One of the great things about the sludge and doom genres is how much variation can be found. While there are plenty of bands out there beating the same old riffs to death, there are even more putting their own spin on the styles and adding in different influences. The TO staff has compiled a list of recent releases that stand out, and you’ll find that each one is able to bring something different to the table. ~Chris Dahlberg
Death metal band Psycroptic are one of the well-known extreme metal acts from Australia. They have made a mark with their 6 full length albums, the latest one self titled was released in 2015. This month the band embark on their first tour of India, covering 7 cities across the country.
I spoke to drummer Dave Haley about touring Europe and North America, their upcoming album and also what to expect from their India tour.
Transcending Obscurity (Peter K): You are embarking on your first tour of India. How does it feel?
Psycroptic: It’s quite exciting to be heading to India for the first time. It’s a country that we have wanted to perform in for a long time so it’s going to be very special for us.
TO: Your 6th full length album, a self titled release, was considered by many to be among the best releases in 2015. Tell us a bit more about it.
Psycroptic: I think it’s the best album we have done – it’s still our ‘sound’ but a lot more focused and better written songs. As usual, it was produced and recorded by Joe our guitarist; each album he gets better and better at what he does. We are very proud with how it all came out.
TO: For those who have not heard your music before, which of your albums would you recommend they listen to first and Why?
Psycroptic: I would say listen to our self titled album – as that would be the most balanced and catchy album to first get into. All the albums sound a lot different from each other, but the S/T is a good starting point.
TO: What have you been listening to lately (metal and non-metal)? Are there any acts that have inspired you of late?
Psycroptic: My listening changes all the time, especially with the discover music option on Spotify. We live in a pretty crazy time for easy access to new and different music with so much ease – we are very lucky in that sense. I listen to everything from brutal death metal, to synth wave to ambient…so it’s hard to really single out any one artist. There are too many!
TO: Dave and Joe are also a part of black metal band Ruins. How do you manage between both bands?
Psycroptic: Its pretty easy – Ruins isn’t particularly active on the live front, so nothing clashes. We are all friends between both bands, and communicate a lot, so it really isn’t an issue at all.
TO: What are your thoughts on the current state of death metal?
Psycroptic: There are a lot of killer bands out there, but of course with any scene there are a lot of very average bands. This has always been the way with every kind of music of course – metal is no different. I’m still a big fan of the style after all these years playing it, but now I’m a little more selective with what I listen to.
TO: It’s been a couple of years since your self titled release. When can we expect a new album from you?
Psycroptic: We are actually in the studio at the moment working on the new album – so there will be a new album from us in 2018 for sure. We are always working on new material, and thus far the new songs are sounding very cool. I’m looking forward to playing them live!
TO: You’ve toured across North America and Europe. What similarities and differences have you noticed in the audiences in both continents.
Psycroptic: There are some many similarities, and so many differences between both of them. Europe has a lot more cultural differences in a close proximity – with every country having a unique culture and sometimes a different language – all within very close drives. But North America and Europe are both within the ‘1st World’ so in terms of technology, infrastructure, etc, they are quite similar. European tours for us are a little more comfortable, as we share a bus with other bands and travel that way.
TO: What has been your favourite city/venue to perform in so far?
Psycroptic: Haha, that is too hard to answer, as there have been so many cool shows we have done…as well as a lot of not cool shows. Playing in our home town of Hobart is always pretty damn sick though. We are very fortunate to have been able to travel and tour so much.
TO: Later this year, you will be supporting Dying Fetus on their European tour alongside Beyond Creation and Disentomb. How did the tour come about?
Psycroptic: Our booking agent in Europe asked if we would like to do it, and of course we said yes! It’s an insane lineup, and we’re very honoured to be apart of it. DF are one of my all time favourite bands, so to I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve toured with both Beyond Creation and Disentomb a few times and they are great friends of ours, so it’s going to be a fun one.
TO: Joe mixed and mastered the Godless EP Centuries of Decadence. What other Indian bands have you heard?
Psycroptic: To be honest, not that many! It will be really cool to check out new bands from India while we are there. From what I hear the Indian scene is small, but growing very rapidly with a lot of excellent bands developing.
TO: What are you looking forward to at your shows in India? Do you have any pre show rituals?
Psycroptic: The fact that we have never played their before is the main thing we are looking forward to. New country, new people, new experiences. Pre show we just make sure we are all warmed up and ready to play as the music is quite demanding, and requires preparation.
TO: As these are your first shows in India, what can fans expect from your set?
Psycroptic: We’ll be playing a wide range of material from all our albums. We haven’t fully settled on what we are playing, but it will definitely be a mix of material from us. It will be a lot of fun.
TO: Thanks for answering all our questions. Do you have any final words?
Psycroptic: Thanks for the interview, and we look forward to coming to your amazing country.
Indian metalheads, don’t miss Psycroptic when they play in your city, dates and venues below
At a time when we are busy putting together the latest label sampler, we’re thrilled to have Arkheth come aboard our eclectic roster. Australia has proved to be a great hunting ground so to speak and we’re certain we’ll be able to elevate the scene there to an extent. You all will be able to check out the fresh tunes of this band in the upcoming label sampler, due for release this Christmas.
Transcending Obscurity Records owner Kunal Choksi, “I was aware of this band but nothing could’ve prepared me for their new material which is absolutely batshit insane. Every song is different from the other, or at least it has really diverse influences, and that’s the way I like it. This is something unexpected, moving towards their own unique sound and identity and I’m thrilled to get into a multiple album deal with the talented band Arkheth from Australia. They will fit along snugly next to Norse. Check out their new song on the label sampler this Christmas.”
Arkheth state, “We are excited to announce that Arkhethhave signed with Transcending Obscurity for the release of our third album ’12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew’. Kunal and Transcending have stood out in the international underground scene as being a highly passionate and dedicated organisation aiming at promoting up and coming metal bands to a wider audience around the globe. We could not be more proud to be apart of this movement.
Arkhethoriginate from a cold remote area of Australia called Orange. Orange sits in the shadow of an 13 million year old dormant volcano called Mount Canobolas. This ancient mountain and its surrounding forests have been the main aesthetic source of inspiration for the band since its inception in 2001. The artwork for the first two albums have been designed with eh pictures of the mountain and its forests as well as all promo pictures. In past years many urban legends have sprung forth from this ancient land such as the practice of witchcraft, satanic cults as well as many documented murders and suicides. However Arkheth‘s connection to the mountain is a more spiritual one that has inspired music dealing the philosophical and metaphysical aspects of nature and the cosmos.
Our most recent offering incorporates the inspiration of the occult and witchcraft tied in with the Hermetic teachings of Hermes Trismegistus’ spiritual alchemy. The music in this third offering is a direct reflection of these inspirations which is coloured with sounds of traditional black metal darkness and symphonic atmosphere with a strange and haunting new twist that takes the band in a completely new direction.”
After working several Australian bands, it made sense to also look into New Zealand, and having worked with Exordium Mors for promotional purposes, it was imperative to reach out and have our first band in the black/thrash style. Their ferocity coupled with their superior songwriting skills make them a band to watch out for.
Kunal Choksi states, “I’m a sucker for black/thrash like early Destroyer 666 but just when I thought those days were gone, I came across Exordium Mors from New Zealand and was astonished not only at their potency but also their progressive leanings. They manage to weave together excellent song structures without diminishing the intensity. The awesome attitude doesn’t hurt either. I’m thrilled to work with this band, my first from New Zealand, for their upcoming full length which promises to be a gnarly affair. One of their songs will also be part of the 2016 label sampler.”
Exordium Mors comment, “We are very pleased to be on Transcending Obscurity Records’ roster, who in our opinion, represents what underground metal should be about. No bullshit, no compromises – just passion for the music and spreading the noise like a virulent disease!
Our debut with Transcending Obscurity Records will be our second full-length, and although it will have the same foundation of frenetic guitar-work, ripping basslines, destructive war-drums and manic vocals; the sound has progressed to a more triumphant and epic sound akin to a great warrior’s death march.
Long time followers of the band will hear new things musically, vocally and lyrically in this album. Simply put, we are very excited for our followers to witness our death-hymns, and believe Transcending Obscurity is the right label for this piece of black art to manifest into physical form. Hail Kunal! Hail Transcending Obscurity! Hail Death!”
Following a recent visit to Australia, or the way things have panned out, we seem to be partial to the Australian bands but that’s hardly a surprise considering the immense talent found over there and very passionate and easygoing people to deal with. It started with The Dead and Norse, but along the way we’ve signed up bands like The Furor, The Slow Death, Illimitable Dolor, and now Somnium Nox.
Transcending Obscurity Records owner Kunal Choksi says, “I’ve been in touch with SomniumNox members since a few years now and they’re among the most talented bunch of individuals I know. What’s more, they now have Robin Stone of Norse (another band signed to Transcending Obscurity) as their drummer. I’m certain the band’s new material will be outstanding in the realm of atmospheric black metal and it’s great to finally get a chance to work with SomniumNox. They’re sheer professionals and sticklers for quality and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Expect the new album, their first, to be out some time in 2017.”
Somnium Nox member Nocturnal adds, “We are thrilled to announce that the next Somnium Nox album will be released through Transcending Obscurity in early 2017. Label owner Kunal Choksi has been investing a lot into Australian metal this year and we are very excited to be a part of this. More updates coming soon.”
In an endeavour to work with more and more deserving bands, I’m fortunate to come across Illimitable Dolor, which has members of The Slow Death, who have also recently signed to our label. This only solidifies our work with Australian bands in particular, and with this signing, we’ll be working with about half a dozen of them now.
Label owner Kunal Choksi comments, “I’m a huge fan of atmospheric doom and Illimitable Dolor are stunning, backed with immense talent and experience from band members. It’s about the finest I’ve heard in recent times and any fans of this kind of death/doom music are in for a treat. Stuart has shown much faith and I can only hope not to let him down and do my best to propagate music of this ilk. The song they have streaming is but a glimpse into the beauty this album holds. It’s scheduled for release in early 2017, followed by The Slow Death‘s release.”
Band founder Stuart Prickett adds, ”Illimitable Dolor is a band that means a lot to me personally so I’m happy that we will be releasing our debut album through Transcending Obscurity Records. I turned down a few offers to release this but working with Kunal and Transcending Obscurity feels right. I am extremely proud of our first album. I believe it’s the heaviest thing I’ve ever recorded, crushing funeral doom, heavy as fuck without giving up all melody, taking influences from my favourite mid 90s doom bands. Together with Dan and Yonn, I believe we have made a very strong album that will stand out. ‘The funeral is about to begin’.”
Illimitable Dolor lineup:
Stuart Prickett – Guitars/Vocals/Keys
Dan Garcia – Guitars
John McLaughlin – Drums
Guy Moore – Keyboards
Peter O’Donohue – Guitars
Daniel Finney – Bass
Australia is full of surprises – I’d never known they had an active folk metal scene until I came across ‘Tales From The Southern Realm’ compilation featuring such artists from that beautiful and historically rich country. Folk metal band Enviktas not only took a part in it, but they’re taking things forward by announcing a new album titled ‘Mantra’ which is due for a release in 2017. We have the opportunity to do an exclusive premiere of one of the songs off that much awaited album.
The premiere is of the song Denali and what we have here is a video format representation of it, a lyric video at that, fully animated and cool as hell. Featuring guest vocals from Sakis of Rotting Christ, it’s clearly an ambitious attempt here and it’s topped off by excellent and superbly paced drumming of Robin Stone of Norse (signed to Transcending Obscurity Records, incidentally). It starts off slow, delves into various moods and flavours, and pulsates throughout with adequate backing given to the song by the robust drumming. It’s tastefully done but doesn’t sound like your typical folk metal band. Clearly the Australian flavour is different and offers a lot more by way of variations than say a Scandinavian band. The black metal influence is somewhat subdued over here and the music is more punchy and aggressive. It’s a refreshing change and the vocals too range from low growls/snarls to blackened rasps. I love the way it builds up towards the end, showcasing a tinge of modern metal influence and perhaps that’s the way the genre should go forward – it can’t wallow in the Aboriginal past forever and it’s a great example of how to infuse different elements and yet not alienate the folk metal sound. I’d liken the sound to a mix of Einherjer, Thyrfing, Rotting Christ and lastly the unheralded Australian black metal band Samain. The song is streaming exclusively over here –
Our first signing was of an Australian band, The Dead, and we’re happy to still get good support from that country. Other Australian releases that are scheduled currently for an early/mid 2017 include ones by The Furor (Perth) and Norse (Sydney). While other signings are yet to be revealed, we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to put out The Slow Death‘s new album.
Stuart Prickett (Illimitable Dolor, Horrisonous) – Lead & Rhythm Guitars, keyboards
Brett Campbell (Pallbearer) – Lead Guitar
Mandy Andresen (Murkrat, Crone) – Vocals & Keyboards
Yonn McLaughlin (Nazxul) – Drums
Dan Garcia (Charting The Depths Of Despair) – Bass
Gamaliel (Oracle Of The Void) – Vocals
Kunal Choksi states, “I’ve been a fan of The Slow Death since their self-titled debut. It reminded me of a more morbid version of Mournful Congregation and Mandy’s trademark vocals only added a sickening, gloomy air to the funeral-esque proceedings. The Slow Death have matured terrifically over the years and have become even more emotionally expressive and atmospheric. I’ve been in touch with Stuart since a while now and it’s an honour to work with him for the release of The Slow Death‘s upcoming full length.”
Stuart Prickett adds, “I am happy that we will be releasing our next album through Transcending Obscurity Records. I have been in contact with Kunal for while now and have been impressed by his drive and dedication to the label and by the impressive acts he has been signing and it is an honour to become part of that. Our fourth full length is nearing completion for an early 2017 release and is another concept album of epic, heav, atmospheric doom. It shall be the first album to feature our new vocalist Gamaliel, who joins Mandy, Yonn, Dan, Brett and myself after the tragic passing of our previous vocalist and good friend Gregg Williamson. It has elements of all our previous releases and i’m sure fans of The Slow Death will also love this new material! I am very proud of what we have accomplished.”
The Furor have been waging war with their brand of fiery black/death metal that lays waste to pretty much all else. One man army Dizazter has been drumming for none other than Impiety and this is music that is at par with that legendary band if not better. They’re on the verge of putting out their latest full length album titled ‘Cavalries of the Occult’.
Transcending Obscurity Records owner Kunal Choksi states, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with The Furor‘s previous album which I felt was devastating and I was utterly delighted to get a chance to personally release the band’s new album via my label, Transcending Obscurity Records. Louis Rando is not only a respectable figure with his involvement in bands like Impiety and others, but it’s just phenomenal how he’s done everything on this album, which is miles ahead of what he’s done with this band in the past. Expect nothing less than mind-numbing, cataclysmic ferocity that you’ve come to expect from this vitriolic black metal band.”
Dizazter states, “I’m pleased to let you know that the 5th The Furor album ‘Cavalries of the Occult’ is scheduled for release by renowned Indian metal label/distro Transcending Obscurity Records. I’ve been in contact with Kunal from the label since 2005 when I sent him a copy of our 2nd CD ‘Advance Australia Warfare’ for review, and since then he’s worked ferociously hard, working out great distro arrangements for bands worldwide and proudly promoting the shit out of them! It’s ridiculous how much energy this guy has. This will be the first TheFuror album to have a proper avenue of international distribution also. GREAT to finally have the name and style hit more ears. It’s been a long time coming… I’ve been mailing out our CD’s myself for years and it’s awesome and relieving to have help on this one. It’s the best album too in my opinion. Absolutely devastating from start to finish, bestial riffage and drums smashing you from every angle, produced and performed at a higher standard than anything I’ve done in the past with the band. All boxes fuckin ticked! I almost impressed myself with this one, true story. Order info is soon to come, check out our pages for now, bombard the like buttons, cheers!”