Monday, 20 February 2017

An Interview with Justin from KIN OF ETTINS

Doom metal band Kin of Ettins hails from Dallas, Texas. For almost 13 years they tell the story of Northern mythology, history and shamanism in the form of traditional doom metal. Their debut “Tears for Lost Ages” was released in 2009, and since then till now “Snake Den Time” single (2010) and “Doomed in Dallas” EP (2010) were added to their discography.

Well, it’s not breaking news but in November 2016 the band finally released their sophomore record “Doom upon the Slain”.  JOTUN aka Justin Delord (guitars, vocals, keyboards) is Kin of Ettins founding member and ideologist; I asked him a few questions about band’s current status and new album.

Hi Justin! Thanks for your time! Time is a precious thing and there is a 7 years long break between Kin of Ettins debut “Tears for Lost Ages” and new album “Doom Upon the Slain”, some even could forget what is Kin of Ettins about! But how would you introduce the band for those who didn't hear this name?

I don't really enjoy describing the band to be honest, or anyone's music for that matter. I think it's better to simply let the music be heard and people will react how they will. I think our work dignifies itself.


Okay, but what were your general goals when you started Kin of Ettins back in 2010?

I wanted to create traditional doom metal that still offered something a little different. I also wanted more creative control over my vision, which was easier to achieve with KoE.

By the way, how did the band spend this period? What's the reason for such ling hiatus?

It wasn't so much a hiatus as it was just a long pause between albums. We never stopped playing live, and we did release a four song live EP “Doomed in Dallas” in 2010

How long did you work over new songs? What kind of obstacles did you face on your way to this release?

We spent several months working over the songs, but some of these songs are older, having been written before the first album, so I can't really state a time aggregate on it. Out biggest hurdle was a line up change, as we switched guitarists during the recording.

Did you have certain plan when you enter the studio? What did you want to express through this record?

We didn't really have a plan apart from doing it ourselves, no producers. The rest was a learning process, mostly for Donar who handled 99% of that. Our expressive goal was for a more dynamic record with a deeper, heavier sound than before. I think we achieved that, although we'll do a few things differently next time.


Did you face any difficulties recording this album? Do you have some certain “difficult” songs on “Doom upon a Slain”?

Apart from the line up change, the biggest difficulty was just learning how to record and produce our own music. We knew how to do a lot, but our knowledge was incomplete so there was a learning curve. I don't think any one song was any more difficult than any other. We had to troubleshoot each one a little, but in different ways.

How do you see key differences between “Tears for Lost Ages” and “Doom Upon the Slain”?

In short, “Tears” sounds like ‘80s doom and “Slain” sounds more like ‘90s doom, both in style and sound. “Tears” is lo-fi, muddy and very trad, while “Slain” is crisper, chunkier, and a little more groove stricken.

What did make you do this step further in '90s? And how do you see features of '80s and '90s doom? There were not many doom bands in '80s.

The progression in sound, as far as that analogy goes, was purely accidental. Most of that is just in the overall mix. “Tears” has that muddy, half buried, lo-fi sound like you'd hear on a Saint Vitus or Trouble album, probably because that producer was rooted in ‘80s rock and metal. I draw the ’90s comparison on the new album because it's cleaner and heavier, but still less than perfect. I don't know if others hear what I hear, but this is the way the records sound to me when comparing the two.

Kin of Ettins – Echoes in the Deep

I see there was a change in lineup few years ago, does Teiwaz appearance reflect on the band's sound?

Very much so. He's a tremendous boon to the band and a huge part of our sound. His leads have a quality unlike anyone else, as he has a style all his own. He takes enormous pride in his playing and works hard at every aspect of his role in the band.

The band's lyrics usually deal with Northern mythology, shamanism, history and literature as metal-archives say. How are you serious about it?

I'm as serious as one should be about everything beyond survival, which isn't very serious at all. My lyrics are actually inspired by everyday life and its struggles, mysteries, joys and sorrows. Mythology is simply a metaphorical lens for telling those stories. It's not an original approach at all in my opinion. The seeming fantastical elements of Dio and Judas Priest lyrics are of similar scope.


When did you start to interest with such topics?

I started with Norse and Greek mythology when I was about ten years old. That was right around that time I stepped back from the Christian dogma I'd been told and realized how strange religion was, so I began to search for truth in other areas. I haven't found literal truth in any spiritual system, but many of them are overflowing with symbolic significance, and there's palpable wisdom to be found if one can glean it.

Do you discuss songs' topics in studio during recordings in order to set right tone for music? Or does the band have any specific methods of working when you deal with paganism and do on?

Not really. I generally will share a song's lyric with the band after I'm done penning it, and their response is usually along the lines of “OK cool”. Although Teiwaz has some concepts he'd like me to write about, but we haven't brought that to fruition just yet. With the songs we’re writing now, I'm having to go into more detail because I'm the only one capable of reading the lyrics I'm writing, but that's all I'm going to say to that end right now.

Can you tell what did you write about this time? What do you reflect in your lyrics for “Doom upon a Slain”?

There's a lot of subject matter on this one. There are references to human conflict, environmental issues, grief and loss, Celtic shamanism, ancient history, religious skepticism, and the mysteries of the cosmos. I'm still expressing a good bit of this in mythological contexts or through literary obfuscation as those are powerful creative devices.

Can you say that Kin of Ettins today is the band which you wanted to see back then in 2004? How do you value band’s progress since it first days and till nowadays?

I wasn't really sure what the band would become when I first envisioned it. My sole focus at that time was on crafting the first songs and recording. I wasn't even sure it would ever be a live band. Once things got started though, it all just snowballed. I fell in with a good bunch of guys who work hard though, so building up to where we are now has been a natural progression.

What's your next goal as you have new album at hands? Would you like to return in studio in the name of Odin, or play gigs, or just fall in slumber again?

We'll keep playing live for sure. Our rehearsals have begun to shift focus on working on new material, as the material for the next album is already taking shape.

By the way, how often do you play live? And with what kind of bands do you usually share a stage?

We play in or near Dallas every two to three months. We also do occasional road shows around Texas and some touring. We generally keep to shows in the stoner/doom vein. Here in Texas we've played shows with Wo Fat, Stone Machine Electric, Elliott's Keep, Dead Hawke, Mothership, Las Cruces, Blood of the Sun, Project Armageddon, Solitude Aertunus, et al. On the road we've shared the stage with Earthen Grave, The Skull, Apostle of Solitude, Iron Man, Pale Divine, The Gates of Slumber, Orodruin, and a host of others. The doom scene is strong here.

Words by Aleks Evdokimov and Justin Delord

Links:

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Year Of The Cobra - European Tour News


Doom/Psych/Grunge Duo - Year Of The Cobra are heading out on their first European venture by playing 5 shows in France and Germany.

This is YOTC's first European tour and we're heading over to play Hell Over Hammaburg Festival in Hamburg, Germany. We're playing a handful of headlining dates around the festival in Germany and France. H42 Records released a limited edition 7", specifically for Hell Over Hammaburg and our tour - which sold out online within hours.

We'll have a small number of these for sale at our shows, they are the only copies available. We're planning on heading back to Europe in the fall for a full European tour.

We'll keep you posted on the details for that.



You can read my review of their excellent debut album here and an interview here.

Links


Wheel Of Smoke - Mindless Mass (Album Review)


Release date: July 09th 2016. Label: Self Released. Format: DD/Vinyl

Mindless Mass – Tracklisting

1.Degeneration 06:17
2.Ruins 03:18
3.Bad Shepherd 06:03
4.Unnamed 05:54
5.Synchronicity 03:39
6.No More TV 06:20
7.Feral 07:59

Band Members

Filip Remans - Guitar, vox
Erik Heyns - Guitar, vox
Jouk Opdebeeck - Drums
Tristan Michiels - Bass, vox

Review

Wheel Of Smoke new album - Mindless Mass - is a Prog Rock influenced kind of Hard Rock/Stoner Rock. It has quite a classic sound to it with modern flourishes of Stoner Rock. The vocals do take some time getting used to. Though give it a few songs and you'll seen be right at home especially if you're a long-time fan of Classic Rock, Hard Rock and Stoner Rock. The production is good for the most part and the instrumental work is the main highlight of the entire album.

Opening track - Degeneration - is a fast moving number with heavy moments of pure classic Desert Rock groove. It’s hard not to be swept away by the infectious grooves of the whole album. It's a well put together album with the seven songs showing a band their love for all things loud Stoner Rock.

Second track - Ruin - is more a punk/blues take on Stoner Rock with rough and ready impressive vocals telling adding more flair. I dig the rough and ready appeal of Wheel Of Smoke's music. As it has a more direct approach and you can Wheel Of Smoke is a proper band. They're not interested in a highly produced sound. They would rather let their music do all the talking. It's high energy Punk/Stoner Rock that sees the album contain a huge amount of great riffs.

Songs such as: Bad Shepherd, Unnamed, No More TV and Feral - see Wizard Of Smoke try their hand playing psych and grunge at different parts of the album. The standout tracks have to be Bad Shepherd and Feral as the band create perhaps the albums most exciting moments.

As I stated before the instrumental work is the main highlight as the band create a high amount of heavy moments to lose yourself in. The second half of the album is where the album truly comes alive as Wheel Of Smoke settle into a fine rhythm and creates some loud noise for you to enjoy. It can be quite progressive, experimental and psychedelic at times. This album is perhaps catered for the more adventurous listener than the casual listener. As the mood and delivery of the album changes at a frantic pace. It may be quite off-putting for some but cool as heck for other.

Overall, Mindless Mass is a hugely enjoyable album from start to finish. If you want a rawer kind of Desert/Stoner Rock then Wheel Of Smoke is the band for you.

Words by Steve Howe

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Black Asteroids - Saturn (Single Review)


Release date: February 10th 2017. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

Saturn – Tracklisting
1.Saturn

Band Members

Simon Donovan - bass, glockenspiel.
Chris Allen - drums, glockenspiel.

Review

Black Asteroids new song – Saturn – is an epic 14 minute plus track where the band explore many different sounds. Desert Rock, Stoner Rock and Spaced Out atmospherics combine for a highly intriguing concept. Especially with these guys being a duo.

It's purely instrumental so you don't have to worry about vocals appearing. Just enjoy the crazy sounds the band have created here. Though Black Asteroids are a bass driven duo. No guitars at all folks. It shouldn't stop you enjoying the music as Chris and Simon excel on their respective instruments. The song is very experimental with the band proving a keen ear for melody.

Saturn can be described as Spaced Out Funk Rock at times. As during the middle of the song the band do add shades of Funk Rock before the heavy Stoner Metal riffs appear. A very cool idea indeed. Shame there's only one song here as I wanted to hear more. Hopefully Black Asteroids will be releasing an EP or full length album soon. As the guys maybe onto something here.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe

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Hymn - Perish (Album Review)


Release date: February 17th 2017. Label: Svart Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Perish – Tracklisting

1.Ritual 01:45
2.Rise 12:19
3.Serpent 07:32
4.Hollow 07:49
5.Spectre 06:28
6.Perish 10:19

Band Members

Ole Rokseth - Guitar/bass & vocals,
Markus Støle - Drums

Review

Hymn is a Guitar/Bass and Drums duo who deal in heavy Sludge/Doom riffs. Their debut album Perish offers a simple premise but delivers on a massive scale. Heavy down-tuned riffs which is what you would expect from a Sludge duo such as Hymn. Fans of Black Cobra will find much to enjoy here.

Hymn deliver their own style of pulsating rhythms The album runs for around 45 minutes though it feels longer and I mean that as a compliment. Songs such as Rise, Serpent, Hollow and Perish show that Hymn are passionate about their craft. Ole's vocals are harsh throughout but at least you can understand what he's singing or shouting about. The songs drift from Heavy Rock, Doom, Sludge and Stoner based atmospherics with ease as these guys ooze deadly confidence.

Ole and Markus are also members of celebrated Norwegian Sludge/Doom collective – Tombstones. So you can't question their pedigree. Perish is bleak throughout with the duo creating heavy gloomy moments merged against the other sounds they have at their disposal. The atmosphere can be deliberately slow paced at times but that allows Hymn to deliver the music on their own terms. You can hear shades of CONAN style theatrics on some parts of the album and also Tombstones as well.

However this is Hymn's show and they deliver a bruising encounter of Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal that will haunt you for days.

You can buy Hymn on Vinyl from Svart Records now.

Words by Steve Howe

Links:

Facebook | BandCamp

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Death Of Money - Ghost Pains (Album Review)


Release date: February 17th 2017. Label: SuperFi Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Ghost Pains – Tracklisting

1.New Son 07:20
2.Wherever You Are 05:50
3.Outside Emptiness 07:55

4.Hospital Bed 04:56
5.Ghost Pains 06:39
6.Running Through Dreams (feat. Jarboe) 02:39
7.Only Everything 06:41
8.Coda 05:52
9.Trust The Outsiders 05:58


Band Members

Darren Kaskie - Guitar + Vocals
Alex Morgan -Bass
Ian Charles - Drums

Review

Welsh trio The Death Of Money return, having dropped the Her from their name, with their best album yet, the breathtaking Ghost Pains, an album that grows better after each listen. Ghost Pains is a heavy record, not only sonically but more in terms of its spirit and the feelings that the music evokes and the whole experience is a hypnotic and harrowing but extremely rewarding trip through the bands music.

The album gets off to a crushing start from the very first notes of opening song New Son and the sheer power of the music of The Death Of Money takes hold of you immediately and doesn't let go until the last wail of feedback on closing track Trust The a outsiders ring out. There are elements of each song that let you catch your breath that are necessary before the hypnotic power of the music grabs you by the throat again and passes you through an emotional wringer, it is that powerful.

The repetition of mantras works in the bands favour throughout the record, encasing you in a sense of familiarity but there are always surprises lurking that take a hold you when you are least expecting it. There is a calmness on the album too but it is a foreboding calm that works in tandem with that element of surprise and this is the true beauty of Ghost Pains.

Songs such as Hospital Bed and the albums title track are beautifully realised songs and show a different kind of heaviness, a trait that is littered throughout the album.

The music on here is a soul crushing morphing of the sheer power of Neurosis with the stealthy overwhelming power of My Bloody Valentine, and if it sounds this good on record then it can only sound even better in a live environment. That Neurot connection is cemented by the appearance of Neurosis collaborator and Swans chanteuse Jarboe on the triumphant Running Through Dreams, a bewitching mix of the bands hazy riffs and the ethereal majesty of Jarboe's voice, one of the greatest voices ever, her vocals soar between being hypnotic and simply beautiful as only she can and although there is a stillness to the track, it is heavy on a way that most bands cannot comprehend.

By the time the album reaches its climax with the mighty closing trio of the vast loneliness of Only Everything, the caustic vibe of Coda and perfect album closer, the painfully joyful Trust The Outsiders, the bands vision has been truly realised. Ghost Pains is an all encompassing triumph of an album and one that The Death Of Money should be truly proud of. This is the sound of the bands ethos fully realised, Painful, heartbreaking but uplifting too. A simply stunning record.

Words by Gavin Brown

Ghost Pains is available to buy on DD/Vinyl via SuperFi Records from February 17th 2017.

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Rozamov - This Mortal Road (Album Review)


Release date: March 03rd 2017. Label: Battleground Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

This Mortal Road – Tracklisting

1.This Mortal Road
2.Wind Scorpion
3.Serpent Cult
4.Swallowed And Lost
5.Inhumation

Band Members

Tom Corino - Bass/Vocals
Matt Iacovelli - Guitar/Vocals/Piano
Jeff Landry - Drums


Review

US Sludge/Stoner Metal riffsters - Rozamov - finally release their debut full length album - This Mortal Road. Rozamov's music has changed dramatically since they released their debut EP almost four years ago. Rozamov appear as a more confident and world-weary unit with their debut album offering bleak sludge/stoner atmospherics. Post-Metal plays a big part with Rozamov's music though that's not to say there a post-metal band as such. They use that genres ideas and blend it with a more familiar sludge/stoner groove.

The opening track - This Mortal Road - is quite an adventurous style for Rozamov to open the song with as it's very progressive and there are quite a few different musical elements to listen to. Psych, Sludge, Stoner, Doom and Post-Metal with a hint of bleak Desert Rock. Vocals appear briefly though it's the progressive riffs that drift from Sludge, Stoner, Doom and Post-Metal that impress the most. Shades of Pelican, Yob and ISIS The Band maybe visible to some.

Second track - Wind Scorpion - is an even angrier and heavier track compared to This Mortal Road. As Rozamov play a more direct style of Sludge Rock/Metal. The vocals are superb throughout. The music is played at a slow pace but it allows Rozamov to experiment with their sound as they add ambient noises to the song.

Third track - Serpent Cult - carries on the distorted and noise rock driven sound with intense different style of vocals seeing Rozamov playing a more doomier sound. 

Fourth track - Swallowed And Lost - is the shortest track on the album lasting under two minutes. It's a post-rock based song with a slowly played piano set against a distorted soundclip. It's a cool and unsettling track at times.

The final track - Inhumation - runs past eleven minutes and offers the clearest indication how immensely loud and powerful this album really is. Mastodon style riffs appear but Rozamov offer a fresher experimental sound. The sludge/stoner grooves give way a mix of post-rock and post-metal psych riffs. The vocals once again drift in and out from the action. Though it's the music that holds your attention as Rozamov weave one final spell of hypnotic trance based sounds.

This Mortal Road is a superbly produced album and one that shows Rozamov offer something different to their more famous and established peers. A truly captivating and heavy as hell record.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Earsplit PR for the promo. This Mortal Road will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via Battleground Records from March 3rd 2017.

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