercial acts such as Cradle of Filth and DImmu Borgir. With Carach Angren often being categorized as symphonic black metal, what is your take on issues like these?

We don’t really care about those opinions. We just make music we like and indeed it is based on the black metal genre but what we do now is something totally different compared to the musical and cultural movement in the early 90s. People who don’t like it can skip our music just the way I tend to not listen to music I don’t like, it’s simple as that. I feel when it’s done in an interesting way, you can combine a lot of styles and instruments, discover new things.

As seen on the Season of Mist Facebook page, Carach Angren was the focus of a university conference in Spain, with the band being claimed to be the perfect epitome for the most innovative and eclectic evolution of black metal. How does the band feel about this?

Yes! This was a big surprise and great honor. It’s fantastic to see someone studying this heavily underrated music genre in general and of course we feel proud when he came out with this particular statement. Especially because professor Julio Ángel Olivares Merino studied Gothic literature for years.

Unlike many other black metal bands that deal with Satanism and religion, Carach Angren’s lyrical themes often revolve around legends and folklore instead. However, would it be possible to tell us more about your personal views on religions?

To me personally, I see religion merely as a cultural and social phenomenon. It’s great when it helps people on a personal level in life but to me it doesn’t do anything.

The band will be having a release party on the first of June. What can fans expect from this release party?

The CD Release show was spectacular and it was better than anything we could have expected. The fans were fantastic and the show went really good. I think we will have some live footage up and running real soon about this show!

With the album being released, what are the near future plans of the band?

Right now we are in hectic times with the release just being out there. Right now we are getting more and more shows and it would be great to do a tour this year but we don’t have anything definitive yet.

Carach Angren on the internet:
Official website
Facebook
MySpace
ReverbNation

©2012 Heavy Metal Tribune | Clarence

Album Review: Kalodin – SARV

Kalodin [Nepal]
SARV
2012
EP
Independent
Symphonic Black/Death Metal

Ever since the band’s movement back to Nepal, Kalodin has seen a large shift in their lineup, with the departure of vocalist Kiew Jay who was on the band’s debut album, The Bestial Ritualism of Harlotry and the introduction of new members. Along with the shift in the lineup came a shift in the band’s sound as well, as will be heard on the band’s first EP since their relocation back to Nepal, SARV. SARV, which means “to kill” in Sanskrit, also marks the band’s foray into the inclusion of traditional elements into their music as well, as have many bands of South Asian origins have over the years.

While The Bestial Ritualism of Harlotry presented a rather strong Cradle of Filth influence in their sound, what Kalodin presents on SARV is much more brutal, and this comes about in a number of different aspects. There is first the usage of a real drummer this time, unlike the usage of programmed drums on previous material, and the difference is instantly noticeable, with the hard hitting impact and the organic tone of the drums, and this definitely makes the music much more enjoyable than before. While ex-vocalist Kiew Jay utilised a piercing shrieking style, guitarist Davin, who also handles vocals, on SARV presents a more gruff and lower-pitched growls, though there are also moments where he attempts higher-pitched shrieks.

And of course, there is the songwriting and playing style of the core band member and band founder, guitarist Davin. Ditching the melodic style that was present on The Bestial Ritualism of Harlotry, Davin attempts a more aggressive and dark style this time, evident from the riffs that are unleashed. The difference in the riffing styles can be instantly heard, with the inclusion of more chugging segments now than before. The lead guitars, while retaining that melodic edge that was presented on The Bestial Ritualism of Harlotry, are further explored, with Davin displaying his anger with the at times chaotic works as well.

That said though, the band has not completely left out the symphonic elements in their music, as the keyboards play a rather significant role throughout the release, veiling the music in a fog of mystery, and providing a haunting backdrop to complement the aggressiveness of the rest of the band. The synths on songs like Pathless even create an epic feel in the music as well, like a prelude to the oncoming war and destruction. That sense of mystery and exoticism is further shown through the usage of the sitar on Trishula, and the usage of rather traditional themes that last throughout the EP.

Despite the rather small inclusion of the sitar on closing track Trishula, it has shown the band’s willingness to take risks and explore and expand their sound, and SARV marks an incredible growth and maturity of the band as songwriters and musicians, and is certainly an impressive step forward from what they wrote merely 2-3 years ago with their debut full length.

Related articles:
Album Review: Kalodin – The Bestial Ritualism of Harlotry
Interview with Kalodin

Kalodin on the internet:
Facebook
MySpace
ReverbNation

©2012 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

Album Review: Syn Ze Sase Tri – Sub Semnul Lupului

Syn Ze Sase Tri [Romania]
Sub Semnul Lupului
2012
Full Length
Code666 Records
Symphonic Black Metal

http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F45476051%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-aQE3M&show_artwork=true&secret_url=true

Symphonic black metal has always left me an impression of being a more pussified/watered-down version of black metal, with bands like Dimmu Borgir drenching their music in keyboards and symphonic elements that their music could hardly be considered black metal personally anymore. But Romania’s Syn Ze Sase Tri left me rather intrigued, first by their country of origin, then by that beautiful album artwork that evokes a folk/viking metal feel. What’s more, being released under the cult label Code666 also meant that there’s a potential that their latest album Sub Semnul Lupului could surprise me.

And surprise me it did. Rather than taking the usual route of symphonic black metal bands, Syn Ze Sase Tri has somehow managed to infuse some folk/viking elements into their music, and this comes across strongly on songs like Nascut Din Negura, where there is a certain majestic feel in the music, not only in the guitar riffs and the drumming, but also in the way that the band has managed to include the symphonic elements in the music nicely, with sufficient presence yet not drowning out any of the other instruments, and completely avoiding any chances of sounding cheesy. Other than the usual symphonic effects, the band also utilises other sound effects and traditional instruments that underlie the music to ensure that there’s a constant haunting atmosphere.

The innovation of the band is also heard through the incorporation of elements of various other genres in the music as well, such as the neo-classical piano that can be spotted throughout the album. The high presence especially on Legea Strabunilor is interesting to say the least, and provides a rather different experience to other symphonic black metal bands that I have encountered thus far. Sound samples are also utilised suitably, such as the marching on Sambata Apelor, enhancing the overall listening experience.

The band does not neglect their traditional extreme metal elements though. The riffs that are unleashed by Corb are ballsy and aggressive, and at times remind listeners of fellow viking-themed bands such as Amon Amarth with a more black metal feel, such as on Vatra Stramoseasca, though his lead guitar style varies rather widely, with moments that even border melodic death metal. The black metal feel is further backed up by the shrieking vocals of Lycan, somewhat reminiscent of vocalists like Shagrath, sending chills down the listener’s spine. The alternating between the high-pitched shrieks and growls in the album also provide a nice contrast, giving a fuller sound to the songs. These elements all add up together to make Sub Semnul Lupului an extremely enjoyable journey, managing to keep me engaged throughout the album.

Syn Ze Sase Tri on the internet:
Official website
Facebook
MySpace

©2012 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

Album Review: Hayagriva – Descendant XII

Hayagriva [Malaysia]
Descendant XII
2012
Full Length
Symphonic Black Metal
Khakan Productions

http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F44378982%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-s8Ozt&show_artwork=true&secret_url=true

My first encounter with Malaysian extreme metal outfit Hayagriva was their 2011 EP, Emperor Awaits, featuring different mixes of the title track, Emperor Awaits, along with 3 other heavily electronic-influenced tracks. The production quality of the album certainly left me rather impressed, and with the release of Descendant XII, the band promises an expansion of the sound that was presented on Emperor Awaits.

Opening track Descendant XII immediately displays Hayagriva‘s atmospheric side, with the heavy synths and the spoken samples that greet the listener providing a nice, wide soundscape. With Is it Time for Me to Die? the band starts displaying their extreme metal side, as the drums of Nhajasakthee (who has also played with folk/black metal outfit As Sahar previously) and the vocals of Aavimarga coalesce together with the symphonic aspects to create an almost futuristic sounding piece of work. The synths of Venkhateswehra in particular helps in providing a nice ambient that lasts throughout the album, alternating between the role of drenching the music with an atmosphere that decides the mood of the music and that of providing unique sound effects such as those on the intro of Heavenly of Red Heaven. The ability for the synths to direct the emotion of the album is evident on tracks like Poem of My Return, providing an odd sense of beauty after the chaotic intro of the track.

Unfortunately, perhaps due to the clean and high quality production work that is on Descendant XII, there are times when the sound of the music sounds too artificial, in particular the drums of Nhajasakthee, sounding somewhat triggered, losing the authentic sound that one would seek to hear in albums such as this. The synths also at times become overpowering, causing the guitars on the album to sound rather weak when placed in comparison, which is quite a shame considering the quality of the riffs that are unleashed by Mantheravathee. Fortunately though, for the most part Mantheravathee’s lead guitar works are placed high in the mix, and his unique lead playing style helps to make Descendant XII a rather interesting listen.

The band pays tribute to Malaysian rockers Sofea with a cover of the track Syurga Di Hujung Jarum, which was also presented on their Emperor Awaits EP, though this version sees Aavimarga utilising his gruff vocals instead of the clean version that was on Emperor Awaits. While attempting to fit this bonus track stylistically into the rest of the album, it is hard to deny the charm of the clean version that was on Emperor Awaits, and having Aavimarga growling the lines out sounded kinda off, causing the track to lose some of its power.

While not particularly a fan of symphonic metal, Descendant XII has been a rather enjoyable album. When stripped of all its extreme metal elements, Descendant XII could very well work as a well-crafted symphonic metal album without sounding overly cheesy and would certainly appeal to fans of symphonic metal. To top off the professionalism of the product, the album sleeve is as even more well-designed compared to the fantastic work on Emperor Awaits, showing how serious Hayagriva are with their works.

Related articles:
Interview with Hayagriva

Hayagriva on the internet:
Official website
MySpace
Facebook

©2012 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

Album Review: Haemic – Fields of Sanguine

Haemic [Taiwan]
Fields of Sanguine
2012
Full Length
Independent
Symphonic Black Metal

Taiwanese black metal band Haemic is a rather interesting band, and is one of the displays of how powerful the internet has become as a tool for musicians, with the band comprising members who have never actually met each other and formed over media channels such as YouTube. Each individual member of the band recorded their parts, compiled them together, and the final work is released in the form of Haemic‘s debut full length album, Fields of Sanguine. And with a recording budget of only $20 as claimed by the band, this leaves one wondering how Fields of Sanguine would actually turn out.

But as the album begins though, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. With just $20, one would almost expect extremely low-fi, bedroom quality mixing and mastering of the album but while the production of the album is certainly nothing stellar, what is here is actually pretty acceptable. In particular, the synths and keyboards that are on the album come across as extremely clear and clean, alternating between lead instruments with the melodies and the role of creating a haunting atmosphere, and this is obvious right from the opening keyboards on Eyes of Evil. The synths, as will be noticed, will be one of the main driving forces for the rest of the album, alternating between calm and beautiful moments such as on the intro of Cold Within to the dark and ominous like on Hellgate, where the synths are crucial in building up the climax.

The music of Haemic is fundamentally symphonic/melodic black metal, though as the album progresses, there are numerous different elements from various genres that can be spotted. In particular, guitarist Ray displays his versatility, with melodies that he pulls out from his guitar ranging from pure cold, bleak black metal-influenced to neo-classical shredding style like on the lead guitars on A Machine Self Aware, making listening to Fields of Sanguine full of surprises, and there are even moments where one is reminded of a rawer version of such bands as fellow countrymen Anthelion and their melodic/symphonic material on Bloodshed Rebefallen. The alternating of different vocal styles of Mitchell also suits the moods of the various tracks, and in particular songs like Awaken the Colossus see him using clean and low-pitched vocals that help to reinforce that haunting mood in the music. Exhaust even has some slight industrial influences through the programming of the drums and the effects used on the track, throwing in an unexpected curve ball at the listener.

One minor complaint though is the usage of the programmed drums on the album, which pulled down the overall enjoyment and quality of the album, sounding extremely artificial, especially the insanely quick bass drums and the tone of the snare, though this could have been easily remedied through the usage of an actual drummer. Furthermore, A Machine Self Aware sees guitarist Ray going wild on his instrument and while it proves his prowess, this tended to be overdone slightly at times. And of course, a bigger budget with a better production job would also be of benefit to the album, which honestly contain some rather good ideas.

Fields of Sanguine, though honestly at best of a decent demo quality, has seen Haemic displaying their songwriting abilities through the ability to bring about that feeling of depression and desolation. Certainly a nice album for fans of good, depressive and symphonic black metal, and the included instrumental versions of some of the tracks would be a welcome move for those looking for an instrumental journey instead.

Haemic on the internet:
BandCamp

©2012 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

Album Review: Wykked Wytch – The Ultimate Deception

Wykked Wytch [USA]
The Ultimate Deception
2012
Full Length
Goomba Music
Symphonic Black Metal

With an illustrious career of more than 15 years, Wykked Wytch has slowly garnered a steady following, with their previous albums each garnering pretty stellar reviews. This year sees the band releasing their follow up to 2008’s Memories of a Dying Whore in the form of The Ultimate Deception, and seeing how the band has often been described as a fusion of black and gothic metal has certainly got me slightly interested in the music.

The usage of symphonic elements in black metal has never been extremely appealing with me, with most bands butchering the usage, ending up with albums that sound totally pretentious, and unable to really perform live. Album opener Birthing the Beast introduces the album to the listener through a symphonic intro, allowing the music to slowly build up the climax and fortunately, up to the start of the song proper, this does not disappoint and lead to any awkwardness. But it does not take long for the band to really go into full speed, with band mastermind Ipek displaying her vocal abilities through the layering of clean vocals on top of her growls, providing a somewhat haunting effect on the music. She also experiments with various different vocal styles, with times where she uses an almost-spoken style of vocals and while her attempt to include interesting sounds is commendable, at times they do sound off, bringing down the quality of the album slightly and almost makes the songs sound core-ish. Her growls and shrieks though, are powerful, as can be heard on tracks like The Ultimate Deception where she transits between black metal styled shrieks to brutal death metal deep, throaty growls with ease.

The music itself though, for the most part, sounds powerful (partially thanks to the excellent production job of the album), with guitarist Nate displaying his versatility through the different styles of playing, and this is evident right from the opening track Birthing the Beast, which itself contains numerous different styles, ranging from furious black metal-styled trem-picking to melodic death metal-inspired riffs to almost neo-classical influenced shredding on the solo. And of course, this is topped by the powerful battery by guest drummer Kevin Talley, with his relentless and consistent pounding on the skins, and moments on the album that are punctuated by the stellar display of his technical capabilities on his kit.

Apart from the technical aspects of the songs, the band also manages to express their emotions accordingly throughout the album, and the number of influences that they have put into the writing of the album has managed to shine through, with no two tracks on the album sounding the same. Songs like Serpents Among Us, despite having an aggressive start, also take a slow down with the melodic solo by guitarist Nate. Unfortunately though, there are some influences of the band that have been included that drag down the album, with the breakdown riffs on Serpents Among Us right after the inspiring guitar solo, tearing down the impressions that have been built up so far, and moments such as these are littered throughout the album, often spoiling what could have been potentially beautiful moments.Songs like When the Sleepers Rise also suffer from having a weak song structure, with awkward transitions between verses and choruses, resulting in tracks like these being unmemorable, leaving no lasting memories on the listener.

There is also the inclusion of a symphonic/gothic metal rendition of Metallica‘s ballad, Fade to Black on the album as well, but unlike the many covers that I enjoy, Wkyyed Wytch managed to totally butcher the song, making one of my favourite Metallica ballads sound so vastly different from the original, leaving out much of the original intention and feel of the song. My main gripe with the cover is that you DO NOT spam a ballad with blast beats. I know Kevin Talley is good at what he does, but this just leaves out the entire point of a fucking ballad! The shift between shrieks and clean vocals also gets irritating and sounds out of place, and would have benefited if Ipek had chosen to sticking to only a single style. Furthermore, the sudden shift to growling after the first 2 verses immediately reeks of metalcore, with the bastardised version of Dio‘s Holy Diver by Killswitch Engage brought to mind instantly.

Wykked Wytch‘s The Ultimate Deception has done nothing with me. To be honest, the album does sound good with the production quality and the abilities of the individual musicians on the recording, but unfortunately suffers from inconsistency and lack of memorable moments. Oh, and also from spoiling one of the few Metallica songs that I actually like.

Wykked Wytch on the internet:
Official website
Facebook
MySpace
YouTube
Twitter
Goomba Music

©2012 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

Album Review: Ethereal Sin – The Psalms of Forgotten Saga

Ethereal Sin [Japan]
The Psalms of Forgotten Saga
2010
EP
Evoken de Valhall Productions
Symphonic Black Metal
7.0/10

http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F24617178%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-S4gsi&secret_url=true Ethereal Sin – Solitude, Eternally… by heavymetaltribune

Japanese bands really have their charm, with the ability for most of them to attract me to genres that I usually do not listen to, or even dislike. The Psalms of Forgotten Saga is Japanese symphonic black metal band Ethereal Sin‘s latest EP, released late last year yet receiving little attention. After encountering mostly average and over-hyped symphonic black metal bands, it was hard to get me to listen to bands of that genre again, but seeing the country of origin of Ethereal Sin, this was definitely worth at least a go at.

The Psalms of Forgotten Saga is a short, 20 minute and 4 track EP and the band wastes not a single moment at all throughout the release to display their flair in the genre that they specialise in, bringing in unique elements at the same time into the music. The EP opens with the title track, an instrumental number, starting with a soothing melody and gradually builds up the ambience, complete with epic sounding atmosphere brought about by the folk-ish melodies brought forth by the keyboards, setting the mood right for the EP.

The moment the track ends, a furiously trem-picked riff marks the beginning of Comes at the Stormy Night. Although up to this moment there is nothing particularly special about Ethereal Sin‘s music, soon a haunting female vocals appears, and this vocals constantly makes appearances throughout. The different growling styles also helps to make things interesting. There is also the heavy usage of backing opera-styled vocals that help to make the already heavy atmosphere even denser, and this is certainly a nice touch to the music. The backing vocals also once again brings in the folk influences that are present in the music.

Also, unlike many other symphonic black metal bands that focus too much on the “symphonic” aspect and forgot about the black metal in the music, Ethereal Sin provides a perfect balance of the different elements. For example, the keyboards here are not overused and do not drown out the rest of the instruments, ensuring that the riffs of the guitars are clearly audible. Also, unlike many symphonic black metal bands, there is a pretty thin production quality of the album which makes for a slightly raw sound in the music, further bringing out the authenticity of the band’s music. The highlight on the EP is the closing track, Solitude, Eternally…, beginning with an acoustic guitar and spoken vocals (albeit in slightly broken English), bringing out the sadness in the music. It is this track that best represents the style of Ethereal Sin, where each instrument complements each other, bringing out the emotions in the music. The riffs are bleak and depressive, and the torturous shrieks towards the end of the track are sure to raise the hair on the backs of listeners.

One thing that could have helped to improve the album would be perhaps the inclusion of more guitar solos. The guitarists have proven their capabilities through the riffs and few solos that are present throughout the EP, and it is definitely a waste of the guitarists’ talents with the lack of inclusion of more prominent guitar spots on the EP. Also, on solos, rather than focussing on the speed it could have sounded better if the guitarists have chosen instead to focus more on the melody, such as on the first solo on Solitude, Eternally…

With The Psalms of Forgotten Saga, Ethereal Sin has proven how their 13 years of experience playing symphonic metal has not gone to waste, despite the relatively few releases that they have under their belts. Along with other symphonic black metal bands out of Japan (such as Juno Bloodlust and Tyrant), they have shown how there is hope for the mostly over-saturated market for symphonic-styled metal.

Ethereal Sin on the internet:
Official website
MySpace
YouTube
Twitter

©2011 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

Interview with Hayagriva

Over its 18 years of existence, Hayagriva has played what they call “dark shadow metal”. With the recent Emperor Awaits single release, it marks the return to the band’s original 1995 demo lineup once more. We talk to Mantheravathee to find out more.


HMT: Greetings Mantheravathee! Thank you for giving us this opportunity to interview you. Before we move on, would it be possible to give our readers a brief history and introduction to Hayagriva?

Hayagriva is band from Ipoh, Malaysia. Played Dark Shadow Metal since 1993.

Hayagriva reunited with the original demo lineup 1995: Aavimarga on vocals, Mantheravathee on guitars and bass, Venkhateswehra on keyboards, and Nhajasakthee on drums. March 13th 2011 saw the release of the single ‘Emperor Awaits’, while a full-length is planned for September 11, 2011. The band is also hunting for a label to publish, distribute and promote the album.

What does the band name mean, and what is the significance of the band name to the band’s style of music?

The name origins from Hi-Malaya’s myths (and the myths flows along the same mountain down descend to the south until Malaya), which some belief as Enemy of both gods of Hinduism and Buddhism, The Lord of Wrath. Maybe now you may found more others/shits meaning came from this name. You can goggle it on for further irrelevance similarities, which we don’t give a shits as this is now our own myths and meaning to the band.

Disregards the origins meaning and other myths, the only meaning that matter of the band and the motive of the band name are “The Lord of Never-Ending Wrath”. As we don’t care other sources anymore. If there is such name, in other versions, cults or myth, that’s maybe coincide and we don’t give a shits coz that doesn’t concerned us anymore. Fuck the rest…

The Lord of Never-Ending Wrath of the band is a ridicule character in wars against all the great deceptions of our time.

You are one of the co-founders of the band alongside Nhajasakthee, and the band recently reunited with the demo lineup. Would it be possible to share with us about the lineup shifts in the band?

The original member, as in the demo 1995 and the latest releases in 2011 is Aavimarga (vocals), Nhajsakthee (drum), Venkhateswehra (keyboard) and me on guitar (and bass on recording).

There is no changing on drum, guitar and keyboard from the beginning until now.

Aavimarga on vocals until 2000. After that Dyoraktha doing the bass/vocals. Aavimarga take over again in 2005 and schedule for the Red Heaven album. But he then disappeared shortly before his recording sessions. Later, changeover to Xamsakty. Again Aavimarga came in 2010 to reclaimed his throne as the front act of the band. We are very please on his returns. Because Aavimarga is the only one can handle the vocals of Hayagriva.

Bass member is on and off. And for now the band uses only tour musicians. The current one is Jonus Khaitabha. The previous bass member was Axmaniac (of Langsuyr), Solae Dradjun (of Necrotic Chaos) and Dyoraktha.

The band claims to play “dark shadow metal”. What exactly is “dark shadow metal”, and how did the name for the band’s genre come about?

Hayagriva music was claimed to be Dark Shadow Metal since first demo 1995. Where some people said we played melodic black metal. Black metal or whatever fuckin’ metal they said doesn’t matter to us anymore. As we like our music and perhaps listener appreciate what we do.

We choose Dark Shadow Metal because we like that. And our music and lyrics is shadows, not white or black!! Also to tell you that we are not another stereotype black metal or death boring metal band!!! So stop labeling Hayagriva is a Black Metal band!!! As there’s no black metal band in our country.

The band’s debut full length took a long 14 years after the formation of the band to release. What was it that caused the delay before the release of Red Heaven in 2007?

We too much enjoyed our life and live in shadows. Estacy in illlusions. Delusions and intoxicated of life. Hallucinated by dreams. Drowned in hopes. Lineup changes, personal life changes and current scene situations at that time contributes the delays.

Which is better then never. 2007 and till now Hayagriva offers new riffs of dark shadows. More complex than ever. The better songs after songs written as time goes by.

The band recently posted on Facebook that a video is being shot for the single, Emperor Awaits. How is the filming coming along, and what can fans of the band expect?

The shooting doing very well. Now the material is still in the studio. Editing and mixing in process. It was a wonderful experience doing this music video. Directed by Rizal Yusof.

You can expect this video out, day view in the upcoming September 2011. Maybe it will be a DVD version together with the Full length album 2011 out on September 11, 2011. Anyway its not finalize yet, we will advise you in the band facebook (www.facebook.com/myhayagriva) . Check it out!!!

You can expect something very different in this video music. Especially people in our country, this is something that’s all the metal band should have one. We Hayagriva can help other band to make their own video. As our experience, skills and availability is still around to make others too. Metal band in our country, contact us if you want to make one.

The band earlier in the year released the Emperor Awaits single, and it’s a preview of the upcoming full length album. Would it be possible to tell us and our readers more about the upcoming full length album?

The new album 2011 should be the best ever release of the band. It all brand new 11 tracks plus one hidden bonus track. More pace and intense in all department. The hints already reveal as in the Emperor Awaits songs. The rest is more alike and some different too. Songs properly composed, lots of riffs and solo than before. Keyboards rich of moods and strokes… The most important thing is the vocals. Its Aavimarga !!! Who else is better voices of Hayagriva unless him !!!

On the Emperor Awaits single as well, there was a DJ remix of Intoxicated. What was the reason behind including such a remix in the single? How was it received by fans of the band?

This is a bonus version, where the experimental works come. Its just another view of Emperor Awaits. And the feedback I heard is ‘Wow’! This is where funs come to the band and bonus to fans as we pressed it.

In addition, there is the inclusion of a SYJ/SOFEA cover as well. What was the reason behind covering this song in particular?

This is another bonus tracks, and another experimental and funs. The reason is we like the songs. In addition, this is a bonus and limited version just for Hayagriva fans. We hope our fans enjoy it as we do. A one shot recording plain voices from me and Venkhateswehra is simply originally intentions is for our own personal collection. In second though, why don’t we share it to our listeners? As we like it, maybe our fans like it too. Theres another version, which put the scream old growled of Aavimarga. You will get it with the new album this September.

Why SYJ / SOFEA ? I don’t know. Maybe we live in the same town.

I have to admit that one thing that caught my attention about the Emperor Awaits single is the album artwork. How did the album artwork come about, and what is the inspiration behind it?

The artwork engineered by Mr Axmaniac of Kompgraphner. Produced and directed by Hayagriva. New age, the modern world in deception. And Shadows !!!! The concept is Shadows.

The band is from Ipoh, Malaysia. What is the metal scene like over there, and what are some of the bands that we should check out?

Ipoh’s Metal Militant Supremacist compilation CD will out very soon!!! Its 20 bands from IPOH. Good and talented bands.. old and new !!! You should check all this 20 bands!!!

The Malaysian authorities are known to be very strict on black metal bands. Has the band ever run into problems with the authorities before?

There are no black metal bands in Malaysia. Therefore, yet no band the authorities had encountered for. Perhaps it is just because the authorities will never found any Black Metal band from this country.

Stop reading newspaper and watching prime news on local tv, then only you will know there’s no such issues.

What does the future hold for the band?

Its shadows, no one can foreseen tomorrow. Hayagriva will livin the shadows or bury within it… We don’t care what will be tomorrow. However, today we were working hard, to finish the entire tasks. Then to get the album done. Before we can write the album, which must be release as the 20th anniversary of Hayagriva out schedule between 2013 to 2015. And few gigs along the ways!!! Yet no plan after that. Fuck all the shities plan.

One final question for the band: any parting words before we end the interview?

Hayagriva will officially launch the upcoming album in a gig/party at Ipoh. On Saturday Night, September 10th 2011.

We will announce more details regarding this event on our facebook.com/myhayagriva

Be there, get the album CD first!!! Just a few hours before the official release date of the album on September 11th 2011.

Get it from the very hand of the bands who personally make sales on that day!! Smiles, pictures together and some autographs will be lots of funs!!! We also planned for specials discounts and free gift and perhaps will arrange FREE ENTRANCE too !!! Just be there and enjoy Hayagriva. There two guest bands extras that night too, just for you the audience.

Contact Hayagriva:
http://www.facebook.com/myhayagriva
shadow_hayagriva@yahoo.com

Band booking:
Malaysia number: 013 4384383 / 0176625731

Hayagriva on the internet:
Official website
MySpace
Facebook

©2011 Heavy Metal Tribune | Clarence