My Journey with Anathema

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“How did I get here? I don’t belong here…”

I have recently been listening to Anathema’s new track “Springfield” off their upcoming album “The Optimist”. When I was hearing the new song it once again reminded me of how important and relevant Anathema has been to me and my personal life. Every one of their songs found some way to affect me emotionally. The honesty and relatability found in their lyrics and music helped me through many difficult moments in my life. Anathema are one of those bands that just gets the human condition and the trials and tribulations we all go through emotionally, physically and spiritually. I can guarantee if you have no notion of Anathema that when you hear one of their songs it will immediately make you feel like they understand you. If you have ever dealt with family deaths, nasty divorces, broken relationships, spiritual conflicts and personal moments of redemption/catharsis that Anathema probably touched upon it in their extensive discography.

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L-R: John Douglas (drums), Daniel Cardoso (keyboards), Lee Douglas (vocals), Vincent Cavanagh (vocals, and guitar), Jamie Cavanagh (bass), and Danny Cavanagh (lead guitar)

This band has been in my life since I was 18 years old the first album I ever bought from them is called “Judgment” when I first heard this incredibly personal album that I honestly felt that whatever feelings and thoughts I had difficulty conveying Anathema were able to make me better understand these feelings. The sincerity, sadness and honesty in this album was nothing I ever heard before. For the better part of three years “Judgment” was the soundtrack to my life at that time. I was dealing with countless bouts of despondency and had a hard time trying to understand love and relationships because I was always failing in this regard. I was confused and angry at people who didn’t get me and I was sad that my friends were in relationships and I was still left out in the cold. It was a difficult time and I couldn’t find my identity. After countless spins of “Judgment” I started getting a better understanding of these feelings and how to cope with them. Then I went further back in Anathema’s catalog and bought “Alternative 4” there was more anger and disillusionment in this album and endless questions of “why me” in my head and then as I listened I better understood why. This album fits so many moments of guilt and trying to cope with it. When things go wrong, there is always a scapegoat or someone to blame for everything. “Alternative 4” was a difficult album to get through because it helped me better understand that it was me to blame as well with my own faults and failings. I know I am not perfect and I know I have screwed things up “Alternative 4” makes you understand that regret helps you grow and that with those failings you try to become something better.

“An answer won’t come from me
Confront your own worst enemy
What does your mirror see
Is it time to face up to me?”

Anathema also touches upon the difficulties of death and the grief that follows. This could be the death of a long relationship with your lover or the death of someone dear to your life like a parent, sibling or close friend. I personally dealt with the death of my Dad, I was 21 when it happened. It was one of the hardest times in my life and made me reevaluate everything there is to evaluate about mortality. Every album of Anathema’s has songs about this incredibly sad and transformative part of life. The parallels were uncanny with my family and the Cavanagh family. Anathema is made up of 3 brothers who all lost their mother right around the same age as me and my two younger brothers. Then later on in life they lost their father, to understand these circumstances Anathema’s music has become an extension of my heart and soul. Their music has now become a super important catalyst to how I still deal with life now and the grief that comes with it when sad things happen. It goes back to the point of how relatable and honest Anathema is both lyrically and musically. And how without them I do not think I would be alive today, they made me understand that I am not alone that it will get better in time. If I was lost in my head with no outlet to vent or to have catharsis I would not get out of my head, I would just fall deeper, and deeper until there is nothing left to love in the world. Anathema’s music gave me hope, and brought light back from the dark.

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“Cos no matter what I say
No matter what I do
I cant change what happened
No matter what I say
No matter what I do
I cant change what happened
No no I can’t change”

Love and the destruction of it is the final element of Anathema’s music that many can relate to. All their albums touch upon the anger, depression and frustration that occurs when a once loving relationship fails. The album that really touches upon this aspect is “A Natural Disaster” which is once again an album that eerily parallels with my own personal experience in relationships. While the album covers Danny Cavanagh’s divorce, it still is an album of the reflection, and disappointment I found in my own relationships. The lies, madness, pain and abuse I went through over the years stuck with me like a demon latching onto a helpless host. At one point I didn’t know how to break this cycle. I always felt cursed in regards to love and relationships. I gave up and still have given up today. One thing I did know is that I could rely on the music of Anathema to help me gain clarity and closure in these past hurts. After hours of driving both in the night and in the day listening to “A Natural Disaster” I better understood why relationships are good and bad, and why the pain in the bad is really bad. And why once again I wasn’t alone in these feelings. Knowing this allowed me to find peace in myself as well as well as closure. I no longer was haunted by these demons and ghosts of the past, I was able to build upon the past and look at life in a hopeful way.

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Some of these moments in my life were remedied by the brilliance of Anathema’s music (and plenty of other music as well). I needed to know I wasn’t alone in these thoughts and feelings. I finally understood more about myself as well as my wants and needs. I have looked at people who touched my life in the past profoundly and found ways to keep those memories in tact because it was important to my personal growth as well as perception of the world. My life was a tired and exhausting journey and I continued to keep my headphones on and keep the volume up to help me find some semblance of salvation. I know I will go through bouts of anger, sadness and loneliness but these are all parts of what makes us human and in the end if we can keep our bearings righted that life will hopefully get easier as it goes on. Let Anathema take you on this journey as well…

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“It makes me wanna cry, caught you as I floated by.
It makes me wanna cry, just another distant satellite…”

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anathemamusic

Official Page: http://www.anathema.ws/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anathemamusic

A Review of Mathias Grassow & John Haughm’s Album “Aurae”

 

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When one first hears the word “drone” the first images that come to mind are soundscapes that meander and lead the listener to a lull of catharsis and introspection. The tones and sound effects put the listener into a waking sleep, and helps the listener expand their imagination to even greater depths. One thing you will notice about drone music is the fact that you cannot “rock out” or dance to it. All you can do is listen and let your mind wander to the outer reaches of the universe.

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Photo By: Veleda Thorsson

Mathias Grassow & John Haughm’s latest collaborative effort “Aurae” deliberately gives this effect when you hear it closely. I have been super interested in their project for years now because I have an appreciation for the work Haughm has done through Agalloch and Pillorian, and after multiple listens loved the work of Grassow. There are moments in life when you just need to relax and forget about the chaotic world around you. The music found in “Aurae” is a perfect soundtrack to calm these moments in life. I have never heard an album that has immediately relaxed me and intrigued me in balanced doses. There is an unwavering sense of expanse and infinite when hearing “Aurae”. I see images of empty, rolling landscapes of green and wind-touched stalks of wheat blowing in the breeze that parallels with my own heartbeats. There is sense of wistfulness while being lost in the fog of shadows and light in the music. And the bleak, barren landscapes the music invokes gives glimpses of doorways that lead somewhere else to a place beyond the body and even soul.

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The brilliance of this album is that it gives listeners different experiences, one person could feel an emotion different to another person when listening to “Aurae”. When one could feel peace and serenity the other could feel suffocating anxiety. Drone music has this kind of effect which makes it such a fascinating sub-genre of music. There have been some drone albums that made me feel uncomfortable or even disturbed while others made me feel pensive and relaxed. This dichotomy is one of the key components to a successful drone album, and “Aurae” effectively does this seamlessly. The calm, tranquil art of Grassow melded with the oppressive darkness of Haughm’s music delivers an album that puts your mind through millions of emotions/feelings and somehow puts you into a better state of mind after multiple listens. If you are looking for something unique and different to listen to I would give “Aurae” a chance, if you want to journey into the astral plane “Aurae” will guide you there.

Rating: 8/10

John Haughm Bandcamp: https://haughm.bandcamp.com/

Mathias Grassow Bandcamp: https://mathiasgrassow.bandcamp.com/

 

 

Imperium Dekadenz Interview

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Imperium Dekadenz have been around for 10+ years writing some incredible black metal that is both unique and very introspective in nature. When I found out about them I noticed their albums were highly reviewed and to no surprise when I heard their album “Dis Manibvs” my mind was blown about how good, powerful and emotional it sounded. So many images came to my mind when hearing the album. I really wanted to know more about how Imperium Dekadenz came up with their concept as well as inspirations for songwriting. Horaz (vocals, guitars and keyboards) one half of the band took time out of his busy day to answer my questions. He has some great answers and really sheds light into the whole process of what makes Imperium Dekadenz write stellar albums consistently.

Firstly, since releasing “Dis Manibvs” the reaction so far has been positive, what do you think of the recognition you are receiving as of late?

Horaz: That album ended up being an immense amount of work (next to our daily jobs and businesses). Besides the time and money we invested in it there were also many emotions that took over in the recording process.. Of course it feels good to get that recognition from all these people around the world. We feel our message was understood and if we read reviews like your’s we are happy that we are able to create such intense emotions and mind-images.

Can you describe to the readers what made you conceptualize the ideas of “Dis Manibvs’? Is there any specific or interesting moments that happened when you recorded the album?

Horaz: The title is Latin and means “To the Gods of Death”. I had that idea when I went to the Emperor Nero exhibition in Trier (Germany) and found all these Roman tombstones signed with “D.M.” or “Dis Manibus” (also used with Dis Manibus Sacra). It came to my thought that our whole life is geared on death (hopefully the correct expression, hehe) and somehow it could be understood as the meaning of life, as our hope is to have a good death. The concept of the album has different scenarios handling that topic with different experiences, views and stories.

What is the creative process like for Imperium Dekadenz? And what made you come up with the name “Imperium Dekadenz”?

Horaz: Vespasian and myself start with a new song separately and if the main structure is done the other one is adding his ideas on to it. The good thing here is that it gives us various options we can run with, because if for example Vespasian does not like a new idea of mine the song will be discarded or completely revised. I think it is important that you only start the songwriting if your heart has really something to say. Meaning, you cannot force the creation of a good song, there must be a kind of salvation to put your emotions and thoughts into it. The name is inspired by the 70s movie “Caligula”. It’s about the Roman Emperor Caligula and his cruelties in ancient Rome. We love history and especially ancient history including the Romans, Greeks, Celts, Egyptians, Germans and other tribes, but it is not any main concept of the band.

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When I listen to your albums I get a huge sense of triumph and even closure in the albums I have heard. Did you intentionally write your music this way? What made you want give the music such a powerful and emotional resonance?

Horaz: To answer that question is similar to answer on the question “how magic happens?”, hehehe. Certainly it is the mixture of the different characteristics of Vespasian and me and also our different tastes and inspirations. As I already said, the most important point is to create emotional art if your heart has really something to say. The foundation of each song has to be an emotional expression of a moment in your life, the hard work comes later for the details. Maybe it is also an advantage that we start the songwriting separated. I do not know if it would be the same to create a song together with 5 band members in a rehearsal room.

When listening to “Dis Manibvs” it immediately reminded me of the many various styles of black metal from Depressive, Cascadian (Wolves in the Throne Room/Agalloch) to classic Scandinavian 90s black metal, in your opinion what black metal category would you place Imperium Dekadenz?

Horaz: It is dark, rough, atmospheric and emotional art, based on 90s Norwegian Black Metal and Doom Metal. We listen to Metal for over 20 years now, starting with demos and Cannibal Corpse cassettes on the playground to the point of obsession. Also many YouTube sessions thru all the genres and other music influences on Vespasian’s couch. I think it is correct, you can hear many influences, but on the other hand there is absolutely no band that sounds like Imperium Dekadenz.

The United States black metal scene is always growing and changing as the years go by, in your opinion what do you think of the state of black metal and even metal today, specifically in the United States?

Horaz: To be honest I have no overview of the US scene. I am not a typical scene character. I am more interested in the art itself instead of the bands and the guys behind it. My experience is that you are often disappointed if you meet any band members or to give more attention to a band’s background. I think that is safe bet, because how could someone present himself in a normal situation (for example somewhere backstage)  if you only know him as metal star. That can only fail. Well the BM scene today… or be more exactly the Post Black Metal scene, is not my personal taste. Somehow the whole appearance of these bands is too flat… I don’t know…. Basically I think it is a good thing that after all these years “Black Metal” (if you can call it still Back Metal) is one of the genres that still changes regularly.

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When listening to “Dis Manibvs” there is a seemingly spiritual connection in the music that is almost cosmic in nature, how important is Imperium Dekadenz’s metaphysical thoughts to the creative process?

Horaz: It’s hard to describe the connection between “metaphysical thoughts” and the creative process. But to describe our way until the goal is reached is simple… you have to put all your passion, emotions, time, money, sweat, blood, knowledge and skills into it… from the first tone you play on your guitar until the last adaption on the mastering. We do not spend time finding out why we sound how we sound, we spend it to create art.

There is undeniable imagery of Nature within your albums artwork and lyrics, what is it about the natural landscapes of Germany that makes you write this way?

Horaz: We grew up in one of Germany’s most remarkable landscape, the Black Forest. It is similar to a Scandinavian landscape with high mountains and dark forests. I always loved to be outside in these woods until the night falls. I think that forest is one of the reasons why I fell into love with Black Metal. It is still a very important source of energy for me and I still try to be there as much as possible. And yes… I also think that you always hear the forest in these songs.

Currently what are you both listening to as of late? Do you recommend any particular albums for our readers to check out?

Horaz: I am currently listening to Murg (Sweden), Vemod (Norway), Glerakur (Iceland), Abyssion (Finland) and Skepticism (Finland).

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Are there plans in the works for Imperium Dekadenz to tour the United States? Have either of you spent much time in the U.S.?

Horaz: We have never visited the US yet, but it is one of our big goals! We had no luck so far, but we have high ambitions and we really hope to start a US Tour one day.

Imperium Dekadenz has been around for over 10 years now, in this time span do you think your ideas and concepts have evolved? What direction do you hope to take the band in the future?

Horaz: I think it is natural thing for an artist to evolve the whole band thing. I think we did a good progression during all these years with finding new elements and improving the old strengths. It was always our main goal to intensify the emotions on each upcoming album and we will still follow that path in the future.

If you could describe your music to someone who may not be into metal but is interested in branching out how would you describe it?

Horaz: Be ready to make a journey towards your within.

And finally do you have any parting thoughts/words for our readers?

Horaz: Stay active, stay awake, fathom the darkest parts of your soul and keep the flame burning. Thank you for your support!

Bandcamp: https://imperiumdekadenz.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ImperiumDekadenz/

Homepage: http://www.imperium-dekadenz.de/

Label: http://www.season-of-mist.com/

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Four Female-Fronted Bands You Need to Hear

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I can honestly say that I am not a fan of the mainstream music scene, it is full of garbage and talent-less hacks. It is a shame more people listen to the radio then really trying to go out and hear new music that they may be unfamiliar with. When you have horrible musicians such as Katy Perry and Carrie Underwood ruling the airwaves with brain numbing lyrics and simple and inefficient musicianship you really worry for the future of humanity. I have grown up around incredibly strong and respected women in my life and the sea of fake, soulless, Hollywood plastic female musicians that are out there is just a serious insult to what true music is. Acts like this push me away from the mainstream because it makes me sick to my stomach, the further I can avoid this horrible form of music the better off I will be.

What I am hopeful for is the massive amount of amazing, classy and just extremely talented female-fronted bands that are out there in the metal and dark rock world. There are countless bands who run thousands of circles around these mainstream acts with sheer beauty and skill with strong lyrics, and songwriting abilities. There are four bands/acts I would like to share with you that epitomize respect and integrity to the art form of musical expression. I would go out of your comfort zone and please give some of these musicians a chance and listen carefully and with an open-mind. You may surprise yourself and then begin to think differently about underground acts that may have “scared” you because it was different then what you are used to on your utterly stupid top 40 radio stations…

The Gathering

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The Gathering are a diverse, progressive and just amazing band out of the Netherlands with consistently strong and confident female vocals. They cover every genre of music seemingly from death metal, trip hop, ambient to just plain rock. Every album is different and each one puts you into a different musical journey upon hearing. When I have heard The Gathering over the years I always found something new to experience in their music. They have gone through multiple female vocalists over the years, but the one who stand out above all others is Anneke van Giersbergen. She was the heart and soul of The Gathering for many years and has gone on to do amazing solo work as well as guest vocal work for some pretty well known musicians like Devin Townsend and Jamie Cavanaugh of Anathema. After Anneke The Gathering found another amazing vocalist Silje Wergeland who has an airier almost bluesier vocal style that still effectively melds with The Gathering’s ever-changing style.

Most Accessible Album: “How to Measure a Planet?”

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Bandcamp: https://thegathering.bandcamp.com/music

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thegatheringofficial

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGatheringband

 

Emma Ruth Rundle

Emma Ruth Rundle from Marriages at Arctangent festival. 21-22 August 2015.

Captured by: Adam Gasson

Emma Ruth Rundle of Los Angeles, California is the next generation of female singer/songwriters, her music is utterly captivating as well as heart breaking. There is such honesty and integrity in her vocals as well as guitar skills. There are moments of utter desolation with some of her songs when she incorporates post rock/shoe gazing elements to her electric guitar tones. The songs she writes that has this aspect tend to be some of the most moving music to be heard in a long while. The one thing you will notice about her voice is how natural and real it sounds. You feel like you are there with her going through her personal trials and tribulations. Her lyrics are amazingly relatable and you cannot help but feel the pain and hope she is trying to convey. If you ever been through a rocky relationship or dealt with some painful family issues give her music a listen and you immediately will feel like you aren’t alone in your personal journey.

Most Accessible Album: “Some Heavy Ocean”

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Bandcamp: https://emmaruthrundle.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emmaruthrundle/

Homepage: http://emmaruthrundle.com/home

 

Worm Ouroboros

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Hailing from Oakland, California Worm Ouroboros are an incredibly unique and stunning band that evokes imagery of nature and man’s relationship to it emotionally and philosophically. Fronted by two female vocalists Lorraine Rath (guitar), Jessica Way (bass) and former Agalloch drummer Aesop Dekker; they evoke stunning imagery of barren winter wastelands with white lights adorning the skeletal birches, oaks and aspen. The dichotomy between cold/warmth, light/dark, and optimism/pessimism are common threads throughout their meandering soundscapes of subdued guitar, warm bass lines and calm drum fills. Worm Ouroboros is one of those great bands to listen to in the comfort of your home with candles lit and a glass of wine or fine scotch on a cold winter night. The music envelops and then throws you into a realm of twilight and perpetual snowfall.

Most Accessible Album: “What Graceless Dawn”

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Bandcamp: https://wormouroboros.bandcamp.com/music

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WormOuroboros/

Label: https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/worm-ouroboros

 

SubRosa

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SubRosa come from Salt Lake City, Utah a city you would not expect to have such a wonderful metal scene with some amazing bands. Their music is best described as sludge/stoner metal with quiet ambient moments sprinkled throughout their songs. They incorporate exceptional female vocals with screaming male vocals and powerful, loud and immersive instrumentation (guitar, violin, cello, bass, drums, and keyboards). The music has peaks, valleys and even lakes in-between. The songs are consistently different the only constant is an incredible heaviness to the sound. There is a sense of power, anger and triumph in SubRosa’s music and it sticks with you long after you hear it. The albums I have heard from them are all incredibly different but amazing. I would say they are one of the lesser accessible bands to dive into if you are not at all familiar with the underground metal scene. If you are open to taking a sonic adventure that you will never forget give SubRosa a try.

Most Accessible Album: “More Constant than the Gods”

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Bandcamp: https://subrosausa.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SubrosaSLC

Homepage: https://subrosa.cc/

Do you recommend any other strong female-fronted bands you would like to share? Please comment below!

Imperium Dekadenz “Dis Manibvs”

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I have spent a ton of time trying to find new things to listen to. I love all of the albums I have in some way or another but I just needed to hear something new and unique. I heard about the band Imperium Dekadenz from one of my friend’s and started listening to some songs by them. After hearing their music with much greater attention to detail I was immediately staggered by how good these guys are. Hailing from Germany Imperium Dekadenz arrived through the fogs and mists of the black woods and have created an epic album called “Dis Manibvs” that came out in August of 2016.

The best way I can describe the overall vibe of the album is sorrowful, ancient and triumphant. The songs seemingly blend into one another like a tapestry of stars and planets. The vocals remind me of yearnings for times of old and final breaths of stars dying into the black of space. There is a cosmic, polytheistic and natural energy when every note is played. There is strong feeling of melancholy in the way the instruments harmonize and crescendo. There are multiple things that standout in “Dis Manibvs” one of them standing out above all others is the drumming of Vespasian. They are powerful, emotional and thunderous like the heavens, blast beats sound like oaks growing and expanding in the rain, and the cymbal crashes remind me of bolts of lightning turning the night sky white. There is a real feeling of the gods speaking when you hear some tracks of “Dis Manibvs” and whatever they are saying is being conjured through Imperium Dekadenz.

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I can say when I hear this album my mind goes into a different place entirely, all the negativity and pain of life disappears and I feel like I am lost on a battlefield after Ragnarok. I see corpses around me, blood in the grass, mud and destruction everywhere. But I am not looking at the ground but the sky above. I can see stars clear and bright, clouds passing through the moon and treetops. I can see the dull light of dawn on the horizon and the ghosts of the dead wandering aimless among the piles of the dead. I know even after the brutality and violence of the battle that I lived and the gods had plans for me hidden from my view. I could only find the answers by moving forward and leaving the death behind me. My eyes scan to the east as I see the sun rise and notice glimmers of light as the sun shines over the vast raging river cutting through hills and valleys, a place to be cleansed of the blood and filth of the night before. These are the images and feelings “Dis Manibvs” evokes when listened to and it stays with you long after.

The songs that stand out most on this album are “Still I Rise” a triumphant, hopeful song about letting the past rot and being only aware of the present and seeing the future in a gauze of ether. The guitars are incredibly bombastic and immediately invoke these feelings and it just stays with you as a fond memory of the past you do not want to lose. The next song that is incredible is “Dis Manibvs” a slow, doomy black metal track which cascades like waterfalls and a steady warm rain. There is a sense of longing in this song, it is almost depressive in nature but it nonetheless is a song that can help with feelings of guilt and grief. The final song that stands out is “Volcano” it reminds me thoroughly of an old Emperor song it sounds like chaos melded with calm and develops images of a civilization on the brink of collapse through utter natural destruction. There is a sense of closure in this song, after the eruption and screams of thousands there is silence and it permeates through everything and leaves you utterly speechless in where the album will go next.

Imperium Dekadenz - Ragnarök 2014

Captured by Dvergir Photography

When the album ends the feelings, senses and thoughts stay with you like a vivid dream. You see yourself floating aimlessly in the infinite sky and see the god’s beckoning you to paradise. You find yourself at peace after the destructively beautiful sounds and images of “Dis Manibvs” and just want to play it again and again. The story Vespasian and Horaz crafted with such care, diligence and passion is something that will remain in your memory long after listening. An album that allows you to always hear new things and experience new visions is an album worth listening to. Be blown away by the utter perfection of this album and let it stick with you for the rest of your days.

Rating 9/10

Bandcamp: https://imperiumdekadenz.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ImperiumDekadenz/

Homepage: http://www.imperium-dekadenz.de/

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A Conversation with Jason W. Walton

 

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Bassist Jason W. Walton of Khorada, ex-Agalloch, Snares of Sixes, Self Spiller, Nothing, Dolven, Especially Likely Sloth and many other musical acts has been a pillar in the Pacific Northwest metal community. He was one of the original members of Agalloch and then went on to do a new and highly-anticipated project Khorada with fellow ex-Agalloch band members Don Anderson, Aesop Dekker and Aaron John Gregory of Giant Squid. I wanted to learn more about his music projects, vision and hope for the future in regards to being a musician. Me like many others are waiting with bated breath to see what Khorada will sound like in the meantime we can look forward to hearing his new project Snares of Sixes which he talks about at length in the interview below.

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You have been working on multiple projects for many years now, out of all the works you have done what do you think stood out the most to you as an artist?

JWW:  Albums I’ve been a part of stand out to me for different reasons. Agalloch’s “The Mantle” jumps to mind immediately because of the critical acclaim it received and how that afforded us to tour and bring Agalloch to places we never imagined going.  On the other hand, the debut Snares of Sixes ep that I just finished stands out as well, because that was a beast of a record and is easily my most ambitious recording to date.  Every recording I’ve been a part of has been important or noteworthy to me, because each acts as a stepping stone and a learning experience for the next one.

A lot of your works are tied to electronic, ambient and drone scapes what made you want to go this direction? What about this style do you like most?

JWW:  I first started working in these styles because I loved the freedom it afforded me.  I loved being able to work alone.  I could compose, record and perform entirely by myself if I wanted, and didn’t have to rely on others to get work done.  The nature of the music itself is basically limitless as well and I feel very free to do whatever I can possibly imagine.  

Is there any new or interesting things you can update our readers with about Khorada?

JWW:  As of right now, there is not much to report.  We have news coming soon, but as of right now I can tell you that we are deep within writing our debut album.  I feel like we are at the point where we have found our voice as a band, and are refining our sound.

What direction do you hope to accomplish with Khorada?

JWW:  I don’t really want to use too many descriptors or make too many comparisons just yet, as the music can still change quite a bit at this point.  We all came into this being very aware of our previous bands, and not wanting to repeat those themes, or ideas. Obviously, when you have ¾ of Agalloch in a new band, there are going to be some undeniable elements of Agalloch in Khorada, and of course, there will be things reminiscent of Giant Squid as well, due to AJ’s large role in Khorada.  

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In regards to your influences and points of inspiration what are some triggers that allow you to create and conceive new ideas?

JWW:  It really depends on the band. Khorada is lyrically and thematically controlled by AJ.  Of course we all have ideas thrown in here and there, but that is largely AJ’s department.  For a band like Snares of Sixes or Self Spiller, I typically focus on a single idea, or a feeling, and work around that. Self Spiller’s “Worms in the Keys” album was written around themes of travel, homesickness, allergies and being caught in an unfamiliar space. The Snares record I just finished is literally about Kombucha, yeast and bacteria.  Many of these ideas have come from books I’ve read, or experiences I’ve had.  

You have done many tours over the years, in your eyes what do you think was the most memorable?

JWW:  I think the most memorable tour for me was the first time we went to Europe. Most of us had never been to Europe before, so playing to audiences all over Europe was unreal.  Also we had a month long tour with Fen in Europe, and that tour was highly enjoyable.  Usually for me, I remember stand out shows, or places, not necessarily tours. London, Copenhagen, Lithuania, Tel Aviv, Bucharest. These are the places and shows that are the most memorable for me.

You have been working with Don Anderson, and Aesop Dekker for many years now, what about them do you admire most and with this new chapter in your life has your creation process changed at all with them?

JWW:  Don and Aesop are amazing musicians, and my closest friends. They always push me and challenge me as a musician. Aesop rarely plays the same way twice. He is always trying new things and is not afraid to experiment. This pushes me to be quick on my feet and forces us to lock in together and feed off of each other. Don’s command of the guitar is inspiring. He knows enough theory to be dangerous, but loves punk enough to not be a snob. Within an hour of Agalloch breaking up, the three of us had a group text going about what we were going to do next. There was absolutely no reason for us to stop playing together.

Have you taken on even more songwriting duties with Khorada, and if so what are some ideas you decided to run with?

JWW:  Writing as a bassist is a very odd thing. Of course writing basslines to existing guitar parts is one thing, but writing the foundation is tricky. It’s very hard to listen to a line of singular notes and imagine what can come out of that. We did that with Agalloch once. I wrote the foundation to “Birth and Death of the Pillars of Creation” this way and it was very rewarding.  We are trying a similar approach with Khorada but AJ and Don are writing the lion’s share of the music.  

If you could think of three words to describe Khorada’s sound what would they be?

JWW:  Hungry, heavy and beautiful.

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Do any of your outside interests help you conceive new ideas at all?

JWW:  Most definitely. My love of cooking heavily informed the Self Spiller debut, and a couple years ago I became quite passionate about brewing Kombucha which was the inspiration for Snares of Sixes “Yeast Mother” EP.  

And finally where do you hope to see yourself as a musician in 2017?

JWW:  In 2017 I plan to record with Khorada, and hopefully start booking some shows with them as well. I also plan on releasing the Snares EP, and recording more Snares. I’ve also assembled a live band for Snares and we hope to start performing this Winter or Spring.

Bandcamp: https://jwalton.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/khorada/?fref=ts

The Dreaming Metal Muse Returns

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It has been months since I was able to update the blog, work has been incredibly busy and left little time for me to talk about metal and reach out to my contacts. Now with the New Year coming around it is time to update my blog in earnest. I apologize to my readers who missed out on my thoughts and ramblings. 2017 is going to be an awesome year for metal, while 2016 was good and bad at the same time. There are a lot of wonderful things happening in 2017 with bands such as Khorada and Pillorian coming through the pipeline, I am looking forward to seeing where the metal world will go in 2017.

As for 2016 it has been a hell of a year with a lot of terrible things that have happened in the world as well the entertainment industry. There is no need to touch upon these things, there were some great highlights that happened in the world of underground music. Some as noted below:

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Alcest new album “Kodama” came out and it was a wonderful album that did have some weak points in it. The one thing that was great about this album is Neige going back to his black metal roots. It was great to hear his screams again. But the album didn’t wow me nearly as much as his other outputs.

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I was able to attend Enslaved’s 25th Anniversary show in NYC. It was an amazing show and they played for an incredible 3 hours touching on every album of their discography. There is also a new documentary coming out about Enslaved and this will be something I am eager to watch as well as review. Also Einar Selvik was in attendance and contributed to some songs with them.

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Wardruna’s new album “Runaljod – Ragnarok” came out and it was incredible bookend to their trilogy about the Runes. There are a ton of songs to like in this album and it really gives a feeling of both ending as well as beginning. I look forward to anything Einar Selvik puts out because I know it will be a wonderful listening experience.

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I came across a band called Imperium Dekadenz out of Germany and they have an absolutely stellar discography and I plan on reviewing the albums I currently have by them. It is some great music that reminds me of a mashup of Drudkh, Agalloch and Rotting Christ. I feel this is a band that will get more listeners as time goes on.

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One final highlight (and there is a lot of them) is SubRosa’s new album “For This We Fought the Battle of Ages” it is an amazing album that just sticks with you after you listen to it. I intend to write a review of this album as well because it just really hit all the right emotional notes for me when I listened to it.

I am looking forward to presenting you new reviews, interviews and thoughts about the metal world. I hope to branch out to some other avenues with this blog where underground music is still the focal point in a different way. I wish everyone a happy and safe New Year. Stay metal and stay true!

A Review of Twilight Force’s “Heroes of Mighty Magic”

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Salutations Warriors, Mages and Unsavory Sorts,

I the scribe of dreams has received a wonderful album tied to the realms of fantasy and legend. The fantastical music was created and then sent to the masses to bring hope and life back to the damned and forsaken. I have had the pleasure to review the wonderful album “Heroes of Mighty Magic” by the warrior bards Twilight Force. This album is not only a new road for power metal to venture on but a road that is encompassed by the magical roots of power metal in every conceivable fashion. Images of elves, dwarves, wizards and rogues ooze in every word, riff, flourish and tone. “Heroes of Mighty Magic” is an album needed in this time of utter despair and cynicism.

The vibrant and warm colors of the album art introduces you to a world devoid of darkness and hate. The image of a dragon breathing life back to the world is eerily metaphorical and gives a sense that there is still hope left in a world filled with negativity and disillusionment.Once you hear the first calls and choirs of battle in “Battle of Arcane Might” you can tell that Twilight Force is here to stamp out the vile evils of the world with machine gun riffs, soaring solos and emotionally positive vocals.

There is an inherent sense of vast landscapes dotted with castles, magical towers and forests as far as  the eye can see. The beautifully invigorating sounds of the keyboards is what really makes “Heroes of Mighty Magic” work on multiple levels. There is a sense of wonderment, magic and dreams with each note being pressed. I sometimes feel lost in a magical wood filled with sprites, dryads, and sylvan folk of note when the keyboards are being played. There is an epic sense of adventure and when guitars, bass and drums are infused with the keyboards then it makes the moment all the more memorable and uplifting.

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The songs are consistent and have varying degrees of speed and aggression incorporated into the music. There are moments of pure calm and then moments of golden horns blazing and warriors charging into battle. “Heroes of Mighty Magic” is an album that needs to be listened to when you are feeling sad and despondent. After multiple listens it will put you into a state of mind filled with memories, nostalgia, and long hours into the night playing Dungeons and Dragons where your imagination can run free. There is a sense of confidence in the music of Twilight Force, when there are moments of cheese and eye-rolling you know that they make this music purely out of the joy of it and could care less about the opinions of others. This alone makes “Heroes of Mighty Magic” just an enjoyable listen.

The ability to get lost in a mesmerizing world of colors, magic and fantasy worlds is what this album offers. When you are feeling utterly depressed and hopeless spending an hour listening to this album in its entirety will put you into a better state of mind. When you thought your imagination was decimated because of the harshness of reality, Twilight Force delivers an album that brings back not only the magic of being a child again, but the ability to bring back your imagination from the realm of shadow. I can guarantee if you spent a long time not being able to feel those moments in life that this album brings that feeling back like a tidal wave. Let your mind wander free and immerse yourself in the godlike might and glory of the sapphire dragon as it flies back into your dreams.

Humble Regards,

The Dreaming Metal Muse

Rating 8/10

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Why I Love Power Metal…And you Should Too

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The battle cry of the dwarves in the bowels of the under mountain, the cry of the griffin on clouds on high, and the uneasy chill of the evil lich in the shadows. These are all images that are conveyed within the realm of power metal. This genre of music has been around forever and has always been one of my guilty pleasures. When I am feeling down or just want to feel happy and alive I listen to power metal. I rather be listening to this genre compared to horribly happy pop music without any creativity or effort put into the music. Power metal is one of those forces of nature in the metal world that pretty much anyone can enjoy even if they are not really into metal. The soaring vocals, the catchy choruses and the wondrous riffs, solos and keyboard flourishes are what make power metal so addicting.

The other element of power metal that makes it awesome is the thematic elements found in the lyrics and even music. With homages to Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time, Dragonlance and a slew of other fantasy genres there is always something for a listener to enjoy and even learn from. I have found so many obscure fantasy novels and such after listening to power metal and reading interviews with musicians in this genre. There is just a love and appreciation all around for fantasy, horror and science fiction that it feels like I am among my peers when I am immersed in the likes of Blind Guardian or Iced Earth.

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Another thing that you should experience is seeing these power metal bands live. The energy of the stage and the audience is just an incredible experience to embrace. I have seen Blind Guardian multiple times and every time I see them I am just wowed about how good they really are. I consider them to be my all time favorite band in this genre. Every album they have done has something to love and appreciate, and they are one of the most consistent bands I know and I am always excited to hear what they come up with when they write new material.

The future of power metal is also something to be excited about there are some new, younger acts creating amazing stuff. The list consists of Gloryhammer, Twilight Force, Dragonland, and Pathfinder to name a few. These bands are developing fresh ideas but still keep to the roots of the likes of Blind Guardian, Rhapsody of Fire, Kamelot etc. Like the other genres of metal out there, there are bands who are remaining innovative and fresh but keeping to what makes that style of metal so good to begin with. I suggest you take the chance to really listen to power metal, and embrace the cheesiness of it, let the music make you feel happy and alive. You do not necessarily have to be all about your black, death and doom metal. Sometimes diverging from your normal bubble can lead to some wonderful growth as a metal fan. Be the dungeon master of your story take the forest trail less traveled and be blown away by the majestic beauty to be found at the end of road.

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“On wings and winds we ride
Towards a land so green
Take me across the horizons
To the forest of destiny
When we reach that place
So far beyond the sun
Where hopes and dreams come true
In the forest of destiny”

~Twilight Force~