Every month when I do one of these monthly round up intros, I hope that the next month would bear good tidings and that I’d have something uplifting to write about the world. But yet again, this month has been filled with natural calamities and escalating tensions among nations don’t seem to make things any easier. With all this doom and gloom, one can only hope to switch off one’s senses to reality. Fortunately we have some solid releases this month to offer us that mental getaway. So before I bring everyone’s mood down, here’s some kickass music to check out! ~ Shrivatsan R.
Can’t believe that half of this year is gone already. With an every increasing writing staff here at Transcending Obscurity, our tastes have become much more diverse as evidenced by this month end list here. As always, we have tried to keep things a bit obscure, so as to cover ground not often tread by metal blogs in general. Here’s what’s been keeping the TO scribes occupied over the past month. ~Shrivatsan R
Aether Realm (USA) – Tarot (Melodic Death / Folk Metal, Self Released)
Deceased are a staff favourite over at Transcending Obscurity. They’ve released some excellent albums over the years and have developed an unmistakable sound and identity as a death/thrash metal band. Our label division even put out an official reissue of their 1997 album ‘Fearless Undead Machines’ over HERE. With a new album slated to come out in the foreseeable future titled ‘Ghostly White’, guest interviewer Tyler Brooks talks to King Fowley about that and the band’s illustrious past.
Transcending Obscurity (Tyler Brooks): You were the first band to ever sign with Relapse records, a label that would become a powerhouse at the peak of early 90’s death metal. What were those early days like?
Deceased (King Fowley): Working with them early on was fun. We were all gung ho and ready to rock. As the label got bigger and successful they sadly lost their way and it got harder to deal with them on a business level. But those early days we will always cheer and thank Relapse for giving us a shot!
TO: You made a flyer that you promised you were going to “out-thrash Slayer” at one point in the early days. Do you feel like you achieved this?
Deceased: Yes! We are still playing 100% deceased music while Slayer to me is playing hot topic metal for a paycheck and a past glory gratification! No thanks!
TO: Many fans consider your third album, ‘Fearless Undead Machines’ to be the album that solidified the Deceased style for years to come. What is it about this album, or the circumstances surrounding its recording, that you feel make it so powerful?
Deceased: I just think it was a heavy metal record in a time when heavy metal was a bad word. We didn’t care; we just lined it up and knocked it down! The songs are very strong on it. I think a lot of metal people related to the horror tinged theme of it. It’s my third favorite Deceased record behind ‘Supernatural Addiction’ and ‘Surreal Overdose’.
TO: Everyone has a favorite Deceased album, and I believe yours is ‘Supernatural Addiction’; ‘The Weird Travel On’ happens to be mine. Do you think that says anything about yourself or the people that choose other albums?
Deceased: It’s always neat to hear why someone has favorite record, details of it etc. To each their own I always say. We all have different names for a reason~!
TO: Modern day death/thrash seems to be used as an excuse for death metal bands to play traditional death metal riffs at hyper fast speeds, but Deceased has always held the thrash side of the moniker in high regard. What is the secret to blending so may influences into a coherent product, while still retaining quality songwriting?
Deceased: Passion for the styles and influences tenfold. You gotta believe! People sadly a lot of times toss shit together to hope its unique when it comes off kitchen sink or half assed. Neither is a good thing. Deceased really does where our metal heart on our sleeve. I arrange everything and I love hooks in songs and memorable music in general. Mindless song writing is a horrible thing. Wasted music as I call it, what a shame
TO: Speaking of influences, you’ve made it pretty evident where your influences lie. It’s clear from the plethora of covers of everything from Cro-Mags and Bad Brains, to Running Wild and Voivod. Why do you feel so compelled to show reverence to so many classics when others may relegate one or two song to their influencers?
Deceased: It’s just a part of it. We take Deceased very seriously in our albums. To let up and have some fun amongst the song writing usually means a cover song tribute to a band or moment in time to us. We have lots of influences so we show it as often as we can!
TO: In 1988, tragedy struck when Rob Sterzel, then the bassist, lost his life in an accident. Many bands are incapable of continuing on from something like that. What helped you to get through dark times in your formative early years?
Deceased: It’s all we knew! Music was our lives and we had to trudge on. Rob would have demanded it. Rob’s death was awful and it floored us. But we took from negativity and made positivity out of a dire situation.
TO: Your style of melodic death/thrash pre-dates even those bands from the Swedish Sunlight Studios period. At a time when melody was probably a dirty word, what drove you towards it?
Deceased: A love for it. I know it’s a big part of my music heart. A good melody is so inspirational to me. We always had hints even at our dirtiest sounds. But it took time to grow as musicians both song writing and playing wise. When it fell into place I was thrilled!
TO: Deceased has consistently released excellent music almost yearly since 1986, whether it be through singles, EP’s, demos, or compilations. How do you keep so relevant years later without burning out?
Deceased: Again you gotta believe. You gotta want it. People that really listen or follow a band can almost always know when a band is mailing it in. We don’t rush into new records or toss out 8 new songs a year just to call it our new record. We got into writing music because it is dear to our hearts. And all these years later it still is!
TO: You’ve said in an interview that you love performing live shows. How does playing live differ from writing in the studio?
Deceased: The studio is a very serious thing at times. You have to keep your mind right. On stage you get to perform your tuned in front of a crowd there (well a good bunch of them) to hear your music. You give it your all and it’s one big thrill ride. I love to entertain and getting on a stage and going for it really makes me happy!
TO: You’ve had numerous lineup changes over the years, mostly stemming from members living all over the country. Les and Mike seem to be such constants throughout most of your timeline. What kind of relationship is necessary between the three of you?
Deceased: Understanding is the key. We are all older now and things like family, work etc come into the mix as you get older. Everyone still rocks when it’s time to do so. Mike didn’t want to play live anymore late 2000’s and we worked it out so he could continue as a studio guy while turning over his live presence to someone else. Les married a gal and moved to Texas. He is still part of the studio band and plays out live with us as often as he can. Being around since 1985 life tosses stuff at ya it’s how ya deal with it that keeps it moving forward.
TO: For ‘Rotten to the Core’, Dave “Scarface” Castillo took over behind the drum kit for live performances. Was this something you had been seeking to do for a while, or was Dave just the perfect fit?
Deceased: After playing on stage as front man in October 31 it just felt right to be upfront. I always found it constricting live to sit behind a drum set on a stool and front a show. Dave is a dear friend and fit right in.
TO: Iron Maiden, or Judas Priest?
Deceased: IRON MAIDEN WITH EASE! Judas priest should have walked away mid-80s for all the following of musical trends to stay current they did. Iron Maiden just keeps on doing their own thing!
TO: Do you have anything to tell the fans about upcoming performance, or the highly anticipated seventh full-length album, ‘Ghostly White’?
Deceased: It’s almost complete song writing wise then the will record. A lot of time and effort has gone into this one. I’m really digging the tunes. It’s very heavy metal this go round with a lot of emphasis on melody, reminds me in spots of ‘Supernatural Addiction’. We are all very pleased!
We’re thrilled to sign Toby Knapp’s black/thrash metal band Affliktor from US. He’s a world class guitar player and is a part of several bands, but his take on a style that’s more often than not associated with lo-fi aesthetics and ‘alcohol-driven’ music is thoroughly refreshing. The debut full length with artworks from a common friend in Mark Riddick will see a release around mid-2017. Watch out for this one.
Transcending Obscurity Records owner Kunal Choksi states, “Toby Knapp is a world-renowned guitar virtuoso and is involved in the creation of music of all styles since the ’90s. He’s been a part of bands like Godless Rising and of late Waxen, Where Evil Follows, Sue’s Idol, Onward, not to mention his prolific eponymous solo band. I first came to know about him when he contributed leads to the recent Fetid Zombie album. When I heard his new black/thrash metal band Affliktor, I was blown. It was refreshing because he’s using his famed method of guitar shredding to play an underground style of music without taking away the intensity or genre’s inherent harshness. The outcome is stunning and I’m pleased to be working with the debut full length of Affliktor. The artworks have been made by none other than Mark Riddick and you can expect a stunning package for this one.”
Toby Knapp adds, “The Affliktor album was originally intended to be a pure thrash album, so the first layer of music is thrashing speed metal riffs. As time went on the album started developing into a new sound. Once the solos and atmospheric guitar effects were recorded the album called for sickening black/death metal vocals. The final result was kind of a technical Black Thrash Metal hybrid. I have been fortunate to have my work released by some of the best labels in the world and with Kunal and Transcending Obscurity Records- the tradition continues.”
In a first, Arallu from Israel sign to the Indian label Transcending Obscurity Records. They happen to be the first band from Israel to be associated with Transcending Obscurity Records and we couldn’t be happier. Their music is scathing black/thrash metal (not too unlike Rudra) and even bears Middle Eastern influences in their music. Their upcoming album ‘Six’ is easily their best yet and is scheduled for a mid-2017 release date tentatively on various formats including box sets and vinyl.
Transcending Obscurity owner Kunal Choksi states, “It is my utmost pleasure to sign my first band from Israel. I’ve always felt a connection to that place and it’s quite fortuitous to receive an email from the mighty band Arallu. It’s just what I was expecting – genuine, vicious yet folk-tinged black/thrash metal music with no compromise whatsoever. The members have been very cooperative and enthusiastic and I’m sure we can do great things together with the new album which should be out in around mid-2017 on Transcending Obscurity Records. Along with Rudra, they’re a great fit and here’s hoping we get to watch the band live soon too!”
Arallu comment, “We would like to thank Kunal and Transcending Obscurity Records for the new record deal. We are looking forward to a great and intense cooporation and we are sure that we made the right choice. We are happy to work with a record label that believes in the ability and the music of Arallu. We confirm our new pre album tour via Metal Gate booking agency and hope to see you all off the stage around east Europe in April 2017! Now we are ready to hit the studio and record our new album titled ‘Six’.”
Yay! We’ve completed yet another revolution around our home star! While we celebrate this cosmically insignificant milestone by resetting our man made Gregorian calendars, the staff here at Trasncending Obscurity wanted to call attention to some of their favorite records from 2016. This combined list is split into Black, Thrash, Death, Doom / Sludge, Post Metal and Grindcore sections to reflect the tastes and preferences of our scribes in a better way. I’m sure even with all of us working together, we will not be accounting for every single standout release. So why don’t you comment below and tell us whether you agree with this list or if you had better albums in mind? ~ Shrivatsan R
Follow flight through his recent experience at this trendy Portland theater with one of melodeath's most celebrated acts. What did they play? Have they still got the magic? Find out here. Supporting acts include Swallow The Sun, Enforcer, Starkill, Increate, and Von Doom.
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!”
As many modern metal bands are striving to play it technical and make metal more intricate and complicated, bands like Colombia’s Witchtrap are proudly waving the old school flag. Having released 3 full lengths and a series of EP’s and splits, Witchtrap’s music has some not so subtle nods to the old guards like Venom, Motorhead, Sodom etc. The band’s most recent full length effort ‘Trap the Witch‘ originally came out last year through the band’s very own Dirty Sounds Records. This album is now being given a wider release courtesy of Hells Headbangers who will be releasing CD, Vinyl and Tape formats of the album on the 11th of November.
Impressed by the denim and leather based old school metal attack, we talked to the band’s drummer Witchhammer about the band’s history and the metal scene in their native land of Colombia. Also, we have ‘Trap the Witch’ streaming in it’s entirety below! So put on your battle jackets, crack open a beer and get lost in the old school charm of Witchtrap.