Rumblings From the Underground: Sylvaine (Interview), Nails, Entierro, Deceptionist + More
"Oh my god, look what the cat dragged in!" And with that, I've now exhausted all Poison references you'll ever find in this column filled with blood-spattered, beer-soaked, dirt-caked metal. Moving forward...
I have an important announcement to make: Rumblings From the Underground will move from a weekly showcase to a monthly showcase. Look for the next edition at the end of July, and then check in on the last Friday of every month after that.
This week, you'll find an incredibly detailed interview with Sylvaine mastermind... Sylvaine! Ethereal dreamscapes and gloomy, hypnotic blackgaze don't come better than they do on the buy-or-die Wistful (buy it here). Find out everything you need to know about the record at the bottom of the page.
Before you get to that interview, take a look (and a listen!) through five killer new releases from the death metal equivalent of a tank in Deceptionist, the energetic doom (how's that work? find out!) of Entierro, the culter-than-thou Helleborus, metallic hardcore from Grinding Fortune, and Nails' unrivaled brand of fist-flinging explosive grinding powerviolence. Let's recap some weekly happenings in the news first though...
Grim Reaper (aka Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper) will be releasing their new album, Walking in the Shadows, on Sept. 23 through Dissonance Productions. The album will be the first since 1987's Rock You to Hell.
Ne Obliviscaris are set to embark on a North American headlining tour with Black Crown Initiate and Starkill. The trek will run from July 12 through Aug. 12. Stops can be found at the band's Facebook page.
Deceptionist, 'Initializing Irreversible Process'
It's not too often we get some brilliant metal from Italy, but there's been a crop of death metal acts raising Hell on the boot over the last few years. Deceptionist is the latest and they're here with their debut, Initializing Irreversible Process.
The power trio bring surgical riffing and menacing grooves, giving off a mechanical feel as the gears turn and drive the war machine that is Deceptionist forward. The lead work is technical yet memorable, alternating with rhythmically centric moments that provide enough variation to keep listeners alert, excelling in both areas with equally devastating impact.
Listen to Deceptionist | For fans of Deeds of Flesh, Illogicist, Gorod
Entierro, 'XVI' EP
Uptempo doom is something that can be relatively difficult execute, but Entierro have made their mark on the style. Embodying all aspects of the doom spectrum, their three track XVI EP is a quick listen, which makes circling back to the beginning for a repeat all the more enticing.
Opening with "Bite Your Tongue," a Candlemass inspired lead spells doom 'n' gloom, but is quickly apprehended by a feisty rhythm and frontman Chris Beaudette's (Nightbitch, Kingdom of Sorrow) grit-to-crisp delivery. His gleaming cleans alongside guitarist Javier Canales's backing vocals (which come to the front on the following track "Burying the Shadow") feed off each other, invoking a feeling of dread and angst. Don't sleep on this or that stake on the cover will come looking for more blood to spill.
Listen to Entierro | For fans of Orange Goblin, The Gates of Slumber, Candlemass
Grinding Fortune, 'Itch Relief'
As I noted last week with Blodspor, Norway has been contributing far beyond black metal in recent years. Grinding Fortune play a caustic brand of punked up metallic hardcore on Itch Relief.
Lace up your Cons and get ready to go steppin' — two steppin'! Slinky rhythms, pit-ready riffs and bludgeoning beatdowns all come together across 13 tracks of abrasive, wide-eyed energy. "Flex" and "Undereater" are flawlessly executed, pushing bottom-heavy frequencies across the floor, doing their best to upend anyone dumb enough to be still be standing with feet flat, arms crossed and that tough guy frown. You're not tougher than Itch Relief.
Listen to Grinding Fortune | For fans of Converge, Botch, Coalesce
Helleborus, 'The Carnal Sabbath'
My calendar tells me its 2016, but I refuse to acknowledge I've gone any further than 1996 with Helleborus' debut, The Carnal Sabbath. Boasting a wondrously lo-fi and necro production with tinny, tinny cymbals and loads of high end elsewhere, it's backed by a definitive low crunch to prevent it from entering Nattens Madrigal (Ulver) territory.
I regularly champion for the use of more pitchshifters in metal and Helleborus have granted my wishes. With a Wraith of the Ropes type quality in the vocals, they give tracks like "Coils" and the sinister "Colored Spores of Yuggoth" a bleaker edge, forgoing the expected high shrieks. Melodic overtones only provide a domineering sense of pure evil and have my eyes on Helleborus in the coming years.
Listen to Helleborus | For fans of Carpathian Forest, Ancient, Aeturnus
Nails, 'You Will Never Be One of Us'
If you want to rent a hotel room and trash it like you're Motley Crue circa 1987, you're going to need a proper soundtrack. Nails' You Will Never Be One of Us affords you 22 minutes to best Crue's infamous reputation for wanton destruction. The band are especially angsty over this one as frontman Todd Jones is livid this release was backed up at the record plant because of Record Store Day, leading him to condemn the annual event.
The longest album of their career, Nails lay down 10 tracks of unbridled violence and hate-mongering attitude as an infernal middle finger to any pretenders in the scene. Blood-boiling power-violence at its best. Stop listening to me and start listening to Nails.
Listen to Nails | For fans of Rotten Sound, Phobia, skipping court-mandated anger management classes
Sylvaine is the product of one woman's wild imaginations of ethereal gloom rock by way of black metal come to life. The project is named after the band's sole leader Sylvaine, who was kind enough to answer some of my questions about her sophomore album, Wistful. Her answers are incredibly detailed and I couldn't feel more grateful.
Black metal has been used as a jumping off point for ethereal shoegaze, which bleeds into songs like "Earthbound." What was your biggest metal influence on 'Wistful' and what was your biggest non-metal influence?
As Wistful was a result of inner turmoil and a strong sense of alienation due to personal issues I was going through during 2014 / 2015, the music came out in a way darker and more aggressive way than in my previous music. This is one of the main reasons I decided to use more extreme 'tools' for the sound, as I felt it needed harsher elements to fully underline the extent of each emotion being conveyed on the album.
Take the screaming vocals as an example; the reason why I decided to utilize them was not because I thought it would sound aggressive or cool or because I wanted “Earthbound” and “In The Wake Of Moments Passed By “ to fit more into the metal / blackgaze genre; it was purely because clean vocals do not possess the power needed to express the extreme frustration and primal anxiety these two songs hold. Feeling this way and always having loved the polarity between beautiful and harsh in music, the obvious path for me to take on this album was to make a mixture of these different impulses.
Like most any artist in any genre, I’m inspired by the music that speaks to me and traces of that can surely be found within my creations. I’m very much into the whole shoegaze / dreampop / darkwave scene, with bands such as Slowdive, the Chameleons, Cocteau Twins or Dead Can Dance being some of my favorites. I also love the more modern post-rock and post-metal scenes, connecting to bands such as Explosions In The Sky, Sigur Ros, Mono and Alcest, so I could state all of these as non-metal influences for my music in Sylvaine.
As a listener, the only important thing to me is that the music communicates some sort of honest emotion, something I find in all the above-mentioned bands. Some of my biggest metal influences for Wistful are not surprisingly from the black metal scene, with bands such as Bathory, Burzum, early Immortal and early Ulver being quite important. All of these bands have the ability to create very strong atmospheres and something that really takes a hold of you while listening. It also sounds extremely Nordic, which is quite easy to relate to having grown up in Oslo, Norway myself.
Another metal band that inspires me a great deal is Type O Negative. They are one of my favorite bands and create exactly what I love as a listener in their music and sound. Their music has made a huge impact on me, which is most likely reflected in my work somehow. Minimalist music is also something that inspires me when creating my own stuff. I was always very fascinated by the concept of taking the smallest piece, repeating it and transforming it over time, creating this meditative, hypnotic draw in the music. This is something I try to explore in my own creations as well, which I think came out very clear on the songs “Saudade” and “Wistful” from the last album.
Two session drummers were used: Alcest's Neige and Stephen Shepard. Were they selected specifically for certain songs as different styles were needed to best bring out the music in each track?
They were selected based on their drumming style and what would fit each track the best, yes. As I know my own limitations as a musician, I figured it would be for the best to bring in a few session musicians for Wistful, to make each track sound as good as possible. My father, Stephen Shepard, did an excellent job for the drums on my first album “Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart”, so it was natural to include him on this album too.
His more minimalistic, heavy approach suited tracks like “A Ghost Trapped In Limbo”, “Saudade” and “Like a Moth to a Flame” really well, while Alcest’s Neige attentive and more modern touch worked really well on “Delusions”, “Earthbound” and “In the Wake of Moments Passed By”.
With Neige coming from the same scene and having a lot of the same references as myself, he seemed to be the perfect guest musician for those 3 songs. Seeing as the first half of “Wistful” was recorded by myself in Norway during late 2014, and the last half of it was recorded in Drudenhaus studios in France together with Benoît Roux, it seemed to make even more sense to have Neige join me in the studio for the last half of the recording. I think the mix of drummers was a beneficial choice, as each song truly needed a different touch and in the end, I’m very happy with the work of both of them for Wistful. The mixture of style and their musicianship brought a new dimension to each track!
The album cover seems to convey the same tone as the music: centered in something dark and abstract and surrounded by light. What message are you trying to convey with the artwork?
That’s a good way to describe it actually. Even though the music comes from a darker place, expressing more somber and dismal emotions, it’s driven by a strong longing for and connection to the light. I’ve always had a fascination for the dualism between opposites in our existence, something I used as inspiration in my music since I started writing at age 15- 16. For the cover of Wistful, I wanted a visual representation that truly embodied the underlying meaning behind the music of the album and that also showed a dualism between our human world and some type of spiritual, other world. I wanted the message to reflect a balance between something abstract and something tangible.
I encountered the artist of the cover, Sylfvr, quite randomly one day and was immediately drawn to his atmospheric and textured visuals, thinking it would make the perfect match between music and visuals for Wistful. Sylfvr really seemed to get what I wanted to express with this album on an emotional level, creating this specific image for it quite effortlessly after having listened to the music.
The cover shows an otherworldly, enigmatic character, sitting serenely in the woods during what seems to be dusk or dawn. The character features human aspects, yet is not evidently or fully a person. This is a representation of going back to nature to be in touch with your pure, true self; the essence of your being. Here, the veil between the different places is at its faintest, letting you connect more than before with your home in a spiritual sense, even while being trapped inside and limited by the senses of the human vessel we all inhabit in this place.
This being an important topic on Wistful and the image holding a lot of other vital references of the project, Sylfvr’s artwork clearly stood out as the right choice for the cover. I’m very happy with the result and feel like it says a lot about Wistful and Sylvaine as a whole and hope that it speaks to people out there, letting them discover their own meaning and message in this photograph.
Sylvaine, Wistful Stream
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