I caught up with Mike at the tour kickoff show of Gravehill’s West Coast trip with the mighty Singaporean legion Impiety. Check it out here;
FESTER has just completed the recording of their first studio album in 17 years! Entitled A Celebration of Death, the album is targeted for a late 2011/early 2012 release through Abyss Records. This is FESTER as you’ve come to know them: Cold as ice and mean as Hell!
Original member Bjørn “Tiger” Mathisen has recruited Thomas Andresen (Algol) on vocals, Jon Bakker (Kampfar) on bass, and Grammy nominated jazz drummer Audun Kleive for session drums. Mortiis has made a hellish and dark remix of one of the songs and there are contributions from Mr. Kyrck and Guido of Ysengrin. The art is done by the infamous Alex Brown of Bad News Brown.
On the selection of Kleive for session drumming, Mathisen had this to say: “He is famous for his ability to become one with the music he plays, and does so in such an unorthodox and dark way. He has never done metal. He listened to the tunes once before he agreed to session them and ended up doing most of the parts in one take. Using only a single bass drum he has helped us create the sinister and lonely mood that we wanted.”
As for what to expect musically on A Celebration of Death, Mathisen is unequivocal about staying the course. “FESTER has kept their old school feel, and maybe even taking it back to the Stone Age. No effect boxes are used on the guitars; just the basic and sick sounds of old guitars, amps and racks from the late 60s and early 70s, produced in the most dark and wicked way you can imagine. The influence of old school metal acts like Celtic Frost, Bathory, etc can be heard on this release too. FESTER has kept its identity from the past. “This is surely an atypical metal sound, but cold as ice and mean as hell!”
Pioneers in the seamless blending of Black and Death Metal, in the early 90s and well known for their obscure, melancholic and dark way of making music, FESTER are now back with their darkest, harshest and most mournful album to date. Having laid the groundwork with Abyss reissues of 1992′s Winter of Sin and 1993′s Silence, FESTER is now poised to commence this new era of darkness. The end is near.
Ruminations are a fairly new avant garde doom/death metal band, formed in the winter (of course) of 2008 in San Marcos California. I’m not sure if they’ve been strictly active for three years , but as two members have until recently been involved in the similar-but-now disbanded Morbid Gods, I would hazard a guess at not. Pleasantries aside, on to the morbidity!
Their debut demo contains 3 songs, and is opened by the violently blasting “Leafs”. It’s definitely not especially doomy, and is harmed to a certain extent by the fuzzy lo-fi-ness of the demo; the drums are overpowering and muffle the riffs and vocals. That said, I don’t hold it against them, it’s a rehearsal demo. I think it would be a pretty evil little number if the production was tidied up a bit. It’s the most overtly death metal song here, and I think it sounds like Portal, though that could just be the fuzzy production. I believe this track was written by former guitarist Nocturnal Holocaust, which perhaps explains why it has a different flavor than the rest of the demo.
From the first contemplative notes of the 2nd song “Emptiness Departured” is where this demo really starts to get going. “Emptiness Departured” and the closing 12 minute epic “Luminescent Twilight Re-Dreamed” definitely display the band’s avant garde characteristics. Airy, ghostly riffs abound, especially in the latter, my favorite song on the demo. Ruminations at times vaguely evoke Thergothon, and in other places Katatonia, but never copy another band too directly. The atmosphere is mournful and and grey, but not too depressive. The best way I can describe it is that this is music for sitting alone and staring at the stars.
Overall, this is a good demo, and I would recommend it to any fan of death/doom, funeral doom, or obscure and strange death metal (and anyone who likes the music I champion in Conjuration of the Sepulchral). However, it would benefit from better production, especially if the band plan to expand on the death metal tendencies explored in “Leafs”. I’ll be waiting for more from Ruminations, and would be delighted to hear more material on par with “Luminescent Twilight Re-Dreamed”.
Label: Dark Descent Records
Beware, mortals.. for now we step back through time and darkness into the archaic age of old school swedish death metal, and into the grasp of the entity known as Entrails! Originally formed in 1991, Entrails disbanded without releasing anything, but was exhumed in 2008 by guitarist Jimmy Lundqvist. Two demos were released, and the debut album “Tales From The Morgue” finally took shape in 2010, nearly two decades after the inception of the band. Now, with the sophmore effort “The Tomb Awaits” pending release on Dark Descent Records, I had the opportunity to give it a listen in advance.
“The Tomb Awaits” opens with the title track, a soft, beautiful, reflective classical guitar instrumental. It reminds me of “Lamentation” off of God Macabre’s classic Swedeath monolith “The Winterlong”, and I very much appreciated it both as a standalone song and an atmospheric prelude.
But Being a Swedeath junkie, I was not at all surprised when after scarcely a minute of soft acoustic serenading, Entrails turned around and punched me in my goddamn face with about a ton of ripping HM-2 guitar tone. “Unleashed Wrath” is instantly remniscent of the mighty “Left Hand Path”, and segways into one of the stronger tracks on the album, “Crawling Death”, featuring an ominously simple piano intro and nefariously catchy chant of “CRAWLING DEATH!”. This 3 punch combo knocked me on my ass and left me waiting for a weaker track, but Entrails just never let up. It makes me wonder why they ever broke up in the first place.
The riffs! Man, these guys have cool riffs out the ass, all ripped from the amplifier with that absolutely timeless Swedish guitar sound! Every song on this disc has at least a couple riffs that you can’t help but bang your head to (Entrails and their label will be receiving a bill from my chiropractor along with my preorder for a hard copy of the album). From the epic intro of “Undead” to the diabolical tremolo picking of “Total Death”, I was never bored with the visceral Swedish filth assaulting my eardrums.
The leads too, are thoroughly badass, just as much so as the riffs that make up the meat of the songs. Never wanking or shredding overly much, Entrails instead opt for a more melodic, creative approach to guitar solos that contrasts with the surrounding ultraviolence in a way that is very pleasing to the ear, and conjures up the ghost of old school Dismember.
Though this stuff is obviously very traditional (you won’t hear any hyperblasts or extended sweep picking), it still sounds fresh and exciting to me, and it would be a grave mistake to disregard Entrails as a simple retro nostalgia band. If anyone has a right to be playing Left Hand Path death nowadays, it’s these guys, 20 year scene veterans who obviously hold a LOT of pent up creativity. Thoroughly Swedish and thoroughly Death metal, I think “The Tomb Awaits” could have been classic if it had been released in the early 90′s golden era of death metal. Buy this album if you like Entombed, Grave, Unleashed, Dismember, Carnage, and God Macabre. Fuck, just buy this album if you like death metal. A round of applause for Entrails. 8.5/10!
EXHUMED!!! The undisputed kings of gore-obsessed, Carcass-inspired death metal! And supported by none other than the legendary Macabre! A show like this doesn’t roll through town often, and I was fucking excited!
Cephalic Carnage and Withered were also on this tour, but I arrived late, missing withered entirely and entering the venue as Cephalic began their set. I watched them play for about 30 seconds, then turned around and walked back outside to socialize in the smoking area. I’ve seen Cephalic before, and I can’t say I’m a fan. They’re typically labeled grindcore, but to me their music sounds like mediocre tech-death played at an awkward tempo. However, I do know that General Blaspheme is a fan, so perhaps I’m missing something. In any case I don’t regret sitting that one out.
I headed back inside when I heard soundchecking, knowing Macabre were about to take the stage. The three piece took the stage, and blasted through most of their more well known numbers from their 4 older albums, including “Ice Man”, “Albert Was Worse Than Any Fish In The Sea”, and “Zodiac”, as well as “Nero’s Inferno” off of this year’s “Grim Scary Tales”. In between songs, frontman Corporate Death shared anecdotes about the various serial killers around whom Macabre base their music (most fascinatingly his own account of the trial of Jeffrey Dahmer). Their set was further energized by the parade of costumed serial killer characters across the stage, Albert Fish thrusting a pipe into the crowd and the Zodiac killer firing a capgun to collect slaves for the afterlife (google it). Overall a fairly solid set, though it was blemished by horrible sound problems for a couple songs (Corporate Death’s guitar was cutting in out and giving annoying feedback).
As Macabre closed with “Zodiac”, it was time for the climax of the night. After a brief sound check, the lights dimmed and a ghoulish voice over the P.A. introduced Exhumed. They immediately burst into violence, opening with “As Hammer To Anvil” from the new album, and the classic “Casket Krusher”. The sound quality was fantastic, and every note of Exhumed’s squealing, shredding solos was easily distinguishable through the PA. I was at the center front, and guitarist/vocalist Matt Harvey finger’s were hypnotic as he nimbly swept and dove up and down his fretboard. At the end of the first song, both guitarists and the bass player lifted their guitars into the light, revealing a bloody one word stencil on the back of each, spelling out “GORE FUCKIN’ METAL” across the stage.
The set continued, and they gave surprisingly little attention to their new album, “All Guts No Glory”, the only two tracks I recognized being “As Hammer To Anvil” and “Through Cadaver Eyes”. This suited me just fine, because it allowed them to whip out the classics Necromaniac, Slaughtercult, Forged In Fire, In My Human Slaughterhouse, and my absolute favorite, LIMB FROM LIMB! As the latter commenced, a chainsaw was brought on stage and revved above the audience. I could smell the gasoline. The band chewed through 2/3 of the song, and then Matt Harvey led the audience in a chant of “LIMB! FROM LIMB! FROM LIMB! FROM LIMB! FROM FUCKING LIMB! FROM LIMB! FROM LIMB! FROM LIMB!, before finishing the song. After this song it was about midnight, and as a slave to public transport, I had to leave or risk being stranded in the industrial district of downtown Seattle until morning. Nevertheless, Exhumed completely blew me away, and I will definitely be attending the next time they land in the Pacific Northwest.