These months and pictures from our yard give these articles a strong seasonal feeling, but it’s interesting to see that the albums themselves aren’t so much connected to seasons. For example now, when all is blossoming, my ears are infested by doom metal, black metal… Well, I guess these new releases just take their place, no matter what is happening around them. Good music nevertheless. Actually I’m a bit surprised how I manage to find three releases for these articles every month. Blessed or cursed?
CATHEDRAL: The Last Spire (Rise Above 2013)
I have many fond memories about Cathedral: getting my brains splattered with Picture of Beauty & Innocence Commiserating the Celebration, maybe first real contact with true doom metal. Then, seeing the wicked dance moves of Lee Dorrian in Cosmic Funeral music video. Again, Dorrian, strangling himself with a microphone wire at Lepakko, Helsinki during Cathedral/Orange Goblin/Terra Firma tour. And so on…
But now the party’s over and Cathedral has flown into oblivion. But it’s a cheerful funeral: The Last Spire is an amazing doom metal album, returning to the roots of the band but still having all these flavours and spices that these unmerry men have gathered during over twenty years. You get lots of marvelous riffs and leads and acoustic interludes from the majikal fingers of Gaz Jennings, and the backup fire of Brian Dixon and Scott Carlsson is impressing too. Strong, groovy and epic doom metal with a twist. Total mourning, but still there is a devilish smirk in the corner of the mouth. No more words needed. You know Cathedral and this is one of their best works. Respect the band and buy this.
I interviewed Dorrian when the double album The Guessing Game was released in 2010 and this is how the main wizard described how much Cathedral has worn him:
– The honest answer would be “fucking too much” but I have chosen this road. I could even talk about some sort of a mission, because you always have to chew more than you can swallow. We have never become a big, popular band so we have been forced to pinch time from our daily jobs and family time for the band. But we are possessed by an urge to show to this trendy music world. I wouldn’t say that we are the saviours of music, but yeah, we want to show to the people that this kind of a flame is still burning even today.
Tower of Silence music video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7v8KZZBeKE
AKITSA / ASH POOL: Split LP (Tour De Garde 2013)
I guess it was just a matter of time when these two bands unite their forces. But my instincts are not tied to their music or even to their lyrical themes – actually Akitsa and Ash Pool are quite far away from each other musically. While Akitsa is stomping through the battlefield with simple, even rocking tunes, Ash Pool is more dismal and abstract, while still being a quite traditional black metal band. But the attitude is what counts here. Both bands don’t give even an inch without a fight, and with this attitude they turn their music to strong statements of individuality and honesty. Akitsa’s side, for example, includes these catchy black metal singalongs but also harsh but atmospheric interludes. Then you flip the vinyl over, and Ash Pool welcomes you with an intensive melody of Death Has No Mother, occasional old school synths and amateurish but still so effective clean vocals on De-Stoning of the Ephesus House.
And I think that one side of a vinyl is a perfect measure for both bands: you get into the mood and a band gets a chance to show its variety but nothing turns to a dull, repetitive marathon. This is one of those splits that just force you to switch side time after time – a raging and hypnotic maelstrom that swallows your soul.
But what is the common ground between Akitsa and Ash Pool in OT’s (Akitsa) opinion? Here is the answer:
– Years of comradeship and a fascination for Death.
THOU ART LORD: The Regal Pulse of Lucifer (Nuclear War Now! 2013)
A Greek love affair pt. 666. Although the previous two full-lengths of Thou Art Lord (2002’s DV8 and 2005’s Orgia Daemonicum) didn’t impress me totally, this band has always possessed something very fascinating. You could say that they have kept the flame of old Greek black metal very well, being same time quite traditional but still original.
Years have passed, and different changes have been made: Necromayhem and Magus Vampyr Daoloth have teamed up with a new guitarist El (from Soulskinner) and drummer Maelstrom, and even good ol’ belly growler Gothmog has been recruited. Most of the songs on The Regal Pulse of Lucifer has been composed by El, and this has lifted Thou Art Lord to another level: these songs have everything you could dream and desire of: fast and hectic pounding, slower epic moments, symphonic touches and those always loveable guitar melodies (check out Justicia Profana and just cry in joy). Old Rotting Christ is one reference point, but it’s easier to say that The Regal Pulse of Lucifer sounds pure Greek black metal.
Also the production is perfect with clear, natural and striking soundscape, something that Rotting Christ could borrow for their future releases. The synths are supporting the guitars beautifully, and there is some sort of a noble feeling in everything. And if this isn’t enough, the trio Necromayhem – Magus – Gothmog takes care of effectively multilayered vocals that make the whole thing a sharp but diverse mosaic.
Of course The Regal Pulse of Lucifer doesn’t offer anything totally new but that’s not the point. The point is that this is an ageless piece of art, which hopefully will be remembered in the future when talking about the highlights of Greek black metal.
But how does a guy from Minnesota end up to give a title for an album of Greek black metal legends? Tanner Anderson, a musician from Celestiial and Obsequiae, tells us a story and a meaning of The Regal Pulse of Lucifer.
– I actually never intended to give the album a title. George (Magus Wampyr Daoloth) and I were corresponding and I had mentioned my feelings regarding Necromantia. I was describing the experience of listening to his work. So the description I gave to George was a bit personal and it was in that description where the title was born. I was surprised when I saw the title of the album announced. I’m incredibly honored as a fan.
– To answer your question about what the title means to me is difficult though. Because it obviously had a different context altogether than what it likely inspired for those gentlemen. I can only tell you my own impression in hindsight now. And that answer lies in a simple explanation. There is a reason why so many people adore the “Hellenic sound” as well as why these pioneers are celebrated. From both a listeners perspective as well as anyone who has followed these bands over the years, the varied and admitted influences that collectively shaped and balanced their sound are incredible — from the earliest era of black metal and speed/heavy metal to the sort of bizarre orchestral nature of darkwave or, I’d even argue (hopefully not being too assuming), the earlier dark industrial bands. These pioneers selectively adopted and attributed everything that fucking ruled about those styles and made it their own pure expression and explored it from an honest perspective. That’s what a great artist does. And they all managed to find their own style from one another while maintaining commonality as a small collective. They know this more than we do, obviously.
– But the point is this: The Hellenic sound is itself regal and majestic. And George and Sakis equally had a huge hand in that from the very beginning. To hear an album like this one in 2013 is fantastic. Considering how many of the “greats” have abandoned their paths, allowed their craft to be compromised by submitting to the will of others or trends or, worse, completely losing inspiration. This is not the case here. And this is where Thou Art Lord triumphs. This is an album that sounds timeless from the moment you hear it. And this album, like those timeless works before it, show that great works are still achieved. They’re not some relic of a time before the present. They exist in people like George and Sakis who keep the heart of this sound inspired and alive. To me, that is the regal pulse of Lucifer. The mark of true inspiration and will. Persevere!
Justicia Profana: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HvTv01VlD8