They may not have released their first material until 2013, but Chilean death metal band Soulrot’s origins trace back to the early 1990s. It’s clear that guitarist J.L. Olmos and company have been making up for lost time, as they’ve kept a steady stream of releases coming over the past few years. Following a demo and EP, the band is now preparing to put out their debut full length ‘Nameless Hideous Manifestations’ on April 24th via Memento Mori. And it’s sure to make a strong impression, as even though there’s that familiar Boss HM-2 buzzsaw sound and a good deal of Swedish influence to the writing Soulrot doesn’t feel like a clone of any one particular act and has the riffs to back things up. We’re excited to offer you a full stream of the album alongside an interview with the band so you can get crushed by its immense weight and ominous atmosphere.
Ruin’s debut full length has been a long time coming, with the U.S. death metal band having existed in the early 1990s for a year or two before lying dormant for the better part of two decades. The promo material for their debut full length ‘Drown in Blood’ (due out April 24th via Memento Mori) mentions periods of incarceration and institutionalization as one of the main reasons behind Ruin’s disappearance, but whatever the circumstances may be the band re-emerged in 2015 with the ‘Spread Plague Hell’ demo and released three splits shortly after. Now with the full length ready to unleash its nihilistic and filthy death metal on your ears in a little under a week’s time, we’re excited to premiere the album in its entirety.
It has been close to four years since Woe released ‘Withdrawal’, and in the time that passed since then the band has been fairly quiet. While some groups take time between full lengths and still tour, Woe went completely quiet for a significant period of time. The U.S. black metal band resurfaced last month with ‘Hope Attrition’, showcasing a new lineup and some of the most abrasive and memorable material yet. While still adopting a dynamic approach to songwriting, there’s a noticeable emphasis on aggression and bleak tonality. It’s easily the darkest and in your face Woe has ever been, and an early highlight of this already standout year. To find out more about the work that went into the album, we had the chance to ask singer/guitarist Chris Grigg some questions.
Have you checked out ‘The Shackles of Mammon’ by UK black metallers Craven Idol? If you haven’t, I urge you to take a listen to the band’s rather storming song ‘A Ripping Strike’ in the video below. It’s as good an introduction and any to the band, and is merely a glimpse of the dark blackened treasures that lie in wait for you on the full album.
In my humble opinion Craven Idol are one of the UK extreme metal scene’s best kept secrets.
Some things shouldn’t remain hidden though. Enter Vrath, here to inform, enlighten and lead the way…
Transcending Obscurity (Nigel Holloway): Who and what are Craven Idol?
Craven Idol (Vrath):Craven Idol are a London-based old school extreme metal band swearing by the first gods.
The current line-up is: Vrath – vocals, guitars, Suspiral – bass, Heretic Blades – drums, Obscenitor – guitar
TO: How did you form?
Craven Idol:Craven Idol was formed in 2005 by Scourger and I. We were two young kids from small towns arriving in London largely for the music scene. It was really as simple as that. A mate of mine mentioned told me about a kickass drummer/guitarist who was into Teutonic thrash and that was that. We jammed in a tiny, crammed, and noisy basement near King’s Cross until we somehow managed to put together our debut demo in 2006.
TO: The Shackles of Mammon is your second album – did you approach this one differently to ‘Towards Eschaton’?
Craven Idol: Very different indeed! Our debut ‘Towards Eschaton’ was perhaps more of a portrait of the band as young men, as it consisted of some material dating way back to the early days. It was also the last work with Scourger as a major contributor.
With ‘Shackles…’ we had a clear plan to create a more varied and aggressive record. All tracks were finalised by drummer Heretic Blades and I (again) in a small rehearsal room near Kentish Town. We then brought the songs to the band (one by one) and deconstructed them entirely…letting them evolve naturally.
TO: Quite a few years have passed between the releases – what have you been up to in the meantime?
Craven Idol: I think when it comes to albums it’s quality not quantity. To my mind, you can’t force creativity or as Bukowski put it in his poem ‘So You Want To Be A Writer?’: “if it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it.” I have a few other bands on the go, but they are certainly not the reason for the time between albums. I mainly write in massive frenzies where the album comes bursting out of me, so it was a matter of waiting for that (or at least reading enough literature, listening to enough music, watching as many movies, gaining as many experiences as possible to trigger the deluge). All in all, I think it took about a year to write all the material…
TO: Now that you have completed work on the album, what’s your view of it?
Craven Idol: It turned out just as I wanted. I’m happy with every aspect of it. All the songs work as intended and the production is old school as all hell blown asunder. It’s the album I wanted to write from the very start.
TO: If you had it to do over again, would you change anything?
Craven Idol: Honestly, there really isn’t. If anything I’d be worried that we couldn’t replicate some of the killer performances on there!
TO: How do you balance the classic metal/first wave influences in your sound with the more traditional second wave ones?
Craven Idol: This is the key to what we do and you’ll be surprised to find that the balance comes completely naturally and we never talk about it whatsoever. Because we have never established what kind of music we play, we are equally influenced by Mercyful Fate, Candlemass, and Manilla Road, as we are by Bathory, Master’s Hammer, and Sodom.
It’s all about those pioneering days when the rules were few and the ideas many (rather than opposite way round). End of the day, we play what we like and ignore all trends. Damns us to a small following for eternity, but I’d pay that price any day.
TO: Do you have any goals for the album and for 2017 in general?
Craven Idol: To keep the momentum going! We have a release show in London on the 8th of April and an appearance at the North Of The Wall festival in Glasgow the week after.
We are also releasing our 2010 EP ‘Ethereal Altars’ on cassette tape via a small UK label named Carvetii Productions. It was also include covers of Poison (Ger) and Onslaught as bonus, along with our 2006 debut demo! Lastly, we’ve also started writing new material. I’m aiming for a 7” split next!
TO: What are your views on the current state of black metal?
Craven Idol: What would you even classify as black metal these days? It’s fucking everywhere. Commercially available, top-selling, mostly overly repetitive/melodic garbage. And that’s coming from a great supporter of black metal!
Black metal is in a very similar state to the rest of metal when it comes to creativity…in a dark age…a slump. We have perfected many a formula that a bunch of teenagers came up with in the ‘90s sure. And the metal scene worldwide is bigger than ever. But because we have conformed to this pack mentality, we are killing the music. We huddle in scenes that are based on trends…and only that trend is real. Just look at the endless sewage of shite this occult death metal fashion is coming out with…and everybody fucking loves it! Slurp, slurp, slurping that faecal matter into your ears…
Don’t get me wrong, there are decent black metal bands out there, but they are underground (as it was intended).
TO: What’s the UK extreme metal scene like from your point of view?
Craven Idol: Whilst essentially affected by the above phenomenon, The UK extreme metal scene is in a decent shape in many respects. At least the deep underground is.
You just have to look at bands like Grave Miasma, Lvcifyre, Adorior, Indesinence, Esoteric,The Wounded Kings. The scene certainly has its gems. However, it’s hardly the NWOBHM!
TO: Anything you’d like to add to sum up?
Craven Idol: Thanks for the interview! Stand strong against the raging tide!
Splits continue to be a fantastic way to introduce listeners to new bands. I probably end up mentioning this just about every time that I cover one, but splits have been one of the easiest ways to discover and new groups I hadn’t had the chance to hear yet. This is once again the case with the recently released split between Moros and Black Urn, two fairly new sludge/doom acts from Philadelphia that might just be making some of the bleakest material the city has to offer. Each band only has two releases to their name prior to this split, so chances are you might not have come across them yet if you’re not from the local area. But if you’re a fan of anything sludge and doom related, this is a split you need to hear.
Cancelled was conceived as a side project for Marc Bourgon of Fuck the Facts and Greber. It was a pleasant surprise in my rotation given just how different it is from the pack. Given these variations from the norm, I was happy to accept the opportunity to pick Marc's brain on the new music, his influences, and the future of the project.
Metal is truly a global phenomenon. This is evident from the emerging acts from countries like Singapore, from where Ilemauzar come from. They play a style of music that was originated in Norway. With an Australian drummer in their ranks and a recent full length under their belt, they’re definitely a band to watch out for. Staff writer Peter K talks to the frontman Bloodcurse about their activities, their album ‘The Ascension’ and also the music scene in Singapore and South East Asia.
Transcending Obscurity (Peter K): Greetings! You started the band after taking a break for almost 14 years. What inspired you to start to band again?
Ilemauzar (Bloodcurse): I guess playing live was one reason why the band was reformed. Live shows are always the main reason for the adrenaline rush which I enjoy!
TO: How did the present line up get together? You have a drummer from Australia who plays in the band WARDAEMONIC. How did that come about? It’s similar to Louis Rando of The Furor drumming for IMPIETY!
Ilemauzar: The present lineup was not easy to form up. We went through lotsa changes. As for the drummer, we’ll cut the long story short. We were schedule to be on Rock in Solo Festival in Surakarta, Indonesia. 4 weeks before show, then drummer couldn’t commit due to family and work commitment. Posted a status on the band’s Facebook page. Got a reply from Maelstrom. The rest is history.
TO: What about black metal appealed to you? What made you decide to start a band?
Ilemauzar: Black metal has always been a part of my life since 1995. I don’t know what appeals to me but there seem to be a spiritual connection between myself and black metal since the first day I started listening to this genre.
TO: What does the name Ilemauzar mean?
Ilemauzar: Ilemauzar is the name of a familiar of one of the witches during Matthew Hopkins (Witchfinder General) time. During the 1600s, Matthew Hopkins went around hunting for witches and many innocence died during that period as suspected witches. The cause of all these was because Christians think that they are heretics towards Christianity. So basically, we are honoring the dead witches who either lose their lives or lose their mind because of the most treacherous cult call, Christianty.
TO: What are the bands that have inspired your sound?
Ilemauzar: Behemoth. Belphegor, Naglfar and Dark Funeral.
TO: Your first full length album, ‘The Ascension’ released in September last year. How has the response to the album been so far?
Ilemauzar: Response has been pretty good for a start. We did a great launch show in Singapore last September as well. So far, we still have people asking for our CDs. Not as much as the launch but the interest is still there. We get pretty decent reviews for the album as well from US and Europe. But we can’t really please all metalheads in the world to like our music. There is no way to achieve 100%. Not even big bands.
TO: Tell us a bit about the album. What is it about? Most people expect would Asian themes from a band from your region, is it anything about that?
Ilemauzar: The album’s main topic is about our point of view towards religion. And a little Goetic topic. Not really having Asian themes. Maybe on the next album? Hahahaha.
TO: What was the recording process for the album? Where was it recorded?
Ilemauzar: The recording took quite a while. We have to fly our asses to Jakarta for the recording and process took quite a while. First wave of recordings were all scrapped due to the fact that we used a wrong sound. We redo all the guitar tracks and vocal tracks in Jakarta (Noise Lab) the second time. Bass tracks were scrapped off and re-recorded in Perth. Drums were recorded in Perth as well. Mixing and mastering were all done in Perth (SixSquared Studio).
TO: What have you been listening to lately (metal and non-metal)? Are there any acts that have inspired you of late?
Ilemauzar: Metal: Emperor, Lord Belial, Behemoth, Belphegor, Throne of Ahaz, Zyklon, Mork Gryning, Dark Tranquility, Insomnium, Dark Funeral and too many to mention.
Non–Metal: Don’t think there is any.
Acts that inspired me of late probably will be Lord Belial from Sweden. Been listening to them since the 90s but recently just can’t get enough of them and hoping for a new album.
TO: WORMROT and RUDRA are a couple of the well known bands from Singapore. What are your thoughts on metal scene in Singapore?
Ilemauzar: Metal scene in Singapore is really small. Probably less than a thousand real metal heads. The country is infested with hipsters wannabes. However, metal managed to survive in Singapore since the 80s with bands like Impiety are still actively touring and releasing albums. I believe one day, the scene will definitely thrive.
TO: You have toured around South East Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong. What has been your favourite city/country to perform in so far?
Ilemauzar: Surakarta, Indonesia will be one of my favorite place to perform. Crazy crowd and passionate metalheads. Hong Kong will be next, not a huge crowd but their passion never lose out to any other region. However, will always choose to go there during winter to escape the heat in Singapore.
TO: What are your plans for this year? Do you have any shows/tour planned? When can we expect a new album from Ilemauzar?
Ilemauzar: 2017 will be a quiet year for us. We’ll not be touring much this year to concentrate on the next album. We might just do 1 or 2 festival shows around the region and a couple of supporting shows for touring bands from US/EU. We’re hoping to release the next album in early 2018 with Transcending Obscurity Asia.
TO: Thanks for answering all our questions. Do you have any final words?
Ilemauzar: Thank you for the interview. Keep the flames of metal burning! Horns up! \m/
Grimoire Records continues to be one of the better labels out there for metal that pushes the envelope. The Maryland based label also stands out from other small and mid-size ones for the simple fact that they record all of the material they put out, as co-owner Noel Mueller works the boards for any release bearing the Grimoire name. Following releases from The Vomiting Dinosaurs and Blood Mist, March 24th will see the label put out their third effort of 2017, the debut full length from Sloth Herder. Titled ‘No Pity, No Sunrise’, the full length finds the Maryland by way of Pennsylvania and Virginia band taking all of the elements from their earlier EP’s and splits to the next level.
The United States has some of the most stunning atmospheric black metal around, as there are a number of different groups that have been inspired by the sprawling landscapes and vast wilderness in certain parts of the country. One of my fairly recent finds is Ovnev, a one-man project based in Texas. After releasing a two song demo in 2015 that encompassed material written as far back as 2008, Ovnev released their debut full length ‘Cycle of Survival’ in late November via Naturmacht Productions. A concept album that explores a man heading off in the wilderness to live off the land before ultimately meeting his end at the hand of nature, the album uses sweeping atmospheric passages and soft acoustic moments to tell this tale.