Monday, December 29, 2014

Interview with gun slinging metal veteran Alan Averill aka Nemtheanga (Primordial/Dread Sovereign/Blood Revolt/Twilight of the Gods)

Primordial have yet again produced a rock-solid opus known as Where Greater Men Have Fallen (review) which is being highly hailed in various metal-zines across the world. In light of that and also regarding Alan's various projects and the recent Dread Sovereign album I did this little chat with him. Enjoy! 

Moaning Eggnog: How's it going over at the shooting range? Gearing up for
the next Blood Revolt?

Alan Averill: Life is going more or less ok down the shooting range, some stray bullets here and there. Strangely enough I talked with J. Read about making another album only about a month ago. We agreed in principle over the idea but I definitely think the last one is kinda of definitive statement so maybe we need to change tack on some of the music. We shall see what happens, watch this space.

M.E: Actually my elder cousin got me into Primordial through your Metal Blade debut "The Gathering Wilderness." At that moment we were really into Venom, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, the Norwegian scene, Abigor, Marduk, Setherial, Sarcofago, Mystifier and all sorts of 'kvlt' stuff as well as traditional, thrash, death and doom metal. So, my cousin gave me a copy of TGW and told me, "Listen to this shit man. It's like a doomy love child of Celtic
Frost and Bathory raised in Ireland by a pensive twin of Bruce Dickinson. How unique is that?" And as expected I was totally blown away upon hearing it. So, did you have this sort of songwriting approach in the mind from the very beginning? To my ears Dark Romanticism... sounds fairly atmospheric and catchy for a raw black metal oriented demo even though it doesn't feature much of your latter intense clean vocals.

Alan: No we don't really make plans, what happens happens and the songs on that album in particular were just what we were working on at the time, you don't really have a sense of what you are fully creating until it's out there in the public domain and people react to it. The song writing just reflects where we were as people at the time, it's a dark claustrophobic album that without a doubt has some sonic flaws but as an overall texture it works. I think you can still hear it's the same band from the demo to the new album, we just forged our own path and kept with that.

M.E: Now that I've seen you mention "The Alchemist's Head" is Voivod influenced it really does sound quite off-key and twisted. It's kind of stupid of me that I didn't get it earlier. Anyway, I think most people wouldn't have guessed it because it still sounds like Primordial and way more sinister than Voivod (although I rarely associate 'sinister' with Voivod, they're more on the insane and fun side and sometimes a bit moody like Angel Rat or The Outer Limits) even though the influence is really there as you've mentioned. 

Alan: Well it took me a long time to crack Voivod, I had the albums as a kid/teenager but the punky shouty vocals really put me off for years. It's only really in my 30s that I've fully grown to love that band immensely. But what the band represents is something incredibly unique and that in itself is inspiring, that even over the various chapters in the band they held their heads high and created this fiercely individual sound. The Alchemist's Head also has some modern ortho black metal kinda vibes as well if you ask me, a little Deathspell
Omega perhaps, who knows. definitely something more sinister at work there.

M.E: Does the opening of "Babel's Tower" remind you of a more doomy take on "Freezing Moon" as well as lot of fans are getting that vibe including me to some extent. Apart from that I think it has nothing whatsoever common with the Mayhem classic except that it's already quite a Primordial classic. I think it's a far more introspective and factual song rather than sinister or mystical.

Alan: Ughhh another person saying this. I can see the similarity in the picking kinda style but really the notes are different and it's a really lazy kind of comparison to me personally. Definitely Mayhem was not on Ciaran's mind when he wrote this song. I love de mysteriis but I wouldn't consider it an influence.

M.E: Human Antithesis is a one of a kind. It's a different sort of masterpiece but shamefully overlooked. I don't come across stuff like that much often even though I listen to a lot of doom bands and it's actually my favourite subgenre.
Would you like to do something like that or collaborate with the duo from Void of Silence (I'm not even aware of their current status, they don't seem to be active at all) again?  

Alan: That was a special period in my life actually and I have nothing but amazing memories from going to Rome to make the album. It really showed me personally that I could make it happen and rely on my own talents outside of Primordial. It is indeed a unique and one of a kind album but far from whatever the trends are in doom metal. Not occult or hippie enough for most people I would imagine but it has its fans and I didn't make it with the intention of it being huge. It could do with a repress perhaps now though! I'm always open to musical collaborations within reason and I have a strong feeling the next album I make will be something non metal....and definitely in 2015. 

M.E: I love the Roadburn EP and I liked the wall-of-sound approach of "All Hell's Martyrs" but overall it didn't hit me as hard as 99.9% of your stuff does. Do you
want to keep the sound of that album and expand upon it in the next Dread Sovereign? 

Alan: Well, I really don't know what to say then, I think the album is a stormer! in truth and honesty from the aesthetic to the sound it's something very close to my heart and I don't think you'll hear anything out there for example like the final track "Live Through Martyrs / Transmissions from the Devil Star". I understand that people have short attention spans these days and an EP for the underground is easier to digest but we had to make it like this. Listen again is all I can say, there are some more textures and layers to the album!

M.E: Your political stance has been a subject matter in most of your works. I remember reading one of your old interviews with the obelisk where you've been very critical towards the governing body of Ireland. You even went on to say that the common people helped them to perpetrate their various misdeeds. Whether it's Ireland or India, do you think that people should stop electing the culprits over and over again? Is it better to somehow amend the electoral
process (well, it's easier said than done) because in India whichever party gains control the leaders and party members turn out to be hypocrites, thieves and even rapists afterwards. We have numerous examples of that.  

Alan: Well you get what you pay for don't you? unless you live in a dictatorship. People here complain about Fianna Fáil (the main ruling party over the last 100 years) but they always voted them back in. I used to say I was against the church and the state and for the people but lately I've been finding myself against all 3 historically in Ireland. People hid from the truth, whether it was recognising paedophile priests in their midst and doing nothing or never standing up to the institutions of the state that oppressed and abused them. The world is ruled by power and economics and democracy is just smoke and mirrors. A poorly worked ideal that lies to you that your vote matters at all. If you want to change things start a lobby group and learn to be as bad as the people you oppose. 

M.E: What are some of your favourite non-metal acts apart from your much acknowledged appreciation of David Eugene Edwards (Wovenhand/ex-16 Horsepower)?

Alan: Loads, Nick cave, Leonard Cohen, Klaus Schulze, Joy Division, The Cure, Bauhaus, Rome, Arditi, Townes van Zandt, Johnny Cash, Popol Vuh, Unit Black Flight.

M.E: What are some of your favourite records of 2014 (both metal and non-metal)?

Alan: This was my top 20 for deaf forever magazine

which neglect to mention Behemoth's 'The Satanist' which was a great record

1 -Woven hand - Refractory Obdurate
2- Nick cave - Push the Sky Away
3- Dead congregation - Promulgation of the Fall
4- Grand magus - Triumph and Power
5- Kreigsmaschine - Enemy of Man
6- Solstafir - Otta
7- Bolzer - Aura
8- Unit black flight - Tracks from the Trailer
9- Necros Christos - Nine Graves
10- Satan - Life Sentence
11- Arditi/Puissance/Acherontas/Shibalba - Pylons of the Adversary
12- Slough feg - Digital Resistance
13- Bohren and der Club of Gore - Piano Nights
14- Lana del Rey - Ultraviolence
15-Crippled Black Phoenix - White Light Generator
16- Bullet - Storm of Blades
17- Reign wolf - Sessions
18- Electric wizard - Time to die
19- Midnight - Mayhem with Mercy
20- Winterfylleth - Divination of Antiquity

M.E: When are we gonna witness "Children of the Harvest", "The Coffin Ships" and "Empire Falls" being performed here in India, in the flesh? 

Alan: I have no idea, if there is a promoter tell them to get in touch with us! We need to come and play some different places. 

M.E: Thanks a ton for your time. It was my utmost privilege to get the chance to interview one of my biggest musical heroes.

Alan: No problem, take it easy.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Caskets Open - To Serve the Collapse (2014)

Oh, Sensuela!!:

Finland is no stranger to doom metal. From Reverend Bizarre, Spiritus Mortis to Fall of the Idols and The Wandering Midget, Santa's homeland has produced many a great act to please all the dirge worshippers around the world
and continues to do so by unleashing pissed off undead corpses To Serve the Collapse onto humankind this time around. That's right, the sophomore full-length offering by up and coming Finnish punk-doom metallers contains hour-long filthy and brooding invocation of the undead. 

Caskets Open have already established a quite intriguing sound with their debut But You Rule by fusing the crushing, slow traditional doom tempos of Reverend Bizarre and the punk/thrash/doom sensibilities of Carnivore and early Type O Negative. This time they have returned with the aforementioned dynamics only with more rage and a more grinding heavier production. They've also re-recorded a few tracks from two of their recent demos.

The bass-heavy lurches and despondent lead guitar melodies of "Phantom Wood" marks the beginning of the end. It ultimately leads to almost sludgy territories when Timo Ketola aka Horror employs his raspy hardcore/thrash oriented shrieks during the outro chorus, "Sleep till death...Sleep till death." "Subwoman" (re-recorded from In the End demo) is based on Teuvo Tulio's cult classic Sensuela which is regarded as a cheesy, ridiculous over-the-top semi-softcore flick nowadays. Horror gradually tells Laila Walk's ill-fated story with this crushing piece as its rifftastic nature, rock-steady drumming and catchy hooks unfold only to boggle your mind further with an orgasmic solo. 

"Humanist" begins with full-on punk/thrash attack and culminates with doom. "Funeral Home" is free from the punk tendencies in its entirety. It mostly revolves around painfully heavy trad doom riffs, clean bellowing vocals and atmospheric breaks. "Mayhem" sort of acts as a sequel to aforementioned "Humanist". It basically reverts the opening and closing rhythm of its predecessor by picking up from the doom outro and closing down with barn-burning punk/thrash. 

"The Law" is again a fantastic riff-orgy and features a cool Iommic vibrato which
also reminds me of a similar bending rhythm from the outro of Blood Farmers' "Orgy of the Rats". "Hetero" offers more mid-paced doom crunch before collapsing into the gloomy dirges of "I don't Mind" which is one of the earliest songs composed by the band for their very first demo. While this retake lacks the raw punch of the demo version it successfully makes up for that by becoming more cathartic and coma inducing.

To Serve the Collapse is a solid record that borders on greatness. I think it's not too far when Caskets Open will reach their full potential and produce something truly overpowering. Maybe they will achieve it with their next offering. I'd be looking forward to that.

Rating - ★★★★

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Inconcessus Lux Lucis - Crux Lupus Corona EP (2014)

NWOTBM = New Wave of Twisted Black Metal:

This emergence of freaky and twisted black metal is quite engaging to me. Be it Urfaust's drunken rituals, Negative Plane's black magic with a tasty surf rock
undertone or Head of the Demon's Sabbath meets Darkthrone approach all of these guys are pretty damn unique in their own ways. Now comes Inconcessus Lux Lucis! Huh! Inconcessus Lux Lucis is Latin for "Prohibited Light". Now the music is not quite dark or gloomy but it's definitely as deranged as the band name. Well, maybe Whorethorn seemed a bit too naive for this kind of sound!

Crux Lupus Corona is the after effect of the maniacal disorder caused by its full-length predecessor Disintegration: Psalms of Veneration for the Nefarious Elite which was released back in April. The EP is named after the containing individual tracks respectively apart from the intro "Via Dolorosa" which initiates this aberrant ceremony with an atmospheric and anthemic tone with piper like lead guitar melodies dominating over jangling grooves and poignant harmonized vocals. The strongest aspect of this duo is they know how to write killer hooks and classy rhythm. Constant Interplay between black and thrashy shifts with more rock-out and punk sections, texturally varied harmonics, swirling grooves and even a bit psychedelic flirting they utilize all these styles to create their own brand of oddball black metal.

Imagine Hail Spirit Noir jamming with Venom and Motorhead with a schizophrenic twin of Nocturno Culto on vocals. That's how bizarre and ridiculously dope they managed to sound with "Corona". Just make sure you have a bottle of Corona to accompany you when you howl-along,
"O hollow temptress, I call to thee - Fuck me! 
Come, join the slow dance, with maggots, shit and entropy!"

The crunchy headbangable riffs are appeasing to traditional metal, hardcore punk and thrash fans alike yet raw enough to please die-hard black metal fans. So, if you're a fan of good quality heavy metal in general, be it Motorhead or Celtic Frost and open for bands with quirky approaches then Inconcessus Lux Lucis might rock your socks off.

Rating - ★★★★

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Primordial - Where Greater Men Have Fallen (2014)

Psalms for the exiled:

The Irish heathen metallers have received much acclaim and gained quite a following over the past few years since their highly praised masterwork To the Nameless Dead. Their eighth full-length Where Greater Men Have Fallen continues the trademark gloomy yet fierce, melancholic yet aggressive sound
which they have founded with their sophomore effort A Journey's End and perfected with each release since then.

While me and some of the other fans of the band alike believe that they have peaked with To the Nameless Dead, Primordial still delivered a quite solid successor in the form of Redemption at the Puritan's Hand. Now the question is how long can they remain viable? That I don't know but they are still quite flawless and interesting with this record, at least to my ears. 

Although the title track which is also the opener bears the hallmark of the openers of their previous two records in the manner of standard verse-chorus-verse form it isn't as varied and majestic as "Empire Falls" or "No Grave Deep Enough". So, it ends up being a bit monotonous. "Babel's Tower" almost channels the opening riff of Mayhem's "Freezing Moon" by slowing it down to a more doomy pace and it sounds quite awesome. The riffing halfway through gets even heavier and doomier and then you're in for a folky interlude and a breathtaking solo which features some great heartfelt shredding. "The Seed of Tyrants" is pure savagery as it recalls Primordial's absolute black metal moments from Imrama and Storm Before Calm although the vocals of Nemtheanga remains within his latter cleaner territory with some harsh yelling in parts instead of pure black metal screaming.

The tempo becomes slower again with the doomy crawl of "Ghosts of the Charnel House". "The Alchemist's Head" is the utmost standout of this record. The atmospheric arpeggios in the beginning reminds me of the excellent "Bloodied Yet Unbowed" from the previous record although not quite
melancholic in nature instead the verse riff sounds sinister if anything and it maintains this brooding vibe throughout even during the folky bridge section. "Wield Lightning to Split the Sun" ends the album on a high note as it recaptures the epic vibe of Viking/Nordic era Bathory much like the closer of their previous record.

While Where Greater Men Have Fallen is not as remarkable as Spirit the Earth Aflame, The Gathering Wilderness or To the Nameless Dead it's still a quite worthy addition to their glorious, near flawless catalogue and also a big relief for Nemtheanga fanatics who were a bit disappointed by his recent inconsistent outings with Twilight of the Gods and Dread Sovereign.

Rating - ★★★★1/2 (90% on Metal-Archives)


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Melvins - Hold It In (2014)

Federation of Freaks:

Name a band with a career spanning over three decades that contain about two dozen records, numerous mini-albums and non-stop touring. That's right! Melvins are a rare breed which not only spawned the Seattle and New Orleans scene almost single-handedly but also a benchmark to a generation of experimental heavy acts like Boris, Sunn
O))), Earth, Khanate, Neurosis, Isis, Mastodon, YOB, Eagle Twin and the likes. Hold It In is the latest addition to their ever evolving consistent catalogue.

The duo from Big Business are on a break this time around as King Buzzo and Dale Crover have opted to churn out some freaky jams with two of their other weirdo kins, Paul Leary and Jeff Pinkus from Butthole Surfers. This is not a collaboration between the Melvins and the Surfers instead Paul and Jeff are serving as the full time members of the Melvins with bringing in some of their own ideas as well. 

The opener "Bride of Crankenstein" truly lives up to its name by showcasing some of the trademark massive wall of sludgy riffing. It's just so relentlessly pounding and loud that unaccustomed listeners may end up in a trauma. Oh, the lyrics, they're as wacky as ever - "What was that shit you sold me? We both know you should've told me. It got me spinning 'round the wrong way, It's gonna be a long day!" Just when you're in a mood for more of these sick, loud and freaky soundwaves Melvins troll you by becoming nonchalant and feel-good in the following two tracks "You Can Make Me Wait" and "Brass Cupcake" while the former, written by Paul Leary is a quirky almost surprising take on shoegaze with ethereal psychedelic layers and upbeat rocking melodies and reverb soaked vocals, not to mention the exuberant bluesy solo in the middle. The latter is a bit more conventional laid-back groovy punk rocker. However, the heavy returns with the noise-doom torment of "Barcelonian Horsehoe Pit" and the gigantic stoner lurch of "Onions Make the Milk Taste Bad". "Eyes on You" is a total sing-along freak 'n' roll anthem.

"Sesame Street Meat" is as meaty as its title, full of slow-burning heavy gallops, molten drumming of Crover and infectiously catchy howls of Buzzo. "The Bunk Up" offers more of the Melvins' psyched-out Beefheartian take on Sabbathian metal. They let their much acknowledged KISS influence shine on "Piss Pisstopherson" before the absolute avant-garde climax of "House of Gasoline".

Hold It In is a total package. It offers the iconic sludge of the Melvins as well as their ever-present experimental traits to the maximum. Enough said! Off to worship the King's 'fro. 

Rating - ★★★★1/2 (96% on Metal-Archives)