Monthly Archives: November 2012

MADNESS STRIKES BACK: FLEURETY

So we have reached the last pick from Kaleidoscope #8, and it’s suitable to finish this tour with the veterans of weirdness, Fleurety. Their legendary debut Min Tid Skal Komme (1995) was already stretching the borders of black metal with hysterical singing and complex song structures, but it just got more obscure in their later releases. Department of Apocalyptic Affairs (2000) isn’t the album for everyone and it surely gets out of hand here and there, but the duo Hatlevik-Nordgaren has a strong vision, no doubt. The band made a decent comeback with two EP’s two years ago, and now, after the long moments of silence, they are coming again:

– At the moment Fleurety is about to release a new 7” called Et Spiritus Meus Semper Sub Sanguinantibus Stellis Habitatabit and it will be out on Aesthetic Death records in early 2013. We are also planning even one more 7”, but the title is not yet determined, tells Hatlevik.

Before this, I’ll give you Fleurety, enemies of sheep metal!

(originally released in Kaleidoscope zine #8, 2010)

At first it sounds like a cheap-ass rip-off story. A legendary black metal band from the early 90’s is turning more and more into new directions and after one full-length album which pisses off many people the band decides to quit. The silence lasts for nine years, things are happening in other bands and projects, but then, out of nowhere, the band is back with two re-recorded songs from their black metal glory days.

You could call the band as moneymaking turncoats, if they weren’t Fleurety and you hadn’t listened to those two songs which were released as a seven-inch called Ingentes Atque Decorii Vexilliferi Apokalypsis. Because the songs – Descent into Darkness and Absence – aren’t just attempts to torch the dying embers. Rather, they are innovative amalgams of harsh and hysterical black metal and Fleurety’s innovative avant-garde madness.

And well, you could blame Fleurety for being moneymaking turncoats, I guess they wouldn’t mind. According to the multi-talented Svein Egel Hatlevik, he’s here to piss people off and push their narrow-minded little circles. At the same time he also feels very good to be back making music with Fleurety again:

– It’s cool on a personal level to be making music with an old friend (Alexander Nordgaren, another half of the band) from way back in the days, and I’ve always been thinking that we had – and still have – a lot of potential as a band, so it’s very nice to develop the music of Fleurety in non-obvious directions. That said, we have been back on track as a band since 2004, but things tend to take a little more time with the two members of the band living in different countries. The way we work now, we record one new song every year, that’s the one time the two of us are both at the same place.

So the pace is slow, and the above mentioned gap between Nordgaren (England) and Hatlevik (Norway) isn’t a small thing on the band’s way. Therefore on Ingentes Atque… Fleurety used a number of helping hands, such as Hellhammer and Necrobutcher from Mayhem and Plenum from Virus, to get things done. Still it’s quite an interesting choice to re-record old songs for a new start. The motif for this was to get the old chemistry and old fingers going again, and the old songs taught some new tricks for the duo as well.

– Basically we needed to start playing the old songs again, just to remember what we were doing all those years ago. And if you take the song called Descent into Darkness from our first demo from 1993, we were never really happy with the recording. Not suprising, perhaps, considering it’s a demo recording. We recorded that song in a bomb shelter on a four track cassette studio. Not exactly optimal conditions. So we just thought we should do the song like we would have wanted it to be in 1993. I guess it’s a kind of wish to get some kind of closure. And we are a pretty slow working band. I guess we should have re-recorded this song ages ago, but for one reason or another it didn’t happen until 2004. So it took us five years to find time to release it too. Yes, we are indeed a slow working band.

– With the other song Absence, it was always an idea of ours to continue to make alternate versions of that song. Back in 1995, we were thinking of making maybe five alternate versions of it, but to always make each version very different from the previous. Now the recording we made does not sound extremely different from the one we did in 1995, but we might do a very different version of that song at some later point.

If you expected something in the vein of Department of Apocalyptic Affairs’ genre-hopping insanity, you were on the wrong tracks. These versions still keep the songs quite raw and fuzzy and therefore close to the original ones. Of course there are surprises like the disco end in Absence, but still this is quite pure black metal. Hatlevik thinks this approach as a reminder.

– It was a way for us to get back on track on what appealed to us with black metal initially. And Fleurety has a very specific sound, and we thought we wanted to keep that sound. At the same time we have always been fond of experimenting with sound, so this time we wanted to experiment with a raw and fuzzy production. Remember: It is not a coincidence that most good metal records have a noisy sound. It is because this kind of sound enhances the harmonies and overtones and certain spectral components that have a certain effect. This combination of harmonies and bringing to front spectral components is an efficient way of building that evil old black metal feeling.

So the door is open again for Fleurety. Before we take a few glances over our shoulders, let’s take little peek at the future. Fleurety is working with the next EP called Evoco Bestias (”We changed the earlier title Summon the Beasts to Latin, because latin has proven to be a more evocatively appealing language”), and it will be about totally new songs.

– They sound very much like Fleurety to me. We also have a very interesting drummer, who plays black metal -kinda drums, but also – again – in a non-obvious way. He usually plays in a band called The White Tiger Prepade, which in my opinion is one of the best extreme metal bands in Norway these days. But if we have stepped in any specific direction? I don’t know. I like the songs, and that’s what’s important. We also have one song with the vocals of Ayna Johansen, who also did some vocals on our Last-Minute Lies EP. She has a really good voice. So well, I guess that if you like Fleurety, you will like the new songs too. We have also recorded another new song just recently called It’s When You’re Cold, which will eventually end up on yet another EP. That song is more experimental.

SHEEP METAL

Before the future is here, there is a lot to chew on in Fleurety’s almost 20-year career. The band has gone through many different phases and has slowly distanced itself from its black metal roots in order to engage in a more experimental approach. However, Hatlevik doesn’t see these two as opposites, and he’s also ready to attack the cliché-filled nature of today’s black metal.

– Black metal mentality has always been opposed to sheep mentality. It’s very simple: these two mentalities are not compatible. If you make black metal with no fresh ideas, you shouldn’t call it black metal, you should call it sheep metal. We started up as a band very much inspired by black metal, and we still are. I know a lot of people talk about our music as avant-garde metal, and I can accept that. In one sense there has not been any black metal since 1994. That’s the year it all ended. Then the clichés of black metal lived on through sheep metal and the passion, will and dignity of black metal lived on through avant-garde metal.

Tough words, but somehow I can understand Hatlevik’s point. Although new and appealing black metal albums are released every year, the candid and daring spirit of bands like Ulver, Mysticum, Emperor, Manes and Fleurety seems to be almost forgotten nowadays. Luckily Fleurety squeezed their most innovative essence of black metal onto the legendary Min Tid Skal Komme before heading into new musical territories. This album from 1995 sounds very thoughtful but then again Fleurety changes from one atmosphere to another very easily. Although Hatlevik sees the stream of consciousness to be present more in their lyrics, he also finds a certain kind of restlessness in their music.

– It kind of always wants to move to new places. Most of the songs we made after Min Tid Skal Komme are more traditional in structure. We are for instance not so crazy about writing songs with a new riff after another riff after one riff and so on. I mean, it’s a shame to throw away a good riff. You might want it to last a little longer.

Min Tid Skal Komme has been released four times so far: two original pressings, one re-release and finally a vinyl version. And everytime there has been a different cover art. Do these reflect different sides of the music in this case?

– That’s more a coincidence. First the record was meant to have a black and white photography on the cover, but Misanthropy Records (our record label at the time) thought that was too boring, so they found out that they wanted to have it kind of green. Then it turned out that they had printed 5 000 copies of a record with a really ugly shade of green. Then there was a second pressing in a more successful shade of blue. Then there was the CD reissue that we made a new cover for because we didn’t really like the first one. And the vinyl reissue needed a new design, because it was a completely different format.

The next full-length was the more challenging Department of Apocalyptic Affairs, which showed Fleurety’s love for progressive music, jazz and different tempos and instruments. Also, if the new EP has some well-known names behind it, Department of Apocalyptic Affairs is like the ”who is who in Norwegian black metal”: Garm, Maniac, Einar Sjursø, Carl-Michael Eide, Steinar Sverd Johnsen… Hatlevik turns the question about Fleurety’s importance to its musicians to cheerful humour:

– Everybody loves Fleurety, of course. That is because we are so handsome. For instance I was voted the most handsome man in Norwegian music – regardless of age, genre or musical instrument – last week. I’m not kidding. I got 26 per cent of the votes. And if you are very handsome, everybody loves you. That’s just how things work.

Well, handsome or not, what do you think, did that album need all those artists to be complete, or could you and Alexander Norgaren have made it just by yourselves?

– That is a very counterfactual question, and it is very difficut to imagine what that album would have sounded like without all the guest muscians. The identity of that record is for instance that all the songs sound as if they were made by different bands. It’s like a compilation album. But I’m not sure if Alex and I could have done it without at least some kind of help. Neither of us is a very good singer, for instance. But it’s quite possible that we could have recorded it with me playing the drums, Alex doing the guitars, some bass player and a female singer. But the end result would of course have been very different.

If Fleurety has stirred people within (black) metal, there are also more controversial and disturbing bands which have included Hatlevik. One of them is Zweizz, Hatlevik’s own brain-damaged child, which has so far covered Immortal, made weird electronics and possessed the most buzzing guitars ever – and we can’t forget the pink logo with pentagrams and inverted crosses either! The main goals of Zweizz are making music unrestricted by others and – you guessed it – rattling the cages of black metal puritans.

– Yes, it is to provoke people by telling them they are all just a bunch of narrow minded lazy sheep. I once saw on some blog where they had posted some kind of rapidshare or similar link of The Yawn of a New Age (a Zweizz album from 2007) and there was a big picture of that pink logo with the caption ”This album hates you”, and that’s what it’s all about. I have received a lot of angry emails from people who think that I am an idiot because I break their rules about what you are allowed to do and not do with pentagrams and inverted crosses. It’s like they consider pentagrams and inverted crosses to be holy. I don’t care whether people feel like I have desecrated something that is holy to them, so I always tell this type of people to go fuck themselves.

But how serious do you take music – especially music made by yourself?

– I take it very seriously. There is of course an element of humour in it, but if people don’t like it, there are huge amounts of sheep metal bands out there that you can listen to.

Hatlevik, who works as a music journalist for a Norwegian newspaper called Morgenbladet, also finds an aspect of music criticism in the music of Zweizz itself.

– In one sense The Yawn of a New Age can be seen as a commentary about everything I think is wrong in today’s world of music. And it is indeed a well contemplated and analytic piece of music. One reviewer described it as a collection of musical riddles, and I think this is a very good observation – I never thought of the songs on that album as riddles myself, but in a sense I think they are: Each of the songs are like mysteries that need to be unfolded. But I don’t know how I would have listened to it if I were to write about it myself. I mean, I made that music, so it’s very difficult to approach the music with another perspective than that of the composer.

– Another thing about that album is that it is made almost entirely on a computer, which means the music is very much composed as opposed to being played on musical instruments. In this sense, I often think about that album that is has more in common with a piece of text, rather than a piece of music. So maybe the music journalist who wants to write about this album should approach it more as a piece of poetry than a record?

Besides Fleurety and Zweizz, Hatlevik spent also years in DHG, aka Dodheimsgard, whose 666 International (1999) is considered one of the most groundbreaking records in electro/avant-garde-spiced black metal. Hatlevik finds those years very inspiring.

– To make a long story short: From the making of that album I learned a lot about life, the universe and everything.

And that is much.

NO DRUGS, JUST ABSTRACT

If Fleurety musically has been a bit of an outsider to the general black metal circles, the same thing has happened with lyrics, which have always had some very abstract and even hallucinating vibes going on. On the other hand Fleurety does have a demo called Black Snow, they always went to the forest to have their band photos taken, and Hatlevik himself has imagined the setting of the lyrics of Min Tid Skal Komme to be in a forest. But there must be something untraditional going on the lines like ”Christmas presents and venereal diseases / distributed randomly over the world’s population. / A voice that shatters glass such that / the sound of shattering glass is louder than the sound of the voice. / The voice is non-existent in space. / Like the cries of a bird that does not exist.”

– We have always been kind of dreamy or visionary lyrically. Not so much hallucinatory, but I guess we like to try to describe something abstract through our lyrics. Since I am the person writing most of the lyrics these days, I guess it has something to do with the fact that I used to read a lot of modernist writers when I was younger, like Samuel Beckett, James Joyce and Franz Kafka. The term ”stream of consciousness” was mentioned in an earlier question, and this kind of writing was a big influence on the lyrics of Fleurety.

Someone who listens to Fleurety’s music and reads your lyrics might get the idea that your art is somewhat drug-induced… Do you use or have you used any inspiring narcotics to get your thoughts rolling?

– A lot of people seem to think that drugs have been important to us when making music, but really it hasn’t.

If we continue our trip from music and lyrics to visuals, we find more provoking elements. In the band pictures Hatlevik, for example, has held a submachine gun and worn a colourful dress. I don’t want to go further with analyzing every detail, but this wardrobe makes me wonder if Hatlevik always takes some sort of a role when he works in different bands, because he has the same thing going with his aliases like Mr. Magic Logic.

– I guess it’s more about keeping order when I have so many different projects. I have Fleurety, Umoral, Zweizz, Zweizz & Homo Vinter, Zweizz & Joey Hopkins, Pronounced «SEX», Stagnant Waters and MAZ. That’s eight bands, and you can’t do the same thing in every band, it all has to be different. Every band needs to have an underlying foundation that justifies the existence of each band respectively. Then having a different alias might work as one among many techniques to impose some kind of structure onto the chaos.

But how about the basic black metal aesthetics? Were you ever totally into corpse paints, for example?

– It was a good feeling to use corpse paint in 1992, but after a while it just felt unnessecary. Maybe I should try it again some time to see what it feels like after so many years.

Today Fleurety has used the renowned duo of Trine Paulsen and Kim Sølve for their artwork. This tandem has been involved with many Norwegian bands lately – Ulver, Enslaved, Mayhem, Den Saakaldte and Darkthrone, to name a few. Covers like Min Tid Skal Komme’s vinyl edition and the latest EP have brought more ageless atmosphere to the picture and therefore the change could be seen as a big step, but Fleurety’s decision to use Trine and Kim only stems from a long friendship.

– I’ve been good friends with Trine and Kim for more than ten years, and it’s more about the fact that we like working together and have a very common understanding of what works and what doesn’t. I think they make very good record covers for the releases I have participated on. And that’s basically it.

On the Trine+Kim’s cover for Ingentes Atque… there is a lineless pentagram surrounded by ornament branches and lines reminding me of rays of light. How does this cover reflect the music and Fleurety’s current state? Or is it useless to find deeper meanings from it?

– There are deeper meanings, of course. But I have to be boring and tell you that every viewer or listener needs to figure that out for herself. However, there is also a black snow crystal. And that is a quite open reference to our Black Snow demo.

Pictures are one way to experience or describe music; some people use emotions or their memories. But because Fleurety is not your everyday band, let’s use another approach to close this interview: if Fleurety was a scent or smell, what would it be and why?

– I know a lot of people have said that the name Fleurety sounds like a perfume, so it has to be the sweet perfume of a gorgeous woman getting ready to fuck your brains out. It’s an expensive perfume. We do after all have good taste.

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DESTROY TO CREATE: BLACK MAJESTY

I think I explain quite well in the foreword of this interview why Black Majesty is involved in this avantgarde issue of Kaleidoscope, so no need to go further with that. Sadly this Nidrosian act has been silent for a long time and it seems that the full-length album is never to be materialized – but on the other hand His Black Majesty has been participated to the great releases from Mare, Dark Sonority and Vemod, so we should be too disappointed. In February the audience of Nidrosian Black Mass IV is treated with a live show of Mare/Black Majesty, and I’m sure that night will be immemorial too.

(originally released in Kaleidoscope zine #8, 2010)

 

Breaking boundaries and entering to territories unknown are things that usually happen in the music itself – in the rhythm, notes, arrangements and so on. But you can also dive deep atmospherically, lyrically, to another level of dedication. Few bands dare to concentrate on their creations so seriously that the music finally loses its form, breaks its chains and transforms to a door which leads somewhere else. All that is left is pure belief and force.

That’s why Black Majesty has the right to be included in this issue of Kaleidoscope. This mystic Nidrosian entity has worked carefully like a wizard who is reading scripts and finding the right words, and so every release has been like a compressed dose of magical energy. The latest spell, a seven inch called Seventh King of Edom, is another strong declaration, which musically utilizes the legacy of occult Scandinavian black metal but also contains hints of a greater wisdom.

Two demos and one 7” in five years isn’t much, and this fact strengthens the image of the demanding nature of Black Majesty’s music. The creator himself, His Black Majesty, says that also the simple lack of time has been his enemy.

– I am, in addition to a full-time job, occupied with several music(k)al (as what we speak of here, distinguished from mere ‘music’) and literary projects, personal studies and practices as well as label activities. Of course also a certain mood and inspiration is required, and the circumstances of the actual composing/writing and recording-process have to be right. I also do not rush for the sake of not rushing per se, because I personally feel that in most cases there is something insincere about producing numerous of releases in a short period of time.

Like some of us know, His Black Majesty is an important character in the Nidrosian black metal scene and you can find his handprint in bands like Kaosritual and Mare. So it would be suitable to imagine him as a man whose life is full of the essence of black metal, and this visualization turns out to be partly true:

– Music(k)ally, black metal is but one of several genres I listen to and express myself through, and in this way it only fills a smaller part of my life. However, black metal is also, to a certain degree, an ever present ideological attitude.

We will talk about this ideological attitude more later, but let’s ponder more on the themes and thoughts of this issue. Many bands in these pages throw away their musical barriers in order to achieve their inner vision, but what is the situation with Black Majesty? Is everything expendable, or are there things that are sacred for His Black Majesty? The answer is quite close to the thoughts of other bands, with an occult emphasis of course:

– Most important is perhaps to succeed in creating that unique atmosphere, which evokes certain sensations of a, to me at least, specific mystical ‘phenomenon’.

“DESTROY TO CREATE!”

And this is what Seventh King of Edom is also about. Besides two well-constructed and thoughtful songs of eerie black metal, there are also two hypnotic interludes which aren’t just filling the minutes but playing well together with the actual songs to create an intense atmosphere. His Black Majesty admits that the release as a whole means a lot to him.

– I throw away quite a lot of the material I compose, mostly not because of lack of quality, but rather due to the fact that it does not fit into the conceptual idea of either of my projects. I normally just play around with some combinations of tones and rhythms that sound right and when I eventually touch something that match the atmosphere I am looking for, I continue in that direction, seeking the right path to follow to complete the riffs, song-structures etc. So the totality of releases plays a very important role, and even though songs can have a different expression, it should sum up and give a “complete” impression in the end.

Usually while bringing up these topics it’s also suitable to talk about two different ways of creation: to work through your feelings without any concrete plans and consideration, or to be very careful and prudent with your words and notes. How does His Black Majesty see this juxtaposition in his music, or is it a juxtaposition at all?

– Actually, it is more of a combination. It starts with a quite clear vision – yet no matter how clear it is, there is something blocking a direct sight to it, so I have to work my way through the mist to find its parts, and when I some way or another have recollected them, it is indeed something to be sewn together with great care!

– I mentioned that I seek a special atmosphere, and it is only accomplished with carefully designing the musick and lyricks to it. I can spend hours and hours rearranging a couple of words or placing them within the song and vice versa. Actually, the same goes for the layout, where I can move around things for weeks to find their proper size and position.

But it can be a very fine line that separates genuine artistic vision from emotionless and calculated entertainment. Too much of polishing and exposing your art to the outer world and the invisible pressure of the scene can kill that pure flame which has been the primary source. Our interviewee has recognized this danger as well.

– I guess it (the success) depends how great a part of the inspiration comes from within, and how much comes from external sources. Of course, most artists, including myself, are to some degree inspired by other art or artists, with an expression similar or reminiscent to what they want to express themselves. In this manner, for true art, it is important that there is an overweight of personality and originality expressed directly from the Self.

– And, if one is to bring ANY kind of restriction upon ones art or expression, having in mind to ‘satisfy’, ‘influence’ or ‘entertain’ others, it is certainly not genuine, and that is certainly NOT MY purpose.

So Black Majesty keeps itself reasonably far from the material side of black metal, but this doesn’t automatically mean that there aren’t rules and patterns which would steer the band’s music. For example, the last song of Black Majesty’s second demo is called The Seven Kingdoms of EDOM, drawing a strong connection to the band’s latest EP release and underlining an affinity to the qlippothic shells of creation and the uncontrolled power invested in them. It seems safe to presume this is a running theme in His Black Majesty’s work so can we expect him to continue on the same path in the future?

– Actually, the full title of the song is Astral Death-Travel, I: through; the Catacombs of SUT-an, II: into; the Seven Kingdoms of EDOM. Nevertheless, your observations concerning its connection with the unbalanced powers of the Night-Side are correct. It is, however, a double-edged sword, as the seven kings of Edom are also associated with the seven root-races of man according to the Theosophical doctrine, explains His Black Majesty.

To continue with the topic at hand, it is easy to notice that many contemporary black metal bands – as well as some acts in the past – draw thematic influence from the Thelemitic / messianic tradition as opposed to approaching the subject from a strictly de-constructive and chaotic standpoint. Can HBM see a conflict of interest here?

– Indeed! Too many fail to see this! For me, the chaotic and unbalanced energies are the very source of creation, the Urkraft, whose keys lie in magick. And I do not seek self-annihilation, when I speak of the destruction of man, but the destruction of the ‘human, all too human’ morals and values forced upon us through the world in which we live. Destroy to create! Seeking ‘godhood’ and spiritual progression through the decline of mere ‘manhood’. That is the path of the left hand!

“Destroy to create” goes well along with the line on the back cover of Black Majesty’s first demo tape: To Create the Beast in Us, We Must Destroy the Man. Although some light has been shed on the topic already, we’ll let His Black Majesty tell what kind of beasts and men he is talking about.

– The Beast is equal to Satan, the Adversary, as the godhood of the Nigredo – the Antinomian path of ‘becoming’ through putrefaction of the mentioned ‘human morals and values’ which taint the modern ‘man’, thus clearing the way for enlightenment. The Death and Resurrection!

And the next step on this path of chaos? Black Majesty made a deal with Full Moon Productions in 2007 for a full-length, which – suitably for the band’s manners – is still a work-in-progress. The theme, however, is clear already, and it fulfills His Black Majesty’s vision in a natural way: the full-length will be dedicated to the great mysteries of death and its portals.

OF MUSICK AND MAGICK

As noted above, Black Majesty is hardly mere music. It also incorporates vivid magic(k)al and spiritual topics into its body. Still, there must be a connection between music and magick in general: the content comes before the form, but the form is always bound to the content, like a shadow which resembles its source in one way or another. His Black Majesty doesn’t see how these two could be separated without losing some-thing at the same time.

– Musick is a magickal instrument. It works directly through and with the subconscious and in relation with the True Will.

Music + Magick = Musick,

Musick – Magick = Music.

This formula comes more visible, if we think certain chaos magic oriented bands like Arckanum and Behexen, which have spoken about rituals in the studio or before/during their gigs. Black Majesty is yet another entity which blurs the line between the realm of magick and the world of electric guitars and recording studios.

– Black Majesty serves partly as a kind of audial magickal diary, and is therefore connected to experiences made from my magickal practices. With some songs I seek to reconstruct ethereal images created in these sessions.

And what about the case of the second Black Majesty demo Ateh Gibor Le’Olam Shaitan that was limited only to 31 copies?

– It is entirely composed of tracks of ritual musick, some songs were recorded during such sessions and the result came out far more personal than I expected in the first place, thus the limited nature of this release.

Black Majesty – which can be interpreted as Adversary micro-cosmically and as Saturnus macro-cosmically by the artist’s own words – has also had leanings to world literature. Baphe Metis demo is closed by a poem by Charles Baudelaire, the grand-father of nihilism and decadence. This poem, Le Possede (The Possessed) is about demons and even Luciferian themes, so it was a suitable choice for the band, but what was that final spark which got His Black Majesty interested in this particular poem?

– Charles Baudelaire is really one of my favourite poets, whose work has made a major impact on me, and this particular poem is one of my personal favourites. It expresses a, for me, very familiar sensation of Satanic ecstasy.

And if we go back to the image of a wizard who is reading through books and spells and combine this image to a black metal musician, how unified an expression do we find?

– Like E.T.A. Hoffman has said, “Wo die Sprache aufhört, fängt die Musik an.” (“Music begins where speech ends.”)

THE CHOSEN THREE: OCTOBER 2012

As you have maybe noticed, there hasn’t been so much action in my blog lately… Well, I haven’t been lazy, I have just used my all spare time to pack copies of Kaleidoscope #11! Thanks for all these orders, just keep ‘em coming (read more). But enough talking, let’s get ready for winter with these four (yes, four!) releases!

WEAPON: Embers and Revelations (Relapse 2012)

From Canada to Bangladesh and back… Vocalist/guitarist Vetis Monarch knows the both sides of this world, and other worlds too. Weapon has been a melting pot for death metal, black metal, melodies, Greek BM legacy, Satanism and Eastern occult, and Embers and Revelations is the band’s latest triumph. Although the murkiest elements of the last two albums (Drakonian Paradigm 2009 and From the Devil’s Tomb 2010) have been partly withdrawn, Weapon’s style is still very dark and obscure. Yes, you can find quite modern and stompy riffs here and there, but the general atmosphere of Embers and Revelations is still miles away from plastic black/death bands. Also the use of guitar melodies and guitar SOLOS makes a stand here. Add some oriental spices, heavy metal attitude, a really good blastbeat/highspeed song (Liber Lilith) and a nice slowdown in the end of Disavowing Each in Aum, and you have a devilish album in your hands. Listen to Vanguard of the Morning Star if you don’t believe my words.

Vetis Monarch describes the dualism of clarity and obscurity with these words:

– When you make a record with a clear, powerful production and still retain obscurity, that’s when you know you have done something right. Anyone can hide behind a murky production and call something obscure, mystical, cult, et al. The question is, would they still sound draped in darkness even with a stellar production? The new album does just that; it hides nothing in terms of musicianship, and in fact, enhances the overall obscure FEEL that is a fundamental pillar of death and black metal.

www.weaponchakra.com

http://weaponchakra.bandcamp.com/track/vanguard-of-the-morning-star

TERVAHÄÄT: Kalmonsäie (Anima Arctica 2012)

They are here again. Wandering troubadours Antero Kaarna and Ilmari Riimu shaked the Finnish (neo)folk territories with their shapeless but oddly hypnotizing debut album a couple years ago, and Kalmonsäie is another walk into the old Finnish landscapes and mindscapes. This time their approach is a bit more concrete, and chants, percussions and occasional electric guitars give a few guidelines to a listener to follow their path. You could see this a downside or an improvement: Tervahäät has lost an inch or two of their mysticism but same time the songs stick to your head easier.

The vocals steal the main part on Kalmonsäie. A cappella Marrasvirsi (A November Hymn) starts the album daringly but oh so touchingly, and also the last song Saattaja (Pallbearer) and its few lyric lines flatten your mind splendidly. I could say that there are hardly any misses in Kalmonsäie – only Lumelleluvattu (Promised to Snow) stands from the line a bit disturbingly with its black metal approach. But generally, Kalmonsäie is – as the debut was – an honest and original portrait of a darker side of a Finnish mind.

This is how the duo of Tervahäät analyzed the concept of melancholy in Kaleidoscope #10:

– We don’t see our music melancholic, and we know for a fact that excess and overtly romantic melancholy is indeed paralysing instead of energising. We consciously try our best to avoid melancholic states of mind. Maybe melancholy is one of those mantels of martyrdom that Finnish people like to carry with some twisted pride.

http://www.animaarctica.fi/tervahaat/

http://www.animaarctica.fi/index.php?pid=3

PUSTULATION: Under the Shadow of Death 7” / BEYOND: Enter Transcendence 7” (Iron Bonehead Records 2012)

And I’ll finish this month with the dual dose of death: these both EP’s were put out by Iron Bonehead and almost the same time, and how they work together! While Pustulation (DEN) makes filthy Scandinavian dödsmetall clash with horror-themed heavy metal solos, Beyond (GER) takes its inspiration from the murky swamps, berserk rhythms and guttural throats (and an insane solo on Hidden Temple of Obscurity!). Be the way this or that, these both bands deliver A-class battery which can be described as ‘traditional’ but it still sounds fresher and more honest than the most of today’s ‘original-sounding’ bands. And they both give an important lesson: brutality doesn’t exclude catchiness, and a simple attack is sometimes better than tons of gimmicks, at least in the case of 7”s.

And if you want to read more about Pustulation, why don’t you order the second issue of Serpentscope magazine, a sinister work of yours truly and A. Korpinen (read more)? Here’s what Executor (guitars/vocals) said about reason and death metal in the interview:

– It’s very important when writing music that you control your lust to keep adding details. If you master that you are bound to create something great (if you have the talent of course haha!). I’d agree that many bands have put too much thought into their music. Over-thinking kills music.

Beyond: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C29L4EvkEsM (Hidden Temple of Obscurity)

Pustulation: http://www.myspace.com/pustulation