Rumblings From the Underground: Blood Ceremony (Exclusive Interview), Artillery, Beastmaker + More
Did you feel that? The rumblings? They're here! Like some sort of C.H.U.D uprising, they're here! In this week's Rumblings From the Underground, we've got an exclusive interview (seen at the bottom of the page) with Blood Ceremony's Lucas Gadke as he discusses their latest record, Lord of Misrule.
In the review section, we take a look at Artillery’s Penalty By Perception, Beastmaker’s Lusus Naturae, the reissue of Blood's O Agios Pethane, Blood Ceremony's Lord of Misrule and Ifrinn's eponymous debut. As far as the news goes, you'll find what's been going on with bands like blackened speedsters Bat, early Death worshippers Gruesome, and Sweden's purveyors of doom, Goatess. Speaking of news...
Blackened speed punks Bat (feat. Municipal Waste's Ryan Waste on bass and vocals) have unleashed the title track off their forthcoming debut, Wings of Chains. Out June 10 on Hell's Headbangers, the album promises to deliver just what the track does: quick-striking, neck-wrecking heavy metal with a blackened overtone. Check out the track here.
Goatess, the cult doom quartet from Sweden, will be releasing their sophomore album, Purgatory Under New Management on April 15 through Svart Records. The title track, heard here, has been released and is nearly eight minutes of slow, plodding and hopeless traditional doom. The mid-section sees the band explore calmer territories and the two facets collide in a climactic ending.
Gruesome, the death metal outfit formed with pure-hearted intensions on worshipping the first two Death albums, have announced a new EP, Dimensions of Horror. The six-track collection will be out May 20 on Relapse and a trailer can be viewed here with samples of each song. It sounds like Death, so why wouldn't you check it out?
Artillery, 'Penalty By Perception'
Danish thrash legends Artillery have been on a tear since reforming in 2007. Penalty By Perception marks the fourth album since reuniting and continues the band's hot streak, blurring the line between thrash and fevered traditional metal. Their resurgence is comparable to Attacker, who took a similar route vocally with Bobby 'Leather Lungs' Lucas.
"In Defiance of Conformity" kicks off the record with furious riffing, keeping the melodic overtones intact, but careful not to stray too far from their thrash hearts. The punchy production only accentuates everything great about Penalty By Perception, especially noticeable on the bouncy and frenetic "Live By the Scythe." With eight albums in total now representing their catalog, Artillery sound just as youthful as the day they started.
Beastmaker, 'Lusus Naturae'
Last month, we premiered Beastmaker's "Burnt Offerings" and now the full record has finally arrived. Lusus Naturae marks the debut album from the California doom trio and it reeks of unadulterated old school doom. Boasting strong-armed riffing more akin to Pentagram than Black Sabbath, they slug their way through a dozen red-eyed tracks before the dust settles.
Peeling back the "Mask of Satan," Beastmaker offer little variation, not that that's a knock on their style. "Clouds in the Sky" opens the album, bringing doom with the haunting and subtle bells accenting the blunt chords. Trevor William Church's voice borders on the line of unstable, a perfect match for the band's raw and gritty sound.
Blood, 'O Agios Pethane' (Reissue)
German death grinders Blood are one of the genre's shimmering hidden gems. Their third album, O Agios Pethane, is a cult classic, bursting with blunt force rhythms and sudden tempo changes, man-handling the listener with unrelenting, groove-riding pit riffs that beg for someone to start throwing punches. While Impetigo typically get showered with praise for perfecting this style, Blood can hang with the horror freaks riff for riff.
Boasting a thick and complimentary production, O Agios Pethane sees tracks like "Cannibal Ritual," "Punishment" and "Spasmo Paralytic Dreams" played with reckless abandon. My favorite, "By the Way of Grace," resides in the murkiest, muddiest waters, fitfully trying to escape the quicksand that keeps slowing everything down. Don't let this album elude you any longer if you've never heard it.
Blood Ceremony, 'Lord of Misrule'
Now four albums in, Blood Ceremony have crafted their finest release to date in Lord of Misrule. While they've admittedly strayed further from their metallic origins, they manage to keep things heavy, though in a different context. From the first notes of album opener "The Devil's Widow" I was immediately transfixed and sent through a wormhole, coming out somewhere between 1968 and 1973.
"The Rogue's Lot" is downright haunting. From the deceptively powerful feature riff to the danceable sway of the chorus, the song conjures visions of cloaked (or nude) occultists dancing around a fire in the woods that can be all but suppressed. The back half of the album features two sinister, acoustic-driven tracks, but see our interview with bassist Lucas Gadke below to hear about those songs straight from the source.
The mysterious Ifrinn from Scotland have cut their debut, eponymous record; a volatile exercise in raw black metal and ethereal gloom. Sonically, the outfit resembles some of Dødsengel's finest moments all while playing a tried and true style that fails to get old when executed at such a high level.
"Descent Into Shining Labyrinths" is a foreboding, doom-laden synth intro that truly speaks to the song's name. Drips of water echo on the presumed decline, tying in the album art and setting up the first true song, "Oracular Phantasms." Blast beats and Hell-ordained riffing opens the song as Ifrinn sway between tempos, rounded out by a balanced and necro production. The song arrangements — typically an afterthought in black metal — elevate Ifrinn's promising debut.
Blood Ceremony - Exclusive Interview
I had the chance to speak with Blood Ceremony bassist Lucas Gadke about their new album, Lord of Misrule. Below, he answers some of my burning questions about a couple of the album's songs, discussing what makes their music so dark, their influences and also about the experience of recording with vintage equipment.
“The Weird of Finistere” and “Things Present, Things Past” represent the softer yet more sinister side of the band. What is it about the slower music that invokes the darker overtones on Lord of Misrule?
I've always said, even as we've moved away from the more "heavy metal" aspects of our sound, that we're a doom band. Doom isn't really a sound, it's a feeling. Being able to slow things down and feel the weight of each beat is doom. And even if the sound is light and soft, it can still be doom. These acoustic numbers are something that we've always wanted to do, and now with our current lineup, we really felt confident enough to pull them off. All of our songs are a little slower and a little darker, you just notice it more when there's an acoustic guitar in tow.
On top of that, we're all big fans of weird folk music. Some of the darkest music you can hear is played on acoustic instruments: old murder ballads, laments, weird visions, it's all there. Darkness doesn't come from distortion; it comes from the fingers. We've all been playing some doomy music for a long time, and I think we're getting pretty good at it.
“Flower Phantoms” has a strong Phil Spector sound. Was glitter pop a stronger influence this time around?
On this record we just opened ourselves up to a wider variety of influences. With this new solid lineup, we more or less decided who we are as a band on The Eldritch Dark and now we're just looking to see where our identity can take us. We all really dig old soul and pop like Motown and Stax, but Alia [O'Brien, singer] is probably the deepest into it. When she brought us that tune we were all on board immediately.
At this point I think we're interested in putting our own stamp on different styles and ideas. We've never been a fan of pastiche, and homage is a difficult thing so we avoid thinking in those terms. I would say that as writers we tend to get caught on little details, little signifiers that make something sound the way it does; and then from there we build a Blood Ceremony song around that. To me, the song sounds like Blood Ceremony. We're all good musicians and we can play in any style, but in the end it's going to be us; the way we interact with each other as musicians is going to really color anything we take on.
The production on Lord of Misrule is pristine yet still raw. Did you use any specific vintage equipment to capture the ‘60s/’70s sound on the album?
When we arrived in London, we ended up staying in Hackney, which is already pretty far from the modern hustle and bustle of London (although it is gentrifying rapidly). Every morning we would walk up a small residential street to get to Toe Rag Studios. When we arrived at the door, we couldn't text to get in, or call, we just had to be there on time. There's a phone in the studio, but none of us bought phone plans, so we just waited!
That was the beginning of our genuinely old school experience. Liam Watson, our producer and recording engineer, doesn't even have a computer in his studio. It's an entirely analogue studio with tube amps and tape machines. This was a place to get work done, which was perfect for us. Liam captured us on vintage equipment with vintage gear and I think the sound of the album really reflects this.
Thanks to Lucas Gadke for the interview. Purchase Blood Ceremony's 'Lord of Misrule' at iTunes.