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Cryptopsy – “Once Was Not”

Posted in album review, cryptopsy, death metal, experimental, technical metal, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Perhaps it’s a worn topic by now.  Cryptopsy’s surprising foray into trendy deathcore simplicity threw their fans, and most of the extreme metal community, for a loop.  Their pseudo goth/bondage attire and feau-hawks, though appalling, served as the perfect compliment to their new-found bitchy attitudes and staunch assurance that deathcore was their new genre of choice.  Now, I have this idea.  Maybe I should say, a hope.  A hope that their latest musical output, The Unspoken King, is nothing more than an elaborate hoax, meant as a parody to the recent surge of so-called heavy and brutal deathcore bands.  For, how could a band that had just released Once Was Not, one of the most exhausting yet ultimately beautiful death metal albums, spit out this simple garbage?  Every time I listen to Once Was Not, I’m forced to ponder this baffling phenomenon.

Once Was Not is not without its detractors though, something else that I can never quite understand.  Being that extreme metal is such a revolt against typical music, it is surprising to see this album continuously lambasted for its experimental nature.  To recreate another Blasphemy Made Flesh or None So Vile would be a disgrace to those albums and is always behavior typical of a band that is burning out (Immortal, I’m looking at you!).  Though, based on many of the critical responses for this album, it seems that people wanted and expected this, especially given Lord Worm’s triumphant return as vocalist.  To me, Once Was Not is the necessary evolution of Cryptopsy, capturing the brutality of their older works while instilling a greater sense of scale and complexity.

The overarching theme of war is both sonically and lyrically conveyed without fail.  Their use of unorthodox sounds and composition, while the butt of most criticism, are probably the most integral characteristics to this album’s believability as a testament to war.  How else should war’s unpredictable and chaotic nature be conveyed than by instrumentation set to the same tune?  Starting with the framework of death metal, Cryptopsy takes the genre’s staple characteristics – blast beats, growled vocals, heavily distorted guitars – and re-imagines them into the context of the album.  Riffs are highly unique for death metal, conveying anything from impending doom (“Angelskingarden”) to contemplativeness (“The Pestilence That Walketh in Darkness”).  Flo’s drumming is at it’s best, working alongside the guitars with unyielding complexity. Meanwhile, Lord Worm’s raspy snarls are in top-form as he narrates the various atrocities and eventually forces the listener to grasp the utter horror that results from war.  Perhaps the most perfect symbiosis of music, lyrics, and consequent imagery comes with the final track “Endless Cemetary.” We are presented with the end of a battle, perhaps even the war itself:

“Cold blue lips frame (a) yard-wide grin
that Calls to flesh, to let it in,
and thus indulge its Yearning
come the unDawn

Roam the endless Cemetary of what once was,
(where) the Allfeeling is never truly Gone”

As if he were speaking from the cold and blue lips of Death itself, Lord Worm changes his vocals to a shrill, black metal shriek after the music builds in order to deliver his final, horrible message:  Ultimately, Death has won.  Just as he finishes screaming, the music immediately ends, with this abruptness being yet another reminder of the randomness of death in a war environment.  In effect, we’ve become another member of the endless cemetery, experiencing the suddenness of death in musical form.

Maybe in retrospect, after the horror of The Unspoken King, some of Once Was Not’s harshest critics can look back and see this experimental and technical Cryptopsy in a new light.  Here we see a band that set out to tackle the worn topic of war in a holistic approach, embodying the topic’s spirit both in concept and in sound.  Rather than the “experimentation” that occurred on The Unspoken King, Once Was Not actually pushes the boundaries of death metal.  Not through implementing trendy pig squeals and slower Korn-esque songs, but with immensely difficult and complex songs that force the listener to dig deeper in every consecutive listen to fully appreciate them.  Here’s to hoping that the next Cryptopsy album follows in this fashion!

Max

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Wind of the Black Mountains – Interview with Tim Sever

Posted in black metal, interview, Uncategorized, Wind of the Black Mountains with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Here we present an interview with Tim Sever of the long-standing American black metal outfit Wind of the Black Mountains.


Good day to you, Tim.  How are you?

I’ve been good, busy as always it seems.

It’s been a whole 8 years since the last WOTBM album.  Is anything in the works?

Xaphan (Wastelander, SUmmon, Dark Psychosis) and I have an mcd recorded for Moribund that has been in the mixing process for quite some time now. After Tchort passed, Nunrapist (Cemetary Desecrator) had some old guitar and vocal tracks that he had rough recordings of from Tchort, we cleaned them up a bit and added what we thought needed to be added to make them full songs. I’m still not sure when this will be finished and sent to Moribund, but as soon as it is, it will be a day for us to celebrate. It’s definitely been a big pain and a very long wait.

Tchort, (of whom I must express my condolences of his passing), seems to have been the founding member of the band.  Why did he split from the band in 2001?

Tchort was definitely the sole and founding member of WOTBM. Unfortunately he also had his own demons that always kept him from doing more than he was capable of. I had went to visit friends in New Mexico for a couple weeks in 2001. Upon my return I had a lot of messages from concerned friends telling me Tchort had sold every part of his equipment to satisfy his addictions, which included guitars, cabinets, pedals, everything. When I got ahold of him about it, he informed me he couldn’t do it anymore, that he wanted to get his life straightened out for himself and his newly born son. He also expressed that he didn’t want WOTBM to be killed off and he wanted me to keep it going. The unfortunate thing with this was I’ve always kept myself busy with live bands as well as my kids, thus leaving WOTBM somewhat on the back burner, working on it when I had the chance.

Your first album, Sing Thou Unholy Servants, seems to have a much slower and ritualistic feel.  Your second album changes the style a bit by adding an element of speed and taking away some of the more experimental moments.  Was there a reason behind this slight stylistic change and did it have anything to do with the departure of Tchort the prior year?

There was no real reason for the change in styles, it just happened. As to where Tchort did everything by himself for the first album, he had a lot of time to go in and expirement whenever the opportunity arose. After he asked me to join him in doing this, we started getting a lot more of a full band feeling to it, plus, he always expressed he didn’t think a lot of songs on Sing Thou Unholy Servants would be able to be pulled off in a live setting. We wanted to play out live and with all the songs we had written after that album, we were able to do that. We would add live members to our ranks to be able to do shows here and there, but a lot of the shows we did, we did as a 2-piece.

Can you explain the album art for both of the full lengths?

The artwork for STUS I can’t explain too much about due to the fact that Tchort had picked that out before I was in the band. As for Black Sun Shall Rise, we searched and searched for artwork without knowing yet what the album would be called. We found the artwork and realised it went well with some of our lyrics, and we believed it also represented some of the inner demons that we are all controlled by, hence the reason for the male on the cover having his arms bound behind him with the temptations of life being there in front of him and him not being able to resist them. As for the new album, I believe the artwork and title Summoned by Shadows is pretty self explanatory. It shows a man walking into a forest with a demon hiding in the shadows. This title also goes well with Tchort’s passing as he was definitely drawn by his own shadows.

Is the unreleased album “The Return of Ancient One” supposed to be a full-length?  I have read that it was meant to be released back in 2002, but it still has not seen the light of day.  Will this ever be released?

Unfortunately, the material that was going to be used for this album was never recorded is now long gone with Tchort’s passing. Some of the riffs on Summoned by Shadows will be represented here, but as a whole, those songs are gone forever since they were never recorded. We wanted to make sure that everything recorded for WOTBM has Tchort’s preformances on it. After the Summoned by Shadows mcd is released, This band will be put to rest unless I miraculously dig up some more of Tchort’s works which I don’t see happening.

What are some of your primary influences?

Myself and Tchort pretty much listened to everything from old school black metal, death metal, and the early German thrash  bands. I also listen to a lot of the old east-coast hardcore and such.

Does Wind Of The Black Mountains play live?

Tchort and i played a few shows with just the two of us, but we also did many shows where we recruited live members. Past live members included Nunrapist (Cemetary Desecrator), Azazel (Left Hand Trinity), and Lord Nuzzi (Serpent Crown).

Do you find that the black metal scene is still going strong?

I believe it is, some of the bands are getting a lot more exposure out there now than what could have been fathomed years ago. The lines have become so dilluted now though, and it seems that if a band will throw on some corpse paint just to be labeled black metal and follow a lot of the trendy aspects of it. Unfortunately, unless you’re one of the old school bands that started out doing this 20 years ago (give or take a year or two), the shock value it used to hold has been lost.

What are some of your favorite albums of all time?

I could probably be here all day doing this. Like I said before, I have quite the diverse liking for a lot of extreme musics. Some of the earlier bands that got me into this that I can still listen to to this day are the obvious like Venom’s Black Metal, Celtic Frost’s Into Mega Therion, onto bands like Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden, Possessed, Sodom, Kreator of course. And then into bands like Behemoth or the old hardcore bands like Agnostic Front, Sick of it All, or what have you. It’s so hard for me to talk about favorite albums, styles, or even bands, cause each band and each album bring their own thing to it and all of them have certain aspects I like more or less than other recordings from the same bands.

Do you have anything that you’d like to add or promote?

I would definitely like to thank you, Max, for showing your support and interest in WOTBM. Hopefully the new album will be out soon through Moribund. Also, please check out my main live band, Genocya. We put a lot of the elements from the bands I’ve listed in this interview into our music, and we’ll be having a new cd out very soon. Thanks a ton!!

Thanks so much, Tim!

-Max

Interview with Dave Murray (The Deserts of Traun, Estradasphere)

Posted in Estradasphere, interview, Sculptured, The Deserts of Traun, Tholus, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

When did the idea to create the grand “Deserts of Traun” project first come to you?

It was a project started in the mid 90’s actually. We performed each piece of the trilogy one time only and made demos. There was art being projected above us as well. After Estradasphere I felt compelled to do something ‘solo’ that i could be as proud of, so I put my mind to re making the project and taking it from demo form to an actual record.

Can you explain the concept/story of Deserts of Traun?

It’s changed in order to fit what was possible recording-wise. In fact, I’ve changed it a third time and that’s why I am calling it version 3. Version 3 is a science fiction story with a lot of detective elements. The concept itself is about using music as the only vehicle for broadcasting a story. You have to use your imagination while the music hints at things. It’s very nebulous and since a musical story has a different pace then a written one (which has far more control) the object is just to allude to story.

Why did you decide to release Part III: Lilac Moon, before Parts 1 and 2?

Well, I set out to make a condensed ‘best of’ “The Deserts of Traun.” Then as I was fitting things together and including new material like “The Black Metal Princess” I felt that there was in fact a new story brewing and it sounded like a final chapter to me. That’s all.

It states on your website that the final installment “Version III” of the Deserts of Traun saga is going to be released this year.  What happened to Version II?  And will this year’s release be the definitive and complete result of the Deserts of Traun story/project?

Version 1 was the originals with Alfred (Daedelus), Joe, and myself in the mid 90’s. Version 2 (the Lilac Moon era) will remain unfinished, I guess, or will be absorbed by Version 3 which is what I am working on. The reason I am not finishing Version 2 and calling it there is because all the new material I wrote was not fitting the story I had outlined with Lilac Moon. I tore my hair out trying to arrange it but in the end I decided that the music would be better if I had somewhat more freedom to rehash the story and reorder/repurpose the music. The music is the most important part, so in order to bring the entire, final Traun to life I have put together a new storyline to follow. It’s a very difficult job trying to create a workable story from your complex and somewhat non negotiable musical score (if I can call it that).

How difficult is it to try to tell a story without the use of lyrics?  The music on Lilac Moon is superb at creating images and conveying feelings.  Is this something that you aim for intentionally?

I aim for it and it always nice to know that it works sometimes. Under a microscope the story kind of sucks on its own, it has holes and problems. Paul McKee and I have talked about adapting it to a real animated movie – but to do so would require a rewrite on its own to hold up traditionally. However non-traditionally, since it’s really just an add-on feature to the music, I don’t worry about it. It’s loose, it’s mostly about bullet point events, emotions and motive etc… that can actually pass as a story hinted at by the music.

The cover art for Lilac Moon is excellent.  How does it tie in with the story?  Will you return to Colby Bluth for future artworks?

The cover art is from the scene/track “The Desert of Traun” where the main character is crossing the blue desert on lizard back to the elevator in the distance. Colby is a friend and talented artist and I will definitely be working with him for the Version 3 stuff.

It seems that the animated trailer for the project by Colby Bluth is currently offline.  What was the purpose of this trailer and will it be coming back?

Just found out myself – I’ll email him and find out.

(Editor’s note:  After the interview, the editors found the animated trailer on youtube.  It can be viewed below.  Enjoy!)

Why did you split from Extradasphere in 2002?

The main reason is I didn’t like touring the way we were, and I needed to be more responsible with my finances. At that time it was not possible to create a safe and manageable business with them and I had bills to pay. Needless to say I didn’t like this and it led to non-cozy feelings.

What was it like working with Don Anderson and crew on Sculptured’s ‘Embodiment’?  Do you find that your eclectic styles mixed well?

It was great – professional and fun. He just gave me the stuff and basically I wrote and recorded the drums and sent them back. That’s all. Nice, great guy. Yes, I thought the styles worked well.

It seems that Tholus was originally the project of Mike Johnson and you were drumming for the band.  It’s my understanding that when Mike was unable to finish working on the project, you picked up where he left off and assembled an entire lineup.  Was this a one-time thing just to finish the album or is Tholus alive and planning another album?

Pretty much. I picked up where he left off – even though it was his music – because I had put a lot of time into the drums and actually had recorded them. I couldn’t bear to let the ball drop on this so I painstakingly got other people to finish the parts. It was a one-time thing – but Mike has mentioned he is working on new stuff. If it happens great – if not then that is OK too. I feel satisfied with Tholus and that part of my musical history with him.

You are one of the few musicians who truly creates a sound that cannot be classified into any set genre.  Do you find it difficult to work with other musicians/labels because of this style?  How do you think the listeners usually respond?

To me – post-Estradasphere – it seems normal to try new things by mixing up genres. I’m surprised I don’t see more of it still. But YES. It is nearly impossible to market because the industry is set to standards/genre. I couldn’t get Traun signed anywhere although the people at the label liked the music.

Is there any genre of music that you enjoy playing the most?

Death metal and jazz or fusion.

You seem to have a very broad taste in music.  What types of music do you listen to?  And what are some of your favorite bands/artists?

Meshuggah, Cynic, Dimmu, 80’s music. I do have a varied taste. I like the differences in musical genres and what they offer to the imagination. People usually can’t take my itunes library shuffle without becoming distracted or getting a surreal look on their face.

http://notdavemurray.com/

http://traun.notdavemurray.com/

Nachtmystium Album Teaser – “No Funeral”

Posted in Nachtmystium, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 22, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

For the last few albums, Nachtmystium has somehow managed to embrace their influences of psychedelic and post-rock without totally abandoning their black metal roots. Enter “No Funeral,” their newly released track. With a synthesizer lick that is literally endless, grizzly black metal vocals, and industrial metal tendencies, “No Funeral” is one hell of a track. If this is any indicator of how fantastic Nachtmystium’s new album “Addicts: Black Meddle II” is going to be, then this June will be a fine time to be a Nachtmystium fan. – Cameron Davis

Click Here to Listen to “No Funeral”

GRAMPS in 77 Square!

Posted in 77 Square, avant-garde, black metal, death metal, Erebus, GRAMPS, Lords of the Trident, Madison Metal Scene, Madison Prog Scene, progressive rock, Uncategorized, Wisconsin State Journal with tags , , , , , , on February 11, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

GRAMPS and local metal acts Lord of the Trident and Erebus have made the cover story of the Wisconsin State Journal offshoot 77 Square!

GRAMPS Article

Upcoming Posts

Posted in Uncategorized on January 12, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Coming soon…

-Ryan’s Top 24 Metal Songs

-Reviews from our first issue (including Acheron, Krallice, Circle of Contempt, and Mortiis)

-New stuff AKA not yet (or ever) featured in the print version

Stay tuned!

-Max

Greetings

Posted in Uncategorized on January 2, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

We are a band of humans at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who wish to share our love of metal and prog (and all different genres of music) with the world.  Here, you will find an electronic version of our printed magazine “Pantheon.”  We hope to have a new issue out every few months, though we may update this blog with “extras” that aren’t in the physical zine.  If you want a physical copy of the magazine or have any questions, email us at grampspantheon@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!

– Max, of the Pantheon crew