Archive for October, 2010

Interview with Akitsa

Posted in Akitsa, black metal, interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

For over 10 years now, Canadian black metal band Akitsa has been been crafting their unique style of eclectic punkish black metal.  Their newest album “Au crépuscule de l’espérance,” the first in four years, continues their unpredictable and unique approach to heavy music.  Pantheon performs an interview with Akitsa member O.T. to gain a deeper knowledge of their sound.

Akitsa’s new album “Au crépuscule de l’espérance” has just been released.  Are you pleased with the result?

Yes, we are pleased with the final result of the album. It possesses the deepest, most sincere lyrics we’ve ever written. Musically, it is evolving toward new ground while retaining the fundamental roots of Akitsa.

The lyrics of Loyauté and Vers La Mort seem to be both prideful and courageous, such as “Prends garde! La peur amène le déshonneur” (Beware! Fear brings dishonor).  Are these the types of lyrical themes that Akitsa typically wishes to address?  What else do you write about when creating lyrics for Akitsa?

“Loyauté” is about standing tall with your head high in any situation. Even in defeat, don’t act cowardly. Stay true to what you are. So yes, it’s about courage and pride. “Vers la mort’’ is about death.

It is noted that the lyrics for La Voix Brutale were borrowed from the poet Albert Lozeau.  Why did you choose to use this poem and do you often draw from poetry and/or literature when writing the lyrics and music for Akitsa?

This text from Lozeau is amazingly crude. It also reflects the overall mood of “Au crépuscule de l’espérance”. “Don’t wish, be not or from bones and flesh and have no remorse.” This is the only text we’ve borrowed from what I can recall. Our lyrics come as Akitsa does; we don’t rely on any specific thoughts when we create.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it sounds as if the audio quality changes from song to song on Akitsa albums.  Are all of the songs on Akitsa albums recorded at the same time and with the same equipment?

The songs were sporadically recorded at different time periods. This should explain the changes and variation in our sound as the settings were changed for each composition in order to reflect the exact sonic essence we were looking for. We normally use the same equipment every single time. Almost all of our recordings were made using an old 4-track that I have owned for years.

I see that you commented on the black metal scene back in an older interview, circa 2001/2.  But being that it is nearly a decade later, I’m curious as to what your thoughts are on the current black metal scene.

To be totally honest, I don’t believe that there is any scene right now. The state of black metal has changed enormously in the past decade, and it has evolved into something huge. Nowadays there are so many subdivisions of the genre and strangers who do not fully understand the basic spirit of black metal. It’s definitely impossible to talk about a single scene. Everyone is doing whatever they want on their own.

Have either members of Akitsa had any formal training in music or are you self-taught?

Néant is self-taught while I had some formal Piano classes at a very young age.

In your opinion, what is the best live show that you’ve ever played?

The New York City concert was our best.

Does Akitsa have plans to tour any time soon?

There are no plans as of right now, but we will see what the future holds.

What do you do outside of Akitsa?

We live our lives.

What are some of your favorite albums of all time?

This is a hard question and it could go on forever, I’ll name the few that come across my mind right now:

Absurd “Facta Loquuntur” and “Asgardsrei”, Arkona “Imperium”, Boyd Rice and Friends “Music, Martinis and Misanthropy”, Behexen “My Soul for His Glory”, Bethlehem “Dark Metal” and “Dictius Te Necare”, Brighter Death Now “Necrose Evangelicum” and “Innerwar”, Burzum “Det Som Engang Var”,“Hvist Lyset Tar Oss” and “Filosofem”, Darkthrone “A Blaze in the Northern Sky”, “Under a Funeral Moon”, “Transilvanian Hunger” and “Panzerfaust”, Deathspell Omega “Inquisitors of Satan”, Disembowelment “Transcendence into the Peripheral”, Genocide Organ “Remember”, Gontyna Kry “Welowie”, Ildjarn “Strength and Anger”, In the Woods… “Heart of the Ages”, Kaosritual “Svøpt Morgenrød”, Katharsis “666” and “Kruzifixxion”, Mayhem “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”, Monumentum “In Absentia Christi”, NON “Blood and Flame”, “In the Shadow of the Sword”, “Might” and “God and Beast”, Peste Noire “Ballade cuntre lo Anemi Francor”, Rotting Christ “Thy Mighty Contract”, S.V.E.S.T. “Urfaust”, Samael “Worship Him”, “Blood Ritual” and “Ceremony of Opposites”, Varathron “His Majesty at the Swamp”, Veles “Night on the Bare Mountain” and “Black Hateful Metal”… The list could go on.

Thanks a lot for the interview, O.T..  Do you have anything that you would like to promote? Feel free!

Our new album is available right now on cassette and CD. Visit www.t-d-g.net to get your copy. Thanks for this interview.

 

Max

Underrated Black Metal Gems

Posted in Hirilorn, Mutilation Rites, Trist, Urfaust, Zwenz with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

I made a video to go along with this article.   It’s set up to allow you to sample the tunes while you read my descriptions!


1. Mutilation Rites – Rewind a week back.  My friends and I, all college students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, are in attendance at a local black metal show on the second floor of a co-op.  Only a block away from the hordes of drunk fraternity parties, the concert seemed to exist in its own little microcosm.  As if to highlight this disparity, an old couple’s dinner party was visibly occurring in the adjacent building, completely unaware of the sonic blasphemy taking place a mere 10 feet from their window.  However, this unique atmosphere would have amounted to nothing if the bands weren’t up to snuff.  But, oh my…were they.  New York based Mutilation Rites was undoubtedly the highlight of the show.  Despite only having a single demo to their name, they blast like veterans of the genre.  A hint of melancholy but plenty of headbangable moments as well.  I could see them getting signed pretty soon.

 

2. Trist – Not to be confused with the suicidal band from the Czech Republic, the Trist from Germany is instead a more atmospheric band that demands an open mind and plenty of patience.  Especially on the hour-long ambient black metal track “Hin,” the listener is forced to treat the song as one would a traditional ambient cut.  The buzz guitars and quick drumming almost paradoxically become a source of the ambience, with subtle keyboards drifting in and out ranging from a magical melody to spacey whooshes.  Trist are one of those bands that necessitate a certain mindset of the listener in order to exhibit its maximal effects.  For me, I need a cloudy and rainy day coupled with a sense of relaxation and slight sadness.  My experiences with Trist are a rarity, but consequently, I cherish their almost spiritual effect that much more.

 

3. Urfaust –  While Trist focuses on expansive and space-like soundscapes, Urfaust goes deep within, concurrently forcing an existential search whilst dipping into titillating pleasures like liquor and occultism.  Urfaust seems to be built around these paradoxes (or do they even deserve to be labeled as such?).  Sonically, Urfaust builds upon the dichotomous structure that Burzum so popularized, namely the album arrangement of metal tracks lulled slowly to pure ambience.  Urfaust have traversed styles throughout their releases though, eventually landing upon a noisier and more ritualistic sound on the latest release.  But if you want my opinion, start with Geist Ist Teufel, their most emotional album.  (Also, keep on the lookout for an Urfaust interview coming up on Pantheon!)

 

4. Hirilorn –  Hirilorn has already been praised to infinity on Pantheon, through my review of Legends of Evil and Eternal Death, and Ryan’s Top Metal Songs article.  However, I find it hard to stress enough, how fantastical and majestic Hirilorn truly is.  Most lengthy black metal songs, either trance-inducing (Trist!) or flat out boring (99% of those bands who try), all usually seem to rely on the groundwork laid by the early 90s innovators.  Few bands truly break free of the simple Darkthrone riff style, that so effortlessly becomes a bore to hear.  Hirilorn opted for a more epic approach, with guitars that fit the long running time of the album.  I’ve still never heard a more epic lead guitar work.  Strangely enough, the rhythm guitarist Hasjarl went on to form Deathspell Omega, one of the most technical and progressive metal bands around today.  And he was only the rhythm guitarist…I wonder what the lead guitarist is doing nowadays.  I also can’t believe, given Deathspell Omega’s popularity, that Hirilorn is such a well-kept secret.  I’m trying to bring it out!

P.S. – The combination of Hirilorn with the Berserk manga and anime series is a match made in heaven.

5.  ZwenZ – Speaking of well-kept secrets, German one-man band ZwenZ is responsible for one of the best folk/black metal albums I’ve ever heard: A Life’s Work of Natrgaard.  Yet, nobody seems to listen to it!  Surely, ZwenZ’s discography is really hit or miss, mostly miss if you ask me.  That being said, this album is definitely a dictionary definition ‘diamond in the rough.’  Self-released in 2005, it never quite received the coverage it deserved.  The nature vibes of this album are out of control, with fellow German band Horn being the only band that comes anywhere close.  Natrgaard is a fantastic guitarist who switches masterfully between tremolo-picked riffing, Bathory-influenced acoustic moments, and beautiful clean soloing.  In addition, the vocals, both clean and harsh, are top-notch and the employment of a flute adds an unquantifiable amount of atmosphere.  Definitely give this a chance.  If this truly is Natrgaard’s life’s work, then well done sir.  I’ve downloaded it, but I also suggest purchasing it.  He just re-released it on his website and it’s pretty dang cheap: http://shop.mirrors-of-life.de/

– Max

Electric Wizard – “Black Masses”

Posted in album review, Doom metal, Electric Wizard, stoner metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

As the candle burns, the listener is tranced within seething tectonic thunder, becoming the very result of the album’s initial foreboding chord of psychadelic stoner doom metal. The dense, sonically-charged patterns of destruction are skillfully woven by the very mistress of Jus Oborn Himself, the voluptuous Liz Buckingham. From her stagnant roots in the doom band Sourvein, Buckingham has blossomed to the sweetest and most foul orchid of them all. Bat-tailing off of the last album, Witchcult Today, the theme of vampiric “Drugula” has gone from lurking in Witchcult’s “Satanic Rites of Drugula,” to full-blown overpowering mayhem in Black Masses‘ “Crypt of Drugula,” the album’s final track. Each scalar plane of sound has been rendered to full-density, full-volume, high-grade psychadelia that could transport any solid or shape into the Ether. The directions rendered by Electric Wizard’s overall soundscapes is that of simultaneous descension (in the form of lead-infused riffs and blues-rooted scales) and ascension (cultivating a multi-tentacles sound that interlays vastly different levels of tone, density and expectation, requiring the listener to forage through the layers of distortion to extract the kernal of miss Buckingham’s quietly shredding guitar). As the album title suggests, the listener will fall easy victim to the Wizard’s latest brew, and become blind, drugged and beaten to a pulp of leveling our reality before our eyes. Gadzooks!

-Alex