Thursday, 27 October 2011

Heaving Earth VS Brutally Deceased - interview



It’s been some time since the Czech death metal scene really attracted me with some killer tunes. To be honest, I really like KRABATHOR, early PANDEMIA (but their last album sucks!) and maybe few more, but in comparison to the Polish scene, Czechs have too much crap and too few memorable and quality bands. Luckily it has changed with the spawn of HEAVING EARTH and BRUTALLY DECEASED. Both bands plays death metal, but each does that in different way – find out yourself from the interview and from the music. What they do have in common are the musicians, as both acts share some members. This is why I decided to base my interview with Patrik Snobl on both bands… As they say I killed two birds with one stone (or in Czech “Zabít dvì mouchy jednou ranou”) he he. Death metal eternal!

Hi Czech maniacs! Two bands I would like to ask you about are death metal, but there’s not much in common between HEAVING EARTH and BRUTALLY DECESED. Tell me, did you decide to form two different death metal bands because you like so many styles of this music or what? One moniker is taken from MORBID ANGEL song, another I think from GRAVE song… I guess that says all about the main influences for each band?
Hi Marcin. These are two different stories to tell. BRUTALLY DECEASED was formed back in 2007 by couple of friends, who were already tired from their previous dysfunctional bands and projects. Initially we wanted to do some old school in OBITUARY / INCANTATION way, but that soon changed and we went towards good old Stockholm sound. HEAVING EARTH as a regular band came to life year later, but as a project it existed since 2005. Songs that
appeared on our demo” Visions of the Vultures” were already written in 2005, so we were conscious of what we are doing from the very beginning. HEAVING EARTH is much more continuation of something, I had been working on for years.

Are both bands of the same meaning to you guys, or one of them has priority, speaking of the work at rehearsing, composing and gigs, etc?
There is shitload of work to do so honestly there is no time to think about priorities. As you have mentioned, there is not much in common between these two bands (besides it´s still death metal of course), so there is no rivalry or jealousy. Both bands work good in terms of their abilities I think. 

Keep it on then! How does the underground react on both bands’ albums? Are happy with the reviews and amount of interviews and tour offers you get?
Reviews are really good and satisfying. Especially BRUTALLY DECEASED got lots of great reviews and our name got noticed from many metalheads all around the world, all thanks to our one man label LAVADOME Prods and its endless work. We have also lots of offers to play gigs so there is absolutely nothing wrong with BRUTALLY DECEASED. HEAVING EARTH is not doing that well these days. Hands down, it´s partly our fault and we got some weak support from label. We have recently went through some pretty crucial line-up changes, but I´m sure that we can power it up.

HEAVING EARTH… The band debuted with first demo in 2008. “Vision of the Vultures” has three songs and I must say they’re nice start for the band. I don’t know the second demo, but this first one is pretty cool. What was the intention behind this demo? By the way, you didn’t re-record any songs from this demo, how come?
It´s a very interesting coincidence. These 3 tracks were recorded live on 8 track recorder in our rehearsal room, mostly because we were curious to hear how it sounds together and how close we are to play those songs live. We also wanted to start Myspace so we needed to offer some sounds to people. Fortunately enough Gab from NIHILISTIC HOLOCAUST was one from first listeners and surely first guy to tell us, that it´s a fucking shame, that we don’t want to release a proper demo. I think he gradually got obsessed with that idea so later on he offered us a deal. We didn´t re-recorded those demo songs, because we don´t like recycling much. We had enough new songs to put on record. It´s better to leave those songs from demo their magic. By the way, our second promo contains two songs from “Diabolic Prophecies” album (“Beyond the Void”, “Hideous Idolatry Violation”) and MORBID ANGEL cover (“Pain Divine”).

This debut demo was spread by NIHILISTIC HOLOCAUST. How do you see Gab’s work for the band? I think he’s doing great job in promoting underground bands and releases, even if he only does CDr’s!
Yes, definitely. He is a real hard core old school metal maniac. He did a great job for us and we have no other words but pure ave for him.
Your album, “Diabolic Prophecies”, was released by Polish label, REDRUM. What do you think of the job they do for your band? Here in Poland the album is easily available and well promoted, how’s that situation in other places in Europe? 
Uneasy question to answer. First of all I´m really glad that there is good promotion in Poland, which is pretty attractive country to play in with music like we produce with HEAVING EARTH. On the other hand we had some communicational problems with REDRUM666, that issued in some events which none of us made happy, so “Diabolic Prophecies” was for sure our last album under REDRUM666.

While listening to “Diabolic Prophecies” two bands come to my mind, MORBID ANGEL but first and foremost IMMOLATION. Songs like „Beyond the Void” and „The Shrine of Desolation” are ideal for me, great massive riffs, dark atmosphere, deep vocals… They’re also very long, but luckily not overly complicated, the structures are pretty simple. How did you come up with the idea of composing such lengthy songs? Are you happy with them from the time perspective?
Well it´s not our intent to compose such long songs, but we felt that this is the way these compositions should be performed. In general I feel that these comprehensive dark and epic songs are integral part of our musical speech, so we gonna keep composing such songs in a future. There is nothing wrong with a length, because we are not that much in demand from mainstream radio stations, hahah…

The album is quite diverse, as the songs I mentioned are mostly slow and damn heavy, while such „Serpents Domination” and „Humanity Exiled” are much faster and totally murdering. Which way of playing do you feel is more comfortable for you? Which are your favorite tracks on the album?
It depends on a mood and chemistry within a band and feedback from a crowd. Sometimes these mid-paced dark and atmospheric tracks work better, sometimes fast and mayhemic songs. My personal favorite is “Humanity Exiled”, because it has both ingredients and many hooks, so it works every time we play it. Then I will go for “Beyond the Void”, “The Seething Fragments” and our oldie “Vultured Vision”.

Such title like “Diabolic Prophecies” may give an idea of quite antireligious, antichristian lyrical content, how close would that be to the truth? I’m asking about songs like „Serpents Domination” or “Disciples of Obscurity” especially…
Antireligious indeed, so you are completely right. No one will be truly saved, none of your prayers will be heard, never will you see it end – that is what we feel.

Recent news from HEAVING EARTH say about major line up changes; tell me something more about them and I must ask if they’ll somehow influence the band’s activity in future months, for instance stop you from playing gigs or composing new album?
Damage done. Our singer left because of work reasons. He moved permanently to Dubai, so there is no way how we can rehearse and
play gigs with him. Then our other guitarist Patrik has decided to leave, because he didn´t feel comfortable any longer in our company. Obviously he had no heart for this music. We have a new live member on guitar now. It´s Jarda Santrucek, known from bands IMPERIAL FOETICIDE and DESPISE. We already played summer festivals with him on guitar and it felt just right. Vocal duties will be handled by Michal Stepanek, known as Zlababa, who also clears his throat in a band BRUTALLY DECEASED (surprised anyone?). We gonna play first show with this line-up this October in Prague, so you see we don´t cancel shows. Next album is in works and should be unleashed upon mankind next year.

And now BRUTALLY DECEASED… This band has debuted with full length titled “Dead Lovers' Guide” straight away. How come you never did any demos? Tell me also, why did you decide to massacre with the old school death metal in the Swedish style? Many may see this as the trend following, as there are many, many bands like that, which appeared recently on the scene…
We never made demo, because we were not in a state to record anything for a long time. When the line-up was finally completed, everything just went so fast that we were prepared to enter studio in a few months. We knew that Jan Fastner wants to release something, so we went straight for full length and it was a good decision indeed. I don´t mind and care if anyone see us as a part of some trend, but that is not truth. Like I stated above – BRUTALLY DECEASED started as an old school death metal in OBITUARY / INCANTATION way, but it didn´t work much. First song that I wrote and we felt it´s ok was “A Life Once Aborted” (6th song from our album). That was a breaking point for us and we started to move towards Stockholm sound. It just felt right to keep it that way. Whole story.

How do you actually see the new wave of Swedish / Finnish death metal? Do you care? Personally I think there are many absolutely fantastic new bands there and they surprised me totally with the great music they produced! Your opinion and favorites?

Honestly, I don´t care much. I´m busy composing songs for HEAVING EARTH and don´t have time to look for new bands. My latest favorites are PERDITION TEMPLE and CHAOS INCEPTION, bands pretty distant from Swedish sound.

Yeah, two good bands, but I think it’s weird you rather try not to follow some great recently coming bands, as they have many strengths and passion dedicated to the old skull style! Change your mind, man! Back to “Dead Lovers' Guide”… Personally I think that there’s this passion and atmosphere and also brutality in your album, which are essential for such kind of death metal. That’s why I find the album so great… And the riffs or melodies in the style of DISMEMBER, ENTOMBED, DESULTORY, GRAVE, EXCRUCIATE… Killer! How the composing process was then, was it very spontaneous or rather difficult to capture the essence of Swedish sounding death metal?
Not that difficult really. If you can feel uniqueness of Swedish death metal sound and that freezing bone-chilling atmosphere, then everything goes smoothly and fine. If not, then your music would suck. There is no way how to play this kind of music without being touched by its magic. All trendy followers gonna wither and die. 

I like the sound you have on the album… It’s pretty rough, not overly polished or synthetically modern. Do you prefer such analogue like productions personally or the sound you have is only because it fits the music better?
Both of your suggestions are right. I really love analogue productions of 80´s and early 90´s, because there are fucking balls and heart in there. You can hear how musicians really played, how they were struggling in studio to get best out of them. Even with mistakes it´s still much better for me than some clean digital production with annoying click drums. So many bands sound so cool and brutal from CD these days, but their live performances are damn weak.

The title “Dead Lovers' Guide” is quite weird, poetic to some point, but I have a feeling that there’s something weird behind it, so would you mind saying something more about it?
“Dead Lovers´ Guide” is an ironic title
indeed. It refers to raising of stupidity and arrogance in our society. People seem to be in need for some guidance in every possible aspect of their lives (mostly those of the kind I proudly call human waste). Ok, I can understand importance of mother care manuals, driving manuals and even cookbooks in some cases, but then you got time management and life management manuals and shit like that and even manual how to arrange your own funeral. So what we need next? Sure some guide for dead lovers.

You live in Prague, one of Europe’s most popular cities and surely one of the most beautiful ones. How do you stand the hordes of tourists attacking this city every day? What are your favorite locations there? By the way, have you ever been to the Church of Bones, in Kutna Hora? I’m going to visit it soon, as I think it must have great atmosphere…
Good question, because I really fucking hate these hordes of tourists that stand always in your way. Walking in metropolitan is like being part of some weird slalom competition with no rules and in the end, you are in urge to get a gun and clean that fucking place completely. One of my favorite locations is Letna park, where you can sit and watch river and downtown with a glass of good beer, without being disturbed. Some other parks in Prague are cool places too, as long as you can get a cold beer there and have some privacy. As you can see, I´m not enthusiastic at all about Prague Castle, Jewish town and other popular touristic destinations, because of the amount of people you have to struggle with. Unfortunately, I´ve never been to Church of Bones, though we played twice in Kutná Hora with HEAVING EARTH.

Polish Kraków is very similar to Prague, I wonder if you’ve ever been there or maybe do you know anything cool about Poland? Poles usually find Czech language as hilarious, as the words are similar to Polish, but may mean something completely different, like your word “sukat” sounds like Polish “szukac”, which is “to look for something”, but in Czech is something completely different (Polish tourists will know hehe) or “pachne” means stinks, while in Polish it’s “smell nice” he, he…
Sorry man, I have never been to Kraków. I have been only to Wroclaw once to see ULCERATE, that´s all my experiences with Poland so far. I know you have some beautiful castles in north of Poland, that were built during Teutonic Knights period and I really want to go and see it once. Malbork looks so impressive (Fuckin true, man! Even the town where I’m from, before moving to Gdansk, had one of the most important Teutonic castles from XIV century! – ed.). On very positive note and what is of big
importance for me -  you have some great death metal bands, something Czech metal scene should be envious for (but we are not – we drink seas of beer and have a good time instead, hahah…).  Besides that your nation is known in Czech Republic as a very religious one and full of heavy drinkers, which is pretty sharp combination. And last but not least - you will be surprised, but in archaic Czech “sukat” has the same meaning - to look for something.

So, maybe that’s because the old Czechs were only searching for… pussies! He, he! Czechs have some great summer festivals… Do you often go and watch bands there, or maybe both your bands had / will have a chance to play live on these festivals, maybe not just in Czech, but Europe in general?
We were invited to play at Obscene Extreme Festival with HEAVING EARTH in 2009 and this year with BRUTALLY DECEASED. That was really good experience for us. Besides that we were part of some smaller summer festivals in Czech Republic this year, mainly with HEAVING EARTH, and recently played our first festival outside our virtual borders in Ukraine (Uzghorod) with BRUTALLY DECEASED. Personally I had no time, will and energy to go for other festivals, except those, we have been invited to. I don´t have a magic crystal ball, so I won´t tell you about our c
hances to play at really big summer festivals in future, but surely I hope for some progression…

Any plans for both bands to do new albums? Personally I’m waiting for them impatiently, as these two bands of yours shred! Besides, it’s good to see the Czech scene finally producing some great bands, as since KRABATHOR has split up I didn’t find anything truly killer on your scene… Even HYPNOS disappointed me!
Thank you for your kind words. We have been working on both things simultaneously. HEAVING EARTH is for sure to enter studio for 2nd full length next year, while BRUTALLY DECEASED should release “Dead Lovers´ Guide” on vinyl this year yet and then we will go to studio to record few songs on planned 10 inch split vinyl with one pretty known old school death metal horde. Can´t wait for that, believe me.

Oh man, vinyls are definitely something I’m gonna look for! Finally last question – new MORBID ANGEL album… A complete failure, mediocre disappointment or masterpiece? Your comment… Thanks for the interview!

At least they released something everybody is talking about, if you can see it as positive aspect. Other ways new MORBID Angel fails in every possible aspect and it´s a big insult to every fan and death metal scene in general. I can´t find any more polite words, sorry…

Don’t need to apologize me, I haven’t recorded it ha, ha… Besides, personally I like the death metal part of the album… Take care and good luck with the future albums!
 

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Deathronation - A Soil Forsaken

Deathronation - A Soil Forsaken (Self release - demo 2006)
Man, it seems like finally the German scene has found its way out of the abyss of mediocrity and spawned some great death metal bands, because in my opinion since Morgoth and Fleshcrawl there were only few black metal acts that I really liked and almost none death metal ones, but that has changed with the likes of Necros Christos, Mandatory or Obscure Infinity. And now also Deathronation, although this demo release from 2006 hasn't really shown the whole potential from this band.
I don't remember how many bands have already used the "Exorcist" movie for the intro on their recordings, Deathronation is yet another one, but I like it - you know, the part with "we are the ones who dwell within" always give me goose skin. But there's no time to think about it, because "Realm Of Shadows" starts. Hmm, I must say that the music captured my attention right away, despite the fact that sound quality is rather mediocre and it brings very messy and chaotic feeling to the music, succesfully "killing" some riffs, making them rather unreadable. Anyway, this is old school metal demo and so you shouldn't expect it to have the production like the mainstream bands have and besides, as for a rehearsal recording, it doesn't sound so terrible as you would think.
Musically Deathronation slaughters with a rotten, obscure death metal, in this particular song ("Realm Of Shadows") it has many resemblences to bands like old Destroyer 666 - with the death / thrash metal riffing, as well as Throneum and Necros Christos (mainly the atmosphere)... And I think these two bands may be some of the most essential influences for Deathronation, but not only, as it also brings the memory of certain legendary bands like Sarcofago, Incantation, even Blasphemy, and even more importantly, it has the same feeling, which you can find on some South American recordings. So, imagine dirty, unpolished, totally morbid and chaotic death metal, mixed with some parts of black and thrash...
I must say that the most interesting are the parts, when Deathronation slows down their music, like in the "Curse From The Grave", which has fantastic opening riff, as well as the opening theme for "Beyond Revelation". From the other hand the fast parts sound very chaotic and primitive, almost archaic, with the badly played drums and then you can also spot all the faults of the production of the demo - well, just listen to the "Beyond Revelation" for the example. I must say that this song, as well as "Marooned" for instance can easily be labelled as death / black metal, as the atmosphere on them is totally primitive and obscure and the vocals are closer to the black metal screams than typical death growls.
Anyway, I definitely enjoyed listening to "A Soil Forsaken...", even though at the same time I can say there are some things, which I would like to be done better, but the overall atmosphere and the feeling in this music are really cool. So, if all these band names I've mentioned in this review mean something to you, try to check this demo out.
Final rate: 65 / 100

Repugnant - Hecatomb


REPUGNANT - Hecatomb (HAMMERHEART - MLP 2000)
"Putrid odours rising, From beneath the ground. They climb up from the tombs with a freezing horrid sound... From beyond the grave"
This one sentence perfectly sums up the atmosphere of "Hecatomb", MLP from the Swedish Repugnant. I must say that the first time I've heard about this band was somewhere in 2003 I think, but I've never expected that their music will be so devastating and in fact will resurrect the old school death metal with such a quality that often it's better than the originals! Yeah, you've read it right - I think that Repugnant is better than many original death metal pioneers. I think that the music of those Swedes is just perfect, their riffs and ideas, the vocals, production... just everything on "Hecatomb" sounds perfect to my ears. Even those damn pseudonyms those guys have picked up sound amazing - Mary Goore on vocals, guitars, Roy Morbidson on bass, Chris Piss on drums and finally Sid E. Burns playing guitar. Isn't that fuckin' cool??!! Mind that no one else, except Repugnant (and also Pentacle), even thought about something like that at this time of late 90's / early 00's, while nowadays there are dozens of bands, which play like that!!
"Hecatomb" was originally released as a 7"EP by To the Death Records in 1999, but I definitely recommend you getting the vinyl 12" press of this EP, released by Hammerheart, because it has better layout and also it includes a bonus track. I expect both vinyls to be very difficult to get nowadays, but don't surrender and once you see it on E-bay or wherever, buy it! I'm lucky to own "Hecatomb" 12"LP and man, it sounds amazing and the whole layout is also brilliant.
Everything starts with a creepy, horror intro, which is followed by "From Beyond the Grave" - this one song is just a death metal masterpiece, so amazing that I could kill for it! The riffing in it is just excellent, very sharp and aggressive, combining the very old school death and thrash metal traditions of bands like Possessed, Mantas / Death, Master, old Sepultura, Nihilist, etc. In fact this song not only will force you into maniacal headbanging, with the fast and relentless playing, but also will make you scream the catchy chorus part - "from beyond the graaaveee!!!!!!". "Morbid Ways" then strikes with something very similar, but maybe even more in the classic Swedish death metal vein, but man... It's another amazing song, with some truly vicious and devastating riffs.
"Rapturous Genocide" is a demo track, re-recorded for this EP and maybe it's not as great as the first two songs, but anyway I wish everyone to compose such "less interesting" (hehe) songs, as still it captures the rotten atmosphere and brutal old school death / thrash metal energy in an excellent way, at some parts speeding up very dangerously, into almost grinding blasts "Genocideeee!"). Finally the whole EP is closed by Celtic Frost's "The Usurper" and trust me, sometimes I wonder which version I like more - Repugnant's or the original?
All in all, this one excellent EP and personally not only it's my favourite Repugnant release, but also one of the best death metal EPs that ever appeared from the burial grounds.
"Day of the human holocaust, in sinners mind, forever lost. Raping the grace, human quiescence. Morbid Ways..."
Best track: "From Beyond the Grave"

Final rate: 97 / 100
             

Horde of Hel - Blodskam

HORDE OF HEL - Blodskam (MORIBUND Records - CD 2009)
I've found out about this band by pure accident. First I saw an advert of Moribund Rex in Zero Tolerance Magazine, so I googled the band name to see who they are. It turned to be some sort of "all star" band of the guys, who used to play in "once excellent" In Battle, but also in Odhinn. Hmm, usually the "all star" thing doesn't work for me, at least not in black metal, but I gave a try to Horde of Hel and got the mp3. Two listenings later I was on some distro websites looking for the CD and buying it. Yeah, I liked it that much. I got the CD soon after and must say there was a week, when I was listening to it like addiction. Shame there are no lyrics in the booklet, but surely you may enjoy its layout, with all these creepy, disturbing photos, my favourite being probably the one with a girl painting a word "kaos" on a chest of hanged Asian dude (good photoshop work hehe).
Musically Horde of Hel plays kind of avantgarde black metal. In that aspect "Blodskam" combines the black metal feeling, with industrial and lots of ambiental passages, in result creating a dark, sinister, eerie and morbid atmopshere. It does intrigues and I must advice to listen to the whole album at once, to me it's useless to pick just half of the songs and listen to them. Only by listening to the entire album, from the start to the end, you'll be able to capture its essence and devour it. And trust me, it will, unless you're an orthodox, who likes only the most primitive and obscure styles.
I also think it would be useless to describe each detail of "Blodskam", as there are so many different layers to it, so many strange things happening here, that it would need to be described in too many details. Not a single song sounds the same as another one, and not always it is (black) metal, few of them are just kind of intros or ambient songs, which underline the atmosphere and sometimes sound really great, like "Blott Tvivel & Skam", which is more of martial, neoclassical song, very much in the vein of great Puissance. Those ambiental passages play almost a main role in the scheme of the album, they glue all these songs together. Someone may say that they actually interrupt and the band, instead of slashing with the black metal riffing is constantly shifting the styles, instead of focusing on one thing. BUt personally I don't think so, the way "Blodskam" is composed is perfect, it's original and as I already said, the atmosphere is just blood freezing and cold as fuckin hell.
As for the metal songs they're also much diversed and they range from the satanik, uncompromising and devastating fury in the vein of Mysticum in "Leave Life Behind" or "Domen Mot Människan" and Aborym in "Born Again into Submission" or "The Glory of Massmurder", with its marching rhythm, but also through the madness of DHG in "Visdomen Kallas Döden" and "Ashborn" to the almost Morgul like melancholy of "Död, Naturens Val". But I would put Aborym as the main influence for Horde of Hel, as the traces of this band can be found in many songs, like "Dödens Ara". Mind that most of these songs have been played in slow, sometimes almost doomy tempos, "Visdomen Kallas Döden" being its one of the most intriguing examples, but that also works for me well, especially that the riffs are great, the extras in the songs - like the industrial sounds or orchestral fillings - sound killer and so does the harsh, but varied vocals.
“Död, Naturens Val” is definitely my favourite and most standout tracks on "Blodskam", but it's also one of the most surprising tunes, it closes the album in not so anticipating melancholic and highly melodic way, with quite catchy, but still sorrowful main riff and great melodic guitar leads, of which the one from the 3rd minute totally reminds me the classic Amorphis! Anyway, this is great track, I absolutely love it.
And for the end, just a small quotation from the band's myspace website: "HORDE OF HEL WANTS YOUR BLOOD !! THIS IS IT, THE DOWNFALL OF MANKIND AND ALL LIFE!!!!!!!! HORDE OF HEL REPRESENT TOTAL ANNIHILATION OF LIFE,LOVE AND ALL THAT STAND FOR KINDNES AND CARE!!!! WE HATE EVERYTHING!!!!"
Standout tracks: "Domen Mot Människan", “Död, Naturens Val”, "Leave Life Behind"
Final rate: 85 / 100


Monday, 17 October 2011

Dismember - RIP

I just saw some terrible news about the mighty Dismember splitting up after over 20 years of their death metal slaughter! Man, this is my favourite band of all time, one which I can honestly say never did a bad album - from the genre defining "Like an Ever Flowing Stream", through the uncompromising "Hate Campaign", up to the last, but so good "Dismember"... Fuck. I know that some may say this band wasn't already the same without Fred Estby, but personally I think that Thomas Daun from Repugnant was a great replacement and live as well as on the album they still fuckin shred. It's sad to see such bands passing away, especially if I just started to think when they're going to release something new... It's also weird they've done it at the time of hype for such Swedish death metal... It only confirms they never been for the bucks, but played from their rotten hearts. RIP dismember, I've got my vinyls and I think I'm going to play them all this week.




Hmm, one may of course ask the question how long we'll wait for Dismember to reunite hehe, as so many bands did that recently... never say never, and I think the irony of life can be very surprising sometimes. I do belive there will be another LP one day!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Allegiance

 I've already written one post about ALLEGIANCE, with the review of their "Hymn Till Hangagud" album, but just few days ago I decided to give also a listen to the second LP from this Swedish band and I thought: "man, this band was so brilliant, their music was fantastic, how come no one remembers them anymore????? How come their albums are not available anymore and why the hell the band didn't record anything since 1999???” Soon afterwards, I decided to find as much info about ALLEGIANCE as I can and write this damn article, to remind you all about one of the greatest Swedish bands ever! It wasn't easy, it turned out that the endless cosmos of internet hasn't got anything to offer about ALLEGIANCE, except band's myspace, which itself is very short in info. I've found just one interview from the band's demo era and that's basically all. I hope though that this article will brief you into the band’s history at least a little bit.
I think ALLEGIANCE is known to everybody solely as a side project of two old MARDUK members, B.War (Roger Svensson) and Friedrik Andersson. For years I also thought that it's just their side project that they’ve created at the time of "Heaven Shall Burn" LP, but no! ALLEGIANCE was formed much earlier, years before the cooperation with MARDUK, in Söderköping already back in 1989!! Would you believe that??!! This is when Bogge and Friedrik started a thrash metal band and called it ALLEGIANCE. The line up, except these two, also included Dick Georgson and Mikael Almgren. In 1989 the band recorded their first demo, "Sick World", but this was just a silly effort - funny cover with King Kong was just childish and what can I say about such a song title like "Where Is Batman"? Besides, the sound quality on it was below any criticism, just pure shite he, he. The booklet lists the line up as: Drutten - Vocals, Bogge - Guitar, Sacken - Guitar, Micke - Bass, Froding - Drums, Vocals, but I honestly have no idea who Drutten or Sacken were. Forget it, soon afterwards Devo Andersson joined the band as vocalist and since then the music started to be slightly more aggressive. In November 1990 ALLEGIANCE recorded their second demo (at KFUM Studio) titled "Eternal Hate", which definitely has been a better effort than the embarrassing debut, but still it was far from being the greatest Swedish demo ever. But then Dick left ALLEGIANCE, and so Devo took over the guitar duties and as a four piece (Devo - Guitar, Vocal, Micke - Bass, Froding - Drums and Bogge - Guitar) the band recorded third demo, "The Beginning Was the End". But with Devo doing both guitars and vocals, it didn't work well and also because other band members became tired of his voice, Martin "Draupin" Gustafson (from DARKFIED) joined as ALLEGIANCE vocalist at the end of 1992 and with this new line up, in the summer 1993, the band recorded another demo tape, "Odin Äge Er Alle". From this moment, ALLEGIANCE started to sound different, more vicious, more black metal, with the viking theme, though still with the English written lyrics (only the title is in Swedish). One of the tracks from this demo "A Dawn For Steel Usheated" was also featured on a compilation CD which was included in the Swedish Close-Up Magazine. After this demo Devo, Friedrik and B.War were all asked to join MARDUK, but while the two decided to play in two bands, Devo left ALLEGIANCE and was replaced by Par Thornell. Another demo has been spawned soon afterwards, it was titled "Hövfdingadrapa" and it was recorded at Unisound Studio, in November / December 1994. It was the band's best demo definitely and one, which showed ALLEGIANCE in their own, unique style of fast, aggressive, but slightly melodic black / Viking metal (all three songs later were re-recorded for the debut album). This was also the first demo ALLEGIANCE sent to any labels and quickly the Swedes got the offer from No Fashion Records. Before any more actions were taken though, another line up change occurred, as Martin was asked to leave the band and from then on Bogge took over the vocals. Asked about all these line up changes Bogge said in an interview: "we kicked lots of fucking idiots but I don´t think that we are a hard band to play with. These idiots were kicked because of their worthless musical talents, and some of them because they were total jerks. As an example we can take the jerk Martin Gustavsson, our ex vocalist, who instead of rehearsing with a great band like ALLEGIANCE, went out in Norrköping with a gang of dickheads to hunt vampires with a watergun. And this was only one of all the stupid things he did." In March 1995 ALLEGIANCE signed a deal with No Fashion and in July the same year they entered the Unisound Studio to record, under the watchful eye of Dan Swano, their first album, the amazing masterpiece "Hymn Till Hangagud". The album has eight songs and in total there are some of the finest 47 minutes in the history of Swedish black / viking metal ever. I love almost everything on this CD, oh just read my review and see what I think about it. Besides, could you resists this amazing front artwork (by Alf Svensson, ex At the Gates!!!), where the priests are hanging on the tree because they tried to turn this poor, but angry Viking into the catholicism?? Death to them! There's a funny anecdote about the recording of "Hymn Till Hangagud". This album was recorded during the middle of the summer and because it was very hot, the band opened the windows in the studio when recording the vocals. After few hours though, the police stormed the studio, because someone from the neighbourhood alarmed them hearing someone being beaten to death and screaming in torment. They must have felt really stupid, when it turned out it was Bogge recording his vocal parts he, he! When reading the interview with ALLEGIANCE in Vox Mortis Magazine from the time just after the release of “Hymn...”, I must say I’ve found it weird that soon after the CD was released, the band said how unhappy they were with the production on "Hymn Till Hangagud" - personally I like it a lot, but the band said it's (the production) not proper for bands like ALLEGIANCE (and MARDUK also, as this band also resigned from Unisound at that time). Anyway, since ALLEGIANCE didn't play any tours or gigs (Bogge and Friedrik did that only with MARDUK), the composing process of new material went relatively quickly and already between October to November 1996 ALLEGIANCE recorded their second album, "Blodörnsoffer", but with Peter "Dä va bare larv" Tägtgren behind the console. Roger "Bogge" Svensson, Pär Thornell, Mikael Almgren and Fredrik "Froding" Andersson did another excellent job and the album is even more vicious and furious as its predecessor. It's damn fast, but in many parts also infectiously melodic and epic, all in all delivering 50 minutes of pure, powerful Swedish black / viking metal, which is ripping the Jehova's corpse each time it's been played. If I had to mention five best Swedish black metal records ever, this one would be on this list definitely! The only thing, which should have been done better, was the promotion of the album, which I think sucked, but I think mainly due to the focus of B.War and Friedrik on MARDUK. The only good thing is that ALLEGIANCE rushed the composing quite much and so the third LP, "Vrede", was recorded already in June 1998, again in Abyss Studio! The band was just a three piece then, as Mikael left soon after the previous CD was recorded... and well, "Vrede" is maybe even more melodic and less intense than the previous LP, with more epic edge, but despite that I think it's just another great album in the band's discography. And it's a shame that this album especially was so overlooked and No Fashion basically didn't promote it at all, closing down soon later. Maybe this was also the reason why there’s this silence in ALLEGIANCE camp since. Even though both Friedrik and Bogge left MARDUK years ago and only played sporadically in such projects as TRIUMPHATOR or DEVIL'S WHOREHOUSE, there's nothing new I've heard about ALLEGIANCE since "Vrede" was released. Some websites say that the band has reformed with Bogge, Friedrik, Mikael and Par, as well as with Ulf Dalegren from VOMITORY, but nothing has been recorded yet. I hope though that it will change one day and the great antichristian crusade will have its new chapter.






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ALLEGIANCE – Hövfdingadrapa (demo 1994)
Recorded: All music and arrangements by ALLEGIANCE. Recorded at the Unisound Studio, November/December 1994.
Recording line up: Roger Svensson - Lead Guitar, Pär Thornell - Second Lead/Acoustic Guitar, Mikael Almgren – Bass, Fredrik Andersson - Drums, Percussion, Martin Gustavsson – Vocal
I have to admit that I've been looking for this demo for quite a long time, but finally someone uploaded it on the internet and so I decided to download it, as it's probably the only way I could ever listen to it and see what Allegiance sounded like, prior to their debut album. But "Hövfdingadrapa" may not give an exact answer to it, as the tracklist from it includes just three songs and all of them have later been recorded again on the successful debut album "Hymn Till Hangagud". I guess if I really wanted to see how the beginnings of Allegiance were, I would have to get the earlier demo, "Odin Äge Er Alle", but well, I'm happy to listen to "Hövfdingadrapa", as this is killer demo. Three songs: "Hövfdingadrapa", "The Third of Ravens" and "The March of Warlike Damned"... All are really great and I must say I totally like their demo versions. They sound raw as hell and brutal, of course the production on the demo isn't as good and polished as on the full length album, but to my taste it is killer. The atmosphere on it is very black metal and I really love it. In the beginning of the title track it really reminds me Kampfar, at other times the music sounds like Enslaved, Dissection or Marduk... It's all very diverse and I must say that the arrangements were absolutely fantastic. I'm not surprised these songs ended up also on the album. It truly is the highest quality Swedish black metal, so... "Hövfdingadrapa" = one of the best demos EVER!!!!!!!!
Best song: "The Third of Ravens"
Final rate: 75 / 100

ALLEGIANCE – Hymn Til Hangagud (NO FASHION – CD 1996)
Recorded: Recorded at Unisound Studios, July 1995.
Recording line up: Pär Thornell - Second Lead/Acoustic Guitar, Mikael Almgren – Bass, Fredrik Andersson - Drums, Percussion, Bogge – Guitars / Bass
Viking metal can be a curious genre. It may include musically completely different bands and be as various as the difference is between the cheesiness of say Turisas or Ensiferum and the majestic epicness of Bathory up to the black metal aggression of early Enslaved or Helheim. It's only the viking theme in the lyrics what connects these bands. Allegiance is also one of those viking themed Scandinavian troops. But music wise they haven't got much in common with any of these bands I mentioned above. Hmm, maybe there are some similarities in fragments to "Frost" LP, but generally Allegiance is much more aggressive and straight forward, but at the same time melodic and Swedish sounding. "Hymn Till Hangagud" is their debut album from 1996 and I must say it's one of my favourite Swedish albums from that period. The strength of the album lays in both excellent song writing and the production. Generally Allegiance is very Swedish in their style, but the band managed to bring also some other influences into their music, what in the end makes this album very original and unique. "Hymn Till Hangagud" kicks off with the riff that is almost close to Kampfar's folky black metal riffing and from that one fragment, Allegiance got my attention. "Höfdingadrapa" is excellent song, it's epic, majestic, but catchy also, with the chorus "Geir fathur Ravners godt" inviting to scream. But then "De Nordiska Lagren" comes with acoustics interludes, some Dissection-esque melodic riffs, there are even silent keyboards hidden behind the guitars... It's another great song, probably even the best on the album, as I love its blend of fairly melodic parts with aggression and fast riffs. "The Third Raven" is even more aggressive, this song really stands similar to what bands like Throne of Ahaz, Sacramentum or Vinterland were doing in those times... and man, it's 4 minutes of pure aggression, but without forgetting about the melodic aspect of Allegiance; just listen to the guitar lead here! These three songs are enough really to understand the strength of Allegiance debut album, luckily for the listener "Hymn Till Hangagud" doesn't end here and brings few more songs. One of them, titled "Himmelen Rämnar" is another my favourite; it's opened by the acoustic theme and then this catchy mournful melody, which is very much in the style of Dissection's "The Somberlain" album. This is fantastic, mid paced song, and great epic, monumental atmosphere just brings attention fully and convince me these are some of the best tunes the Swedish land has unleashed in the mid 90's. Truly, the album hasn't got anything what I would complain at. The production is just great, probably one of the best ones to come from Unisound and Dan Swano, at least in this style of metal. Fast fragments sound like thunders roaring in the sky and everything is so clear in the sound, the drums, the vocals... The production definitely makes the songs even more killer, especially that so often the sound kills good music... Here it's not the case; "Hymn Till Hangagud" sounds brilliant. If that's not enough compliments for you, then the front cover looks just fantastic, great idea and design, with these priests hanged on the tree, ravens flying around them (probably looking for some eye balls to eat out) and the angry viking roaring in bloodthirst. Inside of the booklet you'll also find plenty of band photos and lyrics, mainly in Swedish, but those, which are in English I fuckin enjoyed reading! They're great, just take a look on these lines:
"Weak ones- be food to my axe It´s twin edges thirst for your blood My winter pale horse grinds down all resist I ride with the speed of the light..."
"Gods of all things wild Of storm and warlit sky Of battles past present and to come With faith in thee I know I can not die..."
I can't believe how much this band and this album in particular has been clearly forgotten and underestimated nowadays. Seems like there are only few who remember Allegiance, probably mainly due to the Bogge's and Friedrik Andersson's role in Marduk. But trust me, this is brilliant music. Sadly it was released just once, by No Fashion Records, so nowadays this CD is totally unavailable, so this may also be the reason for the underestimation of Allegiance. Maybe it will change one day, maybe someone will re-release it (hopefully on vinyl, just like A Canorous Quintet gets their albums released on LP now), but till then, try to get the first pressing or even mp3 and listen to one of my favourite Swedish albums from the mid 90's.
Best song: "The Third of Ravens", "Himmelen Rämnar", "Höfdingadrapa"
Final rate: 96 / 100


ALLEGIANCE – Blodörnsoffer (NO FASHION – CD 1997)
Recorded: Recorded at Abyss Studio between October to November 1996. Mixed and produced by Allegiance and Peter "Dä va bare larv" Tägtgren. All music by ALLEGIANVE. Lyrics by: Roger "Bogge" Svensson on all except #6 from Valans spådom / Sången om Grimner.
Recording line up: Roger "Bogge" Svensson - Vocals, Guitars, Pär Thornell – Guitars, Mikael Almgren – Bass, Fredrik "Froding" Andersson – Drums
Truly this must be one of the most underestimated bands from Sweden, one which - despite having three excellent albums - haven't been noticed much and nowadays isn't even known to many (newer) fans. This is a shame, if you ask me, because the quality of Allegiance music is better than the one from 99% of albums of different bands. More so, Allegiance had this advantage of having B.War and Friedrik from the good, old Marduk line up, from "Heaven Shall Burn" era (the best period in Marduk's history???). Anyway, I've already written some words about the band's debut LP, "Hymn Till Hangagud", now it's time to praise their second full length album, "Blodörnsoffer". Originally recorded - in Abyss Studios, if you have any doubts - and released in 1997, these are 50 minutes of the most devastating and bestial black metal you can imagine. Or maybe I should write viking metal, as this is what Allegiance initially have played or rather talked about in their lyrics, but viking metal is not a label for specific sound, rather for certain theme in the lyrics. Nowadays the term "viking metal" is considered to be happy and cheerful, sing along music, not something so vicious and relentless. But this is exactly how "Blodörnsoffer" sounds like, starting with "Med Svärd I Hand", till the very end, it is destructive avalanche of fast black metal riffing that will ultimately stick in your head and force you to join the madness. If you think of bands like Dissection, Vinterland and Marduk (from "Opus Nocturne" and "Heaven Shall Burn" era), maybe also with some similarities to the atmosphere from "Frost" and "Eld" LPs by Enslaved, then these four bands would be the ones I could compare Allegiance music to. It is fast and uncompromising, but it is also damn melodic in many parts. Some riffs have great catchiness, occasionally also the band puts an acoustic ("Likbal") or keyboard interruption, but usually they only underline the epic atmosphere and are nothing more than a calm before the storm. And also to avoid the monotony in the music, you'll get hit also by such tracks as "En Svunnen Tid", almost slow or mid paced, very melodic, with some nice sounding guitar leads. But even then the music of Allegiance sounds aggressive and has so much energy that it fills you from the very first second... Finally if you listen to "Yggdrasil", which is another mid paced song, then I think you may spot some classic thrash metal or even heavy metal influenced riffs there. So, in the end, even though the whole impression on the album is that it's very fast and energetic, it also doesn't avoid being more melodic and epic. Oh, I almost forgot also to point out how great are the vocals of Mr. Bogge, known also as B.War! His vocals or rather screams are excellent, very furious and maniacal. And maybe his vocal lines are not that diverse, as he rather uses just this one kind of screaming, but that's not a problem and in the end it fits the music perfectly. Mind that all lyrics have been written in Swedish - which I have no problems with, I like the sound of this language and it sounds great in black metal, but I would love to have the translations, as I always like to know what the band sings about. All in all, this is great album. If I ever had to mention five of my favourite Swedish black metal albums, this one would be on this list for sure, together with the likes of "The Somberlain", "Welcome My Last Chapter", "Ancient God of Evil" and "Heaven Shall Burn" (I would put Bathory in totally different category, the Master has no rivals).
Best song: They're all great
Final rate: 95 / 100
ALLEGIANCE – Vrede (NO FASHION – CD 1999)
Recorded: Recorded in Studio Abyss June 1998. Produced by Peter Tagtgren of HYPOCRISY.
Recording line up: Roger "Bogge" Svensson - Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Pär Thornell – Guitars, Fredrik "Froding" Andersson – Drums
Review: Having two fantastic albums in your discography and being known for your participation in one of the most successful black metal bands ever, it must have been tough for Allegiance members to compose and record another killer slab of their viking themed black metal. But maybe I'm completely wrong, maybe all that experience, which Bogge and Friedrik had, worked on them positively and "Vrede" could have been the easiest of all Allegiance works? I don't know, the truth is though that even though it's another great album, I also must say that it's probably one, which I like least of all three full lengths that those Swedes have unleashed. Let’s say it’s still killer and great, but not as much as the other two are. The resemblance to Marduk's "Nightwing" album in the opening song "I Som Drogens Hart Med Döden" is striking at first, as the furiously fast riffs and the way Friedrik plays his drums are totally like "Of Hell's Fire" or "Slay the Nazarene", luckily later on the song turns into slightly slower and more melodic one, but these parts are usually only a short break before another cannonade of devastating rhythms begin. One would argue whether there's any point playing something exactly the same in two bands - as I remind you that Bogge and Friedrik were playing in both Marduk and Allegiance at that time - but let me explain that the rest of "Vrede" differs from Marduk much more than you would think. With the third song, "I Stjärnornas Skugga" the music turns into something else, it slows down a lot (although "I Stjärnornas Skugga" still has some sections of unbelievably fast playing), it's relatively mid paced and with the keyboards and such type of riffing as it has, it actually may almost remind you Dimmu Borgir's "Stormblast" for instance and some other Norwegian bands like Enslaved, but I'm not going to take this as an disadvantage, as the song is actually really cool, more melodic and mellow yes, but also suitably aggressive. "Hrodvitners Rike" and "Baldersbalet" successfully continue this way of playing and I must say that despite liking these three songs, I started to worry that "Vrede" will be too slow, much more melodic and epic than its predecessors and not so ultimately fast (although "Baldersbalet" has very fast middle part). When the beginning of "Nordens Fäder" turns into even more epic playing I knew that I shouldn't be expecting the killer machine like "Blodörnsoffer" was. I must honestly say that when I've heard some parts of "Nordens Fäder", like that melody in the second minute, well... I was kind of shocked that Allegiance lost so much of their power and aggression. I didn't expect this to come. What’s more, almost 70% of the album is like that… There is basically just one, totally fast and neckbreaking track, which will really remind you Marduk a lot and which is a real blasts from hell. All the rest of "Vrede" is slow paced, more melodic and much more quiet, sometimes these songs have some keyboards added, but mostly these melodic parts are focused on twin guitar playing - honestly, when I've listened to "Hedna stal (Hymn till Nordens hjältar)" I swear that the first thing that came to my mind, when hearing the riff in the fifth minute was "damn, these guys have taken also some influences from Iron fuckin Iron Maiden!". At times the music becomes dangerously harmonic and "nice" he, he, just listen to the ending bits of the song I just mentioned... All these totally melodic guitar leads in it have very progressive touch, don't you think? All in all, I think that this is the most experimental track in Allegiance history so far, in many places reminding me Enslaved strongly, as both viking bands have developed this progressive touch in the music (in Allegiance case, it's mostly this one song though, not the whole album) and when you hear "Skymning", which closes the album, well... you start to realise that Allegiance really turned into slightly different kind of band than they used to be, as this closing track is a wonderful, very harmonic instrumental, based on dreamy keyboard parts and again with pleasant solo on guitar. So, as you can see "Vrede" is definitely the most varied, but also the slowest and most melodic of all three Allegiance albums. I can say that some of the parts of this album have really surprised me, some positively, some maybe more negatively, but anyway the surprise was enormous. But all that doesn't mean this album is bad. No, I still enjoyed listening to it and definitely it's an essential CD to be in the Swedish black metal collection, remember though that personally I liked the previous albums more and I wish also "Vrede" was a bit more vicious and relentless, as it lost quite a lot of the aggression the band had on first two LPs. But maybe it's actually better to record something different than putting three exactly the same albums?
Best song: "I Som Drogens Hart Med Döden", "Baldersbalet", "Nordens Fäder", "Hedna stal (Hymn till Nordens hjältar)"
Final rate: 80 / 100

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Konsortium - The Konsortium

The Konsortium - The Konsortium (AGONIA Records - CD 2011)
I must say that nowadays I not often buy an album - CD or LP - of a band that I hardly know anything about or if earlier I haven't listened to the whole music on mp3 for example or at least one or two songs just to check it out. It's due to the risk of getting shit nowadays, which is so big with so (too) many bands, so many albums released every month that I rather spend my money on something really good and worthy than losing it on something which I won’t be 100% happy with. I don't want to risk and get disappointed by forgettable, lousy recordings, you know? Those I can have on mp3, if I need to. But somehow I did completely against my rule and took a risk with this CD. It's Norwegian The Konsortium and their debut album released by Agonia Records. Why have I done it? Well, I remember I had a chance to listen to The Konsortium's demo few years ago and it was great modern black metal in the vein of Disiplin, Thorns, etc and I loved it. I promised myself to get the CD, as soon as the band releases anything. It took them few years to do so, but finally here it is. Well, the first look on the digipack isn't too convincing, as the whole layout is very basic and simple, everything's in white colour, what looks original, but also too minimalist for my taste. The aura of the cover is very cold, but at the same time I really don't like the front artwork. Weird choice, if you ask me! 
As with many other avantgarde black metal albums, also with "The Konsortium" it me took several listens, before I truly started to capture its essence and feeling. It's all because there are some brave ideas and unconventional parts, which may make the orthodox metaller vomit in disgust. But don't be afraid, it's not another Arcturus or whatever. The main skeleton of The Konsortium music remains deeply rooted in the Norwegian black metal and the bands that I've mentioned above, Disiplin especially as well as say Satyricon. The album starts with "Gasmask Prince" and from that moment I can say I've been thrilled with some excellent riffing, as well as some unusual vocals, which I think some of you may find as the most annoying on the whole album, but which give a special atmosphere to it. There are some black metal shrieks, as well as some melancholic singing, agonizing yelling, spoken voices or chanting... Or however you'll name it, they're very diverse. But if the vocals will scare you away from the first song, then you may miss the devastating blasting fury of “Lik Ulven”, great track, which starts with some crushing tempos until the chorus part comes in, where the avantgarde side of The Konsortium music comes forward. I must say that however unusual and weird it sounds, I really like this part and the atmosphere it creates.
“Under the Black Flag” has this riff, which is totally possessing and which also reminds me Disiplin a lot, at parts coming also dangerously close to Satyricon's "Rebel Extravaganza", but the song - played in much slower tempo than the previous one - has an amazing feeling and I can truly say it's hard to resist. The vocals in this track are also some of the best from the whole album. The marching rhythm of "Decomposers" will catch your attention instantly, staying in your head for the whole day, it's like a pestilence you can't get rid off and “Knokkeklang” will beat your face with some light-fast blast beats.
And this is what the whole album is like. It’s very diverse, with weird, but possessing atmosphere and some brilliant riffing. Mind that the whole music is based on guitars, there are no keyboards or samples, which is a surprise, considering how unique and avantgarde sound "The Konsortium" has. But as I already said, here the vocals and guitars are responsible for creating the atmosphere and in that point I must say the band did an awesome job. Norway again proved to be the place, where the best and most challenging black metal albums come from. Of course it takes some bravery as well as certain open mindness from you to listen to such albums as "The Konsortium" and it will be a huge mistake if you start listening to it with an orthodox black metal posture. But I strongly recommend this CD to you, it’s much better than the 1000th version of the usual and boring primitive string torture.
Standout tracks: "Gasmask Prince", "Under the Black Flag", "Decomposers"
Final rate: 85 / 100