Rumblings From the Underground: Gridfailure (Premiere), Winterfylleth (Interview), Dysrhythmia + More
Another month in the can means another edition of Rumblings From the Underground! With fall finally arriving, death is everywhere as leaves lifelessly flutter to the ground to get swept away by whirling blades and roaring machinery… or wooden rakes. Anyway, to compliment this radiant aura of the end of life, we’ve got a song hot off the press, just wrapped up this week courtesy of dark ambient / industrial outfit Gridfailure, whom you might remember from an earlier column.
“Woodlands of Self-Impalement” is seven-and-a-half minutes of brooding, ominous torture that begs for something catastrophic to happen, but it doesn’t — it just lurks in the shadows as you frantically survey your surroundings, just waiting for the axe to fall, pissing yourself with nervous anticipation. True apocalyptic nihilism at its electronic worst (that means best for all you uninitiated)! Check out the song directly below and keep an eye on the Gridfailure Bandcamp as Further Layers of Societal Collapse will be released FOR FREE on Oct. 30!
As for the rest of the column, you’ll find an interview with Chris Naughton of English modern misanthropes Winterfylleth as well as a review of their bleak yet melodic new album, The Dark Hereafter. Also in the review section, you’ll find ultra-melodic deathbringers Brutally Deceased, whatever labels you want to slap onto the dynamic Dysrhythmia, a grinding nod to real screamo with Knife Hits and returning Morbid Angel frontman Steve Tucker’s Warfather. Get to it!
Gridfailure, “Woodlands of Self-Impalement” Song Premiere
Brutally Deceased, ‘Satanic Corpse’
Picking just five releases to highlight each month can be a challenge, but we had no apprehensions about selecting Brutally Deceased’s Satanic Corpse! Any band that takes their name from a song off Grave‘s You’ll Never See… and sound like Dave Murray and Adrian Smith grew up in Sweden and plugged into some Boss HM2 pedals will immediately get our resounding endorsement (what that’s worth is up to you).
The album clocks in under a half hour (good! no need for fatty DM records in 2016!) and is a gut check the whole way through. Gushing with glorious harmonies against buzzsaw riff-thunder and gurgly vocals, Brutally Deceased are as fun as they are, well, brutal! If you’re sick of the status quo death metal rehashing of the classics, this one’s for you.
Listen to Brutally Deceased | For fans of At the Gates, Dismember, Garden of Shadows
Dysrhythmia, ‘The Veil of Control’
Dysrhythmia (a band this writer has a mental block against ever being able to spell from memory) are back with another platter of weedly-dees and noodly-doos after a four year drought. The ever-heady duo of Colin Marston and Kevin Hufnagel have once again crafted some of the most mind-bending sounds on The Veil of Control, taking their multi-stringed deviance in yet another new direction.
This album is just exploding with delicate harmonics that give a bit of a softer feel than fans may be expecting, but the lumbering rhythms and squelching bass licks provide enough heft to make this distinctly Dysrhythmia, thought at times it does remind us of Virus’ brilliant new one, Memento Collider. Weird chords be praised!
Listen to Dysrhythmia | For fans of Behold the Arctopus, Indricothere, Vaura
Knife Hits, ‘Eris’
This ain’t your kids’ screamo! Turning back to the clock to when the genre wasn’t all sideswept hair and feelings, Knife Hits’ Eris dials up familiar sounds from landmark acts like Pg. 99 and Discordance Axis, grinding their way through 12 tracks pretty quickly, making repeat listens a standard affair.
Dissonant rhythms are a complete blur, barraging listeners with an endless cycle of pit-born guitar work and man-handling tempos. Knife Hits’ perfected their songcraft here, blending in melodic elements that claw their way to the top amidst a cacophony of rolling drums (and teeth-clenched snare fills) and wide-eyed screams of disgust that try to drag it back down to the sonic hole where Knife Hits reside.
Listen to Knife Hits | For fans of Orchid, Pg. 99, Converge
Warfather, ‘The Grey Eminence’
Still pissed about that last Morbid Angel album? Me too! Warfather (featuring returned MA bassist / vocalist Steve Tucker) make up for it all while knocking their own debut in the dirt with the sophomoric The Grey Eminence. Produced by Erik Rutan (keeping things in the MA family and one of his best jobs behind the boards yet), the record invokes images of desolate wastelands decimated by hordes of tanks and airstrikes.
The riffing here isn’t up to Trey Azagthoth levels (is anything?), but is certainly not lacking with staccato licks and serpentine leads hammering their death metal mission statement home. Head-spinning time changes, thunderous and precise drum fills and Tucker’s dominant bark make The Grey Eminence one of the best DM records yet this year.
Listen to Warfather | For fans of Morbid Angel, Asphyx, Mithras
Winterfylleth, ‘The Dark Hereafter’
Winterfylleth are England’s leading cascadian black metal act, keeping a sharp focus on themes of nature and history and how they relate to our current society today. Now five albums into their career, they’ve outdone themselves on The Dark Hereafter. Melody-dominant rhythms guide the atmospheres with beds of blast beats and other times trance-inducing stickwork lying underneath.
On this one, there’s a more obvious sense of resentment than ever before (you can see why in the interview below), with ‘gotcha!’ moments in the songwriting. The title track openers often feels as if the song is going to drift into shoegaze territory, only to have these hints rescinded with a monstrous pick scrape followed by another round of blasts. There’s still chances to get lose in Winterfylleth’s foggy moods elsewhere, but what a Hell of a way to start the album!
Listen to Winterfylleth | For fans of Wolves in the Throne Room, Panopticon, Wodensthrone
I remember when The Ghost of Heritage came out as Winterfylleth announced their arrival back in 2008 and it’s hard to believe that much time has already passed. Now on their fifth album, The Dark Hereafter, the band have further refined their writing and continue to give rise to the burgeoning black metal scene in the U.K. Frontman Chris Naughton (guitar, vocals) hastily answered a few of my questions and even gave a surprising but welcome update about his other project, the doom / sludge outfit Atavist. Check it out below.
The Dark Hereafter is fairly concise (five songs, 40 minutes) opposed to previous albums that mostly span over an hour. At what point do you decide the writing process is done for an album and was there any leftover material that was discarded?
I don’t think there was any particular decision for it to be shorter this time. We just liked the way the songs came together for this one and how they flowed on the release. We try to be self-critical and write great songs every time we set out to create something, so as such we did not have lots of discarded material or left over songs. That kind of creative process does not really feature in Winterfylleth records.
We always continue writing in between albums and are almost two albums ahead at this point, so there was no shortage of material, just what was right for this one. On this release we aimed for a slightly different feeling in the songs and allowed some of them to be much longer than usual, as well as more expansive than on previous albums. This meant we could explore different styles of songwriting, whilst allowing the songs to grow, build and be more layered throughout. On the flip side of that, the title track is probably the shortest and one of the fastest songs we’ve ever recorded, so that makes it an interesting contrast of material throughout.
There’s less of a folk influence this time around, but the melodies are still strong and emotive. What else, for you, separates the album from past Winterfylleth records?
To your first point… I’m not sure if it was a conscious effort to be less folky on this one, but as we will be doing a solely acoustic album for our next release (in a year or so), you will be getting an overly folky release from us next time. So, everything in balance, I guess?
To your second point… As I mentioned above we have tried a few new things this time in terms of song dynamics. We have created longer, more layered songs than usual and allowed them more time to breathe and develop as a result. The song “Green Cathedral” is the longest song we’ve ever written as Winterfylleth and pushes into some new areas for the band. It also includes some new instruments and writing styles that really make it one of the more epic and atmospheric tracks we’ve ever written.
This is Dan Capp’s first album with the band. Was there anything new that he brought to the writing / sound?
For those people who don’t already know this, Dan has always been very close to the band as a friend and as a collaborator. He was the person responsible for the design work on all of our previous releases, as well as about 95 percent of the shirt / hoodie designs we have ever done. So following Mark’s departure from the band at the end of 2014, it was an easy move for us to make with adding Dan to the band. He is a great lead guitar player, he already knew the material and is also a really creative person in his visual art and songwriting. So for me it was an easy decision and he fit in really well, as I’m sure anyone who has seen us live recently can attest. That considered he has always been a part of what we have done as a band, in some way, just not always musically.
In terms of this release, it was mostly written before he joined the band, so his writing impact on this one has been fairly minimal, but his influence will start to show much more on the next few albums that we are writing now. He’s a different player to Mark and indeed to Nick and I as well, so it is proving to be an interesting addition to the songwriting process and is definitely challenging us to think differently about how we write going forwards.
The title seems to hint at a post-catastrophic event. What was the impetus for the title?
The band has always had a theme of nature running through every album, so this one is no different really, other than it comes at it from a slightly different perspective. Also, as ever, we are discussing issues of politics and social issues within that; as a kind of “second meaning” in the lyrics.
In terms of the lyrics and the concept… The title track “The Dark Hereafter” discusses how our greedy, power hungry, governmental decision making has led to a forceful reaction from the places we have invaded, bombed or otherwise tried to control over the years. The actual ‘Dark Hereafter’ in this instance is the impact of terrorism on our societies, and that of social upheaval and of displacement in the populations of many countries our governments have invaded, as a result.
“Pariah’s Path” is fairly straight forward in that it deal with the need for us to ostracize our ‘so called’ leaders and make them Pariah’s for what they are doing to the world.
“Ensigns of Victory” is about how there is always an evil behind the flags of war. We send our troops off into other countries to do the bidding of the government (usually under the pretense of protecting our homes and families from tyranny) all shrouded in the knowledge that we are “bringing democracy” to the country in question, or “liberating them” from dictatorial rule, etc. Usually our flag is actually a force for corporate evildoing and we stick it in the ground after winning over the local people (usually through force) and it then serves to become a symbol for their exploitation, for the acquisition of their resources and not that of a noble cause which is being defended by good people.
One of the main songs on this release, “Green Cathedral” is about how we should look towards localism as opposed to globalism in our daily practices, to help curtail the impending environmental struggles of the future. Lots of global business interests are so unaccountable and wasteful that we as people need to take some kind of power back from them and make more sensible choices in our lives. If we don’t buy from them or utilize their services, they can’t deforest the world or cause so much waste and harm as a result.
Trends come and go but each year we see bands pushing black metal into new and exciting territories. What other black metal acts do you feel are evolving the genre today?
I’m going to answer this in two parts if I might.
Firstly… There are lots of great bands coming through from the U.K. scene in recent years and I’m really pleased about that. About 10 years ago when Winterfylleth had just started, there was barely any black metal from the U.K. Since then there was a key few bands who have really raised the profile of the U.K. scene and have definitely paved the way for the next generation of bands to come through. Bands like ourselves, Wodensthrone, Forefather, Fen and A Forest of Stars were the bands that, for me, reignited an interest in UKBM in general.
As the bands grew, started playing farther and wider and spread their various influences I think it has definitely given a platform and space for bands from the U.K. to come through and be taken seriously. Now there are lots of truly great bands emerging and I think it’s very positive for the U.K. metal scene as a whole.
As well as the aforementioned bands, If you don’t know any of them you should also check out: Arx Atrata, Saor, Crom Dubh, Cnoc An Tursa, Haar, Necronautical, Fyrdsman, Kull, Eastern Front, Nine Covens, The Infernal Sea, Hryre, Mountains Crave, Ninkharsag, Wode to name but a few of the key ones.
Secondly… There are a few acts that really seem to be forging some new ground for black metal outside of the U.K. that have really come to the forefront this last few years. I think they have done so by pushing things in a few new directions and expanding what a BM album can be. Bands like Mgla, Batushka, Wiegedood, Cult of Fire, Misthyrming are probably the most notable, but I also really liked the recent releases from bands like Nasheim, Antlers, Bölzer, The Committee, Gevurah and Macabre Omen as well. So check them out if you haven’t already.
It’s been years since we’ve had new material from Atavist. Is there any update you can provide on that front?
It’s funny you should mention Atavist actually, as we are writing a new album at the moment. We stopped writing and playing live in about 2008 after some interpersonal issues we were having at the time and kind of left the band there. We always stayed in touch to some extent and after some time had passed we decided it would be a good idea to try and write a new album. As we talk, we are about 80 percent completed on writing that album and hopefully it will see the light of day in 2017/18 depending on when we can record it. So, whatever fans we have left can look forward to Atavist III: Absolution as soon as we can get it together.
Thanks to Chris Naughton for the interview. Grab your copy of Winterfylleth’s ‘The Dark Hereafter’ at Amazon or digitally through iTunes. Keep up with all of the band’s activities on their Facebook page and don’t sleep on Chris’ recommendations — especially Mgla, Misthyrming, Bölzer and Saor!
See you next month with an interview from Anciients and a whole lot more!
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