Sunday, 31 August 2014

Choice Cuts: Swans - Cop (1984)


Years Active: 1982 – 1997, 2010 – Present
Records to Date: 13
Genre: Noise Rock, No Wave, Industrial
Label: Young God, Neutral, Homestead, Caroline,
Uni/MCA, Invisible, Atavistic, Mute

The Band:

  • Michael Gira | vocals, tapes, production
  • Harry Crosby | bass guitar
  • Norman Westberg | guitar
  • Roli Mosimann | drums, production



Review:

A ritual of humiliation. An endurance test.  A glorification of submission, even as it is repeatedly proven weak, unsafe, and horrific.  An ugly tombstone over buried happiness.

The opening riff of ‘Half Life’ never ends, grinding you down as effectively as it grinds the laborer of the lyrics, passive and crushed by an obscene but far from otherworldly tyrant. In fact, the real-ness of their pessimism, unburdened (on this album, at least) by concerns for the metaphysical, adds an urgency to lyrics such as "ambition is senseless don’t make a wrong move work with a purpose"...sounding for all the world like a fellow prisoner of the Machine whispering the "rules" to a newcomer, an outsider, in an effort to help him understand his place and the hopelessness of any attempt to deviate from the Work. The constant downward trajectory of the main phrase drags you ever deeper into this machinery, into the hole. A pervasive atmosphere of meaningless toil and futility numbs you into accepting it.

The lurching stutter of ‘Job’ (track 2) splits this inelegant droning with a confused "waking up" that slowly solidifies into a grooving chant, an effort to regain some feeling of the natural, of something organic. From there it begins slipping into and out of rhythm while equally wavering between the elemental and the structural, between tearing apart and desperately gripping. The song culminates with an exhausted wearing down, carrying the burden of heartache as a mantra until collapse.

The third track ‘Why Hide’ opens on firmer ground, insistent bass and solid, compact drumming providing an ominous foreground for the exorcising of an overwhelming lyrical nihilism. Bathing in a crushing lockstep, Michael Gira shouts why hide the lie?? Over and over as if THIS was the moment he was waiting for to ask the question of his abuser. As if his oppressor was looking through him, dead-eyed, as he recorded the vocals.

Barely a pause for breath between tracks, but those silences are a welcome glimpse outside the isolation this album evokes. These are not dance songs. You are fitted for the collar from the first seconds and it never relents in its exertion of power and domination. The listener is never in a position of control, is never allowed to relate to the dominant perspective even when (especially when) those perspectives are shown. There are only brief moments where the pain and discipline let up to take a deep breath before intensifying. ‘Clay Man’ wastes little time establishing a musical corollary to the dissonant drive into sexual submission. The ghoulish lines "get into this car bow your head down" over painfully grinding mechanical drones twist the Work alluded to in previous tracks into an obedient acceptance. Unexpected chokes and lunges in the noise feel like the moment a bone breaks or a dentist wrenches a tooth free, the onset of a panic attack, an unwilling orgasm. The last minute brings with it an undeniable pulsing heaviness that, almost ironically, forces you to bob your head in time as it sucks the air from your lungs. Maximum volume, indeed.

‘Your Property’ disguises itself well as a rebellious shout at Control, until you realise it as the desperate howls of someone learning it was their own weakness that led to control in the first place. Authority is corrupt and corrupts, Authority is worshipped nonetheless. To be trapped in this is perceived as an ultimate weakness and the vocals grow harsher, the music more nakedly aggressive as it briefly loses a pretence of subtlety. Inward contempt is far more malign than any exterior assault.

Track six, ‘Cop’. This is where it gets dark.  It slithers in sinister, sleazy, initially maintaining a calm demeanour. Proclaiming "the punishment fits the crime" and judging the guilty in a combination holding cell/execution chamber over an unhealthy melody that, despite being nearly atonal, subtly reinforces the infectious reptilian menace of this song's mood. As the beating continues, the music keeps steady as a metronome, placidly describing atrocity with an almost-accessible laid back throbbing. Through the primary section the perspective never fully sets on victim or bystander until finally collapsing into a hypnotic, martial agony that (in a ferocious dichotomy) gradually but spectacularly crumbles and bursts until nothing is left.

After all the build-up of intensity, all the intentional and directed increase in depth and hostility, ‘Butcher’ is all hanging tension. A pause in a relentless attack on the Self juuuusst long enough to see outside and warn someone. "Don’t be a whore you could be screwing yourself", advice given from a position of intimate knowledge of a great darkness. The music never seems to resolve, solidifying the uncomfortable and unsettling feelings elicited by words like "you're in the wrong skin I don't recognise your smell" and "you're too close".

Halting, squalling bursts of feedback scream above a strangled, sluggish drone that sets the stage for the final catharsis of degradation. ‘Thug’ is confrontational and provocative in a sneering passive aggression. "Obedience pays if you use it right", but "the only real thing's misery"…..words finally breaking down into paroxysm and even a seven second fade out feels suffocating and endless.

Having this album on repeat for a few hours in order to write about it pulled me through a significantly more visceral and challenging experience than I expected, even having heard the record quite a few times before. It forces one to inhabit all of the negative spaces it describes in ways most art (and even a great deal of the hostile stimuli referred to in the lyrics) can't come close to replicating, and it left me shaken, stretched thin, and feeling sickly afterward in such a way that almost overwhelms any possible cathartic value.

Words by: James Harris

You can pick up the record everywhere now



Album Details

Cop is the second studio album by American post-punk band Swans. It was released in 1984, through record label K.422.  AllMusic wrote of the album: "Ugly, compelling and overpowering, Cop remains the pinnacle of Swans' brutal early days", calling it "quite possibly one of the darkest recordings ever done

Cop was remastered by Michael Gira in 1992 for release on CD along with the Young God EP. The currently available edition combines Cop and Young God with the albums Greed and Holy Money. The packaging for all issues states that the recording is "designed to be played at maximum volume".


'Cop’ track listing:

1). Half Life 04:18
2). Job 04:46
3). Why Hide 05:50
4). Clay Man 05:05
5). Your Property 04:48
6). Cop 06:47
7). Butcher 04:02
8). Thug 05:12

For more information:

NO WAY - Sing Praises EP (Review)


Album Type: EP
Date Released: 27/5/2014
Label:  Self-Released

"Sing Praises" Cassette/DD track listing:  

1). The Cutting 03:03
2). Shake the Meat 03:08
3). War Dance 03:40
4). Pastures / Abuelas 08:34

Bio:

NO WAY self-released Sing Praises in May 2014. Recorded by Andrew Schneider (Unsane, Pelican, Shrinebuilder) and mastered by Carl Saff (Young Widows, Helms Alee, OFF!, Kowloon Walled City, Big Business), the record has been described as "distinctly dark, but favoring the macabre over the bleak, and aggression over despair" with heavy doses of "rhythmic complexity and brute force."

Formed in 2012, NO WAY have firmly established themselves in the New York punk scene. Within the past year, the band have opened for many innovative heavy bands, including Whores., Fight Amp, Black Tusk, Inter Arma, American Sharks, Cancer Bats, Naam and White Hills, to name just a few.

Although often compared to legendary NYC noise acts Helmet and Unsane, NO WAY have developed a sound that mixes physical, red-lined abrasiveness with dirgy, LSD-tinged psychedelia of Sonic Youth, Swans and Spacemen 3.


NO WAY have select regional dates planned for the Fall while they write their next batch of songs. The band plans to tour the West Coast before recording in Spring 2015.

The Band:

Chuck Berrett | vocals
Jordan Melkin | guitar
Dave Maffei | bass
Christopher Enriquez | drums

Review:

I threw this on at work and the thing that came to mind was SMASH STUFF.  As I cannot punch any of my patients, I stayed tuned in for an abrasive blend of noise rock and hardcore.  NO WAY's debut EP "Sing Praises" starts heavy and ends heavy.  Starting with the caustic opener "The Cutting" which never lets up throughout its length, gorging us on a riff-fest of epic proportions.

The second track "Shake the Meat" has a crazy layout and jumps furiously all over the place with scything guitar over rolling drumbeats.  Syncing into the heavy but brief head nodding chorus which transitions on second pass into a nice brief open section before coming back with some furious almost tremelo picked punk fury definitely a fun song that I'm sure is killer live.

The third track "War Dance" starts with a plucked Native American feeling open riff with some simple but pretty decent clean singing.  With a cool moving chorus when NO WAY breaks back into the verse they add some cool rhythmic syncopation that I can only describe as being similar to Tomahawk's more straightforward songs.  

Closing their debut EP "Pasture/Abuela" starts with some choice bass grind moving under some feedbacking guitar melody as the vocals kick in.  A song that begins almost strangely out of place, "Pasture/Abuela" delves into deeper sonic territory then the proceeding tracks and includes a slick noise/feedback guitar freak-out in lieu of a chorus.  The bridge of "Pastures/Abuela" brings the song back to ground with a spiraling Unsane style riff which meanders into some cool changes.  An awesome track that literally flips genre mid song but is written so well it's completely seamless.  As the track concludes I am left wondering which tracks are my favourites and honestly they are all really good.

A riveting debut from a band that successfully integrates the feel of noise-rock with the fury and aggression of hardcore, spitting out an arty hydra of epic proportions leaving me eagerly wishing for a full length/full US tour. 

Words by: Chris Tedor

You can pick up a copy here

For more information:


Naught - MMXIV Demo (Review)


Album Type: Demo
Date Released: 7/8/2014
Label: Self-Released
  
 “MMXIV” CD/DD track Listing:

1). Fade 18:37
2). Eyes of a Waning Sun 08:07


The Band:

A.R.
C.L.
B.W.
J.E.
B.G.
  
Review:


Naught's “MMXIV” is completely uncompromising in its vision and execution. A haunting triumph of mood, Naught begins with the great track “Fade” beginning with a slow delay-washed dirge over an ambient wash moving into a simple, powerful verse. The black metal vocalizations over the verses conjure up a desolate wasteland of ruin and perfectly complement the sparse and moving guitar work. There's some really sweet simple guitar playing over the second verse that almost reminds me of some slowed down darker folk music. The dissonant verbed out, almost Hawaiian guitar over the first part of the bridge is a really cool unexpected aesthetic choice and adds a nice tripped out vibe to the start of the second half of the track. The heavy part of the bridge pulls some serious Old Man Gloom styling out as well.

The second track “Eyes of a Waning Sun” begins very differently than the opener, moving right into a slow rhythm section groove with some well done lead guitar work over black metal screams. Moving into a feedback ambient wash which reminds me of the band Horseback. Actually Horseback is the only band I can think of to directly compare Naught's sound to; however, only on their more spacey ambient sections. In addition, Naught sticks to a more military groove throughout and doesn't sit in blues/sludge territory very much which gives the music a very different feel. This is the stronger of the two tracks on the EP.

One of the more interesting short offerings this year, Naught does a fantastic job realizing a soundtrack to the ruin of society. With some cool cover artwork by Alex C. F. from Lightbearer and a must listen.  I strongly suggest listening to “MMXIV” in a complete sitting to get the full effect. I sincerely hope that a full length is soon to follow.
  
Words by: Chris Tedor

You can pick up a copy here



For more information: 


http://naughtaz.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.facebook.com/Naughtaz

Bastard Feast - Osculum Infame (Album Review)


Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/7/2014
Label: Season Of Mist

‘Osculum Infame’ CD/DD track listing:

1). Bloated City
2). Old Father
3). The Rats through Our Veins
4). The Serpent Spoke
5). Noose Of Smoke
6). A Tribute To What We Stole
7). Watchful Defiler
8). Claustrophobic Of This World
9). Fields Of Black Cancer
10). Synthetic Messiah

Bio:

"Osculum Infame" or "The Shameful Kiss" was the supposed pledge of allegiance, which witches of both genders applied to the devil’s anus according to the perverted fantasies of sexually repressed monks and preachers during the bloody soot stained times of the witch hunts. This fits perfectly the kiss-my-ass-attitude BASTARD FEAST display on their sophomore full-length of the same name. And if you think, this is rude – just wait until you have listened to the album! Formerly known as ELITIST, BASTARD FEAST emerged on top of a new scene growing rapidly in the United States of America. Hailing from Portland, Oregon the quartet has its roots in the Hardcore scene. Yet under the influence of early Death Metal in the vein of MORBID ANGEL and a strong dose of Black Metal their sound shifted to something as fresh as radical. The crusty spirit of Sludgecore transparent in chaotic structures and moments of uncontrol was vomited upon the world with screams of anger and disgust by vocalist Joshua "Josh" Greene. This was met by the burning hatred of blazing guitars carrying the force of Death and darkness of Black Metal. Loud and passionate, ELITIST made the world pay attention; first with their self titled EP in the year 2009, then with a split 7" with TRANSIENT in 2011. Having shared stages with CARCASS, BLACK DAHLIA MURDER and ROTTEN SOUND and others, the Americans next unleashed the fury of their debut album "Fear in a Handful of Dust" (2011). Changing their moniker to BASTARD FEAST in order to avoid lengthy legal conflict, the band upped their game with "Osculum Infame". Be prepared for a brutal thrashing and lesson in devastation, which yet manages to balance out with a heavy dose of melancholy and passion capturing the essence of classic Metal. Burn in fire

The Band:

Taylor Robison | Guitar
Justin Yaquinto | Guitar
Joshua Greene | Vocals
Nickolis Parks | Drums
Jesse Apsy | Bass

Review:

Portland’s Bastard Feast might not be pushing boundaries or breaking down genre walls, but what they lack in ingenuity is more than made up for with power, conviction and grit. This is occasionally grindy hardcore with plenty of sludge to spare. In fact, it’s the slower, heavier moments where 'Osculum Infame' shines brightest.  There are plenty of bands that are painting with that semi-chaotic Converge style hardcore brush, but there are very few bands making the kind of disjointed grimy sludge racket that Bastard Feast has shown themselves capable of on this album.

The truth is Bastard Feast doesn’t even need the speedier moments. They’re absolutely enthralling when they’re methodically taking a sledgehammer to a pile of corpses, with each chug representing another bone-crushing blow to the dead. Every dissonant lead is a filthy blade jammed into the throat of lesser bands. They’re so gifted in the art of the squalid filth dirge; it’s a shame they speed up at all. “The Serpent Spoke” should be Bastard Feast’s blue print going forward. It’s positively overflowing with rage and misery, and there isn’t a d-beat or blast beat to be heard. That’s not to say that hardcore, d-beat or grind are inherently bad. Just the opposite; they’re vital to a big portion of the underground metal scene in 2014. Bastard Feast does that side of things well; they’re just a lot better when they focus in on driving mid-paced or nearly doom-paced material.

“Noose of Smoke” is a song where Bastard Feast makes the best of their speedier moments. A Dropdead-style swarm of distorted bass bursts into a barbaric blast beat that would feel at home on an early Incantation album. What makes this song work so well is the otherworldly guitar lead thrown over the top making the whole thing sound alien and uncomfortable in a wonderful way. Once things slow down, things fall apart beautifully, as every deep nasty chord feel like a fist to a vital organ. It’s one of the few moments where the d-beat and grind sides of ‘Osculum Infame’ live up to the higher caliber writing on the slower side.

On the whole, I’d say Bastard Feast show a ton of potential, and as it is ‘Osculum Infame’ is already a very good record. If they decide to further explore their more reserved tempos further on future albums; it’s almost a lock that they will putting out album of the year level material down the road. In the meantime; they’ve given you plenty to chew on with this current release.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a copy here



For more information:

Cannibal Corpse - A Skeletal Domain (Album Review)





















Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 16/9/2014
Label: Metal Blade Records

'A Skeletal Domain' CD/DD/LP track listing:

01. High Velocity Impact Spatter
02. Sadistic Embodiment
03. Kill or Become
04. A Skeletal Domain
05. Headlong into Carnage
06. The Murderer’s Pact
07. Funeral Cremation
08. Icepick Lobotomy
09. Vector of Cruelty
10. Bloodstained Cement
11. Asphyxiate to Resuscitate
12. Hollowed Bodies

Bio:

Lucky number thirteen? Lucky or not, it's a quantity of releases (not even counting VHS/DVD releases and EPs) and a wealth of material beyond which most bands could even imagine. Cannibal Corpse approaches each recording session with a honed and precise vision of a band in their third decade of existence. With this new entry to their extensive catalog, they have switched gears, opting to work with producer Mark Lewis at Audio Hammer Studios, after having tracked their previous three (Kill, Evisceration Plague, Torture) with Erik Rutan. Mark Lewis is a name metal fans have surely heard at this point; he has produced recent albums from The Black Dahlia Murder, DevilDriver, and many more. Sonically speaking, the result this time around is a massive, belligerent, and deliberate aural attack.

Alex Webster, along with O'Brien, Barrett, and Mazurkiewicz, are all accomplished song writers, that much is no secret. For "A Skeletal Domain," each member made a significant contribution to the song writing. O'Brien wrote five tracks, Webster wrote four, and Barrett handled two and half ("Asphyxiate to Resuscitate" was co-written with Mazurkiewicz). Alex Webster describes the band's song writing proficiency as a "football team with a lot of roster depth. Any of us could write an entire album, but when we're working together and putting forth our best material, we get an even better whole record." That strength is on display in spades, and led to a particularly impressive performance from O'Brien. Mark Lewis raved about the guitarist's playing: "I don't think he's written crazier music than what's on this album. He's never written something like on the solo for "The Murderer's Pact." Simply put, this is legit guitar playing." Webster reiterated that this is "one of the most important albums for Pat [O'Brien]." His solos draw on his oft-overlooked neo-classical background while remaining dark enough to fit comfortably within the band's death metal strike zone. In addition to Pat's contributions, Paul Mazurkiewicz entered the studio arguably more prepared than ever. Mark Lewis elaborated: "Paul came in so prepared and he hammered the hell out of every song. The drums on this record are not over doctored - the toms aren't sampled, Paul just HIT HARD." In addition to his drum performance, Mazurkiewicz's lyrics continued to weave detail-filled tales of death and disgust. The drummer penned half of the album's lyrics, with Webster penning four, and Barrett another two to round out the album.

The musical and lyrical team effort here laid the foundation for the vocal performance of iconic front man, George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher. For "A Skeletal Domain," producer Mark Lewis worked to cull the most potent performance from the vocalist as possible. Lewis explains: "The mindset with George was to capture more high screams. We wanted to revisit the "Bloodthirst" days a bit. There's a violence that lives in his throat that we really wanted to capture." Evidence of these efforts exists in the violent howls in "Headlong into Carnage," the title track, album opener "High Velocity Impact Splatter," and more. Corpsegrinder's trademark vocals are the final piece of the death metal puzzle that is "A Skeletal Domain." Cannibal Corpse have proven time and again that they have more fuel in their tank, more riffs in their minds, and more ways to describe gore than any single group of human beings could ever have hoped. The thirteenth album will prove to be as important a landmark in their career as just about any other. Cannibal Corpse are consistency defined.

The Band:

George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher | Vocals
Rob Barrett | Guitar
Pat O’Brien | Guitar
Alex Webster | Bass
Paul Mazurkiewicz | Drums

Review:

Cannibal Corpse are probably the best known of death metal bands- arguably they are the best known of all extreme metal bands. If a non-metal person (!) asks me about my music taste they always seem to get mentioned when I try to explain (From Neil Young to Cannibal Corpse...”) This is not due to them being my favourite death band- far from it. I actually have always followed the likes of Obituary, Deicide, Death and the Swe-Death bands with more consistency... but there is something about Cannibal which sets a bench mark. They are real death metal. No subtleties, no melodies per se. Out and out brutality is what you expect. With “A Skeletal Domain” that is EXACTLY what you will get!

The first album I heard of Cannibal Corpse was “The Bleeding” way back when Chris Barnes was in the band. I worked my way through their back catalogue from there and found I liked “Butchered At Birth” a great deal and, well, everything else. I never picked up on the George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher era until a few years after “Vile”- but that record and “Kill” are high points of their catalogue for me.

Now, I wouldn't claim to have thorough knowledge of every record, but I know a good one when I hear it. Rest assured, this is definitive and superlative death metal. The opener 'High Velocity Impact Splatter' manages to be both heavy and catchy and things carry on in the same vein from there. The likes of 'Kill and Become' are not going to surprise listeners with progressive tendencies and overdubbed cello. Nope, this is straight ahead gore worship; mini horror films set to brutal death metal of precise violence. As Fisher growls “Fire up the chainsaw! Hack their fucking heads off!” the tone is set and you should be in no doubt that things do not get any prettier through the title track and beyond. The production is stellar, as is the playing. Every instrument can be heard clearly in the mix- bassist and band main man Alex Webster can be heard all over the tracks.

'Headlong into Carnage' is riffs and blasts- business as usual. There is more to it than that, though- I haven't heard a record this committed to the cause for a long time. The band is totally convincing- masters of their niche craft. Much more so than Obituary (not quick enough, though I love them dearly), more than Deicide (wrong lyrical themes), more than... Malevolent Creation, Immolation, Morbid Angel, even Autopsy and anyone else you care to mention, Cannibal Corpse DEFINE death metal in both sound, image and imagery. Long hair, combat boots, camo trousers and shorts, a giant front man with a neck bigger than his head? Check. Hyper fast musicianship with technical ability and passion? Check. Horrific song titles, themes and lyrics? Check. Memorable songs?! Yes, check that too. With Cannibal it is all there- they embody their genre to such an extent that if someone asked me to play them death metal, if they had never heard it... I would play them this album.

The likes of 'Funeral Cremation' sound exactly as you would hope. Lots of time changes, lots of chugging, lots of speed, great solos and unrelenting horror. Paul Mazurkiewicz plays perfectly with that unusual style of his- bass drums blur with speed, the blasts sound fast and powerful (no mean feat) while O'Brien and Barrett bring the leads and riffs with panache. How does a band this far into their career sustain this level of dedication? I can't answer that, but you could try asking Overkill...

'Icepick Lobotomy' is unlikely to be a left field, left leaning tribute to Leon Trotsky, but what it does not bring in the form of a “message” or “political consciousness” it more than makes up for by being gnarly and dark in theme and content. Whisper it... but this record is also fun. No, really! That is the point which many miss about death metal- it is entertainment, pure and simple. Superbly played entertainment, but entertainment nonetheless. You take the genre seriously? You believe it to be a moral threat? You shouldn't- it is not serious in and of itself. The musicianship certainly is, the themes less so. It is horror fantasy- a raucous expression of all things macabre and gory.

As the record progresses you may be surprised to hear the band bring out hooks (musical ones!) at times when you do not expect it- further explanation of Cannibal Corpse's place at the top of the death pile. While they may be the definitive death metal band, they don't actually sound like anyone else. Others have imitated, but never equalled, much less improved, their sound of whirling fury. Things do slow down a fair few times- but this is not comparable to Asphyx or something. It is death metal- not any other sub genre.

'Bloodstained Cement' is unremittingly savage, but I could write that about any of the tracks here. As the album draws to a close, you may just want to play it again. I did- and that is not something I often do with death metal albums. However, on a packed commuter train these themes make perfect sense to me- I only just held it together, mind.

There are no bad tracks here. The album is complete and completely horrible from start to finish. Play it on headphones and you get the full benefit of the mix, play it in your car and you will lose your licence, play it on a stereo at home and you may destroy the living room. In summary, this is the most enjoyable Cannibal Corpse record I have heard for a long time. They remain at the top of the genre and have set a high bar for others to aim for. Real death metal, as feral and nasty as it gets.

Words by: Richard Maw

You can pick up a copy here

For more information:

http://www.youtube.com/cannibalcorpse
http://www.facebook.com/cannibalcorpse
http://twitter.com/corpseofficial

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Interview with SNAILKING


Snailking are about to release their début album – STORM – which I feel is going to make some waves within the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene.

Snailking already made a little dent with the Sludge/Stoner Metal world back in 2012 when they released their début EP – Samsara. But trust me when I say it doesn't compare to their blistering and heavy as hell début album Storm which I described as:

Snailking return with their 53-minute début album - Storm. A blistering and heavy onslaught of heavy spacey cosmic Doom/Sludge Metal riffs that owes more than a nod to Ufomammut, Yob, Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath

Storm is an intense and richly rewarding experience that you will be reliving for a long time to come. Snailking have created something special here. If you are into long drawn out epic and heavy as heck Doom based Sludge/Stoner Metal then this is as good as it gets. Storm is incredible.”


Snailking have kindly agreed to talk to us here at Sludgelord HQ.

Q1 – Hi all. Thanks for doing this. How are things with you today.

Hi! Things are great, we just received the first copies of Storm ourselves can’t wait to see it be released.

Q2 – Can you tell our readers a brief history of how the band came about and where it is today.

Frans and I are childhood friends, we’ve gone to school together and lived near each other growing up. We decided to start a band back in 2010 with another friend of ours named Adam. In 2012 we parted ways with him and met Jonas through the internet. He joined Snailking in March of 2012 and we immediately began refining the songs we already had together, and wrote some new ones. Jonas owns his own home studio, and we used just that to record Samsara just after three months of playing together. Since releasing Samsara we’ve been busy writing and working on the new material and playing live.

Storm cover art

Q3 – Your new album STORM is about to be released via Consouling Sounds. In your own words what can people expect from the album.

A more sharpened Snailking all in all I think. I think the new record isn’t as raw as
Samsara was, and by raw I mean that performance-wise Samsara wasn’t the best at all times. We recorded it over just a weekend, and took about two weeks mixing and mastering it. We spent a lot more time making this, we begun in October of 2013 and ended up finishing it in April 2014. Just the writing alone took us over a year. Storm is much more coherent, we had more focus of writing an album here where as Samsara just was thought of as a demo to show family and friends first of all.

Q4 – Was it an easy or hard album to write and record for. And why did you call the album – STORM.

Recording-wise I think it went very smoothly. We had worked on many of the songs for well over a year when we started recording Storm so I believe we had a vision of what we wanted from the start. The only song we wrote in the midst of recording the album is the bonus song Void on the CD version.

Storm for me represents a “stormy period” in one’s life, a turbulent time. I write the lyrics and for me a lot of inspiration came from being on a sick-leave from work for 4 months because of too much stress. It turned my world around and took me a lot of time to get back on my feet. I lost the sense of hunger and had friends calling me just to see if I had eaten anything. So for me it’s about depression, feeling alone and being mistreated. 

But I also like to think it’s about rising from all that and coming back. Needless to say I had a hard time emotionally writing the lyrics. It’s all written very metaphorical and that was the intention, I like when you make your own assumption of what it’s about. What it means for me doesn’t necessarily have to be the same for the other members in the band. So it’s really meant to mean whatever one makes out of it.


Q5 – What influenced you when recording the album.

Well time for one, we had lots of time recording this album which means we could really sink our hearts in to it. We spent half a year in the studio as I said and I hope that really shows. This time around we also knew that people dug what we were doing before-hand so I think we were overall more confident this time.

Q6 – How would you describe Snailking's overall sound.

I would describe our sound as a heavy doom/sludge three-piece with an atmospheric vibe. I personally have always like the idea of a group with three members where each instrument plays an equally important role.

Q7 – Which bands and artists influenced you as a musician.

We listen to a wide variety of different bands from a variety of different genres ranging from Black Metal to Electronic music but we all meet somewhere in the doom and sludge sound. Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Harvey Milk, Melvins and YOB are some of my top bands though.

Q8 – How did you hook-up with the guys at Consouling Sounds. Did you have any other offers from different labels to release your début album.

Back when we released Samsara, truthfully it was just basically to show family and friends that “this is what we’re doing”. I posted a link to it on Reddit and it gained attention quick. The first couple of days we had well over 1000 plays. I think five days after we posted the demo on Reddit Mike from ConSouling Sounds contacted us through there and said “Hey, we wanna work with you”. Seeing that they worked with acts like Amenra and Alkerdeel we said yes very quickly. We had no other offers at the time, it just felt very right to go with ConSouling Sounds from the start and we haven’t looked back since.


Q9 – Congrats on getting your record released on Vinyl. Did you have much input into the design of the cool vinyl. Or was that left to the label.

Thanks! As we did with Samsara we left the artwork to our friend Johan Leion. We were really satisfied with the last one and gave him pretty much free hands. We just told him some vague ideas of what we wanted, pretty much “just think storm” and he did his magic. The artwork is equally important to us as the music itself so we wanted it to reflect the county Småland in Sweden which we all live in which is known for its dense woods.

Q10 – Which format is your preferred choice for people to listen your music on. CD, DD, Vinyl and Tape. And the reasons why.

Vinyl, it’s just something special with that vinyl sound. And besides, you can really see the artwork better than on the small CD covers. But in reality I listen to MP3s the most, it’s just more convenient and easier to carry around.

Q11 – You first came to my attention and perhaps the Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene back in 2012 when you released – SAMSARA – to some acclaim from fans and critics alike. Did the response for SAMSARA surprise you back then.

Absolutely! It took us some time to fully comprehend what had happened, we weren’t expecting to receive any attention at all let alone get contacted by a record label.

Samsara cover art

Q12 – Would you change anything about SAMSARA or would you leave it the way it is.

Samsara was a nice experience, Jonas had just joined the band and this was our first recording together. Because we pretty much rushed everything and did it over a weekend there are lots of errors and mistakes that we hear but people probably don’t notice at first glance. I like Samsara as it is, it took us to where we are now and I’m glad it did. But if I had to have changed anything I would’ve liked to have spent more time on it, there was no need to rush it.

Q13 – What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group collective or down to one individual.

We all write our own parts and we mostly jam stuff together. Songs can take months to take shape, and they can end up sounding totally different from what they started as. We do all the music together so it’s a collective effort and I do the lyrics.


Q14 - What is your musical set-up when playing live or recording your music. Any hints and tips would you like to give to the budding musicians out there.

I usually use a Laney GH100L amp in either one or two 4x12’s live. On Storm we used both that and my Laney Klipp. On Samsara we mainly used my Matamp GT1. I’ve had almost the same pedals on both records with the exception of the Univibe which was an addition to Storm: Guitar > MXR Dynacomp > ROSS Distortion > Whirlwind Phaser > MXR Univibe > MXR Carbon Copy Delay. Frans plugs his bass into a Marshall VBA400 400W bass amp and uses and old Acoustic 2x15 cab. For all his distorted goodness he use an Aguilar AGRO Distortion pedal. Jonas regularly makes changes to his drum setup so it’s hard to keep up but he uses a mix of a PDP 805 kit and a TAMA Imperial Star kit. He often plays a 20” ride, a 20” crash and a 22” ride and an 18” china of different brands.

We use the same equipment live as we did in the studio.

Q15 – Do you play many gigs in Sweden or do you have to travel further afield to perform regularly.

We haven’t done that many gigs in Sweden actually, it’s more than our gigs abroad but not by much. There are many bands in Sweden as most people know, and there are only a few places to play so there’s often a long wait to get to play. Or you need to book gigs many months in advance which we’re never really good at as we’re more the spontaneous types. It’s actually easier for us to get gigs abroad and that may well be because we’re always a tad late in to the planning process. We’ve been on two mini-tours since releasing Samsara and played in countries such as Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France.


Q16 – What is your whole view of the crowd-funding scene. It's very controversial at the moment with the Hard Rock/Metal scene. Some bands are for it and some are against it. Would yourselves ever participate in a crowd-funding project.

I don’t think we would ever do any crowd-funding, just because we wouldn’t want to feel obligated to a lot of people that has backed us. We like to take ourselves all the time we feel that we need, and having a lot of people spending money on let’s say a recording would make me stress out. We’re not against it, it may work for some people and I could see myself back a project if I believed in it but it’s just not for us.

Q17 – If you could give any advice to someone wanting to start a band. What would it be.

Don’t think of starting a band, just do it. It’s very easy to get stuck in the idea phase never to move on past that but if you throw yourself head-first in to it you’ll always end up with a more rewarding result I think.

Q18 – Do you have any other exciting plans over the next 12 months or so. Tours to promote the new album.

We’re working on a European tour to promote the album now and we’re dreaming of travelling farther away to play in the future. About 50% of our fans according to Facebook comes from USA and we’d love to play there some day but when you finance everything from your own pockets it’s just not financially possible at the moment to go there.

Q19 – The last thing before you go, Do you have anything else to say to your fans.

Thanks for sticking with us and thanks for all the support you’ve been giving us, this has been a humbling experience for us all. Check our Facebook page to keep updated on tour plans and we’ll see each other on the road!

Snailking – thanks for doing this interview. All the best with the album as it's a phenomenal début album. Been great talking to you.

Alright man, thank you!

Storm will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from Sept 15th 2014 via ConsoulingSounds.

Check the Band from Links Below

Official
Facebook
BandCamp

Written by Steve Howe

Interview with BEAK

beak

I originally reviewed today's guests début EP – Eyrie – back in April 2012. To tell you the truth I forgot all about them as it's been a long while since we have heard from them. Shame on me as I have revisited Eyrie the past few weeks now as I have been preparing for this interview.

BEAK are about to release their eagerly awaited full length record - “Let Time Begin” - in Sept 2014. I have been hearing a lot of great things about this record. I declared these guys as one of the next breakout stars of the post-metal scene back in 2012. High praise indeed but BEAK actually do have something about them to make them one of the best upcoming bands from the burgeoning Sludge/Post-Metal scene.

I can't wait to review this record which we will be doing soon as it's been ages that we have featured BEAK on Sludgelord HQ. But all that is going to change with this interview and a future review of Let Time Begin.

These guys are going places so before then lets see BEAK has to say to ourselves.

Q1 – Hi all. Thanks for doing this. How are things with you today.

Hi there. Things are great. We’re excited to finally be releasing our follow-up. We are honored by your praise and glad to talk.

Q2 – Can you tell our readers a brief history of how the band came about and where it is today.

We’ve been playing music together for around 10 years now. When I joined up with Jason and Chris, they were the Timeout Drawer, playing another kind of post- or something music. Back then there was a lot of experimental electronic and rock going on in Chicago. It was back in the days you could be in a band with a pair of CD players and a mixer. 

We took elements of what we were hearing around us and made our own brand of instrumental rock. After our final record Nowonmai and its EP Alone, we decided the form was too rigid and we wanted to strip the music down while focusing on the heaviness. We were getting older and angrier and we wanted more catharsis in our music. These days we get together as old friends and push ourselves to make the best heavy music we can.


Q3 – So it's been a long time since your début EP – Eyrie – was released. 2.5 years. What have you been doing since then.

Yeah well working at jobs for all of us. We’ve played a lot of shows in Chicago and neighboring cities. Jason and I made other bands that play around on occasion. Chris got a baby. Opened for some of our favorite bands. We wrote Let Time Begin and recorded it in the midst of all that.

Q4 – I praised Eyrie to high heaven when it was released back in April 2012. What was the overall response to the EP. And where you happy with responses that it received.

The record was received the way that all of our material has been received it seems. Critics who listened to it and wrote about it gave it a lot of praise. We got a lot of positive response from friends and fans. We’re very grateful for the attention it got when it got attention. I can’t say we did much more than break even financially, but in this climate breaking even is a win.


Q5 – Finally you’re about to release your début album – Let Time Begin. Bet you guys are excited it's finally being released upon to the world. What can people expect from the album.

I think there is a lot more confidence in this record than Eyrie. When we wrote Eyrie, there were 10
songs we tracked. 5 of that 10 didn’t make it because they were part of our transition from post-rock to the heaviness. The 5 that made it had a sound that we were just discovering in ourselves. We took that momentum into this record and evolved it. Much tighter arrangements. More melodic. Those who’ve heard it tell us it sounds like we mean it this time.

Q6 – Was it an easy or hard album to write and record for.

The writing was easy. Like I said we came out of Eyrie finally knowing what to go for. The concept was there from the start. We almost called Eyrie Let Time Begin, but I’d written the title track to Let Time Begin by the time we got around to titling Eyrie, and I wanted to build the record around the themes the title suggests. Almost all of the basic ideas for Let Time Begin were in place as Eyrie was being released.

That’s the writing. Then comes the tracking and mixing. We are very methodical about our recording process. We also have to work around everyone’s tightly packed schedules, and that prolongs the process even further. Add healthy amount of second guessing at every milestone and here we are 2 years later.


Q7 – What influenced you when recording the album.

The title came from the book Legion by William Peter Blatty. It’s part of the Exorcist series, and Jason can’t get enough of that guy. There’s a theory the main character has in the book that the Big Bang was Lucifer and his minions falling from heaven. Earth as we know it was made from the light they brought with them, and we are all a part of that fall. I took that and added passages from Paradise Lost (Milton), Leviathan (Hobbes), and other collected phrases I keep for the writing process. I’m a subscriber to the “cutout” method made famous by the likes of William Burroughs and David Bowie. I tried to maintain an underlying theme of the Big Bang itself. I wanted the concept to suggest these massive universal forces and our place as frail temporary forms of life despite them.

Q8 – I have read the album is going to be a prequel to Eyrie. Was that an easy or hard decision to do. Is your sound different or a natural progression to Eyrie.

I’m not sure that what you read came off perhaps the way we might have intended. The concepts around Eyrie were around the idea that everything fades and all things must end. At some point life as we know it won’t be sustainable on this planet, etc. Big surprise. Metal band shouts about the apocalypse. I’d like to think that I have my own spin, but I’m sure all the other metal bands would also like to think that. 

Since we based this record on our universe coming into being, you can see how conceptually this record precedes Eyrie. Musically we were just trying to make more cohesive songs while trying to maintain what we liked about what we did with Eyrie.

Q9 – It's being released via your drummer Chris record label – Someoddpilot Records. Was that another hard or easy decision to make. Did you have any other offers to release the record. Or does this maintain some sort of self control and ownership of your music.

Honestly we didn’t want to take on the monumental task of self-releasing our record. It’s part of what took us so long. At the same time we didn’t trust a majority of the prospects of which we were aware. We did try to shop it to a select few of the labels we did respect and trust, but in the end the best option was for us to release it ourselves. Today’s labels don’t give you anything more than street cred and maybe a little financial support. Maybe. SomeOddPilot already has the same distribution the other labels have, and Chris can make images that bypass the need for any introduction. The rest is the legwork and that’s on us. With a label it would still be on us.

Beak_LetTimeBegin_550x550

Q10 – I love the freaking album cover. Mysterious, bleak, hostile and very cold. Chris – What influenced you to design this cover. And did you have much input from the other band members.

CHRIS - Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad it has impact. One of the best parts of being the drummer in the band and artist, it allows me to have a completely immersive understanding of the music concepts, and I find the ideas for our covers coming straight out of me, almost naturally. The other guys trust me to do that, and of course I am being led by Jon's concepts.

I've done 40 album covers over the years, and I've come to understand them backwards from the moment they are lifted out of the bin at the store - what's the most iconic impactful form the concept could have when I first pick it up? That's what I'm thinking. Often that involves ambiguity - my favorite thing about this one is that you can't tell if the pyramid is rising or being submerged.

I admire Storm Thorgerson, who designed nearly all the big rock covers of the 70's and 80's and was a master of the mysterious narrative, and Factory Records designer Peter Saville who is equally the master of the simple and iconic. I took the photograph while vacationing in Wisconsin, atop a 200 ft cliff looking down at Lake Michigan. I knew the record was about the beginning of time, and the vast body of water - the scale of it! - just screamed something to do with origins. I had a crying baby with me, and I had little to no time to get this picture. Such is life!

Q11 – What formats will the album be released on. Please say VINYL!!!

I really want to say vinyl. I do. At first at least we’re going to do a small run of CDs and downloads of course. We’re going to get a feel for the market and hopefully we can find a way to get it on some vinyl shortly thereafter.

Q12 – What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group collective or down to one individual.

Most of the songs come from a riff that Andy or I have. I get pretty involved with the arrangements because that comes from the lyrics and vocals of which I’m in charge. Most of the songs I’ll get to the almost done point and we will then play the shit out of them and changes will emerge or not. In the end it has to be a consensus and the band has to be satisfied. Into The Light was the most collaborative I think, and I think it shows as it’s one of the more dynamic and complicated tracks on the record.


Q13 – Which bands and artists influenced you as musicians. Any particular band or album stand out that influenced you to become a musician.

These days it’s all over the place. I would say a couple of the most influential bands for this record would be Enslaved and Killing Joke. The self titled record of Killing Joke they released in 2003 has been with us from the beginning. Enslaved keeps getting better with everything they release. We look up to them or their attitude and their musicianship especially. I think everyone would agree on those two. Any other influential bands would be different for each of us.

Q14 - What is your musical set-up when playing live or recording your music. Any hints and tips would you like to give to the budding musicians out there.

I personally am never satisfied with my sound. I’m always trying to get at something I never feel is perfect. Andy has had his sound dialed in since day one. Jason has a love/hate relationship with his keyboards. Chris has played on the same drum kit for close to 20 years now if you can believe that. My advice to budding musicians would be that it’s in the playing. That is after you’ve at least done enough for your setup to make it work for you. But it’s the playing that makes the difference. As a band. You don’t even know what you’re working with until you can play as a band.

Q15 – Do you like being classed as part of the Post-Metal scene. As some bands are really annoyed by that term. How would you describe your own music.

I guess I don’t feel one way or another about being classified as post-metal. If that makes it easier to write about it then it is what it is. We never sat down and said “let’s make post-metal now”. We were playing what we felt and it turned out to be called that. I don’t have any other thing to call it, so it’s fine.


Q16 – Do you play many gigs in Chicago or do you have to travel further afield to perform regularly.

We get enough shows in Chicago to keep us pretty busy. We’ve branched out here and there and it’s been hit and miss. Because there’s no money for bands at our level, it’s hard for us to get out there as much as we would like. We are grateful for what we can do however.

Q17 – What is the local metal scene like in Chicago. It does have an affinity with Post-Metal with bands such as Pelican and Russian Circles coming from that area.

There are great heavy bands everywhere, but Chicago does seem to have some of the most interesting. I really enjoyed the Bloodiest record and I keep hearing great things about the latest Lord Mantis record. There is a lot of talent here and Chicago breeds an energy that is perfect for heavy music.


Q18 – What is your whole view of the crowd-funding scene. It's very controversial at the moment with theHard Rock/Metal scene. Some bands are for it and some are against it. Would BEAK ever participate in a crowd-funding project.

You mean like Kickstarter? Shit man, if we didn’t do that Kickstarter project for our first record, we’d be in debt for it no doubt. To be honest I was against it when the idea was proposed, but in the days when music is otherwise free, it makes sense to at least tell the people that it costs money and time to make the music they’re listening to. It’s another form of what bands do when they distribute their music. Just more direct.

Q19 – If you could give any advice to someone wanting to start a band. What would it be.

Play a lot. Play all the time. Make it your religion. Make it fun. Be good to each other and respect that the other dudes or ladies in the room are all there to make music. Get over yourself. The sooner the better.


Q20 – Will you be doing an extensive Tour to promote the album. If so, when will you be touring.

We have an east coast tour in November we’re looking forward to. We hope that momentum will pick up from there. We’re down for whatever.

Q21 – The last thing before you go, Do you have anything else to say to your fans.

Shitsya. Thanks for listening. We know you have many other choices when you fly, and we are honored when you fly with us.

BEAK thanks for doing this interview. As I said before I can't wait to hear the album. All the best with the albums release and forthcoming tours. Been great talking to you.

Yeah again thanks for giving us the time.

Thanks to Jason Goldberg for arranging this interview.

Check BEAK from the links below. Our review of Let Time Begin will be published very soon.


Written by Steve Howe